The Royal Rumble is not only a match, it’s also a PPV with other matches. Great matches. Since 1988, it has opened the Road to WrestleMania to the winner of the 30-Man Elimination Match. But it also has been the place where titles changed hands, feuds took a new turn, and amazing matches took place. This month, the VultureHound wrestling team share with you their favourite Royal Rumble PPV matches. Let’s find out what they have to say…
Lee Hazell – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (Casket Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship – Royal Rumble 1998)
When people think of Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker they have a tendency to think of their first Hell in a Cell match, and their two WrestleMania clashes. Their Casket Match at Royal Rumble ’98 doesn’t get the love or the legacy it deserves. A classic contest between two of the best entertainers in the business, it begins in the ring as one of the most athletic contests WWE has ever put in a main event. Then the action goes to the outside and becomes shockingly brutal with plenty of casket use and even a Piledriver onto some steel steps. One spot even became responsible for Michaels’ infamous back injury. It also ends with one of the most audacious stunts ever pulled on WWE programming. Kane burning the Undertaker alive in the casket. An eye-opening piece of Attitude Era booking, one that would be a prelude to the thrilling action to come over the next five years.
Erin Dick – Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (Street Fight for the WWF Championship – Royal Rumble 2000)
A shining light of the Attitude Era and both men’s careers, Mick Foley’s Street Fight with Triple H at the 2000 Royal Rumble was everything we expected, and more. Brutality and drama were interwoven seamlessly by two of the company’s top stars, one supposedly on his way out, and the other viciously asserting his place at the top of the card. Foley had suffered under the wrath of the McMahon-Helmsley power couple (Triple H and Stephanie), but Foley had never been one to back down from a violent encounter. Triple H’s Pedigree sending Foley face-first into thumbtacks was a defining moment that wrestling officials and fans remember, for its gruesome nature and the climactic end it put on an outstanding match.
Amanda Why – Seth Rollins vs. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Royal Rumble 2015)
This took place right in the midst of the Rollins and the Authority storyline, so Rollins had J&J Security by his side. Lesnar was the champion, and Rollins was holding the Money in the Bank briefcase and John Cena was the Anti-Authority guy. The early part of the match was just Lesnar suplexing everyone in sight, including J&J Security, but it turned into a really fun triple threat. Finishers were kicked out of, pin attempts broken, barricades and steps were utilised, and Seth Rollins dived off of the top rope to put Brock Lesnar through the announce desk. J&J Security got involved, only to take a simultaneous AA from Cena. Lesnar was attended by medics for a suspected broken rib. When Rollins appeared on the verge of victory, Lesnar reappeared. He suplexed Cena, took the MITB briefcase to the face twice, then F5’d Rollins to retain the title.
Victoria Tezangi – Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan (Royal Rumble 2014)
The story between Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan was truly one of the best of the past five years and when they collided at the Royal Rumble PPV in 2014 they two competed in what was considered to be one of the highlights of the year. A match full of brilliant in-ring psychology, captivating storytelling and fantastic wrestling. Wyatt, still fresh on the scene, looked to keep hold of his momentum by picking up a big victory over the lovable fan favourite in Bryan. Their chemistry and sheer in-ring brilliance led to a standout Rumble PPV match which despite being a non-title bout felt as though it could have headlined a major event. Both superstars got in plenty of offence and as a result, fans were left on the edge of their seat! Wyatt’s victory was key in carrying on his momentum while Bryan proved once again why he was so important to the WWE Universe.
Paige Brearley – John Cena vs. Edge (WWE Championship Match – Royal Rumble 2006)
At the 2006 Royal Rumble, Edge defended his WWE championship in a rematch against John Cena. Edge’s championship reign came as a shock, as he cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase on Cena at Elimination Chamber. Jerry Lawler asked, would Edge be a transitional champion or could he defeat the Superman of WWE twice? Edge came out of the gates hot and in control of the match, almost beating John quickly with a count-out victory. Unfortunately for Edge, control didn’t stay in his favour and not even Lita could save him. Cena would regain his WWE title, by way of an FU into the STFU forcing Edge to tap. Some may see Edge as a transitional champion in this case, but this was the start of big things to come for the Rated-R Superstar. Cena and Edge would go on and continue to have one of the best rivalries in WWE history for years to come.
Steph Franchomme – Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing Match for the WE Intercontinental Championship – Royal Rumble 2016)
Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose faced in a Last Man Standing Match for the Intercontinental Title at Royal Rumble 2016, after Ambrose took the title from Owens the month before. The stipulation was made to settle the score once and for all, after weeks and weeks of brawls between the two. Owens and Ambrose delivered a hard-hitting performance that night, in a mess of tables, chairs and kendo sticks. They literally threw everything they had at each other. And it was fabulous. The end was too, with Owens stepping up to the top rope, ready to hit a moonsault on top of The Lunatic Fringe, who was laying on top of steel chairs below. But Ambrose rallied and pushed Owens over the ring post, making him crash down through a stack of tables outside the ring. This extreme Last Man Standing Match was the perfect opening for the PPV.
All pics courtesy of WWE.com