The 28th Royal Rumble came at a time when WWE was trying to elevate new stars into the main event picture. When The Shield trio of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose split up in June 2014 when Rollins turned on his “brothers” to align with Triple H, that meant all three men were on a similar path to the top of WWE. Rollins won the Money in the Bank contract that summer while feuding with Ambrose a lot and Reigns was clearly the guy that WWE wanted to push to the main event picture. If you read my 2014 WWE Royal Rumble review then you know that I wrote at the end of that review that Roman Reigns was my Royal Rumble winner for 2015. That was a year away, but it just seemed so obvious at the time.
Rollins was added to the WWE Title match at this show that was originally going to be Lesnar vs. Cena. At the time, I thought it was done that way so that Rollins could take the pin in the match. However, it was also done because Rollins was very impressive at the time and by adding him to the match, it would make the match better.
Going into the show, we also knew that The Rock was going to be there. He gave it away on social media. What would he do? We would find out in the main event.
This review was originally written on the night it happened in 2015. I did touch up the Rumble match since this was written. I am adding some 2021 thoughts in blue font because there’s always more to say.
WWE Royal Rumble
From Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 25, 2015 (Twitter @johnreport)
It was originally going to be a six-man tag, but Xavier Woods has an ankle injury so no Adam Rose on the heel side either. The announce team was Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield.
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (w/Adam Rose, Natalya & The Party Posse) vs. Big E & Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods)
The crowd was cheering for Cesaro early on, so that means there are a lot of “smart” fans there cheering some of the heels and good in-ring performers. The heels isolated Kofi Kingston in their corner. Cesaro did the Swing and then Kidd a dropkick while Cesaro was spinning around Kingston, which was good for a two count. They did a commercial for the Rumble PPV.
After that 30 second break, Cesaro was working over Kingston as the fans chanted “New Day sucks” although the announcers completely ignored that. Big E received the hot tag and hit a belly to belly suplex for a two count. Cole announced that Triple H would do a podcast with Steve Austin on WWE Network next week. Kidd went to attack Big E, but Big E sent Kidd to the floor and Kingston hit a dive to take out Kidd. Big E tackled Cesaro through the ropes. Big E was going for the Big Ending, the fans booed and Cesaro knocked him out of the ring. Kingston hit a cross body block off the top rope, but when he covered the ref told him he had to do a tag into the ring. Big E tagged in Kofi. Cesaro nailed Kingston with an uppercut when he was on the top rope. Cesaro hit a superplex. Kidd hit a springboard elbow drop for two. The crowd wanted that to be it. Kidd did a sunset flip for two thanks to Cesaro helping, but the ref saw it. Kofi got a two count on Kidd. That led to Kidd applying the Sharpshooter. The crowd wanted Kofi to tap, but Cesaro made the save with a belly to belly on Kidd. They were some more quick nearfall exchanges and Rose went on the apron, so Kingston hit Trouble in Paradise on him. Kidd kicked out of a nearfall, then Cesaro nailed Kofi with an uppercut and Kidd hit a spinning neckbreaker/suplex combo for the win at 11:03. The crowd cheered even though they are heels.
Winners by pinfall: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Analysis: *** That was a very good tag match. The right team won because they’re the better of the two teams. I figured The New Day would win because WWE wants to establish them as a threat, but that theory was wrong. I’m glad I was wrong because Kidd & Cesaro should be the top heel tag team in WWE. Put them in a feud with The Usos please. The final five minutes of the match were awesome. Those guys can all put on entertaining matches. It’s good for the tag division to have quality teams like these guys. The crowd hated The New Day, so perhaps they should do a heel turn soon. Then again Philly fans are known to be cruel, so maybe WWE won’t react to this. It’s just not working as a face trio.
(A fun tag team match between two teams that would wrestle many more times as the year went on. This was early in New Day’s run and I liked them together right away. I was such a huge fan of the Kidd/Cesaro pairing and it makes me sad knowing Kidd’s in-ring career ended a few months later. Anyway, this was the second-best match of the night.)
