The 2016 WWE Royal Rumble confirmed a WrestleMania 32 main-event that most of us knew for weeks. Triple H returned to action to win the Rumble and set up an inevitable WrestleMania showdown with Roman Reigns for the WWE world championship.
The winner was certainly predictable if you followed the betting lines and reports over the last week. The only question was how it would all play out. Well, it played out fairly predictably with a few twists thrown in to keep it interesting.
Roman Reigns and Rusev started off 1 and 2. Reigns eliminated Rusev pretty quickly. A.J. Styles made his official debut as #3. Styles was put over pretty big. I can’t recall a guy with an outside reputation at the level of Styles that was brought in with as big of a debut as he had tonight in years. It was refreshing to see the WWE bring someone in like Styles immediately and put him in a big spot on the main roster as opposed to squashing him or sending him to NXT. Styles teased the Styles Clash throughout the match. Styles looked great and should be in line for a big push. Unfortunately Styles was eliminated at around the 28:00 mark by Kevin Owens so while a big push, it could have been better (or worse). Up to that point I was fairly sure that Styles was going to be a finalist so that was surprising. The Rumble was pretty uneventful up to that point until the mid-way point when Vince McMahon instructed the League of Nations to pull Reigns out of the ring and attack him. The attack culminated with Rusev splashing Reigns on an outside table. Reigns was stretchered briefly but got off the stretcher and walked to the back for further medical attention.
The storyline was that the League injured Reigns’ ribs, but Reigns wasn’t eliminated. Sami Zayn and Owens renewed their rivalry in the Rumble. Zayn eliminated Owens which I think sets up a feud on the main roster and hopeful WrestleMania 32 match. Sami was immediately the crowd favorite with Styles gone. Brock Lesnar entered the Rumble at #23 and went immediately after the Wyatt Family. Lesnar eventually eliminated Strowman, Harper, and Rowan. All three returned and attacked Lesnar once Bray Wyatt entered the Rumble. Bray hit Sister Abigail on Brock and the Wyatts threw him over the top. Reigns returned the Rumble as Sheamus walked down the aisle to enter at 29. Reigns Superman punched Sheamus and hit the ring. Triple H entered at #30 as predicted and reported by many. Roman and Trips squared off after staring each other down for about a minute and a half. Bray Wyatt teased a babyface turn after rejecting Hunter’s request to team up and attacking him. Bray was eliminated shortly thereafter by Sheamus. Chris Jericho lasted the longest going over 50 minutes in the match before being eliminated by Dean Ambrose. Ambrose, Reigns, Hunter, and Sheamus were the final four. Reigns eliminated Sheamus and was then quickly eliminated by Triple H. Hunter and Ambrose were the final two which was certainly a twist. Hunter eventually dumped him over the top to win his 14th WWE world championship.
Where do I begin? First of all, let me say I am not a Triple H hater. He certainly belongs in the main-event. However, I have no idea why they added this stipulation to the Rumble only to have him win it and the title. They could have easily had him win the Rumble and keep the belt on Roman. On top of that, the WWE has a big problem. Hunter was booked in the match like a total babyface and Reigns paid the price for it. I don’t know how they are going to pull it off but I can’t see any other scenario other than Reigns being booed out of the stadium at WrestleMania 32. Not withstanding, the WrestleMania main-event is Reigns and Hunter for the title. Hunter will probably have a title defense at Fastlane, possibly against Dean Ambrose.
We are obviously going to see a Brock Lesnar vs. Bray Wyatt match at WrestleMania. Wyatt will have wrestled John Cena, the Undertaker, and Brock in three consecutive WrestleManias. There is nothing else that the company can do to put this guy in a position to succeed. Regardless, the match makes the most sense considering the depleted roster. I could see an Undertaker and Brock “Dream Team” vs. the Wyatts but that is just a guess on my part. So you are looking at the “biggest” WrestleMania headlined by Brock vs. Bray Wyatt and Roman vs. Hunter for the WWE title. Highly underwhelming, yet the most logical card the company could put together in the face of recent injuries to top stars.
Full Royal Rumble 2016 Results and Winners…
Triple H won the Royal Rumble and the WWE world title
Charlotte defeated Becky to retain the Divas title
Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio to regain the U.S. title
The New Day defeated the Usos to retain the tag team titles
Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing Match to retain the I-C title
Mark Henry and Jack Swagger defeated Darren Young/Damien Sandow, the Ascension, the Dudleyz to advance to the Royal Rumble