Royal Rumble 2015 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by WWE which took place on January 25, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the 28th annual Royal Rumble event.
With the cost of tickets for live attendance being the average of $518.28, it was WWE's most expensive tickets for a live event since 2010. The official theme song was "Gonna Be A Fight Tonight" by Danko Jones.
Royal Rumble featured professional wrestling matches that involved wrestlers from pre-existing feuds, plots, and storylines that played out on WWE's primary television programs. Wrestlers portrayed villains or heroes as they followed a series of events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches.
As is tradition at this yearly event, the card will be highlighted by the 30-man Royal Rumble match, where this year's winner will receive a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 31. At the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs event, Roman Reigns returned and announced himself as the first entrant in the Royal Rumble match. On the December 29 episode of Raw, Daniel Bryan announced his participation in the match. On the January 6 episode of Main Event, WWE United States Champion Rusev announced his participation in the match. On the January 9 episode of SmackDown, Bray Wyatt and WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett announced their participation in the match. On the January 12 episode of Raw, Dean Ambrose announced his participation in the match. On the January 13 episode of Main Event, Gold and Stardust announced their participation in the match. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, Big Show and Kane announced their participation in the match. On the January 19 edition of Raw, R-Truth, The Miz and Damien Mizdow announced their participation in the match. On the January 22 edition of SmackDown, Dolph Ziggler defeated Bad News Barrett, Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan, and Ryback defeated Rusev by countout to qualify for the match. That same night, Daniel Bryan defeated Kane to retain his spot in the match.
At SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Cena received his rematch at Night of Champions against Lesnar, but won via disqualification when Seth Rollins interfered in the match; as the championship cannot change hands on a disqualification, Lesnar retained the title. At Hell in a Cell, Cena defeated Randy Orton to become the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. At TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, Cena defeated Rollins in a Tables match to retain his #1 contender status. Later in the event, it was announced that Cena will face Lesnar for the title at Royal Rumble. On the January 5, 2015 episode of Raw, Rollins was added to the match as a reward for bringing back The Authority after coaxing Cena on the previous episode, making the match a Triple Threat. On the January 19 edition of Raw, Triple H forced Cena to compete in a 3-on-1 handicap match to not only secure his spot in the Triple Threat match, but also win Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler, and Ryback their jobs back after the latter three had been previously fired by the Authority for siding with Cena at Survivor Series. With the help of Sting, who previously assisted Team Cena at Survivor Series, Cena won the match, and afterwards, Lesnar came down to the ring and attacked Rollins, Big Show, and Kane, hitting an F-5 on each of the latter two as a measure of revenge for getting a Curb Stomp by Rollins during the contract signing for the championship match one week earlier.
On the December 29 episode of Raw, The Usos defeated The Miz and Damien Mizdow to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, it was announced that the Usos would defend the titles against Miz and Mizdow at the pay per view.
On the January 5 episode of Raw, Paige came out and helped Natalya to defeat Nikki Bella. On the January 6 episode of Main Event, Natalya came out and helped Paige to defeat Nikki Bella. On the January 12 episode of Raw, Brie Bella defeated Paige due to distraction by Tyson Kidd. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, Natalya defeated Nikki via submission. On the January 19 edition of Raw, after Paige and Natalya defeated Summer Rae and Alicia Fox, it was announced that The Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki) will face Paige and Natalya in a tag team match at the event.
On the January 5 episode of Raw, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd attacked Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, which let Adam Rose to defeat Big E. On the January 19, episode of Raw, Big E and Kofi defeated Cesaro and Kidd. Later in the night, it was announced that The New Day will face Cesaro, Kidd and Rose in a Six-man tag team elimination match on the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show.
On the December 29 episode of Raw, The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) made their WWE debut. Over the next few weeks, the duo would easily defeat local preliminary wrestlers and compare themselves to famous tag teams, like the Road Warriors. On the January 19 episode of Raw, the Ascension were confronted and attacked by The New World Order, The APA and the New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg) after the Ascension interfered in the nWo reunion segment. Later in the night, it was announced that the Ascension will face the New Age Outlaws at the event.
The pre show featured the team of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd squaring off against The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) in a Tag Team match. Kofi and Big E were in control for most of the match until Cesaro executed an uppercut on Kofi (from the outside) and Kidd executed a neckbreaker on Kofi to secure a decisive victory.
The first match of the main card was a tag team match between The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) and The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn). Gunn and Dogg had vast control for the majority of the match, however, Gunn came back with a tilt-a-whirl slam and positioned Viktor for the Fameasser. Viktor made a blind tag to Konnor and executed the Fall of Man on Gunn for the pin.
