WWE Royal Rumble (1/2)
[Kick-Off] Shinsuke Nakamura bt. Jeff Hardy (c) to become the new United States Champion
Live from Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona!
The first pay-per-view of 2019 opened with a video package, promoting the numbers and statistics related to the Royal Rumble. A look back at last year’s winners, Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura, led into footage of some of the front runners for this year’s Royal Rumble. The focus of the video package was the equality of the “opportunity”. Man or Woman, Smackdown or Raw, Main Event Superstar or upstart rookie… 60 Superstars will enter the lottery of the Royal Rumble, with two of them earning shots at their respective top titles.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
With a chip on her shoulder about Charlotte pulling “double duty” at the show, Becky Lynch had demanded that she be the first to face Flair, ensuring there could be no excuses from the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Continuing the “2018 Rivalry of the Year”, after Charlotte Flair defeated Becky Lynch in a Steel Cage at Starrcade, this match would likely present Becky’s last opportunity to go into WrestleMania as the Champion. Going after Charlotte from the opening bell, Becky was the more aggressive of the competitors, showing the intense determination that had become integral to her character recently. Her aggression managed to floor Charlotte Flair early doors, putting the Champion on the back foot. As always, Charlotte Flair showed huge resolve, refusing to be put down by her former best friend.
Coming back into the match, Charlotte Flair gave just as good as she got, and the two woman raised the intensity of the match. This saw the two women pull everything out of their box of tricks, including an attempted Moonsault from Charlotte Flair. Getting her knees up, Becky Lynch had been playing possum, and quickly transitioned into an Dis-Arm-Her. Pulling back a little too much, Lynch almost fell to the same fate as at Starrcade, as she was rolled up by Charlotte Flair. This time she kicked out, and looked to lock the move in again. This time, Charlotte Flair managed to push Becky away, and when “The Irish Lass Kicker” came back, she was hit with a Spear from Charlotte Flair. After hitting the move, Charlotte Flair showed some clear discomfort in her arm, which had stemmed from Becky’s submission hold. Nonetheless, Flair was able to go for the Figure Four Leg Lock, and after a struggle was successful in doing so. Turning the Figure Four into a Figure Eight, Charlotte had Becky Lynch right where she wanted her. The challenger clawed at the knee of Flair, but couldn’t escape the hold. Left with no choice, Becky Lynch was forced to swallow her pride, tapping out in the middle of the ring.
Charlotte Flair (c) bt. Becky Lynch
Handed the Smackdown Women’s Championship after the bell, Charlotte Flair was favouring the arm that had been locked in the Dis-Arm-Her for a fairly long time. While she eventually celebrated with the Championship in the air, it was clear that Charlotte wasn’t 100%. Of course, Charlotte Flair’s night was far from done, as she would join Asuka in defending the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship later in the night against The Bellas Twins.
Following the opening match, the commentators talked about the two Royal Rumble matches that would take place during the evening. The Raw announce team spoke about the Champions who their brand’s Superstar would be looking to face, Drew McIntyre and Shayna Baszler.
Sending over to a “private box” in the arena, Drew McIntyre and Shayna Baszler were seen enjoying the view, with their Championship titles clearly on display. The commentators put over that the Raw Women’s and Universal Champions were given the night off, but would both defend their Championships between now and WrestleMania!
WWE Men’s Tag Team Championships
When the Raw Tag Team Championships were put on hiatus, after an injury forced The Authors of Pain to relinquish them, the Smackdown titles were rechristened as the WWE Men’s Tag Team Championships. Since Akam & Rezar returned, they have focussed largely on earning their shot at The Usos. Last month, when The Usos jumped the guardrail to accept the challenge of The Authors of Pain, the match was confirmed. Coming into the match confidently, Akam & Rezar clearly expected to leave the event as two-time Tag Team Champions.
