Attitudes toward Roman Reigns have obviously softened in recent times, as anybody with a heart and soul wants nothing for “The Big Dog” except to see him make a full recovery from his recurrence of leukaemia. In the context of kayfabe four years ago, however, there wasn’t a whole lot of love going Reigns’ way when his impending victory in the 2015 Royal Rumble match became abundantly clear.
If “The Philly Special” was Philadelphia’s sporting zenith for this decade, then this maddening edition of the Royal Rumble is perhaps the nadir (partially because nobody remembers Battleground 2017). An underwhelming and totally forgettable undercard gave way to an excellent WWE title match pitting Brock Lesnar against John Cena and Seth Rollins, arguably WWE’s best main roster match in 2015. Then the Rumble followed, robbing any and all headlines that the acclaimed triple threat would have otherwise earned.
Reigns was guilty of not being Daniel Bryan, a crime that many fans would deem to have capital implications. His rocket-push had been met with resistance, but nothing like the unfiltered fury dispensed on this night. And fans wouldn’t exactly warm to Reigns over the ensuing years, at least not the vocal ones anyway. In all, the 2015 Royal Rumble marked a seminal moment in the relationship between WWE and its most vociferous customers.
10. Fight A Different Day
Trombones, pancakes, cereal, questionable-looking unicorn horns, irreverent humour, and clever parodies – these are the hallmarks that would boost Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods, The New Day, into pro wrestling academia as bonafide stars. Their unexpected, but wholly welcome, breakout in the summer of 2015, however, was preceded by fans reacting negatively to the artificial peppiness that defined their first foray under the New Day name.
The then-unpopular trio was set to wrestle Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Adam Rose in six-man action on the Rumble Kickoff show, but the match would be changed to just Cesaro and Kidd against Big E and Kingston. The reason for the change was because Woods was still on the mend with an ankle injury. The other five individuals (Rose included) would later all take part in the Royal Rumble match at night’s end.