1/29 Powell’s WWE Royal Rumble 2017 live review: AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship, Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns in a No DQ match for the WWE Universal Championship with Chris Jericho in a shark cage

By Jason Powell

WWE Royal Rumble 2017
Aired live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
San Antonio, Texas at the Alamodome

A video package opened the show and focussed on the history of the Rumble event with clips from past Rumble matches, including Ric Flair, Shawn MIchaels, Steve Austin, and John Cena winning, plus moments involving Santino Marella and Kofi Kingston’s near eliminations. The video shifted into focussing on this year’s show…

Michael Cole introduced the show and said there were 52,020 fans in attendance. The WrestleMania sign was shown hanging from the rafters. Cole said that’s what the show was all about, the right to main event WrestleMania. Cole was joined by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton on commentary for the opening match…

1. Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship. Bayley made her entrance wearing jacket that read “Just Bayley” on the back. Charlotte had a great feathered robe. JoJo handled the in-ring introductions for the title match. Bayley sent Charlotte to ringside. She went for a head-scissors between the ropes. It was a bit awkward until she got her legs around her head, but they recovered nicely.

Charlotte rebounded by pulling Bayley’s head into the apron a short time later, then kicked her into the ring steps. Charlotte dominated the next few minutes and then got cocky. Bayley slapped her across the face, then they did a double clothesline spot that took both women down at 7:10.

Bayley threw a springboard cross body block at 8:10. Bayley performed a running version of a flatliner. She went up and performed a top rope elbow drop for a good near fall. Graves, who cheerleads for Charlotte, said that one made him nervous. Charlotte came right back with the Figure Four, but Bayley rolled it over.

Charlotte, who was bleeding from the mouth, managed to roll over and arch into the Figure 8 while holding the ropes. The referee called for the break. Charlotte went up top and performed a moonsault, but Bayley put her knees up and covered Charlotte for another good near fall.

Both women ended up fighting for position on the ropes. Charlotte knocked her down. Charlotte performed the Natural Selection on the ring apron, then brought Bayley back to mid-ring and pinned her clean…

Charlotte defeated Bayley in 13:05 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.

Powell’s POV: An enjoyable match with a clunky moments. The finish felt like it came out of nowhere because the Natural Selection puts the opponent in a yoga position and doesn’t look painful. This one was an exception, though, as it looked like Bayley’s head hit the mat on the replay.

A commercial aired and then a shot of Riverwalk was shown…

The shark cage was lowered into the ring, meaning the Universal Championship match is up next. A video package aired to recap the feud…

2. Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens in a No DQ match for the WWE Universal Championship with Chris Jericho in a shark cage. The usual boos for Reigns along with some cheers. Jericho was about to be put in the shark cage when he and Owens suddenly attacked Reigns. Roman fought back with uppercuts and was booed. Reigns ran Jericho into the shark cage a couple of times and then threw him inside. The ref closed the door and locked the cage, which was then raised above the ring.

Reigns and Owens went to the floor and then into the crowd with Reigns dominating the brawl. Once Owens was back at ringside, he threw the top of a broadcast table at Reigns, who caught it and threw it back at Owens. Later, Owens came back and connected with a cannonball against the barricade.

Owens worked over Reigns with a chair at 4:30, and set up an odd structure of chairs on the floor. Owens set up for a powerbomb, but Owens blocked it and punched him. Owens spotted the chair structure and then tried to suplex Owens onto them, but Owens blocked him and clotheslined him with the top rope at 5:45. Owens threw punches at Reigns, who was at ringside in front of the chairs, but Reigns stayed on the apron and then brought the fight back to the ring. Reigns slid a table inside the ring. Reigns caught him with a backstabber. Owens slid the table back to the floor and got some boos. Reigns powerbombed Owens for two at 8:05.

At 9:50, Owens performed a top rope splash that drove Reigns through a table on the floor. Owens took control and had Reigns down at 13:00. Jericho dropped a pair of brass knuckles to Owens, who then mocked the locked and loaded pose of Reigns before going for his own Superman Punch. Reigns blocked it with a punch. Owens managed to connect with a brass knuckles Superman Punch and covered Reigns, who kicked out at the last moment.

Owens set up a chair in the middle of the ring. Reigns regrouped and performed a Samoan drop that drove Owens onto the chair, which collapsed under him. Reigns set up a table in the corner. Owens rolled him up for a two count. Reigns came right back with a Superman Punch for a two count at 17:05. Reigns set up for a spear, but Owens stopped him and hit a Stunner for a two count.

