The 26th Royal Rumble event felt bigger than usual thanks to one man, The Rock. While The Rock wrestled in the main event of WrestleMania 28 one year earlier and tagged with John Cena at Survivor Series 2011, Royal Rumble 2013 was the first time The Rock was in a WWE Title match since he lost the title to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2002. The Rock’s impact was pretty big because it was the highest number of PPV buys (579,000) for a Royal Rumble event since 2003. Facing The Rock on this show was CM Punk, who had been WWE Champion for over 400 days at this point. Most of us knew what the outcome was going to be, but we had to see it to believe it.
As for the Royal Rumble match itself, the outcome may have been the most predictable Rumble match in WWE history, even more predictable than Steve Austin in 1998. The Rock’s match with John Cena at WrestleMania 28 was billed at “Once in a Lifetime” even though WWE was planning on doing it the following year. We just didn’t know it before WrestleMania 28. We knew it in July 2012 when The Rock was on Raw 1000 when he announced he’s getting a WWE Title shot at the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble. That set the wheels in motion for the Rock/Cena rematch at WrestleMania 29 in New York/New Jersey except this time it would be a WWE Title match.
This review was originally written on the night it happened in 2013. I did touch up the Rumble match since this was written. I am adding some 2021 thoughts in blue font because there’s always more to say.
This was written live when it happened. For the Royal Rumble match, I inserted my review that’s written in the Royal Rumble review archives.
WWE Royal Rumble
US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona
January 27, 2013
Here’s the pre-show match. The announcers calling the pre-show match are Tony Dawson and Matt Striker.
United States Championship: Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz
(Pre-match notes: Cesaro was the heel champion while Miz was a face that was being mentored by Ric Flair to try to get people to cheer for Miz. I think Miz was always better as a heel.)
The match started at 7:45pmET, so most of the crowd was seated by the time the match started. Cesaro hit a nice tilt-a-whirl backbreaker after catching Miz in the air. Nice spot. Cesaro hit a good sit out slam for a two count. Cesaro hit more power moves like a gutwrench suplex and backbreaker for two counts. Miz made his comeback with the neckbreaker/backbreaker combo as Dawson yelled “what a move!” Then they started throwing punches so Dawson yelled “what a battle” and then after a Miz clothesline, Dawson said” “what a maneuver.” Miz jumped off the top rope with a double axehandle, but he caught his knee on the mat. He was favoring his knee. Miz was able to keep the match going and he hit Cesaro in the face with a kick. The replay showed Miz landed really hard onto his right leg in an awkward way. Cesaro was on the floor, Miz went after him and Cesaro threw him head first into the side of the ring where there was steel. The ref didn’t see that aspect of the move. Cesaro rolled Miz into the ring and got the win at 7:37.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro
Analysis: ** That was a decent match for the pre-show. It went as I expected with Cesaro getting a clean win. I thought maybe if they wanted to continue the feud they would have Cesaro keep the title after a DQ, but I’m certainly fine with a clean victory. My other comment is Tony Dawson has a long way to go as an announcer. At least he’s following the WWE protocol of not calling moves by name, though.
(I don’t have much to add here except that it was hard to remember Cesaro with a first name. He has been without “Antonio” for so long now that I have gotten used to just the Cesaro name.)
They aired the video that hyped up the CM Punk match against The Rock for the WWE Title. The video included what happened on Raw when The Shield attacked The Rock.
ROYAL RUMBLE MAIN CARD
The opening video covered the Royal Rumble match as well as CM Punk’s WWE Championship reign. When it mentioned The Rock it said that finally the people had their champion back after ten years. The video was outstanding as usual.
There was a pyro display as they showed the fans in the arena with their signs. Michael Cole welcomed us to the show. He was joined on commentary by John Bradshaw Layfield and Jerry Lawler.
They’re starting with the World Title match. I didn’t expect this first, but no complaints from me. Before the match they aired a clip of when Del Rio beat Big Show for the World Title three weeks ago in a Last Man Standing match. It also showed what happened on Friday when Big Show knocked out Del Rio to end Smackdown. Show entered the ring first.
We saw Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez backstage before the match. Bret Hart was there. Crowd gave Bret a big pop. Hart said Del Rio reminded him of a Mexican Bret Hart. Del Rio said he reminded him of a Canadian Alberto Del Rio. Ricardo told Bret he was a huge fan of his. Bret put Hitman shades on Ricardo. That was fun. Ricardo kept the shades on when he introduced Del Rio to the crowd. Big ovation from the crowd.