The PPV panel predictions: Byron Saxton picks Bray Wyatt, Corey Graves picks Roman Reigns, Booker T picks Rusev and Renee Young picks Daniel Bryan. I pick Reigns.
A video package aired for the WWE Title match. I’m getting sick of the “there’s gonna be a fight tonight” song by this point.
WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 MAIN CARD
The opening video package featured a bunch of top Royal Rumble contenders talking about how they were going to be the one to win the Rumble match. It also focused on the WWE Title match between Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Seth Rollins. Multiple people said “I will be the one” as voiceover guy told us that the Road to WrestleMania starts now.
There was a crowd shot of the arena. The Philly crowd filled up the Wells Fargo Center with a sellout crowd of 17, 164 people in attendance according to Michael Cole. The set looks like the standard set on Raw without a ramp. It’s a shame that they have cut back on spending money so much that they don’t have an elaborate set like they used to.
The New Age Outlaws started the show off with Road Dogg warming up the crowd doing his usual routine. The crowd chanted along with all of it as he mentioned they were the 6-time WWE Tag Team Champions and then Billy Gunn ended it with the “Suck It” bit. That was fun. They both work for WWE behind the scenes in case you didn’t know.
The Ascension made their entrance. The announce team of Cole, JBL and Lawler welcomed us to the show.
New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor)
(Pre-match notes: New Age Outlaws were the faces while The Ascension were heels.)
Cole goofed saying to use a hashtag about the tag titles, but then corrected it saying it’s not for the titles. Gunn did an arm drag and the crowd chanted “you still got it” at him. I think he did a little running too. Konnor and Viktor worked over Road Dogg in their corner for a few minutes. Konnor missed an elbow drop, but Road Dogg couldn’t tag out until Viktor came in and then Road Dogg brought in Gunn. Nice slam by Gunn on Viktor. Konnor tagged in, he stunned Billy by draping his throat over the top rope, Viktor knocked Dogg off the apron and they hit the Fall of Man on Gunn for the win at 5:25.
Winners by pinfall: The Ascension
Analysis: * It was a short match as expected. In the preview, I said they should only get five minutes and it went a bit more than that, so that’s fine. That was exactly what it needed to be. The Ascension haven’t had a great start, but if they can get more meaningful wins like this then that will help them going forward. There’s nothing wrong with predictable outcomes if it fits the story.
(I had no memory of this match or feud. It was set up on the Raw prior to this on a Legends show and then The Ascension got the win here. Sadly, The Ascension never really got much of a push on the main roster compared to the success they had in NXT.)
There was an advertisement for WWE Immortals. Then a commercial for Steve Austin’s podcast on February 2 after Raw with Triple H as the guest. That will be on WWE Network. It’s the second time for something like this since Austin did a podcast with Vince McMahon in December.
The announcers wasted a couple of minutes recapping things like Sting at Raw and three dudes (Ziggler, Ryback, Rowan) getting their job back.
It’s skit time with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon talking backstage. They complained about Sting just showing up to WWE shows. Paul Heyman showed up to say he’s there to solve their problems. Heyman suggested that he has a solution for Sting and that solution is Brock Lesnar. Then Paul left.
Analysis: The Sting/Triple H match at WM31 is likely, but it’s interesting that Heyman would mention Lesnar in regards to Sting. A good way to keep people wondering.
(This was just another tease to get people ready for Sting vs. Triple H at WrestleMania.)
WWE Tag Team Titles: The Usos vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow
(Pre-match notes: The Usos were the babyface champions while Miz and Mizdow were heels although Mizdow was cheered a lot.)
