Royal Rumble 2016 | McMahon ‘Game’ Plan Ends Roman’s ‘Reign’

‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series. It is dedicated to specific events, matches, and occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. Royal Rumble 2016 is that match and moment.

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On January 24, 2016, World Wrestling Entertainment presented The Royal Rumble live from Orlando, FL.  This rumble was unique because it was the first time a WWE Champion had to defend their championship in a Royal Rumble match. Appropriately titled All vs. One, WWE Champion Roman Reigns had to go through 30 superstars to retain the title. On December 13, 20015, at the Tables Ladders and Chairs pay per view, Roman lost control after failing to defeat Sheamus for the championship. He attacked all members of the League of Nations as well as WWE COO Triple H.  The big dog super punched The Game and powerbombed him through the announce table.

To make matters worse, as the EMTs were trying to get HHH out of the arena, Roman speared him. The next night on Raw, Vince and Stephanie McMahon demanded an apology out of Reigns. Unfortunately, he refused to apologize. The Authority did not like Reigns’  insubordination. Mr.McMahon told Roman that he would get a WWE Championship match against Sheamus. However, if he lost the match, he would be fired. The Big Dog ended up spoiling plan A, and he walked out of the match with the WWE Championship.  Mr. McMahon was not happy and announced that for the first time Roman Reigns would defend the WWE Championship in the Royal Rumble Match. 

Royal Rumble 2016
All vs. One 

This led to the Royal Rumble itself. Roman Reigns was, of course, the number one entrant. Rusev drew number two. Rusev was a member of the League of Nations and had unfinished business with the champion. The two powerhouses tore into each other as soon as the bell rang. The crowd eagerly anticipated who the number three entrant would be. It was none other than AJ Styles, who was making his WWE debut. The Orlando crowd blew the roof off of the building at the sight of The Phenomenal One. A multi-time champion, AJ styles showed no fear. He eliminated Tyler Breeze and Curtis  Axel.

Even as superstars were getting eliminated, Roman Reigns was still going strong, but Mr. McMahon had other ideas. He led the rest of the league of Nations to the ring to attack Roman. They ganged upon him. Rusev slammed Reigns through the announce table, knocking him out cold.  Mr. McMahons’ plan worked.  Roman was taken out on a stretcher. This meant that no matter what, a new WWE Champion would be crowned. 

12 Superstars WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Proved Are Struggling – Page 9
Photo / Whatculture / WWE

 The Wyatt Family Invades the Rumble …..Run!

As the match continued, the Wyatt Family began to fill the ring. Their one goal was to make Bray Wyatt the WWE Champion. They eliminated  Kane, Big Show, Mark Henry, Sami Zayne, Neville, and Stardust.  Kevin Owens, beaten and bruised from his last man standing match with Dean Ambrose earlier in the night, eliminated AJ Styles during the chaos. As Styles walked back up the ramp, the crowd was chanting his name. Tonight was not his night; The Phenomenal One arguably became the face that runs the place in WWE.  Owens may have eliminated Styles, but a lunatic was waiting.

Dean Ambrose entered the rumble. Ambrose was also badly injured from their encounter earlier. However, nothing would stop him from eliminating KO. Ambrose’s celebration was cut short by the arrival of The Wyatt Family. All three members had officially entered the match. No one was safe. Like buzzards, The Wyatt Family picked apart the bones of all the combatants. 

Royal Rumble 2016
The Beast Arrives 

As all the Wyatt family stood in the ring surrounded by their victims,  the buzzer went off, signifying the number twenty-three entrant, The Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar. The Next Big Thing attacked the Wyatt Family. First, he eliminated Eric Rowan with a vicious clothesline. Then he eliminated Luke Harper. Finally, Brock went toe to toe with Braun Strowman, eliminating him. The Beast had decimated every Wyatt Family member except Bray Wyatt himself. As the eater of worlds walked to the ring, the Wyatt Family sneak attacked  Brock, helping Bray eliminate the former champion.

He truly did have the whole world in his hands and possibly the WWE Championship. After a few more eliminations, the buzzer sounded, Sheamus arrived. As he was walking to the ring, Roman Reigns came out of nowhere and super punched the Celtic Warrior.  The Big dog was still in this match defending his championship.  Would Roman Reigns walk out of the Royal Rumble still WWE Champion?

WWE News: Royal Rumble Match Results And Statistics — Winner, Most Eliminations, Longest Time | Wwe royal rumble, Royal rumble, Wwe news
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Time To Play The Game 

The McMahons were about to unleash their master game plan. There was only one entrant left in the coveted number thirty spot. As the fans counted down with the clock …10, 9, 8, 7,6,5,4,3,2,1…..Game time. Number 30 was none other than the 13 time World Champion The Game HHH. Triple H  was out of action due to Reigns’ attack at TLC. He didn’t forget, and he didn’t forgive the champion.  As the two stared each other down, the other superstars in the rumble ganged upon them. HHH pedigreed Dolph Ziggler for interrupting his revenge. Not to be outdone, Roman Reigns speared Bray Wyatt out of his boots.

With that distraction taken care of, the two warriors unloaded on each other. Besides Hunter and Reigns,  four very capable superstars were still in the match. Dolph Ziggler had done everything he could to survive. Sheamus finally recovered from the superman punch. Even after barely being able to move, Dean Ambrose was still fighting. Most Notably, Chris Jericho lasted 53 min in the rumble. If there was an MVP for this match, arguably, it should go to Y2J. 

Game Plan Executed 

Dolph Ziggler attempted to eliminate HHH, but the game ducked a superkick and eliminated Ziggler instead.  As an ally of The Authority, Sheamus and HHH worked together to eliminate Bray Wyatt after a vicious Brogue Kick. Despite Chris Jericho’s impressive longevity, he was eliminated by Dean Ambrose. Sheamus went for another Brogue Kick on Dean Ambrose, but he ducked, and Sheamus landed on the ring apron. Just as The Celtic Warrior thought he was in the clear, Roman Reigns tagged him with a thunderous superman punch. Sheamus hit the floor and was eliminated.

WWE Royal Rumble 2016 results, recap, reactions: It's all about The Game - Cageside Seats
Photo / Cageside Seats / WWE

However, the Cerebral Assassin HHH was waiting and eliminated Reigns. Officially eliminated from the rumble, Roman Reigns would leave empty-handed. Mr. McMahons’ plan worked. The final two superstars were HHH and Dean Ambrose. Ambrose ended up tossing the Game over the top rope, but he landed on the apron. As Ambrose went after him, HHH  back body dropped the Lunatic fringe over the top rope and to the floor. HHH had won the 2016 Royal Rumble and was now a 14 time World Champion. The rest of the McMahon family joined the new champion to celebrate.  The Game had officially resumed.