Owens performed a cannonball in the corner at 19:00. Reigns rolled to the apron. Owens wanted to suplex him onto the contraption of chairs, but Reigns blocked it and then punched Owens, who fell into the chairs. Reigns powerbombed Owens through a broadcast table.

Reigns brought Owens back to the ring and set up for a spear when Braun Strowman showed up and pulled him to ringside. Strowman chokeslammed Reigns onto a broadcast table, then rolled him back inside the ring. Strowman ran Reigns through a table that was set up earlier. Owens rolled over and covered Reigns for the 1-2-3…

Kevin Owens defeated Roman Reigns in a No DQ match in 22:55 to retain the WWE Universal Championship.

Powell’s POV: A really fun brawl. The hook for the match was Jericho being inside the shark cage, but the match was entertaining enough that it was easy to forget that he was even there for long stretches of the match. Strowman interfering sets up a match with Reigns. Is it a WrestleMania match or a Fastlane match? Will Reigns enter or just get involved in the Rumble match later?

A backstage skit involving Enzo Amore and Big Cass was shown. It was a product placement bit for KFC… The broadcast team spoke about the previous match and Cole hyped that Strowman would be in the Rumble match, and he said to imagine what Strowman could do to the other 29 men… The Royal Rumble numbers video aired…

Backstage, Stephanie gave Foley a hard time about the way the Universal Championship match ended with interference. He said he didn’t see it coming and would address it on Raw, but he asked if he could enjoy the Rumble. Stephanie agreed. They were positioned by the Royal Rumble ball hopper. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan showed up.

Sami Zayn entered the scene and picked his number. Stephanie was giddy about seeing Zayn, presumably because he beat Seth Rollins on Raw. Dean Ambrose arrived and drew his number. Ambrose asked if Sami wanted him to open the container the number was in. “Eight,” Ambrose said. Then he said it was upside down. He turned it upside down and read eight again. The crowd laughed. Sami asked if Ambrose wanted him to open his container. Ambrose said no because he didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Sami was content with No. 8…

A video package set up the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match…

Powell’s POV: It’s odd that they would give away a Rumble number just for the sake of a joke. I suppose it could be a swerve, but the live crowd did get a kick out of it if nothing else. Meanwhile, the cruiserweight video package originally aired on 205 Live. It was excellent and it’s a shame it never aired on Raw.

3. Rich Swann vs. Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. The 205 Live team of Mauro Ranallo, Corey Graves, and Austin Aries called the match. Neville was the early aggressor and connected with a missile dropkick. Neville dominated the next few minutes and ran Swann into the barricade a couple times around 6:30.

Neville rolled Swann back inside the ring and went up to the top rope. Neville leapt off the top and into a superkick from Swann. Moments later, Swann performed a nice huracanrana on Neville, who started on the top rope. Swann performed a corkscrew splash off the second rope and onto Neville on the floor. Back inside the ring, Swann threw repeated puncehs and then kicks at Neville and got a two count.

At 11:30, Neville caught Swann on the ropes and set up for a superplex.. Swann shoved Neville off, but Neville back flipped onto his feet. Swann and Neville traded kicks, then Neville went for a German suplex, but Swann rolled him up for two. Swann caught Neville with his big kick to the head finisher and went for a cover, but Neville put his foot on the bottom rope. Neville performed a superplex for a two count, then immediately applied Rings of Saturn and got the submission win…

Neville defeated Rich Swann in 14:00 to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

Powell’s POV: A good match with the right guy going over. The atmosphere wasn’t very good as the crowd was pretty quiet. As is usually the case with cruiserweight matches in WWE, the fans were responsive to some of the bigger moves. I’m happy WWE pulled the trigger on the Neville title win rather than holding off on it. I’m curious to see who he ends up facing at WrestleMania.

A New Day skit took place with the three of them sitting on a couch backstage. It was a product placement ad for a website… The Smackdown broadcast team of Mauro Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips spoke at ringside… A video package set up the WWE Championship match…

4. AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship. Cena came out and listened to the crowd singing “John Cena sucks.” He said some are behind him and some are not. He said it feels like a big fight. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cena went for an early Attitude Adjustment, but Styles landed on his feet and caught Cena with a kick.

At 6:00, Styles cut off some Cena offense and performed a nasty looking wheelbarrow facebuster. Cena threw a series of strikes at Cena, who backed into the corner and performed a running clothesline that took Styles down. Cena smirked and then did the “You Can’t See Me” and Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena hoisted up Styles for the AA, but he was near the ropes and Styles grabbed on and ended up seated on a turnbuckle. Cena went up with him. Styles slipped under Cena and put him in the torture rack and then slammed him down for a two count.