This confidence saw them underestimate The Usos, who are now six-time Champions in their own right. While the match didn’t go on too long, both teams were able to cause damage to their opponents, with the intensity of the match high from the opening bell. Despite being Champions, Jimmy & Jey did seem to be slight underdogs for the match, going against the team who never lost their Tag Team titles. As a result, this match was seen as a chance for The Usos to legitimise their reign, and they did so in impressive fashion. Using their agility and experience to isolate Akam and Rezar, the slightly smaller Akam was left in the ring after Jey Uso dived to the outside and took out Rezar. The Usos were then able to focus on Akam, using their smash-mouth style to take him out with a series of Superkicks. Jimmy and Jey then went to the top rope, hitting stereo Diving Splashes before Jimmy pinned him for the victory. A rare “clean” defeat for The Authors of Pain, the performance of The Usos was put over as hugely impressive.
The Usos (c) bt. The Authors of Pain
In the back, Asuka was seen entering the doctor’s room, looking for her partner Charlotte Flair.
When she found Charlotte, Asuka asked if she was okay, after Flair hurt her arm against Becky Lynch in the opener. Flair didn’t like being questioned by Asuka, but told her that she was fine. Charlotte added that she knew what she was getting herself in for when she agreed to defend both titles, and nothing would stop her giving 100% in their Women’s Tag Team Championships match later.
Cutting to the Office of the General Managers, Kurt Angle and Paige were seen discussing the night’s events.
With both showing a competitive edge as to who would win the Royal Rumble, Paige appeared to get the last word in, suggesting that her Champions were more hardworking than the Raw Champions, both of whom have been given the evening off. Kurt Angle laughed off the remark, suggesting that when it comes to WrestleMania, they’ll see who’s hard work has paid off!
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Returning to the ring, it was time for the first of two Royal Rumble matches to take place. Following a video package which put over the history of the Royal Rumble, it was time for the first entrant…
Entrant #1: Finn Balor
Having lasted longer than anybody in last year’s Royal Rumble match, Finn Balor would have to go even better this year, if he hoped to challenge for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. Coming off an up and down year in 2018, the first man who Balor would have to outlast made his entrance…
Kicking off the 2019 Royal Rumble, the returning John Cena was ready to kick on, after appearing back to his best towards the end of 2018. The two men sized each other up, and before they knew it, the third entrant was ready to join the match.
(Joining Finn Balor and John Cena)
The perfect match type for Johnny Gargano, the Superstar who is still haunted by the betrayal of his best friend Tommaso Ciampa knows all about every man for himself. As evidenced by heated exchanges with Aleister Black during the month, Johnny Gargano was clearly still dealing with “trust issues”. This was shown when John Cena offered the young Superstar a handshake, which was rejected by the suspicious Gargano. Somebody who wouldn’t be giving Gargano any sort of welcome, the next man had been considered one of the favourites to win the match.
Entrant #4: Dean Ambrose
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena and Johnny Gargano)
Dean was the first man to ‘clear the ring’ during the match, taking down all three men. Spoke highly of before the match, Ambrose - like the other entrants before him - would have a huge task ahead of him if he wished to win the Royal Rumble. Speaking of huge…
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Johnny Gargano and Dean Ambrose)
Sanity member Killian Dain was the next to appear in the Royal Rumble, and the commentators put over that anything was possible with a Superstar the size of Killian Dain. Having proved himself as Eric Young’s most reliable soldier, Dain had to go it alone, and looked for a standout performance to match his Survivor Series debut. The big man started well, engaging in a brawl with Dean Ambrose upon his arrival in the Royal Rumble.
Entrant #6: Chad Gable
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Johnny Gargano, Dean Ambrose and Killian Dain)
Having struggled on Raw recently, Chad Gable commented prior to the match that the Royal Rumble would be the perfect time to change his fortunes. When he entered the ring, Killian Dain appeared to be the biggest threat, and Chad Gable wisely looked to Johnny Gargano to help him eliminate the huge competitor. Johnny Gargano immediately suspected that Gable was only using him until he could eliminate him, and pushed Gable away. This annoyed Gable, and as both men took their eye off the ball, Killian Dain was able to thrown Johnny Gargano out of the ring.
