SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE ROYAL RUMBLE PPV REPORT
JANUARY 26, 2020
HOUSTON, TEX. AT MINUTE MAID FIELD
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole & Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
-A video package narrated by Steve Austin previewed the Royal Rumble. “Give me a hell yeah!” he closed with.
-Cole introduced the show and welcomed everyone to the 33rd Royal Rumble. He said over 40,000 were jam-packed into the home of the Houston Astros.
(1) ROMAN REIGNS vs. BARON CORBIN – Falls Count Anywhere
Sounded like a mixed response for Reigns. They went to Cole and Graves at the announce desk. Cole said this is his favorite annual event. They replayed the dog food angle. Reigns went after the crew carrying Corbin to the ring on the throne. He threw him shoulder-first into the ringside steps. In the ring, Reigns pounded away at Corbin’s head in the corner as the crowd counted along. He lifted Corbin for a Samoan Drop, but Corbin slipped out and dropped to the floor. Corbin gave Reigns an uppercut as he reached for him, then took over at ringside. When Reigns went for a Superman Punch, Corbin caught him mid-air and chokeslammed him into an announce desk. That was good for a two count on the floor. Corbin took Reigns deeper into the crowd. Reigns surprised him with a Samoan drop though a table. That led to a Reigns near fall.
While brawling in the production area, Ziggler and Roode attacked Reigns. The Usos made the save within a minute. Ziggler and Roode got the better of them, though. The focus shifted to Ziggler and Roode beating up the Usos for a while. Jimmy Uso dove onto Roode, Ziggler, and Jey off a tall speaker or case. Corbin then side slammed Jimmy onto a crate. Reigns then showed back up and hit Corbin a Superman Punch. Reigns gave Corbin a Superman Punch. They replayed Jimmy’s dive from several angles. Reigns threw Corbin into portable bathrooms. Reigns opened a door and fans cheered. He threw Corbin inside, then slammed the plastic door on him. Then he tipped it over. Eventually Corbin rolled out of it. Fans gathered around them as they brawled through the crowd. Reigns beat up Corbin near the dugouts, then played to the infield fans who cheered back. Corbin took over with a chair. They fought onto the roof of the dugout, where Corbin methodically hit Reigns a few more times. Reigns came back and speared Corbin and got a three count.
WINNER: Reigns in 23:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Precisely what you’d expect from this match. It worked for what it was, and the crowd ate up the interactive action throughout the stadium.)
-Kevin Owens walked up to Samoa Joe backstage and said he wants to throw Seth Rollins out of the Rumble and win the entire thing. Joe gave him a look. KO said he struck a nerve. Joe said he has his back when it comes to Seth, but if he gets in his path to WrestleMania, he will plow right through him.
-Kalya Braxton interviewed Mandy Rose and Peyton Royce. Peyton said if it came down to the two of them at the end, she’d throw herself over the top rope to let Mandy win. “That’s how much I care about my partner,” she said. Mandy soaked up the comment as the camera stayed on her for a few seconds.
-Cole acknowledged the death of Kobe Bryant earlier today and an In Memoriam graphic up on the screen.
-Commercials aired for WWE Shop and Miz & Mrs.
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-Phillips led a brief discussion about the Women’s Rumble.
(2) WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE
Alexa Bliss came out first. Bianca Belair came out second. She twirled her son tail and skipped to the ring. Graves talked about her attitude and swagger, but also said she has the conditioning to go far in this match. Belair gave a finger wave to Bliss after getting up from a dropkick. She landed a moonsault.
Molly came out next, plying the role of “Might Molly.” She had a cape. She leaped off the tor pope onto both Belair and Bliss with a crossbody. She then posed for the crowd like a superhero. Nikki Cross came out next. They all battled until they were all knocked out on the mat. Lana walked out next. She said she’s better than all of the other pathetic losers in the match. She said she is going to win for her newlywed Bobby Lashley. She entered and went after Belair, Nikki, and Molly. She dumped Molly over the top rope, but Molly landed on the ring apron. Lana kicked away at her, but couldn’t get her to the floor.
Next out was Mercedes Martinez. The crowd began looking her up on their phones. Next Liv Morgan ran out and knocked Lana off the ring apron to the floor to eliminate her. Lana then yanked Liv off the top rope to eliminate her. (So it’s legal for someone already eliminated to eliminate someone in the match legally? Dumb.) Referees separated the two at ringside. Mandy Rose came out next followed by Candice LeRae. Belair then eliminated Moly. Bliss backdropped Mandy seconds later to the ring apron. Mandy rolled to the floor, but she landed on Otis who was lying on his back. She saved her from elimination. She stood up and smiled. Graves said that was the sweetest thing he’s ever seen happen. (That was cure, but also quite the stretch he’d have any idea she’d be tossed over at that moment in that spot.) Otis paced at ringside for a while as Kairi Sane made her entrance next. Rose and Deville eliminated Martinez.