World Heavyweight Championship Last Man Standing Match: Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Big Show
(Pre-match notes: Del Rio was the babyface World Heavyweight Champion while Big Show was the heel that was the former champion. Del Rio won the title three weeks earlier on Smackdown.)
The rules are no pinfalls, no submission, no DQs or no countouts. You win the match by knocking your opponent down and keeping him down for a ten count. Show hit a clothesline followed by a body slam. Del Rio jumped off the second rope with an attack, but then Show knocked him down with a big chop to the chest. Del Rio slowed the big guy down with a dropkick to the knee. Loud “si” chants from the crowd as Del Rio got some more hard kicks in. Del Rio countered a powerbomb with a hurricanrana – that was awkward but it worked. To the top rope, Del Rio hit a seated senton off the top. Now that he’s a babyface he’s bringing out some more fast paced offense. Show countered the Cross Armbreaker attempt with a one armed suplex. Show made his way outside the ring to grab a steel chair. He really took his time. Del Rio dropkicked Show before he could use the chair. Del Rio hit Big Show in the back with the chair followed by rib shots as the crowd chanted “si” during all of it. That’s fun. Big Show recovered and hit a Chokeslam on Del Rio near the ropes. Del Rio got up at the count of nine. Then Del Rio rolled out to the floor. Show met him on the floor where he delivered a weak body slam outside the ring.
Del Rio hit Show with a low blow. Show sold it by just standing there in pain for about three seconds. That was comical. Del Rio hit a kick to the head to knock Show down. Show got up at nine. Show whipped Del Rio into a part of the Royal Rumble set near the entrance. Show missed a kick. Show smacked Del Rio with what Cole called a fluorescent lightbulb, but I’m not sure that’s what it was. It looked like a piece of wood more than anything. Anyway, Big Show set up a table that was nearby. The crowd chanted “table” in support. Show climbed up that set area, picked up Del Rio and they were over the table. Show threw Del Rio off the set and Del Rio went through the table below. I would say that it was about the height from the top rope to the ring. Del Rio staggered to his feet at the count of nine and then he fell right down. That was an excellent false finish.
The battle went back into the ring with Big Show still in control. Show wanted the KO Punch, but Del Rio outside the ring the ring to the floor. Show picked up the steel steps. Del Rio dodged an attack and then Rodriguez hit Show in the back. Show tossed Rodriguez into the security wall at ringside. Show charged at Del Rio, who moved out of the way and Show went crashing into the security wall. Show got up at the count of nine. Del Rio grabbed a steel chair and hit Show in the back with it several times. Del Rio draped Show’s arm across the steps and then Del Rio used the chair to hit Show in the left arm. Del Rio doused Show with a fire extinguisher. In the ring, Del Rio applied the Cross Armbreaker on the left arm of Show. While that happened, Rodriguez applied duct tape to the feet of Big Show and essentially tied him to the bottom rope. JBL complained about how unfair that was. Show couldn’t get up. The ref Scott Armstrong counted to ten and the crowd joined in with some of them chanting in Spanish as well. The match went 16:57.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: ***1/2 I enjoyed that match. Very well done. Show was in control for a lot of it, Del Rio did an awesome job of fighting back and the crowd was behind him for all of it. That was a lot of fun for the opener. The finish was not that new since we saw John Cena use it on Batista a couple of years ago, but I guess it’s been three years since then. I’m sure some fans are going to remember it and groan. I don’t mind it too much.
(I remember the Smackdown match they had was very good as well. Del Rio’s run in WWE was mostly as a heel, but at least with this feud against Big Show, Del Rio was able to put on some good matches. The finish of this match was creative and also cheap since the babyface Del Rio got help from Rodriguez in order to win the match.)
Backstage, Matt Striker talked to Mr. Money in the Bank Dolph Ziggler, AJ Lee & Big E Langston. Ziggler said he’s choosing the #1 spot because that’s exactly what he is. Striker reminded him that only two Superstars have ever won from the #1 spot. AJ got mad at the questions, so she asked Matt how far he can run in five seconds. Big E grabbed the microphone as Striker left. Big E used a fake reporter voice to ask Dolph what his plans are after he wins the Royal Rumble. Ziggler said after he wins, he’s going to cash in his briefcase and then win the WWE Title at WrestleMania. Then he’s going to unify the two titles on the biggest stage of them all.
