Promotional poster featuring Santino Marella.
|Date||January 29, 2012|
|City||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Royal Rumble chronology|
The 2012 Royal Rumble was the twenty-fifth annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by WWE. It took place on January 29, 2012 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. It has been customary since 1993, the Royal Rumble match winner received a match at that year's WrestleMania (in this instance: WrestleMania XXVIII) for his choice at either the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship.
Six professional wrestling matches were featured at the event. The main event was the annual 30-competitor Royal Rumble. Sheamus, the twenty-second entrant, won the match by last eliminating Chris Jericho, the twenty-ninth entrant. Two title matches were featured: a WWE Championship match with CM Punk defending against Dolph Ziggler, which Punk won to retain the title; and a Triple Threat Steel Cage match for the World Heavyweight Championship between the reigning champion Daniel Bryan, Big Show and Mark Henry, which Bryan won to retain the championship. Incidentally, this event is also noted as Mick Foley's last night as an active wrestler as he would compete in the Royal Rumble match.
The Royal Rumble is an annual gimmick pay-per-view, produced every January by WWE since 1988. It is one of the promotion's original four pay-per-views, along with WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series, dubbed the "Big Four". It is named after the Royal Rumble match, a modified battle royal in which the participants enter at timed intervals instead of all beginning in the ring at the same time. The match generally features 30 wrestlers--the 2011 event broke the norm and had 40 participants, but 2012 returned to 30. Traditionally, the winner of the match earns a world championship match at that year's WrestleMania. For 2012, the winner could choose to challenge for either the WWE Championship or World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII. 2012 was the twenty-fifth event in the Royal Rumble chronology and the first since the end of the first brand split in August 2011.
The card consisted of five matches, including one on the pre-show. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters to build tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results were predetermined by WWE's writers, with storylines produced on their weekly television shows, Raw and SmackDown.
A highly promoted match featured CM Punk defending his WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler. On the December 26, 2011 episode of Raw, Punk was put into a gauntlet match by Interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis, with the stipulation that if either one of Jack Swagger, Ziggler, or Mark Henry defeated Punk, they would receive a championship match against the latter the next week. Ziggler won the match after Punk was distracted by Laurinaitis throwing out Vickie Guerrero and Swagger from ringside. The next week, during the title match, Punk was counted out as a result of another intervention from Laurinaitis. However, since titles cannot change hands via countout, Punk retained the championship. After the match, Laurinaitis announced that Punk would defend his championship against Ziggler in a rematch at the Royal Rumble, with himself acting as the special guest referee. Then on the January 9, 2012 edition of Raw, when Punk faced Swagger in a singles match, Laurinaitis added a stipulation that if Swagger lost, he and Vickie Guerrero would be banned from ringside at the pay-per-view; Punk won the match, and thus, Guerrero and Swagger are banned from ringside during the championship match. Additionally, a week later on the January 16 episode of Raw, in a segment with Mick Foley, Laurinaitis revealed that he was using this opportunity to cost Punk his title for disrespecting him.
Another match heading into the Royal Rumble featured John Cena against Kane. Upon returning to the WWE on the December 12 edition of Raw, after an absence of nearly four months, Kane interrupted Cena's match against Mark Henry, and though it was Henry who put him out of action, he bypassed him and attacked Cena, chokeslamming him before revealing his new mask. While demanding an explanation for these events the next week on Raw, Cena was again attacked by Kane, who revealed in the next several weeks of his desire to have Cena "embrace the hate" (his current on-screen character and T-shirt promoting otherwise) within caused by the anti-Cena crowd who continued to boo him. When Cena dismissed any intentions of doing so, Kane not only continued his attacks on Cena, but began to direct his attention to his close friend Zack Ryder, assaulting him as well, to the point of injuring him (kayfabe), ultimately leading to Ryder losing his United States Championship to Jack Swagger on the January 16, 2012 episode of Raw, under orders from John Laurinaitis. The same night, Laurinaitis put Cena in a one-on-one match against Kane at the Royal Rumble, in addition to booking Cena in a match against Swagger. Before the match even officially started, Cena started to attack Swagger aggressively to avenge Ryder's loss, prompting Kane to appear on the TitanTron and congratulate him to have started "embracing his hate". On the January 23 episode of Raw, during a Falls Count Anywhere match (in which Lauranaitis had prevented Cena from interfering, on the pretext of never granting Ryder a rematch for the United States Championship if he did so), Kane chokeslammed Ryder through the entrance stage, incapacitating him. As Ryder was stretchered and taken away in an ambulance, Eve Torres (Ryder's storyline girlfriend) blamed Cena for Ryder's injuries, leading to Cena knocking the microphone out of interviewer Josh Mathews' hand in frustration, and donning a very aggressive look in response to this entire situation.
