The 30th Royal Rumble event came at a time when WWE was back to the brand extension. That’s because Smackdown moved live to Tuesday nights in the summer of 2016, so with Raw and Smackdown both being live shows, they had separate rosters again. I thought the Smackdown was excellent from the second half of 2016 until around WrestleMania 33 in 2017. A lot of the Smackdown content on this show lived up to the hype while Raw had some decent things, but it wasn’t as good as Smackdown was.
This review was originally written on the night it happened in 2017. I am adding some 2021 thoughts in blue font because there’s always more to say. I’m not going to point out the face/heel designations this time.
WWE Royal Rumble
Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas
January 29, 2017
Kickoff Show Matches
The announcers for the first match were the Smackdown Live team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield and David Otunga.
Nikki Bella, Naomi & Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James, Natalya & Alexa Bliss (Kickoff Show)
Natalya started with Nikki and mocked her with the “you can’t see me” hand gesture. Nikki slapped her, so Bliss tagged in for the heels. Nikki drove Bliss’ face into her knee for a two count. Double dropkick by Naomi and Nikki on Bliss. They did a triple suplex spot with the three faces suplexing the heels. That was unique. Baseball slide dropkicks by Lynch and Nikki followed by Naomi hitting a slingshot dive over the top to take out the heels. Commercial break during the match.
Lynch nailed Natalya with two clotheslines and a leg lariat. Straight fire forearm by Lynch and a kick against the ropes. Natalya bailed to the floor, so Lynch hit her with a forearm. James grabbed Lynch and whipped her into the barricade. Natalya yelled at the crowd to shut up. Suplex by Natalya on Lynch on the floor. James worked over Lynch with some kicks in the corner. Bliss tagged in and James hit a cheap kick without the ref seeing it. Natalya had a headlock on Lynch. Natalya with a Michinoku Driver on Lynch. Bliss made a blind tag, but Lynch got a shot on her and Lynch sent Natalya out of the ring. Natalya pulled Nikki off the apron to prevent a tag. Lynch got a rollup on Bliss and an enziguri that didn’t come close to connecting, but Bliss sold it like it did. Hot tag to Naomi with a springboard cross body on Bliss and a dropkick on the other heels. Sitout jawbreaker by Naomi on Bliss for a two count. Kicks by Naomi get two as James made the save. Lynch with a Bexploder on Naomi. Natalya sent Lynch out of the ring. Nikki with a spear on Naomi. Naomi with a roundhouse kick on Bliss and a split-legged moonsault off the top finished it at 9:35.
Winners by pinfall: Nikki Bella, Naomi & Becky Lynch (Kickoff Show)
Analysis: **1/2 It was fine for a ten-minute tag. Most of it was the heels working on Lynch and then Naomi’s great offense to finish it off. When I wrote the preview I thought they might have James go over in her first PPV match in seven years or have Naomi win to give her momentum. They went with the Naomi option, which is fine. With Elimination Chamber in two weeks, they can do Naomi vs. Bliss, Mickie vs. Becky and Natalya vs. Nikki. The SD Live women are doing a great job.
(The SD women’s division was on fire at this point and they had three matches at the next PPV. That’s impressive.)
Raw Tag Team Championships: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (Kickoff Show)
There are two referees for this match with one ref in the ring and the other ref at ringside. Sheamus with a battering ram on Anderson early on. Running double stomp by Cesaro on Anderson. Gallows tagged in and was met with a springboard uppercut by Cesaro. The heels took control with Gallows cleaning house and they isolated Cesaro from his partner. Commercials aired for about one minute.
Sheamus got the hot tag for his team as he cleaned house. Sheamus with a shoulder block off the top for two. Cesaro got the tag leading to a double team slam for the champs for two. Anderson got the tag with a running boot to Sheamus on the apron. Anderson did a pinfall with his feet on the ropes, but the second ref stopped it. Uppercut by Cesaro got a two count. Cesaro tripped Anderson up leading to a 619 and a cross body block on Anderson for a two count. Anderson got a backslide for a two count. Spinebuster by Anderson on Cesaro earned a two count. Sheamus broke up a Magic Killer attempt. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, Anderson moved and Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on ref John Cone. Second ref took over as Cesaro did a swing on Anderson leading to a Sharpshooter. Gallows broke it up with a kick to the face. The four guys brawled in the ring. Gallows nailed Sheamus with a kick and they hit the Magic Killer on Sheamus. Cesaro clothesline on Gallows that sent him out of the ring. Anderson with a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! while grabbing the tights on Cesaro for the pinfall win and title victory at 10:30. The ref never saw the tights being pulled.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW Tag Team Champions: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Analysis: **1/2 It was an okay match. It never really got into that other gear to make it seem like a match where they should do a title change. The ending was cheap with the story that Sheamus took out the first ref and if there was a second ref he would have stopped the cheating. If you’re going to book a title change, do it on the actual PPV of the show to make it more important. Fans don’t view Kickoff Show matches as a big deal and doing a title change in this spot seems like a bad idea. With that said, I think the right team are holding the titles now. Gallows & Anderson should have been the team to win the gold from New Day last month. Cesaro & Sheamus didn’t need to win them. What does a one month title change mean? Nothing at all. They were just transitional champions. Gallows & Anderson will probably hold the titles until WrestleMania where they will likely drop them to Enzo & Cass.
(I don’t like doing a title change on the Kickoff Show. Do it on the main show.)