Analysis: Good promo from that heel trio. Ziggler has a lot of confidence heading into the match, so it will be interesting to see what happens later.
They aired some pre-match Royal Rumble promos from different superstars including Antonio Cesaro, Primetime Players (they said “millions of dollars” a lot), Randy Orton who said he needs the win, John Cena who said at the end of the night we’ll realize the champ is here and Wade Barrett said for the first time ever the IC Champ will win the Royal Rumble. Sheamus said he thinks he’s going to win because of the Brogue Kick and that tonight is the night to fight. Ryback said every 90 seconds a new superstar will come in, so he says “feed me more” whenever there’s another superstar.
Analysis: That was a nice medley of promos. Why can’t they air something like that on Raw or Smackdown? It would have been good.
(The Royal Rumble promo medley should happen every year! No question about it.)
WWE Tag Team Championships: Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes)
(Pre-match notes: Team Hell No were the faces while Team Rhodes Scholars were the heels. Team Hell No were champions for about four months going into this match.)
The challengers came out first. The champs came out second to Kane’s music. I miss Bryan’s music.
Bryan started with Rhodes, so Bryan applied the surfboard submission in his corner. The crowd applauded the move. Kane hit a running dropkick. There were a lot of quick exchanges and then Bryan hit a series of kicks on Sandow as the crowd chanted “yes” during that sequence. The announcers were arguing about Dr. Shelby with JBL saying that the hugging on Raw was stupid. Bryan hit a running dive outside the ring as the announcers called him The Flying Goat. The heels used a double team behind the ref’s back to isolate on Bryan outside the ring. Rhodes applied a half Boston Crab on Bryan. Sandow tagged in to hit the Elbow of Disdain on Bryan. Bryan finally got some offense in by hitting a dropkick on Rhodes. The challengers were able to prevent Bryan from making the tag. Bryan nearly got a tag, but Rhodes prevented that so Bryan come back with a spike DDT onto Rhodes. Kane got the hot tag while Sandow also tagged in. Kane hit clotheslines in the corner followed by a sidewalk slam for two. Kane missed his top rope clothesline because Sandow moved. Why don’t more people move to avoid that clothesline? It must be the intelligence of Sandow. Sandow hit a neckbreaker. Team Rhodes Scholars hit a double suplex on Kane, but Bryan made a blind tag. Bryan with a missile dropkick on Sandow. Kane hit a Chokeslam on Rhodes. Bryan applied the No Lock on Sandow. He tapped out at 9:25. Big pop from the crowd for the win.
Winners: Kane & Daniel Bryan
Analysis: **3/4 It was pretty good and the crowd was into it from start to finish. It was your basic tag match featuring four guys that know what they’re doing in that kind of setting. We’ve seen these teams wrestle a lot of times over the last few months and I figured there would be a title change. That didn’t happen. Perhaps they’re going to have Kane & Bryan drop the titles to Primetime Players or The Shield in the near future. We’ll see about that.
(I thought a title change might happen to try to build up Cody and Sandow more since I don’t think the champs needed a longer title reign. My intuition was right because The Shield were next Tag Team Champions. It was in May 2013 when that title change happened.)
There was a commercial for Elimination Chamber in New Orleans on February 17th and yes, The Rock was featured on it.
They aired the Royal Rumble “By The Numbers” stats video.
Backstage, Kane & Daniel Bryan said they were still the Tag Team Champions. Vickie Guerrero showed up. She handed them their entry numbers into the Royal Rumble match. Bryan showed Kane his number. Bryan wanted Kane to show him his number. Bryan: “I show you mine. You show me yours.” Kane: “Trust me you would feel very inadequate.” There’s your requisite dick joke. Bryan said he would see him out there. Kane said that was “highly” unlikely, which would suggest Kane has a high number.
There were clips of the Royal Rumble fan fest from the weekend. It showed when Bo Dallas won the NXT tournament to get a spot in the Royal Rumble. There were clips of the “shooting straight” talks featuring the Survivor Series 1997 discussion and the Degeneration X discussion. There was also a WCW discussion on Sunday. We also got clips of some WWE superstars speaking at some “Be A Star” events.