Another featured bout involved Daniel Bryan defending his World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat Steel Cage match against Big Show and Mark Henry. In December 2011, at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, after Big Show defeated Henry in a Chairs match to win the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time, Bryan immediately cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to defeat Big Show, after a post-match attack on the latter by Henry. Using his rematch clause, Big Show faced off against Bryan on SmackDown, only for the champion to agitate Henry at ringside, who pushed Bryan, thus retaining his title. The following week on SmackDown, Bryan defended his title against Big Show again, this time in a No Disqualification, No Count-Out match, which ended in a no contest, when Big Show accidentally ran into and injured Bryan's storyline girlfriend, AJ. The next week on SmackDown, Henry finally enacted his rematch clause against Bryan in a lumberjack match; however, that match also ended up as a no contest, when the lumberjacks became too hostile because of how Bryan had agitated them, and the post-match scenario erupted into a large brawl involving nearly everyone. This forced SmackDown's General Manager Theodore Long to officially book Bryan, Big Show and Henry in a Triple Threat Steel Cage match for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble.
|English Commentators||Michael Cole|
|Spanish Commentators||Carlos Cabrera|
|Backstage interviewer||Josh Mathews|
|Ring announcers||Lilian Garcia|
The actual pay-per-view opened with a Triple Threat Steel Cage match with Daniel Bryan defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Mark Henry and Big Show. Bryan retained by escaping the cage after he fell from Big Show's grasp (Bryan was climbing out of the cage, and Show was trying to pull him back in over the top) and fell to the arena floor.
The next match was an Eight-Diva tag team match with Alicia Fox, Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly and Tamina Snuka taking on The Bella Twins (Nikki and Brie Bella) and The Divas of Doom (Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Natalya). The latter team won after Phoenix tagged herself in and performed a glam slam on Kelly Kelly, scoring the pinfall.
The following match was between John Cena and Kane. After a back and forth contest, the action would spill from the ring, and the match ended in a double count-out. After the match, Kane would continue his assault, hitting Cena with multiple chair shots before attacking an injured Zack Ryder, who was watching the event from a private office. Kane dragged Ryder to the ring and performed a Tombstone Piledriver on him. Cena then reentered the ring and tried to retaliate, but Kane chokeslammed him.
The next match was made after Drew McIntyre requested a spot in the Royal Rumble, asking Smackdown GM Teddy Long for an opportunity to prove himself, so he gave him a match against a mystery opponent who turned out to be Brodus Clay. Despite McIntyre starting the match well, Clay would quickly defeat him after a running splash.
The penultimate match of the card was the WWE Championship match between reigning champion CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler with Raw interim GM John Laurinaitis serving as outside enforcer. As per the match stipulations, Ziggler's tag team partner Jack Swagger and manager Vickie Guerrero were both banned from ringside. The first part of the match was a hold-for-hold encounter. Towards the latter part of the match Punk had Ziggler beaten, but the referee was knocked out and unable to make the count. Punk would execute a second GTS and both the referee and enforcer Laurinaitis counted to three and Punk retained his championship.