Mia Yim charged to the ring next. Belair swung Bliss into Cross to knock her off the ring apron to eliminate her. Sonya inadvertently knocked Mandy over the top rope into the arms of Otis. Otis saved her again. Belair tossed Sonya onto Rose and Otis, eliminating Rose and Sonya. Belair eliminated LeRae.
Dana Brooke came out next. She landed a flip senton onto Yim off the top rope and took it to everyone else in a flurry of offense. Phillips said, “That was a kick to the top of her face.” Graves said, “That’s called a forehead, Tom.” Robot Tom didn’t react as his software didn’t know how to compute that comment. Bliss eliminated Kairi.
Tamina walked out next. After Tamina knocked everyone else down, she squared off with Belair. Tamina dove at her, but got backdropped over the top to the floor. Dakota Kai came out next. Bliss eliminated Yim. Chelsea Green came out next, accompanied onto the stage by Robert Stone. She quickly dumped Dakota Kai over the top, but as she celebrated, Bliss eliminated her. Belair then knocked Brooke off the ring apron to the floor.
It was down to Belair vs. Bliss at this point. Belair battled Bliss on the ring apron, then Bliss whipped Bliss into the ringpost and to the floor to eliminate her. Charlotte Flair came out next. She battled Belair until Naomi made her return to WWE rings. She and Charlotte had a spirited battle including simultaneous kip ups. Then Beth Phoenix came out and went after Naomi and Charlotte. Belair strategically watched from the corner.
Toni Storm came out next. Charlotte knocked Belair off the top rope. Fans booed. Phillips noted she was in the match for 33 minutes, 20 seconds. Graves said she has nothing to be ashamed of. Kelly Kelly came out next. Lawler was very happy. She gave Naomi a Thesz Press. Then she head scissored Storm and let out some loud yells. Kelly rubbed her butt in the face of Storm in the corner Rikishi-style. Charlotte knocked her down from behind. Phoenix stomped away at Charlotte on the ring apron, putting her in jeopardy of losing. Charlotte held on tightly. Sarah Logan came out next.
Sarah Logan came out next. Charlotte quickly eliminated her. As Charlotte celebrated, Kelly tried to eliminate her. Charlotte blocked it and eliminated Kelly. Zelina Vega came out next.
Phoenix, Natalya, Storm, Charlotte, Vega, Li, and Naomi were still legal. Natalya, Li, and Pheonix tried to eliminate Charlotte together. “Somebody save the queen!” exclaimed Lawler. Naomi joined in, but it ended up saving Charlotte when she pulled Natalya away. Shotzi Blackheart came out next. Natalya shoved Naomi off the ring apron, but she grabbed onto the ring apron and held on, avoiding touching the floor. She had nowhere to go other than pull herself onto the edge of the ringside barricade. She celebrated her survival with fans in the front row. She scooted to the announce desks. Fans watched as she assessed a strategy to get back to the ring apron. Meanwhile, Carmella entered. She gave Natalya the Mela-Go-Round. Phoenix gave Charlotte a Glam Slam. Natalya and Phoenix shoved Charlotte out of the ring through the ropes; Charlotte was still legal.
Santina Marelli came out next. (Santina Marella in drag.) Santina entered and had some words for Phoenix. The announcers talked about their history. Natalya and Phoenix surrounded Santina. Santina took out the Cobra. When Phoenix and Natalya no-sold the Cobra, Santina leaped over the top rope for a self-elimination. Phillips cackled.
Baszler came out last. She attacked Charlotte at ringside the eliminated Xia Li. Then she eliminated Nox. She put the Kirifuda Clutch on Vega. Blackheart tried to eliminate Baszler, but Baszler pulled her over. Carmella returned to the ring by bridging the top of the table to the steps. Baszler eliminated Carmella and then Storm. Naomi went for a Rear View, but Baszler then tossed her over the top rope. Fans booed. Phoenix and Natalya gave Baszler the Hart Attack clothesline. Pheonix then surprised Natalya by tossing her over the top. Baszler almost had Phoenix dumped over the top when Charlotte tried to eliminate both of them from behind. They both landed safely on the ring apron.