The 30 Man Royal Rumble Match
Ring announcer Justin Roberts explained the rules. Dolph Ziggler was the #1 entrant. He had AJ Lee & Big E Langston. He got a sloppy kiss from AJ as he entered. They went to the back. Ziggler said he was all alone in the spotlight exactly where he belonged. He said when this Royal Rumble match ends it’s going to be the same with him standing in the ring by himself as the winner of the Royal Rumble match. If you’re wondering there is a WrestleMania logo in the building. Ziggler said he didn’t care who the #2 entrant was.
Break down the walls! Chris Jericho! The lights went out and the crowd went crazy as Chris Jericho entered the match as the #2 participant. I did not see that coming. There’s some continuity here since Ziggler beat Jericho to send him out of WWE back in September. Ziggler nearly eliminated Jericho, but Chris landed on the apron and hit a chop off the top rope. Jericho’s got a tattoo on his left arm, which is new since we last saw him. The crowd chanted “you still got it” at Jericho. Jericho said “I never lost it baby!” Jericho hit a superplex. The #3 entrant is Cody Rhodes and Jericho meets him with punches. Ziggler got to his feet, so the two heels worked together to attack Jericho. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho on Rhodes and he applied it to a thunderous ovation. Ziggler attacked Jericho from behind to break it up. The #4 man is Kofi Kingston with a lot of energy. He went right after Rhodes and then Ziggler avoided the Trouble in Paradise by Kingston. Ziggler nearly got eliminated by Kingston again. Lots of attempts for elimination, but everybody was able to hang on. Santino is #5. Cole immediately mentioned that Santino finished second two years ago. He nearly eliminated all four guys. Then they all faced him. Jericho chopped him and then Ziggler gave Santino a superkick. Rhodes threw Santino over the top to eliminate him.
The #6 spot belongs to Drew McIntyre of 3MB. We’ve got five guys in the ring as they all tried to eliminate people, but nobody was getting tossed. Nice dropkick by Ziggler on Jericho. Ziggler nearly eliminated Jericho, but Chris did a wonderful job of dangling his feet near the floor and his feet did not touch the floor. In at #7 is Titus O’Neil. He hit a double clothesline on Kingston & Rhodes at the same time. O’Neil hit a backbreaker on Kingston. Jericho hit a dropkick off the middle rope to eliminate McIntyre. Loud “Y2J” chant for Jericho. The #8 man is…Goldust. Nice surprise there. He went right after his brother Cody. They each did their low uppercut punch spot. The crowd was really behind Goldust as they started a “Goldust” chant for him. The #9 spot belongs to David Otunga as we have seven guys in the ring right now. Goldust and Cody were working together for a bit. The crowd liked that. Then Cody nearly eliminated Goldust. Not a lot went on there as we waited on #10 and that ended up being Heath Slater. There were some more near eliminations of Ziggler, but he kept hanging on.
It’s Sheamus at #11 to a big ovation. He’s the one I picked to have the most eliminations. He hit a lot of his signature spots on a bunch of guys. He did his clubbing forearm blow spot to O’Neil and threw Otunga into him to get rid of O’Neil. Then he did the forearm blows to Otunga and gave him a Brogue Kick to knock him out. Tensai is the #12 man as the crowd started an “Albert” chant for him. Cole mentioned that this was his sixth Rumble and at least we have the fans to tell us what his name was back in the day. Ziggler missed a splash in the corner and took a bump over the top, but he was able to stay on the apron to avoid an elimination. The #13 man is Brodus Clay. He danced with the Funkadactyls by the entrance and then he finally got into the ring after about 20 seconds. Clay went after Jericho early on. Cody challenged his brother so Goldust gave him a backdrop, but Rhodes held on. Cody threw Goldust into the steel post and that eliminated him. It’s Rey Mysterio at #14. He hit the 619 on Ziggler and then to Jericho. He hit his splash off the top onto Jericho as Cole pointed out that Ziggler & Jericho have lasted over 20 minutes. It’s Darren Young at #15. When he got in there everybody worked together to dump Brodus Clay over the top to the floor. Kingston gave Tensai a headscissors to the floor. Kingston was on the apron, so Ziggler kicked him. Kingston landed on Tensai’s back. Tensai attacked him, but Kingston was able to get onto the Spanish table and he wasn’t eliminated yet. Kingston wanted JBL’s chair.
