The WWE Royal Rumble is an event that always creates memories for legions of fans. Chris King takes a look back at his Top 5 Royal Rumble moments from the past three years!
With the 2020 Royal Rumble pay-per-view just days away, I’ve gone back and re-watched the past three events to get fired up for this weekend. We’ve bared witness to some incredible moments such as Finn Balor getting his long-overdue rematch for the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar, Asuka successfully defending her SmackDown Women’s Championship against “The Man” Becky Lynch, and Goldberg shocking the WWE Universe by eliminating Brock Lesnar!
Here are my top five moments from the past three Royal Rumble pay-per-views.
5. Goldberg/The Undertaker Staredown – 2017 Royal Rumble
If you’ve been a pro wrestling fan for nearly two decades as myself, then one thing you’d never expect is two of the pillars of professional wrestling having a face-to-face confrontation at one of the big four events inside a WWE ring.
— Brock Lesnar Guy (@BrockLesnarGuy) January 30, 2017
On one side you have “The Phenom” a living legend and a cornerstone of WWE who has “dug twenty-nine holes for twenty-nine souls” for so many years and was prepared to do it again! On the other, you have”The Icon” Goldberg a true pioneer of WCW who was looking to find his way back to the WWE title scene and headline WrestleMania. What the WWE Universe got to witness was a chilling moment that made time stand still!
4. The Coronation Of The King Of The Cruiserweights
Two former friends did battle over the WWE Cruiserweight Title. The story began a month prior to Roadblock: End of the Line when Neville made his long-awaited return. After his buddy Rich Swann had just successfully defended his title against both TJ Perkins and Brian Kendrick, “The Man That Gravity Forgot” came down to the ring and decked the champion.
The two former friends turned bitter rivals who engage in a heated feud at the 2017 Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Both superstars delivered a fantastic five-star classic. This new edgy and ruthless version of Neville, in my opinion, is why his run in AEW currently is so effective. Swann withstood a ton of vicious attacks from his former friend but in the end, The King of the Cruiserweights laid waste and walked away with the Cruiserweight Championship!
3. The Empress of Tomorrow Arrived
This is actually a twofer from 2018 and 2019 where Asuka truly showed the WWE Universe that she was indeed a serious threat. First, Asuka won the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble match and cemented what every other NXT fan already knew that “Nobody was ready for Asuka!” It was truly an amazing moment. Unfortunately, she would go on and be defeated by Charlotte Flair to lose her huge undefeated streak.
Second, at this past year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Asuka would successfully defend her SmackDown Women’s Championship against The Man Becky Lynch. The Empress had just won the title at TLC a month prior thanks to Ronda Rousey’s interference but still she was the champ. Lynch with the entire WWE Universe behind her delivered a great effort but, her story was heading a different direction and lost.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) January 28, 2019
We’ll get to that in a minute. That night in Phoenix, Arizona it was Asuka’s time to shine and cement her name as the top female superstar for the SmackDown Live brand!
Honorable Mention: Seth Rollins Invades NXT
While this technically wasn’t a moment that happened on the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, it did occur during that weekend. At NXT TakeOver: San Antonio, Seth Rollins shocked the world when he called out the brainchild of NXT and the man that screwed him out of the Universal Championship Triple H.
Rollins was desperate to get his comeuppance against his former mentor so what does he do? He goes back to where their paths crossed for the first time in WWE. “The Kingslayer” technically got his face-to-face but he also was greeted by security guards to prevent The COO from getting his hands dirty. In my opinion, it was arguably one of the most highly-anticipated rivalries on the road to WrestleMania in quite some time!
2. John Cena/AJ Styles Steal The Show
— James Moffat (@jamesmoffat) January 30, 2017
One of the best matches of all time, in my opinion, was John Cena vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. The two rivals had already competed in blockbuster matches and this was the rubber match. On one hand, you have John Cena a true workhorse of WWE for the past decade looking to tie Ric Flair’s World Championship record and make history.
On the other, you have the self-proclaimed “Face That Runs The Place” AJ Styles the current WWE Champion who quite frankly could run circles around a plethora of superstars. Unfortunately for Styles, Cena was not of those superstars.
For whatever reason, both competitors who wrestle completely different styles brought out the absolute best in each other which made all of their matches truly phenomenal (pun intended). We were just blessed with a terrific match where Cena did the impossible by becoming a sixteen-time WWE Champion!
1. The Man’s First Step To WrestleMania
As if there was a bigger moment, perhaps there is but in my opinion, Becky Lynch claiming her spot in the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble match and eliminating her long-time nemesis Charlotte Flair to ensure her road to WrestleMania was such a bad ass moment!
— Buzz.ie (@buzzdotie) January 28, 2019
The Man had lost the SmackDown Women’s title earlier in the night, and the WWE Universe was chanting for her all the way back at number 15. They wanted her to enter the match and win the whole thing they did get their wish but it was at the number 28 spot.
That spot was originally for Lana but due to an ankle injury she was unable to compete so, Lynch came out to a raucous reaction and was allowed to take her place. The entire crowd went nuts as The Man and “The Facebreaker” Nia Jax went face-to-face for the first time since she broke her nose ahead of Survivor Series.
The Man utilized this opportunity to get her comeuppance against Nia Jax and to eliminate her long-time rival Flair to punch her ticket to WrestleMania. Of course, the match that the WWE Universe wanted for this past year’s Mania between Lynch and Rousey was changed to the Winners-Take-All match with the Raw and SmackDown Championship on the line.
It was truly a special moment with the Chase Field crowd fully behind The Man and here’s a clip of her hometown reacting to her triumphant win!
Those are my top five moments from the Royal Rumble, I would love to hear some of yours. I am very excited for Sunday and ready to see who will win the men and Women’s Royal Rumble matches and punch their ticket to the Grandest Stage of Them All!!!