Triple H steals Rumble!
Bernard Barnes @thedailyjobber
The 2016 Royal Rumble is now a chapter for the history books, and in those books it will say that the Chief Operating Officer for WWE, former D-X founder and current head of NXT, Triple H, is the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion for a 14th time!
The Game making his comeback to knock off Roman Reigns, capturing not only the title but a measure of revenge, was not the only surprise at this year’s battle royal extravaganza. Let’s a take a brief look at some of the night’s highlights in the Jobber Run-Down.
Last Man Standing
Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens started the night off with a bang, tearing into each other from the opening bell.
Superb character work, complete commitment and the fan’s unwavering support for both performers made up for a match that, while good, is far from going down as one of the best Last Man Standing matches in history.
Despite this, both Owens and Ambrose showed imagination in their use of kendo sticks, tables and chairs to put on a donny-brook that everyone was super hot for.
In the end, Owens teased a moonsault, but instead was pushed through two tables to land on the arena floor. The ref counted to ten, and a successful title defense for the Intercontinental Champion, Dean Ambrose.
New Day Rocks
The Orlando crowd gave so much love to New Day that they left none for the challengers. Jimmy and Jey Uso, surprisingly, were booed at every turn of the match.
It makes the possibility of an attitude turn for the Samoan brothers more likely, while New Day becomes more and more endearing.
The match was nothing exceptional. The Usos are talented at what they do, but their inability to add new material to their repertoire has caused them to stagnate.
The ending saw Big E catching Jimmy Uso in mid-frogsplash, turning it into a Big Ending. It was a beautifully choreographed and perfectly timed move. New Day, still Tag Team Champions and the only thing going on in the tag team division.
Viva Lucha Libre!
Alberto Del Rio and Kalisto put on another great showing in their rubber match for the United States Championship.
Much like their previous encounters, Del Rio played the aggressive, dangerous and bitter bully trying to make an example of his much smaller opponent.
Kalisto played the part of under-sized underdog valiantly, and overcame the odds once again to become US Champion.
One hopes that WWE will use this as opportunity to add flesh and dimension to the diminutive luchadore, for however over he is with the younger members of the audience, he has more work and many more challenges to overcome before he is seen as a legitimate competitor, and not a novelty attraction.
Flair Playing Fair
Becky Lynch received her biggest opportunity to date, challenging Charlotte for the Diva’s Championship in what has been the most compelling program going into the Royal Rumble.
The action was solid, but there was an intensity missing which both competitors are capable of mustering. It seemed at times that Ric Flair’s planned interference spots broke up the pacing. Or perhaps they were being careful to leave something in the tank for another meeting.
Either way, the match failed to overwhelm. That being said, Lynch succeeded in establishing herself as the plucky babyface and Charlotte cemented her role as gold-greedy heel.
Flair, not shockingly, caused a distraction which did Lynch in. Post-match, Charlotte attacked her former friend in a despicable display.
The Orlando crowd gave their biggest reaction of the night to Sasha Banks, who came to the ring and attacked both challenger and champion, making her intentions clear.
Overall the segment worked, but felt more like an episode of Raw than a major pay-per-view.
The Royal Rumble Match
WWE had a real challenge in front of them this year, given the widespread criticisms they’ve received in years past. All things considered, the booking for the battle royal was superb.
There were many top-tier stars, many strongly-built talent, and to have a contest involving all of them with only one man able to stand tall at the end is no easy task.
AJ Styles provided the first big spot of the night, making his first appearance in front of a WWE crowd. The fans gave him a hero’s welcome, and repeatedly chanted his name throughout the match. He was ousted by Kevin Owens, a smart move considering his “guy-you-love-to-hate” status, as well as his indie clout.
Owens himself was eliminated by Sami Zayn, who may not be headed to the main roster just yet, but was a welcome addition to the fray.
R-Truth pulled another LOL stunt, mistaking the battle royal for a ladder match before getting tossed out by Kane.
Kofi landed on Big E’s shoulders and proceeded to ham it up with fans at ringside before becoming proper eliminated.
Braun Strowman made the biggest impact of any new participant, eliminating Kane, Big Show and Mark Henry to become the resident monster of WWE. He also proved to be an obstacle in the way of Brock Lesnar, no small feat.
Lesnar himself entered the Rumble and immediately made his presence felt, throwing many including the Wyatts from the ring. This came back to bite him, as he was quadruple-teamed and eventually eliminated by Harper, Rowan and Strowman.
Among the jobbers in this year’s Rumble: The Miz, Truth, Curtis Axel, Tyler Breeze, Rusev, Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry, Titus O’Neil and Jack Swagger.
Those who would fail to win but make an impact: Stardust, Goldust, Neville, Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler.
The end to the match borrowed from Stone Cold Steve Austin’s second Rumble victory, as many older fans will recall. Earlier in the match, the League of Nations attacked Reigns (instead of, oddly, eliminating him) and he was escorted to the back by EMTs.
Reigns would return to attack Sheamus during his entrance, inviting a chorus of boos from the audience who began to smell a Roman Reigns win.
It was not to be, though, as Triple H shocked the entire WWE Universe (except for the smarks on the internet) by entering at #30. Sheamus was thrown out by Reigns, who was in turn thrown out by H. It all came down to the COO and the IC Champion, Dean Ambrose. After a brief brawl, Ambrose was tossed to the floor and Triple H stood victorious with wife Stephanie and father-in-law Vince McMahon.
A victory for the Authority. Revenge for the McMahon family. A beast robbed again. The Roman Empire sabotaged.