The Raw guys called the next match as well.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax (Kickoff Show)
Banks attacked with some chops to the chest to try to keep Jax away. Jax caught her and slammed her back first into the turnbuckle. Jax tossed Banks across the ring. Jax ran over Banks with a running body attack. Commercial break hyping the Royal Rumble.
Banks tried to fight back, but Jax punched her in the left knee. Banks wasn’t wearing the brace. Jax did the Stretch Muffler submission on the knee of Banks by stretching the knee against the head/shoulder of Jax. Banks broke free. Jax missed a corner attack and hit the ring post. Banks came back with knee strikes. Banks to the top and she hit a double knee attack for a two count. Jax with a popup Samoan Drop and that was it after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Nia Jax
Do we really need a commercial during a five-minute match? Show the damn match.
Analysis: *1/2 Dominant win by Jax as it should have been. She needed the win to show that she’s a major threat in the women’s division on Raw. It was Jax’s highest-profile match on the main roster and if she lost it would have hurt. Banks won’t be hurt by it since she’s a three-time Women’s Champ already.
(A bad Nia Jax match. Not exactly a new thing.)
That’s it for the Kickoff Show. Here’s the PPV show.
ROYAL RUMBLE MAIN SHOW
The opening video package showed some highlights from Royal Rumble history followed by clips of matches on this year’s show as well as the Rumble match itself.
The pyro went off in the Alamodome with an announced attendance of 52,020 fans by Michael Cole. There’s the WrestleMania sign above the arena. Get ready for sign pointing and staring season.
Bayley and Charlotte made their entrance for the Raw Women’s Title match. Bayley was out first to a huge ovation. Charlotte was next.
The Raw announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton are at ringside. The Spanish and German announcers are at ringside.
Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley
Charlotte dumped Bayley to the floor early on. Bayley went back in and tossed her out of the ring. Neckbreaker by Bayley using the ropes. Charlotte was on the floor, Bayley went to the second ropes and hit a cross body block to knock Charlotte down on the floor. Charlotte went to the other side of the ring on the floor, Bayley followed, so Charlotte sent her into the hard part of the ring apron. Charlotte worked her over in the ring by slamming her head into the mat repeatedly. Charlotte continued on offense with a headlock that kept Bayley grounded. Running boot to the face by Charlotte earned a two count. Leg scissors around the neck by Charlotte as she slammed Bayley all around the ring. Charlotte verbally taunted her and shoved her. Bayley came back with a slap followed by a double clothesline spot to knock them both down. Bayley made a comeback with an arm drag followed by a running attack into a headlock. Springboard cross body block by Bayley was a cool spot. Bayley with a move where she grabbed Charlotte’s head and slammed it into the mat kind of like a move called Paydirt. Bayley went up top with a Macho Man like elbow drop for a two count. Charlotte came back with a Figure Four Leglock, but Bayley flipped it over. Charlotte reversed it back into the Figure Eight by the ropes, but the ref caught it. Charlotte is bleeding from the mouth, which may have been caused by the elbow drop to the face. Charlotte up top with a moonsault, but Bayley got her knees up to block. Hey WWE, the crowd shots of dudes eating popcorn isn’t helping the match. Charlotte went up top, Bayley went after her and Charlotte shoved her down to the floor. Bayley was on the apron, so Charlotte hit Natural Selection on the ring apron for the pinfall win at 13:05.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
The win means that Charlotte is 16-0 in PPV title matches.
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match with a bit of a flat finish because I don’t think the crowd was expecting it. Bayley got a couple of decent nearfalls, but nothing that really made me think she was going to win. I’m not sure if they ended it a bit earlier because Charlotte was bleeding from the mouth or if that was the plan all along. It felt like it was going to be a longer match. There was nothing wrong with it at all. It just wasn’t at the same level as some Charlotte PPV matches.
(This was disappointing because they’re both talented wrestlers, but it just wasn’t that interesting. Bayley ended up winning the title on Raw a few weeks later in a match that was better than this.)
Post match, Charlotte celebrated with the Women’s Title while wiping the blood from her mouth.
A video package aired to set up Owens vs. Reigns for the Universal Title with Jericho in the shark cage.
Kevin Owens, the Universal Champion, made his entrance with the United States Champion Chris Jericho rocking a new scarf. The shark cage was in the ring. Jericho just stared at it without going inside of it. A lot of cheers for Owens and Jericho with some boos.
Roman Reigns made his entrance. There were a lot of boos for him. It sounded like the last time he was in a dome stadium in Texas at WrestleMania last year where he was booed a lot. I don’t mind the guy, but it’s obvious what the fans think.
Following the introductions, the ref made Jericho go into the shark cage. Jericho was wearing his US Championship and two scarves as he nearly went into it, but Owens nailed Reigns with punches. Jericho stomped away on Reigns as well. Reigns fought back with punches for both guys. Reigns sent Jericho into the cage two times. Reigns shoved Jericho into the cage and the ref locked the door. Time for the match to start.
