Batista won the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match

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January 26, 2014

PITTSBURGH — 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.

Check out more than 50 photos from the 2014 Royal Rumble Match

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.

Full Royal Rumble Match scorecard with entrants and eliminations

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.

Watch Batista's most dominant Royal Rumble Match performances

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.

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