Charlotte and Baszler circled each other. It felt like a “moment.” Phillips called it a dream showdown. Phoenix yanked Charlotte away, but Charlotte held on. Baszler eliminated Phoenix. She turned and nearly eliminated Charlotte, but Charlotte used her legs to drag Baszler over the top to the floor.
ORDER OF ENTRY
(1) Alexa Bliss
(2) Bianca Belair
(3) Molly Holly
(4) Nikki Cross
(6) Mercedes Martinez
(7) Liv Morgan
(8) Mandy Rose
(9) Candice LeRae
(10) Peyton Royce
(11) Kairi Sane
(12) Mia Yim
(13) Dana Brooke
(15) Dakota Kai
(16) Chelsea Green (w/Robert Stone)
(17) Charlotte Flair
(19) Beth Phoenix
(20) Toni Storm
(21) Kelly Kelly
(22) Sara Logan
(24) Xia Li
(25) Zelina Vega
(26) Shotzi Blackheart
(28) Tegan Nox
(29) Santina Marela
(30) Shayna Baszler
-Lana (via Liv Morgan)
-Liv Morgan (via Lana)
-Molly Holly (via Belair)
-Mercedez Martinez (via Rose, Deville)
-Mandy Rose (via Royce by accident)
-Peyton Royce (via Belair)
-Candice LeRae (via Belair)
-Kairi Sane (via Bliss)
-Tamina (via Belair)
-Mia Yim (via Bliss)
-Dakota Kai (via Green)
-Chesea Green (via Bliss)
-Dana Brooke (via Belair)
-Alexa Bliss (via Belair)
-Bianca Belair (via Charlotte)
-Sarah Logan (via Charlotte)
-Kelly Kelly (via Charlotte)
-Santina Marella (self-elimination)
-Xia Li (via Baszler)
-Tegan Nox (via Baszler)
-Zelina Vega (via Baszler)
-Carmella (via Baszler)
-Toni Storm (via Baszler)
-Naomi (via Baszler)
-Natlaya (via Phoenix)
-Phoenix (via Baszler)
-Baszler (via Charlotte)
WINNER: Charlotte in 55:00.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Charlotte mid-ring. She asked if she would share her plans regarding WrestleMania. Charlotte said since day one, she has been a diamond cut to last. “Whether any of you wanted me to win or wanted me to lose, tonight I reminded all of you that this is my division.” She looked into the camera and “wooo’d.”
(Keller’s Analysis: It sure looked set up for a Baszler win. I hope they didn’t have Charlotte win merely to avoid the obvious finish, especially if the men’s Rumble ends with a Roman Reigns win. The Rumble was fun. It had a good mix of surprises and legends, plus needed filler from NXT. They did spotlight Belair quite a bit in the first half or so, and Baszler was featured in the second half. Curious where they go with Charlotte, and if she ends up challenging Bayley as a babyface or challenges Becky as a heel. Becky vs. Charlotte one-on-one doesn’t feel WrestleMania-worthy at this point. It’s like John Cena vs. Randy Orton became – two top stars people like but don’t want to see wrestle each other any more.)
-Commecials aired for WWE Network, WrestleMania, and a sponsor.
-Kayla interviewed Corbin who said in the Rumble match, Reigns can’t hide behind the Usos a second time. He said he’ll eliminate Reigns and go on to main event WrestleMania. Cole called it revisionist history by Corbin.
(3) BAYLEY vs. LACEY EVANS – WWE Smackdown Title match
Cole talked about Lacey being a role model as she walked to the ring. They showed her daughter and husband in the crowd. He talked about Lacey being part of the first-ever women’s match in Saudi Arabia. Lacey swept Bayley’s legs a minute in and landed a swinging elbow drop. Bayley ducked a roundkick and a clothesline, but collapsed and sold that she blew out her knee running the ropes. Lacey asked the ref, “Are you kidding? Are we done?” As the ref checked on Bayley, Bayley gave Lacey a cheap shot. Bayley took over and leaped off the top rope with a flying elbow for a two count. Graves said, “That’s gotta be it!” He was wrong. Bayley dominated for several minutes, bringing the crowd down for a bit of a breather after the women’s Rumble match. She settled into some mat work, with Lacey teasing comebacks. Lacey made a comeback a few minutes later. Not much crowd reaction, though. Bayley rolled to the floor to slow Lacey. When Lacey launched herself at Bayley on the floor, Lacey side-stepped her and then threw her into the ringside barricade. Bayley beat up Lacey near Lacey’s daughter in the front row, then threw her back into the ring. Bayley went for a Bayley-to-Belly, but Lacey blocked it and fought free. Then she gave Bayley a swinging neck breaker and standing moonsault. Lacey stood on the second rope, saluted, and went for a moonsault. Bayley countered by lifting her knees and then scored a three count with a yank of the tights.
