Royal Rumble (2014)
|Royal Rumble (2014)|
Promotional poster featuring various WWE wrestlers.
|"We Own It (Fast & Furious)" by 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa|
|Date||January 26, 2014|
|Venue||Consol Energy Center|
|Royal Rumble chronology|
Royal Rumble (2014) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by WWE and presented by Jackson Hewitt which took place on January 26, 2014 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the twenty-seventh annual Royal Rumble and the first WWE pay-per-view in 2014.
It was the first WWE pay-per-view event in Pittsburgh since the 2009 Bragging Rights event, and the first pay-per-view event at Consol Energy Center since it opened in 2010. Five matches (including the pre-show) took place at the event. The main event was the Royal Rumble match, which Batista won to become a two-time Royal Rumble winner (he was also the first two-time Rumble winner to have drawn exactly the same number in both victories).
The event is notable for the overwhelmingly negative crowd response during the Orton-Cena title match, as well as towards the end of (and after) the Royal Rumble match, when the fans booed Rumble winner Batista and repeatedly chanted for Daniel Bryan (who had competed earlier in the night and was not involved in the main event). Fans worldwide (including retired wrestler Mick Foley) voiced their displeasure over social media, and the event was covered by many major news outlets as one of the worst Royal Rumble pay-per-views.
The event also marked the final wrestling appearance of CM Punk, who walked out on WWE the next day despite still being under contract and subsequently signed a contract to compete in the UFC in 2015.
The event received 467,000 buys, down from the previous year's 512,000 buys.
Royal Rumble featured professional wrestling matches that involved wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds, plots, and storylines played out on WWE's primary television programs, Raw and SmackDown. Wrestlers portrayed faces (heroes) or heels (villains) as they followed a series of events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches.
As is tradition at this yearly event, the card was highlighted by the 30-man Royal Rumble match - a battle royal with wrestlers entering at 90 second intervals. 20 wrestlers were officially advertised for the match where the winner would receive a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXX. On the final episode of Raw before the Rumble on January 20, Batista returned to WWE after an absence of nearly four years, and the Rumble was scheduled to be his first return match. On the same episode, Director of Operations Kane announced that CM Punk would be the first entrant in the match. The remaining 18 wrestlers advertised were Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, Tag Team Champions Goldust and Cody Rhodes; Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, R-Truth, Xavier Woods (who eventually did not participate), Fandango, United States Champion Dean Ambrose and his Shield team-mates Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns; The Wyatt Family's Luke Harper and Erick Rowan; Damien Sandow and The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso); Bad News Barrett was originally advertised but later removed from advertisements.
Another highly promoted match featured WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton defending the title against long-time adversary John Cena. At the TLC pay-per-view in December 2013, WWE Champion Orton defeated World Heavyweight Champion Cena to unify the titles and become the first WWE World Heavyweight Champion. On the December 30 episode of Raw, Cena was awarded a rematch for the title against Orton at the Rumble, with the match stipulation of a traditional one-on-one singles match, except that it could be won by pinfall or submission only. On the January 13 episode of Raw, Orton suffered an upset loss to Kofi Kingston and took out his frustrations by attacking Cena's father, who was attending the event at ringside.
On the January 6 episode of Raw, Brock Lesnar fended off an attack by Mark Henry and was then attacked by Big Show. On the January 10 episode of SmackDown, Big Show issued a challenge to Lesnar, with Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman accepting on behalf of Lesnar and scheduling the match for the Royal Rumble event.
Announced on WWE.com, Goldust and Cody Rhodes faced The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) for the WWE Tag Team Championship on the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show preceding the pay-per-view. This match was made when The New Age Outlaws defeated Cody Rhodes and Goldust in a non-title match on the January 17 episode of SmackDown due to a distraction from Vickie Guerrero.
On January 20 episode of Raw, it was announced that Daniel Bryan would face Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble. Bryan and The Wyatt Family had been feuding since October 2013. On the December 30, 2013 episode of Raw, a seemingly beaten-down Bryan announced he would join the Wyatt Family. However, on the January 13, 2014 episode of Raw (after Bryan and Bray Wyatt were defeated by The Usos in a steel cage match), Bryan betrayed Wyatt and attacked him, culminating with Bryan hitting his flying knee finishing maneuver on Wyatt. The following week on Raw Bryan explained that his joining the Wyatts was a ruse to infiltrate the stable and bide his time to strike, and that he would wrestle Wyatt at the Royal Rumble event.
