Amway Center – Orlando, FL – Sunday, January 24, 2016
Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and JBL are on commentary.
Jack Swagger & Mark Henry defeat Damien Sandow & Darren Young, The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor), and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley) at 8:00 in a Royal Rumble qualifying match. Cole touts the success Swagger and Henry have had on Main Event, and points out that Young and Sandow are a makeshift team but you must do whatever you can to get into the Rumble. Good points, Cole. Everyone’s working hard here, and the crowd absolutely LOVES Sandow. The referee has issues controlling all eight men involved here. The Dudleys dominate down the stretch but there’s a lot going on. They hit Viktor with the 3D, but then Henry and Swagger take Bubba out. Henry then pins Viktor to go on to the Rumble match. Not a great match or anything, but the right team won.
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose defeats Kevin Owens at 20:22 in a Last Man Standing Match to retain the title. Ambrose has been the Champion since 12.13.15, and this is his third defense. It takes no time at all for these two to take it to the floor, where a kendo stick gets involved and barricades get broken. They spend time both in and out of the ring, escalating the violence appropriately for where they are in the match. Many chairs are used and multiple tables are set up and broken, with both men taking tremendous abuse. Owens tries to put Ambrose away by setting up a bunch of chairs an going up for a moonsault, but Ambrose shoves Owens off the top rope and through a stack of tables on the floor, and that’s enough to keep Owens down for a count of 10. This was a great start to the show, with two guys the crowd both loves tearing into each other. They built up to the big spots well and made everything count. Awesome stuff.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston, w/ Xavier Woods) defeat The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) at 10:52 to retain the titles. New Day have been the Champions since 8.23.15, and this is their seventh defense. This was only a year ago, and I can barely remember who’s supposed to be heels and faces. Either way, the crowd loves Woods unveiling Francesca II, so I guess they’re Babyfaces? Does it even matter? I guess it does, because New Day takes heat on Jey, and Woods interferes whenever he can. Late in the match Jey thinks he has it won and finds himself on the top rope looking for the Samoan Splash. But unbeknownst to him, Big E made a blind tag, and he catches Jey in mid-air and hits the Big Ending to get the pin. Average match, super cool finish. The crowd was all about the New Day here.
Kalisto defeats United States Champion Alberto Del Rio at 11:31 to regain the title. Del Rio has been the Champion since 1.14.16, and this is his first defense. The Champion dominates in the early going, but when Kalisto picks up the pace and starts to fly that’s when he has the advantage. Del Rio focuses on Kalisto’s back, which should prevent him from flying to some degree. He controls almost the entire match, but in the end Kalisto delivers a headscissors that sends Del Rio into the top buckle. Kalisto then hits his second Salida Del Sol, and this one gets the pin. I like these guys, but this was a bit on the dull side. At only 11 minutes it felt a little long for the story they were working with.
Divas Champion Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) defeats Becky Lynch at 11:40 to retain the title. Charlotte has been the Champion since 9.20.15, and this is her sixth defense. Lynch appears to have Charlotte’s number in the early going, and she focuses on the arm. It takes interference from father Ric to get the momentum in Charlotte’s favor. Momentum shifts back and forth, with both women trying to set up their signature and finishing moves. When Lynch locks on the Dis-Arm-Her, Ric gets up on the apron and throws his jacket over her head. The distraction is enough for Charlotte to deliver a Spear and that gets the pin. This was a bit of a step down from their SmackDown match, and the finish came off really silly. As usual though with these two, the bulk of the match was good.
Triple H defeats AJ Styles, Alberto Del Rio, Big Show, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman), Chris Jericho, Curtis Axel (w/ Adam Rose, Bo Dallas & Heath Slater), Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Goldust, Jack Swagger, Kane, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston (w/ Big E & Xavier Woods), Luke Harper, Mark Henry, The Miz, Neville, R-Truth, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Sami Zayn, Sheamus, Stardust, Titus O’Neil, and Tyler Breeze at 61:42 in the Royal Rumble Match to win the title.
Reigns has been the Champion since 12.14.15, and this is his second defense. He starts the match at #1 and Rusev is #2. They fight with aggression but Reigns connects on a Spear and dumps Rusev out. The crowd goes CRAZY for #3, since it’s the debut of AJ Styles! Next up at #4 is Tyler Breeze. Styles and Reigns work together to dump Breeze, and #5 is Curtis Axel, with the rest of the Social Outlaws. Axel doesn’t make it to the next entrant, as Styles eliminates him. Chris Jericho is #6! They battle carries on as Kane comes out at #7. Another Rumble veteran, Goldust, is #8. Ninety seconds later, FEED ME MORE – Ryback is #9. We reach the one third mark at #10 with WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston, with both fellow New Day members in two. Finally, someone terrible comes out at #11 and it’s Titus O’Neil. Despite being terrible, O’Neil eliminates Goldust. R-Truth is #12, and he comes out with a ladder because they were doing a thing where he was really dumb at this time. Kane eliminates him in short order. He tries to eliminate Kingston but he lands on Big E’s shoulders and thus isn’t eliminated! Nice. Moments later Jericho eliminates Kingston for real. Lucky #13 is Luke Harper. Just then, Mr. McMahon leads The League of Nations (minus Barrett) out to the ring and they pull Reigns to the floor and destroy him. Stardust is #14. We’re halfway home with Big Show at #15.
