Royal Rumble (2017) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event and WWE Network event produced by WWE for the Raw and SmackDown brands. It took place on January 29, 2017, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. This was the 30th event under the Royal Rumble chronology. The event was also the second Royal Rumble to be held in the Alamodome, after 1997, and the fourth to be held in the state of Texas (1989, 1997, and 2007).
Eight matches were contested at the event, including three on the pre-show. The event saw Randy Orton win the Royal Rumble match by last eliminating Roman Reigns, making him the seventh multiple Rumble winner. Also, John Cena defeated AJ Styles to capture his record thirteenth WWE Championship and his sixteenth overall world championship, tying Ric Flair’s record. Other matches included Kevin Owens retaining the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a no disqualification match, Charlotte Flair retaining the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley, and Neville defeating Rich Swann for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
The card featured eight matches, including three on the pre-show, that resulted from scripted storylines and had results predetermined by WWE on the Raw and SmackDown brands. Storylines were produced on WWE’s weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, and 205 Live, the latter of which is cruiserweight exclusive. The card was highlighted by the 30-man Royal Rumble match, with a the winner receiving a world championship match at WrestleMania 33.
After defeating Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series in his first match in 12 years, Goldberg declared himself the first entrant in the Royal Rumble match on the November 21, 2016 episode of Raw. The next week, Paul Heyman commented that he and Lesnar had been humiliated by Goldberg, whom they had underestimated, and that Lesnar would also compete in the Royal Rumble as he “has something to prove”. On the January 2, 2017 episode of Raw, The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods) announced their participation in the match. Later, Goldberg appeared on the first edition of The Kevin Owens Show in regards to the match, where Chris Jericho and Braun Strowman also announced their participation. On the January 3 episode of SmackDown, Baron Corbin became the first SmackDown wrestler to announce his participation in the match. On the January 9 episode of Raw, The Undertaker declared that he would be in the match. On the January 10 episode of SmackDown, on the Ambrose Asylum, Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose announced his participation in the match, followed by The Miz. Afterwards on Talking Smack, Dolph Ziggler announced his participation in the match. Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus confirmed their entries via Twitter on January 16. Later that night on Raw, Titus O’Neil challenged The New Day for one of their spots. Big E accepted the challenge and defeated O’Neil. On the January 17 episode of SmackDown, Bray Wyatt stated that he, Randy Orton, and Luke Harper would be entrants in the match. On WWE’s Facebook on January 23, 2017, Big Show was confirmed for the match. Seth Rollins had confirmed his entry via Twitter on January 9, but on the January 23 episode of Raw, after a distraction by Triple H’s music, Sami Zayn defeated Rollins to replace him in the match. Later in the night, Big Cass and Rusev announced their participation in the match. On the January 24 episode of SmackDown, Mojo Rawley won a 10-man battle royal to qualify for the match. The remaining eight spots were revealed at the event during the match.
At Roadblock, Kevin Owens retained the WWE Universal Championship against United States Champion Roman Reigns after Chris Jericho attacked Owens with a Codebreaker, giving Owens the win by disqualification. After the match, Jericho, who lost to Seth Rollins earlier that night, revealed it was his plan so that Owens would win and retain the title. Reigns and Rollins attacked both by performing Double Powerbombs on Jericho and Owens through broadcast tables. The next night on Raw, Owens and Jericho celebrated Owens’ win, stating their friendship was even stronger now. Raw General Manager Mick Foley then came out, announcing that Reigns would get a rematch against Owens for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, and Jericho would be suspended above the ring inside of a shark cage, ensuring that Jericho would not interfere in the match. Foley threatened that if Jericho does not enter the cage, he will be fired. Both were then put into a tag team match against Reigns and Rollins. The latter two won by disqualification after Braun Strowman came out and attacked both. The following week, after Rollins confronted Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon about her husband Triple H, Stephanie scheduled Rollins to face Strowman, but was disqualified when Sami Zayn attacked Strowman. Reigns later retained the United States Championship against Owens after Rollins attacked an interfering Jericho. The next week, Reigns again retained the United States Championship, this time against Jericho in a match where Owens was banned from ringside due to losing to Rollins earlier that night. The following week, Rollins faced Strowman in a rematch, ending in a double countout. Reigns again defended the United States Title, this time in a handicap match against both Jericho and Owens. After Jericho and Owens double-teamed Reigns, Jericho scored the pinfall to become the United States Champion. The next week, after the opening segment involving Owens, Jericho, Reigns, Rollins, Strowman, Zayn, as well as Brock Lesnar, ended in a brawl, a six-man tag team match was scheduled for the main event, with Owens, Jericho, and Strowman winning against Reigns, Rollins, and Zayn. After the match, Owens powerbombed Reigns through a broadcast table. The final Raw before the Royal Rumble, Reigns faced Jericho in a rematch for the United States Championship, but Jericho was disqualified when Owens interfered, attacking Reigns. Owens and Jericho attempted to put Reigns in the shark cage, but Reigns retaliated and locked Owens in it, had it lifted above the ring, and then performed a Superman Punch and Spear on Jericho. Afterwards, it was announced that the match at Royal Rumble would be a no disqualification match.
