Thirty Superstars from Raw and SmackDown LIVE will fight for sports-entertainment immortality when the annual Royal Rumble Match takes over WWE Network on Sunday, Jan. 29. The winner of the massive melee, now in its 30th year, will go on to challenge for a World Championship in the main event of WrestleMania this April.
A tradition dating back to 1988, the Royal Rumble Match starts with two participants, and new Superstars entering the ring every 90 seconds. This continues until all 30 Superstars have entered the bout. Elimination occurs when a Superstar is thrown over the top rope and both of his feet hit the floor. The last Superstar in the ring will be declared the victor.
So far, the following the Superstars have been announced for the gigantic match: The Undertaker, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Seth Rollins, Big E, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho, Baron Corbin.
What other Superstars from Raw and SmackDown LIVE will join the fray and fight for the chance to headline The Grandest Stage of Them All? More important yet: Who will be the last man standing when the dust settles inside San Antonio’s historic Alamodome?
Find out when The Road to WrestleMania begins at WWE Royal Rumble 2017. The huge event takes place Sunday, Jan. 29, at 7 ET/4 PT, live on the award-winning WWE Network.
WWE.com have a feature up presenting their picks for the 25 best matches of 2016, with four of Dean’s matches making the list this year! See the write ups on those matches below with some thoughts from WWE.com editors and Dean himself. You can see the full countdown of all 25 matches over on WWE.com.
25. Triple H vs. Dean Ambrose — WWE Championship Match (WWE Roadblock)
WE SAID: Dean Ambrose is dangerous enough when he improvises, but watching him go into a match with a plan is something else entirely. At WWE Roadblock — mere weeks before WrestleMania 32 — The Lunatic Fringe battled The Game not only for the WWE Championship, but also for the opportunity to change the landscape of The Show of Shows. Methodically focusing his attack on the left leg of the champion, Ambrose nearly dethroned The King of Kings more than once. Were it not for an ill-timed elbow drop onto the announce table, WrestleMania 32 just might have emanated from The Ambrose Asylum. — JAMES WORTMAN
THEY SAID: “Maybe my favorite match of the year. It was old-school. And it was at a special Live Event pay-per-view in a smaller venue. Not as much lights, set or anything and it was only a couple weeks before WrestleMania, which is all about spectacle and craziness, but this was just about two guys doing the dance in the ring under the lights. Not a lot of people can do that style of match. To be there in that kind of scenario and test myself against Triple H and go toe-to-toe and hold-for-hold was very personally rewarding.” — DEAN AMBROSE
24. Team Raw (Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman) vs. Team SmackDown LIVE (AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Shane McMahon, Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton) — 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Men’s Elimination Match (Survivor Series)
If there was a WWE equivalent to a big-budget summer popcorn flick this year, it was undoubtedly the Survivor Series main event. The heavily hyped battle between Raw and SmackDown LIVE was so packed with marquee stars, high stakes and even comic relief (thanks to Team Blue mascot James Ellsworth) that you wouldn’t have been surprised to find out it was directed by Joss Whedon. The nearly hourlong (!) affair — which saw Roman Reigns almost hospitalize Shane McMahon with the ugliest Spear of 2016, The Shield Triple-Powerbomb AJ Styles through an announce table and Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt walk out as survivors — left us slack-jawed, breathless, and asking one question: When’s the sequel? — RYAN MURPHY
22. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. Alberto Del Rio — Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank)
WE SAID: If there is such a thing as a glass ceiling, Dean Ambrose had been slamming his head against it for a solid year leading up to this star-making match for The Lunatic Fringe. But to only highlight Ambrose’s ultimate Money in the Bank victory — and subsequent cash-in — would do a disservice to the magnificent performances of Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Alberto Del Rio, all of whom laid their bodies on the line in the most inventive fashion possible to reach the proverbial next rung. Ambrose’s victory was sweet, to be sure, but anybody here would have been a worthy champion-in-waiting. To quote one of the participants: Drink it in, man. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
