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Reviewing the Rumbles: 2016

January 28, 2017 | Posted by Rob Stewart
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Reviewing the Rumbles: 2016  

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2016: The One That Wasn’t As Bad As It Should Have Been

Despite what had seemed so apparent, Roman Reigns did not fulfill his destiny at WrestleMania 31, and we were all instead treated to one of the more fantastic finishes to a WrestleMania main event in history. Oh, but don’t worry… Roman found his way to the title before 2015 faded out. He was the champion here, but instead of the Rumble being to determine a contender, it was set as a World Title match with Roman’s belt on the line. For the second time ever, the winner of the Royal Rumble would be walking out having won (or retained) the title.


1. Roman Reigns
2. Rusev
3. AJ Styles
4. Tyler Breeze (Look everyone! It’s Tyler!)
5. Curtis Axel
6. Chris Jericho
7. Kane (or “Demon Kane” now. Or whatever)
8. Goldust
9. Ryback
10. Kofi Kingston
11. Titus O’Neil
12. R-Truth
13. Luke Harper
14. Stardust (who is now announced as having participated in many Rumbles. Get it straight, WWE)
15. The Big Show
16. Neville
17. Braun Strowman
18. Kevin Owens
19. Dean Ambrose
20. Sami Zayn
21. Eric Rowan
22. Mark Henry
23. Brock Lesnar
24. Jack Swagger
25. The Miz
26. Alberto Del Rio
27. Bray Wyatt
28. Dolph Ziggler
29. Sheamus
30. Triple H

Final Four

4. Sheamus (eliminated by Reigns)
3. Roman Reigns (eliminated by HHH)
2. Dean Ambrose (eliminated by HHH)
W: Triple H


-For the second time ever, the 2016 Royal Rumble saw the match being competed for the World Heavyweight Title. For the first time ever, the champion (Roman Reigns) was actively defending his title in the match.

-An aside? Why does The Authority kayfabe “hate” Roman Reigns? It makes absolutely no sense. When they’ve played this angle historically, there’s always been a viable reason for the higher-ups to want the hero out of the way. With Austin, he was foul-mouthed and vulgar and violent, and you could go with the notion that WWE didn’t want that as their front man. With The Rock, he had betrayed The Corporation, so he was a target. With Bryan, he had his “vanilla midget” build and unkempt, unprofessional appearance. Even when The Authority was opposing Cena, it still made sense because they had decided Orton was “The Face” and wanted him to be in the spot no matter what. With Reigns… what is the argument against him? This is just… they don’t like him because he is a babyface, but there’s no rationale for it. Not only is it derivative, but it’s lazy.

-MASSIVE boos for Reigns as he debuts, and Michael Cole blows this off by saying that fans just want to see new winners of the Rumble every year.

-Rusev at #2 is a rematch of the final 2 from the year before. Not quite the Shawn/Taker rematch of several years ago, ya know?

-AJ Styles at #3, and he becomes the second guy of the Post-CM Punk era to be allowed to keep his “indy identity” in WWE (Samoe Joe being the other) after other guys like El Generico, Prince Devitt, Kevin Steen, and KENTA were all given new WWE names.

-Styles’ music, which no one had heard to this point, hits to complete silence, and Roman sells this pretty well with a “WTF?” look. The only flaw here is the camera lingering on Reigns rather than on the “I AM… PHENOMENAL” reveal on the TitanTron. When AJ comes to the ramp, there is a huge pop. The fans are IMMEDIATELY on board with AJ, thereby proving there is virtually no longer any such thing as “casual fans”, and that all WWE has left is the long-term wrestling fans. Reigns reverses an early Styles Clash attempt, and the fans crap on him for it.

-Tyler Breeze is eliminated before the countdown to #4 even starts. And it happens right after a fan had raised a “PUSH TYLER BREEZE” sign that is then sheepishly pulled back down.

-After formulating an entire year-long identity out of never having been eliminated in the 2015 Rumble, Axel is tossed by Styles here with no fanfare. Not saying he should have had a run or anything, but in my opinion, they should have had him tie/break Santino’s record in this spot.

-After Jericho comes out, the ring starts filling up, and there are no more eliminations until Goldust is dumped after #11 (Titus) comes out.

-Really just CONSTANT chants for AJ Styles throughout the match.

-JBL smartly ribs on Specialized Spots after both AJ and Jericho are caught in cross-body attempts by Titus O’Neil so he could hit his backbreaker combo: “You’d think guys would stop jumping at him”.