At TLC, AJ Styles retained the then-WWE World Championship against Dean Ambrose in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. On the December 13 episode of SmackDown, Dolph Ziggler defeated Ambrose, The Miz, and Luke Harper in a four-way elimination match to earn a match for the renamed WWE Championship on the December 27 episode. On the December 20 episode, however, Baron Corbin confronted Ziggler, calling him undeserving of a title shot and stated that Ziggler only won because he was not there. The two then had a match with Ziggler’s title shot on the line, but it ended in a double count-out. Styles then attacked both Ziggler and Corbin with a chair. SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan then scheduled a triple threat for the WWE Championship between the three for the December 27 episode. That episode, John Cena returned from a near three-month hiatus and challenged the winner for the title at the Royal Rumble. After Styles retained the WWE Championship, Cena came out, looking ready to fight, but instead congratulated him with a handshake. Cena and Styles had a contract signing on the January 3, 2017 episode. They were interrupted by Corbin, who claimed that he would win the Royal Rumble match and face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania. As Cena prepared to fight Corbin, Styles attacked Cena. Cena then defeated Corbin the following week. On the January 17 episode, Styles faced The Miz with Cena on commentary. The match ended in a no contest after Styles attacked Cena. A brawl ensued and Cena delivered an Attitude Adjustment to both The Miz and Styles. The following week, Cena and Styles had a face-to-face confrontation about their Royal Rumble match.
At Roadblock, Charlotte Flair defeated Sasha Banks in overtime of a 30-minute Iron Man match to win her fourth Raw Women’s Championship, as well as ending their long feud. The following Raw, Banks came out in a knee brace and on a crutch to talk about her and Flair’s long feud. She wanted to congratulate Flair, but instead, she was belittled and attacked by Nia Jax. Later, Flair came out and declared herself to be the greatest female wrestler of all time, but was then interrupted by Bayley, who reminded Flair that she was 2–0 against her. Bayley then pinned Flair in an impromptu non-title match. However, replays showed that Flair had her shoulder up before the three count. The following week, Flair revealed that she worked with her and WWE’s lawyers and Bayley’s win the previous week was revoked, but Flair allowed Bayley to face her in another non-title match, but this time with Dana Brooke as guest referee. Bayley lost after a fast three count by Brooke. On the January 2, 2017 episode, Bayley defeated Nia Jax due to a distraction by Banks to become the number one contender for the Raw Women’s Championship at the Royal Rumble. Backstage the following week, Bayley and Banks were attacked by Flair and Jax. A tag team match was then scheduled for that night, where Flair and Jax defeated Bayley and Banks. On the January 16 episode, Flair failed to embarrass Bayley by showing old pictures and poems of Bayley’s dreams of becoming a WWE wrestler. The following week, after a confrontation between the two, Banks was scheduled to face Jax on the Royal Rumble pre-show.