The main event was the annual Royal Rumble match, where the winner would get a World Championship match of their choice at Wrestlemania XXVIII. The Miz entered first (a result of losing a match on Raw to R-Truth), and would last nearly 46 minutes until entry #30 Big Show eliminated Miz. Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes entered at #4, lasting nearly 42 minutes, and scored the most eliminations with six. WWE legends Mick Foley, Hall of Famer (and first ever Rumble winner) "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and Road Dogg were all surprise entries in the match. All three announcers who called the event (Jerry "The King" Lawler, Booker T, and Michael Cole) also entered the match at various points as official entries. Kharma was another surprise entry, making her the third female superstar to enter a Rumble. Kofi Kingston was a highlight of the Rumble match, who was nearly eliminated by The Miz, when he stood on his hands at ringside and hand-walked to the ring steps to avoid elimination. Later that year, the hand-walk move earned Kofi Kingston a Slammy Award for the "Tell Me I Did Not Just See That" Moment of the Year.
The final four consisted of Sheamus, 2009 Rumble winner Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and Big Show. Show and Orton were quickly eliminated, and Sheamus and Jericho would then go back and forth with attempted eliminations for over five minutes. Sheamus tried to throw Jericho out off the ring with High Cross, but Jericho countered attempting a Codebreaker on Sheamus, but he threw Jericho off the ropes and Brogue Kicked to eliminate Jericho and win the Rumble match. Sheamus ultimately challenged for (and won) the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXVIII.
The event received mixed reviews. The Canadian Online Explorer gave Royal Rumble a 6.5 out of 10, with the Royal Rumble match receiving the same rating. The World Heavyweight Championship match and the John Cena vs. Kane match were rated a 5 out of 10 and the Divas' tag-team match a 3 out of 10. The WWE Championship match received the highest rating with an 8.5 out of 10.
|1D||Yoshi Tatsu defeated Heath Slater||Singles match||04:00|
|2||Daniel Bryan (c) defeated Big Show and Mark Henry by escaping the cage||Steel Cage match for the World Heavyweight Championship||09:08|
|3||Beth Phoenix, Natalya and The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella) defeated Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Alicia Fox and Tamina Snuka||Eight-Diva tag team match||05:29|
|4||Kane vs. John Cena ended in a double count-out||Singles match||10:56|
|5||Brodus Clay (with Cameron and Naomi) defeated Drew McIntyre||Singles match||01:05|
|6||CM Punk (c) defeated Dolph Ziggler||Singles match for the WWE Championship with John Laurinaitis as special guest enforcer. Jack Swagger & Vickie Guerrero were banned from ringside.||14:30|
|7||Sheamus won by last eliminating Chris Jericho||30-man Royal Rumble match for a world championship match at WrestleMania XXVIII||54:52|
|1||The Miz||25||Big Show||45:39||2|
|2||Alex Riley||1||The Miz||01:14||0|
|4||Cody Rhodes||24||Big Show||41:55||6|
|5||Justin Gabriel||4||Mick Foley & Ricardo Rodriguez||07:42||0|
|7||Mick Foley||8||Cody Rhodes||06:34||3|
|8||Ricardo Rodriguez||5||Santino Marella||02:19||1|
|9||Santino Marella||7||Cody Rhodes||02:31||1|
|12||Jerry Lawler||9||Cody Rhodes||00:43||1|
|13||Ezekiel Jackson||11||The Great Khali||03:46||0|
|15||The Great Khali||14||Cody Rhodes||07:29||2|
|17||Booker T||13||Cody Rhodes & Dolph Ziggler||04:40||1|
|18||Dolph Ziggler||26||Big Show||19:46||2|
|19||Jim Duggan||12||Cody Rhodes||00:56||0|
|20||Michael Cole||15||Booker T & Jerry Lawler[a]||01:24||0|
|23||Road Dogg||19||Wade Barrett||04:55||0|
|24||Jey Uso||20||Randy Orton||07:05||0|
|25||Jack Swagger||23||Big Show & Sheamus[b]||07:59||0|
|26||Wade Barrett||21||Randy Orton||03:55||1|
|27||David Otunga||22||Chris Jericho||03:15||0|
|30||Big Show||27||Randy Orton||01:51||4|