THEY SAID: “I hate Ladder Matches. If I’m never in another Ladder Match again for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy. But on that night I had a job to do. Had to get up that ladder, get that briefcase. The way I figure it, every time we step in the ring, it’s some kind of gamble. So if you’re gonna roll the dice with your body and your safety, you might as well go all in and go for the big money all in one night in Las Vegas.” — DEAN AMBROSE
6. AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena — Triple Threat WWE Championship Match (No Mercy)
No Mercy’s Triple Threat WWE World Title Match was unique from the word go as it was the very first pay-per-view main event in history to open the show. John Cena was out to tie WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair’s record by claiming a World Title for the 16th time, Dean Ambrose was looking to regain the title taken from him just one month earlier and WWE World Champion AJ Styles was determined to cement his place as “The Champ that Runs the Camp.” Let the free-for-all commence! In the end, Styles took advantage of the anything-goes rules of a Triple Threat Match, clobbering Cena with a steel chair to hang on to the WWE Championship. Phenomenal. — MIKE BURDICK
After the events of Survivor Series, we knew Dean might be in for a little retribution from the powers that be, but we didn’t think they’d try and kick him out of the building! Well, a cranky Shane McMahon at least. He tries his best to order Ambrose to take the night off and leave the arena, but like a boomerang Dean just keeps coming back. First to bring Shane Pizza, then dressed as The Mountie and finally.. he stops by as a Hockey team Player and crashes the Ellsworth Vs Styles match for Ellsworths Smackdown contract. Dean keeps James from a defeat, but is then knocked out of the ring by AJ’s Phenomenal Forearm. Ellsworth goes on to win the match on his own merit. Well who knew! Dean’s there to celebrate with his little pal.. in the building. Sorry Shane.
SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon met in the ring with Dean Ambrose and a very worse for wear James Ellsworth (after Braun Strowman threw him off the stage and through a table at Survivor Series) to seemingly award Ellsworth a SmackDown LIVE contract. However, things escalated quickly when, after Shane told Ambrose that because of recent actions he would be given the night off and had to leave the building, WWE World Champion AJ Styles arrived to make a mockery of the entire gathering.
“The Champ that Runs the Camp,” aghast at the idea of sharing the same locker room with Ellsworth, proposed that he and Ellsworth face off in a Ladder Match tonight with his SmackDown LIVE contract suspended above the ring. If Ellsworth wins, he would become a full-fledged member of Team Blue. If he loses, Styles claimed that he would rip up Ellsworth’s contract in front of his face.
Shane-O-Mac was totally opposed to the idea, but it was Ellsworth who bravely accepted and even upped the ante, saying that if he could beat Styles tonight he wants a future WWE World Championship opportunity.
With everything on the line, James Ellsworth took on WWE World Champion AJ Styles in a Ladder Match. If he could somehow win, he would be awarded a SmackDown LIVE contract and get a future WWE World Championship opportunity. However, if he lost, he would lose out on it all. The Phenomenal One was in control for virtually the entire contest. Unfortunately for Ellsworth, an altercation between Styles and Dean Ambrose earlier in the night left The Lunatic Fringe barred from ringside and unable to help him.
Yet, just as the fairytale looked to be coming to an end, Styles was met with an unbelievable surprise when Ambrose, disguised as a hockey player, appeared and neutralized Styles. This allowed Ellsworth to topple a discombobulated Styles off the ladder and hit him with a pinpoint superkick to climb the ladder to success (like, for real) and grab the contract, then celebrate his miracle of a victory along with Ambrose.
Raw vs. SmackDown LIVE. Only one show can survive.
The friendly competition between Team Red and Team Blue turns physical on Sunday, Nov. 20, when a five-Superstar squadron of Raw’s male Superstars take on a corps of SmackDown LIVE’s competitors in a 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Men’s Elimination Match.
