1. Big Cas
2. Chris Jericho
4. Mojo Rawley
5. Jack Gallagher (with his umbrella, William III!)
6. Mark Henry
7. Braun Strowman
8. Sami Zayn
9. The Big Show
10. Tye Dillinger (in one of those spots that everyone knew was coming, but was still absolutely wonderful)
11. James Ellsworth
12. Dean Ambrose
13. Baron Corbin
14. Kofi Kingston
15. The Miz (who doesn’t come out to Daniel Bryan’s theme, despite all the predictions)
17. Big E
18. Rusev (Rocking the Richard Hamilton mask!)
20. Xavier Woods
21. Bray Wyatt
22. Apollo Crews
23. Randy Orton
24. Dolph Ziggler
25. Luke Harper
26. Brock Lesnar
27. Enzo Amore
29. The Undertaker
30. Roman Reigns
4. Chris Jericho (eliminated by Roman Reigns)
3. Bray Wyatt (eliminated by Roman Reigns)
2. Roman Reigns (eliminated by Randy Orton)
1. Randy Orton
-Personal aside to start: I had some of my buddies over who haven’t watched wrestling since the mid-2000s to watch the Rumble with me (and I even had the wife watching again). They were fans of the show overall, and I gave them homework for this week: find as much of Wrestle Kingdom 11 on YouTube as possible (they had already asked about “that six-star match”) and find The Final Deletion while they are at it. Just because everyone should at least experience that. Anyway, they had a blast, so I might have my rose-colored goggles out for this one because it’s a lot more fun watching with a group.
-Two minute intervals this year!
-I’m generally a putridly bad prognosticator, so whenoOne of my very few correct predictions happens, I have to tout it: Enzo and Cas out first to get their spiel in before the match starts!
-The aisle to the ring is about an eternity long here, to the point where the bigger athletes actually rode a cart to the ring off-camera. The first time this happens—for Mark Henry—Jerry Lawler starts to point it out, but I imagine Vince screamed in his ear to leave it alone.
-Early on, the previously stats-allergic Cole lets us know when Jericho breaks the record for most combined time spent in Rumbles at over 4 hours. Wow!
-Jack Gallagher gets an early humor spot in the Rumble, assaulting everyone with his umbrella, culminating in coming off the top rope with the umbrella open and getting unceremoniously dumped by Mark Henry (he still seemed more graceful than Mrs. Featherbottom, at least).
-Braun out at #6, and the Rumble gets its first real forward momentum of the night, as he hit the rings and tosses everyone except Jericho (who falls into a habit of hiding most of the rest of the evening). Mojo, Cas, and Henry all fall to the monster, and admittedly… I have loved Strowman’s booking since Survivor Series. This is how you get a monster over. Now let’s all hope he doesn’t get Rybacked in a few months.
-Separately, Strowman pitches both Mark Henry and Big Show by himself, and somewhere—if only in my head—R-Truth is saying “Pfft, call me when you do that at the same time”.
-I can’t stress how happy I am that WWE went through with Tye Dillinger at #10.
-James Ellsworth takes an elimination from Strowman (after some fun hemming and hawing about getting in the ring with the goliath that haunts his dreams) that I like to call “How To Break Your Pelvis”.
-Still on the Strowman Show, Braun is “single-handedly” eliminated by Baron Corbin with a clothesline, but it DOES follow a flying dropkick by Dean and Sami’s Helluva Kick. So it makes everyone involved look quite good.
-Kofi’s annual save isn’t great here. He falls off the top of the ring post, but catches himself and dangles for a bit before righting the ship. As far as saves go, it’s not amazing, but the spot itself is impressive because when it happened, I thought he might have died; it appears as though he just misses cracking his face off the post.
-Jericho gets the “Iron Man” tenure here, but it’s mostly his hiding and lying down. Not in a disappointing way because it is his character, but… it’s not like he faced an endurance test, you know?
-Bray Wyatt and Xavier Woods relive their gimmick from this past summer, with Woods showing terror in the face of the cult leader. Continuity! And like previously, Woods overcomes his paralysis to do battle with Wyatt.
-The lull between #22 and #23 sees the first “Goldberg” chant break out.
-Sheamus and Cesaro eliminate the entirety of The New Day in one fell swoop, but then immediately get dumped by Y2J when Sheamus tries to sneak Cesaro out. So 5 guys out in about… 10 seconds? Or less? That might be a record.
