WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterJanuary 29, 2017

WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The journey to WrestleMania 33 began in earnest at WWE Royal Rumble 2017.

    Randy Orton won the annual Battle Royal to secure his ticket to The Show of Shows' headline match. John Cena claimed the WWE Championship. Roman Reigns failed to capture gold but made an enemy in Undertaker.

    Those results and moments from Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view laid the foundation for WrestleMania.

    In many ways, the Rumble provided a reset for the WWE world. A number of new champions emerged from the Alamodome in San Antonio and a series of fresh rivalries are now brewing after the chaos that was the 30-man match.

    Which stars shone the brightest? Which stories resonated the most? What surprises did the event have in store for fans in the PPV's signature match?

    Read on for a full breakdown of the night's clashes and moments.

SmackDown 6-Woman Tag Team Match (Pre-Show)

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    Naomi, Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss, Natalya and Mickie James

    Naomi, Bella and Lynch started the match off hot, leaving their opponents reeling.

    James soon hurt Lynch on the outside to take control for her team, though. The heels then dominated, beating on The Irish Lass Kicker in their corner.

    Naomi later charged in. She stunned Bliss and her crew with rapid-fire offense.

    A split-legged moonsault was enough to get Naomi a three-count on Bliss.

    Result

    Naomi, Bella and Lynch win via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Natalya mocks John Cena's "You can't see me!" taunt.
    • The babyfaces hit triple suplexes on the heels.

    Grade

    C+

    Analysis

    A solid, fun opener did well to play up all of the rivalries between these wrestlers. Natalya and Bella battered each other. James and Bliss punished Lynch.

    In each case, this bout offered an appetizer hinting at the main courses to come.

    Naomi's pinfall on the champ suggests she's in line to face Bliss in the near future. Lynch will likely focus on James in the meantime.

Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Tag Team Championship)

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    Two referees oversaw the action as the champions took on The Club.

    Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows slowed Cesaro with smashmouth offense. Sheamus and The King of Swing, though, maintained control for much of the early going.

    Anderson tried to use the ring ropes for illegal leverage, but the second referee caught him in the act.

    Sheamus inadvertently kicked a referee off his feet. In the chaos that followed, Anderson yanked on Cesaro's tights to pin the Swiss strongman.

    Result

    Gallows and Anderson win via pinfall to win the tag team titles.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Sheamus runs into Gallows in the corner before spilling out of the ring.
    • Sheamus hits White Noise as Cesaro flies into Gallows from the top rope.
    • Corey Graves: "I'm starting to wish we had four or five referees in here."

    Grade

    C

    Analysis

    The double-referee stipulation was a bit gimmicky, even if it did add a different flavor to a familiar matchup. The bout was hurt by a plot hole as a result of the two officials. Sheamus should have been disqualified after knocking one of them out.

    The physical showdown had plenty of intensity. The rivals showed off good chemistry again.

    The Club's title win was far from the big climax it could have been, however. WWE has booked it so poorly to this point that its crowning moment fell flat.

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax (Pre-Show)

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    Nia Jax overpowered Sasha Banks in what began as a slugfest.

    The Boss hurt her knee while on the attack, leaving herself vulnerable. Jax took advantage and bowled over Banks for the win.

    Result

    Jax wins via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Graves: "Nia Jax is a different kind of athlete. Her domination continues in the women's division."

    Grade

    D

    Analysis

    The shock of Jax's quick win didn't resonate. We didn't see Banks suffer from her knee injury enough to fully play up that part of the drama. Jax didn't destroy her foe long enough to tell that story either.

    WWE missed a big opportunity here.

Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley (Raw Women's Championship)

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    A grinning Charlotte Flair grounded Bayley to kick things off.

    The challenger soon found herself in danger as Flair beat on Bayley in and out of the ring. Flair was able to thwart Bayley's early comeback attempts.

    The babyface, though, kept fighting.