WINNER: Bayley in 9:00 to retain the Smackdown Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was rudimentary but just fine. Lacey didn’t look clunky or green and seems to be progressing. I am not a fan of finishes where a babyface unnecessarily delays doing a move and it backfires leading to their loss. That happened here with her salute. Bayley still feels like a flat champion who hasn’t made a case she should be a priority to build for a big WrestleMania match.)
-They went to Cole and Graves who said Lacey will be a champion some day. Graves said Bayley has shown something with this win and removed a lot doubt from doubters. Cole didn’t respond that Bayley used a yank of the tights to win and thus didn’t remove such doubt. He just moved on to plugging Zayde Wolfe’s “Rumble,” the official theme of the Rumble.
(4) “THE FIEND” BRAY WYATT vs. DANIEL BRYAN – WWE Universal Title match
Bryan came out in a t-shirt with “Yes!” on the front “The Planet’s Champion” on the back, with trees making up outline of the lettering. (Glad being pro-environment is no longer a heel act in WWE in 2020. That was always awkward, and more untenable now than ever.) The Bray “Firefly Funhouse” jungle played, and then it shifted to The Fiend’s entrance. “Let Me In!” was in big font on the entrance stage. Red lasers filled the stands. Then Fiend came out with a lantern made of a severed head. He took his sweet time walking to the ring. Then came formal ring introductions. Then they were strapped together. Cole said it’s been nearly a decade since there was a strap match. He said the match ends by pinfall or submissions (thus not the “drag your opponent to all four corners” stip that is often how to win a strap match, thus eliminating that as a way to lose without being pinned or submitting.)
No red lights during the match. Bryan opened up with aggressive offense including kicks in the corner. Fiend powered out of the corner with a powerbomb. Graves, massively prematurely, said that might have been Bryan’s only opening. Bray then began whipping Bryan over and over. Bray methodically whipped Bryan over and over for several minutes. When he set up Sister Abigail, Bryan blocked it and landed a kick and a running knee for a near fall. Cole treated the ref’s count with high drama. Bryan then dove off the top rope onto Fiend at ringside. He pummeled Fiend at ringside with punches. Fiend brushed off the attack and tossed Bryan into the ringside steps. Bryan slid to the other side of the ringpost and yanked Fiend hard into the post several times to gain the advantage. Cole called it a “tremendous survival tactic.” Bryan leaped off the ring apron and kneed Fiend, but Fiend fired back and took Bryan down. He whipped him and then put him on the announce table. Bryan kicked Fiend in the crotch five times and then he stood on the table and DDT’d Fiend on it. Cole said Bryan had to do something to survive, thus the low blows. Bryan whipped Fiend over and over and over. Fans began a “Daniel Bryan!” chant. Cole said he can’t believe Bryan has regained control of the match.
Back in the ring leaped off the second rope and dropkicked Fiend, then kipped up and played to the crowd. He got a decent pop. Fiend tried to no-sell Bryan attack as he sat up, but eventually Bryan got him down. When Bryan charged with a running knee, Fiend caught him with Sister Abigail for a very believable near fall. “How did he kick out!” exclaimed Cole. Fiend whipped Bryan a few more times, then applied the Mandible Claw. Bryan dropped back and applied an armbar while he was leaning back on the top turnbuckle. Graves wondered who would break their hold first. Fiend got the better of Bryan and brought him down to the mat. Bryan, though, slipped out and applied the LeBell Lock and then wrapped up The Fiend with the strap across his mouth and pulled back. Fiend stood and leveraged Bryan down and mounted him and punched away at him. Cool spot. Fiend whipped Bryan some more, then set up Sister Abigail. Bryan countered with a roll-up for a two count. He then landed another running knee for a near fall. Both were slow to get up. They cut to fans who were emotionally invested and reacting to the near falls. Cole said nobody expected this performance and he wondered if he could actually do this.
The Fiend stood up before Bryan did. Bryan turned around and looked up. He bowed his head and caught his breath, then stood and whipped Fiend in the chest. Fiend no-sold the lashes. He applied a Mandible Claw again, then chokeslammed him and scored the 1-2-3. Fiend’s music played. He celebrated. The lights went out. They came back on and referees helped Bryan roll out of the ring. His back was full of red marks and small bleeding lacerations. He pulled himself to his feet, but then collapsed again. He was helped to the back.