Elimination #1: Johnny Gargano has been eliminated!
Chad Gable was the next target for Dain, but he managed to stay in the match.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Killian Dain and Chad Gable)
Smackdown Live’s Cesaro was in next, and as always he made his impact known. Half of the hard-hitting “The Bar”, Cesaro connected with a series of Uppercuts once he entered the ring. His momentum was eventually stopped by John Cena, who looked to lift him into an AA. Cesaro however managed to escape Cena’s grasp, and came back with an Uppercut which sent the former 16-time World Champion down. With the countdown once again on the board, the WWE Universe were ready for another Superstar to arrive.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Killian Dain, Chad Gable and Cesaro)
Another heavy favourite, AJ Styles drew a not so favourable number, joining several other frontrunners in having an early entrance. Just like Finn Balor and Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles is no stranger to long matches, and proved his ability to win “big matches” last year, holding the WWE Championship for 9 of the 12 months.
Entrant #9: Bobby Lashley
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Killian Dain, Chad Gable, Cesaro and AJ Styles)
A self-proclaimed certainty to win the match, Bobby Lashley targeted AJ Styles when he entered the ring. Perhaps looking to take out the freshest and most dangerous participant, Lashley quickly found himself in trouble with AJ Styles. Rethinking his strategy, Lashley ended up focussing on long-term rival Finn Balor, looking to eliminate the first entrant of the match.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Killian Dain, Chad Gable, Cesaro, AJ Styles and Bobby Lashley)
Coming at the perfect time for his Sanity partner Killian Dain, Eric Young looked to refocus the strategy of “The Beast of Belfast”. This would give Eric Young and Killian Dain a bit of an edge, at least until the next entrant arrived. The only alliance in the match at that point, Young and Dain were able to eliminate Chad Gable, who valiantly attempted to stay in the match.
Elimination #2: Chad Gable has been eliminated!
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Killian Dain, Cesaro, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley and Eric Young)
Despite his partner being in the match also, Sheamus has made no attempt to hide his desire to once again become the WWE Champion. This showed as he entered the ring, desperate to score a quick elimination. This didn’t come to fruition for the “Celtic Warrior”, and he eventually realised that teaming with Cesaro would be his best chance of advancing deep into the Royal Rumble. With two tag team now in the match, a face-off between The Bar and Sanity resulted in the four men brawling in the ring. This dominated the field, until Balor, Cena, Ambrose and Styles took them down.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Killian Dain, Cesaro, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Eric Young and Sheamus)
Karl Anderson was in next, and he looked to form an alliance with AJ Styles and Finn Balor. While the three did work together a little, the chaos of the match ensured that they quickly went their separate ways. Anderson eventually even got into it with Finn Balor, but Finn got the better of him. Anderson managed to remain in the match however, hanging on by a thread. When he returned to the ring, he was met by AJ Styles. Across the ring, Sanity had singled out John Cena, looking to eliminate the biggest name in the match.
Cena managed to turn the tables, and following an Attitude Adjustment to Killian Dain, Finn Balor hit a Coup de Grace to the big man. Dain was quickly back up on his feet, but was dazed enough that John Cena was able to eliminate him.
Elimination #3: Killian Dain has been eliminated!
Eric Young had now lost his human shield, and this left him ripe for the picking. Backing away from Finn Balor and John Cena, Eric Young walked directly into Dean Ambrose. Turning around, EY could do nothing as Ambrose hit him with a Dirty Deeds. Eric was then scooped up from the mat, and joined his Sanity teammate on the outside.
Elimination #4: Eric Young has been eliminated!
As Eric Young and Killian Dain headed up the ramp, it was time for the “unlucky” 13th Superstar.
Entrant #13: Seth Rollins
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Sheamus and Karl Anderson)
With the ring filling up with big names, Seth Rollins had history with many of the Superstars in the match, but AJ Styles seemed to pique his interest. Standing in the middle of the ring, the two men went face to face, before The Bar jumped AJ Styles from behind. Rollins was then challenged by Karl Anderson, who he dealt with easily. While Anderson impressively avoided elimination, it wasn’t long before Rollins hit him with a Superkick that sent him out of the ring.
