John Cena, Vince McMahon, Batista: The Royal Rumble ending that went disastrously wrong

  • Ash Rose
Royal Rumble 2005

No Royal Rumble ending is more infamous than the closing stages of the 2005 event.

John Cena and Batista were riding high at top of the main event scene in WWE and the rumble match came down to a straight shoot-out between the company’s two biggest Superstars. The planned finish was The Animal to go over and head to a WrestleMania date with Triple H, but as Cena counted a Batista Bomb with a headscissors takedown, both men went over the top rope and landed on the floor at exactly the same time – with no angle able to determine a victor. 

Unlike the classic finish to the 1994 Royal Rumble that saw Lex Luger and Bret Hart co-winners of the event, this double elimination wasn’t booked to happen, and referees had to work on the fly to sell the moment to the fans. However, things were about to go from difficult to the downright surreal.

Vince McMahon came racing to the ring to resolve the confusion, however on his way, the Chairman caught his knees on the apron and tore BOTH his quadricep muscles in his legs. Unable stand, McMahon sat on the canvas working out an alternative ending and then comically barked orders for the match to restart. When it did, Batista promptly eliminated Cena from the match to finally be declared the winner.

The finish has gone down in Royal Rumble folklore and is described as the biggest ‘botch’ in the event’s history. Jim Ross, who was on commentary for the moment, has described the mood backstage following the match on an episode of his Grilling JR podcast.

“I walked through the curtain, unaware that he had torn the other one. We did our hype going off the air, and ‘WrestleMania, Batista, The Animal, blah blah blah,’ and all that stuff. Trying to sell and create awareness as always. So, I don’t have any clue, you know. Everything seemed to be okay, other than I didn’t know what was wrong with Vince to be sure. But we got the finish in, we got our business done. We got the guy’s hand raised that we wanted their hand raised. I walk through the curtain on the way through the Gorilla area, and there Vince is sitting on the f**king floor.
“And somebody said, ‘He tore the other one.’ I said, ‘WHAT?!?’ ‘Yeah, he tore the other one.’ So I go over to him, and he says, ‘God dammit JR, don’t say nothing!’ I was giving him a little empathy. He said, ‘Just take care of the goddamn boys.’ ‘All right, you got it, chief.’ ‘And get everybody out of here!’ So everybody got away from him expect family. It was a traumatic, stressful — I’m sure his goddamn anxiety level was up [through] the roof. Why wouldn’t it be? So it was a hell of an experience.”

Despite the unexpected bump in the road, Batista would go on to defeat Triple H at WrestleMania 21 to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.

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