The crowd loved Mizdow like usual. As Miz was battling Jimmy, fans were chanting Mizdow, who copied Miz by crotching himself on the top turnbuckle. Mizdow did a mock sell of a punch to the gut and the crowd cheered him. Miz sent Jimmy throat first into the ropes as the crowd chanted “Mizdow’s awesome” and Miz worked over Jimmy. That neckbrearker/backbreaker combo by Miz looks so soft. He does it all the time, but it just doesn’t look impressive at all. Fans wanted Mizdow, but Miz refused to tag and the fans booed that. Jey got the tag with a Samoan Drop on Miz. Running butt splash by Jey on Miz, then Mizdow got sent to the floor by Jey. Miz hit a kick to the knee, then a DDT for two. Jey hit a leaping kick to the head for two. Jimmy ended up hitting a dive over the top to take out Mizdow. Jey ran the ropes and hit a leaping dive over the top onto Miz. It looked like Jey caught his foot on the rope and didn’t hit it great. He looked to be okay after the ref subtly asked him. Back in the ring, Jey missed a splash and Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale for just two. Fans chanted for “Mizdow” even though he was outside the ring. Miz ran at Jey in the corner, Jey hit a superkick and a top rope splash for two. Mizdow saved Miz, sent Jimmy into the turnbuckle and then Mizdow hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Jey, which led to Miz slowly covering for two. Miz battled with Jey in the corner. Jimmy tagged in, hit a kick to the head, Jey gave Miz a Powerbomb to put him down and Jimmy hit a Superfly Splash for the win at 9:20.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Post match, no sign of a breakup by Miz and Mizdow. They only showed The Usos in the ring after the win.
Analysis: **1/2 It was a standard tag match although it’s almost like a handicap match because Miz refused to tag in Mizdow. They were still able to make it entertaining with The Usos using some creative teamwork to find a way to win. I liked the kick to the head, powerbomb and then Superfly Splash to finish off Miz. There were some good nearfalls for both teams before that too. Mizdow got the biggest reactions of the match by far. Fans didn’t hate The Usos, but they weren’t overly excited to see them.
(The Mizdow gimmick was awesome and led to a lot of fun moments. The fans were going crazy for everything that Mizdow did while booing Miz for everything as well. Mizdow was the most popular guy in this match by far. It’s just a shame that the Mizdow feud with Miz wasn’t better like it should have been.)
The Kickoff PPV panel talked about some things still to come and recapped the win by Kidd & Cesaro.
Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble were in the locker room with Joey playing WWE Immortals on an iPad. Nice commercial for the product. Seth Rollins complained about how they were playing games. Rollins said they needed to be focused on his WWE Title match. Rollins said he’s not just the future, he’s the right now.
There was a commercial for WrestleMania 31 taking place in 63 days.
The Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki Bella) vs. Natalya & Paige
(Pre-match notes: The Bellas were heels with Nikki holding the Divas Title for a long time. Natalya and Paige were the faces.)
The Bellas were wearing green outfits. The Divas Champion Nikki was in short shorts. I’m not complaining. There were some quick tags with each woman getting in some offense. Natalya brought Nikki to their corner, tagged in Paige and they did a double suplex. Paige’s crawl into a cover earned a nice pop from the crowd. The announcers were rambling on commentary as I tried to tune them out. Dropkick by Nikki on Natalya. Brie tagged in and hit a reverse DDT. The fans were losing interest as Nikki hit a snapmare. A back elbow by Nikki kept Natalya grounded. Brie hit a running “Brie Mode” knee attack as they kept Natalya in their corner. Natalya powered out of a submission from Nikki and dropped her with the Electric Chair drop. Elbow by Natalya to Brie, but then Nikki hit a clothesline. Nikki stalled, so Natalya moved and tried to do a hot tag to Paige. Brie yanked Paige off the apron. When Natalya turned around, Nikki hit a stiff forearm to the face and she covered for the pinfall win at 8:05.
Winners by pinfall: The Bella Twins
Analysis: *1/2 That’s the standard time for a divas PPV match at around 7 minutes, but you could tell the crowd was bored for most of it. The story is that Natalya wasn’t able to tag in Paige because of Brie’s cheating. I’m not sure why they would have the heels win because usually, the champ loses in a tag team match setting. Perhaps it’s going to lead to either Paige or Natalya turning heel down the road, but neither of those things makes sense. It was a creative finish. I liked the forearm shot for the win. Better than a silly rollup.
(The normal booking for a champion in a tag team match is for them to lose, so I was a bit surprised by this match outcome with Nikki getting the win. I guess it was done that way just to give Nikki more momentum as the champion that was the focus of the women’s division at this point.)
