Earlier this week, Fox Sports aired WWE’s Royal Rumble 2017 event. When that broadcast was being hyped up, Roman Reigns tweeted the following:
The most important Royal Rumble participant ever? Roman Reigns?
No matter how you feel about Roman, it cannot be denied that he has played a significant role in six different Royal Rumble matches. Let’s run down his history in the match:
- 2014: Reigns set the elimination record (12) and was the runner-up to Batista
- 2015: Reigns won the Royal Rumble match
- 2016: Reigns defended the WWE championship in a “One vs. All” Rumble concept, losing the title to Triple H
- 2017: Reigns was the runner-up to Randy Orton
- 2018: Reigns was the runner-up to Shinsuke Nakamura
- 2020: Reigns was the runner-up to Drew McIntyre
Top stars in WWE often play a major role in the Royal Rumble finish, and Reigns has been a top guy in WWE for over six years now. As you can see from the above list, Reigns was victorious in one Rumble match, was the runner-up four times, and once had the entire match promoted around his defense of the WWE championship against all 29 other competitors.
Reigns’ win in 2015 is regarded as one of the worst Royal Rumble matches ever. This is the infamous one where even The Rock was booed because the fans were upset with Daniel Bryan’s early elimination and Reigns’ eventual win. But hey, “most important” doesn’t necessarily require critical acclaim, and this is Reigns’ most important moment in his Royal Rumble history.
As far as the runner-up role is concerned, I’d say Reigns’ role in that spot was especially important in 2017, because Randy Orton was booked to win. An Orton win could have easily been rejected by the live fans, because Vince McMahon just can’t quit the guy. Yet the idea of another Reigns win was off-putting to enough fans that when it came down to Orton or Reigns, Orton was cheered.
I’d say the evidence suggests that Reigns ranks up there as one of the most important Royal Rumble participants ever. Perhaps there’s room for debate between Roman Reigns and other top stars like John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Batista, and
Austin won the match three times (1997, 1998, 2001) and was the runner-up in 1999. In three of these four years, the Rumble match was used to propel Austin into a victory in the main event of WrestleMania. And in the one year where it did not (1997), Austin and Bret Hart went on to have one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all-time. That match came about partially because Austin stole the Royal Rumble victory from Hart in 1997, tossing him out after Hart rightfully had the match won.
Where do you rank Roman Reigns on the list of most important Royal Rumble competitors of all-time?