Elimination #5: Karl Anderson has been eliminated!
Now back where they needed to be, The Bar regrouped and looked to dominate the match. As physical as ever, they were successful in picking off many of the competitors. They needed to be on form too, as the tallest competitor in the match made his way out next.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Sheamus and Seth Rollins)
Big Cass went after The Bar, and took both men down. This turned the two of them against him, and they took him down quickly. The Bar then surveyed the area, laying into the competitors in the ring, looking to keep them down. As the two men then stood tall, they awaited the next man. However, showing his desperation to win the Rumble, Sheamus looked to throw Cesaro out of the match. Cesaro managed to stay in the ring, and the look on Sheamus’ face made it clear he knew he’d been caught out. Sheamus tried to calm Cesaro down, but the next entrant did little to calm things between the two.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Sheamus, Big Cass and Seth Rollins)
Entering the ring, Kassius Ohno looked to Cesaro, a man who he has plenty of history with pre-WWE. Ohno then looked to Sheamus, who pushed him. KO pushed back, and tried to get Cesaro to join him and get revenge on Sheamus. Big Cass looked to break up the three men, but was clocked with a Forearm by Kassius Ohno. Cesaro then squared up to Sheamus, before turning round and hitting Ohno with a Uppercut. The Bar were then back on the same page, as Cesaro looked to eliminate Kassius Ohno. Not watching his back however, Cesaro was pushed over the top by Sheamus, a move which also sent Kassius Ohno out of the ring.
Eliminations #6 & 7: Cesaro and Kassius Ohno have been eliminated!
Entrant #16: Baron Corbin
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Sheamus, Big Cass and Seth Rollins)
The field was slightly thinned out, and this allowed Baron Corbin to pick his punches. Focussing on some of the crowd favourites, Corbin looked to take a big scalp straight away. AJ Styles was his target, but the former WWE Champion managed to fight him off. Elsewhere, Big Cass found himself in trouble, and an attempt to Chokeslam to Finn Balor, that the Irishman escaped from, saw Cass turn straight into a Spear from Lashley. Lashley then threw Big Cass out of the ring, before turning his attention back to Balor.
Elimination #8: Big Cass has been eliminated
Entrant #17: Sami Zayn
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Sheamus, Seth Rollins and Baron Corbin)
Joining the match before Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn’s major goal was to stay in the match long enough for his partner to join him. This was due to the agreement from Owens & Zayn that they would solely focus on one of them winning the match, securing a WrestleMania headline match for the duo. As a result, Zayn tentatively approached his arrival in the match, as the star-studded array of talent in the ring continued to try and eliminate their rivals.
Entrant #18: Robert Roode
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Sheamus, Seth Rollins, Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn)
Hitting a Spinebuster to mark his entrance in the match, Robert Roode took down John Cena as soon as he made his way to the ring. He then engaged in a stare down with AJ Styles, but was caught off guard by Bobby Lashley. Lashley looked for the quick elimination, but couldn’t get the job done ahead of the next entry.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Sheamus, Seth Rollins, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn and Robert Roode)
The only member of The New Day in the Royal Rumble, Kofi Kingston came to the ring alone, and would have to look out only for himself if he wished to achieve his Royal Rumble dream. As he seeked to forge his path in the Royal Rumble, it was a case of one in, one out, as Dean Ambrose eliminated Baron Corbin, a man who he has had issues with for the past few weeks.
Elimination #9: Baron Corbin has been eliminated!
It wasn’t long after that when Kofi Kingston quickly claimed his first elimination, taking Sheamus out with a Trouble In Paradise, when The Celtic Warrior was teetering on the apron.
Elimination #10: Sheamus has been eliminated!
