By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Royal Rumble 2020
Aired January 26, 2020 live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Houston, Texas at Minute Maid Park
Kickoff Show Results: Sheamus defeated Shorty G, and Andrade defeated Humberto Carrillo to retain the U.S. Championship.
A video package narrated by Steve Austin opened the event and focused on the Royal Rumble matches. “What are you here for?” Austin asked. Austin looked at his watch and said, “Time’s up.” He said that what you’re walking into is no walk in the park. He said there’s no opportunity bigger than this. Austin said even if you think you’re on top, you better watch out for what’s coming for you. He said you’re here to make history and claim victory. He said you’re here to show the other sons of bitches what you’re made of. He said everything is bigger and batter. “Let me ask you one last time, what in the hell are you here for?” Austin asked. “Give me a hell yeah”…
Powell’s POV: The pay-per-view opening videos are typically forgettable, but that was top notch. Dot Net reader GTS is at the Rumble and wrote the following regarding the layout at Minute Maid Park. “It’s a weird set up. Everything is crammed into half the stadium and the other side is just empty. There’s basically no seating opposite the entrance ramp.”
Ring announcer Greg Hamilton stood in the ring and introduced the opening match and was even given a graphic…
1. Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary for the match. Reigns entered to a mixed reaction with more boos than he’s been getting on Smackdown lately. The Spanish and German broadcast teams checked in during the ring entrances. Graves said Reigns or Corbin would have to compete in the Rumble match later. Cole pointed out that both men are advertised. Graves sounded like he was delivering a planned line when he said he had a feeling that one of them wouldn’t make it to the Rumble match (foreshadowing?).
Corbin was carried to the ring on his platform. Once Corbin was lowered to the ground, Reigns went to ringside and roughed up two of the men who carried the platform. Corbin attacked Reigns, who quickly regrouped and ran him into the ring steps. The wrestlers made their way to the ring. Corbin performed his Deep Six for a near fall at 2:50. Corbin took the fight to ringside and hit Reigns with a piece of the ring steps. Corbin cleared the Spanish broadcast table. Reigns fought back and slammed Corbin into Cole’s broadcast table. Corbin hopped the barricade and Reigns. They had a walking brawl with Reigns getting the better of it at 5:00.
Reigns and Corbin returned to ringside. Corbin picked up a near fall behind a broadcast table. Reigns came back and went for a Superman Punch, but Corbin caught him and chokeslammed Reigns through the Spanish broadcast table. Corbin covered him for another near fall. Corbin took Reigns back over the barricade and brought him to the international broadcast area. Reigns ended up performing a Samoan Drop that drove Corbin through a table. Reigns hoisted up Corbin and put him through another table with another Samoan Drop and covered him for a two count at 11:20.
Corbin drove Reigns into a production crate, then climbed up into the equipment area. Reigns followed and was attacked by Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler. Cole pointed out that it was legal in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso showed up and fought Roode and Ziggler, but the heels quickly got the better of them. As they were working over Jey Uso, Jimmy dove onto them from the scaffolding in the technical area. Corbin and Reigns returned to the fight. Reigns hit Corbin with a pair of Superman Punches.
Reigns and Corbin fought near some porta-potties. Reigns slammed Corbin’s head into one of the porta-potties, then placed him inside one and shut the door. Reigns moved the porta-potty on wheels and pushed it over with Corbin inside. Right on cue, the live crowd chanted “holy shit.” A shockingly clean Corbin emerged from the porta-potty. Reigns worked him over with punches as they worked their way back to the main floor area. Corbin pulled the covering from one of the dugouts of the baseball stadium. Corbin ended up pulling out a chair and hitting Reigns with it at 20:00.
The wrestlers made their way to the top of the dugout where Corbin hit Reigns with the chair several times. Reigns avoided Corbin’s finisher, then hit him with a Superman Punch. Reigns let out the war cry and then speared and pinned Corbin on the dugout…
Roman Reigns defeated Baron Corbin in 21:20 in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Powell’s POV: A lively main show opener. The live crowd seemed to enjoy it, though reader GTS said it was tough to follow in person aside from watching the big screen. I was wondering if we’d see Corbin taunt the Astro fans with some reference to the cheating scandal, but perhaps that’s a no-go in their home park.