Universal Championship No Disqualification Match: Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (Chris Jericho is in a shark cage)
Owens punched and kicked Reigns early on. Reigns came back with punches leading to them going over the barricade to continue brawling. They brawled into the crowd over by the international announcer tables. They went back to ringside where Reigns tossed the cover of the German announce table at Owens. Reigns tried for a whip into the steps, but Owens threw Reigns into the stops. Owens tossed the cover of the Spanish table onto Reigns on the floor. Owens set up four seated chairs outside the ring. Reigns tried to fight back, but Owens hit him with a TV monitor to the head. Owens with a cannonball on Reigns against the barricade. Owens stacked three chairs on top of the four other chairs so it was about six feet high of chairs like a chair pyramid. Owens teased a Powerbomb through the chairs, but Reigns came back with a punch to the face. Reigns teased a suplex through the chairs, but Owens avoided it with a neckbreaker using the ropes. Owens with two punches and Reigns ran back in the ring with three clotheslines in a row. Reigns sent Owens shoulder first into the ring post. Reigns brought a table into the ring, but KO stopped his momentum with a backstabber for a two count followed by Owens sending the table out of the ring. Reigns with a boot to the face, then he caught an Owens kick and Reigns hit a Powerbomb for two. Owens bailed to the floor, so Reigns nailed a drive by while Owens was up against the apron. A table was set up on the floor. Owens set up Reigns on the table. Owens up top and he hit a Frog Splash through the table onto Reigns on the floor. That was impressive! Owens rolled him back into the ring for a two count.
Owens nailed a chair shot to the ribs and a chair to the back for a two count. Reigns was selling a rib injury with the announcers mentioning it repeatedly. Owens wedged a chair against the ropes, Reigns came back with clotheslines and an uppercut. Owens with a kick to the face and he whipped Reigns into the chair that was wedged between the turnbuckle. Jericho dropped brass knuckles from the cage down to Owens in the ring. Owens mocked the loading up pose from Reigns, but Reigns avoided it and punched him. Owens hit a Superman Punch with brass knuckles for a two count. Jericho freaked out while in the cage. Owens teased a Powerbomb onto a chair that was in a seated position. Reigns picked him up with a Samoan Drop through the chair for a two count. Great spot that crushed the chair. Reigns set up a table against the turnbuckle. Owens got a rollup and Reigns nailed a Superman Punch for two. Reigns went for a Spear, Owens blocked it with a knee to the face and Owens hit a Stone Cold Stunner like Steve Austin for a two count. That was cool. Reigns was bleeding from the nose as Owens stomped away on him in the corner. Owens connected with the cannonball in the corner. Reigns teased a superplex through the pile of chairs that were outside the ring. Reigns nailed a Superman Punch that knocked Owens off the turnbuckle and sent him crashing through the tower of chairs on the floor. Ouch! There were a tower of stairs there that Owens set up earlier that Owens went crashing through.
Reigns picked up Owens and gave him a Powerbomb through an announce table at ringside. Reigns rolled him back in the ring. Braun Strowman showed up at ringside and he shoved Reigns into the steel post. Strowman gave Reigns a Chokeslam onto the German announce table. It didn’t break. Strowman with a Running Powerslam through the table that was set up against the turnbuckle. Owens crawled over, put one arm on the chest and covered Reigns to retain the title at 22:55.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
Analysis: **** Awesome match that was four stars out of five that may have been more with a cleaner finish, but what they did fits whatever story they want to do. It was better than the other matches they have had. They had a lot of big spots in the match with the table breaking multiple times, and Owens crashing through chairs as well. Reigns looked strong in the match because he kicked out everything Owens did and Reigns put Owens through three different objects (two tables, plus the chair stack). It was another fluke win from Owens just like his other title defenses. The appearance from Strowman wasn’t something I expected. It could set up a WrestleMania match with Reigns, but I think a match at Fastlane is possible as well. I picked Reigns to win here, so I got that wrong.
(It was cheap for the heel Owens. Very good match, though. These guys work well together. What I didn’t realize at the time is that Owens was going to lose the title at Fastlane, which I didn’t like at all. Reigns did beat Strowman at Fastlane as I predicted there and that’s a feud that would continue throughout most of 2017.)
Post match, the shark cage lowered and Jericho celebrated with his buddy Owens. Jericho helped Owens up the aisle with Owens selling that he was in a lot of pain. Reigns looked frustrated at ringside.
A graphic showed the attendance: 52,020 people.
There was a video about Royal Rumble moments. Cole said it was a countdown from #30 to #15, but it was more about showing different stats relating to the Rumble.
Stephanie McMahon (Raw Commissioner) and Mick Foley (Raw GM) were backstage in their “office” with a tumbler. Shane McMahon (Smackdown Commissioner) and Daniel Bryan (Smackdown GM) showed up. Shane spun the tumbler a bit. Sami Zayn showed up to grab a ball out of the tumbler. Dean Ambrose, the Intercontinental Champion, showed up to pick his ball. Ambrose was looking for churros. They didn’t have any. Ambrose grabbed a ball and asked Bryan to wake him up when his music hits. Ambrose opened Zayn’s ball and said “8” then said it was upside down, which was also eight. The crowd laughed. Zayn was happy with eight. Ambrose left.
Analysis: The bit with the number eight was funny and drew a laugh, so mission accomplished in that regard.
The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, Corey Graves and Austin Aries were at ringside for the next match. They are the 205 Live announcers there to call the Cruiserweight Title match.
A video package aired to set up Neville vs. Rich Swann for the Cruiserweight Championship with Swann saying he looked up to Neville. That was until Neville attacked him when he was champion. Neville made his entrance first. Rich Swann got a nice ovation from the crowd.
The international announcers were shown from their seats in the crowd and they spoke in their languages that I don’t understand. Hello Funaki.
Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann vs. Neville
Swann was aggressive early with a cross body block onto Neville on the floor. Neville was back in control with a missile dropkick off the top rope. Slow pace offense from Neville with a snap suplex followed by a forearm in the corner for a two count. Neville grabbed a headlock to slow it down. They went outside the ring with Neville whipping Swann’s back into the barricade two times. A lot of the crowd chanted “ten” as they were outside the ring in a bit of a tribute to Tye Dillinger from NXT one night earlier. They went back in the ring. Neville went up top, he jumped off and Swann crushed him with a superkick. That looked great, but the crowd isn’t into the match that much. Swann with a great hurricanrana out of the corner followed by an amazing Phoenix Splash onto Neville on the floor. That was awesome. Graves said it brought the crowd to its feet, but the crowd really isn’t into the match that much. Back in the ring, Swann nailed a roundhouse kick for a two count. Good nearfall there. Swann with a running splash for a two count. Swann up top, but Neville tripped him up and crotched him on the top rope. Neville teased a superplex, Swann shoved him off, Neville landed on his feet and Swann with a back kick to the gut of Neville. Neville stopped his momentum with a superkick. Swann countered a suplex into a pinfall for two. Swann hit his spinning back kick for a two count as Neville got his foot on the bottom rope. Swann up top, Neville went after him and Neville nailed a superplex. That earned a two count. Neville has won matches with that move, but Swann kicked out. Neville applied his submission old that’s like the Rings of Saturn as he pulled back on Swann’s head. Swann tapped out at 14:01 giving Neville the win and the title.
Winner by submission and New Cruiserweight Champion: Neville
Analysis: **3/4 The work was good, but the crowd wasn’t into it. Fans just aren’t into cruiserweight matches since they are short on Raw and not as many people are watching 205 Live. I’m not sure the reason. Swann did some cool moves that got a pop, but it wasn’t overwhelming at all. Swann did all he could, nailed the spin kick finisher and Neville got his foot on the rope to escape. Neville quickly got the win after that, which is cool with me. Neville winning the match was a result I predicted because I thought his work leading up to the match was fantastic. He’s a long-term heel champion that they can build the division around since there are several face contenders that could come after him for the title.
(The crowd being quiet was often a problem with these cruiserweight matches. It’s why WWE gave up on putting them on Raw and PPVs after a couple of years. Neville was great as a heel champion while Swann was entertaining as a face. Of course, both guys would get out of WWE for different reasons.)
A commercial aired plugging WrestleMania in 63 days. I’m not going to it this year (been to four of them), but hoping for a good show.
The Smackdown announce team took over with Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga, John Bradshaw Layfield and Tom “no talking during matches” Phillips. They were at ringside for the next match.
A video package aired to set up Styles vs. Cena for the WWE Title. Great video. Love this feud.
The WWE Champion AJ Styles was out first. If you read my reviews regularly then you know that I don’t like that because I think champions should always walk out last. A mix of cheers and boos for Styles, who is a heel that gets cheered quite a bit.
John Cena made his entrance to a loud response to the crowd. I think it sounded more like cheers than boos, but has some haters out there too. I like Cena and think he’s done great work in the last few years in terms of big matches.
During the in-ring introductions by Greg Hamilton, who does a great job, the crowd cheered both guys a lot. It sounded louder for Styles as they said “A-J-Styles” as Hamilton did it at the same time. The match started at 8:48pmET.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. John Cena
Cena started off with punches. Styles slowed him down with a back elbow. Kicks by Styles to the back. Crowd was chanting for both guys as they started off at a slow pace. Styles missed a knee drop attack with Cena coming back with a back body drop. Styles came back with an enziguri kick to the back of the head. Cena was loud in calling spots as he did a couple of shoulder tackles and Styles took him down with a hurricanrana. Styles with a corner clothesline followed by a leaping forearm attack. Cena with a spinning suplex that he always does. Cena teased the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Styles got back up, hit a German Suplex and a slam into a wheelbarrow facebuster (thanks Ranallo) for a two count. Styles nailed some strikes to the head, but Cena came back with a devastating running clothesline. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop only for Styles to fight out of the AA attempt. Cena wanted a superplex, but Styles slipped out, put him on his back, did a brief Torture Rack into a spinning slam for a two count. Styles set up a springboard attack, Cena avoided it and hit the Attitude Adjustment for two. There’s the first finisher that was kicked out of at around the ten-minute mark.
Cena nailed Styles with another stiff clothesline for a two count. Styles connected with a Pele Kick that hit Cena in the shoulder. Styles with a springboard attack into a Phenomenal Forearm for a two count. Hard kick by Styles to the ribs with Cena coughing to sell it, which is good by him. What an actor. Cena avoided an attack, put Styles on his shoulders in the electric chair position and dropped Styles face first into a facebuster like slam. They exchanged blows with Styles strikes earning a “yay” while most of Cena’s strikes got a “boo” reaction. Styles avoided the AA and applied the Calf Crusher submission. Cena powered out of it easily while transitioning into a STF submission. When Styles nearly got to the ropes, Cena pulled him back and applied the STF again. Styles fought back with a pinfall attempt. Styles applied the STF for himself. They each tried moves, there were counters and Cena turned it into a Figure Four Leglock. Styles fought it and applied a Cross Armbreaker on Cena’s left arm. Cena powered out into a slam. Both guys sold that incredible sequence by laying down on the mat to let the crowd cheer them. It’s important to have a moment to sell those moves. Cena jumped off the top rope with his leg drop attempt, Styles avoided it and hit the Styles Clash for a two count. Awesome nearfall.
