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Royal Rumble (2015) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event and WWE Network event produced by WWE. It took place on January 25, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the twenty-eighth annual Royal Rumble event and the first to air on the WWE Network.

Six matches were contested at the event, with one being shown on the pre-show. In the main event, Roman Reigns won the traditional Royal Rumble match to receive a shot for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31. Elsewhere on the event's card, The Usos defeated The Miz and Damien Mizdow to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship, while the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar successfully defended his title against Seth Rollins and John Cena in a triple threat match.

Like the previous year's event, the 2015 Royal Rumble was marked by a strongly negative audience reaction to the Royal Rumble match, which was won by Roman Reigns. The event as a whole, however, received mixed reviews, with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship triple threat match receiving the most praise from critics and fans. The event received 145,000 buys (excluding WWE Network views), down from the previous year's 467,000 buys.

Production[]

Background[]

As is tradition at this yearly event, the card was highlighted by the 30-man Royal Rumble match, where this year's winner received a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 31. At TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, Roman Reigns returned and announced himself as the first entrant in the Royal Rumble match. On the December 29 episode of Raw, Daniel Bryan announced his participation in the match. On the January 6 episode of Main Event, WWE United States Champion Rusev announced his participation in the match. On the January 9 episode of SmackDown, Bray Wyatt and WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett announced their participation in the match. On the January 12 episode of Raw, Dean Ambrose announced his participation in the match. On the January 13 episode of Main Event, Gold and Stardust announced their participation in the match. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, Big Show and Kane announced their participation in the match. On the January 19 edition of Raw, R-Truth, The Miz and Damien Mizdow announced their participation in the match. On the January 22 edition of SmackDown, Dolph Ziggler defeated Bad News Barrett, Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan, and Ryback defeated Rusev by countout to qualify for the match. That same night, Daniel Bryan defeated Kane to retain his spot in the match.

Storylines[]

The card consisted of six matches that resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches, with results predetermined by WWE's writers. Storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Raw and SmackDown.

At SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Cena would receive his rematch the following month at Night of Championswhich he would win by disqualification after Seth Rollins interfered and attempted to cash-in his Money in the Bank contract. At the next event, Hell in a Cell, Cena defeated Authority member Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match to earn a future shot at Lesnar. The Authority was then removed from power after losing the 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match at Survivor Series with Cena being the only one who could bring them back if he chose to. At TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, Cena faced Rollins in a Tables match which he won to retain his #1 contender status. Later in the event, it was announced that Cena would face Lesnar for the title at the Royal Rumble. On the final Raw of 2014, Rollins attacked special guest host Edge and threatened to perform a Curb Stomp on him if Cena did not reinstate The Authority. Cena came down to save Edge but reluctantly brought The Authority back after Rollins held Edge hostage. On the January 5, 2015 episode of Raw, Rollins was added to the match by Triple H as a reward for bringing back The Authority, turning the match into a Triple Threat. That same episode, the members of Team Cena from Survivor Series (Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan) were fired by The Authority for helping Cena to remove them from power. The following week, Lesnar returned for the contract signing with Cena and Rollins. A brawl broke out between all three men and ended when Rollins performed a Curb Stomp each on Cena and Lesnar. On the final Raw before the Royal Rumble, Triple H forced Cena to compete in a 3-on-1 handicap match against Rollins, Big Show and Kane to not only secure his spot in the Triple Threat match, but also win Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan their jobs back. During the match, Sting, who previously assisted Team Cena at Survivor Series, caused a distraction which allowed Cena to roll-up Rollins for the win to keep his spot in the match and reinstate Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan. Lesnar then came down to the ring and attacked Rollins before executing an F-5 each on Kane and Big Show. Rollins then retreated to avoid further punishment.

On the December 29 episode of Raw, The Usos defeated The Miz and Damien Mizdow to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, it was announced that the Usos would defend the titles against Miz and Mizdow at the event.

On the January 5 episode of Raw, Paige came out and helped Natalya to defeat Nikki Bella. On the January 6 episode of Main Event, Natalya came out and helped Paige to defeat Nikki Bella. On the January 12 episode of Raw, Brie Bella defeated Paige due to distraction by Tyson Kidd. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, Natalya defeated Nikki via submission. On the January 19 edition of Raw, after Paige and Natalya defeated Summer Rae and Alicia Fox, it was announced that The Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki) would face Paige and Natalya in a tag team match at the event.

