Royal Rumble 2016 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by WWE. It took place on January 24, 2016, at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. It was the 29th event in the Royal Rumble chronology. This was the fifth Royal Rumble to be held in the state of Florida (1990, 1991, 1995, and 2006) and the first pay-per-view event at Amway Center since it opened in 2010.
At the event, Roman Reigns defended his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the Royal Rumble match. The event also marked the first time that a reigning champion has defended his title during the match and the second time (after the 1992 event) that the title is the prize for winning the match.
Six matches were contested at the event, with one match contested on the pre-show. In the main event, the returning Triple H won the Royal Rumble match by eliminating Dean Ambrose to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the third person to win from entrant number 30 and the first since John Cena in 2008. The defending champion Roman Reigns was also eliminated by Triple H.
The Royal Rumble match and the event is most notable for featuring the highly anticipated WWE debut of longtime Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) mainstay A.J. Styles, who signed with the company a few weeks prior.
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.
The card will be highlighted by the traditional 30-man Royal Rumble match. Ordinarily, the winner would receive a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. However, on the January 4, 2016 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon announced that WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns will defend his title in the match. This is the first time that the reigning champion will defend the title in the match. On the December 28 edition of Raw, Big Show announced that he will enter the Royal Rumble. On January 1, it was announced on WWE.com that Curtis Axel was added to the match. On the January 4 edition of Raw, Ryback, The Wyatt Family, Dolph Ziggler, and Chris Jericho announced their participation in the match.
On the January 11 edition of Raw, Stephanie McMahon announced that Brock Lesnar will compete in the match. On January 13, it was announced on WWE.com that Mark Henry and Stardust were added to the match.
At TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. There were various altercations between Ambrose and Owens including slamming each other through tables. On the January 7, 2016 episode of SmackDown, Ambrose and Owens fought to a double countout. On the January 14 episode of SmackDown, Ambrose challenged Owens to a Last Man Standing match for the Intercontinental Championship at the Royal Rumble, which Owens accepted.
On the January 7, 2016 episode of SmackDown, Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio. On the January 11 edition of Raw, Kalisto defeated Del Rio to win the WWE United States Championship. On the January 14 episode of SmackDown, Del Rio defeated Kalisto to win back the WWE United States Championship. On January 18, it was announced that Del Rio would defend the title against Kalisto.
On the January 4 edition of Raw, Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte. On the January 7, 2016 episode of SmackDown, Charlotte defeated Lynch to retain the WWE Divas Championship. On the January 14 episode of SmackDown, Lynch challenged Charlotte to a match for the Divas Championship at the Royal Rumble, which was accepted by Ric Flair on behalf of Charlotte on the January 18 edition of Raw.
On January 20, a fatal four-way tag team match between Darren Young & Damien Sandow, The Dudley Boyz, The Ascension, and Mark Henry & Jack Swagger was scheduled for the Royal Rumble pre-show, with both members of the winning team earning a spot in the Royal Rumble match later in the night.
Dave Scherer of PWInsider.com reviewed the event; the opening match for the Intercontinental Championship, Scherer's most anticipated, was "an awesome spectacle, with really good psychology mixed in" as "it felt like they hated each other". Scherer thought the tag title match was "a lot of fun", and the U.S. title match "good, if you can appreciate Lucha", otherwise "a lot of Kalisto's offense isn't believable". For the women's title match, Scherer said: "I wish this was an NXT style match but it wasn't. It was fine, but it could have been great." Also, Scherer described Ric Flair forcibly kissing Becky Lynch as "sexual assault", while pointing out that WWE was marketed to kids. For the Royal Rumble match, Scherer said: "They really hate [Reigns] in Orlando ... The funny thing is, Vince thought he booked [the Rumble] for the people to cheer for Reigns. Wrong. ... The Orlando crowd made [Triple] H the face." Scherer was not surprised at Triple H's entry and win of the main event. Lastly, Scherer begged for Vince McMahon to hear the fans' response and "book AJ f'n Styles properly!"
John Powell of Slam! Wrestling rated the PPV 6 out of 10, declaring that "WWE fans cannot catch a break". This was in reference to WWE "going out of their way to frustrate fans and keep their product in a continued state of uninspired monotony", by ignoring fans "cheering so intensely for stars like Dean Ambrose, the debuting A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, Neville, Sami Zayn, Brock Lesnar and others", but choosing to have "Triple H and The Authority win the World Title and presumably headline WWE TV for the next few months". Powell rated the Rumble match 6 out of 10: it "had its moments here and there" but also glaring inconsistencies with the past 28 Rumbles, such as allowing Roman Reigns to rejoin after "missing the majority of the match". The Intercontinental title match was the best rated at 8.5 out of 10, which was a "very brutal affair with Owens and Ambrose hammering each other into oblivion with chairs, kendo sticks and tables." The tag title match was "standard, hum-drum" and rated 5 out of 10; the U.S. title match was "a classic David versus Goliath encounter", rated 6 out of 10; and the women's title match was "unexceptional" with a poor ending, rated 3 out of 10. The pre-show match was also rated 3 out of 10, described as a "snorefest" and a "mess". Lastly, Powell described A.J Styles' debut as a "highlight", and noted the positive crowd responses to Becky Lynch and Damien Sandow.
|Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match||Preview|
|Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens||Preview|
|The New Day (c) vs. The Usos||Preview|
|Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto||Preview|
|Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch||Preview|
|Royal Rumble match||Preview|
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kickoff Show: Jack Swagger and Mark Henry defeated The Dudley Boyz, The Ascension & Damien Sandow and Darren Young in a Fatal Four Way Tag Team Royal Rumble Qualifying Match (8:00)
- Dean Ambrose (c) defeated Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (20:22)
- The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston) (W/ Xavier Woods) (c) defeated The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (10:52)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.
(*) - Strowman, Harper, and Rowan returned after being eliminated to eliminate Lesnar
Other on-screen talent
- Royal Rumble 2016 Official Website
- Royal Rumble 2016 Kickoff on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2016 on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2016 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2016 Pre Show at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2016 at Online World of Wrestling
|Royal Rumble 2016 previews|
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|2016 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
Royal Rumble • Fastlane • Roadblock • Takeover IX • WrestleMania • Payback • Extreme Rules • TakeOver: The End • Money in the Bank • Battleground • Back to Brooklyn • SummerSlam • Backlash • Clash of Champions • No Mercy • Hell in a Cell • TakeOver: Toronto • Survivor Series • TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs • Roadblock: End of the Line
|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