The second match on the main card was for the WWE Tag Team Championship between The Miz and Damien Mizdow and defending champions The Usos. During the match, The Miz refused to tag Mizdow into the match although Mizdow made a few saves. Miz executed a Skull Crushing Finale but secured a two count only. Mizdow did the same but a secured a two count again. The Usos won the match with a splash off the top rope to retain the titles
The final match on the main card was a Triple threat match between Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar dominated the match early with suplex after suplex on both Cena and Rollins. At one point, Cena executed an AA (Attitude Adjustment) on Lesnar but was thrown out the ring by Rollins, who stole a pin attempt resulting in a one count. One of the prominent spots in the match saw Cena execute 3 AA's in a row on Lesnar but still he powered out at one. Another notable spot saw Cena bludgeon Lesnar with the steel steps. Lesnar fell on the announce table and Rollins took out Lesnar with a splash. Doctors emerged from backstage to cart away Lesnar. The match continued in the ring. Cena applied the Stf on Rollins but J & J Security (Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) interfered resulting in Cena executing the AA on Mercury and Noble. After trading near-falls, Lesnar returned to the ring and threw Cena out of the ring. Rollins used his MITB (Money in the Bank) briefcase on Lesnar twice. As Lesnar was down in the ring, Rollins positioned the briefcase under Lesnar's head. Just as he was about to execute a Curb Stomp, Lesnar surprised Rollins with an F5 and pinned him to retain his Title.
The main event of the night was an 30-man Royal Rumble match where the winner will receive a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 31. The Miz and R-Truth started the match at numbers one and two respectively. They spent most of their time playing to the crowd. That was when Bubba Ray Dudley made his return to WWE, entering at number three, and the crowd went insane. Shortly after his elimination, the Wyatts (Erick Rowan (who attacked Curtis Axel before he could enter the match), Bray Wyatt, and Luke Harper) squared off and Bray won out by eliminating Luke from the match. (Erick was not an official participant to be eliminated.)
As the clock counted to zero, another surprise showed up with the return of The Boogeyman to the WWE. The match continued on adding superstars from the active roster every 90 seconds per the rules, but Diamond Dallas Page also showed up as a surprise entrant.
One of the night's biggest shockers came when Daniel Bryan, the crowd's heavy favorite, would be eliminated by Bray Wyatt and the crowd began booing the match. More boos came when Big Show and Kane eliminated the crowd's other favorites, Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose.
Reigns eliminated both Show and Kane however they both re-entered the ring and began a 2-on-1 assault on Reigns. The Rock emerged to a huge ovation and executed a Rock Bottom on Big Show and a People's Elbow on Kane aiding his real-life cousin. Rusev re-entered the match (as he was never eliminated, going under the bottom rope instead of over the top) and was speared by Reigns. Reigns eliminated Rusev to win the match to a chorus of deafening boos. The Authority (Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) showed up at the end of the match, unhappy with the result as Reigns and The Rock celebrated their win.
The very negative reaction of the fans attending the event in Philadelphia towards the Royal Rumble match and its winner was described as being even worse than the 2014 event. When Daniel Bryan was eliminated by Bray Wyatt in the first half of the match, the crowd repeatedly chanted his name for the second half of the match while booing other wrestlers making their entrance to the match, including eventual winner and usual fan favorite Roman Reigns. Reigns was booed after winning the main event and even after he received the Rock's endorsement, while the Rock was jeered at for helping Reigns.
Some fans took to social media to display their displeasure at Bryan's elimination. Shortly after the event, #CancelWWENetwork became the top Twitter trend worldwide, while PWInsider.com reported that the WWE Network online cancellation page was failing to load and that some subscribers who had called WWE to cancel their subscription were told to call back the next day as there were too many people attempting to manually cancel their subscription.
Dave Scherer of PWInsider.com wrote that the event "is definitely worth watching for the [WWE World Heavyweight] Title match and how the Rumble went bad". He added that "bringing Bryan back for this match was a huge mistake, at least tonight", as "the fans wanted Bryan and they took him away", with the result that it "totally killed Roman in the eyes of those fans", resulting in a "really bad" ending.
