The Royal Rumble is one of the most highly anticipated pay-per-views for, you guessed it, the Royal Rumble match. There’s something about the Rumble that makes it so appealing – the unpredictability, the thrill of finding out who comes out next, the returning legends and all the possible encounters we never get to see during the rest of the year.

Related: 5 Surprise Entrants Who Must Enter The 2017 Royal Rumble Match

However, despite the Rumble match being the main attraction, the Royal Rumble pay-per-view has also featured some interesting title matches over the years. Royal Rumble is the first stop on the Road to WrestleMania, and the event has often been used to set up big title matches for the show of shows. This year’s Royal Rumble will see AJ Styles defend his WWE Championship against John Cena, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that the challenger could very well walk out with the gold. Here are five times the WWE championship changed hands at the Rumble.


#5 – Triple H Wins The 2016 Royal Rumble

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When Roman Reigns took his frustration out on Triple H following his loss to Sheamus at TLC in 2015, the WWE COO wasn’t going to forget. And so, when the 2016 Royal Rumble match became a WWE Championship match, Triple H decided to join the match at number 30. The Game got his revenge on Roman by eliminating Reigns and winning his 14th WWE Championship to a positive reaction from the crowd.

Unfortunately for Triple H, it was Roman Reigns who got the last laugh in their rivalry. Roman went on to challenge Triple H for the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 32, and on April 3, 2016, it was Roman Reigns who walked out with the gold.


#4 – The Rock vs. CM Punk – Royal Rumble 2013

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The Rock had spent eight years away from WWE, but after he returned and defeated John Cena at WrestleMania 28, he set his sights on the WWE Championship. During the 1000th episode of Raw in July of 2012, The Rock appeared and announced that he would be challenging the WWE Champion for their title at the 2013 Royal Rumble.

CM Punk was the WWE Champion when The Rock made his announcement, and he was still in possession of the title going into the 2013 Royal Rumble. When The Rock and CM Punk clashed at the Royal Rumble in 2013, Punk did everything he could to hold onto the gold, and he even had a little help from The Shield. But it just wasn’t enough as The Rock ended CM Punk’s historic 434 day WWE Championship reign when he pinned him after hitting the People’s Elbow.

The Rock went on to defend the WWE Championship against John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania 29, while CM Punk went on to face off against The Undertaker in a match that some fans feel should have been the main event.


#3 – Edge vs. Jeff Hardy – Royal Rumble 2009


Jeff Hardy’s WWE Championship win at Armageddon was one of the most memorable WWE moments of 2008, but unfortunately for Jeff his title reign didn’t last long. Jeff went on to defend his WWE Championship against Edge in his first pay-per-view title defense at the Royal Rumble, and the Rated R Superstar put an end to Jeff’s reign.

Jeff defended a belt in a no disqualification match which saw Chavo and Vickie Guerrero interfere, but it was someone who fans believed to be interfering on Jeff’s behalf that cost him the belt. With the odds stacked against Jeff Hardy, his brother Matt made his way down to the ring, and just when it appeared that he was going to hit Edge with a steel chair, he turned on his own brother, and hit Jeff instead, costing him the match and the title.

Edge went on to drop the belt during an Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out in 2009, but he then won the World Heavyweight Championship after he inserted himself into another Elimination Chamber match which took place on the same show. He held onto the belt and defended it at WrestleMania 25 where he dropped it to John Cena in a triple threat match which also included Big Show.


#2 – John Cena vs. Edge – Royal Rumble 2006


John Cena won his first WWE Championship when he defeated JBL at WrestleMania 21, but he went on to lose the belt to the first ever Money in the Bank winner when Edge cashed in his contract at New Year’s Revolution in 2006.

Edge got the best of Cena when he challenged him for the WWE Championship after John had just defended the belt in a brutal Elimination Chamber match. Edge’s first WWE Championship win was a big moment for him, but John Cena proved to be the better man when the two stars clashed again a few weeks later.

John Cena got his rematch for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble in 2006, and he made Edge tap out to regain the belt. John Cena carried to belt to the main event of WrestleMania 22 and he retained after Triple H tapped out in front of a vocal Chicago crowd.


#1 – Shawn Michaels vs. Sycho Sid – Royal Rumble 1997


Shawn Michaels pulled out all the stops when he challenged Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble in 1997, and he almost secured a victory by hitting Sid in the head with a television camera. Fortunately for Sid, the referee was out when Shawn went for the pin, and by the time the ref recovered to count it, he had already mustered up enough energy to kick out.

However, Sid wasn’t so lucky when Shawn Michaels followed up with Sweet Chin Music to put Sid away and win his second WWE Championship. Michaels would go on the vacate the title a few weeks after he told fans that he “lost his smile.”


These are just a few of the times that titles have changed hands at the Royal Rumble, and they’re a nice reminder that anything can happen in the WWE. Do you think we will see titles change hands at the Royal Rumble on January 29th? Sound off in the comments below.