After accepting SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan’s challenge to pit the shows’ rosters against each other in traditional Survivor Series format, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and General Manager Mick Foley responded by naming WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, United States Champion Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho to their team. Braun Strowman then won a Battle Royal on Raw to become the fourth member of Team Raw. Seth Rollins was later added as the squad’s final member, thanks to “assurances” made to The Architect by Stephanie McMahon.
SmackDown LIVE named WWE World Champion AJ Styles and his perennial challenger Dean Ambrose, as well as Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, whom The Eater of Worlds appears to have assimilated into his Family. Baron Corbin had initially been slotted as the fifth man, but after suffering an injury against a returning Kalisto, The Lone Wolf was replaced by none other than Team Blue Commissioner Shane McMahon, making his in-ring return for the first time since WrestleMania 32. Shane-O-Mac also named cult hero James Ellsworth as SmackDown LIVE’s official “mascot” heading into Survivor Series.
Which show will prevail come bell time? Find out when WWE Survivor Series airs live, Sunday, Nov. 20, at 7 ET/4 PT only on WWE Network.
After last weeks big time blunder by James Ellsworth, he opens Smackdown this week to beg forgiveness from Dean Ambrose. Might be a tough ask from a man that specializes in revenge, but he’s open to hearing what James has to say and comes to the ring to hear him out. Once there, he decides that even though he’s imagined smacking him around for what he did, he can’t look at his face and not forgive him. Dean tells him it’s all good, but just never ever ever get in his way again. James continues to try and apologize when AJ interrupts and tells James that Dean’s just been using him. Dean doesn’t take kindly to this and James tries to break it up as Dean and AJ get face to face, only for AJ to shove James in to Dean and then take him down with a kick to the head followed by his ‘Phenomenal Forearm’.
Backstage a little later on, Deans fuming and as James once again tries to apologize, Dean says he’s done. Until Daniel Bryan tries to calm things down and promises Dean another shot at becoming #1 contender, tonight. And under no circumstances is James to come to ringside. It seems like Ellsworth can’t hear too well as later on in the night as Deans interviewed about his match, he turns up again to plead with Dean to let him come to ringside. Dean laughs in his face, telling him absolutely not, go eat some candy.
Before his match, Dean decides he’s not taking the risk and packs Ellsworth off out the back exit, telling him any man with two hands can call an Uber and skidaddle. Thinking hes in the clear, Dean heads in to his match. He takes the fight straight to AJ and it quickly becomes an outside brawl. The two men now so adept at wrestling one another they’re coming up with counters to each others counters, making for a breath taking ride. Until once again.. Ellsworth gets involved, running in through the crowd and almost costing Dean with another distraction. Security chase Ellsworth all around the arena, and eventually AJ Styles gets so ticked off he shoves James over the announce desk. It gives Dean just enough time to regroup and as AJ goes for his Phenomenal Forearm off the top rope, Dean kicks him in the gut on his descent and nails him with Dirty Deeds. Picking up the win.. and a new #1 Contendership!
Maybe Ellsworth is just as crazy as Dean is.. somehow it worked out. Here’s what WWE.com had to say.
Following his accidental disqualification of Dean Ambrose in The Lunatic Fringe’s high-stakes matchup with AJ Styles last week on SmackDown LIVE, a clearly distraught James Ellsworth came to the ring to make a public apology to Ambrose.
A perturbed, but sympathetic Ambrose listened to Ellsworth’s sincere request for forgiveness, and accepted, but also told Ellsworth to never get in his way again. Both were then interrupted by WWE World Champion AJ Styles, who was quick to disparage both Ellsworth’s WWE merit and his relationship with Ambrose.
This unnerved the unstable Ambrose, which led to him to get into a brawl with Styles, which Ellsworth nobly attempted to break up before being shoved by The Phenomenal One into Ambrose. Styles then took advantage of the staggered Ambrose by hitting him with the Phenomenal Forearm. Styles then promptly exited the ring, laughing at the comedy of errors that Ellsworth had just produced, while the underdog looked on, completely mortified.