The man at #16 is Bo Dallas from NXT. Kingston used JBL’s chair and he hopped onto the chair all the way to the ring. Kingston eliminated Young. Then Kingston was eliminated by a Disaster Kick of Cody Rhodes. That was a very innovative spot by Kingston. The crowd loved it. It’s The Godfather as a surprise entrant at #17. With a couple of ladies for the hooooooooooo train. As soon as he got in the ring, Ziggler knocked him out quickly. He was eliminated in about three seconds. His music played during the entire time. The Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett is #18. Sheamus went after Barrett, but Barrett was able to overpower him and nearly eliminate Sheamus. There’s John Cena at #19. JBL said there’s nobody on their feet – he meant to say everybody is on their feet. Cena got a huge pop. He went in there on fire. He threw Slater out and gave Rhodes the Attitude Adjustment to eliminate him. There are eight guys in there with Cena, Dallas, Barrett, Ziggler, Jericho, Sheamus, Mysterio and the #20 man Damien Sandow. It’s the first Rumble for Sandow. Barrett battled with Mysterio and Barrett won that battle by eliminated Mysterio with a kick to the ribs. Mysterio was gone. The match is over 30 minutes in length now. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho on Cena, but that didn’t really work.
The #21 man was “The Dazzler” Daniel Bryan. He unleashed kicks on every guy in the ring. The crowd chanted “yes” along with him. There was a loud “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chant as everybody was brawling. The US Champion Antonio Cesaro entered the ring as #22. More dueling Cena chants from the crowd. Ziggler missed an attack on Dallas in the corner, but Dallas wasn’t able to eliminate him. Barrett decked Cena with a hard kick to the stomach. The Great Khali is #23 and he might not get to the ring until #24 is up. I’ll be nice and say that it took about ten seconds for him to get there. Sadly there was no Natalya sighting there. JBL said Khali & Natalya had an interspecies relationship. Not a whole lot happened with Khali entering the match. It’s Kane in the #24 spot as Cole pointed out it was a record-setting 14th Rumble in a row for him. The ring is very full at the moment, so there’s not a lot of room for guys to hit signature spots in there. That was another period with not a lot happening. It’s Zack Ryder entering at #25. He hit the Rough Ryder on Ziggler. Kane threw out Khali. We didn’t really see it. Bryan threw out Kane as the crowd gave a big reaction to it. Cesaro knocked Bryan out, Kane caught him and Bryan wanted him to put him back into the ring. Kane didn’t want to put him back in, so Bryan fell to the floor.
There was a big pop for #26 Randy Orton. He nearly eliminated Dallas, but that didn’t work. Orton ended up hitting his DDT off the ropes on Dallas & Ziggler a few times. RKO for Ryder. Orton threw out Ryder rather easily as Ryder took that bump on his chest and landed right on his face too. Ouch. Jinder Mahal enters at #27, which is the luckiest spot according to Cole because four guys have won from that spot. I don’t think he’ll make it five. Cena gave Cesaro a backdrop over the top to eliminate the US Champ from the match. The #28 spot belongs to The Miz. As he entered the arena, he brawled with Cesaro. Miz limped down to the ring with Cole telling us that he has an injured ankle. Mahal gets eliminated by a high knee lift of Sheamus. Sin Cara is #29 meaning that Ryback will be the last man into the ring. The ring is pretty full. It’s hard to count how many are in there. Bo Dallas eliminated Wade Barrett. That’s a possible feud for the near future. After he was eliminated, Barrett eliminated Dallas from the match. Then Barrett hit Dallas with the Bull Hammer elbow to knock him out at ringside. It’s Ryback in at #30 to a huge reaction.
The crowd chanted “Goldberg” at Ryback, who quickly eliminated Sandow with a clothesline while he was on the apron. Ryback picked up Sin Cara and threw him over the top to the floor onto Sandow, who caught him. Ryback eliminated Miz from the match. Jericho with a Codebreaker on Ryback. Lionsault for Sheamus. Springboard kick by Jericho nearly eliminated Sheamus. Didn’t work. Jericho went for a Codebreaker on Ziggler and he hit it, but Ziggler held on. Ziggler hit a superkick on Jericho to send him out.
The final five in the match were Cena, Ziggler, Orton, Sheamus & Ryback. They were five of the biggest names in the match. Orton with RKO on Ziggler and then he hit a RKO on Cena. Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick, so RKO by Orton to Sheamus too. Orton hit his DDT off the ropes onto Ryback. Orton went for the RKO, but Ryback gave Orton a clothesline over the top to eliminate him.
