Top Five Opening Royal Rumble Matches

12/31/2023 5:16 AM

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Top Five Opening Royal Rumble Matches

Top Five Opening Royal Rumble Matches

December 31, 2023 5:16 AM
Top Five Opening Royal Rumble Matches

The five best opening matches that have taken place at the Royal Rumble.

The Royal Rumble is back! With the return of CM Punk and the endless possibilities on who could win the big event in 2024, the first stop on the road to WrestleMania is shaping up to be something exciting. The Royal Rumble is synonymous with incredible matches and throughout the years WWE has started with some true bangers that set the tone for the rest of the pay-per-view.

Sometimes the first match sets the bar so high that it never gets topped throughout the night, which speaks volumes on just how the Royal Rumble event is often more than just its gimmick battle royal. Here are the top five best opening matches that have taken place at one of the big four PLE.

World Heavyweight Championship match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Edge - Royal Rumble 2011

The way Dolph Ziggler won his first World Heavyweight title match was pure nonsense. But before that ridiculous 2-hour reign took place was their match at the Royal Rumble and this was an excellent showcase for both men. Thankfully, Vickie Guerrero was only a minor distraction here as officials let these two go out and have a banger of a match.

The fame-asser into an electric chair spot was great! But that fame-asser into a powerbomb was a thing of beauty. The strong nearfall following the Zig Zag was perfectly executed. The story of Vickie Guerrero banning the spear was somewhat clever as that was Edge’s ace throughout his entire career.

Though him using the Unprettier for the win was a nice nod to Christian. An excellent battle that proved that Ziggler belonged in the main event scene, even if he was knocked down a few pegs since the match rules heavily favored him. 

Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan - Royal Rumble 2014

Daniel Bryan and Bryan Wyatt always had excellent chemistry. The idea of forcing the former WWE Champion to join the Wyatt family was pretty sound as it could’ve resulted in a strong arc throughout the WrestleMania season. But this was the wrong time for the company to pull this move with Bryan. He was near his peak in terms of popularity, and WWE was wise to abandon the story as quickly as possible. 

Cult leader Wyatt was the best. Him sending his men to the back was an excellent choice that put him over even more as a badass. But the overall match was a nice blend of technical moves, speed, and power. It was David vs. Goliath in a way, but Bryan’s technical skills overcame most of Wyatt’s offense. However, this was an exciting back-and-forth match that put Bryan over strong, without making Wyatt look weak in the process. That suicide dive into a sister Abigail counter was incredible. This match made Wyatt into an even bigger star because he truly showed that he’s more than just a gifted talker. 

Last Man Standing match for the Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens - Royal Rumble 2016

While not Umaga/John Cena and Shawn Michaels/Triple H good, this was still a strong Last Man Standing match nevertheless. Dean Ambrose was on a strong tear during his time following the break-up with the Shield. He even had an incredible performance later that evening in the Royal Rumble. 

His first feud with Rollins was fantastic. He then proceeded to have outright classics with Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler! While zany Ambrose had a few questionable moves in his arsenal, it was always fun to watch his style of wrestling under the PG era of WWE. Some of the highlights include the front hook fisherman buster through the table, a cannonball through the barricade, and Ambrose pushing Owens through two stacks of tables to win the bout. 

Smackdown Women’s Championship Match - Asuka vs. Becky Lynch - Royal Rumble 2019

Lynch was on a major rise during this time so the results of the bout were unpredictable. On one hand, she was coming off dropping her belt to Asuka a month prior in a strong Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. So it wasn’t too crazy to see Lynch lose, but in the manner she lost was quite surprised. 

It’s been a rumored philosophy that Vince believes that a babyface tapping makes them look weak. Lynch tapping put over Asuka strong, and that moment was forgotten when she went on to win the Rumble later that evening. Asuka usually has strong chemistry with everyone she meets in the ring and Lynch was no different. It’s not the outright classic that it could’ve been, but it speaks volumes when these two can have a great match and there’s still a feeling that it should’ve been more. 

30-Man Royal Rumble Match - Royal Rumble 2023

Everyone and Stevie Wonder saw Cody Rhodes winning a mile away. But sometimes it’s about the journey, not just the destination. The star of the match was Gunther, who had an excellent face-to-face with Brock Lesnar. 

Surprisingly, the rumble was light on guest entrants, but it was more than made up by weaving multiple stories throughout. Dom/Rey Mysterio added more dimension to their feud, and Rollins/Paul got the gears rolling with the latter eliminating the former. Of course, we can’t forget about the insane highlight reel of Ricochet and Paul crashing into each other in mid-air. 

The showdown between Gunther and Rhodes was well done. The Intercontinental Champion looked like a beast throughout the entire Rumble and there was some doubt on whether Rhodes would pop out the win. Clever booking made this the best Rumble match in years.