There was a plug for some WWE Double Attack toys. I’m too old for this show.
A commercial aired for a documentary called “WWE 24: WrestleMania 30” featuring some backstage stories from WrestleMania 30. When they teased backstage happenings the clip that was teased was when Vince McMahon went to the hospital with The Undertaker.
There were clips of superstars talking about winning the Royal Rumble match. There were comments from Roman Reigns, Goldust, Stardust, Rusev with Lana, The Miz with Damien Mizdow repeating his lines, Big Show, Fandango with Rosa Mendes and Daniel Bryan.
A video package aired for the WWE Title match. That is coming up next.
John Cena is the first man out for the WWE Title match with the fans chanting “John Cena sucks” during his song. Seth Rollins entered along with J&J Security. The fans mostly cheered Rollins. The WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman entered last.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (w/Joey Mercury & Jamie Noble)
Rollins ran away, so Lesnar hit a German Suplex on Cena. J&J tried to interfere, so Lesnar hit suplexes on them dropping them on their heads. Fans were cheering Lesnar as he hit German Suplexes on Rollins and then Cena. More suplexes by Lesnar although the one on Seth was sloppy because Seth landed on his shoulder. The replay was nasty. Vertical suplex toss by Lesnar on Cena and another one for Rollins with fans chanting for Lesnar. Fans chanted “ECW” for Heyman. Lesnar applied the Kimura Lock on Cena. Rollins broke that up with a flying knee attack off the top rope. There’s the first finishing move with Cena hitting the Attitude Adjustment. Rollins covered him for only a one count. Lesnar sent both guys out of the ring as the crowd applauded him. Rollins hit a dropkick outside the ring that sent Lesnar into the ring post. In the ring, Cena hit his shoulderblocks and spinning suplex as the crowd booed. Rollins fought out of it, so Cena hit another suplex. He wanted to hit the 5 Knuckle Shuffle, but Lesnar attacked Cena with a German Suplex. They were able to get Lesnar out of the ring briefly. Things slowed down a bit from there. It was a fast-paced start to the match. Lesnar sent Rollins outside the ring, Cena decked Lesnar with a clothesline. Rollins did a springboard attack, Lesnar caught him on his shoulders and hit a F5. Wow, that was amazing. Cena made the save, so Lesnar dropped him with another release German Suplex.
Lesnar cleared off the Spanish announce table. When he went back into the ring, Cena hit the AA and then Cena hit a second AA followed by a third AA for a two count because Rollins pulled Cena out of the ring. Rollins hit a Curb Stomp on Lesnar, but Cena attacked Rollins for the save. That’s four finishers that Lesnar received in about one minute. Lesnar stumbled outside the ring, so Cena charged at him with a Spear that sent them both through the barricade by the timekeeper. Moments later, Cena threw Lesnar hard into the steel stairs. Cena hit Lesnar in the head with the stairs. Rollins nailed Lesnar with a dropkick. Rollins to the top rope and there’s a flying elbow through Lesnar through the table. “This is awesome” chant. Damn right. With Lesnar out of it on the floor, Cena and Rollins battled in the ring. It’s been 15 minutes so far. This match has been very physical and intense.
Cena went for the AA on Rollins, but Seth landed on his feet and Cena hit a powerbomb for a two count. Heyman was yelling at ringside about needing a doctor, so two doctors were over there working on Lesnar. Rollins nailed Cena with the running powerbomb into the turnbuckle for a two count. After both guys were down for a bit selling pain, Cena applied the STF. J&J went into the ring to save Rollins. Meanwhile, stretchers were brought out for Lesnar. Rollins hit a three-man powerbomb on Cena with the help of J&J for a two count. Cena made the comeback by sending Rollins outside the ring and then hitting the AA on Noble & Mercury at the same time. Cena with the AA on Rollins for a two count. Big pop for that. There was a shot of Lesnar on the backboard. Cole said that Lesnar had at least a broken rib. Rollins hit an enziguiri kick to the back of the neck and then a Curb Stomp for a two count. That’s two great nearfalls in a row with each guy getting one of them. The match is at the 20-minute mark.
