Randy Orton conquered one of the most star-studded Royal Rumble matches in history to secure a headline world championship spot at WrestleMania 33.
The Viper earns a headline spot at WresteMania 33 with a victory in the 30-man battle royal at the Alamadome
The Viper eliminated Roman Reigns - who was attacked by Braun Strowman to lose his WWE Universal title fight earlier on the night - to confirm the victory in a match where Goldberg once again destroyed Brock Lesnar in short time. The Undertaker did not make the final four, being eliminated at the hands of Roman Reigns.
In front of 52,020 fans at the Alamadome in San Antonio, Texas, John Cena tied Ric Flair's record for the most world championship reigns in history, outlasting AJ Styles in yet another classic.
The Road to WrestleMania kicked off in style - and maybe some controversy (or disappointment) - at the 2017 Royal Rumble. Here's how it all unfolded, with a review, reaction and analysis.
Programming launched early in the night with a two hour kick-off show featuring a trio of bouts, most notably the RAW Tag Team Championships which switched hands. Before that though, the team of Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi saw off the returning Mickie James and teammates Alexa Bliss and Natalya in a straightforward six-woman tag, with the sprinkling of high-flying chaos prior to the champion being pinned.
From the Tokyo Dome (8 of them in a row but who's counting) to the Alamo Dome..#RoyalRumble— Karl Anderson (@KarlAndersonWWE) January 30, 2017
Here we go...... pic.twitter.com/mdIH1UtbYE
Wrapping up the action was a singles match between Nia Jax and Sasha Banks. Billed as a contextual "David vs. Goliath" bout, the odds were stacked against the former champion who carried a knee injury into the match. As expected, she brought the fire, and managed to get the "giant" down for a moment, only to fall to a Samoan Drop. Banks goes from title challenger to being convincingly crushed. Who knows what the deal is with that.
Dominant Charlotte extends streak against Bayley
Charlotte's sensational PPV record was extended to 16-0 as she dispatched a resolved Bayley to begin the main card and retain her RAW Women's Championship.
The early stages of the match saw Charlotte stunned at the barrage produced by Bayley, diving from the turnbuckle to the outside with a cross-body, but one slip up lead to a prolonged period of domination, pushing her compatriot on the brink with a Figure-Four leg lock. For all the fighting back, Charlotte continued to grasp a foothold in the bout, and a perfect Natural Selection on the apron put Bayley out for the 3 count.
#NATURALSELECTION on the APRON!! @MsCharlotteWWE goes to 16-0, defeating @ItsBayleyWWE at #RoyalRumble! pic.twitter.com/eNUanL0kSc— WWE (@WWE) January 30, 2017
It's obvious that the WWE are angling for something spectacular to end Charlotte's run. The build as a dominant champion with the "streak" will be a great storyline running into WrestleMania. Bayley meanwhile fought a simple but dramatic battle - earning her plaudits as a result.
I'm where I am because of people who work hard to be the best version of themselves. #JustBayley is good enough for me. #RoyalRumble 👸🏼— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) January 30, 2017
Reigns denied by Strowman attack
Kevin Owens retained his WWE Universal strap following a brutal no disqualification bout against Roman Reigns thanks to a helping hand from the gigantic barbarian Braun Strowman.
Ally Chris Jericho was taken out the equation through the use of a shark cage suspended above the ring, allowing the no disqualification stipulation to truly unfold. But the veteran didn't go easily: looking stressed prior to being caged up, he and Owens decided to get an advantage by attacking the challenger before the match. While some damage was done, The Big Dog was able to fight them off and create enough of a time window to get Y2J in the cage. With that, the bell rang and the championship fight was under way.
A powerbomb off the apron and to the chairs was on the agenda, but a wary challenger was able to fight it off. He would rally, and come back to lay waste to KO with a thunderous power bomb in the middle of the ring - ultimately not enough to put the match to bed. Introduced not so long after was a table, set up outside the ring and to the detriment of Roman Reigns. A frogsplash from the Canadian had him in dire straights but again able to kick out, and the champion would revert back to the safe haven, even if it was suspended high in the arena. Jericho threw brass knuckles to his friend, who used it to Superman Punch Reigns.