The final four were Sheamus, Ziggler, Cena & Ryback. Ziggler hit Cena with a jumping DDT. Sheamus put Ziggler on the apron and Sheamus hit Ziggler with a Brogue Kick to eliminate him. Ziggler lasted about 50 minutes. The final three babyfaces faced off. Sheamus & Cena gave a double suplex to Ryback. Then they stared at the WrestleMania sign. Cena hit his spinning suplex on Sheamus. Ryback decked Cena with the Meat Hook Clothesline to a big ovation because some fans don’t like Cena like usual. Sheamus hit White Noise on Ryback. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, Ryback ducked it and Ryback dumped Sheamus over the top. That was a pretty good by Sheamus, who lasted about 37 minutes in the match.
There was a big showdown for the final two as Cena & Ryback each stared at the WrestleMania sign. Ryback hit the spinebuster on Cena. “Feed Me More” chants, but Cena avoided the clothesline and applied the STF submission hold in the center of the ring while the crowd was doing the dueling Cena chants. The story was that Ryback was out from the move, so Cena put Ryback on the top rope. Ryback fought back with a Thesz Press. Ryback went to powerslam Cena out, but Cena avoided that elimination and Cena dumped Ryback out. John Cena wins the Royal Rumble at 55:05
Winner: John Cena
Analysis: ***3/4 I really liked that Rumble match. I realize the Cena haters are going to bitch about him winning because that’s how they feel, but I don’t mind it. So what if it’s predictable? A lot of things in wrestling are predictable. What I like about Rumble matches are the spots they do in it to build to exciting elimination sequences. I loved seeing Chris Jericho and Goldust with Jericho get a lot of chance to “shine” in the match. He was on fire before he was eliminated by Ziggler. I thought Ziggler was one of the biggest stars of the match, so that was good to see too. Orton getting eliminated by Ryback was interesting. Cena’s win was inevitable and it was predictable, but it was still an exciting match from my perspective.
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Dolph Ziggler at 49:47.
Most Eliminations: Sheamus and Ryback with 5 each.
Best Performers (3): 1. Dolph Ziggler
- Chris Jericho
- John Cena
(Really good showing by Ziggler and Jericho working nearly the whole match. Smart choice too since they were two of the best workers in the company at the time. Cena had a lot of great moments. Some others did well too, but I’m certainly fine with those three as the best performers of the match. Sheamus also had a long run in the match where he had a big impact. Ryback was very popular, so it wasn’t a shock that he lasted until the final two in this match. I think the match was lacking in terms of strong heels, but a lot of the faces did well.)
Cena celebrated the win with Cole noting that Cena was only the fourth man to win two Royal Rumble matches joining Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan. Cena pointed at the WrestleMania sign and the pyro went off in celebration. Cena even got congratulations from a guy in the front row with a “We Hate Cena” shirt. Cena left victorious.
The video package aired or the matchup between CM Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE Title. They delivered a lot of memorable promos. It went back to July 2012 when CM Punk turned heel by attacking The Rock at Raw 1000 because Punk felt like Rock disrespected him. The Shield attacked The Rock on Raw with Punk saying that he had nothing to do with that. Vince McMahon warned Punk that if The Shield got involved in the WWE Title match then Punk would lose the WWE Title.
(Rock and Punk did a great job of building up to this match. No surprise since they are two of the best talkers ever.)
Backstage, Josh Mathews talked to The Rock. Rock ended up grabbing the microphone and Mathews left. Rock told us his life story saying his goal was to win the national football title at Miami U and he did that. Then he didn’t get drafted by the NFL. He said he had $7 in his pocket. Rock said we all face adversity like his mom who was stricken with cancer and she didn’t quit. He said she didn’t quit like he will never quit. Rock brought up that CM Punk said that the people don’t count. Rock said that the people have no idea how much they really count. He stuck out his hand for the people to touch his hand so they can end 434 days of misery. Tonight, Team Bring It are going to come together to beat CM Punk to become WWE Champion and become one. If you smell what The Rock is cooking.
Analysis: Very intense promo from the challenger. The crowd loved every second of it.
The WWE Champion CM Punk entered the arena along with his adviser Paul Heyman. I always prefer it when the champion enters last, but lately they have stopped doing that.