At Roadblock, Rich Swann retained the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in a triple threat match against T.J. Perkins and The Brian Kendrick. After the match, Neville appeared and attacked both Swann and Perkins, turning heel. The following night on Raw, Neville stated his intention to take out the entire cruiserweight division, and proclaimed himself to be “King of the Cruiserweights”. Swann questioned Neville’s actions, but was then attacked by Neville and Kendrick, who sided with Neville. Perkins tried to help Swann, but was overpowered by Neville. The next night on 205 Live, Neville and Kendrick defeated Perkins and Swann in a tag team match. The following Raw, after Neville defeated Perkins, he challenged Swann to a match for the following 205 Live. Later, after Swann defeated Ariya Daivari, he accepted the challenge, but was immediately attacked by Neville. On 205 Live, Neville defeated Swann in a non-title match, and proceeded to attack Swann again. On the January 9, 2017 episode of Raw, after defeating Lince Dorado, Neville proceeded to attack Dorado more until Swann came to his aid and fended off Neville. On the following 205 Live, after Swann defeated Tony Nese, Swann called out Neville, but Neville refused to face Swann unless it was for the Cruiserweight Championship. Swann then accepted Neville’s challenge for the title at the Royal Rumble. The following Raw, Neville attacked Swann before his match with Nese, and Nese joined Neville in the attack.
At Roadblock, Cesaro and Sheamus defeated The New Day’s Big E and Kofi Kingston to become the new Raw Tag Team Champions, as well as ending New Day’s record setting reign. The following night on Raw, Mick Foley congratulated Cesaro and Sheamus and presented them with a new set of championship belts. The New Day also congratulated them, but were interrupted by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Big E and Kingston then teamed with Cesaro and Sheamus to defeat Gallows and Anderson and The Shining Stars. The following week, The New Day (Kingston and Xavier Woods) invoked their rematch clause for the championship, but were unsuccessful. Cesaro and Sheamus then began a rivalry with Gallows and Anderson. On the January 2 episode of Raw, Karl Anderson defeated Cesaro. The following week, Sheamus defeated Luke Gallows. On the January 16 episode, Cesaro and Sheamus defended the Raw Tag Team Championship against Gallows and Anderson. After the first referee was accidentally knocked out by Sheamus, another referee came out and called the winning pinfall for Gallows and Anderson. However, the original referee reversed the decision and made it a disqualification win for Gallows and Anderson, thus Cesaro and Sheamus kept the titles. A match between the two teams for the titles with two referees was scheduled for the Royal Rumble pre-show.
At TLC, Alexa Bliss defeated Becky Lynch in a tables match to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Subsequently, Alexa avoided a rematch against Becky but lost a non-title match against enhancement talent La Luchadora, who made the champion submit to the Dis-arm-her and then unmasked as Becky Lynch. Over the next few weeks, La Luchadora began to aid Alexa in matches against Becky, including her successful title defense in a steel cage match on the January 17, 2017 episode. After the match, La Luchadora was unmasked as the returning Mickie James. The following week, Mickie James explained that she became forgotten due to the Women’s Revolution; Becky Lynch then came out but was ambushed by Alexa.
Nikki Bella and Natalya had entered a heated feud after Carmella had claimed that Natalya had been Nikki’s attacker at Survivor Series. After denying the accusations at first, Natalya admitted to the attack on the December 20 episode of SmackDown, revealing pent up jealousy of the Bella Twins, resulting in brawls between the two in the following weeks.
One of these brawls, on the January 24 episode, resulted in a match between Natalya and Naomi being canceled. Naomi, left without an opponent, then issued an open challenge. Alexa Bliss came out, not to accept the challenge but to insult Naomi. A six-woman tag team match was then scheduled for the Royal Rumble pre-show, putting Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi against Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya.
During the pre-show, Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi faced SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya. In the end, Naomi pinned Alexa after a Split Legged Moonsault.
Next, Cesaro and Sheamus defended the Raw Tag Team Championship against Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Anderson pinned Cesaro with a roll-up to win the title.
After that, Nia Jax faced Sasha Banks. Nia pinned Sasha after a Pop Up Samoan Drop.
