Countdown to WWE’s WrestleMania begins after Sunday’s Royal Rumble

Elisa D’Egidio, Contributing Writer

Kicking off the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) WrestleMania season was the 34th Royal Rumble pay-per-view event, held on Jan. 31 at the WWE Thunderdome at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

The match card was stacked with the two Rumble matches along with various titles on the line.

The pay-per-view began with the Women’s Tag Team Championship match, with Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka facing Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. With a distraction from outside the ring from Ric Flair and Lacey Evans, Evans interfered in the match, providing her signature move, the “Women’s Right” to Charlotte, allowing Jax to pick up the win.

Each year, the Royal Rumble match begins with two participants, adding an additional participant to the ring every 90 seconds. To be eliminated, a participant must be thrown over the top rope and land with both feet touching the floor. The winner is guaranteed a championship match at WrestleMania. Entrees of the matches come from WWE’s three main branches which include Raw, Smackdown and NXT.

The show’s main event was the 30-man Royal Rumble match. Hall of Famer, Edge, was the first entrant of the match and the winner of the night after being the final man standing by throwing entrant two Randy Orton over the top rope, spending 60 minutes and 32 seconds in the match. There were multiple surprise entrees this year, including Carlito, Kane and Edge’s former tag-team partner, Christian.

This win makes Edge the first Hall of Famer to win this event. After winning the match he said in an interview with B/R Wrestling, “I still feel like I need to pinch myself or I still feel like I’m going to wake up.”

There was also a 30-woman Royal Rumble match, with Bianca Blair as the winner. Coming out third, she outlived all others at 57 minutes and 10 seconds and by sending Rhea Ripley over the ropes, making her the first Black woman to win this match. After making her debut at last year’s rumble, Blair was a fan-favorite to win this match. Surprise entrants included Jillian Hall, Alicia Fox and Torrie Wilson.

This event had many points of excitement, such as surprise entrant Alicia Fox pinning male superstar R Truth for the 24/7 Championship. Also a Hall of Famer, Ric Flair, accompanied Lacey Evans to the ring, continuing the feud she has with his daughter, Charlotte Flair.

Kevin Owens challenged WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns in a Last Man Standing match, where the winner is only found victorious when the competitor cannot get to their feet by a count of 10 from the referee. The match took place all across the arena, allowing the two men to use various items including golf carts, handcuffs and a forklift to their advantage. Reigns retained with help from his manager, Paul Heyman, after Owens was unable to stand after a guillotine choke.

WWE Champion Drew McIntyre went up against Hall of Famer Goldberg. The match ended when McIntyre hit another “Claymore,” his signature finisher, allowing him to retain his title and earning the Hall of Famers respect. This breaks Goldberg’s streak of dethroning champions.

WWE SmachDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks retained her title against Carmella, allowing her title reign to reach 100+ days. Even with multiple interferences from Carmella’s friend Reginald, Banks was able to get in position to force a submission.

Recording artist Bad Bunny performed his song “Booker T” and made an appearance during the 30-man Royal Rumble match by leaping off the top rope of the ring and landing on The Miz and John Morrison.

WrestleMania will be a two-night event on April 10 and 11, airing on the WWE Network.