Brock Lesnar beat Finn Balor in a dream match at the Royal Rumble on Sunday night to retain the Universal Championship.
Balor pushed Lesnar to the limit, even delivering Coup de Grace. Lesnar kicked out from Balor's finishing move, though, and immediately transitioned into the kimura lock. Balor tried to reach the ring rope but eventually succumbed to the submission.
Cultaholic's Adam Pacitti thought Balor looked good given the general constraints of the match:
The bout between Lesnar and Balor wasn't determined until two weeks before the Rumble because of Braun Strowman's losing his title shot.
Strowman became No. 1 contender by beating Baron Corbin at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs and had been building toward a clash with The Beast Incarnate at the Royal Rumble until Vince McMahon removed him from the match.
After Strowman destroyed McMahon's limo while trying to get to Corbin, McMahon fined him $100,000 and denied him the opportunity to face Lesnar for the Universal Championship.
It was a major blow for The Monster Among Men since he was out for revenge after losing to Lesnar in a match for the vacant universal title at Crown Jewel.
To determine Strowman's replacement, McMahon put together a Fatal 4-Way match between Balor, Corbin, Drew McIntyre and John Cena.
He also gave Jinder Mahal a chance to be in the match if he could beat Balor, but the Irishman managed to defeat The Modern Day Maharaja to remain in contention.
In the Fatal 4-Way, Balor hit Cena with the Coup de Grace to pick up the win, and he earned an endorsement from Cena afterward as well.
Balor was the first universal champion by virtue of beating Seth Rollins at SummerSlam 2016, but he held the title for less than 24 hours since he had to relinquish it because of a shoulder injury.
He has struggled to get back in the title scene since then, but earning the No. 1 contendership to face Lesnar suggested that he was back among the elite Superstars in WWE.
Fans have long clamored for a match between Lesnar and Balor because of the David vs. Goliath dynamic that worked so well when Lesnar faced the likes of AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan.
Balor and Lesnar had similar chemistry, which made their match stand out on a card that was stacked from top to bottom.
While Balor did not leave Phoenix as universal champion, his performance turned some heads, and it may be enough to keep him near the top of the card heading toward WrestleMania.
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