The 5 coolest things that happened in the 2014 Royal Rumble Match
In addition to being the official first stop on The Road to WrestleMania, the annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view is a time-tested, fan-favorite event. Even more beloved amongst the denizens of the WWE Universe is the Royal Rumble Match itself, where 30 Superstars vie for their chance at glory — a spot in the main event at WrestleMania.
The over-the-top-rope melee holds a special place in the hearts of fans across the world, and with good reason — with each year come new and unforgettable moments. And the 2014 edition of the Royal Rumble Match lived up to the standards set by the storied history of the bout.
So, after taking some time to take stock of the 30-Superstar classic, WWE.com breaks down the battle and presents the five coolest moments from this year's Royal Rumble Match.
Alexander Rusev makes his debut
Emerging from the six-spot was a bare-foot Bulgarian monster named Alexander Rusev. Displaying his Muay Thai background, Rusev was shockingly impressive, decimating Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins and CM Punk inside the ring before coming face-to-face with the equally imposing Jack Swagger. Rusev overpowered the Real American and made an immediate impact on the unsuspecting WWE Universe.
Despite being dumped over the top (a feat that took the combined might of three Superstars, mind you), Rusev wasn’t done yet. When Punk tossed Kofi Kingston over the top rope, Rusev caught the highflyer and proceeded to dump him atop the barricade before making an angry exit.
And speaking of Kofi ...
Kofi Kingston’s leap of faith
First it was the hand-walk of 2012, then it was his chair hop of 2013.
This year, Kofi Kingston thrilled the WWE Universe by jumping from the barricade — located quite a ways up the ramp — and vaulting himself onto the ring apron in a stunning leap of faith to stay in the melee a while longer. Then, later in the bout, Kofi once again hung on — literally by his shoelaces — to avoid elimination.
Sure, he was launched clear over the top rope by Roman Reigns, but The Wildcat once again left an indelible mark on the Royal Rumble Match.
The Celtic Warrior is back!
Entering the fray at No. 17, Sheamus made his highly anticipated return from a torn labrum, and got right to work as he took on all three members of The Shield. After delivering clubbing blows to Dean Ambrose, he nailed Seth Rollins with the Irish Curse Backbreaker before leveling Roman Reigns with a thundering Brogue Kick.
Later on in the bout, Sheamus eliminated the scary-strong Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston en route to squaring off against Reigns and Batista in the final three.
Though The Celtic Warrior would not emerge from the over-the-top-rope classic victorious, he did deliver a resounding statement to the entire locker room — Sheamus is back, and he may just be better than ever.
Roman Reigns fractures the record
It was a long list of casualties left by The Shield’s enforcer, Roman Reigns, in an historic Royal Rumble Match debut. Eliminating a record-breaking 12 Superstars, Reigns delivered spears at will and generally dished out dominance in a brilliant and possibly career-defining performance.
There’s been lots of talk about cracks forming in the foundation of The Shield, and those rumblings will no doubt continue after Dean Ambrose’s shocking attempted betrayal of his black-clad compatriot, but Reigns’ performance may well overshadow Ambrose’s deviousness.
Left in the final three with Batista and Sheamus, Reigns eliminated The Celtic Warrior (adding him to a list that already included the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Nash, JBL and Luke Harper) and The Shield’s enforcer was left to face The Animal, Batista, one-on-one.
When he nailed Batista with a spear that threatened to tear down the arena, the WWE Universe thought Reigns was poised for The Grandest Stage of Them All. Though that was not meant to be, Reigns’ performance in the Royal Rumble Match will resonate for years to come.
The Animal’s conquest
If Batista’s return to Raw this past week set the WWE Universe ablaze, then his conquest of the Royal Rumble Match ignited a firestorm.
Though he entered in the No. 28 spot, The Animal had a long way to go before he would eventually claim victory. Dumping four Superstars over the top, including the monstrous Ryback and a trash-talking Alberto Del Rio, Batista was left to square off against CM Punk, Sheamus and Roman Reigns as the final four took center stage in Pittsburgh.
After Punk and Sheamus both found their way to the ringside floor, The Animal stood across the mat from the bout’s hottest Superstar, Reigns.
Though he ate a ring-shaking spear from The Shield’s enforcer, The Animal withstood the punishment and proceeded to dump Reigns over the top to punch his ticket to the main event of WrestleMania XXX.