Thanks to a Philadelphia crowd that sucked all the energy out of the Wells Fargo Center after Daniel Bryan was eliminated, the main event of the WWE’s Royal Rumble was a bit of a disappointment this year. However, the triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight championship that preceded it more than made up for that.
Brock Lesnar, who was competing for the first time since Night of Champions in late September, successfully defended his title against John Cena and Seth Rollins, but all three superstars deserve a ton of credit for putting on a match for the ages.
Lesnar started out the no-disqualification match by going right after Cena, hitting him with a barrage of German suplexes, before attacking both members of J&J Security, Rollins’ associates Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury. He continued to methodically decimate both of his challengers, before Rollins and Cena were able to finally team up and go on the offensive.
Following several minutes of back-and-forth action, Lesnar delivered his first F5 of the night after catching Rollins in midair, though Cena would break up Lesnar’s pin attempt at two. Cena, looking to tie Ric Flair with a 16th world title reign, nearly pinned Lesnar after hitting him with three straight Attitude Adjustments, but the champion kicked out. Rollins tried to capitalize by hitting Lesnar with a Curb Stomp, but Cena broke up the pin.
After Lesnar rolled out of the ring to catch a breather, Cena caught him off guard and speared him through a barricade, before hitting him with the ring stairs and leaving him on one of the announce tables.
Next, Rollins delivered the highlight of the match by channeling his inner Shawn Michaels and driving Lesnar through the Spanish announce table (TAKE A SHOT AND/OR FINISH YOUR DRINK) with a flying elbow from the top rope.
With Lesnar immobilized, the match turned into a seesaw battle between Cena and Rollins. Noble and Mercury interfered by attacking Cena when he had Rollins locked in the STF, but he took them out for good by hitting them with a double AA.
Cena then hit Rollins with another AA, but was left incredulous after Rollins kicked out at two. Rollins gained the upper hand and delivered a Curb Stomp to Cena, but it still wasn’t enough to put him away.
Rollins would then once again deliver a highlight of the match by hitting Cena with an impressive Phoenix Splash from the top rope.
At this point, Lesnar, who had been put on a stretcher by EMTs, came back into the ring, hitting both of his challengers with German suplexes.
This tremendous title bout finally came to an end when Lesnar avoided Rollins’ attempt to Curb Stomp him on to his Money in the Bank briefcase and delivered a final F5, retaining his title and ensuring his spot in the main event at WrestleMania XXXI.
The match was an instant classic, and drew rave reviews almost immediately.
Rollins, Cena and Lesnar working on an early Match of the Year candidate #RoyalRumble
— WrestlingINC.com (@WrestlingInc) January 26, 2015
— Wrestle Reaction (@Wrestle_React) January 26, 2015
MATCH OF THE YEAR #RoyalRumble2015
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) January 26, 2015
It’s not very often that you can say this in January, but the 2015 Slammy Award for Match of the Year might already be decided. It’ll take something special to top that.
And though Lesnar retained the title, the real star of the night was Seth Rollins, who received a standing ovation from the Philly fans after the match. If WWE knows what’s good for business, Rollins will be a main-eventer for quite a while (which probably means that he’ll get buried).
Plus, he still has his Money in the Bank contract to cash in. Who knows, maybe he’ll decide to use it in a couple months at WrestleMania.
The title match more than made up for the weak Royal Rumble, which followed it.