WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Results: Top Highlights and Low Points
The results of the 2016 WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view are in, and the Road to WrestleMania has officially started!
Going into this event, fans knew that it had the potential to completely change the WWE landscape in all sorts of ways.
Either Roman Reigns would drop the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, or he'd become the fourth man in history to win back-to-back Royal Rumble matches. One way or another, history would be made.
Every other championship was also on the line with the potential for Kevin Owens, Becky Lynch, Kalisto and The Usos to walk away with gold in their respective matches.
There was a looming possibility The Bullet Club could make its debut as well as many other stars making surprise returns, since anything can happen during the Royal Rumble.
This event is normally both one of the most important of the year as well as one of the most entertaining, but it also has had a noteworthy distinction of making fans terribly upset. Recent years have caused an uproar in the WWE Universe when the audience doesn't get what it wants, spelling doom for WrestleMania season.
Did this event follow suit and do more harm than good, or was it filled with enough amazing moments to send the crowd home happy?
It's time to break down the night's highlights and low points, presented in order of appearance.
Highlight: Pre-Show Kickoff Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match
Although there were some hiccups along the way, such as Konnor and D-Von botching breaking up a pinfall and the match in general not being memorable in the slightest bit, the pre-show had more positives than negatives overall.
First off, the idea behind this match was great. Not only was this a means to get a bunch of people on the card who wouldn't have been wrestling otherwise, it also had something great on the line.
The best pre-show matches are the ones where there are actual stakes and giving two Royal Rumble spots to the winners meant this actually mattered.
Seeing Mark Henry and Jack Swagger take another step forward into becoming a legitimate tag team was great, as was the return of Damien Sandow—a man who has been absent for far too long and the fans were clamoring to see again.
Since Henry and Swagger won this match, it gives them more credibility going into the Royal Rumble than either of them would have had separately without this win, which only helps make that match seem bigger in response.
All in all, this was a good way to start off the night, especially considering how WWE could have copped out and done something that had no impact whatsoever.
Highlight: Last Man Standing Intercontinental Championship Match
If there are two people on the active roster who most people would want to see compete in a Last Man Standing match, the likely top choices would definitely be Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose.
Both men have made it a point to show off how tough they are during their careers, and since they've been in a feud with each other for several months, this made perfect sense.
While some could argue there wasn't enough violence in this match to justify the stipulation, there were still some spots that fit the bill.
One of those in particular that shined was the match finish, wherein Ambrose pushed Owens off the turnbuckle, causing him to fall to the outside and through two tables.
For the first time in quite a while, fans saw a chair shot to the head in some fashion as Ambrose tossed one right at Owens' face.
Even something as simple as Owens rolling out of the ring to get back to his feet was a nice touch.
Both of these men are capable of more, but that doesn't take away from this being a fun segment to get the ball rolling for the night.
Low Point: Tag Team Championship Match
Outside of the opening promo where Francesca the trombone returned—or, to be more precise, Francesca II made its debut—there wasn't much going on in this match that will be remembered by the time Monday Night Raw comes on the air.
Despite being the babyfaces, The Usos weren't receiving support from the crowd, so every moment the audience was supposed to get riled up in their favor simply didn't exist.
These two teams have faced off multiple times over the course of the past year, so it's something the WWE Universe has seen enough to be bored with.
None of the action was new or original, the ending wasn't anything special and it felt more like a match that would appear on Raw than something of pay-per-view quality.
Highlight: United States Championship Match
In the latest installment of the roller-coaster ride that is the United States Championship, Kalisto has once again won the title from Alberto Del Rio.
These two have had good matches for the past few weeks, and outside of a botch here and there, this one followed the same pattern.
Most importantly, though, is the title change itself. Kalisto's win was something that took the WWE Universe by surprise and was immediately reversed, giving off the impression WWE's creative team had no plans to actually push him.
This should help quell those fears and signify the Lucha Dragon will actually get a fair shot going forward.
Time will tell if that actually comes to pass, since there's always a possibility Del Rio wins this back at Fastlane or even earlier, but for now, this is a step in the right direction to creating another star.