Rollins went up top and hit a spinning corkscrew splash (Phoenix Splash) on Cena that was very impressive. I want to see a replay of that! Lesnar went into the ring for the surprising save. Lesnar sent Cena outside the ring with a suplex. Rollins nailed Lesnar in the head with a briefcase shot. He hit him multiple times. When Seth ran the ropes, Lesnar popped back to his feet and hit an F5 on Rollins for the successful pin. Lesnar retains the WWE Title by pinning Rollins. The match went 22:42 minutes. What a match! Wow!
Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar
Lesnar was congratulated by Heyman as they showed replays of some big spots in the match. Rollins was being helped by J&J Security.
Analysis: ****1/2 That was a phenomenal match. It’s tough to explain how amazing it was, but if you saw it then you know. There were three chapters in the match. Lesnar dominated the first third of the match with a barrage of suplexes. Then Lesnar got taken out because Rollins put him through a table, but he also took a beating before that. That led to some great pinfall sequences between Cena and Rollins where they were kicking out of anything. Rollins hit that amazing top rope move and that’s when Lesnar came back. He dominated the final two minutes with the clean win on Rollins with the F5. I was very impressed by all of it. Lesnar and Rollins were both fantastic in everything that they did. Cena did well too although not as much of a standout as the other two. The way Lesnar was booked was perfect. I wish he wrestled more often and that he didn’t leave, but sadly that’s probably what is happening. Lesnar is such a great performer, though. Rollins is a big-time star for the present as well as the future. I loved this match. It’s a WWE Match of the Year contender for sure. Don’t forget about it in December.
(Holy shit, I loved this match! So much fun. Hot crowd, great work by three top guys and really well booked too. It truly was one of the best WWE matches of 2015 and one of the best matches in Royal Rumble history. It was a great call to add Rollins to the match because his speed and athleticism made the match more fun and exciting. The fans absolutely hated Cena the entire match. They wanted anybody to win other than him. Lesnar was out of it for some of the match, which is a spot that WWE has done in the past in multi-person matches, but then he made the big comeback to take care of Rollins and Cena to win the match. Most of us assumed that Lesnar was going to win, so that made the match predictable. However, when the match is as good as this, all you can really enjoy the action and thank the wrestlers for an outstanding match.)
There was a commercial for the Fastlane PPV on February 22.
The “By The Numbers” video package aired for the Royal Rumble. That match is next.
Royal Rumble Match
The Miz is the #1 entrant in the Rumble match and R-Truth is #2, so he did his rap on the way to the ring. Miz hit a boot to the face. The #3 entrant is Bubba Ray Dudley in Dudley Boys gear. Amazing. The crowd popped huge for him. He spent many years in TNA, so it’s great to see him back in WWE. They were cheering loudly for him as he did some of his signature spots. Loud “ECW” chants for him too. He got Truth to do the Wassup Drop on Miz. Then Bubba looked confused, but told Truth to get the tables. Truth and Bubba did the Dudley Death Drop on Miz. That led to Miz getting tossed out and Bubba tossed out Truth with a back body drop. The #4 man is Luke Harper, who started exchanging punches with Bubba. Luke hit a superkick, but Bubba nailed him with a clothesline. Bray Wyatt is #5. He worked with Harper to battle Bubba and they tossed out Bubba. Wyatt was the one that eliminated Bubba. Wyatt told Harper they should work together. I enjoyed seeing Bubba in there.
It was Curtis Axel as the #6 man, but Erick Rowan attacked him by tossing him into some steel by the entrance. Rowan entered for a Wyatt Family face off. The announcers said Rowan was not in there legally, but he still went after Wyatt and Harper. As Rowan and Harper battled by the ropes, Wyatt dumped both them over the top to the floor. The #7 entrant is The Boogeyman. Yawn. Not a great surprise. It’s a stupid gimmick. Wyatt did his upside-down pose/walk, hit a clothesline and dumped him out quickly. It’s Sin Cara at #8, who barely gets a big reaction. Wyatt quickly overpowered him, hit the Sister Abigail and eliminated him. Wyatt grabbed the microphone to say that this is Bray Wyatt’s year. He started singing “he’s got the whole world in his hands” with the crowd singing along with him. Zack Ryder is back as the #9 man. He’s been out for months after a shoulder surgery. Ryder was on fire with some of his signature spots including a Broski Boot. Wyatt recovered quickly to eliminate Ryder. Here’s some much-needed star power with Daniel Bryan in the #10 spot. Bryan was on fire and the crowd was going crazy with “yes” chants as he hit multiple running dropkicks on Wyatt in the corner. He did four of them. Bryan did a hurricanrana off the top.
