Published on January 28th, 2013 | by Malcolm Spinedi0
Sports Entertainment Weekly – WWE Royal Rumble Review
Last Sunday the WWE presented arguably their second top PPV, The Royal Rumble. This year’s Royal Rumble not only featured the legendary battle royale that serves as the beginning of the road to Wrestlemania, but the return of The Rock as he took on WWE Champ CM Punk. Those two matches alone made this PPV worth the price of admission. It’s just a shame that the price came with the cost of innovation. While the Rumble had some gems in there, chances are the Royal Rumble will be remembered best as the PPV that the WWE had the chance to swerve and shock us but ultimately decided to be predictable and disappointing. But does that mean Royal Rumble 2013 was bad? Let’s take a look back and find out.
Antonio Caesaro defeated The Miz to Retain the WWE US Title
This month’s “Youtube Exclusive” featured Antonio Caesario defending his US Title against The Miz in a solid opener. Antonio continues to prove why he’s a future star in the business and the Miz, to his credit, was fine. They even had an interesting bit of psychology used here as Miz tweaked his knee (which he was still selling in the Royal Rumble match) that Antonio took advantage of to get the upper hand and eventually defeat the Miz with the Neutralizer. Antonio looks strong by continuing with his lengthy title reign and Miz has an out that keeps him from looking week. Very clever booking.
Considering these two went at it again during the Royal Rumble, I think it’s safe to assume this angle will continue till Jack Swagger makes his big return.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
The show proper began shockingly with the World title match as Alberto Del Rio took on The Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match. The match up here was solid, with Big Show and ADR being very physical. Story of the match had ADR doing everything he could to chop the Big Show down, but couldn’t do it. As the match progressed it was evident who was going to win at the pace they were keeping. Show did everything, even chokeslamming ADR from the Royal Rumble sign through a table on the cement floor. However, Del Rio wouldn’t stay down and got up each time, building him nicely. The end finally came when ADR realized that he has no chance of overpowering show, so he outsmarted him instead. After knocking Show down and locking in the Crossarm Breaker, his personal Ring Announcer Richardo Rodriguez would wrap up Show’s legs in the rope with duct tape, thus preventing him from standing up in time to stop the 10 count. For those of you who are newbies to wrestling, yes this is legal.
Very solid encounter from these two. Will it go down as the greatest match of all time? Probably not, but it was fun and it accomplished everything it needed to accomplish. Alberto Del Rio shakes off that “Main Event Jobber” stigma that he had and looks like a champion. Big Show, even in defeat, still looks strong in the fact he dominated Del Rio and was screwed. I think it’s safe to say a rematch is in the future, or at the very least they will be seeing each other again in the Elimination Chamber. Very solid booking here.
Team Hell No Defeated Team Rhodes Scholars to retain the Tag Team Championship
Up next we had the Tag Team Championship match. It was another shock Team Hell No retained the title. Leading up to this match, it felt like we were coming to the end of Daniel Bryan and Kane team. They even had the graduation from Anger Management segment on Raw that very much felt like an end for the gimmick as I mentioned on the last issue of the WWE recap. However, it was not the case as Hell No went over clean. A little too clean actually, as this match felt like a Smackdown match as opposed to a PPV match. The match was solid and considering the talent in that ring, that’s expected. Sadly, it was a standard face victory and it felt like something that could have been settled on Smackdown.
From what I could tell on the PPV, the WWE is still very high on Kane and Daniel Bryan. The writers seem to love the “odd couple” gimmick they have now as they had a TON to do in PPV. I don’t see the WWE tag belts going anywhere till at Wrestlemania at least. Unless the WWE’s plan is to split the Rhodes Scholars, I see them just continuing to chase for the time being.
John Cena win’s the WWE Royal Rumble of 2013
Let’s get this out there right now. This was a good Royal Rumble.
If there was anyone out there who left last year’s Rumble a little ticked with it being mostly comedy, you’d have left happier with this one. We got quite a few returns with Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio, and Santino Morella (as well as some fun one-time appearances from Goldust and the Godfather) all returning tonight. Oh wait, there was one more guy. Who was it? oh yeah. CHRIS FLIPPING JERICHO! In hands down the biggest shocker of the night, Chris Jericho came back and started the Rumble off with the very man who got him fired from WWE, Dolph Ziggler. A very nice start and both guys did not cease to impress as they both made it to the final six guys. BTW, this is a legit return, as he is back in action. People are already salivating over the idea of more of the Jericho/Ziggler feud, so write it up WWE. On top of that, there are also rumors of of him taking on Ryback, which would solve the problem of “What does the WWE do with Ryback?” Time will tell there.
We also had some very memorable spots in the Rumble. We had the NXT rookie Bo Dallas eliminating IC champion Wade Barrett, which led to Barrett eliminating Bo and then knocking him with the Bull Hammer. We had Kofi pulling off another awesome escape from elimination using an office chair as a pogo stick. We even had a nice Kane and Bryan moment where they eliminated each other. My personal favorite was Cody Rhode’s face when Goldust’s music hit and the two had a sibling rivalry in the ring. Even better, Dolph tries to interfere, they stop and join forces to take him out, and then go back to fighting each other. That right there is a brother vs. brother story told right.