Backstage, Kevin Owens told Samoa Joe that he planned to throw out Seth Rollins and perhaps win the Rumble match. Owens noticed that Joe seemed upset. Joe reminded him that he would help him with Rollins, but it was every man for himself when it came to winning the match. As Joe was walking away, Owens reminded him that he told him the same thing on Monday…
Kayla Braxton interviewed Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville on the backstage interview set. Deville said that if the women’s Rumble match came down to the two of them, she wouldn’t throw Rose over the top rope. Deville said she would eliminate herself because that’s how much she cares about her partner…
Cole and Graves were shown on camera. Cole addressed the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter in a helicopter accident. A graphic of the NBA legend was shown…
After some advertising, imagery of Houston was shown. Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Jerry Lawler checked in from ringside and set up the women’s Royal Rumble match…
Powell’s POV: I thought Phillips was just calling a Kickoff Show match, but apparently he’s calling main show matches. I’m not sure what this means for Vic Joseph.
2. The 30-Woman Royal Rumble match. The first two entrants were Alexa Bliss and Bianca Belair. Their 90 seconds were dominated by Belair.
No. 3 was Molly Holly. The broadcast team explained that she was using her Mighty Molly superhero persona. Molly performed a dive onto her opponents.
No. 4 was Nikki Cross. Alexa Bliss smiled when her partner’s music played. The duo shared a hug when they thought they’d eliminated their opponents.
No. 5 was Lana, who cut a promo on her way to the ring. She said she’s better than “all of you pathetic losers.” She said she would win the Rumble for her hot husband Bobby Lashley. Lana tried to eliminate Molly, who held onto the ropes.
No. 6 was Mercedes Martinez, who got Lana on the apron and was unable to eliminate her before the next entrant.
No. 7 was Liv Morgan, who ran to the ring and immediately speared Lana off the apron to make her the first person eliminated. Martinez tried to eliminate Morgan, but Morgan fought her off. Morgan went to the ropes. Lana pulled Morgan down to eliminate her from the match. Lana and Morgan brawled until several referees quickly pulled them apart.
No. 8 was Mandy Rose. Graves said he remembered the first time his father took him to an MLB stadium. He said he felt the same way tonight while watching “God’s Greatest Creation” with The King.
No. 9 was Candice LeRae. The broadcast team recalled that she was also in last year’s match. LeRae performed a nice Lionsault onto Cross. Belair eliminated Mighty Molly. It looked like Bliss had eliminated Rose, but they cut to the floor to show that she landed on Otis. Rose smiled and reentered the match to cheers. Fun spot.
No. 10 was Sonya Deville. Rose and Deville worked together and targeted LeRae, who managed to stay in the match. Otis remained at ringside. Rose and Deville shifted their focus to Martinez and hit her with a high/low move and then eliminated her from the match.
No. 11 was Kairi Sane. Graves said that if Sane won the Rumble and Asuka beat Becky Lynch, it could be a battle of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions at WrestleMania.
No. 12 was Mia Yim, who ran to the ring and performed a neckbreaker on Sane, then hit Eat Defeat on Cross. With Cross on the apron, Belair picked up Bliss and swung her into Cross to knock her to ringside to eliminate her. Bliss was nearly eliminated, but she held onto Belair’s ponytail to stay in the match. Deville nearly eliminated Rose inadvertently, but Otis caught her. Belair sent Deville crashing into Rose and Otis, who fell over, causing Rose and Deville to be eliminated.
No. 13 was Dana Brooke, who performed a Swanton and worked over various opponents until Yim caught her with an overhead kick. Belair pressed LeRae over her head and dumped her over the top rope. Phillips noted that Belair had eliminated five entrants, tying a women’s Royal Rumble record. Bliss eliminated Sane.
No. 14 was Tamina, who blasted Brooke with a superkick. Belair avoided a superkick attempt and squared off with Tamina. Belair got the better of it and eliminated Tamina to set the new women’s elimination count record.
No. 15 was Dakota Kai. Bliss eliminated Yim.
No. 16 was Chelsea Green. Rob Stone walked out with Green and applauded her as she headed down the aisle. Green eliminated Kai, then Bliss eliminated Green. Brooke nearly eliminated Bliss, but ended up being eliminated by Belair. Bliss and Belair were the only women in the ring at this point. Bliss went for Twisted Bliss, but Belair put her knees up. They fought their way to the apron and had a tug-o-war with Belair’s ponytail. Belair got the better of it by pulling Bliss into the ring post, and then she fell to ringside to be eliminated.
