Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens had their Universal Championship match booked for the Royal Rumble. The two men engaged in a Last Man Standing match which involved forklifts, golf carts, and handcuffs…

    When two superstars have been engaged in a feud that becomes intensely personal it usually becomes time to set up a gimmick match between the two. One of the go to’s over the years for the WWE when a feud gets to this point is the Last Man Standing match.

    The Last Man Standing match is a contest where one must incapacitate your opponent to the point that they can no longer answer the referee’s 10-count.  It takes quite a bit of offense to put someone down for that long so using it to blow off a long-lasting feud it’s a natural step.

    Since the goal of the match is to incapacitate your opponent that badly there is a good chance that the contest will go on for some time. If there are not the right two workers in the match it can lead to a very slow, lumbering affair that does little to excite any fan watching.

    Luckily there are various examples out there of a perfect storm of work rate and storytelling. Below we will take a look at some of the best Last Man Standing Matches in WWE history.

    John Cena v Umaga ( WWE Championship) Royal Rumble 2007

    John Cena vs. Umaga: Royal Rumble 2007 - WWE Championship Last Man Standing  Match | WWE

    Umaga had debuted the night after Wrestlemania 22 and since that night he had run through anyone put in front of him. He carried an undefeated streak through the new year and used it to get a shot at Johne Cena and the WWE Championship at New Years Revolution. Cena beat Umaga with a roll-up that night, which got a huge eye roll from me, to break the Samoan Bulldozer’s streak and retain the title.

    Naturally, this cheap win by Cena was not met with a great response from just about anyone so a rematch was booked for the Royal Rumble. Since the Coach was the on-screen authority figure at the time Umaga’s manager was given the choice of which stipulation to put on their WWE title match. Estrada decided that a Last Man Standing Match would be to Umaga’s advantage and it was signed a delivered for the Royal Rumble.

    The match started slow, as will be the theme with most Last Man Standing matches, with Umaga working over an injured mid-section of the champ. We were right in the middle of Super Cena at the time so it makes sense that Umaga would take control of the contest.

    Once the inevitable Cena beat down finished the match the two men kicked the match into high gear. It was a brutal contest from there on out with Cena doing a very good blade job and donning the crimson mask.

    Following Cena getting busted open the two wrestlers got very creative with using various weapons around the ringside area. A particular bright spot came at the end of the match when Cena used a loose top tope to strangle Umaga in the STF. Umaga’s sold it perfectly, he legit looked like he was choking, and it helped to sell the brutality of the match.

    It was a shame that Umaga wasn’t given a run with the title following this match because he was made to look like an absolute beast. Instead, we got to deal with Super Cena for a few more months.

    Triple H v Ric Flair ( Surivor Series 2005)

    Every WWE Last Man Standing Match Ranked - From Worst To Best – Page 26

    Triple H and Flair had been joined at the hip since 2002, establishing Evolution and helping to elevate the career of both Randy Orton and Batista. Fast forward to 2005 when, after being on the shelve for three months, Triple H returned to action on Raw Homecoming where he and Flair partnered up to take on Chris Masters and Carlito. Triple H got the win for his team and while he and Flair were celebrating in the ring the Cerebral Assassin turned on his long-time friend dropping him in the ring with a sledgehammer.

    This was a bit of shock to the viewers at home as no one could have imagined that Trips would turn on his long time friend. It sparked a feud between the two that started with a really good cage match at Taboo Tuesday that saw Flair prevail. Not one to go down without a fight Triple H demanded that another match be made for the Survivor Series, a Last Man Standing match.

    Flair was very much past his prime as a performer so the Last Man Standing match was a perfect vehicle in which to hide his shortcomings. 

    The match began with brawling around the ringside area which is typical of most of these matches. What did stand out was when Triple H took out a screwdriver and began jabbing it into the head of the Nature Boy. Flair got busted open huge after this, I know big surprise that Flair got busted open, and would wear a good amount of blood on his face for the remainder of the match.  It was a very cool spot and was creative, the screwdriver had not been a weapon used much in the WWE and it was great to see them use a new weapon.

    For the remainder of the match, Triple H was pretty much in control but this help to play to the story being told. When Triple H turned on Flair his reasoning was that Flair was past his prime and he ‘needed to be put down’. This played perfectly into their Survivor Series match as Flair refused to stay down even though Triple H had the upper hand. It helped to create a large amount of sympathy for Flair and helped to push this match over the top.

    The result of the match was never in doubt but Triple H and Flair told an amazing story in the ring that makes this match a much watch for any wrestling fan.