Styles went for a springboard 450. It didn’t connect because Cena got his knees up. Cena with a perfect flipping sunset flip into a powerbomb (Code Red) for a two count. What a move. That looked awesome. Styles picked Cena up and gave him the Ushigoroshi for a two-count dropping Cena’s neck/back onto his knee, which was good for a two count. Cena sent Styles face first into the turnbuckle. Cena picked him up and slammed him down with a move that looked a like a Big Ending. JBL said he’s enjoying the hell out of this match – I am too! Cena set up Styles on the top rope, Cena jumped off the middle rope, hit the Attitude Adjustment for a Super AA (or Avalanche Attitude Adjustment) and Styles kicked out at two. Wow! What a match. Shocked look on Cena’s face as the crowd went wild. Styles countered Cena and hit a Styles Clash again. Styles didn’t cover. He went for a springboard attack, but Cena caught him. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment, then he rolled through, hit another Attitude Adjustment and covered Styles for the pinfall win at 24:10.
Winner by pinfall and New WWE Champion: John Cena
There was a big ovation for Cena’s win. Crowd booed him at times, but they respect his work. That makes Cena a 16-time WWE (World) Champion, which ties him with Ric Flair’s recognized record.
Analysis: ***** Wow that was incredible! Five stars out of five, which is as high as my scale goes. I don’t know what to say other than that was one of the best matches I’ve ever seen. I think they topped their SummerSlam performance and delivered a match that should be considered one of the best matches of either man’s career. That’s saying a lot considering how much they both have accomplished in their careers. Styles was amazing using his athleticism all match long as he hit Cena with everything, Cena kept coming back and nearly got the win several times. Eventually, Cena did get the win with the back to back AA after he hit him with two AA’s before that. I loved everything about the match. It didn’t go 30+ minutes like I thought, but nothing wrong with 25 minutes. That’s fine with me because we got an all-time great match here. I will watch it again, but I don’t see my rating changing. It was a special match with a lot of hype that they lived up to. Congrats to Cena and Styles. Thank you for delivering a classic match. I picked Styles to win. Oops. Got that wrong. I don’t mind at all.
(Amazing match. It was my WWE Match of the Year in 2017 and I don’t think anything else really came that close because it’s an all-time great match. They kept the whole match in the ring for the most part too. Listen to the crowd. They got louder and louder as it went on. I’ve seen the match a few times by now and it’s always a joy to watch. Thank you Cena and Styles for this one.)
After the match was over, Cena celebrated with the title. He also greeted a Make A Wish kid in the crowd.
(Cena’s title reign ended in two weeks at Elimination Chamber with Bray Wyatt winning the WWE Title. Cena and Styles also lost a triple threat to Wyatt on Smackdown to put him over. Those were also excellent matches.)
A commercial aired for Elimination Chamber in two weeks on February 12 – it’s a Smackdown show.
A video aired about Seth Rollins calling out Triple H at NXT Takeover on Saturday night and then Triple responding on Facebook Live. Tomorrow on Raw, Rollins goes “face to face” with Stephanie.
Jerry “The King” Lawler made his way to ringside to do commentary with Cole and Graves.
A video package aired with the “top 15 moments in Royal Rumble history” according to Cole, but it was really just 15 more stats about the Rumble.
During the announcement for the Royal Rumble, Jojo the ring announcer noted that “every two minutes” there will be a new entrant, so that’s a change from 90 seconds, which had become the norm.
Royal Rumble Match with 30 Competitors
The #1 entrant is Big Cass, so he had Enzo Amore with him and they did their usual promo. The crowd was on fire for them. Enzo talked about how Cass was going to win like HBK in 1995 in his prime. Chris Jericho is in the #2 spot.
The match started at 9:34pmET with Big Cass at #1 and Chris Jericho at #2 as noted. Cass nailed a fallaway slam followed by a corner splash. Jericho avoided an elbow drop. Cass nearly eliminated Jericho, but Jericho held on. Cass hit a boot. Kalisto was #3 and he ran down to the ring leading to a springboard dropkick on Cass. Enziguri kick by Kalisto on Jericho. Cass nearly dumped Kalisto, but Kalisto nailed a kick to his head. Kalisto ran the ropes right into a big boot by Cass. It’s Mojo Rawley at #4. It doesn’t seem like they are sticking to the two-minute timing between entrants. It feels quicker although I’m not going to time it. Rawley was aggressive early, but Cass slowed him down. Not a lot happening. Jack Gallagher is #5, so there’s a 205 Live wrestler. Kalisto is a cruiserweight too, but he’s not in the division. Gallagher used the umbrella to knock down the four guys in the ring. Jericho decked Gallagher with a punch to the back. Jericho with a slam on Gallagher. Gallagher came back with a low blow to Jericho using the umbrella. Not a lot happening again.