    The battle left Flair's mouth bloodied. Even so, she stunned Bayley with an onslaught of offense en route to victory.

    Result

    Flair wins via pinfall to retain the championship.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Bayley sends Flair to the floor with a hurricanrana on the outside.
    • Flair smashes Bayley's head against the ring apron.
    • Graves: "It's a feel-good story, but Bayley is going to get a reality check."
    • Flair uses the rope to add illegal leverage with the Figure Eight.
    • Flair hits Natural Selection on the ring apron.

    Grade

    A-

    Analysis

    What looked to be a classic babyface-charging-back tale turned out to be another showcase of Flair's dominance. Flair thrived as a punishing predator delighting in Bayley's pain. The challenger created a good amount of sympathy here.

    The bout wasn't as precise as one would like for a showdown on this big a stage, but these women will get several opportunities to surpass this effort. This felt like the first chapter in a saga.

Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)

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    Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens beat on Roman Reigns before the bout. The Big Dog then tossed Jericho into the shark cage that soon hung over the ring.

    Reigns chased Owens through the crowd, tagging him with right hands. KO responded with a series of chair shots. The momentum swung back and forth in a hard-fought battle.

    The champion used a variety of weapons to weaken Reigns.

    Jericho threw his best friend brass knuckles which Owens used to flatten his foe. Reigns survived that attack but couldn't get past a surprise appearance from Braun Strowman.

    Strowman left The Big Dog out cold, leaving Owens free to pick his opponent's bones.

    Result

    Owens wins via pinfall to retain the Universal Championship.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Reigns nails Owens with a stanchion.
    • Michael Cole: "Roman Reigns doesn't need weapons. Kevin Owens realizes that."
    • Owens dives onto Reigns, smashing him through a table.
    • Reigns hits a Samoan Drop onto a chair.
    • Owens hits a Stunner a la Steve Austin.
    • Reigns Superman Punches Owens onto a tower of chairs.
    • Strowman chokeslams Reigns through a table.

    Grade

    A

    Analysis

    Adrenaline filled a wild match. Weapons and big spots powered a thriller.

    The tower of chairs stood ominously outside of the ring, adding suspense throughout the action.

    The addition of Strowman was an interesting surprise. It allowed Owens to play the scavenger, and Reigns now has a rival to pursue moving forward.

Rich Swann vs. Neville (Cruiserweight Championship)

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    Intensity burned on the screen when Rich Swann and Neville locked horns.

    Swann started out strong, but the challenger overwhelmed him. Neville picked his foe apart and kept the high-flyer on the mat.

    The King of the Cruiserweights was in complete control until Swann kicked his way back into the bout. The champion teemed with fury as he attacked Neville with a variety of high-impact moves. 

    Neville withstood the flurry and clamped on the Rings of Saturn to force Swann to tap out.

    Result

    Neville wins via submission to win the cruiserweight title.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Neville twice flings Swann into the security barricade.
    • Swann superkicks Neville out of the air.
    • Swann hits a Phoenix Splash to the outside.

    Grade

    B+

    Analysis

    Neville walked out as champ after he and Swann delivered plenty of high-octane action. Their chemistry was exceptional, and they littered the contest with athletic displays.

    Both men's facial expressions were excellent. Their bad blood was palpable.

    Even with all those elements, this was more good than great. The anticlimactic nature of Neville's superplex finisher is a part of that. It also felt as if this was missing a few beats.

    WWE is smart to build the division around Neville and have all the cruiserweight babyfaces chase after him.

AJ Styles vs. John Cena (WWE Championship)

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    A revved-up crowd erupted before AJ Styles and John Cena even touched.

    Styles took Cena's best shots before responding with a methodical attack. The champ countered everything Cena threw at him for a long stretch.

    Not being able to put Styles away with an Attitude Adjustment left Cena fuming. 

    Each man utilized the best tools in his arsenal, leaving each other wobbly. When that failed to end the action, they started borrowing other wrestlers' moves. Near-falls followed near-falls regardless.

