Seven years after winning his first Royal Rumble, 12-time WWE world champion Randy Orton has once again booked a ticket to WrestleMania. Orton was the last man standing among 30 participants at Sunday night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view at the Alamodome in San Antonio. In the main event and titular match of the night, Orton eliminated Roman Reigns with a clothesline after an RKO and tossed him out of the ring. In a Royal Rumble match that was short on surprise entrances, business picked up in a hurry late in the match, following appearances from Brock Lesnar (No. 26), Goldberg (28), The Undertaker (29) and Reigns (30). After a series of memorable standoffs that could very easily be the ignition for a variety of WrestleMania feuds, it was Orton who secured a title opportunity at WrestleMania 33 on April 2, in Orlando, Florida.
“I’d say I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of great things here, more than most,” Orton told ESPN.com immediately following his victory. “I think I heard today that there were 23 winners here in 30 Royal Rumbles. That’s quite a short list, given the history of WWE and how long WWE has been around. But not only am I one of the 23, I’ve done it twice. It’s just accolade after accolade stacking up, and I couldn’t be more grateful.” Orton, a member of The Wyatt Family, entered at No. 23 and instantly cleaned house with several of his signature RKOs, including an impressive one in which he caught Sami Zayn in mid-air after Zayn leaped from the top rope. Two spots later, however, embattled Wyatt Family member Luke Harper entered the match, creating a memorable moment.
Harper and Orton have feuded in recent weeks due to a lack of trust in the group, which caused Wyatt, the leader of the faction, to become the peacemaker for a time before ostensibly booting Harper from the group. Wyatt attempted to extend an olive branch one last time before Harper surprised his former leader with a stiff spinning lariat before eating a retaliatory big boot to the face from Orton. Moments later, after Harper attempted to put Wyatt in his own finishing move, Sister Abigail (including a signature kiss on Wyatt’s forehead), Orton rescued Wyatt again with an RKO on Harper.
30 Man Royal Rumble
#23 was Randy Orton. Big pop for him. He clotheslined everyone he came in contact with and nailed Corbin with a RKO. He then nailed one on Rusev. Zayn tried to come off the ropes and was nailed with one in mid-air. He looked at Bray and pulled him up. Everyone battled.
#24 was Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler hit the ring and teamed with Miz to hit a double DDT on Crew, then superkicked Miz and Crews. He tossed Miz over the top but Miz was able to land on the apron. Ziggler and Ambrose battled. Dean was tossed over the top but was able to hang on. More Goldberg chants. Orton battled Corbin. Jericho worked over Miz. Rusev battled Crews.
#25 was Luke Harper. He went right after Crews and tossed him, then locked eyes with Randy Orton. That was playing off of their recent issues. Wyatt tried to calm them. Harper nailed Bray with a lariat and drilled Orton with a kick. Didn’t see that one coming! Luke grabbed Bray and set him up for Sister Abigail but Orton caught him with a RKO. #26 was Brock Lesnar. He tossed Ziggler and Ambrose immediately, eliminating them. He nailed a German suplex on Rusev then wiped out Orton and Miz with F-5s. He wiped out the entire ring and stood over the ring when the countdown came and it was… #27 Enzo Amore was next. He was not advertised, so he was the 7th surprise entrant. So, the surprise was there are no surprise entrants! Enzo came to the ring with a determined look and faced off with Brock after psyching himself up. Brock, like Negan on “The Walking Dead”, shut that sh** down real fast! Adios Enzo. He was tossed.
Luke Harper versus Randy Orton in a Stand or Fall Match
They lock up and go around the ring. Harper with a clean break and then they lock up again. Orton with a clean break as well. Harper has some words for Orton and then it is forearm time. Orton with a back elbow and Harper goes to the floor. Harper with a thrust kick when Orton goes to the floor. Harper with a palm thrust to the head as Wyatt stares ahead. Wyatt with a European uppercut and then he Irish whips Orton but Orton with a clothesline out of the corner. Orton with another clothesline and he ducks a clothesline from Harper. Orton misses the power slam when Harper holds on to the ropes. Orton sends Harper to the apron and then he hits the IEDDT. Orton twists to the mat for an RKO but Harper is able to recover. Orton punches Harper and he hits a back drop driver onto the ringside barrier. Orton slams Harper’s head onto the announce table and then he hits a back drop driver onto the announce table. Harper with a boot to Orton and that gets Wyatt to rise from his chair.
Wyatt picks up Orton and rolls him into the ring. Wyatt stands over Harper and sends him into the ring. We are back and Harper with a reverse chin lock as he looks to Bray for approval. Harper with a slam and Harper goes to the apron and up top. Orton punches Harper to stop him. Orton with more punches and he climbs the turnbuckles to set for and hit a superplex. Orton gets a near fall. Harper with kicks but Orton with a European uppercut and a power slam for a near fall. Harper with a back elbow and Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Harper gestures to Wyatt and he sets for the discus clothesline but Orton tries for an RKO but Harper with a rollup. Harper with a super kick for a near fall. Harper circles Orton and then he picks Harper up for a power bomb. Harper points to Wyatt and then Orton is able to escape and he gets a near fall with a rollup. Orton hits an RKO when Harper goes for the discus clothesline. Orton gets the three count.