Mark Henry is at #6. He took a long time to get to the ring as Graves did the usual announcer shtick of calling him a favorite. Henry launched Gallagher out of the ring, but he went under the top rope. Fans cheered Henry as he knocked them down. Henry did a “Hook Em Horns” sign for Texas. Gallagher had his umbrella open, he jumped off the top, Henry caught him and tossed him over the top. Gallagher is the first man out of the match. Braun Strowman is #7 with five guys in the ring. Jericho bailed to the floor. Rawley nailed a splash in the corner on Strowman, but Strowman crushed him with a one armed slam. Strowman dumped Rawley over the top to the floor. Cass hit a big boot on Strowman, then he missed another big boot and Strowman knocked him out of the ring to eliminate Cass. Strowman grabbed Kalisto by the arm and launched him over the top onto Cass and Rawley on the floor. That was impressive. Strowman had a staredown with Henry. Strowman punched him a few times, dumped him over the top and Henry was on the apron with Strowman kicked him out. Sami Zayn is #8 as we learned earlier. Big punch to the chest by Strowman. Zayn tried to fight back. Jericho was on the floor again. Zayn nailed a clothesline, but Strowman came back with a running body attack to knock down Zayn. Corner splash by Strowman on Zayn. The obvious #9 is here and it’s the Big Show. He took his time getting down to the ring. The crowd cheered as Show had the staredown with Strowman. Show sent him into the ropes and Strowman nailed a clothesline to knock down Show. Big Show came back with a Chokeslam. Jericho went for a Codebreaker on Show, but Show caught him and nailed him with a KO Punch to knock down Jericho. Show and Strowman took turns picking eachother up. Strowman dumped out Show for his fifth elimination. Tye Dillinger is #10 in the match, much to the delight of the crowd as they chanted “ten” for him hoping it would be him. That was a great reaction for Dillinger, who has been a NXT guy for a couple of years. The duo of Dillinger and Zayn worked together to try to knock down Strowman. Jericho was still out of the ring. Strowman with a double suplex on Dillinger and Zayn.
James Ellsworth is in the #11 spot with Carmella joining him at ringside. Strowman told Ellsworth to get in the ring to face him. Zayn and Dillinger nearly dumped Strowman out, but Strowman hung on. Strowman decked them with clotheslines followed by splashes in the corner. Ellsworth didn’t go in the ring yet while Jericho was still out of the ring. Dean Ambrose, the Intercontinental Champion, was #12 to a good ovation from the crowd. Ambrose encouraged Ellsworth to get in together, so Ambrose stopped and Ellsworth ran in by himself. Strowman picked up Ellsworth in a Chokeslam like hold and slammed Ellsworth over the mat onto the floor. That’s six eliminations by Strowman. Ambrose got in there with some offense on Strowman to stun him a bit. The three faces went after Strowman together, but Strowman knocked them all down. Baron Corbin is at #13 with Strowman waiting for him. Ambrose jumped on Strowman while three guys punched at Strowman until Strowman powered out. Strowman dumped out Dillinger as his 7th elimination. The other three guys all took shots at Strowman to stun him with Zayn hitting a Helluva Kick in the corner and Corbin hitting a clothesline that knocked Strowman out of the ring. Impressive showing for Strowman with seven eliminations. Kofi Kingston of The New Day is #14 to a good ovation. Nice “Who? Who? Who?” tights for Kingston. Corbin left the ring under the bottom rope and came back with a clothesline on Ambrose. The Miz is #15 with Maryse, but she went to the back. That’s a shame. Miz went into the ring with a Skull Crushing Finale to Zayn. Ambrose with a clothesline on Kingston. Miz went after Ambrose, but couldn’t eliminate him. Corbin dominated the action by knocking everybody down. Kingston was on the top rope. Corbin punched him, so Kingston held onto the ring post to avoid elimination. That was a unique spot like Kingston does every year. Kingston hit Trouble in Paradise on Corbin.
Analysis: We are halfway through the match. A lot of big names left.
Sheamus is #16 with forearm shots, back suplex, backbreaker and a body slam. Jericho is back in the ring after spending most of the match on the floor. Sheamus with the ten forearm shots to the chest of Miz. Brogue Kick by Sheamus on Jericho. Back to the floor for Jericho again as the other guys in the ring just stood around. Big E is #17 as the second New Day guy in the match. Big E did an abdominal stretch on Miz right away with some booty slapping as the crowd chanted “New Day Rocks” for that. Double team clothesline by New Day on Miz. Not much happened that was interesting. Rusev is #18 with a mask on his face because he had a broken nose. Lana was with him, she told him to crush and she left. What a great wife. Rusev with running splashes in the corner for everybody and a spin kick on Sheamus. Rusev pounded on Ambrose in the corner with punches. Cesaro is #19 with a swing on Miz followed by a swing on Zayn. Swing by Cesaro on Ambrose as well. There are 10 guys in the match although only nine of them are in the ring because Jericho is on the floor. Cesaro couldn’t do the swing to Big E because he was tired of swinging. He even did a swing to Corbin. Cesaro tripped up Sheamus for a swing, but he paused and thought about it. The crowd wanted it. Rusev decked Cesaro with a superkick before Cesaro could do it. Xavier Woods is #20 so he’s the third New Day guy in the match. There wasn’t a lot happening other than a few teases of eliminations that didn’t look like they would eliminate anybody. The New Day trio did a triple team move on Miz.
