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
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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