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He came. He saw. He conquered.

In his first match back after a nearly four-year absence from WWE, Batista proved he hadn’t lost any of his killer instinct as he eliminated Roman Reigns to win the 2014 Royal Rumble Match. With his epic victory — his second in the 27-year history of the over-the-top-rope melee — Batista began his deliberate march toward WrestleMania XXX, where he will attempt to achieve the one goal that led to his return: win the WWE World Heavyweight Title.

It was a commanding performance from The Animal, who entered the fray at No. 28 and eliminated four Superstars to stand tall. Long before that, however, it was CM Punk who kicked things off, entering at No. 1 for the second time in his career before displaying the kind of marathon man endurance that made Royal Rumble Match icons out of WWE Hall of Famers like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. First squaring off with No. 2 entrant Seth Rollins, Punk scored the bout’s first eliminations by dumping Damien Sandow and Kane, who entered the match in slacks and dress shoes.

WWE NXT standout Alexander Rusev — a Bulgarian powerlifter with scary agility — made a shocking entrance in the No. 6 spot, and manhandled Punk, Rollins and Cody Rhodes with the clout of a ring veteran. For a brief period of time, the rookie became an unexpected favorite until the combined efforts of four Superstars took the brute out of the match.

Before the big man left the ringside area, however, Punk tossed Kofi Kingston, who landed in Rusev’s arms. The Bulgarian strongman planted Kingston on the barricade, but the high-flyer’s feet never touched the floor. As he did in his last two Royal Rumble Matches, Kofi found a way to survive as he balanced himself atop the thin railing, took a running start and miraculously jumped back onto the ring apron.

The first Royal Rumble shocker came at No. 14 when the massive Kevin Nash returned to WWE and immediately eliminated Jack Swagger before going after both Rollins and Dean Ambrose at the same time. Big Sexy didn’t last long, though, as the No. 15 entrant — Roman Reigns — tossed Nash, Kofi and Dolph Ziggler in short order. It was the just the beginning of what would become a legendary Rumble Match performance for the muscle of The Shield.

The surprises continued from there as Goldust eliminated his brother, Cody, and Reigns eliminated Goldust, leaving Punk alone in the ring with all three members of The Shield. Just when it looked like a public mugging was about to transpire, the clock struck zero and Sheamus made his return as the 17th entrant. Clearly not intimidated by The Hounds of Justice, the fiery Irishman went right for the trio with wild haymakers like he was in the middle of a Dublin pub brawl.

The smallest Rumbler entered at No. 20 as El Torito charged into the squared circle and picked a fight with Punk. The Straight Edge Superstar may have dismissed the little bull, but that was before he had been nearly flipped out of his boots by a hurricanrana. The luchador even scored an elimination when he launched Fandango over the rope with a flying headscissors, but he was then nearly hurled into the mezzanine by Reigns.

The mayhem continued from there as JBL left the commentary table at No. 24, and entered the ring in a shirt and tie. Yet by the time he handed off his coat to Michael Cole, he was sacked by the domineering Reigns. Despite his limited appearance, JBL still inspired chants of “You still got it!” from the WWE Universe.

The laughs stopped when the 28th Superstar joined the fray. Making his long-awaited homecoming, Batista stomped to the ring and eliminated Erick Rowan, Ryback and Alberto Del Rio with immediacy. By the time Rey Mysterio entered as the final Superstar in the No. 30 spot, the ring was buckling under the weight of serious behemoths like Big E Langston, Sheamus and Antonio Cesaro.

At this point, the notion that the Royal Rumble Match was every man for himself became clear as Ambrose attempted to eliminate Reigns, but failed. Now running off pure adrenaline, the powerhouse set his Shield unity aside, then dumped both Rollins and Ambrose — along with Cesaro — out of the ring at the same time.

With that, Punk, Batista, Sheamus and Reigns stood as the final four, but The Straight Edge Superstar didn’t last long as Kane reemerged and pulled Punk out of the ring (thus tying Shawn Michaels for all-time Royal Rumble Match eliminations with 39). The Director of Operations continued his vicious assault on the former WWE Champion by chokeslamming him through the Spanish announce table.

Sheamus was the next to go as he was dispatched by Reigns, who eliminated 12 Superstars – 40 percent of the contest’s participants – to break Kane’s 13-year-old record for the most competitors eliminated in a single Royal Rumble Match. With anticipation reaching a fever pitch, Batista and Reigns squared off like silverbacks fighting for their territory. Bone-jarring spears were exchanged as the upstart tested the veteran’s resolve; ultimately, though, it was The Animal who survived as he launched Reigns out of the ring with one arm.