Cena avoided a Phenomenal Forearm and then hit the AA for a near fall at 9:00. Styles ducked a charging Cena at 11:00, then caught him with a Pele Kick. Styles followed up with the Phenomenal Forearm and got a two count. At 13:10, Cena caught Styles in the Electric Chair and dropped him with a facebuster. The wrestlers traded punches in mid-ring with Styles getting cheered and Cena’s punches being booed. Styles kicked Cena and set up for the Styles Clash, but Cena countered out only to have Styles role him into the Calf Crusher.

Cena rolled out of the Calf Crusher and into an STF on Styles. Cena gave it up when Styles was nearing the ropes, then pulled him to the middle of the ring and reapplied the hold. Styles rolled Cena into a pin for a two count, then applied an STF of his own at 15:35. Cena teased tapping, then got to his feet with Styles on his back and went for an AA. Styles avoided it and they jockeyed for position. Cena caught Styles in the Figure Four at 16:15.

A short time later, Styles had Cena in a cross arm breaker. Cena stood up and slammed him down. Cena went up top for a legdrop, but Styles powerbombed him on the way down. Styles hit the Styles Clash to cheers and then rolled over Cena for a good near fall. Cena came back with a nearfall off a sunset flip powerbomb around 20:00.

Styles came back by hitting Cena with an AA for a two count. Cena got a two count with a version of the Big Ending. Cena set Styles on the top rope and then performed a an Attitude Adjustment for the 1-2… Nope. The fans popped huge when Styles kicked out, and Cena sat and showed some frustration over not being able to put him away.

Cena picked up Styles for a mid-ring AA, but Styles slipped away and hit another Styles Clash. Styles went for a springboard move, but Cena caught him with an AA. Cena picked him up and hit another AA and this time scored the pin. Ranallo noted that Cena tied Ric Flair’s record for most world title reigns. Cena stood up and hugged Charles Robinson, who then raised his arm. Cena went into the crowd and placed the title belt on the shoulder of a Make A Wish friend and posed with him…

John Cena pinned AJ Styles in 24:10 to win the WWE Championship.

Powell’s POV: A tremendous match with some unbelievably good near falls. It’s a shame that Styles probably won’t be in the title match at WrestleMania (we still have Elimination Chamber to go), but hopefully he will get something good. Meanwhile, I know there are fans who will grumble about Cena winning the title just in time for WrestleMania, but I can’t say I have an issue with it. Let’s see where it goes. Does this set up Cena against Rumble winner Undertaker or Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura or… Well, there are some cool possibilities. Again, though, he could also drop it at the Elimination Chamber, perhaps even to Styles. Heck, I’d even take Cena vs. Styles again at WrestleMania because they work so well together.

A WWE Network commercial aired, then an Elimination Chamber commercial aired… Cole and Graves hyped Cena defending the championship in the Elimination Chamber match, then recapped the Seth Rollins and Triple H angle from the NXT Takeover: San Antonio show… Cole hyped Rollins and Stephanie would be face-to-face on Raw…

Jerry Lawler made his entrance to join Cole and Saxton on commentary for the Rumble match. Cole set up the Rumble match numbers video… Cole hyped the 2018 going to Philadelphia…

JoJo read the rules of the Royal Rumble and said the winner would main event WrestleMania. Big Cass was the first entrant. He came out with Enzo, who delivered their pre-match mic work to the enthusiastic crowd. Cass said he will be the last man standing. He said he would win the Rumble and main event WrestleMania. Few seemed to believe him. He said he would prove there’s only one word for the other 29 men. The crowd helped him spell it out…

5. The 30-Man Royal Rumble match. The No. 1 and No. 2 entrants were Big Cass and Chris Jericho. Cass worked over Jericho until Jericho avoided the Empire Elbow. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho, but Cass kicked him off. Cass tried to throw Jericho over the top, but Jericho held onto the top rope. Jericho went up to the top and jumped into a big boot from Cass.

The No. 3 entrant in the Royal Rumble was Kalisto, who hit Cass with a missile dropkick, then caught Jericho with a kick. Graves questioned the logic of Kalisto running to the ring rather than conserving his energy. The No. 4 entrant was Mojo Rawley. Cole noted that Jericho made history by being in Rumble matches for the longest amount of time in history.

