Daniel Bryan def. Kane (w/Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) by pinfall to qualify for the Royal Rumble match
Bryan hit a running crossbody, but Kane took advantage of a distraction from Noble and Mercury to hit a big boot. Kane followed up with a neckbreaker on the floor outside, then hit Bryan with numerous kendo stick shots. Bryan got control of the kendo stick, and landed several shots of his own.
Bryan hit his signature series of kicks, but Kane kicked out at two. Kane fought back with a big right hand and a DDT for a near-fall of his own. Noble and Mercury drove Bryan into the barricade, and Kane assaulted him with a chair. Bryan hit a baseball slide and attempted a dive between the rope, but Kane countered with an uppercut.
Kane drove Bryan into the ring steps, as Noble and Mercury cleared off the announce table. Kane tried for a tombstone piledriver and a chokeslam, but Bryan countered both, then hit a suicide dive. Bryan hit a dropkick, but Noble and Mercury overwhelmed him, allowing Kane to recover.
Kane climbed up top and tried for a diving axe-handle, but Bryan reversed it into a Yes Lock. Noble and Mercury made the save, but Bryan took them both out with dropkicks into the corner. Kane took advantage of the distraction, hitting a chokeslam for a very close near-fall.
Kane tried to hit Bryan with a chair, but Bryan sent him flying into a chair wedged between the ropes. Bryan hit a running knee for the pinfall victory. Big Show entered and attacked Bryan, leading to the locker room clearing out and filling the ring, giving a preview of Sunday’s Rumble. The show ended with Bryan, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback uneasily staring each other down.
Scott’s Thoughts: The match itself was your standard no-DQ weapons fest, and it’s good to see that WWE got in their obligatory “entire locker room in the ring” spot to close out the pre-Rumble go-home show.
Fired Superstars return; Dolph Ziggler def. Bad News Barrett by pinfall to qualify for the Royal Rumble match
Bryan invited Ryback, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler to the ring to begin the show. Ryback said that he was thrilled to be back, and that he could have given up, but being a pro wrestler has been his life’s dream. Rowan said that his time off had been somewhat of a blessing. He cut an extremely disjointed promo, saying he had seen himself in a new light.
Ziggler spoke last, saying that he had spent his time off eating stuffed-crust pizza, and watching Stephanie and Triple H’s fitness DVDs. Dolph said that The Authority had fired him because he’s too much of a threat to them. Ziggler took a thinly veiled shot at CM Punk, saying “I’d rather sit here in this ring, and face any punishment they give me, every day for the rest of my life, than sit at home on some couch complaining on a podcast.”
Kane, Seth Rollins, Big Show, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury entered. Ziggler challenged Rollins to a fight, which Rollins declined, saying that he has more important things to do than deal with Ziggler, before setting the record straight: “Triple H and Stephanie’s fitness videos are actually phenomenal.”
Big Show clearly forgot his line, awkwardly sputtering out that Ziggler is a “greasy little mall hamster” (uh…okay?). Kane told Ziggler that he could earn a spot in the Royal Rumble by beating Bad News Barrett.
Ziggler opened up the match with a dropkick, but Barrett fought back, driving Ziggler into the ring post. Barrett continually worked over Ziggler’s left arm, but Dolph responded with a DDT for a near-fall. Ziggler followed up with a jawbreaker, a neckbreaker and an elbow drop, earning another two-count.
Ziggler came up empty on a Famouser, and Barrett rolled him up for two. Ziggler hit a superkick for a near-fall of his own. Barrett tried for a Bullhammer Elbow, but Ziggler countered with a dropkick and a Zig-Zag to pin Barrett, and earn his spot in the Rumble.
Scott’s Thoughts: I feel that Ziggler is one of the top five most-likely Superstars to win the Rumble, so the outcome here wasn’t it doubt. However, I’m getting pretty sick of Barrett constantly jobbing while holding the belt. Why couldn’t they have made this one a DQ or countout finish, instead of just letting Barrett eat another pin?
Ryback def. Rusev (w/Lana) by countout to qualify for the Royal Rumble match
Ryback landed a shoulder tackle, followed by a delayed vertical suplex. Rusev responded with a dropkick, following up with two gorilla press slams. Ryback fought back with a sidewalk slam and a gorilla press slam of his own, earning a near-fall.
Ryback hit a jawbreaker for another two-count, but Rusev hit an Alabama slam for a near-fall of his own. Ryback hit a belly-to-belly suplex, then climbed up top. Rusev caught him and knocked him off the turnbuckle with a superkick, but Ryback still kicked out.
Rusev tried to lock in The Accolade, but Ryback picked him up and hit a spinebuster. Ryback came up empty on a Meathook clothesline, as Rusev rolled out of the ring. Ryback drove Rusev into the barricade and beat him up on the entrance ramp, until the referee had counted to nine.
Ryback ran back into the ring, beating the ten-count to win the match. After the match, Rusev clotheslined Ryback in the back of the head and tried for a superkick, but Ryback hit a Meathook. Ryback set up for Shell-Shocked, but Rusev slipped out of the ring and escaped up the entrance ramp.
Scott’s Thoughts: Rusev and Ryback work surprisingly well together, and I enjoyed this match considerably more than I usually do with either man’s matches.
Luke Harper def. Erick Rowan by pinfall; Rowan fails to qualify for the Royal Rumble match
Rowan hit a big boot and a gorilla press slam for two. Rowan tried for a powerbomb, but Harper countered with a hurricanrana and a dropkick, earning a near-fall. Rowan fought back with a spinning heel kick for a two-count of his own.
Rowan followed up with a powerbomb, but Harper managed to kick out. Rowan climbed up top and tried for a Superfly splash, but came up empty. Harper hit a superkick and a spinning lariat, pinning Rowan.
Scott’s Thoughts: Welp, thanks for coming, Rowan. This was a pretty solid match, thanks to some really impressive work by Harper. Rowan should have a nice relaxing day in catering on Sunday.
Roman Reigns should maybe just stop talking entirely forever
Reigns cut a backstage promo with Renee Young, in which he said that he’s sick of Big Show constantly reminding everyone that he’s a giant. Reigns then said one of the dumbest statements in television history: “You know who didn’t have to remind us every single week he was a giant? Andre the Giant.” Roman…seriously dude…the guy’s name was Andre THE GIANT. The words ‘the giant’ are literally part of the man’s name. What the hell.
Superstars draw their Rumble entry numbers
Fandango drew a favorable entrance number for the Rumble, but when he turned his back, Dean Ambrose took the number for himself, replacing it with another.
The Usos encouraged Mizdow to turn on Miz during the Royal Rumble, asking him, “If he goes over the top rope, are you going to follow?”
Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella) def. Naomi by pinfall
Naomi hit a dropkick, but Brie fought back with a jawbreaker. Brie tried for a dropkick and appeared to miss, but Naomi sold it anyway, so who knows. Brie hit a bulldog and a Bella Buster for the pin. After the match, The Bellas stared down Natalya and Paige, who had been on commentary.