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Jan 20 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

Digitals | Video Captures

It came down to Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins. One a physical marvel possessing all the tangible traits — power, speed and size — that it takes to make a WWE Superstar. The other an embodiment of all the intangibles that a WrestleMania main-eventer must possess. And as it has so often been over the last two years, the heart won out. Thanks to a grueling final push, Rollins eliminated The Monster Among Men to win the Men’s Royal Rumble Match, charting a course to a World Championship Match at WrestleMania 35.

Size vs. heart wasn’t just the story of the match’s conclusion, however. It was also a common thread throughout the entire wild, over-the-top rope contest. At various points in the match, giants and speedsters mixed it up, with a handful of truly unexpected interactions that showcased the little guy wouldn’t always be as helpless as he seemed. WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne was a surprise draw at No. 18, and he immediately made one of the more remarkable statements of the match, using his excruciating joint manipulation to muscle Drew McIntyre (No. 16; three eliminations) to his knees. Elsewhere, NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano (No. 6) eliminated a former WWE Champion in Jinder Mahal. Black-and-gold hellion Aleister Black (No. 21) sent Dean Ambrose (No. 14) over the top rope with his spinning Black Mass kick. And Cruiserweight-turned–SmackDown LIVE stalwart Mustafa Ali (No. 13) eliminated both his rival Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura, the 2018 Men’s Rumble Match winner who had recaptured the United States Championship earlier in the night.

Even Rollins himself ended up on the wrong side of a confrontation with a goliath. After he instantly eliminated Bobby Lashley (No. 26), The All-Mighty plunged Rollins through a table, where he lay unmoving for several minutes while chaos raged around him. Strowman (No. 27) largely picked up the pace in Rollins’ absence by racking up four eliminations, though even he was waylaid outside the ring for a stretch, where the night’s strangest entrant reared her (yes, her) head.

That would be Nia Jax, who bushwhacked No. 30 entrant R-Truth from behind to steal his berth after a disappointing exit from the Women’s Royal Rumble Match. Only the fourth woman to compete in a Men’s Rumble Match, The Irresistible Force didn’t hesitate to mix it up with her male contemporaries, eliminating Mustafa Ali and largely holding her own until a concentrated effort from Randy Orton (No. 29), Rey Mysterio (No. 25) and Dolph Ziggler (No. 28) finally sent her packing. (For what it’s worth, a close second in terms of bizarre interactions was the duet-turned-brawl between Elias and Jeff Jarrett at Nos. 1 and 2.)

Jax’s exit opened the door for Strowman to return, and The Monster Among Men quickly thinned the field by eliminating Ziggler and rising star Andrade (No. 19), who eliminated Orton in his own right. It was down to just Strowman and Rollins, and it quickly became clear the latter, who was still reeling from Lashley’s table attack, was staring down an uphill battle.

The Monster Among Men manhandled his opponent until Rollins finally managed to muscle him over the top rope and onto the apron for the climactic slugfest. Thanks to some deft maneuvering and a well-placed superkick, Rollins got Strowman to his knees, and a final Stomp brought Strowman’s forehead to the apron and his feet to the floor.

Rollins made a point on Monday to discuss how his passion and his heart had carried him through the wild ups and downs of the past two years. He said, in effect, it would always keep him going. It didn’t fail him now: Seth Rollins went the distance, and now there’s just one thing left to do.

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