The No. 5 entrant was Jack Gallagher, who brought his umbrella William with it and used it as a weapon. Gallagher hit Jericho with a low blow from behind, then opened the umbrella in front of him and spun it around before ditching the umbrella. The No. 6 entrant was Mark Henry.

Henry tossed Gallagher threw the ropes, so no elimination. Henry, a Texas native, flashed the hook ’em Horns hand gesture for a nice ovation. Gallagher opened the umbrella on the top rope and jumped off as if he were flying only to be dumped out by Henry, meaning Gallagher was the first man eliminated.

The No. 7 entrant was Braun Strowman, who eliminated Rawley. Cass caught Strowman with a big boot and went for another. Strowman moved and Cass got caught up on the top rope. Strowman then eliminated Cass. Moments later, Strowman threw Kalisto onto Cass and Rawley to eliminate him. The crowd popped for Henry and Strowman facing off. Henry managed to skin the cat, but Strowman forced the issue and eliminated him while Jericho hid out at ringisde.

The No. 8 entrant was Sami Zayn (as we found out earlier). Strowman got the better of Zayn and stood over him as the countdown clock started. The No. 9 entrant was Big Show. Cole noted that it was Show’s 12th appearance in the Rumble, tying him for second with Shawn Michaels, and leaving him behind only Kane’s 17 appearances.

Strowman knocked Show down with a clothesline. Show came back with a chokeslam. Jericho returned to the ring and went for a Codebreaker, but Show caught him. Jericho ran the ropes and Show hit him with a knockout punch. Show picked up Strowman and wanted to dump him over, but Strowman slipped away. Strowman picked up Show, which popped the crowd, but Show slipped away. Strowman tilted Show over the top rope. Show tried to hang on, but Strowman pushed Big Show over to eliminate him.

The No. 10 entrant was Tye Dillinger. The fans popped and then chanted ten as Zayn and Dillinger took turns throwing running punches at Strowman. The duo teamed up for an attempted double suplex, but Strowman suplexed them instead.

The No. 11 entrant was James Ellsworth. Carmella ran out with Ellsworth, who slapped hands on his way to the ring. Strowman stood in the ring waiting for Ellsworth, who didn’t want to get in despite Carmella urging him to do so. The broadcast team recalled Ellsworth being destroyed by Strowman in his first Raw appearance. Zayn and Dillinger tried to eliminate Strowman, but he held on.

The No. 12 entrant was Dean Ambrose. He got Ellsworth fired up and acted like he was going to enter the ring and go after Strowman with him. Strowman charged the ring while Ambrose remained at ringside. Strowman eliminated Ellsworth quickly. Strowman fought off the babyfaces and waited during the countdown.

The No. 13 entrant was Baron Corbin. The babyfaces regrouped and went after Strowman, who eliminated Dillinger. Some fans booed the Dillinger elimination. Zayn caught Strowman with a Helluva Kick, then Corbin performed a running clothesline to eliminate Strowman from the match. Cool elimination. Ambrose performed Dirty Deeds on Corbin.

The No. 14 entrant was Kofi Kingston. The No. 15 entrant was The Miz, who came out with Maryse. They kissed on the stage and then Maryse went backstage. Miz immediately hit Zayn with a Skull Crushing Finale. A short time later, Miz threw a series of kicks at Corbin in the corner. Corbin came back with a spinning sidewalk slam on Miz.

Kingston went to the top of the ring post while backing away from Corbin, who punched him. Kingston landed face first on the top of the post cover, but held held on to actual post. That can’t be the big elimination save. It was a cool spot and all, but not nearly as grand as some of his past Rumble moments.

The No. 16 entrant was Sheamus. Cole played up the idea that Sheamus would be in a foul mood due to losing the tag titles earlier. The No. 17 entrant was Big E. Cole said E was in his third Rumble match. E put Miz in the abdominal stretch and then slapped his ass while the fans chanted “New Day Rocks.”

Powell’s POV: It looks like they are loading up the ring with all sorts of bodies for the big names to destroy.

The No. 18 entrant was Rusev, who had a face mask. Lana came out with Rusev briefly. Graves said Rusev broke his nose on Raw due to a Kingston cross body block. The No. 19 entrant was Cesaro, who did the spin on multiple opponents. He ended up having Sheamus in position for it and looked to the crowd, but Rusev caught Cesaro with a kick to the head.

