[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the WWE Royal Rumble.]
The road to WrestleMania 40 officially kicked off in grand fashion on January 27 with the 2024 Royal Rumble. More than a reported 48,000 fans packed Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, witnessing its share of history for a multitude of reasons. It was the first official big event where Vince McMahon was no longer connected to WWE. A company he took to new heights after buying it from his dad more than 40 years ago.
The former executive chairman of TKO Group, WWE’s parent company, resigned on Friday. This came amid a former employee who accused him of sexual assault and sex trafficking through a lawsuit filed by the U.S. District Court of Connecticut a day prior. When asked about the lawsuit later at a presser, Paul “Triple H” Levesque said he’d rather focus on the positive tonight.
And so the show went on like it always does with an event that brought shocks, history, and everything in between. Read on to find out the top moments from the night.
Cody Follows “Stone Cold”
Cody Rhodes became the first person since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to win the Royal Rumble in back-to-back years. Diamond Dallas Page sat in the press box to watch his “nephew” outlast 30 others to punch his ticket to WrestleMania 40. The “American Nightmare” eliminated CM Punk in a thrilling last few minutes. CM Punk quit WWE a day after the 2014 Royal Rumble out of frustration, so this year was a come full-circle experience.. Andrade, fresh off his AEW contract expiration, remerged at number 4. Carmelo Hayes and Bron Breakker represented NXT with strong showings. Pat McAfee left the broadcast booth to enter the Royal Rumble at number 22. Then thought better of it, eliminating himself after seeing he would have to face off with the 7-foot Omos. Injured WWE Champion Seth Rollins watched the proceedings from a luxury box, still stylish.
Women’s Rumble of Surprises
The women’s Royal Rumble set the tone for the evening as Bayley took home the victory for the first time. The “Role Model” also beat Rhea Ripley’s record going 63 minutes and 3 seconds. She outlasted the returning Liv Morgan and Jade Cargill, who debuted in impressive fashion. The former AEW star turned hot free agent signing eliminated Nia Jax, Becky Lynch, and Naomi. Yes, after a stellar run in TNA, Naomi (Trinity) entered at number 2 of the 30-women match with Natalya at 1. It was her first WWE match since May 2022.
Not to be outdone the current Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace came out at number 5. This isn’t the first time TNA has had a performer from its active roster in the battle royal. Mickie James did it first in 2022. Grace turned heads with her strength and power, lasting around 20 minutes before getting eliminated by Bianca Belair. R-Truth attempted to get in the match for some reason during Valhalla’s entrance. Poor Truth as he was sent over the ropes by Jax. NXT saw representation on the women’s side as well through appearances by Roxanne Perez and Tiffany Stratton.
Reigns Wins Match, Sponsored By Slim Jim
Roman Reigns put his record-shattering WWE Universal championship reign on the line against Randy Orton, AJ Styles, and LA Knight. After several close calls, the “Tribal Chief punched out Styles and speared Knight for the 1-2-3. The stage looks set for Rhodes vs. Reigns II in Philadelphia. At one point Orton had Reigns down with an RKO out of nowhere. Solo Sikoa, the “Tribal Chief’s” cousin, stopped the three count.
If you were keeping score Slim Jim was the sponsor of the match. The beef jerky brand put a pause on their deal with WWE when the McMahon news began to circulate. There was a feeling they may even pull the plug, which would mean the company would lose its most lucrative sponsorship deal in history. Once McMahon resigned, the brand’s advertising reportedly came back to the show. Fans credit Slim Jim for being a catalyst that led to McMahon’s stepping away.
Logan Paul put his United States title on the line against Kevin Owens. The arrogant social media mogul turned WWE superstar retained thanks to a disqualification. Paul’s buds including Grayson Waller and Austin Theory would lend a hand. Theory gave Paul brass knucks to use, but Owens grabbed them instead and knocked him out. However, just as the ref would count the final 3, he spotted the knucks and called for the DQ. Owens did give Paul a powerbomb for his troubles though.
The Opening Package
With the event in his own backyard, it’s no surprise Hulk Hogan voiced the opening package of the Royal Rumble. Days before marked 40 years ago when Hulkamania was born after the Hall of Famer won his first WWE championship from the Iron Sheik. The 70-year-old Hogan joked about potentially entering the rumble this year. It did not happen, but the Hulkster got the crowd hyped with his video message nonetheless.