Triple H back on top

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Triple H reigns supreme once again.

The legendary wrestler-turned-executive did the unthinkable last night in Orlando, winning the Royal Rumble and with it his 14th WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

The man known as The Game entered as the 30th and final entrant to the over-the-top battle and outlasted the remaining foes, eliminating the former champ, former Canadian Football League player Roman Reigns as well. Triple H, whose real name is Paul Levesque, secured the win when he tossed Dean Ambrose out to be the last man standing.

Triple H will head to the company’s biggest event of the year, WrestleMania 32, as champion and headliner, a bit of a shock considering he’s 46 years old and at this stage in his career a part-time performer. He is currently the executive vice-president (talent/live events/creative) of the company and the driving force behind its popular NXT brand.

Nonetheless, in his prime, Triple H was the undisputed face of the company, winning 13 titles during a roughly decade of dominance. The new champ will likely defend his title against the former champ Reigns in Texas.

In a highly entertaining Rumble that featured a few surprise entrants (the debut of AJ Styles being the biggest), Canadians had a strong showing. Winnipeg’s Chris Jericho entered at No. 6 and was one of the final five before being eliminated by Ambrose. Montreal’s Sami Zayn made an appearance in the Rumble, much to the delight of the crowd. So too did fellow Quebecer Kevin Owens, appearing in his second match of the evening. British Columbia’s Tyler Breeze also made his Rumble debut.

A capacity crowd was on hand as WWE officially kicked off WrestleMania season at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

The show opened hot with a Last Man Standing match for the Intercontinental Championship, featuring the champ Ambrose taking on Mirabel, Que., native Owens. Ambrose came out on top following a hard-fought match that featured several aerial assaults, a kendo stick, half a dozen chairs, tables and chants of “This is awesome.” Owens crashed through two tables outside the ring from the top rope and couldn’t get back to his feet by the time the ref finished his 10-count.

The Rumble itself saw 30 participants enter the ring one by one every 90 seconds. With the WWE title on the line, it added extra hype to an already popular event.

Add to that the fact that WrestleMania 32 offers the company a chance to put more than 100,000 fans in attendance, and it was easy to see why the WWE was heavily hyping the event.

The second match saw WWE tag-team champions The New Day defend their titles versus former champs, The Usos. With a tough act to follow following the Owens-Ambrose crowd-pleaser, the teams held their own with some daring moves of their own. In the end, New Day retained, much to the delight of the capacity crowd.

Alberto Del Rio then defended his United States Championship versus Lucha Dragons star Kalisto. Kalisto upset the champ, winning his first U.S. title.

The women’s division of WWE, bolstered by the women coming out of WWE’s NXT developmental brand, got a good showcase at the Rumble, with Becky Lynch challenging champion Charlotte, the daughter of wrestling legend Ric Flair. With an assist from her dad, Charlotte retained her title.

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Royal Rumble entrants

Roman Reigns (eliminated by Triple H)

Rusev (eliminated by Reigns)

AJ Styles (eliminated by Owens)

Tyler Breeze (eliminated by Reigns, Styles)

Curtis Axel (eliminated by Styles)

Chris Jericho (eliminated by Ambrose)

Kane (eliminated by Strowman)

Goldust (eliminated by O’Neil)

Ryback (eliminated by Big Show)

Kofi Kingston (eliminated by Jericho)

Titus O’Neil (eliminated by Big Show)

R Truth (eliminated by Kane)

Luke Harper (eliminated by Brock Lesnar)

Stardust (eliminated by Harper)

Big Show (eliminated by Strowman)

Neville (eliminated by Harper)

Braun Strowman (eliminated by Lesnar)

Kevin Owens (eliminated by Zayn)

Dean Ambrose (eliminated by Triple H)

Sami Zayn (eliminated by Strowman)

Erick Rowan (eliminated by Lesnar)

Mark Henry (eliminated by Wyatts)

Brock Lesnar (eliminated by Wyatts)

Jack Swagger (eliminated by Lesnar)

Miz (eliminated by Reigns)

Alberto Del Rio (eliminated by Reigns)

Bray Wyatt (eliminated by Sheamus and Triple H)

Dolph Ziggler (eliminated by Triple H)

Sheamus (eliminated by Reigns)

Triple H (Winner)