"If @WWERomanReigns didn't have crushed ribs before, HE HAS THEM NOW!" - @MichaelCole #RoyalRumble #UniversalTitle @FightOwensFight pic.twitter.com/NmtdG5ftnQ— WWE (@WWE) January 30, 2017
And it was Roman Reigns with the impetus after Owens' chair complex came back to bite him. An attempt to suplex him was brushed off, and Reigns charged down the apron with a Superman Punch to send Owens falling through. To wrap things up, he prepared the announce table, hoisting Owens up with incredible strength and exploding him through it. With KO now lifeless, he looked to drag him into the ring and go for the pin, but out of nowhere came Braun Strowman.
That was a freakin' war!! Hats off to Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns for putting their bodies through that much punishment. #RoyalRumble— Rumble Ramble (@TheRumbleRamble) January 30, 2017
Neville ascends to the top of the cruiserweight pile
Neville was crowned the new WWE Cruiserweight champion by submitting Rich Swann, sealing his mark on the division following his return with a vengeance.
WHAT A PHOENIX SPLASH by the CHAMP!! @GottaGetSwann @WWENeville #205Live #RoyalRumble pic.twitter.com/s0uPCHtRKq— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 30, 2017
A super kick cracked on the chin of the Geordie, but he managed to sneak his foot on to the bottom rope to break the pin. A superplex from the top rope later from the challenger turned the complexion of the match though, and after Swann kicked out, he locked in his patented submission forcing a reluctant tap to crown the new king of the cruiserweights.
#ANDTHENEW BRITISH Cruiserweight Champion is... @WWENEVILLE!! #HometownHero #205Live #RoyalRumble pic.twitter.com/YhmGH9KvGX— WWE UK (@WWEUK) January 30, 2017
Cena outlasts AJ in epic title fight for record-tying feat
John Cena tied Ric Flair for the most WWE world championship reigns in history after overcoming AJ Styles in yet another thrilling bout between the two rivals.
Unbelievable strength shown by @JohnCena!!! #WWEChampionship #RoyalRumble @AJStylesOrg pic.twitter.com/lnjatMibOC— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 30, 2017
John Cena's quest for history took him to a rare place, the top rope. But as AJ began to come round, he was able to pull off a slick reversal in a mid-air powerbomb. From there he followed with the Styles Clash but the CeNation Leader dug deep to kick out. Looking to go airborne, AJ went for the springboard 450 splash, but would have an uncomfortable landing on the knees. Out of nowhere, John Cena surged into a sunset flip on Styles but it was another near fall. Move after move, slam after slam, kick out after kick out.
Congrats on #16 @JohnCena! Never Forget...To be the man, you gotta beat the man - WOOOOO!— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) January 30, 2017
— TheWWEMatrix 💪 (@TSM_Wrestling) January 30, 2017
Yet again, the show was stolen by two of WWE's finest performers. John Cena pulled it out the bag and say what you like about the guy, but he deserves to break the record: could he do so at WrestleMania? It was another sensational match between the pair, one that won't be forgotten any time soon. AJ was worthy of a WrestleMania title match as well but his opportunities will continue to call. Just a brilliant match all round.
This Rumble should be remembered for AJ/Cena. That was fantastic.— Jack G. King (@JackTheJobber) January 30, 2017
Following the match, John Cena celebrated with a fan from the Make-A-Wish programme. A true champion inside and out of the ring.