On top of that, everyone had really impressive showings. I’d be hard pressed to think of a WWE Royal Rumble where so many wrestlers lasted on average 20 minutes. So right off, this Royal Rumble’s positives far outweigh this one flaw with it, so it was great. However, that one problem is the winner of the Rumble, John Cena. This is the part we’ve been coming to, while the WWE made a very good ppv, they also wrote a very predictable one. People love the Rumble because it’s one of the only matches in the WWE that still feels unpredictable. I’ve had that joy of not knowing what was going to go down for all of them (save the ones from the Hogan era). However, I didn’t have that this time thanks to the Rock and his “I want the belt” speech after Mania, everyone knew the rematch with the title on the line was coming. The setup for all of it was so obvious that it almost took away from me buying the show. However, the WWE has proven to know that predictability sucks, so we all hoped they’d swerve us. Maybe Ziggler would win? Maybe Ryback would get that push that he really deserves? Heck, even Sheamus again would have been fine. But no, WWE decided to be boring. You could tell the crowd wasn’t happy when it happened. Still cheered but very reserved as if they all thought “Oh really? Okay, I guess so.”
From a business standpoint, this makes sense. The rematch will no doubt get the WWE a lot of money and buys for Wrestlemania. Heck, I’ll even say Cena deserves this match (assuming he’s going over this time), as he’s been on the backburner a lot WWE title-wise. However, this wasn’t the only way to get him there and it would have been infinitely more exciting if they pushed someone else here but what’s done is done. While this gave the Rumble a bad after taste, it was still a fine Royal Rumble.
This does raise questions going forward, especially with Elimination Chamber. Since we have a #1 Contender Rock’s clearly not doing this match, does this mean Smackdown is the only show doing an Elimination Chamber? Time will tell, but as of now Cena is making a bee line straight for the Rock and the WWE title at Mania.
The Rock defeats CM Punk to become the new WWE Champion
Once again, this was another one with a bad after taste for me. Though, I do acknowledge that the good far outweighed the one negative. First of all, to all the Punk fans, this match made him look like a million bucks. Not only did Punk look incredible, but honestly he looked like he would have won if he was 100%. Story of the match, in the beginning, was the more wrestling ready Punk was the more he demolished the Rock until his knee started hindering him, allowing Rock to capitalize. On top of that, Punk kicked out of a Rock Bottom on the floor and lasted a whole minute in Rock’s Sharpshooter. It cannot be stressed enough how much Punk looked like he should be in the ring with the Rock, and this match will go down as a fine mark on his resume. Rock, to his credit, was fine here. Keep in mind, Rock’s a star. He could have told Vince “I’m just going to manhandle him. That okay?” but he didn’t. He realized that Punk looking bad would hurt the WWE, so he did everything he could to make Punk look strong. Plus, he showed up in great shape and delivered a memorable match.
The match was booked fantastically. With Punk’s 434 day reign, he looked strong enough that people questioned if Rock would (or should) take the belt from him. The story was very logical showing the progression of Punk absolutely battering Rock until finally he got offense in thanks to Punk’s bad knee. Rock looks like he’s going to hit the People’s Elbow for the win and then the lights go out. We can’t see anything but Cole is screaming that the Shield is here. Lights go back on, the Rock is unconscious, and had been put through the announcer’s table. Punk rolls him back in and gets an easy three causing the arena explodes in boos. Vince then hits the stage and is about to strip Punk of the WWE title, when Rock stops him and instead asks Vince to restart the match. Punk starts with a vengeance, but eventually is hit with the spinebuster and the People’s Elbow for the win. Awesome story and a great end to Punk’s title reign.
I do admit that this match has that bad after taste I was mentioning in the Rumble. It was very disappointing to see the WWE take such a predictable turn with this PPV, as I thought the original ending would have been more exciting. However, let’s be honest here; the WWE was going to do this eventually, so maybe it’s for the best that they got it over with in one sitting. Now that the predictable part is over with, hopefully the WWE can give us something more exciting.
So what happens now? Well, it’s Cena vs. Rock for the WWE title and there’s no escaping that. There will be a rematch between Rock and Punk, but its only a formality at this point. Rock and Cena will happen again, but the true question here is Punk. What does the future hold for him? A lot of people say it’s Taker at Mania in perhaps the ultimate test of Undertaker’s Undefeated Streak. Maybe Ryback finally gets some revenge and takes out Punk once and for all? It’s hard to tell now, which is very exciting. Regardless of whether he has the title or not, Punk’s future is bright.
The WWE Royal Rumble may unfortunately go down as a PPV haunted by the endings of two matches. This is very unfair, as this was a very solid PPV from top to bottom. The matches leading up to it were great, the Rumble was awesome, and Punk vs. Rock delivered on all fronts. The endings to those last two were disappointing yes, but the journeys to those points are unforgettable. Definitely worth a watch!
Summary: Rock vs. Cena II nonsense aside, this was a truly memorable Royal Rumble.