Entrant #20: Kevin Owens
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Robert Roode and Kofi Kingston)
Coming at the perfect time for Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens ran around the ring before entering, saving his best friend from elimination. When he entered the ring, Owens checked on Zayn, almost costing himself elimination. However, Zayn had his back, and the two men stayed in the ring. Their focus on Kofi Kingston was almost successful, but on the other side of the ring John Cena went one better, sending Robert Roode over the top rope with an AA.
Elimination #11: Robert Roode has been eliminated!
With Kofi Kingston struggling on the apron, a Superkick from Kevin Owens sent him flying backwards. While he flew some distance, Kofi Kingston landed on Robert Roode’ robe, which he had thrown down at ringside before entering. An impossible distance away from the ring, Kofi Kingston remained on the “robe island” as the clock counted down.
Entrant #21: Randy Orton
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Kofi Kingston and Kevin Owens)
Randy Orton came into the match, and took out pretty much everybody in sight. From Owens and Zayn to the two men who started the match, Orton took everybody down. An RKO to Bobby Lashley dazed him enough for Orton to eliminate him just moments after entering the match.
Elimination #12: Bobby Lashley has been eliminated!
As Orton looked for his next victim, Kofi Kingston’s situation on the outside got a little bit stranger. Robert Roode had now come round from his elimination, but refused to leave until he got his robe back. Offering a compromise, Kofi said he would get off the robe, if Roode took him back to the ring. Roode agreed, picking Kingston up and placing him on the apron. Putting his robe back on, as Kingston stood up on the outside, Robert Roode began to walk up the ramp. Having second thoughts, Roode turned back to the ring, and pulled Kofi Kingston off the apron, eliminating him for good this time.
Elimination #13: Kofi Kingston has been eliminated!
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Randy Orton)
Having made his debut in a Royal Rumble match, Rusev was no stranger to the concept. Coming in with a huge wave of momentum, Rusev took down several competitors. He then looked to throw Sami Zayn over the top rope, but Zayn managed to grab the ropes. Kevin Owens then came at Rusev, but was driven into Sami Zayn on the apron. Going into Zayn, Owens accidentally eliminated his best friend.
Elimination #14: Sami Zayn has been eliminated!
Sami Zayn was not happy, and with Owens in shock, he was nearly eliminated. Owens managed to stay alive, hugging the bottom rope as Zayn was forced to head back to the locker room.
(Joining Finn Balor, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Randy Orton and Rusev)
Having arrived on Smackdown in 2018, Black has impressed early in his WWE career. The Royal Rumble offered him a chance to really kick on. Picking up his first elimination of the match, Finn Balor sent Kevin Owens out of the ring.
Elimination #15: Kevin Owens has been eliminated
Exhausted having been in the match from the start, Finn Balor was caught off guard with a Black Mass from Aleister Black as he turned back around. Sent back into the ropes, Balor was eliminated from the match as Rusev provided the finishing touches. This left John Cena as the longest running active competitor in the match.
Elimination #16: Finn Balor has been eliminated!
As well as John Cena, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles were still in contention, and showing no signs of slowing down, despite entering in the single digit places. Providing an interlude to the Royal Rumble, the next entrant was in no rush.
Entrant #24: Elias
(Joining John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Rusev and Aleister Black)
Elias came to the ring with his Guitar, as he had last year, and showed no interest in entering the ring. Elias began singing about the competitors in the ring, and drew the attention of Aleister Black who encouraged him to enter the ring. When Elias refused, Finn Balor came up behind him, throwing Elias into the ring as he exited up the ramp.
Elias was then face to face with Aleister Black, who was ready to take him down. Black’s focus almost cost him, as Orton attempted to throw him out of the match. Orton’s attempt failed, but he quickly turned around and hit Elias with an RKO, knocking him down to the mat.
Over on the other side of the ring, Seth Rollins and John Cena looked to pick up a huge elimination, targeting each other as they had for several minutes. By now, both men were in precarious position, as Rollins pulled Cena over the top rope, joining him on the apron.
Entrant #25: Rey Mysterio
(Joining John Cena, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Rusev, Aleister Black and Elias)
Rey Mysterio ran down to the ring, another former winner entering the match. Mysterio took down a number of the competitors in the ring, including a Headscissors which sent Randy Orton into the ropes. Orton held on, but as Rey Mysterio turned to Cena and Rollins, it was clear one of them was about to go.
