For the first time since 1992, the WWE World Heavyweight Title was essentially up for grabs in the 2016 Royal Rumble match, all but guaranteeing that we’d see a new champion (but with the nagging worry that we might not). And while WWE didn’t instantly solve all the myriad problems they’ve been having with their product in single night, they did do enough to make the Royal Rumble Pay Per View, which had come under fire in recent years, an fairly entertaining show that had plenty of things worth talking about. And since we’re in such a positive mood about the Rumble, we thought we’d share with you the many ways that WWE made it a much better show than most of what they put on in the last year (or longer).
10. When A Man Hates Another Man, And Also Michael Cole
First of all, we have to give kudos to both Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens for actually having a fight instead of a wrestling match. The whole idea behind feuds that escalate into things like Last Man Standing matches are that the wrestlers involve hate each other so much that they literally want to attempt to end each others’ existences. The problem is, more often than not in modern wrestling, the match will still start with regular collar-and-elbow tie-ups and chain wrestling, building to the big spots at the end. But in this instance, Owens and Ambrose started firing away with punches the second the bell rang, and just ramped up the damage from there. The match was non-stop action and innovative offense, full of big spots that looked impressive but were also well-planned and less risky than the wild head-shots and raised bars of the Attitude Era. It was a wrestling representation of a war between two people, and while the end was the traditionally anti-climatic moment of waiting for a ten-count to finish, it was by far the best match of the evening and the right way to start the show. Extra points go to Kevin Owens for managing to hurl himself over the announce table and neatly take out a clearly unsuspecting Michael Cole, also “accidentally” (because it sure looked like he had a plan) breaking Cole’s glasses while attempting to recover, continuing to escalate their ridiculously one-sided feud.