WINNER: The Fiend in 17:00 to retain the Universal Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: This dragged at times, but the high points were really well done. Bryan is so good with the spirited comebacks and convincing near falls. There were aspects of this match that “humanized” The Fiend character, but in the end the way he just moved to another level to no-sell and finish Bryan, almost at will, brought his mystique back up. It’s tough with a character like this to both keep him really strong, but also make matches interesting by putting him in a jeopardy at times, and this I think succeeded on that front.)
-Several commercials aired.
-They went to Phillips and Lawler at ringside.
(5) BECKY LYNCH vs. ASUKA (w/Kairi Sane) – WWE Raw Title match
Asuka got in most of the offense early. This also had the feel early on of a “come down, catch your breath” match, although it was sure to pick up steam as it progressed. Becky came back by blocking a charging Asuka with her knees, then connected with a bulldog and a dropkick for a two count. Becky battled Asuka on the ring apron and dropped her onto the floor chest-first. Back in the ring Becky landed a swinging leg drop onto Asuka for a near fall. Asuka landed a quick sitout fisherman buster for a near fall. Becky crawled over to the bottom rope. Becky and Asuka battled on the ring apron. Asuka gave Becky a hip attack, sending her into the ringpost. Then she yelled in Japanese before dragging Becky to her feet by her hair. They battled on the ring apron but Becky eventually landed a flying urinage for a two count. Asuka blocked Becky flying at her off the top rope with double knees for a near fall. She applied a cross armbreaker next. Becky leveraged Asuka’s shoulders down for a two count. Asuka then went for a submissions but Becky put her foot on the bottom rope to force a break. Asuka took Becky down with a German suplex and smiled. He threw rapid-fire front kicks. The ref backed her away. The ref was going to call off the match, but Becky grabbed his leg and told him to let her fight. Asuka threw kicks to Becky’s chest. She no-sold and called for more, but then Asuka round kicked her in the head for a near fall. She went for an Asuka lock, but Becky slipped free and nearly applied a Disarm Her, but Asuka rolled her up for a two count. Becky went for the arm again, but Asuka countered. Both were down and slow to get up. Asuka went for a spinning backfist, but Becky ducked. She went for the arm, but Asuka shoved Becky into the ref. Asuka went for the green mist, but Becky kicked her first and the mist ended up on Asuka’s face. Becky then applied the Disarm Her for the tapout win. “Debt’s been paid! Debt’s been paid!” shouted Phillips. An emotional Becky celebrated afterward.
WINNER: Becky in 18:00 to retain the Raw Women’s Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match start to finish, with the way the match played out matching the hyping going in.)
-Booker T was introduced as a guest commentator (which doesn’t preclude him from entering, so this could be a red herring.)
-At ringside, Cole and Graves said that Bobby Lashley and Rusev were supposed to be in the Rumble tonight, but they got into a fight in the parking lot and haven’t been medically cleared to win. Cole said he thought Rusev was primed to win with all he’s been through. Booker joined Graves and Cole.
(6) MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out first. Second out was Elias. Elias said, “Houston, we have a problem.” (People in Houston just LOVE that and can’t get enough of it.) He talked his way to the ring and got fans to yell, “Walk With Elias!” Elias sang about Lesnar being ready to attack, but when he threatened Heyman, Lesnar charged Elias at ringside. He chased Elias back into the ring. The bell rang at 9:10 central. Lesnar beat up Elias and then gave him a German suplex. Heyman handed Lesnar Elias’s guitar and then Lesnar smashed Elias across the back. Lesnar tossed him over the top rope. Lesnar waited about 20 seconds for the next entrant. It was Erick Rowan with his cage. Lesnar ate a back elbow from Rowan and then tossed him over the top rope eight seconds into Rowan’s stint inside the ring.
Robert Roode came out next. Graves called Roode “a cagey veteran.” (No one in pro wrestling history has ever won when they were called “a cagey veteran” before their match. Not that there was any doubt.) Roode went after Lesnar and caught him charging with a knee, but Lesnar clotheslined him and then gave him the first F5 of the match. Lesnar let out a big yell and looked down at Roode. Fans chanted “One more time!” He tossed Roode over the top easily. Out next was John Morrison. Lesnar kicked Morrison as he entered to block Morrison’s kick, and then he overhead tossed him over the top rope. Lesnar paced and waited for the sixth entrant.
