When it’s Royal Rumble season, everyone looks forward to the 30-competitor over the top rope battle royal. Although this annual contest usually lives up to the hype, it’s often the championship matches that take place on the same night that wow fans.
It seems that WrestleMania season excitement makes every champion and challenger up their games. Sometimes stealing the show from the Rumble itself, the championship bouts that take place at a Royal Rumble event are usually unforgettable.
To wet your appetite for Royal Rumble 2021, here are 10 amazing title matches that took place on a Royal Rumble show.
10. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens – 2016
The 2016 Royal Rumble ended with Triple H eliminating Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns to become the WWE Champion. A surprising end to the show, but the opening match was just as shocking.
With Ambrose and Kevin Owens’ rivalry over the Intercontinental Championship becoming more violent with every episode of Raw, a Last Man Standing match was made for the first pay-per-view of 2016. Determined to walk out of Orlando with the gold, both men fought like their careers depended on it.
Competing in many hardcore matches before ever arriving in WWE, Ambrose was quick to utilise kendo sticks, chairs and tables. Taking a more tactical approach, Owens was reluctant to introduce weapons. Instead, the challenger would wear Ambrose down with wrestling manoeuvres, before using Ambrose’s foreign objects against him.
Both the ‘Lunatic Fringe’ and the ‘Prize-Fighter’ played vital roles in the Royal Rumble match that ended the night. After re-watching this classic, you’ll wonder how either man was able to stand after their vicious encounter.
9. Chris Jericho vs. The Rock – 2002
At Vengeance 2001, Chris Jericho became the Undisputed WWF Champion by defeating Steve Austin and The Rock on the same night. Former World Champion The Rock wasn’t satisfied after losing his gold to Y2J. The ‘Great One’ challenged for the newly unified titles at the January pay-per-view in a competitive encounter.
As expected, this contest was exciting from the beginning, with the explosive challenger trying to best the crafty champion.
With the odds stacked against him, The Rock found an answer for everything that Jericho was throwing at him. While the Undisputed Champion had the Walls of Jericho, the ‘People’s Champion’ had the Sharpshooter.
With run-ins, referee switches and broken announcers’ tables, it’s probably easier to name spots that didn’t happen in this match. A classic ‘against the odds’ bout, this contest will have you on the edge of your seat.
8. Becky Lynch vs. Asuka – 2020
After winning the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 35, Lynch was on top of the world. Always entering the ring with swagger, ‘The Man’ was confident that nobody in the women’s locker-room could outdo her.
Nobody, except Asuka. Nine months into her reign, Lynch’s confidence was knocked, as she was reminded that she had tapped to the ‘Empress’ in a Smackdown Women’s Championship match at Royal Rumble 2019. Facing the biggest challenge of her title reign, Lynch faced Asuka at Royal Rumble 2020 in an amazing encounter.
Having never lost to Lynch in a singles match, the ‘Empress’ entered this title match as confident as ever. Attempting to best Lynch two years in a row, Asuka fought aggressively to achieve domination.
With everything on the line for Lynch, she fought with more emotion than ever before. Lynch exhausted her entire repertoire, attempting to defeat one of the most dominant competitors in WWE history.
After almost a year of Lynch seeming untouchable, it was interesting to see Becky Balboa perform with such vulnerability. This match will go down as one of the best of both Lynch and Asuka’s careers, which is certainly saying something.
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