Batista won the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match

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January 26, 2014

The laughs stopped when the 28th Superstar joined the fray. Making his long-awaited homecoming, Batista stomped to the ring and eliminated Erick Rowan, Ryback and Alberto Del Rio with immediacy. By the time Rey Mysterio entered as the final Superstar in the No. 30 spot, the ring was buckling under the weight of serious behemoths like Big E Langston, Sheamus and Antonio Cesaro.

At this point, the notion that the Royal Rumble Match was every man for himself became clear as Ambrose attempted to eliminate Reigns, but failed. Now running off pure adrenaline, the powerhouse set his Shield unity aside, then dumped both Rollins and Ambrose — along with Cesaro — out of the ring at the same time.

Who invented the Royal Rumble Match? Find out in this fascinating story

With that, Punk, Batista, Sheamus and Reigns stood as the final four, but The Straight Edge Superstar didn’t last long as Kane reemerged and pulled Punk out of the ring (thus tying Shawn Michaels for all-time Royal Rumble Match eliminations with 39). The Director of Operations continued his vicious assault on the former WWE Champion by chokeslamming him through the Spanish announce table.

Sheamus was the next to go as he was dispatched by Reigns, who eliminated 12 Superstars — 40 percent of the contest’s participants — to break Kane’s 13-year-old record for the most competitors eliminated in a single Royal Rumble Match. With anticipation reaching a fever pitch, Batista and Reigns squared off like silverbacks fighting for their territory. Bone-jarring spears were exchanged as the upstart tested the veteran’s resolve; ultimately, though, it was The Animal who survived as he launched Reigns out of the ring with one arm.

Watch the 100 greatest Royal Rumble Match eliminations ever!

With the ring now clear of every Superstar but one, Batista stood supreme as the winner of his second Royal Rumble Match. As many greats have done before him, The Animal pointed into the rafters where the WrestleMania XXX sign hung. What awaits him there remains to be seen, but the Road to WrestleMania has begun, and an Animal is leading the stampede to New Orleans.

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