No. 17 was Charlotte Flair. Belair was lit up with chops by Flair, then ended up running Flair face first into the corner.
No. 18 was Naomi. She had a new Afro look and used her “Feel The Glow” theme and was well received by the live crowd. Flair and Naomi did a mirror image spot, then opted to work together to work over Belair. It didn’t last long, as Flair lit up Naomi with chops.
No. 19 was Beth Phoenix, who came out to a nice pop. Phoenix and Flair glared at one another and went at it once Phoenix entered the ring. Naomi performed a springboard dive onto Flair and Phoenix.
No. 20 was Toni Storm, who went after Flair and worked her over in the corner. Flair fired back with a chop. Naomi went after Flair again. Meanwhile, Belair set up for a top rope move on Phoenix, but Flair spotted her and knocked her off the top rope to eliminate Belair from the match. Phillips said Belair lasted 33 minutes and 14 seconds, and the broadcast team raved about her performance.
No. 21 was Kelly Kelly. Phillips noted that Kelly was in the first women’s Rumble match in 2018 and drew 19 that year. Kelly performed her head-scissors takedown on Storm, then gave her a Stinkface in the corner. Flair hit Kelly from behind. Phoenix dumped Flair over the top rope, but Flair held on.
No. 22 was Sarah Logan, who ran to the ring and went after Flair to continue their oddball, one-sided feud from Smackdown. Logan ended up on the apron and was fighting with others when Flair hit her with a big boot to eliminate her. Kelly tried to eliminate Flair, who ended up hitting Kelly with a forearm and knocking her off the apron to eliminate her.
No. 23 was Natalya. Phillips said Phoenix would be happy to see her friend, but there are no allies in the Rumble match. Natalya went after Flair. Phoenix and Natalya performed a double team powerbomb on Flair. Natalya joined Storm in trying to eliminate Naomi, who held on.
No. 24 was Xia Li. Phillips noted that Li was also in last year’s Rumble match. Li threw nice spinning kicks at Phoenix and then Storm.
No. 25 was Zelina Vega, who performed a nice tilt-a-whirl DDT on Naomi. Phoenix had blood in her hair from an apparent cut to the head.
No. 26 was Shotzi Blackheart. Naomi was knocked off the apron. She ran down the steps and leapt onto the ringside barricade without having her feet hit the floor. Naomi set on the barricade and high-fived with fans. Naomi scooted across the barricade until she was able to climb onto the Spanish broadcast table.
No. 27 was Carmella, who performed a head-scissors takedown on Natalya after numerous revolutions. Naomi moved to the English broadcast table. Meanwhile, Phoenix hit a Glam Slam on Flair. Naomi moved to the German broadcast table. Flair was sent through the ropes and to the floor, but the broadcast team immediately pointed out that she didn’t go over the top rope.
No. 28 was Tegan Nox. Lawler laughed at her “The Shiniest Wizard” name. Phoenix, whose hair was soaked in blood, performed a Glam Slam on Nox.
No. 29 was Santina. Yes, Santino Marella’s female alter ego. Phoenix and Naomi were shown looking unpleased. Santina entered the ring and tried to befriend Phoenix, who gave her the death stare. Natalya entered the ring and joined in glaring at Santina, who reached inside her top and pulled out The Cobra. When Phoenix and Natalya didn’t back down, Santina eliminated herself.
No. 30 was Shayna Baszler, who went right after Flair at ringside and ran her into the steps. Baszler entered the ring and eliminated Li. Baszler quickly eliminated Nox. Baszler applied the Kirafuda Clutch on Vega and eliminated her. Blackheart pushed Baszler over the top, but Baszler hung onto the ropes and then hooked Blackheart with her legs and pulled her over to eliminate her.
Naomi used the plastic top of the broadcast table as a plank to the ring steps and returned to the ring. Baszler eliminated Carmella and Storm. Naomi went for her Rearview finisher on Baszler, who avoided it and dumped her over the top rope. Phillips noted that Baszler had eliminated seven women already.