The actual pay-per-view event opened with Charlotte Flair defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley. In the end, Charlotte performed Natural Selection onto the ring apron on Bayley and pinned her to retain the title.
Next, Kevin Owens defended the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a No-Disqualification match. United States Champion Chris Jericho was suspended above the ring in a shark cage to prevent him for interfering. Owens performed a Frog Splash, putting Reigns through a table outside the ring. Jericho droped brass knuckles to Owens, who used them to hit Reigns with a Superman Punch. Owens attempted a Powerbomb through a chair, but Reigns countered the move into a Samoan Drop through the chair. Reigns performed a Superman Punch and then attempted a Spear, but Owens countered the move into a Stunner. Another Superman Punch by Reigns caused Owens to fall through chairs stacked outside the ring, followed by a Powerbomb through a broadcast table. Braun Strowman then attacked Reigns with a Chokeslam onto a broadcast table and a Running Powerslam through a table. Owens pinned Reigns to retain the title.
After that, Rich Swann defended the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Neville. Neville forced Swann to submit to a Double Underhook Crossface to win the title.
Later, AJ Styles defended the WWE Championship against John Cena. Cena performed an Attitude Adjustment and Styles a Phenomenal Forearm, both scoring near-falls. A trade of reversals of Styles’s Calf Crusher and Cena’s STF followed. Styles applied the STF, but Cena escaped the hold. Cena applied the Figure Four Leglock, which Styles countered into a Cross Armbreaker, which Cena escaped. Both men scored near-falls, Styles after a Styles Clash and Cena after an Attitude Adjustment from the top rope. Styles attempted a Phenomenal Forearm, but Cena caught him, performed two Attitude Adjustments and pinned Styles to win his thirteenth WWE Championship. With this win, Cena tied Ric Flair’s record of sixteen recognized world championships.
The main event was the 30-man Royal Rumble match. Big Cass and U.S. Champion Chris Jericho began the match as the #1 and #2 entrants, respectively. #7 entrant Braun Strowman scored the most eliminations with seven, eliminating Cass, Kalisto, Mojo Rawley, Mark Henry, Big Show, NXT’s Tye Dillinger, and James Ellsworth, but was eliminated by Baron Corbin, the #13 entrant. Brock Lesnar, who entered at #26, eliminated Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and Enzo Amore, but was quickly eliminated by Goldberg, the #28 entrant, who also eliminated Rusev and Luke Harper. The Undertaker entered at #29, eliminating Baron Corbin, Goldberg, The Miz, and Sami Zayn (who was in the match nearly 47 minutes), but was himself eliminated by Roman Reigns, the surprise #30 entrant.
Jericho, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and Reigns were left as the final four. Reigns eliminated Jericho (who lasted in the Rumble for just over one hour) and then countered Wyatt’s Sister Abigail into a Superman Punch, eliminating Wyatt. Reigns attempted a Spear on Orton, who countered the move into an RKO and eliminated Reigns to win the match. As a result of his win, Orton earned a world title match at Wrestlemania 33.
On the following Raw, Braun Strowman revealed that he helped Kevin Owens retain the WWE Universal Championship because of his dislike for Roman Reigns and because Owens had promised him a title shot. Owens denied this before Strowman revealed footage where Owens stated that Strowman would be the next person to get an opportunity after he defeated Reigns. Raw General Manager Mick Foley then scheduled the match for later that night where Owens won by disqualification when Reigns interfered and attacked Strowman.
Bayley, Cesaro, and Sheamus, teamed up to face Charlotte Flair, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson in a six-person mixed tag team match where Bayley pinned Charlotte.
Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman appeared and challenged Goldberg to one final match at WrestleMania 33.
As per tradition, the winner of the Royal Rumble match could choose which world championship to compete for at WrestleMania 33 on April 2, 2017. On January 30, it was confirmed that Randy Orton chose his own brand’s WWE Championship.
A couple of weeks prior to the Royal Rumble, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon announced that the main event of SmackDown’s next pay-per-view, Elimination Chamber on February 12, would be an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship. On January 30, it was confirmed that AJ Styles would be entering the match due to a rematch clause in the match contract.