Bray Wyatt is #21 as the arena went dark for his entrance with the crowd lighting up with cell phone light. The guys in the ring were just throwing punches. Wyatt with a uranage slam on Miz, running body attack on Ambrose and punches on a few other days. Wyatt had a staredown with Woods since Woods was scared of him last year. Wyatt crushed him with a clothesline. The ring was piling up with guys. There were 12 of them in the match, but Jericho was still on the floor. Apollo Crews is #22 for his first Royal Rumble. Crews delivered several kicks followed by a dropkick on Miz and standing moonsault by Crews on Miz as well. That’s 13 men in the match as the crowd chanted for Goldberg. Sheamus and Cesaro did a double clothesline spot to eliminate all three New Day guys. Sheamus went to eliminate Cesaro. Jericho snuck up behind them and dumped both guys out. That was a good spot. Long staredown by Sheamus and Cesaro outside the ring. Randy Orton is #23 – he’s a big favorite to win. He walked out to his “Voices” song instead of the Wyatt song. Orton with a powerslam on Miz, RKO on Corbin and RKO on Wyatt. Zayn jumped off the top rope and Orton dropped him with an RKO as well. Orton helped up Wyatt as they posed together. Dolph Ziggler was on fire as #24 with several superkicks. There was about five of them. Double DDT by Ziggler on Miz and Crews. Ambrose nearly eliminated Ziggler as the crowd chanted for Goldberg. Luke Harper is at #25. He eliminated Crews shortly after he entered. Harper nailed Wyatt with a lariat and a boot to Orton. That drew a good response. Harper teased the Sister Abigail neckbreaker on Wyatt, but Orton was there to drop Harper with a RKO.
Analysis: That means Goldberg, Lesnar and Undertaker all get spots in the final five.
Brock Lesnar is #26 with Paul Heyman accompanying him. Huge ovation for him. He got some fireworks on his entrance as well. Lesnar crushed Ambrose with a clothesline and dumped him out easily. Lesnar picked up Ziggler and eliminated him. Lesnar with German Suplexes for Rusev, Jericho and Corbin. Lesnar with an F5 on Miz. Lesnar with a F5 on Orton. Lesnar was on fire as he destroyed everybody in the ring. The crowd chanted “Goldberg” as Lesnar looked around. Enzo Amore is #27 as Graves got excited because it means Enzo would get destroyed by Lesnar. The other guys in the ring all stayed down while Enzo fired up against Lesnar. Enzo ran at him and Lesnar crushed him with a clothesline. Lesnar dumped Enzo out of the ring to eliminate him. Lesnar vertical suplex on Zayn and a vertical suplex for Jericho as well. Jericho grabbed his leg and bailed to the floor again. Lesnar with a vertical suplex on Rusev as well. Goldberg is #28. The crowd was going wild as they chanted “Goldberg” for him. Lesnar was waiting for him. Everybody else in the ring was down to set up this confrontation. Goldberg avoided a clothesline, bounced off the ropes and hit a Spear. Goldberg eliminated Lesnar with a clothesline. Huge pop for that! Goldberg with clothesline, punches and kicks on guys running at him. Jericho took a kick from Goldberg. Goldberg nailed Zayn with a Jackhammer. Orton and Wyatt worked together on Goldberg. They sent Goldberg into the ropes, so Goldberg bounced off the ropes to nail them with a double spear. Everybody is down the ring as the gong hits for #29 The Undertaker. There was no walk to the ring by Undertaker. He just showed up in the ring. Goldberg had a staredown with Undertaker. Taker choked him, but Corbin and Rusev broke it up by attacking them from behind. Goldberg dumped Rusev out. Undertaker eliminated Corbin. Goldberg with a Spear on Undertaker. Goldberg dumped Harper out. Goldberg was looking at Harper, so Undertaker eliminated Goldberg. Undertaker nailed Miz with a Chokeslam and he hit Zayn with a Chokeslam as well. Roman Reigns is the 30th man in the match. The crowd booed that.
(That sentence about the crowd booing wasn’t enough. The fans HATED that Reigns was in the match after he was in a match earlier in the show. They didn’t want Reigns in that spot, but WWE did it because of what would happen in the match.)
When Reigns got into the ring, Undertaker was waiting for him. Undertaker nailed him with a clothesline. Reigns avoided a chokeslam with a Superman Punch. Undertaker came back with a Chokeslam on Reigns. Undertaker eliminated Miz and Zayn with clotheslines over the top for each guy. The final five are Undertaker, Jericho, Wyatt, Orton and Reigns. Undertaker tried to dump Reigns out, but Reigns held on. Undertaker with a Chokeslam on Jericho. Undertaker did a throat slash gesture, so Reigns snuck up from behind and eliminated Undertaker. The crowd booed that loudly. There was a long staredown by Undertaker and Reigns after that elimination with Reigns saying it’s his hard now. That’s a rumored match at WrestleMania.
Final four are Reigns, Orton, Jericho and Wyatt. Jericho tried to go after Reigns. He went up top, but Reigns nailed him with a Superman Punch to eliminate him. The Wyatt Family duo worked together on Reigns with Orton hitting a draping DDT off the ropes. Reigns fought out of a double team with a Superman Punch on Orton and a Superman Punch on Wyatt as well. Reigns dumped Wyatt over the top to the floor. Reigns charged in for a Spear, Orton avoided it, Orton dropped him with an RKO and a clothesline by Orton eliminated Reigns. Randy Orton wins! The match time was 62:07.
Winner: Randy Orton
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Chris Jericho at 60:13.
Most Eliminations: Braun Strowman with 7.
Best Performers (3): Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn.
Analysis: ***1/4 I’m going to go point form notes for it because there was a lot to take in for an hour.
– It was a good Rumble match that had a strong ending with some big names, some comedy spots and a lot of slow moments in the first half as well. It wasn’t the best Rumble match I’ve ever seen by any means, but it was good enough.