Daniel Bryan announced earlier in the night that, much like last week, if Dean Ambrose could defeat AJ Styles in the main event, he would be named the new No. 1 contender for the WWE World Championship. This time, however, James Ellsworth was not to be at ringside.
Continuing their string of incredible matches, Ambrose and Styles wowed the WWE Universe with incredible action that saw the momentum shift several times over. As the action picked up though, Ellsworth could just not help himself and made his way out to the arena.
The two Superstars kept going at it, and then, in the match’s pivotal moments, despite Bryan’s warning, Ellsworth snuck out to ringside! Security began to chase Ellsworth all over the arena before Styles finally got ahold of him. The WWE World Champion did not think twice about pouncing him over the announce table before returning his attention to Ambrose. However, the tides turned on The Phenomenal One quickly when, going for his signature Phenomenal Forearm, Ambrose caught him with a kick to the gut as he descended from the top rope which he then transitioned into Dirty Deeds for the victory to become the new No. 1 contender.
After the match, security finally got their hands on Ellsworth, but Ambrose snatched him from their grasp and began to celebrate with him.
Dean Ambrose challenges WWE World Champion AJ Styles at SmackDown LIVE’s next brand-exclusive pay-per-view, WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, on Sunday, Dec. 4. And The Lunatic Fringe may just have James Ellsworth to thank for it.
The title match was officially announced by General Manager Daniel Bryan on the Nov. 1 edition of Talking Smack, mere minutes after Ambrose defeated Styles in a non-title contest which stipulated that a victory would result in him becoming the No. 1 contender.
Though The Lunatic Fringe had been adamant that Ellsworth, who accidentally cost Ambrose a similar top-contender opportunity against Styles just one week before, stay far away from ringside, the lovable underdog couldn’t resist trying to make things right with Ambrose. Ellsworth may have defied Ambrose’s wishes, but his involvement nonetheless proved beneficial for the unhinged Superstar, paving the way for a big win over the WWE World Champion.
Now the stage is set for another highly anticipated showdown between The Lunatic Fringe and The Phenomenal One, this time at WWE TLC 2016. The two Superstars have been at each other’s throats for months, and the intensity has only ratcheted up since Styles won the WWE World Title from Ambrose in September.
Who will leave Dallas as SmackDown LIVE’s top dog? Can Styles fend off Ambrose’s relentless pursuit of the title, or will The Lunatic Fringe brawl his way back to championship glory? Find out at WWE TLC, which airs live on WWE Network Sunday, Dec. 4, at 8 ET/5 PT.
Dean Ambrose Def. John Cena
After the harsh insults they exchanged and the Dirty Deeds that Dean Ambrose struck John Cena with last week, the two held nothing back in trying to push their ascent toward the WWE World Championship this week. The two went back and forth, sweeping the WWE Universe up and pushing themselves to their limits in the process until, finally, The Lunatic Fringe caught Cena sleeping with a rollup for a huge pinfall victory.
After the match, AJ Styles, seeing an opportunity, dashed to ringside and got shots in on both Cena and Ambrose before immediately beginning to celebrate his “accomplishment.”
His celebration would not last long though, as SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan announced that Ambrose still was owed his promised one-on-one rematch for the WWE World Championship and he would get that next week on SmackDown LIVE!
Styles then got a taste of next week when he was met with a surprise Dirty Deeds from Ambrose, setting the stage for the colossal championship match.
AJ Styles talks a big game, but the new WWE World Champion may have talked himself into a major corner when he battles both Dean Ambrose and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match at WWE No Mercy.
On his first SmackDown LIVE after low-blowing Dean Ambrose out of the WWE World Title, The Phenomenal One proclaimed that, since he’d made good on his promise to become champion, his word was now infallible and that everything he says from here on out should be taken as fact. So, for instance, if he was to claim that he could beat The Lunatic Fringe and John Cena, whom he knocked off at SummerSlam, in the same match, the WWE Universe would just have to take his word for it.
