Exciting. Intense. Hard-hitting. Action packed. These are some of the words that describe the 2017 Royal Rumble event. It was held at the Alamodome, in San Antonio, Texas, in front of more than 50,000 people. The show’s main event was the thirty man Royal Rumble Match, where the winner received a Wrestlemania title match. But, the undercard also saw a few matches where championships were at stake. The first was the Raw Women’s Championship between the champion, Charlotte Flair and Bayley

This was a tremendous match, and the crowd was solidly behind the challenger. The end came when the two were perched on the top rope. Charlotte pushed her opponent off, causing her to land on the ring apron. The champion then used the natural selection finisher on the ring apron, knocking out Bayley. Charlotte rolled her back into the ring, pinned her, and retained the title. Despite her loss, Bayley performed really well – it also helped that they wrestled on Raw in previous weeks and she emerged victorious on those occasions, but those were non-title matches. I think Bayley will eventually become Raw Women’s Champion and it will be a memorable moment for her. It could happen at Wrestlemania – where memories and dreams come true.

For the WWE Universal title Kevin Owens defended his championship against Roman Reigns, in a no disqualification match, with Chris Jericho suspended in a shark cage, above the ring. This was a crazy match where many weapons were utilized. One of its high points came after Owens stacked several chairs at ringside. Fans knew that at some point someone was going through that contraption. When they were in the ring, the champion climbed to the top rope. Reigns then ran up and hit his Superman punch, causing Owens to fall and crash through his own structure. The fans went berserk.

The end came when, for no reason, Braun Strowman attacked Roman, and powerslammed him through an announcer’s table. The champion grabbed Reigns and rolled him into the ring. Kevin Owens then pinned Roman Reigns to retain the Universal title, thanks to Braun Strowman. The fans were thrilled – and some even chanted “Thank you Strowman.” Based on what transpired at the end, it looks like Roman Reigns may have an opponent for WWE Fastlane, on March 5. Why Fastlane, and not Wrestlemania? Well, Roman Reigns caused quite a stir later in the night, which may set up his match at Mania.

The WWE Championship was at stake as the champion, A.J. Styles fought John Cena, and what a phenomenal match it was! There were moves, countermoves and many close victories by both wrestlers. The end came when Styles went to the top rope and dove right into Cena’s shoulders. John then put the champ down with his Attitude Adjustment finisher. For good measure, he performed the move again, and then pinned Styles. John Cena became a sixteen time World Champion, tying the great Ric Flair’s record. Fans could see the emotion on Cena’s face. He worked very hard to achieve his goal. And everyone in the audience, including those who booed him, gave him an ovation. It would have been more dramatic if Flair made an entrance, and placed the belt around John’s waist. That would have been a tremendous moment, and would have added to Cena’s memorable night.

The main event was the most anticipated of the evening – the thirty man Royal Rumble Match. The first two entrants were Colin Cassidy (Big Cass) and Chris Jericho. Jericho did really well, making it to the final four, and lasting a little over an hour. Braun Strowman was entrant number seven, and he just started attacking wrestlers as soon as he entered the ring. Every time he went face-to-face with other big guys like the Big Show and Mark Henry, the crowd became excited. Strowman eliminated the Big Show in a move that surprised a lot of people. Then, he went on a rampage, eliminating six other competitors. But, the audience was in for another shock when Baron Corbin eliminated Braun Strowman with a hard hitting clothesline.

Entry number ten, Tye Dillinger, was the first of two surprise entrants. After the ninth participant entered the ring, fans began chanting “ten, ten, ten” – because Dillinger’s moniker in NXT is the “Perfect 10.” When he came through the curtain, the fans went crazy. But, after a long time in the match, he was eliminated by Braun Strowman. Fans did not like that – but, they appreciated the surprise.

A moment that was sure to happen in the match was a face-to-face confrontation between Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. It happened, but like their match at Survivor Series, it ended quickly with Goldberg eliminating Brock in short order. The audience was stunned. Brock was even more stunned. This could lead to a match at Wrestlemania. Goldberg had an intense staredown with the 29th entrant – the Undertaker before moving on to the other wrestlers remaining in the ring.

The final entrant almost caused a riot at the Alamodome. Everyone concluded it was either going to be Samoa Joe or Finn Balor. Number 30 in the Royal Rumble Match turned out to be Roman Reigns. It was a shocker, though not a pleasant one. The big shock came a few minutes later when Reigns eliminated the Undertaker. And the post-elimination stare that Roman gave Taker was intense. In my opinion, that alone is the first step to set up the Wrestlemania match for Roman Reigns against the Undertaker.

The final four were Jericho, Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. Roman eliminated Jericho after hitting the Superman Punch. He executed the same move to oust Bray, and the fans became really nervous because they felt that the WWE would allow Reigns to win. But, fans were thrilled when Randy Orton clotheslined Reigns over the top rope to win the 2017 Rumble match. Orton advances to Wrestlemania to face the WWE Champion, which will be decided on Feb.12 at the Elimination Chamber event.

The 2017 Royal Rumble event was enjoyable. The undercard matches were great. The Universal and WWE title matches were thrilling affairs. As much as the Rumble match is always the one the fans want to see at this event, I feel the main event should have been Cena vs Styles for the WWE title, just because history was made. There were no foreign objects used, nor was there any cheating, though I am sure the temptation was there.

Usually there would be a legend or two participating in the Rumble match, but that didn’t happen. The only real surprise entrant was Tye Dillinger. The Reigns entrant was a surprise, though not well received, and neither was his elimination of the Undertaker. It will be interesting to see what unfolds because of this and what other drama awaits fans on the Road to Wrestlemania.

Azeem Kayum

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