Rey Mysterio looked to take out Seth Rollins, but “The King Slayer” managed to fight him off. Distracted by Rey, Rollins found himself on the shoulders of John Cena, but managed to escape his grasp. Now behind Cena, Rollins was able to run Cena into the turnbuckle, sending him to the ground below on the rebound.
Elimination #17: John Cena has been eliminated!
Rollins then returned to the ring, refocusing on AJ Styles who had been down for a while. With Black and Ambrose brawling on the other side of the ring, and Orton looking to eliminate Rusev, Rey Mysterio waiting on the next entrant.
Andrade “Cien” Almas
(Joining Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Rusev, Aleister Black, Elias and Rey Mysterio)
Led to the ring by Zelina Vega, Almas made it clear that his focus was on Rey. Having lost to him at Smackdown 1000, where Rey Mysterio made his WWE return, “Cien” was ready to settle the score. With the middle of the ring fairly clear, the two men went back and forth, looking to entice the WWE Universe as to what was possible if the two men went one on one again in a WWE ring.
Rey Mysterio got the better of the exchange, and set Andrade up for the 6-1-9, only to be thrown out of the ring by Elias, who had previously been laying low.
Elimination #18: Rey Mysterio has been eliminated!
Coming towards the end of the match, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles now stood as the “Iron Men” of the match. The two of them had to struggle to stay in the match, as 27 drew close.
(Joining Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Rusev, Aleister Black, Elias and Andrade “Cien” Almas)
A master of taking advantage of situations, The Miz went straight for the tired AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, but backed off when the two of them showed they had a lot left in the tank. The Miz instead decided to pick his spot with more intelligence, and managed to eliminate Randy Orton as he worked on Elias.
Elimination #19: Randy Orton has been eliminated!
With huge names falling out of the match, Elias and The Miz appeared to form something of a bond, looking to add to their eliminations. Before the time was up, they’d managed to take Aleister Black out of the match.
Elimination #20: Aleister Black has been eliminated!
When they turned their attention to Rusev however, they were less successful, and “America’s Greatest Import” took them both down. Before he could look at taking them out however, the next entrant grabbed the attention of Rusev.
Entrant #28: Roman Reigns
(Joining Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Rusev, Elias, Andrade “Cien” Almas and The Miz)
One of the favourites to win the Royal Rumble, at such a favourable entry number, Roman Reigns confidently made his way to the ring. With other stars having competed well over 40 minutes at this point, Roman Reigns was put over as a huge favourite. When he entered the ring, Rusev was waiting for him. The two went face to face, and began brawling. As Reigns appeared to get the better of Rusev, he was hit from out of nowhere by the Phenomenal Forearm of AJ Styles. Knowing Reigns well, Styles went after “The Big Dog”, laying into him on the ground. Ambrose and Rollins were too busy to help their friend, but Rusev was able to pick up another elimination, sending Elias out of the match.
Elimination #21: Elias has been eliminated!
Seven Superstars remained, with just two more entrances left. Making a grand entrance at a prestigious spot, the next entry came out of left field.
The Velveteen Dream
(Joining Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Rusev, Andrade “Cien” Almas, The Miz and Roman Reigns)
Making his Royal Rumble debut, there was not one ounce of nerves visible as The Velveteen Dream made his way to the ring. Looking around at the Superstars in the ring, Dream appeared to be doing “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to decide who he would go after first. Taking that choice away from him, The Miz confronted Dream, who pushed him away, by putting his hand in the face of The Miz. This angered The Miz greatly, and he came after Dream. Dream managed to avoid The Miz’s attack, and dropped him with an athletic Dropkick. The Dream then posed in the ring, with Dean Ambrose looking to take advantage of this. Ambrose was unable to eliminate Dream, and turned into a Discuss Back Elbow from Andrade Almas.
Andrade was a little too proud of this moment, and was taken out by Rusev quickly after.