Luckily, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon was happy to arrange just such a test for Styles, putting Ambrose’s guaranteed one-on-one rematch on the shelf (he’ll get it at a later date, according to Shane) in favor of a Triple Threat Match between Styles, a frothing Ambrose and Cena, who returned for the first time since his defeat at SummerSlam to make a play for a potentially record-tying 16th World Championship.
Can AJ Styles cement his status as the new “Face That Runs the Place”? Or is his time up before it even began? Find out on WWE No Mercy, live Sunday, Oct. 9, at 8 ET/4 PT on the award-winning WWE Network.
After humiliating AJ Styles at the end of last weeks Smackdown, Dean’s pretty pleased with himself and not sweating his opponent too much. Heading in to a main event showdown, he first takes a stop at catering to teach people how to make real coffee, and then a pit stop at the make up girls table to get his hair done. Yes, he’s very particular about that mop. With all of that taken care of he heads to the ring with a gift for Mr Styles. A trophy, an old bowling trophy he got for participating in a tournament. He generously gifts this to AJ and tells him it’ll be the only trophy he ever gets from him. The WWE Championship is going to stay right where it is. AJ challenges Dean to continue making a joke of this and taking him lightly, after all John Cena took him totally seriously and ended up getting pinned at Summerslam. AJ says Dean’s no John Cena, and Dean says he’s damn right. He’s a far more vicious competitor, that likes to drag his opponents kicking and screaming to the brink of their endurance and take them over the edge. He reminds AJ the last time they met in the ring, he beat him. Theres no trophies given out in WWE for the face that comes in second place.
Visibly burned to a cinder by Dean’s acid tongue, AJ responds the only way he can. A swift kick to Dean’s family jewels. Well, that’ll take down any man. But it’ll also make him mighty angry. Don’t kick the hornets nest, AJ, you won’t like what happens. Here’s what WWE.com had to say!
WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles went face-to-face one final time before their Backlash main event and the situation was as tense as could be.
No words were minced as the two sparred verbally as each tried to gain the mental advantage. Styles was quick (as usual) to rattle off his accomplishments, though Ambrose simply retorted by giving him an old bowling participation trophy to “celebrate” all of Styles’ accomplishments.
Ambrose also was quick to poke fun at the precarious position Styles found himself on the ropes during SmackDown LIVE last week. It was a decision he would ultimately regret when, after some more verbal warfare, Styles kicked Ambrose low, leaving the WWE World Champion in a heap of pain ahead of their clash on Sunday.
AJ Styles has pinned “The Face that Runs the Place,” twice. Now, The Phenomenal One sets his sight on The Lunatic Fringe that runs the asylum.
Styles will challenge WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose at WWE Backlash Sunday, Sept. 11, live on WWE Network. If Styles’ recent win streak is any indication, The Lunatic Fringe may be facing his biggest threat yet.
The Phenomenal One ensured the title match would remain a one-on-one contest by defeating former World Champion Dolph Ziggler on the Aug. 23 edition of SmackDown Live. Yet, even before that, Styles had accumulated an impressive string of major victories including, most notably, going 2-0 against John Cena in singles competition this summer.
Though the involvement of Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson tainted Styles’ first win over the Cenation leader, Styles needed no outside assistance to defeat Cena in their all-time classic return match at SummerSlam.
Styles might have the wind at his back heading into SmackDown Live’s first brand-exclusive pay-per-view, but he also has an unpredictable and unrelenting Lunatic Fringe staring him in the face on Sept. 11. Ambrose’s devil-may-care attitude has benefited his title reign thus far; will his kinetic style of fisticuffs continue to pay dividends against the dynamic force that is AJ Styles?
Don’t miss this huge WWE World Championship clash when WWE Backlash airs live on WWE Network Sunday, Sept. 11, at 8 ET/5 PT.