The final four (barring someone else hiding at ringside) were Baszler, Natalya, Phoenix, and Flair. Phoenix and Natalya teamed up for a Hart Attack clothesline on Baszler. Phoenix then eliminated Natalya in a surprise moment. Baszler had Phoenix over the ropes. Flair tried to dump them both out, but they both hung on.
Baszler and Flair squared off. Phoenix nearly eliminated Flair. She turned her focus to Baszler, who eliminated Phoenix from the match. Flair was still hanging onto the top rope. Baszler tried to eliminate her, but Flair used her legs to pull Baszler over the ropes and to the floor for the win.
Charlotte Flair won the women’s Royal Rumble match in 54:20.
Flair stood on the middle rope and pointed at the stage where a WrestleMania logo appeared and pyro shot off. Charly Caruso entered the ring and interviewed Flair, who was getting a mixed reaction. Caruso noted that Flair could challenge the champion of her choosing at WrestleMania and then asked her to share her plans. Flair said that whether fans wanted her to win or lose, she reminded everyone that it’s her division…
Powell’s POV: I enjoyed the match, but Flair winning is just plain tired and feels predictable. The only thing more tired and predictable will be if Roman Reigns wins the men’s Rumble match. I don’t know what they have planned for WrestleMania (please don’t be another Flair vs. Becky Lynch match), but Baszler winning was far more appealing. Aside from the outcome, the match was entertaining and didn’t have many low points.
A WrestleMania video aired…
Kayla Braxton was talking backstage when King Corbin showed up on the interview set and threw a fit about Roman Reigns. Corbin said he would throw Reigns over the top rope and go on to main event WrestleMania…
3. Bayley vs. Lacey Evans for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Cole and Graves were on commentary. Cole noted that it was day number 247 of Bayley’s title reign. Evans removed the hat she wore during her entrance and put it on the head of her daughter, who was being held by Evans’ husband. The international broadcast teams checked in. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match.
Cole laid it on thick while saying that Evans was fighting against all odds, just as she’s done throughout her life. Bayley had an offensive run that ended when Evans avoided her diving at her from the ropes. Evans threw a nice running knee to the head of Bayley. A short time later, they went to ringside where Bayley threw Evans into the barricade near her family.
Bayley barked at Evans’ daughter, who made her mean face again. Bayley brought Evans back to the ring and went for her finisher, but Evans blocked it once, then headbutted Bayley when she tried it a second time. Evans performed a standing moonsault. Evans went to the top rope and went for a moonsault, but Bayley put her knees up and then pinned Evans…
Bayley defeated Lacey Evans in 9:20 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: This was the right finish. The crowd was coming down from the women’s Rumble match and never seemed all that into the match. There’s a good story to tell with Evans, but I continue to maintain that the serious story they are telling about her history is undercut by her dressing like a GLOW character. I liked Evans’ look as a heel, but her look and promo style should change if she’s going to remain a babyface. Bayley is a weak champion despite the length of her reign, but a title change here would have created another iffy champion.
A video package set up the WWE Universal Championship match…
4. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan in a strap match for the WWE Universal Championship. Bryan entered first. The Fiend came out wearing his Fiend title belt around his neck and carrying his head lantern, which he placed on the apron. The red lighting was back. Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole and Graves were on the call. Cole said the strap attached to the wrist of the wrestlers was 13 feet in length.
The Fiend was the early aggressor. He brought Bryan to ringside and whipped his back and chest with the strap before rolling him back inside the ring. The Fiend continued to whip Bryan with the strap. The camera closed in on Bryan’s back to show the welts while The Fiend laughed maniacally. Bryan came back and hit a running knee for a good near fall at 5:50.
Bryan sent The Fiend to ringside, went up top, and dove onto him at ringside. The Fiend regrouped and ran Bryan into the ring steps. The Fiend tried to do it a second time, but Bryan rolled under the bottom rope to the other side of the ring and then pulled the strap to pull The Fiend into the ring post multiple times. Bryan hit The Fiend with a running knee off the apron, but The Fiend remained on his feet and fired off a clothesline that turned Bryan inside out. The Fiend whipped Bryan again at 8:00.