During the pre-show, The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) defeated reigning WWE Tag Team Champions Goldust and Cody Rhodes to capture the titles when Gunn delivered a Fameasser to Rhodes.
The PPV broadcast began with Bray Wyatt defeating Daniel Bryan. Early in the match, the referee saw Bray's Wyatt Family members Luke Harper and Erick Rowan attempting to interfere, so he ejected them from ringside. During the match, Wyatt targeted Bryan's head, ramming it into the ring-post. Bryan later mounted a comeback with a running tornado DDT off the ring apron, planting Wyatt's head on the floor. Wyatt managed to escape Bryan's Yes! Lock submission hold by biting Bryan's hand. To avoid Bryan's running knee, Wyatt rolled out of the ring to the floor, then caught Bryan diving out of the ring and delivered his Sister Abigail maneuver to Bryan, smashing Bryan's head into the barricade. Wyatt followed with another Sister Abigail in the ring to win the match.
Next, Brock Lesnar defeated Big Show. Lesnar attacked Big Show before the match started, and then hit him with a chair. When the match started, Big Show landed his KO Punch, but Lesnar picked up the victory after throwing Big Show to the mat from his shoulders with his F5 finishing move. Lesnar then continued to attack Big Show with a chair after the match.
In the show's penultimate match, Randy Orton defeated John Cena to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. After both wrestlers failed to win despite executing their RKO, Attitude Adjustment and STF moves, both wrestlers resorted to using their opponent's signature moves but still could not win the match. At the end of the match, Cena again trapped Orton in the STF submission hold, but the lights temporarily went out due to the arrival of the Wyatt Family on the ring apron. Orton took advantage of the distraction to drop Cena with the RKO and win the match.
The card's fifth match and main event of the evening was the annual Royal Rumble match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXX. CM Punk and Seth Rollins were entrants #1 and #2; they spent the longest and second longest time in the match (49 and 48 minutes respectively). Kane entered at #5 and targeted Punk, but Punk managed to eliminate him. NXT's Alexander Rusev entered at #6. Kofi Kingston, who entered at #8, had two feats of athleticism to escape elimination; first after he was deposited on the guardrail by Rusev (who caught him when Kingston was thrown out of the ring) he jumped back to the ring apron from the guardrail, and later while he was hanging on to the bottom rope with his feet, he fended off Jack Swagger by snatching Swagger's boot and hitting him with it. Rollins' Shield teammates (Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns) entered at #11 and #15 respectively. Goldust eliminated his brother Cody Rhodes 24 minutes into the match, and was in turn eliminated by Reigns, who had also eliminated Kingston and unannounced entrant Kevin Nash, amongst others.
Midway through the match with only Punk and the Shield left in the ring, Sheamus returned to WWE television at #17 to a thunderous ovation from the Pittsburgh crowd and momentarily stopped the Shield's dominance. Los Matadores' mascot El Torito entered at #20, and managed to eliminate Fandango, before being eliminated in turn by Reigns. Pay-per-view commentator John "Bradshaw" Layfield was announced as entrant #24, making it the first time the JBL character had participated in a Royal Rumble (John Layfield had previously taken part in the 2004 Royal Rumble match as Bradshaw). He was eliminated by Reigns while handing his jacket to fellow commentator Michael Cole, whereupon he resumed his commentator role for the rest of the match. Batista entered at #28 and quickly eliminated Erick Rowan, Ryback and Alberto Del Rio. The final entrant at #30 was Rey Mysterio, who was eliminated by Rollins. When Ambrose tried to eliminate Reigns, Reigns retaliated by eliminating Ambrose, Rollins and Antonio Cesaro simultaneously, leaving himself, Punk, Sheamus and Batista as the final four. This marked Sheamus' third consecutive final four appearance (2012, 2013, 2014) in the Royal Rumble. Though already eliminated, Kane returned to ringside and pulled Punk over the top rope to eliminate him, then sent him through the Spanish announce table with a chokeslam. Reigns eliminated Sheamus to set a new record for most eliminations in a Rumble match with 12, but Reigns was then thrown over the top rope by Batista, who won the match.