It’s Fandango at #11. He nails Bryan with a dropkick as some in the crowd try to sing his old theme song, but it really didn’t catch on. He did some posing. Bryan did an airplane spin to Fandango and tried to eliminate him. Wyatt rested in the corner during that altercation. Tyson Kidd is #12. He nailed Bryan with a kick followed by a missile dropkick. Bryan nailed Fandango with a dropkick in the corner and then Kidd hit Fandango. There was a double cross body block sequence by Kidd and Bryan, so all four guys were down in the ring. Wyatt has stayed in the corner for over three minutes. Stardust is #13. Fandango nearly eliminated him, but Stardust hung on and did the skin the cat move. Kidd went after Bryan, but Bryan was able to eliminate him with a back suplex over the top to the floor. Bryan knocked Wyatt to the floor, then hit a running dive between the top/middle rope. Wyatt tossed Bryan into the stairs. They weren’t eliminated. They just went out of the ring by going under the rope. It’s Diamond Dallas Page as a surprise entrant at #14 although it was leaked online a couple of days ago. The reaction to DDP was solid. He was wearing his DDP Yoga shirt of course. DDP hit the Diamond Cutter on Stardust. Fandango went to the top rope, but DDP gave Fandango a Diamond Cutter off the top rope. DDP avoided a Wyatt attack and he gave Wyatt the Diamond Cutter to a big pop. The crowd loved that spot for DDP. Rusev is #15. No Diamond Cutter for him, because he shoved Paige away, gave him a superkick and tossed Page out of the ring. Rusev also tossed Fandango out. Rusev stared at Wyatt. Bryan nailed both of them with a dropkick off the top and then a series of kicks. Rusev superkick on Bryan, but Bryan held on. With Bryan on the apron, Wyatt knocked him out of the ring. The crowd hated that. I do too. I didn’t think Bryan would win. I just thought he would last longer.
(The boos for Bryan’s elimination were so loud. I didn’t think he was going to win and I doubt most fans did, but they absolutely hated Bryan being eliminated right there.)
There’s Goldust at #16. Stardust tried to eliminate him, but Goldust hung on. Fans were chanting “Daniel Bryan” even though he went to the back. Kofi Kingston is #17 to almost no reaction from an angry crowd. Wyatt nearly eliminated Kingston, but Kofi was able to hang on. Adam Rose is #18 with the Rosebuds entering the building along with him. I can’t hear the crowd booing because of the music, but I assume they are. Kingston got tossed over the top, but the Rosebuds caught him and put him back in. That’s the creative Kofi save spot. Rusev got rid of Rose quickly and then a Rusev kick to the head finally got rid of Kofi. In the ring right now are Rusev, Stardust, Wyatt and Goldust. Roman Reigns is #19 and the crowd is booing him. This is not the reaction WWE thought he would get, but they shouldn’t be that surprised. Reigns cleaned house with a Samoan Drop on Goldust, then he tossed him out and then he gave Stardust a clothesline to eliminate him. The crowd was still booing Reigns.
(What a difference a year makes for Roman Reigns. One year earlier, Reigns was cheered heavily by the crowd as he set the record for most eliminations in a Rumble match. In this Rumble match, he was booed heavily the moment his music hit and the fans kept booing him. At least Roman’s interest did lead to the TJRWrestling sign on the screen. Thanks to longtime TJR reader Anthony Vee for that!)
Big E is #20 to almost no reaction. Rusev hit a running dive on Big E in the corner. Four guys in the match 2/3 of the way through it: Reigns, Rusev, Wyatt and Big E.