The Fiend placed Bryan on the German broadcast table and then climbed onto it. Bryan kicked The Fiend in the nuts a few times, then DDT’d him onto the broadcast table. Bryan whipped Wyatt with the strap across the back repeatedly. The visual wasn’t enough for one cameraman, who annoyingly bounced up and down with each lash. Bryan rolled The Fiend back inside the ring and then went to the middle rope and performed a missile dropkick. Bryan kipped up, then kicked and whipped The Fiend, who called for more. Bryan granted his wish, then grabbed his arms and stomped his head repeatedly at 11:45.
Bryan led the crowd in Yes chants and then charged at The Fiend, who caught him with Sister Abigail for a very good near fall. The Fiend punched himself a few times. The Fiend pulled Bryan to his feet. Bryan fired a shot at The Fiend, who fired back and knocked Bryan to the mat. Bryan ended up on the ropes, and The Fiend applied a Mandible Claw. Bryan applied a triangle over the ropes while The Fiend maintained the Mandible Claw. The Fiend pulled Bryan into the ring and Bryan released the hold, but Bryan escaped the Mandible Claw and applied the LeBell Lock with the strap in the mask mouth. The Fiend broke the LeBell Lock and then rolled over and punched Bryan repeatedly. Graves said it was as if The Fiend was able to use supernatural powers by breaking the hold without much of a struggle (vomit).
The Fiend set up for Sister Abigail, but Bryan avoided it and rolled him up. Bryan got up and hit a running knee for a near fall. Graves said that with each minute that passed, Bryan was making believers out of the fans. Bryan fired up while the broadcast team wondered if he could actually pull it off. Suddenly, The Fiend got to his feet. Bryan flashed a look of surprise. Bryan stood up and whipped The Fiend with the strap three times. The Fiend no-sold the strap lashes and then applied a Mandible Claw. Bryan fought back, but The Fiend slammed him down while holding the Mandible Claw and got the three count. Cole called it an incredible, gutsy performance by Bryan.
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan in 17:35 in a strap match to retain the WWE Universal Championship.
Afterward, The Fiend celebrated his win in the ring briefly while his music played. The lights went out and The Fiend was gone when they turned back on. Several referees and a trainer checked on Bryan, who used the ropes to get back to his feet and received a nice ovation from the crowd before falling down. Bryan rolled out of the ring and was helped to the back by the referees. Bryan fell to the ground while they were helping him. Bryan got to his feet on his own and stumbled while fans around the barrier chanted “yes” in support…
Powell’s POV: That’s the best of The Fiend matches to date. They’ve scaled back on the horror movie monster aspects of the character (no-selling all of those Stomps from Seth Rollins), but they still pop up in the key moments. I’m all for Bray Wyatt being a master of mind games, but they lose me when they resort to the supernatural talk, which feels unnecessary for the character to thrive. Again, though, this was an entertaining match and Bryan did a great job of selling during and after the match.
Some advertising aired, including an ad for WWE Super ShowDown on Thursday, February 27 in Saudi Arabia…
Powell’s POV: Hey, Vince, don’t click on any links if the prince sends you any text messages.
A video package set up the Raw Women’s Championship match…
5. Becky Lynch vs. Asuka (w/Kairi Sane) for the Raw Women’s Championship. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Phillips and Lawler called the match. There was a nice exchange to start with Lynch brushing off an Asuka dropkick attempt and then catching her with a running shoulder block. Asuka went to ringside and caught Lynch with a shot to the arm. Asuka returned to the ring and went for the “hip” attack, but Lynch avoided it and then applied an armbar in the ropes, which she was forced to break.
Lynch performed a bulldog and followed up with a dropkick that resulted in a two count. A short time later, Asuka went for a German suplex off the apron, but Lynch held onto the ropes. Lynch hoisted up Asuka in suplex position and dropped her face side first to the floor below. Lynch waited for Asuka to get up and then hit a missile dropkick from the apron. Lynch performed an exploder suplex into the barricade. Lynch threw Asuka back inside the ring and then went up top and performed a leg drop for a near fall at 7:45.
Asuka fired back with some strikes and took offensive control. She picked up Lynch in fisherman’s buster position and dropped her backside down on the mat and then covered her for a two count. They went to the apron where Asuka performed the hip attack (butt-butt) on Lynch, which sent her into the ring post. Lynch fought back and both women ended up on the middle rope. After a bit of a hesitation, Lynch performed a uranage style slam from the ropes and got another two count.
