World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) blew the roof off the Consol Energy Center last Sunday night (Jan. 26) with the 2014 Royal Rumble, the pro wrestling promotion's first pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year.
And it was a doozy.
Daniel Bryan kicked off the "Steel City" festivities against Bray Wyatt in what was not only match of the night, but quite possibly of the year (yes, it's still early), and pretty much ruined the event for every other competitor who followed. Their match (and chemistry) was that good and proved that Wyatt -- who hit a flying "Sister Abigail" into the barricade -- can hold his own against anybody on the roster when it comes to in-ring ability.
Welcome to the future, y'all.
For the remainder of the evening, the crowd would erupt into impromptu chants of DAN-IEL BRY-AN (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) and practically booed Batista out of the building when he won the 30-man Royal Rumble to close the show (see what training with the Skrap Pack does for you). Partly because he won, but mostly because Bryan was not included in the tournament.
More on "The Animal" in just a bit.
Following the opening match of the night was the highly-anticipated PPV return of Brock Lesnar, who used a steel chair to beat The Big Show like a government mule, prior to hoisting him up in the air and marching him around the ring -- Ryback style -- and slamming him down with an F5 (see the GIF here).
Oddly, there were no run-ins (sorry, 'Taker fans) so Brock's next program may be up in the air.
Sandwiched neatly between Lesnar/Show and the 30-man elimination tournament was John Cena vs. Randy Orton for the unified titles. Standard fare here that was completely buried by a restless crowd, who chanted everything from DAN-IEL BRY-AN to THIS IS BORING.
The match ran way too long, but had a nice spot toward the end when both guys used each other's finishers. Then Cena got pinned (via RKO) on a distraction from Bray Wyatt, setting up that program for WrestleMania or perhaps even Elimination Chamber.
But this PPV was -- and always has been -- about the Rumble itself.
I don't think most fans were shocked to see Batista to win and some of the surprise entrants included Alexander Rusev from NXT, Kevin Nash (lolz), JBL from the announce table and Sheamus, who returned from shoulder surgery to wreck shop.
As far as stats, we had Roman Reigns setting a record for eliminations at 12 (Kane now second with 11) prior to getting tossed by "The Animal" and CM Punk was the iron man at 49 minutes.
Kofi Kingston had his usual acrobatic spot midway through the match.
Team dissension -- as expected -- was teased between The Shield and The Rhodes Brothers.
When all was said and done, it was a strong effort from WWE and a solid PPV from top-to-bottom, that may have lost some of its luster thanks to the unruly crowd. There was also a tag team titles match in the 30 minute pre-show prior to the telecast that saw The New Age Outlaws steal the straps from Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
Triple H strikes again.
For quick results of all the Royal Rumble action click here. For a detailed breakdown of each match, including live play-by-play and analysis, hit up our pro wrestling partners at CageSide Seats by clicking here.