Kofi Kingston entered next. Cole said this is his chance at redemption. The crowd exploded with excitement at his early flurry of offenses, a glimpse into the magic he had in the lead-up to WrestleMania last year. Lesnar brushed off the attack and gave him a German suplex, silencing the crowd briefly. Then a “Kofi!” chant started. Lesnar looked down and at Kofi and laughed. Lesnar lifted Kofi and shoved him hard into the corner. He survived 90 seconds, at which point Rey Mysterio made his entrance. Cole said he has his own score to settle with Lesnar. Cole talked about what Lesnar did to Rey’s son Dominic. Lesnar again brushed off Rey’s early attack and gave him a big released German suplex. Graves wondered if Lesnar won the Rumble if he’d even bother defending the Universal Title at WrestleMania. Booker said Brock has put himself in a position to write his own ticket.
Big E entered next and Lesnar seemed content to wait for him without eliminating the others, who were at ringside recovering. All three attacked Lesnar. Kofi hit a Trouble in Paradise. Big E lifted Lesnar and gave him a Big Ending. Lesnar leaned on the middle rope and then Rey hit the 619. Fans erupted with cheers. Big E charged Lesnar in the corner. Rey dove at Lesnar, but Lesnar overhead tossed Rey. Then he clotheslined Kofi out of mid-air. Then he clotheslined Big E over the top rope. Lesnar then gave Kofi an F5 over the top rope to the floor. Lesnar was alone once again, waiting ten seconds for whoever was next.
Cesaro came out next. Cesaro gave Lesnar a series of uppercuts. Lesnar kneed him in the gut and tossed him over the top. Then he waited once again. Shelton Benjamin came out next. Lesnar reacted to his former college teammate from the University of Minnesota making his way to the ring. Graves said there is some healthy respect between them. Shelton hugged Heyman who told him he is proud of him and happy to see him. He told him to reunite with Lesnar. Shelton entered. Booker told Shelton not to fall for that. Shelton and Lesnar hugged and chatted like they hadn’t seen each other in years. They “agreed to work together.” Lesnar hugged Shelton again. Graves said it’s not a bad decision by Brock to work with someone. As they waited for the next entrant, Lesnar suplexed Shelton and tossed him over the top rope. “How gullible can Shelton be?” asked Booker.
Out next was Shinsuke Nakamura, with Sami Zayn cheering him on half way to the ring before returning to the back. Nakamura went after Lesnar with strikes early including a spinning wheel kick. When Nakamura charged, Lesnar lifted and dropped him over the top rope. Cole said no one has eliminated ten straight opponents in a Royal Rumble match. He said Braun Strowman eliminated 13, but not in a row. Graves noted it was in the Greatest Royal Rumble, which had 50 competitors.
Next out was MVP. Cole caught up newer viewers on who he is. Booker said he talks to MVP all the time and he has a lot of unfinished business in WWE. Lesnar danced to MVP’s song. MVP pursued Heyman at ringside. Heyman ran. Lesnar grabbed MVP, but MVP snapped Lesnar’s neck over the top rope. Lesnar came back seconds later with an F5. He tossed him over the top next. Lesnar then waited.
Keith Lee came out next. Cole said he’s the new North American Champion. Lesnar got wide-eyed and smiled and welcomed him to the match. Cole said this is Lee’s first Rumble appearance. Lee stared down Heyman as he entered the ring. Cole said Lee is what you’d call in baseball a “five tool player.” (On “WWE Backstage” last week, C.M. Punk picked Lee to win and said the time to strike is now with him.) They looked each other up and down and were similar in size. Lesnar kneed Lee a couple times, but Lee reverse-whipped Lesnar and knocked him down with a shoulder tackle. Fans popped. He splashed Lesnar in the corner, then landed a running fist to the face. Lesnar gasped and sold the punch. They collided mid-ring and went down hard. Both were slow to get up, giving time for the next entrant.
Braun Strowman came out next. He knocked Lee down. Lee rolled to the floor under the bottom rope. Strowman then went after Lee at ringside. Graves questioned the strategy. He ran and checked Lee down. Back in the ring and clotheslined Lesnar. Lesnar countered with a German suplex. Then he gave Lee a German suplex. Lesnar gave another suplex to Braun. And another to Lee. Cole said this is already perhaps the greatest performance in the history of the Royal Rumble match. All three were down and slow to get up, as Lesnar sold general exhaustion. As Lee and Braun battled against the ropes, Lesnar stood and shoved both of them over the top rope to the floor.