Lynch went to the ropes and leapt into a Codebreaker. Asuka covered Lynch for a two count, then immediately applied an armbar. Lynch rolled onto Asuka and got a two count, which forced Asuka to release the hold. Asuka immediately applied the Asuka Lock, but Lynch reached the ropes to break it. Asuka followed up with a German suplex, then threw repeated kicks to Lynch’s head. The referee ordered Asuka back twice while he checked on Lynch. Fans booed the second time the ref ordered her back. The ref teased calling for the bell, but Lynch grabbed his leg and wouldn’t let him call off the match. Asuka fired off kicks to Lynch’s chest. Lynch fired up. Asuka blasted her with a kick to the head and then covered her for another near fall at 14:30.
A short time later, Asuka sent Lynch toward the referee in the corner. Lynch stopped short. When she turned around, Asuka tried to spray mist at her, but Lynch kicked her in the gut and Asuka sprayed the mist into the air. Lynch applied her Disarmher finisher and got the submission win…
Becky Lynch defeated Asuka in 16:25 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A strong match. The referee nearly calling off the match felt a bit overbooked, as I don’t think anyone really bought in and therefore it didn’t add anything to the match. The mist spot was solid if you can look past the kick to Asuka’s gut somehow causing her neck to snap upward to spray the mist. The effort was definitely there and this was a strong title match.
A WrestleMania video aired… Booker T was introduced to be on commentary for the main event…
6. The 30-Man Royal Rumble. The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T. No. 1 was Brock Lesnar, who was accompanied by Paul Heyman. No. 2 was Elias, who sang a song called “Sacrificial Lamb” about himself. Lesnar got sick of it and went after Elias at ringside. Once they entered the ring, the bell rang to start the match. Lesnar got the better of Elias. Heyman slid Lesnar the guitar, which Lesnar slammed over the back of Elias. Lesnar threw Elias over the top rope to eliminate him.
No. 3 was Erick Rowan, who brought his pet cage to the ring with him. Lesnar clotheslined Rowan over the top rope and eliminated him just eight seconds after Rowan entered.
No. 4 was Robert Roode. Lesnar charged at Roode in the corner. Roode put his feet up. Lesnar came right back with a clothesline and then hit an F5 on Roode and tossed him over the top rope to eliminate him from the match. Heyman handed Lesnar his WWE Championship belt, which Lesnar held up briefly.
No. 5 was John Morrison. Lesnar kicked Morrison when he entered the ring, then quickly suplexed him over the top rope to eliminate him. Lesnar went back to parading around the ring with his title belt.
No. 6 was Kofi Kingston, who went at Lesnar and got the better of him briefly. Lesnar cut off Kingston with a suplex. Kingston was the first man to survive until the buzzer sounded for the next entrant.
No. 7 was Rey Mysterio. The broadcast team played up the history between Mysterio and Lesnar. Mysterio took a German suplex, then performed the same move on Kingston.
No. 8 was Big E, who teamed up with Kingston and Mysterio on Lesnar. Kingston hit Trouble in Paradise. Big E hit the Big Ending, Mysterio performed a 619. Mysterio ran and leapt off the back of Big E and was caught and tossed out by Lesnar. Big E was clotheslined and eliminated. Lesnar performed an F5 on Kingston from the ring and dropped him to the floor to eliminate him.
Powell’s POV: No cute Kingston close calls this year. I’m okay with it since they were becoming absurd. Plus, Naomi played that role in the women’s match.
No. 9 was Cesaro, who was eliminated in a matter of seconds with a Lesnar clothesline.
No. 10 was Shelton Benjamin. Cole played up the history between the two as University of Minnesota teammates. Once Benjamin arrived at ringside, Heyman hugged him and said he was so happy to see him. Benjamin entered the ring. Lesnar shook his hand and hugged him. Lesnar eventually suplexed Benjamin and then clotheslined him over the top rope.
No. 11 was Shinsuke Nakamura. Sami Zayn came out with him, but he headed to the back before Nakamura entered the ring. Nakamura put Lesnar down with a kick. Nakamura went for his Kinshasa finisher, but Lesnar grabbed him and dumped him over the top rope to eliminate him. Cole said no one in history has eliminated ten straight opponents.
No. 12 was MVP, who received a good pop. Lesnar swayed and danced to MVP’s entrance theme. MVP chased Heyman around the ring. Lesnar tried to drag MVP into the ring. MVP clotheslined Lesnar over the top rope. Lesnar came right back and put him down with an F5. Lesnar tossed MVP over the top rope and to the floor to eliminate him.