-R-Truth perfectly NAILS a comedy skit mid-Rumble by coming out, immediately fetching a ladder, and trying to obtain the non-existent Money In The Bank briefcase. This really works with the confused gimmick Truth had establish over the last year, thinking he was involved in ladder matches that he wasn’t. I am unashamed to say I cracked up at this.

-Kofi’s annual spot sees him get flipped onto Big E’s shoulders, who then parades him around the ring for a while, even hanging out with some fans and drinking their coke.

-After Harper at #14, Vince brings out the League of Nations to pull Roman out of the match and assault him at ringside, complete with putting him through the announce table. If you ignore the “why didn’t they throw him over the top?” aspect, this is good creative. It lets Roman rest without sitting in a corner all match, and it also removes the specter of him hanging over the Rumble.

-Roman valiantly refuses stretcher service to the back and walks back instead. Honestly… I think this had the opposite effect of what they were going for. Instead of making him look “strong”, it makes you think “If he can walk, why isn’t he getting back in the match?”

-Kane and Show, one year after burying great young talents, pay some penance and put over young talent by letting Braun Strowman single-handedly eliminate both of them.

-Kevin Owens with some old-school hardcore selling here. After having had a brutal Last Man Standing match earlier in the night, he comes to the ring basically dragging his dead leg behind him.

-AJ Styles lasts 28 minutes before Owens gets him out to solidify his heelness. Would have been nice to see Owens and Jericho switch exits, but oh well. It was a good sign that they gave Owens that elimination.

-Sami Zayn gets a big pop at #20 for his Rumble debut, and this leads to Kevin Owens being involved in his third straight huge brawl after an entrance (he and AJ after Kevin came out at 18, he and Ambrose after Dean came in at 19, and Sami here). Sami gets Owens out after a short but impactful tenure. In his run just from 18 to 20, Owens has three great brawls, tosses AJ Styles, brawls with Dean to put a period on their story, and then gets dumped by Zayn to continue their long-established arc. THAT is how you do a short Rumble stint. This match actually has surprisingly good booking at times.

-With Rowan’s entry, the Wyatt Family becomes an official force in the match, tossing Stardust, Neville, and Mark Henry effortlessly.

-It’s short-lived, however, as Lesnar pops out at #23 and trashes the family, getting all three out by himself.

-Another fun spot sees Miz come out, trash talk Brock Lesnar at ringside, and then join commentary for several minutes, smartly noting that it’s “not the right time” to enter the ring (while Brock is there).

-Bray at #27 right after Strowman is out, and the Wyatts all re-enter to attack him. After a good bit of back-and-forth (which sees Brock toss all the Wyatts a SECOND time for a face-off with Bray in which Bray shows no fear), the Wyatts overpower him and dump him out. The only problem I have here is that Brock then just leaves, and that is a bit incongruent with the rampaging, vindictive, angry character they’d established for him. I figured he would at least F5 everyone still in the ring before going to the back.

-Roman returns at #29 to attack Sheamus.

-HHH is maybe the least surprising “big surprise” entrant ever at #30.

-Jericho gets the Iron Man rub here, lasting 50 minutes to the last five.

-Roman surprisingly doesn’t even make it to the final two, showing for the second time (WrestleMania 31 being the first), that WWE knows what major show crowds are going to do regarding him. This allows HHH to get the win over Dean, a fan-favorite, and get booed. But then WrestleMania 32 happened, so… eh.


1. 2001 (Austin III) – 10/10

2. 2010 (Edge) – 9/10
3. 2004 (Benoit) – 9/10
4. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10

5. 2007 (The Undertaker) – 8/10
6. 1997 (Austin I) – 8/10
7. 1998 (Austin II) – 8/10

8. 2008 (Cena I) – 7/10
9. 2002 (HHH I) – 7/10

10. 2016 (HHH II) – 6/10
11. 2005 (Batista I) – 6/10

12. 2003 (Lesnar) -5/10
13. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
14. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
15. 2011 (Del Rio) – 5/10
16. 1999 (McMahon) 5/10

17. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
18. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
19. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
20. 2013 (Cena II) – 4/10
21. 2009 (Orton) – 4/10

22. 2012 (Sheamus) – 3/10
23. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
24. 2014 (Batista II) – 3/10
25. 2006 (Mysterio) – 3/10
26. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10

27. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
28. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10

29. 2015 (Reigns) – 1/10

The final score: review Average
The 411
After two absolute pieces of crap Rumbles, it was nice to get a relatively entertaining match here. There are several fun spots, the crowd loved AJ, the booking was good, and they managed to find a way to not let the entire span be about Roman.