-With Randy Orton’s appearance, we are informed by Michael Cole that three men have won from the #23 spot, but then he leaves us hanging without any further sage words, but don’t worry fans! Your humble Rumble reviewer has your back. Lex Luger (1994) is the only other man who has won from the #23 spot, so… I’m not sure what Cole is on about. There have been a few #22’s and #24’s, but… wait a minute… twice in history (Hulk Hogan in 1991 and Steve Austin in 1998), the man who won at the #24 spot did it in year where there had earlier been a no-show. So while three people haven’t won from the “23 position” (Cole’s words), three men who were the twenty-third entrant in the match have won. So there’s that. Damn, Cole. Don’t make me do your homework for you. Get in the game.
-Fun fact: Brock Lesnar rocks the ring like a hurricane, eliminating Ambrose and Ziggler before just obliterating everyone else, BUT… he neither eats nor sleeps between eliminating them. Paul Heyman is a damnable liar.
-Goldberg out to face off with Lesnar at #28, and… can someone explain this angle to me? Goldberg is now 2-0 against Lesnar in his career with one of those wins being an uncontested stomp, and an effortless Rumble elimination making up a third official encounter. Why on Earth do I want to see them fight again? I really can’t figure out what they are trying to build here. If their roles at the Rumble had been reversed, sure. Then they’d each gotten over the other in rapid fashion. But as it is? This is befuddling. I am befuddled.
-Undertaker and Goldberg go at it, and THERE’S an angle I want to see. They have a much more interesting (though equally as brief) confrontation, and… why can’t we be building to that at WrestleMania instead?
-Hahaha, so yeah. When Undertaker was at #29 (and Brock and Goldberg and Braun had all already been in and back out), the assumption was that #30 was going to be a huge surprise. And it was… oh, it was. But you know what else is a surprise? Finding a bug in the steak you ordered. Not all surprises are fun is what I’m saying. I remember sitting on my couch, and exact words were “Balor, Joe, or Angle. Balor, Joe, or Angle. Balor, Joe, or—huh? OH COME ON”.
I took some abuse in my review of 2014 for giving WWE too much credit by believing Daniel Bryan was always the endgame. And I’m probably doing it again with my belief that WWE is booking Roman the way they are because they have found the formula to book a heel the will never get cheered, but come on… there’s an unbelievable level obliviousness that comes with the booking of Roman. It’s hard to swallow.
-A Roman/Undertaker angle is built towards when Roman pitches ‘Taker, and I am reminded of what I alluded to earlier: can’t we have Undertaker/Goldberg instead? Let Brock and Roman fight again. That’s a fine pairing. That was fun at WrestleMania 31.
-A lot of this Rumble harkens back to 2014. The air getting sucked out of the arena at #30. A final four that is… unimpressive. And that final set-up is made even more so when the only palatable guy left is the first one out. Leaving…
-Roman, Randy, and Bray as the final three, and I was—wait, I’m going to try to sound young and hip here—checked out AF at that point. If I were ranking current WWE superstars instead of Rumbles, we’d be looking at three great candidates for my bottom five, and it all comes down to them. And what’s more, the one of them that makes the least sense to win… wins. Randy Orton? In 2017? But… why? They can’t possibly be down for another Orton/Cena stretch, can they? The only storyline that would make sense for WrestleMania is Orton/Wyatt and oh my god, Wyatt is winning the title before ‘Mania, isn’t he? Damn it.
This honest-to-god felt like an 8/10 Rumble until #30. Now I'm trying not to be super snarky and down on Roman just because... but what a momentous disappointment of what could have been a huge return/debut spot. Everything kind of soured from that point on, dragging down what had genuinely been a great Royal Rumble. So close, WWE. So close.
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) – 6/1011. 2017 (Orton II) – 6/10
12. 2005 (Batista I) – 6/10
13. 2003 (Lesnar) -5/10
14. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
15. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
16. 2011 (Del Rio) – 5/10
17. 1999 (McMahon) 5/10
18. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
19. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
20. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
21. 2013 (Cena II) – 4/10
22. 2009 (Orton I) – 4/10
23. 2012 (Sheamus) – 3/10
24. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
25. 2014 (Batista II) – 3/10
26. 2006 (Mysterio) – 3/10
27. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10
28. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
29. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10
30. 2015 (Reigns) – 1/10