Royal Rumble

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San Antonio, TX

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WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens def. Roman Reigns (No Disqualification Match, with Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage)

SAN ANTONIO — Thanks to Braun Strowman’s destructive invasion, WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens proved his doubters wrong yet again, walking out of Royal Rumble and his No Disqualification Match against Roman Reigns with Raw’s top prize.

WWE’s prizefighter and Chris Jericho did their best to take advantage of the contest’s No Disqualification stipulation, initially delivering a 2-on-1 assault against The Big Dog before the bell sounded. Reigns battled back, however, allowing the timekeeper to start the match and the United States Champion to be hoisted above the squared circle, trapped inside a locked shark cage.

With Chris Jericho suspended high above the ring inside a shark cage, WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens defends his title against Roman Reigns: Courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.

The titleholder and his challenger wasted no time getting down to business, fighting through the crowd and outside the ring. Both KO and “The Guy” took full advantage of the contest’s unruly proviso, while The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla could do nothing but cheer his best friend on from his steel surroundings above the ring.

Reigns looked to be in control of the contest before Owens delivered a Frog Splash off the top rope onto the black-clad Superstar, who was strewn on top of a table outside the ring. Amazingly, the resilient Reigns managed to kick out, but continued to receive a brutal beating from KO.

As if Reigns going face-first into a steel chair wasn’t enough, Jericho dropped brass knuckles from his perch above the ring to Owens. Wearing the foreign object around his hand, KO would ultimately connect with his own version of the Superman Punch on Reigns.

The former WWE Champion would not be kept down, though, once again battling back and throttling Owens with a wicked Samoan drop onto a steel chair. As the two foes continued their epic fight, more than 52,000 fans in attendance at the Alamodome erupted into a frenzy when Owens countered Reigns’ Spear, hitting a Stunner on his opponent.

The instant classic moved to the corner of the ring, where Reigns delivered a brutal Superman Punch on The Prizefighter. KO fell from the top rope, crashing down through a pyramid of steel chairs that had been set up outside the ring. Jericho could do nothing but watch in horror from above as Reigns went a step further and powerbombed an embattled Owens through one of the announce tables.

Reigns then set up the titleholder for some finishing touches, but just as the challenger aimed to strike with a potential championship-clinching Spear, Braun Strowman suddenly emerged and pulled Reigns from the ring. After throwing the No. 1 contender into the steel post, The Monster Among Men viciously chokeslammed him on top of another announce table.

Strowman then finished the job, drilling Reigns with a running powerslam through a table set up in the corner of the ring. A barely-recovered Owens then proceeded to crawl on top of a motionless Reigns, picking up the pinfall victory.

Thanks to another opportunistic victory, The Kevin Owens Show will be front and center as The Road to WrestleMania 33 kicks into high gear. Yet it also begs the question: As The Show of Shows nears, where will Braun Strowman ultimately fit in?