Elimination #22: Andrade “Cien” Almas has been eliminated!
Soon after, it was time for the final entry to the Royal Rumble, and the WWE Universe waited in anticipation for the person who had drawn number 30…
Entrant #30: Jason Jordan
(Joining Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Rusev, The Miz, Roman Reigns and The Velveteen Dream)
With a troll-ish smile on his face, Jason Jordan was joined by Akam & Rezar on his way to the ring.
The two men were still feeling the effects of their match with The Usos earlier, and their night went from bad to worse. As Jason Jordan waited to enter the ring, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins had other ideas. Each diving through the second rope, Ambrose and Rollins took The Authors of Pain out with stereo dives. They were then able to throw Jason Jordan into the ring, straight into the path of Roman Reigns.
The rest of the competitors stood or sat watching, as the three Shield brothers set up Jason Jordan for a Triple Powerbomb. As they did this, it was put over that The Shield would face Golden Alpha the next evening, making their return to six man action following the events of Raw. Jason Jordan was gone as soon as he’d arrived, with Roman Reigns throwing the arrogant former Intercontinental Champion out of the ring.
Elimination #23: Jason Jordan has been eliminated!
Not lasting much longer than Jordan, The Miz was the next out, as Rusev once again fired himself up. Miz had looked to get one back over on The Dream, but was pulled off course by Rusev. Sending The Miz out of the match, Rusev eliminated yet another competitor.
Elimination #24: The Miz has been eliminated!
Looking at the six Superstar left in the ring, Roman Reigns and The Velveteen Dream were the freshest of the competitors remaining in the match. They took center stage as the other four competitors look to take a breather, and Roman Reigns was able to eliminate the NXT rookie, with a Superman Punch.
Elimination #25: The Velveteen Dream has been eliminated!
Five remained, and it was surprisingly Rusev who looked most fired up for the victory. With his eyes set on the WWE Champion at WrestleMania, Rusev took Roman Reigns down from behind, and looked extremely close to eliminating the biggest threat left in the match. As Roman Reigns hung on, the ring was unexpectedly swarmed. Appearing from out of nowhere, Eric Young and the rest of Sanity had returned to the ring.
Robbing Rusev of what could have been a career-defining moment, the team who have had issues with Rusev for the past few weeks entered the ring. With their focus exclusively on Rusev, the trio took “The Bulgarian Brute” down, and eliminated him from the match. The attack didn’t stop there, and it took referees and security to remove Sanity from ringside. Having succeeded in their mission, Sanity were all to happy to head back to the locker room.
Elimination #26: Rusev has been eliminated!
And then there was four. As the chaos settled from Sanity’s involvement, four men stood - one in each corner - staring at three Superstars that were in their way. Before long, one man would stand victorious, securing a Championship opportunity at WrestleMania…
The Final Four
Entrant #4, Dean Ambrose was comfortably the “Iron Man” of the Royal Rumble. Outlasting everybody, Dean Ambrose is known for his durability.
The big match player, AJ Styles entered at #8
, but is no stranger to high pressure competition. Surrounded by the three members of the dominant Shield stable, Styles would have to pull something amazing out to secure his place at WrestleMania.
Dubbed the 65 minute man, following his impressive performance in a Gauntlet match this time last year, Seth Rollins had been in the ring since #13. He too was tired, but has proved himself one of the most athletically fit Superstars in all of the WWE.
Easily the freshest competitor in left in the match, Roman Reigns was looking to secure his 5th straight WrestleMania Main Event. Entering at #28
, Roman Reigns was the only Superstar not running on empty as the final four faced off.
Realising he would have to be proactive in his effort, AJ Styles went straight after Roman Reigns, kicking off the final four stage of the match. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins dragged Styles away from Reigns, looking to send him out of the match. Reigns launched AJ Styles out, but “The Phenomenal One” held on. Roman didn’t realise this, and went for the signature fist bump with Rollins and Ambrose, as he believed they were the final three.