With the ring now clear of every Superstar but one, Batista stood supreme as the winner of his second Royal Rumble Match. As many greats have done before him, The Animal pointed into the rafters where the WrestleMania XXX sign hung. What awaits him there remains to be seen, but the Road to WrestleMania has begun, and an Animal is leading the stampede to New Orleans.

Full list of Royal Rumble Match participants and eliminations

 

Entry Number
Name
Eliminated
Eliminated By  
1 CM Punk Damien Sandow, Kane, Alexander Rusev Kane
2 Seth Rollins Alexander Rusev, Rey Mysterio Roman Reigns
3 Damien Sandow CM Punk
4 Cody Rhodes Alexander Rusev Goldust
5 Kane CM Punk
6 Alexander Rusev Seth Rollins, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston
7 Jack Swagger Kevin Nash
8 Kofi Kingston Alexander Rusev Roman Reigns
9 Jimmy Uso Dean Ambrose
10 Goldust Cody Rhodes Roman Reigns
11 Dean Ambrose R-Truth, Jimmy Uso Roman Reigns
12 Dolph Ziggler Roman Reigns
13 R-Truth Dean Ambrose
14 Kevin Nash Jack Swagger Roman Reigns
15 Roman Reigns Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Nash, The Great Khali, Goldust, El Torito, JBL, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Antontio Cesaro, Sheamus Batista
16 The Great Khali Roman Reigns
17 Sheamus Big E Langston Roman Reigns
18 The Miz Luke Harper
19 Fandango El Torito
20 El Torito Fandango Roman Reigns
21 Antonio Cesaro Roman Reigns
22 Luke Harper The Miz, Jey Uso Roman Reigns
23 Jey Uso Luke Harper
24 JBL Roman Reigns
25 Erick Rowan Batista
26 Ryback Batista
27 Alberto Del Rio Batista
28 Batista Erick Rowan, Ryback, Alberto Del Rio Winner
29 Big E Langston Sheamus
30 Rey Mysterio Rey Mysterio

 

Total Rumble Time: 55 minutes, 10 seconds

Debbie Jan 27, 2014
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HOUSTON — Ahead of his 3-on-1 Handicap Match against United States Champion Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, CM Punk seemed almost resigned to his fate. Fully expecting to walk into a “wholesale slaughter,” The Best in the World sounded all but accepting of defeat so long as he took down at least some members of The Shield in the process.

Instead, armed with strategy, patience and wherewithal, Punk exceeded even his own predictions and earned a hard-fought victory at WWE TLC. Perhaps more significantly, the lopsided match may have further contributed to an emerging crack in The Shield, leaving the cohesiveness of one of WWE’s most destructive trios in question.

The bout, ordered by Director of Operations Kane shortly after Punk publicly criticized The Authority, allowed the three Shield members to tag in and out. Meanwhile, The Voice of the Voiceless — suffering from bruised ribs, thanks to a recent spear by Reigns — was left with an empty corner. He was not without support, however, as the Toyota Center broke into chants of “CM Punk” seconds after the opening bell rang.

Ambrose and Rollins took turns pawing at Punk, with The Straight Edge Superstar getting the better of each Hound of Justice. The momentum swayed with the entrance of Reigns, who muscled Punk into the corner and tossed him to the floor like a ragdoll. Reigns attempted to spear Punk outside the ring, but the savvy Second City Strategist sidestepped him, causing the black-clad warrior to barrel over the commentators’ desk.

Reigns narrowly beat the referee’s count and re-entered the ring, but was clearly worse for wear, favoring his left eye which, replays revealed, had drilled a chair during the ill-fated spear attempt. Within seconds, the area around his eye began to swell, and once Reigns tagged out, WWE medical staff rushed in to assess the injury.

Punk continued to valiantly fight off the attack of Rollins and Ambrose, at times using their own momentum against them, but the numbers disadvantage proved truly debilitating. After a rapid series of offensive maneuvers, Punk began to lock the Anaconda Vise on Rollins, yet interference from the volatile Ambrose prevented The Best in the World from gaining a submission victory.

Nonetheless, The Straight Edge Superstar kept his wits about him, reversing a butterfly superplex attempt by Ambrose and surveying the WWE Universe before launching into an elbow drop. Moments later, Punk dropped Rollins with the GTS.

With Rollins asleep, Ambrose then squirmed out of a second GTS attempt, only for Reigns—who had by then regained his composure—to take aim at Punk with another spear. Yet, Punk again avoided the impact, and Reigns inadvertently drove into Ambrose, leaving the United States Champion easy prey for a Punk pin … and underdogs around the world believing in The Best.

Where the match result leaves The Shield, as a unit, remains far less clear.

Debbie Dec 16, 2013