The entire event, excluding the Daniel Bryan versus Bray Wyatt match, was widely criticized. The negative reaction of the fans attending the event in Pittsburgh was so great that it was reported as one of the major news items coming out of the show, and described as the live audience engineering a "takeover" of the final two hours of the show. During the title match between John Cena and Randy Orton, fans booed both men and chanted for Daniel Bryan, amongst other chants such as "this is awful". The fans continued to chant for Bryan during the Royal Rumble match and so when Rey Mysterio (typically a fan favorite) was revealed as the final entrant (and therefore Bryan's possible participation in the match was ruled out) the fans booed Mysterio, chanted for Bryan and cheered Mysterio's eventual elimination. The crowd continued to boo when there were three wrestlers left in the match, but when only Batista and Roman Reigns remained, they cheered for Reigns (a villainous character at the time) over Batista and later booed Batista's victory as the event drew to a close. After the show went off the air, Batista (who had been presented on-air as a heroic babyface character) mocked Bryan and gestured his middle finger at the crowd. Aaron Oster of The Baltimore Sun wrote Mysterio "received more boos than he’s ever had in his WWE career", and in the case of Batista, "besides the fact that a supposed face was getting booed, the boos were stronger than any Rumble winner I can remember, including when Mr. McMahon won in 1999."
Fans took to social media to display their displeasure towards the event. The BBC reported that regarding Bryan's exclusion from the Rumble match, "many people have also expressed anger on social media, with the phrases #RoyalRumble, #WWE and Daniel Bryan all trending on Twitter". The Herald & Review described the reaction to the event as "WWE's PR nightmare", with the most "liked" comments on WWE's Facebook page within 24 hours of the event including "worst PPV ever", "the sound of WWE dropping the ball" and in reference to the WWE Network, "no Bryan, no buy." Retired wrestler Mick Foley criticized WWE management on social media, stating, "Does WWE actually hate their own audience? I've never been so disgusted with a PPV."
Dale Plummer and Nick Tylwalk of Canoe.ca rated the overall event as 6.0 out of 10. The Wyatt-Bryan bout was rated the highest at a "fantastic" 9.5 out of 10, the Cena-Orton bout, described as a "sloppy affair that won’t go down among the best work from either man" received 4.0 out of 10, while the Lesnar-Big Show encounter received 1.0 out of 10. They described the event as "uneven", and that "the disapproval of the fans at the Consol Energy Center at how the Royal Rumble match went down will be the lasting memory for anyone who watched the show".
James Caldwell of the Professional Wrestling Torch Newsletter rated the Royal Rumble match 2.5 stars out of 5, commenting that "well, that back-fired". He wrote that the "Rumble peaked about three-fourths through, then fell off the table at the end", and described the Rumble winner Batista as "out-of-shape". Caldwell also rated the Bryan-Wyatt match 4.0 stars out of 5, describing it as "easily Bray's best WWE TV match, great chemistry from both wrestlers" in front of a "hot, invested crowd". Caldwell chose not to rate the Lesnar-Show match, commenting that it was necessarily short due to Show being injured going into the match. Lastly, Caldwell rated the Orton-Cena title match 2.0 stars out of 5.
Benjamin Tucker, who attended the event and is also from the Professional Wrestling Torch Newsletter, rated the entire event 6.0 out of 10, saying "the show began great but slowly lost steam before ending in a roar of jeers." For the Rumble match, Tucker said that "the first two-thirds especially were exciting, with several wrestlers being spotlighted well", "until lower-level players kept coming out in the final half of the match." Tucker felt that "Roman Reigns was the star of the match, even outclassing Batista. Where Batista stumbled around the ring like... well, an old, retired wrestler, Roman Reigns looked like an absolute monster." For the opening match, Tucker felt that the "deliberate pace didn't hurt the match in the slightest. Instead, it allowed Bray to keep using his character while in a competitive, big match situation." For the rest of the matches, Tucker wrote that "Lesnar looked like a relentless beast", while "Orton and Cena put on their most lifeless performance ever together. There was very little story to the match" and "no creativity at all".