    Chris Jericho v Triple H (Fully Loaded 2000)

    Remember When: Chris Jericho vs Triple H – Fully Loaded 2000 – Bumps Not  Included

    The history between these two men is well documented over the years. In this particular instance, Jericho was up to his usual tricks of making fun of everything Stephanie McMahon. She and Jericho had gone back and forth for a few weeks before Jericho interjected himself into a match involving Triple H costing him the match.

    This interference on the part of Jericho drew the ire of Triple H and the Game demanded that Commissioner Mick Foley put them in a match at Fully Loaded.  After a few weeks of DX getting the best of Jericho, Y2J approached Foley with the request of making their match a Last Man Standing match.

    One of the things that stood out the most for this match was that for the first half of the match the action took place solely within the ring. Last Man Standing matches usually resort to weapons or ringside brawling very quickly into the contest but Triple H and Jericho decided to go in a different direction.  The two men kept the wrestling inside the ring and it helped to set this match apart. It helped to showcase just how talented these men were in that they did not need weapons to try and put the other down for a 10-count. Of course, the action did make its way to the ringside area but the preamble inside the ring set the stage for the brutality later.

    Once the action hit outside the ring we got some great spots. In particular, the double television monitor shot was great and one that hasn’t been replicated since. It was awesome to see Trips and Jericho get creative outside the ring.

    This was also a star-making performance for Jericho. While he had debuted in the company the previous year he had yet to get himself over the top. With Triple H targeting his injured ribs and Jericho refusing to stay down a level of sympathy was created that got the fans behind Y2J. The crowd kept rallying the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla and you could feel by the end of this match that Jericho was a made man.

    Kevin Owens v Dean Ambrose (Intercontinental Championship) Royal Rumble 2016

    Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens - Intercontinental Title Last Man Standing  Match: Royal Rumble 2016 (Full match - WWE Network Exclusive) | WWE

    At the previous years’ Survivor Series Ambrose and Owens met in the semi-finals of the WWE Championship tournament.  It was a decent match but it helped to lay the groundwork for what became one of the best feuds in the company over a few months.

    After their encounter at the Survivor Series Ambrose and Owens met at TLC for Owens Intercontinental Championship, with Ambrose scoring the victory and taking the championship home. Owens did not take too kindly to being beaten by Ambrose and in the following weeks, the rivalry between the two men became very heated.

    The two men met again with the championship on the line but this contest ended in a double count-out which cause Owens to challenge Ambrose to end it once and for all, in a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble.

    Some had an issue with this match opening the pay-per-view but within seconds of the opening bell, that issue was dashed. These two men tore into each other quickly and often. As was stated in the introduction Last Man Standing matches can be slow affairs because of the nature of the rules but that was not the case with this one. Owens and Ambrose plowed through spot after spot as quickly as they could and it kept the fans on the edge of their seat the entire time. It was awesome.

    Another great part of this match was the trash talk that happened between the two. Both are great talkers on the mic and they brought this talent into the ring. At several points during the contest, you could hear Owens screaming that he hated Ambrose only for Ambrose to yell back that he hated him more. It is a small detail in the match but one that helps to add that extra little something.

    Their IC title contest also had one of the best knockout moves in the history of the Last Man Standing match. Ambrose pushing Owens off the top rope to the outside through two tables was an awe-inspiring move that was a great finish to an amazing match.

    Roman Reigns v The Big Show (Extreme Rules 2015)

    Since Seth Rollins turned his back on his Shield teammates the year prior and aligned himself with the Authority Roman Reigns has been a thorn in the side of the people in charge of the WWE. At the Royal Rumble, in 2015, Reigns had to plow through Authority cronies, the Big Show and Kane, on route to his victory.

    Ever since his Royal Rumble triumph Reigns was constantly having to deal with the Big Show and Kane interfering in any match that he was in. After Reigns unsuccessful title opportunity the Big Show spent the majority of April attacking Reigns, even choke slamming him on a taxi cab roof during an episode of Raw. This onslaught from the Big Show pushed Reigns over the edge and led to them squaring off in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules.

    The match between the two men could be one of the hardest hitting matches in the history of the company. The Big Show had his limitations in the ring so they had to work around that by having Reigns and Show nail each other with high impact move after high impact move. It was a great example of how a simple story could be told effectively.

    The use of weapons during the match was also done very well. The Big Show is after all a giant so it was going to take quite a bit to put the man down. Reigns threw tables, kendo sticks, and chairs at the Big Show for the duration of the match and it was a great way to work weapons into the match.

    It should also be mentioned that this match took place right in the middle of the world hating on Roman Reigns. The crowd was mixed, to say the least, on Roman during the match which is a shame because Show did everything he could to make Reigns a sympathetic character. The Big Show beat Roman down with everything he had only for Reigns to continue to answer the 10-count. It would have been great to have the fans get behind Roman during this but the hatred still ran too deep with the Chicago crowd.