Royal Rumble 2012 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by WWE, which took place on January 29, 2012 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. It was the 25th annual Royal Rumble event. The theme song for the event was Dark Horses by Switchfoot.
Royal Rumble featured professional wrestling matches which involved different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds, plots, and storylines that played out on WWE's 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.
The main event from Raw featured CM Punk defending his WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler. On the December 26, 2011 episode of Raw, Punk was put into a gauntlet match by Interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis, with the stiplulation that if either one of Jack Swagger, Ziggler, or Mark Henry defeated Punk, they would receive a championship match against the latter the next week. Ziggler won the match after Punk was distracted by Laurinaitis throwing out Vickie Guerrero and Swagger from ringside. The next week, during the title match, Punk was counted out as a result of another intervention from Laurinaitis. However, since titles cannot change hands via countout, Punk retained the championship. After the match, Laurinaitis announced that Punk would defend his championship against Ziggler in a rematch at the Royal Rumble, with himself acting as the special guest referee. Then on the January 9, 2012 edition of Raw, Punk faced Swagger in a singles match, Laurinaitis added a stipulation that if Swagger lost, he and Vickie Guerrero would be banned from ringside at the pay-per-view; Punk won the match, and thus, Guerrero and Swagger are banned from ringside during the championship match. Additionally, a week later on the January 16 episode of Raw, in a segment with Mick Foley, Laurinaitis revealed that he was using this opportunity to cost Punk his title for disrespecting him.
Another match heading into the Royal Rumble from Raw featured John Cena against Kane. Upon returning to the WWE on the December 12 edition of Raw, after an absence of nearly four months, Kane interrupted Cena's match against Mark Henry, and though it was ironically Henry who put him out of action, he bypassed him and attacked Cena, chokeslamming him before revealing his new mask. While demanding an explanation for these events the next week on Raw, Cena was again attacked by Kane, who revealed in the next several weeks of his desire to have Cena "embrace the hate" (his current on-screen character and T-shirt promoting otherwise) within caused by the anti-Cena crowd who continued to boo him. When Cena dismissed any intentions of doing so, Kane not only continued his attacks on Cena, but began to direct his attention to his close friend Zack Ryder, assaulting him as well, to the point of injuring him (kayfabe), ultimately leading to Ryder losing his United States Championship to Jack Swagger on the January 16, 2012 episode of Raw, under orders from John Laurinaitis. The same night, Laurinaitis put Cena in a one-on-one match against Kane at the Royal Rumble, in addition to booking Cena in a match against Swagger. Before the match even officially started, Cena started to attack Swagger aggressively to avenge Ryder's loss, prompting Kane to appear on the TitanTron and congratulate him to have started "embracing his hate". On the January 23 episode of Raw, during a Falls Count Anywhere match (in which Lauranaitis had prevented Cena from interfering, on the pretext of never granting Ryder a rematch for the United States Championship if he did so), Kane chokeslammed Ryder through the entrance stage, incapacitating him. As Ryder was stretchered and taken away in an ambulance, Eve Torres (Ryder's storyline girlfriend) blamed Cena for Ryder's injuries, leading to Cena knocking the microphone out of interviewer Josh Mathews' hand in frustration, and donning a very aggressive look in response to this entire situation.
The main event from SmackDown involved Daniel Bryan defending his World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat Steel Cage match against Big Show and Mark Henry. In December 2011, at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, after Big Show defeated Henry in a Chairs match to win the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time, Bryan immediately cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to defeat Big Show, after a post-match attack on the latter by Henry. Using his rematch clause, Big Show faced off against Bryan on SmackDown, only for the champion to agitate Henry at ringside, who pushed Bryan, thus ending up losing via disqualification but retaining his title. The following week on SmackDown, Bryan defended his title against Big Show again, this time in a No Disqualification, No Count-Out match, which ended in a no contest, when Big Show accidently ran into and injured Bryan's storyline girlfriend, AJ. The next week on SmackDown, Henry finally enacted his rematch clause against Bryan in a lumberjack match; however, that match also ended up as a no contest, when the lumberjacks became too hostile because of how Bryan had agitated them, and the post-match scenario erupted into a large brawl involving nearly everyone. This forced SmackDown's General Manager Theodore Long to officially book Bryan, Big Show and Henry in a Triple Threat Steel Cage match for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble.
As per tradition, the event was highlighted by the over-the-top-rope elimination Royal Rumble match, which featured the traditional thirty entrants, a year after having a forty man field, the largest in the history of the event. The winner would receive his choice of either a World Heavyweight or a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania XXVIII.
The Sun gave the event a rating of a 6.5 out of 10, stating that it "felt like a fun show for much of the night, but with precious little substance".
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Yoshi Tatsu defeated Heath Slater (4:00)
- Daniel Bryan (c) defeated Mark Henry and Big Show in a triple threat Steel Cage match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (9:08)
- Beth Phoenix, Natalya and The Bella Twins defeated Kelly Kelly, Tamina, Alicia Fox and Eve Torres (5:29)
- John Cena vs. Kane ended in a double count-out (10:56)
- Brodus Clay defeated Drew McIntyre (1:05)
- CM Punk (c) defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Championship (with John Laurinaitis as Special guest referee) (14:32)
- Sheamus won The Royal Rumble Match (54:54)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.
Other on-screen talent
- In 2002 royal rumble match triple H won by entering number 22
- Sheamus won by entering number 22
- Royal Rumble 2012 offical website
- Royal Rumble 2012 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2012 at Online World of Wrestling
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