No. 13 was Keith Lee. Fans popped. Lesnar sold it and said, “Ooooh, big boy.” Lesnar appeared to ask Heyman “who is this motherf—er?” Lesnar and Lee went face to face. Lesnar smiled, then threw knees to the chest of Lee, who shot him into the ropes and hit him with a shoulder block that moved Lesnar back. Lee ran the ropes and knocked Lesnar down with another shoulder block. Lesnar sold it with a look of shock. Lee shot Lesnar into the corner. Lesnar fired out of the corner and they hit simultaneous clotheslines and both fell to the mat.
No. 14 was Braun Strowman. “If Brock’s going out, Brock’s going out now,” Graves said. Strowman worked over both men and Lee was knocked under the ropes to ringside. Strowman followed and gave him a shoulder block, then returned to the ring and clotheslined Lesnar. Strowman picked up Lesnar for his finisher, but Lesnar slipped out and gave him a German suplex. Lee returned and took a German. Rinse and repeat with Lesnar hitting both men with another German while Cole gushed that it may be the greatest performance in Royal Rumble history. Lee and Strowman fought against the ropes. Lesnar pushed them both over to eliminate them. Cole noted that Lesnar tied the Rumble record for most eliminations.
No. 15 was Ricochet, who dove off the top rope at Lesnar, who caught him and performed a backbreaker and fell over with him. The broadcast team wondered if Lesnar was getting winded. Lesnar hit another German suplex.
No. 16 was Drew McIntyre. Once McIntyre was in the ring, Lesnar removed his MMA gloves. Ricochet low-blowed Lesnar, then McIntyre blasted him with a Claymore Kick to eliminate him from the match. Cole said Lesnar lasted 26 minutes and 23 seconds before being eliminated. Ricochet hit McIntyre with a couple moves, then McIntyre simply grabbed him and flung him over the top rope to eliminate him. McIntyre went back to glaring at Lesnar.
Powell’s POV: I could have done without the low blow that preceded it, but I love McIntyre eliminating Lesnar. It looks like we’re finally going to get Lesnar vs. McIntyre. The question now is whether it’s at WrestleMania or elsewhere. With Lesnar hanging around, I suspect that he’ll be returning the favor, so McIntyre may have to win Elimination Chamber, but I guess we’ll see.
No. 17 was The Miz. Lesnar was still down at ringside with Heyman standing by. McIntyre put Miz down with a move, then went back to glaring at Lesnar. McIntyre did his countdown and then hit Miz with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre tossed Miz over the top to eliminate him. McIntyre went back to glaring at Lesnar.
No. 18 was AJ Styles. Lesnar and Heyman went over the barricade.
No. 19 was Dolph Ziggler, who came out to his shitty entrance theme. Cole said Ziggler was now tied for second on the list of all-time Rumble appearances.
No. 20 was Karl Anderson, who joined Styles in going after McIntyre. It looked like McIntyre was going to double chokeslam them, but Ziggler superkicked him. Styles went after Ziggler.
No. 21 was Edge, who received the pop of the night. Edge struck a pose halfway to the ring and pyro shot off. Edge removed his ring jacket while Cole said it had been nine long years since Edge retired due to fusion neck surgery. Edge delivered spears while Styles stood in the corner with his arms on the ropes. Edge looked at Styles and the fans popped big again. Styles caught Edge with a Pele Kick. Edge came back with a spear.
Powell’s POV: It’s been rumored for some time, and it’s very cool to see Edge back. I came away from his exchange with Styles feeling like that could be Edge’s WrestleMania match. By the way, Lesnar appears to be gone from ringside, so hopefully that means he won’t be eliminating McIntyre.
No. 22 was King Corbin. McIntyre nearly had Ziggler eliminated, but Corbin saved him. Edge threw Styles over the top rope to eliminate him from the match.
No. 23 was Matt Riddle. There were “Bro” chants. Riddle entered the ring and kicked off his flip flops, then went to work. Riddle threw a series of kicks at McIntyre, then caught Edge with a ripcord knee. Corbin grabbed Riddle from behind and eliminated him from the match.