Dean Ambrose could have pointed out that Styles was still in the match, but realising he was prone, Ambrose took advantage of Reigns turning his back on him, attempting the elimination. Alert to this, Roman Reigns managed to reverse the momentum, and threw the exhausted “iron man” out of the ring. Roman Reigns was forced to do this, and turned his attention to AJ Styles straight after.
Elimination #27: Dean Ambrose has been eliminated!
The WWE Universe didn’t like seeing Roman Reigns eliminate one of his Shield partners, but perked up as he turned straight into a Phenomenal Forearm from AJ Styles. Styles was fired up, finding a second wind, only to be taken out by Seth Rollins. Rollins put AJ Styles down, and attempted a Curb Stomp. AJ Styles got out of the way, but the exchange that followed ended with Seth looking to hit the move again. Styles managed to roll out of the way, and was now under the bottom rope. Returning to his feet, AJ Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm to Rollins, but was met with a Superman Punch from Reigns out of nowhere - mid flight! Styles was taken out by the move, and this allowed Roman Reigns to eliminate him from the match.
Elimination #28: AJ Styles has been eliminated!
Dominant since his arrival, Roman Reigns looked fresh, particularly when compared to the exhausted and fatigued Seth Rollins. Roman allowed Seth Rollins to return to his feet, looking around Chase Field at the WWE Universe. Reigns had eliminated the two other final four competitors, and looked in much better shape than Seth Rollins did. Fist-bumping in the middle of the ring, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins knew what they had to do.
Two former WWE Champions, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns went back and forth, with the former clearly doing whatever he could to hang on. Roman Reigns could hold nothing back, and took control of the situation. Seth Rollins build comeback, but a Superman Punch from Roman Reigns put an end to that. This was the case each time that Rollins came at Roman Reigns, ending with a Spear which took the last gasps of air out of Rollins’ lungs.
Roman Reigns scooped Seth Rollins off the mat, and threw him over the top rope. Somehow, Seth Rollins held on, one hand saving him from elimination from the Royal Rumble. Reigns cocked his hand once more, ready for the Superman Punch that would end the match. Seth Rollins ducked the Punch, and grabbed Reigns. Dragging him to the outside with him, Seth had Reigns in the one position where they were both equal. Hitting Reigns with a Kick to the gut, Rollins returned to the ring, looking to bounce off the ropes and drive the decisive knee into Reigns. Reigns blocked the knee, also returning to the ring. Reigns set up for another Spear, but Rollins moved out of the way, sending “The Big Dog” into the turnbuckle. Rollins rolled Reigns through, hitting him with a Curb Stomp. Reigns was out on the mat, and the exhausted Rollins struggled to bring him back to his feet. Dragging him towards the ropes, Rollins brought Reigns back to his feet, only to be hit with an Uppercut. Rollins staggered backwards, his back now up against the ropes.
His opponent prone, Roman Reigns ran at Seth Rollins, looking to Clothesline him to the outside. At the last second, Seth Rollins dropped to the mat, perhaps intentionally, maybe due to total exhaustion. Pulling the rope down as he did, Seth Rollins sent Roman Reigns over the top rope, crashing to the outside. On his knees in the ring, Rollins looked over his shoulder to see Roman Reigns hit the floor - both feet touching the ground!
Seth Rollins wins the Royal Rumble!
He will challenge either the WWE Universal Champion or the WWE Champion at WrestleMania
Lasting over 45 minutes, Seth Rollins’ victory surprised the commentators, who had felt the fresh Roman Reigns had the match in the bag. They put over the fact that nobody should ever count Seth Rollins out, citing him as the most resilient Superstar in the WWE. As Seth Rollins celebrated, Roman Reigns nodded at his close friend, before the cameras picked out Drew McIntyre in the private box.
McIntyre’s expression gave little away, before the focus turned back to the man in the ring. Seth Rollins had his arm raised by the referee, before standing on the turnbuckle to celebrate his incredible victory.
END OF PART 1
(the show was ridiculously long, sorry. Second half is written, and will be posted soon )