Low Point: Divas Championship Match
Before everyone complains, this is not a soap box to lambaste the entirety of women's wrestling and write this off as another standard terrible match "as expected."
In the grand scheme of things, this was fine, but since it clearly meant far more to both competitors and WWE in general than what the end result became, that's why it can be described as underwhelming.
To Charlotte and Becky Lynch, this undoubtedly was their chance to shine and show the world how great they are. This should have been as good as Sasha Banks vs. Bayley from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.
Actually, since this is a main roster duo and those two were in NXT at the time, this should technically be even better than that match.
However, is anybody going to be talking this up months down the line as one of the best matches of 2016, male or female? That's highly unlikely.
Again, there wasn't a standout botch or a weird booking scenario that made this match bad by any means; it was just OK, which isn't good enough.
Charlotte didn't work as a babyface, and she's not working much better as a heel. If a change in gimmick and a match against her best friend doesn't do it, then what is left for WWE to tap for potential? Is it all downhill from here?
This didn't reinvigorate the failing Divas Revolution, and it didn't kill it for good. Instead, it kept it in the state of limbo that it's been in for months.
The one thing that people will be talking about is Sasha Banks' return after the match, but even that was a bit awkward and could have been done much better.
Royal Rumble Match
The Royal Rumble is far too big of a match and the outcome is always far too divisive to ever constitute it fully as a highlight or low point, but it's certainly filled with many instances of both—the good and the bad.
Because of this, it makes more sense to break down some different elements that stand out from the action to give credit for both sides of the argument.
In such a short time frame, Tyler Breeze went from being an extremely talented veteran of the NXT scene to the latest guy to watch on the main roster, but was then transitioned into a jobber. He didn't last a full 90 seconds and was used as a joke.
Speaking of jokes, the Curtis Axel elimination could have been played for uproarious laughs, but the execution wasn't on par with its potential. Axel actually lasted too long for it to be as funny as it could have been had he lasted roughly 10 seconds or less.
When The League of Nations took out Roman Reigns, fans who have been following the product long enough should have collectively groaned at the predictability of it all.
This was too reminiscent of the 1999 Royal Rumble where Vince McMahon's goons took the No. 1 entrant Stone Cold Steve Austin out of the match only for him to return later on and then come up short. Why couldn't Reigns have simply stayed in there the whole time?
Another downside to this part of the match was that the cameras were focused entirely on this, meaning Kofi Kingston's elimination wasn't seen outside of a replay.
The biggest one that will carry over into discussions across the WWE Universe is obviously AJ Styles making his appearance. Even with all the buzz surrounding his imminent arrival, it was still a shock to see him—and as the third entrant of all things!
Not only did Styles make a surprise appearance, but Sami Zayn's return to main roster programming was met with massive applause.
Having Kevin Owens eliminate Styles was a good means of putting the right type of heat on the right person. Following that with Zayn eliminating Owens felt like retribution for the fans and made the situation even better. Now, Owens has two potential matches at WrestleMania the audience would love to see.
Kingston's save by hanging on Big E's shoulders wasn't the most innovative of all his Royal Rumble spots from over the years, but it was still a fun little section of the match that the crowd got behind.
Another interesting moment was R-Truth getting confused and thinking this was the Money in the Bank match, pulling a ladder out and climbing to the top only to see that there was no briefcase hanging.
Braun Strowman looked like a beast here, eliminating the three biggest men in the company save for Brock Lesnar. To take Kane, Big Show and Mark Henry out of the Royal Rumble is incredibly impressive.
Lastly, as much as WWE left much to the imagination with Reigns being taken out of the match, it should get credit for subverting a predictable trope toward the end. Instead of doing the obvious Reigns vs. Triple H finish, it was cool to see Dean Ambrose in the final two with The Game.
Your mileage may vary on whether or not you enjoyed the Royal Rumble as a whole, if your preferred wrestler won and if this makes you more or less interested in WrestleMania 32.
Whether you loved it, hated it or just thought it was OK, let us know in the comments below what your highlights and low points were!
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.