The 21st entrant is Damien Mizdow. The fans cheered. The Miz comes out to tell Mizdow that he should go to the back. The Miz was on the apron, Reigns knocked him out of the ring before he could get in. Mizdow went in, hit a couple of moves and then he was eliminated by Rusev. Miz yelled at him, but Mizdow just sat beside him imitating him. They blew an opportunity to do something cool with them in this match. Jack Swagger is in at #22 to a mild reaction, but nothing much. Not a whole lot happens following Swagger’s entrance. Ryback enters at 23 to almost no reaction and cleans house on everybody with power moves. When he hit Reigns with a clothesline the fans cheered that. Ryback hit the Meat Hook Clothesline on Rusev. No eliminations. Fans were chanting “CM Punk” because they were bored. The veteran Kane is #24 as the announcers mentioned he has 38 eliminations all time while Shawn Michaels has the record with 39 eliminations. That was another dead spot in the match because they just wanted to fill up the ring with more guys. Dean Ambrose is #25 and the fans like him, so that’s good. There was a “Let’s Go Ambrose” chant for him as he took down Ambrose with a flying elbow drop off the top. There were eight guys in the ring with five men left.
It was Titus O’Neil at #26. Lawler says “oh boy” as if he’s a big name, then he gets tossed out in four seconds. It would have been quicker, but he didn’t go over the top the first time he was hit with a clothesline. Cole noted that Wyatt has been there for 38 minutes. The IC Champion Bad News Barrett is #27. Barrett hit the spinning slam to Ambrose, then immediately joined the others in just trying to dump somebody out. Cesaro is #28. He didn’t do anything of note. Why not let him do some power moves? Too many guys are going into this match without doing a thing once they get in there. Rusev eliminated Big E with a dropkick while Big E was on the apron. Big Show is #29. Everybody faced him. Show and Kane did a double chokeslam to get rid of Ryback, so Kane has 39 eliminations in his career to tie Michaels. Show eliminated Swagger. Nothing else of note happened there. Dolph Ziggler is #30.
Ziggler quickly eliminated Barrett by putting him on the apron and then nailing a superkick. There was a battle with Cesaro and Ziggler by the ropes, which was won by Ziggler. He eliminated Cesaro. Ziggler teased being eliminated by Kane, but then Big Show nailed him with a KO Punch. Kane and Big Show picked up Ziggler, then dumped him out of the ring. Crowd hated that. Me too. Big Show with the KO Punch on Wyatt so Show and Kane dumped him out. I thought it would take more to eliminate Wyatt.
The final four in the match are Reigns, Ambrose, Show and Kane. Reigns hit a leaping clothesline on Show. It looks like Reigns was bleeding from the mouth. Kane hit a big boot to slow down Reigns and then the heels stomped on Ambrose. Show with a Chokeslam on Ambrose. That led to Show and Kane dumping Ambrose out. That means Reigns is against the two evil big guys as the fans chanted “BULLSHIT” repeatedly at this booking. The heels went to eliminate Reigns, but then Show tried to dump Kane out too. Kane got mad about it, so they started brawling. Kane and Show grab eachother by the throat. Reigns walks over to them and dumps them both out.
After the Rumble, Reigns received a Chokeslam. The Rock’s music hit and he came out for the save for his cousin Roman Reigns. HUGE pop for The Rock from the crowd. Rock hit the Spinebuster and Rock Bottom. He took care of the giants. When Rock left, the fans were back to booing Reigns. Rusev went back into the ring because he wasn’t eliminated. Reigns gave Rusev a Spear and then tossed him over the top rope to eliminate him at 59:31.
Winner of the Royal Rumble: Roman Reigns
Backstage, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were looking on.