|1P||The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) defeated Cody Rhodes and Goldust (c)||Tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship||06:58|
|2||Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan||Singles match||21:29|
|3||Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) defeated Big Show||Singles match||02:15|
|4||Randy Orton (c) defeated John Cena||Singles match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship||23:14|
|5||Batista won by last eliminating Roman Reigns||30-man Royal Rumble match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXX||55:11|
Royal Rumble match entrances and eliminations
|1||CM Punk, CM Punk||27||Kane*||49:11||3|
|2||Seth Rollins, Seth Rollins||25||Reigns||48:37||3|
|3||Damien Sandow, Damien Sandow||1||Punk||02:17||0|
|4||Cody Rhodes, Cody Rhodes||11||Goldust||21:01||1|
|6||Alexander Rusev, Alexander Rusev||3||Kingston, Punk, Rhodes, & Rollins||07:06||0|
|7||Jack Swagger, Jack Swagger||6||Nash||12:24||0|
|8||Kofi Kingston, Kofi Kingston||7||Reigns||12:42||1|
|9||Jimmy Uso, Jimmy Uso||5||Ambrose||07:53||0|
|11||Dean Ambrose, Dean Ambrose||26||33:41||3|
|12||Dolph Ziggler, Dolph Ziggler||8||06:09||0|
|14||Kevin Nash, Kevin Nash||9||Reigns||02:36||1|
|15||Roman Reigns, Roman Reigns||29||Batista||33:51||12|
|16||The Great Khali, The Great Khali||10||Ambrose, Reigns & Rollins||00:24||0|
|18||The Miz, The Miz||16||Harper||12:09||0|
|20||El Torito, El Torito||14||Reigns||01:49||1|
|21||Antonio Cesaro, Antonio Cesaro||24||16:57||0|
|22||Luke Harper, Luke Harper||23||15:21||2|
|23||Jey Uso, Jey Uso||17||Harper||04:32||0|
|24||John "Bradshaw" Layfield, John "Bradshaw" Layfield||15||Reigns||00:49||0|
|25||Erick Rowan, Erick Rowan||18||Batista||05:05||0|
|27||Alberto Del Rio, Alberto Del Rio||20||03:00||0|
|29||Big E Langston, Big E Langston||21||Sheamus||02:49||0|
|30||Rey Mysterio, Rey Mysterio||22||Rollins||02:10||0|
(*) - Kane was already eliminated when he returned to eliminate CM Punk later in the match.
After the Royal Rumble event, CM Punk did not appear and was not mentioned on Raw the next day. Despite being advertised for the SmackDown taping on Tuesday, he also did not appear in front of the live audience. By Wednesday, WWE.com stopped advertising Punk for future events. It was reported by the Wrestling Observer that on Monday, Punk had legitimately walked out on WWE when he informed Vince McMahon that he was "going home". On February 20, McMahon indicated to investors that Punk was "taking a sabbatical". However, in an interview published in late May, Punk indicated that he had retired; he was questioned "How does it feel to be retired at 35?" and replied with "It feels good." Punk's WWE contract subsequently expired in July 2014 thus making the Royal Rumble his final on-screen appearance.
In November 2014, Punk revealed in an interview that he was actually fired for breaching his contract, receiving his notice on his wedding day with AJ Lee. He also revealed that he told Vince McMahon and Triple H about his frustration on Daniel Bryan not main eventing WrestleMania, which did happen with Bryan winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Punk subsequently signed a contract to compete in the UFC in 2015.
The January 27 episode of Raw (the day after the Rumble) began with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon (The Authority) addressing the Rumble event and mocking the audience for not getting what they wanted. When Daniel Bryan came out and confronted them about not being inserted into the Rumble match, and then demanded to be inserted into the Elimination Chamber match and refused to leave the ring until they did, he was attacked by the Shield, but was then saved by John Cena and Sheamus. As a result, Bryan, Cena and Sheamus later teamed together to take on the Shield in a 6-man tag match in which all three members of the winning team qualified to participate in the Elimination Chamber match (in which Randy Orton would defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship) at the eponymous pay-per-view. During that match, The Wyatt Family interfered, causing the Shield to be disqualified and thus Bryan, Cena and Sheamus qualified for the Chamber match. Cesaro and a returning Christian also qualified for the Chamber match by defeating Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger respectively. For costing them the spots in the Chamber match, the Shield vowed revenge against the Wyatt Family, which set up a match between the groups at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, which the Wyatts won.
At Elimination Chamber, Randy Orton retained his WWE World Heavyweight Championship by winning the Elimination Chamber match against Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Cesaro, Christian and Sheamus. During the Elimination Chamber match, the Wyatt Family once again interfered to cause Cena's elimination from the match. This set up Orton versus Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX. Also at Elimination Chamber, Batista defeated Alberto Del Rio, with the negative audience reaction to Batista continuing, even prompting the audience to cheer Del Rio. Meanwhile, Bray Wyatt was victorious once again with the Wyatt Family defeating the Shield.
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