Royal Randy books WrestleMania spot
Randy Orton was the victor of a chaotic Royal Rumble match to secure a headline spot at WrestleMania 33 - while Roman Reigns eliminated Undertaker, and Goldberg destroyed Brock Lesnar again.
|2017 Royal Rumble match summary|
Big Cass and Chris Jericho were facing an uphill battle as they started the Royal Rumble match, with Y2J showing no signs of trauma from being locked in a shark cage earlier in the night as he surpassed the record for most total time in Royal Rumble contests. Jack Gallagher came in at number 5 to the surprise of many, but he would become the first elimination of the match when Mark Henry returned to a huge ovation.
Another behemoth was on the way when Braun Strowman entered the match, making his mark early. He got rid of Mojo Rawley, Big Cass, Kalisto and then Mark Henry, but Sami Zayn wouldn't go so easily. He caused some trouble and the introduction of Big Show made for a titanic battle in which the former Wyatt Family member won, forcing the giant over the top rope.
Dean Ambrose was next to enter, and James Ellsworth was waiting outside the ring. With their history, Ambrose pumped up the underdog, and prepared for them both to run in at Strowman. Ambrose deserted him and let Strowman lay waste to "Jimmy", before going in and using his unique offense to trouble one of the favourites. It was 3 against 1 at this point, with Zayn, Dillinger and Ambrose all trying to beat down Braun, to no avail.
Number 13, an unlucky number for some, was right up the street of Baron Corbin. He helped beat down Strowman as did the other 3, but again Strowman fended them off and then got rid of Dillinger. Strowman was really in trouble though when a Helluva Kick and other hits against the turnbuckle set up Corbin to charge at him and clothesline him over the top rope. 7 eliminations, but no WrestleMania main event for that giant.
— Colt - WWE Coverage (@WWEColt) January 30, 2017
Kofi Kingston's entrance meant that a special survival was in store. He used the ring posts to cling on after Corbin tried to sweep him off.
The ring was beginning to fill with plenty of mid-card and main event stars, with The New Day, Sheamus and Cesaro, and other challengers making for some craziness in the squared circle. At 21 the lights cut out as Bray Wyatt entered the match, coming in hot with his fast and rough style, and the bodies were piling around the ring.
Things really kicked off when Brock Lesnar came in at number 26. All of a sudden, things got very serious as The Beast charged down to feast on his opponents and seek some retribution. Out went Ziggler and Ambrose, while he dished out German suplexes and F5s to all. Enzo Amore was the unfortunate next man to enter, and as expected, Lesnar laid waste to him as well.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 30, 2017
Goldberg then set his sights on the rest of the competitors, before he would be in a spot of trouble against Randy and Bray, teaming up to take him down. That fell apart when he came off the ropes to crush them with a double spear.
Then came the "gong". The arena submerged into darkness. Goldberg set his sights on the entrance but when the lights were back on, The Phenom was standing behind him. The two engaged in an epic stare down before the others tried to sabotage. Goldberg dispatched Rusev, and then speared Taker. But with his back turned to eliminate Harper, right from behind The Undertaker ended Godlberg's dream. One entrant remained, but it looked like The Deadman was booking his ticket to 'Mania, destroying the rest of the opposition in the ring.
At number 30 was Roman Reigns - angry having been somewhat stolen of his title opportunity. The Undertaker was waiting for him, and they went toe-to-toe in the center of the ring. Taker caught Roman mid air for a Superman Punch, but a chokeslam would be the ending of that sequence. Out went Miz, Sami Zayn and then, as he signalled his "execution" with a chokeslam on Jericho, from nowhere Reigns eliminated him. The Undertaker icily stared at Reigns, an intense confrontation after his Rumble came to an end. Down to four: Reigns, Jericho, Wyatt, Orton.
Roman Reigns was sensing it, and stalked The Viper for a spear. But as he charged towards him, an electric RKO was nailed, stunning The Big Dog against the ropes. He charged for the clothesline and he went tumbling out. Randy Orton is going to WrestleMania.There goes @WWEbrayWyatt!!
