Royal Rumble 2015
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match – Brock Lesnar vs John Cena vs Seth Rollins
Buried beneath the drab action and contentious booking of the 2015 Royal Rumble event, was a modern triple-threat classic for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The story was all about the “beast incarnate” Brock Lesnar. Hot off the heels of infamously ending The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak, Lesnar would proceed to decimate John Cena at SummerSlam 2014 in convincing fashion, capturing his first WWE Championship since in ten years in the process.
John Cena had spent the second half of 2014 chasing Lesnar and attempting to redeem his one-sided title loss. However, he was not the only one who was chasing after world championship gold. Seth Rollins was also red-hot during this period of WWE programming, breaking away from former stablemates Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose Rollins to align with The Authority: Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The faction would rule over Raw and Smackdown and would be a constant thorn in the side of John Cena on his quest to win back his WWE Championship.
John Cena would eventually earn his title shot at the Royal Rumble against Lesnar, however, Triple H would further stack the odds in the Authority’s favour by inserting Rollins into the match; in spite of Rollins already possessing the Money in the Bank briefcase. This added an extra layer of uncertainty and unpredictability to the encounter, as Rollins could potentially receive two title opportunities in the same night if he decided to cash in his briefcase.
The stage was set for an exciting championship match, and despite the lacklustre show up until this point, the always raucous Philadelphia crowd were still amped up and raring to go. John Cena was greeted with a symphony of “John Cena sucks”, while Rollins and especially Lesnar received much more favourable reactions. The beast was supremely over with the crowd during this run of dominance, and although interest would fade as the years would pass, Suplex City was unquestionably at its peak in 2015.
As the match began the Philly faithful were given exactly what they came to see, as the champion would proceed to dish out suplexes in quick order to Cena, Rollins and J&J security who would unwisely attempt to interject in the action early on. Lesnar’s unyielding control on the early stages would force a temporary alliance to be formed between Rollins and Cena. Lesnar however, would not be denied, barrelling back into the action and catching Rollins mid-flight following an attempted springboard flying knee, turning it into a devastating F5 which forced Cena to break up the pin.
Both Cena and Rollins would then hit their own finishing moves on the champion in quick succession. Then, with the action spilling to the outside John Cena would charge at the champion, driving him through the barricade at ringside.
Despite the relentless punishment, Lesnar would not be downed for long, much to the dismay of both challengers. Fittingly in the birthplace of ECW, Seth Rollins would be forced to take things to the extreme to get the job done. A prone Lesnar would lie dormant on the announce table following a barrage of shots with the steel steps, while Rollins would fly through the sky to deliver a calamitous flying elbow through the announce table. Chants of “holy sh*t” and “this is awesome” would echo throughout the Wells Fargo Centre, while a stretcher was rushed down to ringside to remove the motionless champion from the match.
The beast had finally been put down, leaving the two challengers to finally duke it out without looking over their shoulder. Rollins and Cena had the crowd on the edge of their seat with back-and-forth action including finishing moves, near-falls and interference from J&J security, leaving the outcome uncertain throughout the closing stages. It was Brock Lesnar however, that would rise from the ashes to a rapturous reaction from the fans in attendance, tossing both challengers around before dispatching Rollins with an F5 for the victory.
A truly electric triple-threat match that deserves its place among the all-time greats from the Royal Rumble event. All three competitors delivered a break-neck pace that simply wouldn’t relent from the opening bell until the close. The unrelenting action provides entertainment upon every repeat viewing, and on a night that is remembered for nothing but its cataclysmically bad main event, the WWE World Championship match provides at least one reason to revisit the controversial show.