Ricochet came out next. Lesnar caught him mid-air and gave him a backbreaker. Lesnar, looking worn out, suplexed Ricochet out of the corner and caught his breath a bit and smiled before standing. Cole said he doesn’t want to hear anything about Lesnar not defending his title and not wrestling when he needs to wrestle. He said it’s been a career-defining performance tonight. Out next was Drew McIntyre. Graves predicted McIntyre was a future Royal Rumble winner given the look on his face, staring down Lesnar. He stood on the ring apron and entered the ring, never breaking his eye contact with Lesnar. Lesnar took off his MMA gloves. Ricochet gave Lesnar a low blow from behind and then Drew kicked Lesnar in the face to eliminate him. The crowd exploded with cheers. Cole said Lesnar lasted 26 minutes, 23 seconds. Big career moment for Drew there. Drew then easily tossed Ricochet over the top rope.
Miz came out next. Drew easily tossed him over. Drew continued to stare down at Lesnar. Fans sang “Na na na na, good bye!” to Lesnar. Lesnar sold the loss nearly in tears as fans pelted him with taunts. A.J. Styles came out next. Styles and Drew battled for 90 seconds. Then Dolph Ziggler entered. Ziggler and Styles worked together for a few seconds, then Ziggler turned on Styles. Drew chopped Ziggler hard in the chest, then moved back to Styles with a hard chop. Drew lifted and nearly eliminated Styles when Karl Anderson made his entrance. Anderson, Styles, and Ziggler worked together briefly, then Anderson and Styles went after Ziggler.
Edge came out to a huge pop. Cole noted his triple fusion neck surgery. He speared Ziggler, speared Anderson, and then went after Drew as Styles watched. He speared Drew and then looked around and soaked up cheers from the crowd. Edge and Styles then stared at each other briefly then battled for the first time. Styles dropped Edge with a Pelé kick. Edge came back with a spear seconds later.
Next out was King Corbin. He joined Edge, Ziggler, Styles, Anderson, and McIntyre. Graves said this is an inspiring performance from Corbin. Cole asked how he can say that after just a few seconds. Graves said his comeback after the Reigns match. He said the feel-good moments are over and now it’s time for the winner. Edge the eliminated Styles. Out came Matt Riddle next. Cole said he’s from NXT and this is his first Rumble appearance. Some fans chanted “Bro! Bro!” to his music. He entered the ring, then flipped off his flip-flops. He went to work with kicks against McIntyre in the corner. (There’s a potential future PPV main event.) Edge went after Riddle, but Riddle gave him a Rip Cord Knee. Corbin then tossed Riddle off the top rope. Fans booed.
Luke Gallows came out next. McIntyre eliminated Corbin. Big pop for that. Next out was Randy Orton. Orton and Edge decided to work together and they eliminated both Gallows and Anderson with clotheslines. Roman Reigns came out next. Some boos. The announcers talked about him being beat up. Booker said he relishes this situation. Reigns eliminated Ziggler quickly. He went after Drew. Reigns no-sold a Drew chop. Then out came Kevin Owens. Cole said no. 27 is the entry point of more Rumble winners than any other number. Owens landed cannonballs against Edge and Reigns and Orton. He gave Drew a Pop-up Powerbomb. He superkicked Reigns and then went for a Pop-up Powerbomb. Reigns escaped, but Owens gave him a Stunner. Orton stalked KO and went for an RKO, but Owens gave him a stunner instead. Cole mentioned Steve Austin. KO then tried to eliminate Edge. Out came Aleister Black. Black caught Drew with Fade to Black. Samoa Joe came out next.
It was Orton, Reigns, Black, Joe, KO, Drew, and Edge at this point. Black and Joe battled. Booker said this could be Black’s breakout moment. Joe and KO bumped into each other. KO smiled and then agreed to swing away at each other. Joe gave KO an inverted atomic drop and a boot to the face. Seth Rollins came out next at no. 30. He was with Buddy Murphy and AOP. Graves said he wanted to change his pick. KO opened the ropes for Seth as Joe stood and waited as Drew took it to Black in the corner. Joe and KO battled AOP, Buddy, and Seth at ringside. Edge and Orton got involved at ringside. AOP threw Orton into Booker. Back in the ring Seth gave Drew a Stomp. Seth waited for Reigns to stand. He fended off Black, then stomped Reigns. Black kicked Seth from behind. Black kicked Seth in the head and went for a springboard off the middle rope, but Buddy knocked Black off balance. Seth then kicked Black and tossed him out. KO gave Seth a Stunner and tossed him over the top, but AOP caught him and threw him back in. As KO battled AOP, Seth dumped KO over the top to eliminate him. Joe applied the Coquina Clutch on Seth. Buddy broke it up. Joe turned to punch him. Seth then eliminated Joe.