#TheViper #RKOs @WWERomanReigns and ELIMINATES him!!! @RandyOrton wins the 30th #RoyalRumble Match!! pic.twitter.com/hDHa4LFCAP
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) January 30, 2017
Congratulations to the WINNER of the 2017 #RoyalRumble Match... #TheViper @RandyOrton!!!! pic.twitter.com/YS7WCpmv7S
2017 #RoyalRumble Winner @RandyOrton has punched his ONE-WAY ticket to the MAIN EVENT of @WrestleMania! @JohnCena https://t.co/Ak9NtAUIhc pic.twitter.com/FxWV2zHu4c
Reaction and thoughts
This year's Royal Rumble event was big time. It was hyped, it was billed as one of the biggest ever. It even took place in front of over 50,000 people. That meant big expectations, and fans had every right.
The match itself did not really live up to those expectations. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar could have went longer, The Undertaker may be should have been last and the logic behind Randy Orton could be a waste in all honesty.
It's either Orton-Cena for the trillionth time or Orton-Wyatt that doesn't need a title to sell. Real waste of a Rumble winner.— Mikey (@LesnarSupport) January 30, 2017
Baron Corbin was one of the stars of the Rumble though, always good to have them among these legends battling in the ring. Strowman's elimination was good, but perhaps he could have been better off staying into the late stages. Now, Roman Reigns. Do WWE not understand that fans don't like him? Obviously there's no need for punishment, but equally there's no need to push him as massively with such consequences. Then again since he didn't win, planting the seeds with The Undertaker was probably the purpose.
It was disappointment mostly. It was brilliant to have Goldberg, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, but what about the surprises? True surprises, may I add. Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, maybe they were all pipe dreams but there could have been something there surely? The only real "surprise" was Tye Dillinger. As the numbers counted down, the WWE Universe were waiting for something big and they never got it. #30 was the perfect spot for something huge, but it never came round.
But the night may have even been made before the 30-man Rumble match. AJ Styles and John Cena just did it again. A classic, a thrilling bout and one that shows just how good SmackDown is. John Cena tying the record sets up a potential platform to make history at WrestleMania.
In the other title match, it got a little complicated. Braun Strowman interfering doesn't add up too well unless they want Roman to have an opponent before The Undertaker at Fast Lane. But the actual wrestling was fantastic, right in Owens element and Reigns played to his strengths brilliantly.
It's either Orton-Cena for the trillionth time or Orton-Wyatt that doesn't need a title to sell. Real waste of a Rumble winner.— Mikey (@LesnarSupport) January 30, 2017
I just don't understand— FireSquid (@BasedSquid) January 30, 2017
No Kurt Angle
No Samoa Joe
No Finn Balor
No Shinsuke Nakamura
but Roman Reigns at #30#RoyalRumble @wwe
Overall, some great matches but the conclusion left an underwhelming taste. They've got convincing to do if they want to make this WrestleMania a memorable one. It's frustrating, knowing that it could be so much better with a few tweaks and a different approach.
No one created false hope. Fans deserve surprising entrants of the highest order, and we rightfully expected them, but didn't see them.— Mikey (@LesnarSupport) January 30, 2017
Match/segment grades using the academic grading system:
- Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks: D
- Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows def. Cesaro and Sheamus: C-
- Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch and Naomi def. Natalya, Mickie James and Alexa Bliss: D
- Charlotte def. Bayley: B-
- Kevin Owens def. Roman Reigns: B
- Neville def. Rich Swann: C
- John Cena def. AJ Styles: A-
- Royal Rumble match: C
So the seeds are truly planted for WrestleMania. Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker looks likely now after that, while Randy Orton vs. John Cena is set at the moment "officially" but that surely can't happen - Bray Wyatt perhaps winning at Elimination Chamber could swing that around.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens are freed up to go toe-to-toe at WrestleMania as well, while Braun Strowman's path is unclear.
Goldberg vs. Lesnar will surely go down after what unfolded. But still there's a lot of shaping up to do: the Road to WrestleMania has only just started. Here's hoping things turn out for the better.