The No. 20 entrant was Xavier Woods (there goes my Rumble game entires). The No. 21 entrant was Bray Wyatt, who entered the ring and immediately hit a uranage on Miz. The No. 22 entrant was Apollo Crews, who worked over Wyatt with some kicks, then caught Miz with a kick and a standing moonsault before becoming lost in the mix.

Jericho was still hanging out at ringside. Sheamus and Cesaro teamed up to eliminate all three of the New Day members at once. Sheamus tried to eliminate Cesaro, but Jericho returned to the ring and eliminated both Sheamus and Cesaro.

The No. 23 entrant was Randy Orton. Cole noted that Orton had eliminated 19 men over the years. He added that there have been three winners from the No. 23 spot over the years. Orton hit RKOs on Baron Corbin and then Rusev. Zayn leapt off the top rope and took and RKO as well. Wyatt posed in front of Orton.

The No. 24 entrant was Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler threw some kicks at various wrestlers and then performed a double DDT on Miz and Crews. The fans started chanting Goldberg (for the second time. Instead, the No. 25 entrant was Luke Harper. Orton pointed at him from the ring. Harper entered the ring and kicked Crews while the Graves said Harper was paying no attention to Orton.

Harper eliminated Crews. Harper and Orton locked eyes. Wyatt stood between them. Harper hit Wyatt with a discuss clothesline and then worked over Orton. Harper set up Wyatt for Sister Abigail and kissed him on the forehead, but Orton broke it up by performing the RKO on Harper.

The No. 26 entrant was Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman came out with Lesnar and accompanied him to the ring. Cole noted that it was Lensar’s third Rumble and he won in 2003. Lesnar entered the ring and clotheslined and eliminated Ambrose, then eliminated Ziggler. Lesnar started hitting various wrestlers with German suplexes and F5s and then looked to the crowd. Fans cheered and then a Goldberg chant broke out.

The No. 27 entrant was Enzo Amore. Lesnar was the only man standing. Enzo fired himself up and then ran into a big clothesline that turned him inside out. Lesnar eliminated Enzo Amore. The fans chanted Goldberg again, and Lesnar continued to dominate.

The No. 28 entrant was Goldberg, who came out in wrestling gear and got the usual stage pyro. Goldberg ducked a Lesnar clothesline, then speared and eliminated him from the Rumble. Lesnar fumed on the floor while also looking shocked by what happened. Wyatt and Orton went after Goldberg.

The No. 29 entrant was Undertaker. Taker quickly eliminated Rusev and Corbin. Goldberg eliminated Harper, then Taker dumped Goldberg over the top rope to eliminate him from the match.

The No. 30 entrant was Roman Reigns. Wow, they want him to be booed. Taker waited for Reigns to enter. They faced off and Taker threw the first punch, then they traded punches. Taker ended up clotheslining Reigns. Taker grabbed him and went for a chokeslam, but Reigns slipped away and hit the Superman Punch. Taker came back with a chokeslam.

Taker eliminated Miz and Zayn. Taker made the throat slashing gesture and Reigns eliminated him from behind. Reigns told Taker that it’s his yard now. After Taker left, Reigns eliminated Jericho by pushing him off the top rope.

The match came down to Reigns, Orton, and Wyatt. Reigns eliminated Wyatt. Reigns hit the Superman Punch on Orton and then backed into the corner while fans booed. Reigns charged at Orton, who hit the RKO. Both men got to their feet and Orton clotheslined Reigns over the top rope to win the Rumble match.

Randy Orton won the 30-man Royal Rumble match in 62:07.

Orton celebrated his win and pyro shot off on the stage to close the show…

Powell’s POV: I had no interest in seeing Orton win once he was listed as the betting odds favorite, but I really give WWE credit for their use of Reigns here. They knew that Reigns was going to be the heel to this crowd (and the masses) and used him to make Orton’s win feel like a big positive. They also set up a big showdown match with Reigns and Taker with the key line being “This is my yard now” from Reigns to Taker. Furthermore, they furthered the Lesnar and Goldberg saga perfectly by having Goldberg get the better of Lesnar once again. Those were the key stories of the Rumble match and they were well done. Overall, this was a hell of a show with a fun Rumble match and an awesome Styles vs. Cena match. It was mildly disappointing that we didn’t have any major surprises in the Rumble match, but I’m happy that they didn’t have wrestlers such as Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura enter the match if they weren’t going to have them win. I will have more to say in my member exclusive audio review with Zack Zimmerman later tonight.

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. Congrats to John Cena. You’re now only 1 behind Triple H, & at least 20 behind from tying Flair. Best of luck during #16.

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