AOP and Buddy brawled with Black, KO, and Joe at ringside. Seth asked where they were going, shouting down to them. Drew, Rollins, Reigns, Edge, and Orton were still legal. Seth offered to work with Reigns, eliminate everyone else, then battle each other. He offered a fist bump and yelled, “Let’s do it again!” Reigns gave him a Superman Punch. Edge went after Seth and threw him into Orton’s arms. Orton snap powerslammed him. Drew then gave Seth the Claymore Kick and tossed him out.
Final Four: Edge, Orton, Reigns, McIntyre. They stood in each corner and stared at each other. Edge and Orton talked and went after Drew and Roman. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” Orton caught Drew with an RKO mid-ring. Edge waited for Drew to stand. He delivered a spear. Orton chatted again with Edge. They gave Drew an RKO together. Cole said he still can’t believe they’re seeing Edge in the match, much less the Final Four. Edge turned and saw Orton ready to RKO him. Orton shrugged. Fans laughed. They turned to Reigns, but then Edge eliminated Orton. “Strike the Viper before he strikes you,” said Cole. Graves said Orton is frustrated because he should have known better. Fans chanted, “You deserve it!” Edge and Reigns exchanged blows. Reigns got the better of Edge, including a Superman Punch. Fans booed. Edge stood. Reigns set up his spear. He yelled. Fans yelled. Edge leapfrogged Reigns’s spear and then speared Reigns. He then tossed Reigns over the top, but onto the ring apron. Edge then charged, but Reigns side-stepped him and then leveraged him over the top rope. They both stood on the ring apron and battled. Drew stood up off-camera. Reigns knocked Edge’s grip off the top rope and Edge fell to the floor. Fans booed. Drew charged at Reigns. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch. Fans booed. Reigns tossed Drew over the top, but Drew held on and then elbowed up at Reigns. Then he hit a Claymore and tossed Reigns over the top to win. Cole talked about Drew never having a title shot before. Drew got emotional as his music played.
WINNER: Drew McIntyre to win the Rumble.
(Keller’s Analysis: A pretty brilliant finish. Having Drew eliminate Reigns was smart as many vocal fans did not want to see Reigns win again, but feared he was about to. It didn’t sound like fans were elated to see Drew win, so one questionable move was saving the Edge elimination for so late instead of having Drew eliminate a couple of heels after the Edge elimination. A really entertaining Royal Rumble, obviously with two distinct chapters – Lesnar and Post-Lesnar.)
ORDER OF ENTRY
(1) Brock Lesnar
(3) Erick Rowan
(4) Robert Roode
(5) John Morrison
(6) Kofi Kingston
(7) Rey Mysterio
(8) Big E
(10) Shelton Benjamin
(11) Shinsuke Nakamura
(13) Keith Lee
(14) Braun Strowman
(16) Drew McIntyre
(18) A.J. Styles
(19) Dolph Ziggler
(20) Karl Anderson
(22) King Corbin
(23) Matt Riddle
(24) Luke Gallows
(25) Randy Orton
(26) Roman Reigns
(27) Kevin Owens
(28) Aleister Black
(29) Samoa Joe
(30) Seth Rollins
-Elias (via Lesnar)
-Rowan (via Lesnar)
-Robert Roode (via Lesnar)
-John Morrison (via Lesnar)
-Rey Mysterio (via Lesnar)
-Big E (via Lesnar)
-Kofi Kingston (via Lesnar)
-Shelton Benjamin (via Lesnar)
-Shinsuke Nakamura (via Lesnar)
-MVP (via Lesnar)
-Keith Lee (via Lesnar)
-Braun Strowman (via Lesnar)
-Brock Lesnar (via McIntyre)
-Ricochet (via McIntyre)
-Miz (via McIntyre)
-A.J. Styles (via Edge)
-Matt Riddle (via Corbin)
-King Corbin (via McIntyre)
-Karl Anderson (via Orton)
-Luke Gallows (via Edge)
-Dolph Ziggler (via Reigns)
-Aleister Black (via Rollins)
-Kevin Owens (via Rollins)
-Samoa Joe (via Rollins)
-Seth Rollins (via Drew)
-Randy Orton (via Edge)
-Edge (via Reigns)
-Reigns (via McIntyre)