Analysis: **1/2 That was a weak Rumble. The crowd hated nearly everything that happened after Daniel Bryan was eliminated. Bray Wyatt was booked strong for most of it, but then he got dumped out so easily that it made him look weak. Bryan’s elimination sucked. He should have lasted longer. My guess is that WWE wanted him long gone before Reigns got in there so that it made Reigns look like a bigger star. That strategy didn’t really work. The highlights of the Rumble were seeing guy like Bubba Ray Dudley and DDP out there. I hope that Bubba stays in WWE full time after this because he’s still a very good performer. Bring back D-Von too. They missed an opportunity by not putting D-Von in the match as well because the crowd would have loved seeing them together in this. Fans were even chanting for D-Von to be out there. I spent about 15 minutes after the show just interacting with people on Twitter and Facebook about it. People are genuinely mad about what happened. I’m mad too. If you read my preview of the event then you know I picked Reigns winning with heels like Big Show and Rusev lasting until the end so that WWE would think fans would cheer Reigns, but guess what? The fans didn’t care.
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Bray Wyatt at 46:50.
Most Eliminations: Bray Wyatt with 7.
Best Performers (3): Bray Wyatt, Rusev and Roman Reigns
Back to the show.
Roman Reigns celebrated in the ring with his cousin The Rock. The Authority’s Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stood by the entrance looking angry about Reigns winning and The Rock being out there.
When The Rock left, Reigns posed by the WrestleMania logo and the crowd booed. Roman’s mouth was still bleeding. The announcers didn’t mention the poor reaction for him. End show.
(The fans shit all over this. They hated it. They knew Reigns was going to be booked as the winner, but they absolutely hated it and rejected it as much as they possibly could. The whole point of having The Rock there was to have him put Reigns over by helping him and raising his hand. Instead, the fans cheered while Rock was there and kept on booing Reigns the whole match. Should WWE change plans in a situation like that? Maybe, but it’s not like they had other great options. Roman was their guy and they wanted him to win, but the fans didn’t like it all. Reigns got more boos than most heel Rumble winners too. It was incredible to see how much the fans hated Roman getting that push. Did they hate him personally? Probably not. They just hated the push.)
They did a post show with Cena getting interviewed, then Rusev showed up to complain about the Rumble. They were pulled apart. That will set up their WrestleMania match with Captain America Cena beating the evil foreigner Rusev like it’s 1991 Hulk Hogan again.
There was also an interview with Rock and Roman Reigns talking. Rock did most of the talking, which is why he was there. The whole thing was pretty awkward.
Analysis: Regarding the post-match stuff and The Rock showing up, I look at it like this: WWE knew Reigns would get booed, still put him out there and then called Rock to help him get booed less. It’s sad that they have to go those lengths. They should know that fans were going to reject Reigns and change the decision. Put Bryan over. Instead, they ignored what the fans wanted for the second year in a row.
This event had a runtime of 2:37:35 on WWE Network.
It gets a 4.5 out of 10.
That’s a low score for a PPV from me. I’m usually nicer, but I’m not going higher than that. It was a bad show.
The WWE Title match was a Match of the Year contender that is one of the best Royal Rumble matches ever and one of the best triple threat matches ever. The Kickoff Match was the second best match. Everything else was below average.
People get excited for the Rumble PPV every year, but it was the second year in a row where it was a poor PPV. If it wasn’t for Lesnar/Cena/Rollins it would have been much worse too. That match saved the show basically.
(What I’ll remember most about this show is how much the fans hated the Rumble match. They booed loudly when Daniel Bryan was eliminated after only ten minutes in the Rumble and they booed loudly as soon as Roman Reigns got out there (with a TJRWrestling sign on camera during his entrance). Every time Reigns did something, the fans in Philly booed. They cheered The Rock helping Reigns towards the end of the match, but then those cheers turned into boos again. The interesting thing is that a year earlier, Reigns was cheered heavily during the Rumble match as if the fans were telling WWE that is our new guy, but that changed by the time they got to the 2015 Royal Rumble. What a strange night.)
If you want even more coverage on this show, check out Alex Podgorski’s column asking “Was It Really That Bad?” all about the 2015 Royal Rumble. Alex also did a column breaking down the Lesnar vs. Cena vs. Rollins match as well right here too.
Five Stars of the Show
1. Brock Lesnar
2. Seth Rollins
3. John Cena
4. Bray Wyatt
5. (tie) Bubba Ray Dudley
5. (tie) Diamond Dallas Page
Check out the WWE Royal Rumble review archive right here.
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