Reigns is taken back on a stretcher as Show eliminates O’Neil and Ryback. Neville kicks off the second half at #16. Braun Strowman is #17 and he easily tosses Kane! That was unexpected. Strowman follows up by eliminating Big Show! Obviously the company has had plans for him for a while. Kevin Owens is #18, and he goes right after Styles. Just to make sure he’s the biggest heel in the building, Owens eliminates Styles and then mocks him. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose is #19. He battles Owens, reprising their battle from earlier. Things get no easier for Owens when Sami Zayn makes a surprise appearance at #20! The two former friends tear right into each other and Zayn tosses Owens to the floor! The third Wyatt Family member, Erick Rowan, is into the fray at #21. Harper eliminates Neville and Stardust. Working his second match of the evening is Mark Henry at #22. Henry gets triple-teamed and tossed out by the Wyatts. That’s the fifteenth elimination of the night, so fifteen more to go. Strowman dumps Zayn with ease. The crowd goes nuts for #23, Brock Lesnar! This is only his second Rumble ever, after winning it all in 2003. Lesnar starts suplexing everyone in sight. He eliminates Rowan with ease. Jack Swagger is #24 and Lesnar eliminates him right away. The Miz is #25 and he joins the commentary team before getting into the ring. Lesnar eliminates Harper, and former winner Alberto Del Rio is #26. The trifecta is complete when Lesnar eliminates Strowman. Now with no family members left, Bray Wyatt is #27. Wyatt directs traffic as Harper, Rowan, and Strowman get back in the ring and attack Lesnar. They all eliminate Lesnar as Dolph Ziggler comes out at #28. Sheamus is announced at #29, and Reigns is back! Reigns attacks Sheamus in the aisle, and then goes into the ring to eliminate Miz, and then Del Rio. The last entrant is announced, and TRIPLE H is #30!
The Game stars Reigns down, and they take turns hitting finishers on Ziggler and Wyatt, respectively. This showdown between Reigns and HHH is being positioned as something the crowd would want to see, but their silence indicates that they do not. HHH eliminates Ziggler. He works with Sheamus to eliminate Wyatt. Ambrose eliminates Jericho, and we’re down to the final four – Reigns, Ambrose, Sheamus, and HHH. Reigns eliminates Sheamus, and then HHH dumps Reigns! Awesome spot and the crowd loved it. That means we’re guaranteed a new WWE Champion here. After a spirited back-and-forth, HHH is able to backdrop Ambrose to the floor to win his fourteenth World Championship. This one stayed pretty interesting throughout, and featured a total star making performance by AJ Styles. The bigger names were well spaced out this year, and Reigns taking a rest helped keep the crowd from booing through the whole thing. The last third of the match, especially the last three, was good stuff.
~BONUS MATCH #1: Thursday Night SmackDown, 1.7.16~
Divas Champion Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) defeats Becky Lynch at 14:15 to retain the title. Charlotte has been the Champion since 9.20.15, and this is her fifth defense. These two know each other very well, and they trade holds in the opening minutes. Lynch has the early advantage but Charlotte cuts her off and starts wearing her down. They battle back and forth, looking evenly matched. When Lynch traps Charlotte in the Dis-Arm-Her, Flair puts his daughter’s foot on the ropes just before Charlotte taps out. Lynch only heard the tap, so she thinks she won. The confusion allows Charlotte to roll her up and put her own feet on the ropes to get the pin. Good stuff here, as both looked good against each other, and either could’ve won. The heel cheated to give the face reason to get a rematch, so everybody wins here.
~BONUS MATCH #2: Monday Night RAW, 1.11.16~
Alberto Del Rio, Kevin Owens, Sheamus, Stardust, The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor), The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods), The Wyatt Family (Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Luke Harper) & Tyler Breeze fought WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns to a No Contest at 17:00 in a Fourteen on One Handicap Match. This starts out like a gauntlet match, with Owens taking the first turn. Owens dominates, as the other 13 guys cheer him on from the floor. A whole lot of nothing happens, until finally all the other heels get in the ring and swarm Reigns, beating him down. For some reason Brock Lesnar makes his way out and he starts throwing suplexes on all the heels. Lesnar then delivers an F-5 to Reigns. I never heard a bell, but that’s an obvious no-contest. This did a decent job promoting the Rumble match, but on its own it was pretty bad. It was promoted as “one versus all” but Owens was really the only one who fought Reigns, and their encounter was not particularly thrilling. Then people just started running in and it ended.
The opener is great and the Rumble is solid, so that’s enough for a mild thumbs up right there. I was a little disappointed in the Divas Title match, but the other one they had on SmackDown is a bonus feature, so that’s a plus. The Tag Title and U.S. Title matches were not great but certainly not bad either, so this is a pretty easy show to watch.