On the January 5 episode of Raw, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd attacked Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, which let Adam Rose to defeat Big E. On the January 19, episode of Raw, Big E and Kofi defeated Cesaro and Kidd. Later in the night, it was announced that The New Day would face Cesaro, Kidd and Rose in a Six-man tag team elimination match on the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show. On January 25, it was changed to a tag team match with Cesaro and Kidd accompanied by Rose versus Big E and Kingston with Woods due to Woods being unable to compete.

On the December 29 episode of Raw, The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) made their WWE debut. Over the next few weeks, the duo would easily defeat local preliminary wrestlers and compare themselves to famous tag teams, like The Road Warriors. On the January 19 episode of Raw, the Ascension were confronted and attacked by the New World Order, the APA and the New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg) after the Ascension interfered in the nWo reunion segment. Later in the night, it was announced that the Ascension would face the New Age Outlaws at the event.

Aftermath[]

Shortly after the event, #CancelWWENetwork became the top Twitter trend worldwide, while PWInsider.com reported that the WWE Network online cancellation page had crashed and that some subscribers who had called WWE to cancel their subscription were told to call back the next day as there were too many people attempting to manually cancel their subscription. The day after the Royal Rumble, Dave Meltzer reported on Wrestling Observer Radio that Vince McMahon and WWE had expected that Reigns's victory would receive some backlash, but not to the level they had experienced, and that despite this, WWE would not add Daniel Bryan to the main event at WrestleMania 31, since Vince felt that "it would be a repeat and gone to the well one time too often". Two days after the Royal Rumble event, WWE announced that the WWE Network surpassed 1 million subscribers worldwide, but the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter reported that the recent "upset subscribers canceling" had yet to be factored into the subscriber count. Four days after the Royal Rumble, WWE announced a new promotion for the WWE Network where new subscribers could watch for free for the month of February. In February 2015, WWE held a poll on WWE.com asking if fans thought Bryan or Reigns was more deserving of headlining WrestleMania 31; following more than 33,000 votes, 86% of votes went to Bryan. Also in that month, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon responded to #CancelWWENetwork in a conference call, saying that the controversy was good for WWE. McMahon labelled it as a vocal minority upset that "the babyface did not win" and "Santa Claus didn't come on that PPV", but he expected those who complained to continue watching WWE anyway.

WWE had to postpone the post-Rumble Raw from Hartford, Connecticut due to the January 2015 nor'easter, marking the first time WWE had to cancel a scheduled Raw taping since the Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide and the first time Raw had to be moved to another city since 2009. WWE also canceled its scheduled SmackDown taping from Bostonthe following night. WWE decided to have Raw come from WWE headquarters in nearby Stamford, Connecticut instead, announcing it would hold a live SmackDown on Thursday from Hartford, honoring tickets that would be used for Raw, while allowing fans in Boston to either exchange their tickets for an upcoming house show on June 27 or obtaining a full refund. The post-Rumble Raw showed the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match and the main event of the Royal Rumble, albeit with commercial breaks. Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Roman Reigns, and Daniel Bryan did in-studio interviews with several WWE announcers, such as Michael Cole, Renee Young and Byron Saxton, while Dean Ambrose "walked" to WWE headquarters from Hartford due to the statewide 9 PM travel ban.

Although Curtis Axel being unable to participate in the Rumble match was not unprecedented, the fact that Axel was not eliminated (having never officially entered the match) ended up trended on Twitter following the event, and also received supportive tweets from former WWE wrestlers Lance Storm and Tommy Dreamer, and then later from current WWE wrestlers Xavier Woods, Zack Ryder, and David Otunga, the latter offering his legal services. This led to an angle where he began referring to himself as "the true winner" of the Royal Rumble, claiming that he still had not been eliminated from the match and that he thus deserved a match with Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This also led to Axel starting his own hashtag (#AxelMania). Instead of facing Brock Lesnar, Axel participated in the second annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31, but was the first wrestler eliminated after the majority of the field threw him out of the ring.

Results[]

No Results Stipulation Time
1P Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (with Adam Rose and Natalya) defeated The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (with  Xavier Woods) Tag team match
2 The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) defeated The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) Tag team match
3 The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) (c) defeated Damien Mizdow and The Miz Tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
4 The Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki Bella) defeated Paige and Natalya Tag team match
5 Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) defeated John Cena and Seth Rollins (with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) Triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
6 Roman Reigns won last eliminating Rusev 30-Man Royal Rumble match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 31
  • (c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match
  • P – indicates the match took place on the pre-show

Other on-screen personnel[]

Commentators
Pre-show Panel
Interviewers
Ring announcer
Referees

See also[]

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