Winner: Randy Orton
After the match: Wyatt enters the ring and he stands over Harper as he helps him up. Wyatt hugs Harper and then he hits Sister Abigail on Harper.
Dean Ambrose versus Randy Orton (with Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt)
Orton with a rollup for a near fall. Wyatt tries to distract Ambrose but it fails. Ambrose with chops but Orton with an elbow. Ambrose with a running forearm and punches. Orton goes to the floor and then he returns to the ring. They have a Greco Roman Knuckle Lock and Ambrose with a wrist lock and he takes Orton to the mat. Ambrose with a side head lock take down. Orton with a head scissors and Ambrose escapes. Orton with a side head lock. Orton with a shoulder tackle and he poses. Ambrose with a drop toe hold and he rakes the face and punches Orton in the face. Ambrose with chops. Orton sends Ambrose to the mat. Orton drops Ambrose on the top rope and Ambrose falls into the ring. Orton with a boot to the midsection and then he goes for the Garvin Stomp. Orton gets a near fall. Orton with a reverse chin lock on Ambrose and he takes him to the mat. Ambrose with punches but Orton with an Irish whip. Orton runs into boots from Ambrose. Dean goes up top and he hits an elbow to the chest and gets a near fall.
Ambrose with a kick and he goes for the double underhook DDT but Orton escapes. Ambrose follows Orton to the floor and Orton with a kick and he tries to send Ambrose back into the ring but Ambrose rolls on the apron and connects with a clothesline. Ambrose gets distracted by Wyatt and Harper. Orton sends Ambrose into the ring post and then Orton with a backdrop driver onto the announce table. We are back and Orton with a reverse chin lock. Dean with punches but Orton with a forearm. Ambrose with an Irish whip and Orton misses a clothesline but Ambrose does not miss. Both men are down. Ambrose with a running forearm followed by a second one. Ambrose with a clothesline and then he hits a swinging neck breaker for a near fall. Orton wtih a back elbow and then they exchange punches. Orton with a kick and European uppercut. Dean bounces off the ropes but Orton with a power slam. Orton gets a near fall. Orton puts Dean on the turnbuckles for a superplex but Dean with elbows. Dean leaps over Orton but Orton tries for the RKO. Dean tries for the double underhook DDT but Orton escapes. Orton goes for an RKO and Dean avoids it. Orton with a kick and Dean bounces off the ropes and hits a clothesline. Ambrose wtih a running forearm but Orton with a kick and he sends Ambrose to the apron. Orton tries for the IEDDT but Ambrose sends him to the floor. Ambrose with a suicide dive and he hits Harper instead of Orton. Orton with an IEDDT as Ambrose comes back into the ring. Orton looks around and he twists to the mat and Harper goes into the ring. Bray tells Harper to get out of the ring. Ambrose with a rollup for the three count.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
After the match: Orton stares down Harper on the floor and Harper throws down his vest and he goes into the ring. Wyatt tries to stop them but Harper punches Orton. Wyatt tells Harper to stop. Harper tries to get in Orton’s face again and Wyatt punches Harper. Harper tells Wyatt that he did this. Harper leaves and goes to the back.
Backstage: The Wyatt Family appears and Bray tells American Alpha that he hopes they have enjoyed their time as champions because nothing lasts forever. Bray ‘knocks’ at the screen and Randy Orton says they’re here.
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton (with Luke Harper) versus Chad Gable and Jason Jordan for the Smackdown Brand Tag Titles
Wyatt and Gable start things off and Wyatt with punches and a head butt. Jordan makes the tag and he hits a drop kick. Gable drop kicks Orton out of the ring and Jordan gets a near fall. Jordan with shoulders in the corner and he takes Wyatt to the mat and gets a near fall. Jordan with a front face lock and a near fall. Wyatt backs Jordan into the corner and Wyatt punches Jordan and Orton kicks him. Orton with forearms to the back. Orton with an elbow to escape the waist lock. Gable tags in and hits a double leg take down into a waist lock. Orton with an elbow followed by a European uppercut. Wyatt tags in and he punches Gable and runs his face across the top rope. Gable with an arm bar in the ropes. Gable comes off the turnbuckles and Wyatt catches him. Gable escapes a uranage and Sister Abigail. Gable with a senton onto Wyatt from the apron. Wyatt with a cross body and he gets a near fall. Orton tags in and sends Gable to the floor. Orton follows and hits a series of back drop drivers onto the ringside barrier. They return to the ring and Orton gets a near fall. Orton with the Garvin Stomp and Wyatt tags in and he kicks Gable.
Backstage: Bray Wyatt appears on the TitanTron and he says that nothing last forever. Cherish what you have because reality will hit you later. You haven’t won anything just yet. You may think that you have stolen the light that binds this family, but you have only made it stronger. Next week, they are coming to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Harper is cut off by Orton who took his ‘RUN’ line.