Roman Reigns successfully defended his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Kevin Owens on Saturday night at the 2023 Royal Rumble event. Reigns won in brutal, dominant fashion, hitting Owens with multiple spears and smashing the back of his head on the steel ring steps. The big story surrounding the match was Sam Zayn's loyalties, as he was ordered to stand at ringside and support Reigns. "The Tribal Chief" initially ordered Zayn to do nothing while at ringside, but when the referee got knocked out he ordered Sami to get a chair from ringside.
Zayn initially hesitated, then looked on in horror as Reigns continued to beat KO down. Once the match was ordered, Reigns called for the rest of The Bloodline to attack while draping his arm over Zayn's shoulder. The Usos hit a 1-D, then wrapped a chair around Owens' head and let Solo Sikoa bash his skull with a running hip attack in the corner. They then handcuffed a helps Owens to the top rope and repeatedly superkicked him in the face.
Reigns stepped up to deliver the finishing blow with a steel chair, causing Zayn to finally intervene. He tried to talk Roman down, saying this was "beneath him," prompting Reigns to hand the chair to Sami. After Reigns provoked him over and over, Zayn finally made his choice and cracked Reigns across the back with the chair. Sikoa and Jimmy Uso then began attacking Sami while Jey looked on. Jey tearfully rolled out of the ring and walked away, leaving the rest of The Bloodline behind
Zayn addressed the concern regarding fans possibly resisting anyone but him challenging Reigns for the world championship at WrestleMania 39, similar to the situation the company faced when Daniel Bryan was originally not booked for the WrestleMania XXX main event, in an interview with Ariel Helwani earlier this week. He felt that wouldn't be a concern as long as the story made sense. WWE made sure to establish during the pre-show that Zayn wouldn't be in the Men's Rumble under the orders or Reigns, who demanded Zayn be by his side for the entire night.
"I don't know that in the fan's mind, maybe me and you are looking at it at a certain point or a certain way because we're both kind of like diehards, you know? But I think there are a lot of casual fans that are kind of along for the ride. I don't think the fans are kind of where they were five or six years ago where they would kind of revolt. Like 'nom, Daniel Bryan's the guy! You're trying to give us Batista, Noooo! We'll force you, We'll force you! Noooo! I don't feel that level of, like borderline contempt from the audience to like the creative direction," Zayn said. "I feel because the story's been so interesting there's a little bit of trust in that it will go where it goes and it'll still be fine."
WWE Royal Rumble 2023 Results
- Men's Royal Rumble: Cody Rhodes wins as the No. 30 entrant
- Bray Wyatt def. LA Knight (Pitch Black Match)
- Raw Women's Championship: Bianca Belair def. Alexa Bliss
- Women's Royal Rumble: Rhea Ripley wins as the No. 1 entrant
- Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns def. Kevin Owens