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February 1, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2016 Royal Rumble, Road to Wrestlemania, more

HHH won his 14th world championship at the Royal Rumble on 1/24 in Orlando. This is still planned as the means to the end game of setting up the big coronation of Roman Reigns as the company’s top star by winning the title at WrestleMania on 4/3 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

The long Reigns push, which was scheduled for him to beat Brock Lesnar for the title at WrestleMania in 2015, but stalled based on fan response, had gotten more successful of late with the return of Vince McMahon as a heel adversary.

But the booking moves to lead to this over the past week have been interesting and questionable. In the Royal Rumble, with Reigns as the first champion who had to defend the title in the match, he had to start at No. 1. At just after the 20:00 mark of the match, Vince McMahon led Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus, who both had yet to enter the match, and Rusev, who Reigns eliminated at the 1:30 mark, to attack the champion. They threw him into the barricade. Del Rio superkicked him and continued to beat on him for several minutes until Rusev ran across two tables to splash him through a third table at the 23:03 mark of the match. Vince and the League of Nations all celebrated and EMT’s came out. At past the 26:00 mark, Reigns was put on a stretcher and carried out. However, before he got to the back, he got off the stretcher–and walked to the back.

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