The 2017 Royal Rumble ended with a somewhat-peculiar choice of Randy Orton as the winner, capping off a night some nice highs (AJ Styles vs. John Cena being chief among them) and a few average moments that didn't seem to hit on their potential, with the Rumble match coming to mind. For the first two-thirds of the 30-man battle, it was shaping up well, but when everybody had to play dead during the Lesnar/Goldberg/Undertaker extended tribute...well, depth chart dioramas can take the air out of you.
It was a pretty good Rumble for the most part, though a shade or two beneath the previous year's swift go at restoring the prestige that a Royal Rumble should have. It hardly felt like a stadium show, but t'was good enough.
10. On The Sevens
The 2017 Royal Rumble emanated from Charles Barkley's favourite city (to have a laugh at the expense of), San Antonio, TX. WWE opted to go the stadium route for the event, booking the massive Alamodome, where more than 52,000 fans would witness the evening's action. If this location seems a little bit familiar, it's because Alamo City may as well be Rumble City.
Every year that has ended in a seven during the Royal Rumble's lifetime has taken place in San Antonio. The 1997 card was held in the Alamodome, where a heavily-papered crowd saw homeboy Shawn Michaels regain the WWE title in the main event. Ten years later, WWE went with a smaller venue, as the 2007 card took place at the AT&T Center, current home of the NBA's Spurs.
9. Man Goes Into Cage, Cage Goes Into Air
Seems weird that a "no disqualification" match would also see Chris Jericho neutralized by being suspended in a shark cage, doesn't it? I mean, anything can go in a no DQ match, right? If Jericho had escaped, would Kevin Owens have been disqualified? A book on WWE logic gaps could be 1300 pages.
The trend of shark cage matches throughout 2017-18 was seemingly spurred by WWE's action figure line coming out with a shark cage playset in 2016, but they've run the gimmick match in prior years, particularly in the 80s and 90s. The last time that WWE used a shark cage for a main roster match (we see you NXT TakeOver: Toronto) was for the Christmas week episode of SmackDown in 1999, when Triple H was stuck in the contraption to keep him from interfering in a Big Show/Mankind WWE title match.
8. Cena Nuff Reigns?
After 24 minutes of near-falls, clever counters, big move after big move, and just generally exhausting action, John Cena AA'ed AJ Styles into oblivion, winning the WWE Championship once more. The win tied him with Ric Flair's advertised total of 16 World titles (though through unrecognized changes, Flair could have more than 20 technically).
Cena would only hold the belt for two weeks before losing it to Bray Wyatt at Elimination Chamber. If you can believe it, from the time Cena was mauled to pieces by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2014, these two weeks would mark Cena's only time holding a World title since, across four-and-a-half years. Out of more than 1600 days (as of this writing), Cena's only been a World Champion for 14 of them.
7. Blue Balled
SmackDown's most ardent defenders will be the first to point out how the "inferior" Raw gets treated like the unbeatable A-show, while SmackDown is merely secondary pond scum. Then WWE went ahead and spelled out the disparity at Survivor Series 2018, but there is an earlier example of how Raw was given preferential treatment.
Although a SmackDown star, Randy Orton, won the Rumble match, only three of the 29 eliminations were caused by SmackDown wrestlers. Orton, Luke Harper, and Baron Corbin (before he became everyone's least favourite Raw performer) each eliminated one person (Roman Reigns, Apollo Crews, and Braun Strowman, respectively). "Free agent" Undertaker took four guys out of the match, while the other 22 were tossed by Raw competitors. There you go, SmackDown fans - more ammo.
6. Big Deals On Wheels
If you watch our man Ross' WTF video series (and if you don't, you're a soulless wretch), you're aware of the "DUNN DUNN DUNN" Imperial March segue into yet another peculiar production choice or gaffe from WWE shot-caller Kevin Dunn. The 2017 Royal Rumble match had some rather bizarre camera cuts during the entrances of select wrestlers, but for a sensible reason.
Some of the larger competitors, like Big Show, Mark Henry, and others, would take rides on these special modified golf carts, so as to save their energy during the 65-yard trek up the aisle to the ring. I would have rolled with the WrestleMania 3 and 6 carts that looked like miniature wrestling rings myself, and if WWE busts those out at the 2019 Rumble inside Chase Field, I'll be a happy clam.
5. Whole Lotta Nothing
There were eight Raw superstars that scored at least one elimination in the Rumble match, but poor Sami Zayn was not one of them. He would survive pretty deep into the field from the number 8 draw, before being eliminated by The Undertaker, but it was an otherwise-uneventful night for a man who stormed the Rumble as a small surprise one year earlier.
And Zayn's rather non-descript performance would make a little bit of history. After surviving the match for 47 minutes and 12 seconds, Zayn posted the longest Rumble duration for any wrestler that did not score a single elimination. Even Vince McMahon managed to eliminate Stone Cold in 1999, although he needed a distraction from his protege The Rock to do it. Maybe this is why Zayn rekindled his friendship with Kevin Owens.
4. Opposite Ends Of The World
Hang on, I'm not done talking about Reigns hitting the ring at number 30, and drawing more heat than a professional sunbather. The global anger was at least dulled a bit by Reigns coming up short to an allegedly-spellbound Randy Orton. If nothing else, Reigns causing heads and keyboards to explode in stereo did give us a Rumble first.
For the first time ever, a wrestler went from being the Rumble's number one entrant in one year, and the 30th in the following. There have been wrestlers that have done it in reverse, as Ted DiBiase (1989-90), Rikishi (2001-02), and Undertaker (2007-08) did the 30-to-1 deal, but Reigns is only one that went the other way. Some wrestlers have also done one and 30, but not in concurrent years.
3. Millennium Clock Counts On
Often lost in the hoopla of the 2017 Rumble match is the fact that Chris Jericho, the match's number two entrant, became the sixth man to break the one-hour mark in the contest, lasting 13 seconds past one hour. Granted, he did spend quite a bit of time on the outside laying in the weeds, but one hour is one hour.
And Jericho's performance made further history, as he overtook Triple H as the all-time leader in cumulative time spent in the match. Going in, Jericho trailed his longtime nemesis by about two minutes, but his hour in the match put him at four hours, 58 minutes, and 12 seconds across 10 Rumble matches. Triple H is the next closest at 23 seconds under four hours, with Shawn Michaels third at 3:42:30.
2. Reigns Every Day
And now back to Roman and his number 30 entry into the match. I swear I'm not trolling you - there are very good reasons for bringing up "The Big Dog" and his performance in the 2017 Rumble match. And don't worry, he didn't win - he came up short after jumping into an RKO at the hands of Randy Orton.
Where Reigns *did* make history was in becoming the first man to reach four *consecutive* Royal Rumble final fours. Others before him could claim four final fours, but not all in a row. Stone Cold came pretty close with three in a row from 1997-99, and another pair in 2001-02, but it's The Shield's heavy-hitter that wins this particular game of Connect Four.
1. Snaking His Way In
Reigns' statistic is mighty impressive, but it turns out that the winner has his own interesting fact in regards to the Rumble final four. By winning the match, Orton became only the seventh multi-Rumble winner in WWE history, and most recent, but Orton would join another category that has an even smaller group of members.
Orton became just the second WWE wrestler to reach *six* total final fours, by virtue of making it into the final stage here. The final four collection of "The Viper" includes 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2017. The only other wrestler to do so was Kane (1997 as impostor Diesel, and 2000, 2001, 2003, 2008, and 2015 as Kane). And yet Orton is the only Rumble winner to have joined said group.