– They set up the big moments well such as all of the Strowman eliminations, Goldberg getting rid of Lesnar easily and Undertaker was impressive as he eliminated Goldberg as well as several others.
(What we didn’t know at the time was that Goldberg getting rid of Lesnar would set up a Universal Title match at WrestleMania instead of just a regular match. That’s because Goldberg won the Universal Title at Fastlane.)
– Putting Reigns in the match upset the crowd, but they enjoyed seeing him get eliminated as Orton hit the RKO and dumped him out rather easily. Reigns was in there to set up the WrestleMania match with Undertaker. If they have Reigns brag about it on Raw that would be smart because it would piss off the crowd and possible lead to Reigns finally going heel.
(It did not turn Reigns heel, but the crowd still hated Reigns as a face.)
– Good to see Tye Dillinger at #10 as he should have been. However, I have my doubts that he is going to be used that well on the main roster. It could happen, but it’s not like they did anything with Tyler Breeze. Just because the crowd likes chanting “ten” doesn’t mean Vinny Mac is going to push him huge. I hope he does. I just have my doubts.
(My doubts were correct. Dillinger wasn’t used well on the main roster at all.)
– Strowman had a great showing with seven eliminations. I was surprised they had Corbin eliminate him since it would have made more sense for a face to do it.
– I was disappointed that the surprises in the match weren’t big names. They were all midcard wrestlers, plus Reigns and also Dillinger as the lone NXT guy in the match. I was hoping for Samoa Joe or Finn Balor to be there, but that obviously didn’t happen. Those two guys could have helped the match I think. Saving them for another time makes sense too. Plus, Balor may not have been healthy enough to be there.
– Jericho was the ironman in the match since he stayed in there for one hour, but he really didn’t do much since he stayed on the floor for about half the match. It’s still impressive for a 46 year old to last that long in this match.
– I realize that some people might be upset by the Orton won since he’s been a top guy for over a decade. So what? I like the story he has going with Bray Wyatt and if that story leads to those two having a big match at WrestleMania then that’s great. I’m intrigued by where things might be headed for them.
(I’ll stick with my rating for the match. The first half was boring because they kept a lot of big names in the final five spots, so that led to more excitement by the end. It’s a good match, but not really an all-time great Rumble or anything like that. As for Orton vs. Wyatt at WrestleMania, it sucked but at this point, the storyline was really good and I enjoyed it.)
Orton celebrated the win in a big way as fireworks went off and the WrestleMania sign was shown repeatedly. The win means Orton gets a title shot at WrestleMania – likely the WWE Title although that was not specified. Orton pointed at the sign and the show ended there.
This event had a run time of 3:30:46 on WWE Network.
Analysis: I don’t think they are going to do Orton vs. Cena at WrestleMania. Wyatt winning the WWE Title at Elimination Chamber makes sense to set up Orton vs. Wyatt at WrestleMania. They could have Orton break free from the group before that. I’m not sure if that’s the plan for sure, but that’s what was rumored in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter last week, which we covered here. The Orton part happened, so now we have to see if the Wyatt part will happen at Elimination Chamber as well. I think it will even though that means Cena would only have a two-week title reign.
Key matches for WrestleMania are expected to be Lesnar vs. Goldberg, Reigns vs. Undertaker, Orton vs. Wyatt, Rollins vs. Triple H, Owens vs. Jericho and perhaps Cena vs. Samoa Joe. Still two more PPVs before WrestleMania.
(All of that ended up being right except for Cena vs. Joe. Poor Samoa Joe didn’t even get to wrestle at that WrestleMania while Cena was in a mixed tag team match.)
It gets an 8 out of 10 from me.
That’s a high score because I enjoyed the show. Fun to watch and write about. Two excellent matches for the major titles in the company with Cena vs. Styles having an absolute classic. Owens vs. Reigns was a different kind of match because they used weapons to tell their story. Cheap ending to protect Reigns like usual, but I don’t mind it.
As for the Rumble match, I enjoyed most of it. Like I said before, it was a bit slow early in the match because they wanted to have Strowman dominate a part of it and they saved the bigger names like Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Undertaker and Reigns (loud boos from the crowd!) for the end. Randy Orton wasn’t a surprise winner since it was rumored going into the show, but I think there are people that were shocked about it.
The other undercard matches were enjoyable. There was nothing on the show that was that bad. That’s why I’ll remember the 2017 Royal Rumble as a quality wrestling show from top to bottom. Good job by WWE in front of a big crowd in San Antonio that was loud all night long.
(It was a very good PPV. The Rumble match wasn’t the major highlight like some years, but the WWE Title and Universal Title matches were awesome, so that helped a lot. There really wasn’t a bad match on the main card, which helped the overall show a lot.)
Best Match: AJ Styles vs. John Cena (***** out of 5)
Worst Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley on the main card (**1/2) – Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks on Kickoff Show (*1/2)
Five Stars of the Show
1. AJ Styles – Best in the world.
2. John Cena – Great showing with the best in the world again.
3. Kevin Owens – Bumped his ass off to make Reigns look strong. Went through tables and chairs too.
4. Roman Reigns – Another very good match in a big match setting.
5. (tie) Randy Orton – Was on fire with those RKOs leading to a big one before the end of the Rumble.
5. (tie) Chris Jericho – Going 60 minutes is impressive even though he spent a lot of the Rumble on the floor.
Check out the WWE Royal Rumble review archive right here.
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