    Cena had to hit two Attitude Adjustments in a row to put away The Phenomenal One.

    Result

    Cena wins via pinfall to win the WWE title.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Mauro Ranallo: "We are in store for a epic, physical contest."
    • Styles leaps out of an Attitude Adjustment and lands on his feet.
    • Styles turns an Argentine backbreaker into a spinning powerbomb.
    • Styles puts Cena in the STF.
    • Cena uses a Figure-Four Leglock a la Ric Flair.
    • John "Bradshaw" Layfield: "That is super-freaking-human."
    • Styles kicks out of an Attitude Adjustment from the top rope.

    Grade

    A+

    Analysis

    Cena and Styles somehow topped their SummerSlam classic. The Match of the Year race may have been locked up early.

    A great build and white-hot crowd helped the bout soar.

    A focused, frustrated Cena matched up perfectly with a guileful and tough Styles. The warriors fired off everything in their holster in an escalating game of one-upsmanship. 

    Cena will now head to the WrestleMania main event, but it's unclear what's ahead for Styles. He deserves a high-profile match, as evidenced by the tremendous year-plus he's had.

Royal Rumble Match

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    Big Cass entered the Royal Rumble first. Chris Jericho followed right behind him.

    Jack Gallagher rushed in soon after with his trusty umbrella William. Mark Henry stormed in, tossing out Gallagher in a hurry.

    Braun Strowman cleared the ring when he entered by ousting four men in a matter of seconds.

    NXT's Tye Dillinger went after Strowman as soon as he entered the fray. James Ellsworth had the opposite approach, refusing to step into the ring after he strolled down the entrance ramp.

    A pack of wrestlers tried to take down Strowman as a unit, but it took Baron Corbin's power to eliminate him.

    The ring grew crowded as the pace of eliminations slowed. Rusev charged in wearing a nose brace. The New Day worked together to stave off defeat. Dolph Ziggler fired off superkicks to anyone within reach.

    Luke Harper stared down Randy Orton as Bray Wyatt tried to quell the situation. Harper wasn't having it. He blasted his fellow Wyatt Family members.

    Brock Lesnar manhandled the competition upon his arrival. That is, until Goldberg showed up. The powerhouse flung The Beast Incarnate out in seconds.

    Undertaker and Roman Reigns were the last two gladiators to step into battle. 

    Reigns took out Jericho and Undertaker. That left him to fight alone against Orton and Wyatt. The Viper survived that exchange to claim victory.

    Result

    Orton wins the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Reigns.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • Enzo Amore: "Big Cass is entering No. 1 like it's 1995 and he's HBK in his prime."
    • Gallagher spins his umbrella in between Jericho's legs.
    • Strowman throws Kalisto onto Big Cass and Mojo Rawley outside the ring.
    • Dillinger enters at No. 10.
    • Kingston cracks his face on the ring post but manages to hang on to avoid elimination.
    • Cesaro hits the Cesaro Swing on everyone left in the Rumble. 
    • Cesaro and Sheamus toss out each member of The New Day.
    • Orton RKOs a flying Sami Zayn.
    • Cole: "Lesnar has left carnage in his wake."
    • Goldberg spears Lesnar before ousting him from the match. 

    Grade

    A-

    Analysis

    As has been a pattern in recent years, the Royal Rumble had a variety of enjoyable elements but sputtered near the end.

    Strowman's dominance, Gallagher comic relief and The Wyatt Family's issues were among the match's highlights. The bout featured quite a few intriguing staredowns and faceoffs.

    Reigns entering at No. 30 was an odd move, though. Why cap things off with the guy who receives the most divided reaction on the roster? There was no major surprise entrant, either, unless you count Dillinger representing NXT.

    Orton is the latest repeat winner as WWE has gone away from building stars with the Royal Rumble of late.

    Overall, it was a fun experience. The match's format always delivers. WWE has just been playing it safe with the victors in the 2010s, crowning the established over the emerging.