No. 24 was Luke Gallows. The broadcast team played up Anderson and Gallows being able to work together. McIntyre eliminated Corbin, but the cameras missed it to the point that Cole had to question if it was him. They aired a replay. Anderson and Gallows hit the Magic Killer on Edge.
No. 25 was Randy Orton. Cole noted that Orton won the Rumble in 2009 and 2017. Orton hit crowd pleasing RKOs, then had a moment with Edge where the Rated RKO duo eliminated Gallows and Anderson from the match. Orton and Edge talked to one another.
No. 26 was Roman Reigns, who received more boos than cheers. Reigns eliminated Ziggler. McIntyre hit a chop on Reigns, who no-sold it and then hit him with an uppercut.
No. 27 was Kevin Owens. Cole reminded viewers that No. 27 has produced more Rumble winners than any other number. He said something earlier about No. 26 not being so lucky. Owens gave McIntyre a Popup Powerbomb, then gave Reigns a Stunner. Orton set up behind Owens, who ended up kicking Orton and giving him a Stunner.
No. 28 was Aleister Black, who did not get his usual candle and rising platform entrance. McIntyre hit his Fade to Black finisher on McIntyre.
Powell’s POV: Does this mean Rollins and Murphy are the last two entrants?
No. 29 was Samoa Joe (nope in regards to my question above. Joe and Owens bumped into one another. Owens smiled, then both men exchanged punches. Joe performed an inverted atomic drop and then hit Owens with a big boot.
No. 30 was Seth Rollins, who was accompanied by Buddy Murphy and AOP. Owens and Joe stopped fighting. Owens held the ropes open for Rollins, then they both went to ringside and fought with Rollins and his crew. Rollins put AOP and Murphy to work by having them work over Edge and Orton while he went to the ring and performed a Stomp on McIntyre. Rollins also performed a Stomp on Reigns.
Black kicked Rollins in the back. Rollins fought back, but Black dropped him with a high kick. Black went for a springboard move, but Murphy tripped him up. Rollins threw Black over the top to eliminate him.
Owens caught Rollins with a Stunner and threw him over the top rope, but AOP caught him and then slid him back into the ring. Owens fought with AOP from the ring until he was eliminated by Rollins. Joe put Rollins in the Coquina Clutch. Murphy got involved. Rollins eliminated Joe. Owens and Joe fought AOP and Murphy to the back.
Rollins was left alone with Edge, McIntyre, Reigns, and Orton. Rollins tried to play to Reigns about forming an alliance. Rollins stuck his fist out. Reigns tagged Rollins with a Superman Punch. Edge shot Rollins at Orton, who gave him a powerslam. When Rollins got up, McIntyre put him back down with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre eliminated Rollins.
The final four were McIntyre, Orton, Reigns, and Edge (unless someone else was hiding). Edge and Orton teamed up or a double RKO on McIntyre. Orton snuck up behind Edge, who spotted him. They agreed to go after Reigns, but Edge then tossed Orton over the top rope to eliminate him.
Reigns and Edge squared off. Reigns put him down with a Superman Punch. Reigns set up in the corner and was booed. Edge leapt over him when he went for a spear. Edge nearly eliminated Reigns, but he held on. Reigns pulled Edge over the top rope to the apron. Reigns eliminated Edge.
The match came down to Reigns and McIntyre. Reigns went for a spear, but McIntyre caught him with a Claymore Kick and then eliminated Reigns to win the Rumble.
Drew McIntyre won the men’s Royal Rumble match in 60:50.
“All I can say is that it is about damn time,” Graves said. McIntyre stood on the ropes and pointed at the WrestleMania sign on the screen, then pyro shot off. McIntyre got emotional while Cole said that McIntyre’s time is now. Cole closed the show…
Powell’s POV: What Graves said. Seriously, this is long overdue and I can’t wait to see McIntyre vs. Lesnar, and I’m really looking forward to seeing McIntyre as a featured babyface going forward. As much as the result of the women’s Rumble match felt tired and repetitive, McIntyre winning is definitely fresh and exciting. I will have a lot more to say about this event in the members’ exclusive audio review that Jake Barnett and I will be co-hosting shortly. Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade and voting for the best match in our post show polls.
ProWrestling.net Live returns Monday at 3CT/4ET with Will Pruett and I taking your Rumble calls at PWAudio.net.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...