James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter rated the Royal Rumble main event as 3.5 stars out of 5, commenting that it was a "pretty good Rumble" until "the crowd turned on the match when they saw the writing on the wall for how it would end". Caldwell praised Bray Wyatt's involvement in the match and noted that Bubba Ray Dudley was a "good surprise return", but added that any good moments during the match were "overshadowed by the ending". Caldwell rated the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match as 4.0 out of 5 stars, praising the "very strong story-telling" and describing the action as "top-notch" but adding that the match was "too dependent on the finisher kick-outs". He rated the Tag Team Championship match at 2.5 stars, describing it as a "solid tag match", while the Divas match and the opening bout between the Ascension and the New Age Outlaws were both rated at 1.5 stars out of 5.
Kenny Herzog of Rolling Stone questioned the possibility of the Royal Rumble match being the worst in history, arguing that several factors such as the poor treatment of former Intercontinental champions, Daniel Bryan's unexpected early elimination and Kane and Big Show's dominance over younger talent all detracted from the match. Herzog concluded, "That was less a Rumble match – i.e. the kind replete with feats of endurance and athleticism, free-for-all chaos and dozens of developing stories – than random gauntlet of triple-threat and four-way slugfests with no pacing or point. Unless, that is, you still think serving some idea of the Authority's omnipresence is really what's best for business." Despite this, Herzog praised the lively Philadelphia crowd, the return of Bubba Ray Dudley and Rollins' performance in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match as positives.
Bill Hanstock of SBNation.com wrote that the elimination of Ziggler and Wyatt by Kane and Big Show "was a total bummer and buzzkill to everyone in attendance", and that "Reigns winning felt like a foregone conclusion". He praised the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, describing it as "exhilarating" and an "instant classic" and adding that it "may very well stand up as match of the year".
Luke Winkie of Sports Illustrated was less critical of the Royal Rumble match, attributing Bryan's elimination to good storytelling and an instance where "you're supposed to hate the product". Winkie suggested "ulterior motives", such as lingering anger for Bryan's early elimination, played a large role in the fans' rejection of Reigns. He also praised the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match as being an early "Match of the Year" candidate.
While some people were reportedly planning to boycott watching the following night's Raw out of protest, WWE did have to postpone the scheduled event from Hartford, Connecticut due to the January 2015 nor'easter, marking the first time WWE had to cancel a scheduled Raw taping since the Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide and the first time Raw had to be moved to another city since 2009. WWE also canceled its scheduled SmackDown taping from Boston the following night. WWE decided to have Raw come from WWE headquarters in nearby Stamford, Connecticut instead, announcing it would hold a live SmackDown on Thursday from Hartford, honoring tickets that would be used for Raw, while allowing fans in Boston to either exchange their tickets for an upcoming house show on June 27th or obtaining a full refund. With some wrestling fans concerned that there would be no edition of Raw at all, noted wrestling columnist Justin LaBar of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Wrestlezone.com called such fans hypocritical since they were the same fans who criticized the Rumble the night before and not taking public safety into account.
The following night's Raw showed the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match from the Royal Rumble in its entirety, as well as the Rumble match itself in its near-entirety, cutting out the entrances to Goldust and Bad News Barrett, as well as the botched entrance and elimination of Titus O'Neil during timed commercial breaks. Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Roman Reigns, and Daniel Bryan did in-studio interviews with various WWE announcers, while Dean Ambrose "walked" to WWE headquarters from Hartford due to the statewide 9 PM travel ban.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kickoff Show: Brass Ring Club (Tyson Kidd, Cesaro) (w/ Adam Rose & Natalya) defeated The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston) (w/ Xavier Woods) (11:10)
- The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) defeated The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) (5:42)
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (c) defeated The Miz and Damien Mizdow to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (9:24)
- Brie & Nikki Bella defeated Natalya & Paige (8:18)
- Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated John Cena & Seth Rollins (w/ J&J Security) (Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) in a Triple Threat Match to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (22:48)
- Roman Reigns won the 2015 Royal Rumble Match (59:43)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.
Other on-screen talent
- Royal Rumble 2015 Official Website
- Royal Rumble 2015 Kickoff on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2015 on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2015 Fallout on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2015 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2015 pre show at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2015 at Online World of Wrestling
|Royal Rumble 2015 previews|
|The New Day v Brass Ring Club • Brock Lesnar v John Cena v Seth Rollins • The Usos v The Miz & Mizdow • Divas Tag Team Match • New Age Outlaws v The Ascension • Royal Rumble 2015 Match|
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|2015 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
Royal Rumble • Takeover IV • Fastlane • WrestleMania • Extreme Rules • Payback • Takeover V • Elimination Chamber • Money in the Bank • The Beast in the East • Battleground • Takeover VI • SummerSlam • Night of Champions • Live from Madison Square Garden • Takeover VII • Hell in a Cell • Survivor Series • TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs • Takeover VIII