The Rock received a thunderous ovation. He looked to be in awesome shape as expected. Hopefully, he’s not tired from that promo he gave. They showed Rock’s mother looking on at ringside. During the intros, Justin Roberts introduced Rock first and then Punk after him. At least that tradition remains.
(In addition to Rock’s mother at ringside, Rock’s daughter Simone and girlfriend-now-wife Lauren was there too.)
WWE Championship: CM Punk (w/Paul Heyman) vs. The Rock
(Pre-match notes: CM Punk was the heel WWE Champion that held the title for 434 days going into this match. It was the longest WWE Title reign since Hulk Hogan’s first title run from 1984. The Rock was the babyface challenger. Rock was 40 years old at this point.)
They brawled right away. Rock gave Punk a clothesline over the top rope to the floor. Lots of fists by Rock outside the ring. Rock cleared the top of the Spanish announce table. Punk put the cover back on. I think ref Mike Chioda just had the slowest ten count ever. There was a loud “CM Punk” chant. After Punk got whipped into the security wall, Heyman hit Rock in the back and then Punk decked Rock with a clothesline. Punk gave Rock a suplex style move so that Rock’s stomach hit the top of the security wall. They went back into the ring. There was a “Boots to Asses” chant although it wasn’t that loud. Punk buried his left knee to Rock’s ribs and then applied a submission hold on Rock’s head and shoulder. CM Punk with a jumping side kick to put down Rock. Punk stepped on Rock’s stomach in a taunting manner. Punk continued to work on the ribs of The Rock. Heyman got in another cheap shot. As expected in a long match like this, there’s a slow pace to the match early on. Punk hit a springboard dropkick off the middle rope that sent Rock to the floor. Cole pointed out that Punk tweaked his left knee. Punk went to the top rope and hit a double axehandle onto Rock on the floor. In the ring, Rock kicked the injured left knee of Punk. Punk made a savvy counter by pulling Rock by the tights and sending him to the floor. Punk hit a running dive between the top and middle rope to take out Rock outside the ring.
Back in the ring, Rock came back by attacking the injured left knee of CM Punk. Rock went for the Rock Bottom, but Punk elbowed out of it and went for the GTS. Rock blocked it by catching Punk’s knee. Rock went for the Sharpshooter, but Punk countered that and Punk applied the Anaconda Vice as the crowd chanted “Rocky” in support of the challenger. Rock countered the move into a pin for a two count. Rock hit a DDT as both guys were out on the mat. Rock went for Rock Bottom again, but Punk countered into a pinfall attempt. Rock countered that into a Sharpshooter as the announcers referenced Bret Hart, as they should. The crowd bought it as a near finish by reacting to it loudly, but Punk was able to get to the ropes. Outside the ring, Rock hit a clothesline. He cleared the cover on the Spanish Announce Table and cleared off the monitors. Rock placed Punk onto the table, but Punk kicked his way out of it. Punk wanted the GTS there, but Rock countered that and the table collapsed before Rock could hit the Rock Bottom. Rock rolled into the ring to break up the slowest ten count ever. Rock ended up hitting a Rock Bottom on the floor. That’s a good way to improvise. Back in the ring, Rock covered for a two count. They got to their feet at around the same time and Punk hit a roundhouse kick to the head of The Rock. They got back to their feet and threw punches at eachother. Rock hit a leaping clothesline followed by a spinebuster. The crowd went crazy as The Rock hit the People’s Elbow…no wait a second. The lights are off. Cole said The Rock got triple powerbombed through the table, but we never actually saw it. Cole said it was The Shield that did it. The referee was down so he didn’t see it. In the ring, CM Punk looked shocked about what happened. Cole was freaking out about it as he tried to tell referee Mike Chioda. JBL was telling Cole to calm down and to not be a stooge. Punk was laughing about it. Punk rolled Rock back into the ring. He covered for the pinfall. One…two…three. CM Punk is still the WWE Champion.
No, he is not.
The music of Vince McMahon started up. He said if The Shield attacked Rock then Punk would be stripped of the WWE Championship. He wanted to strip Punk of the title right there. Rock was on the microphone. He said no. Rock doesn’t want to end it like that with Punk getting stripped of the title. He wants to keep fighting. Rock: “Restart the match now.” McMahon ordered it to restart.
(I’m sure this false finish frustrated some people, but I think in hindsight it was very smart. A lot of fans assumed that Rock was going to win the title, so doing a swerve for a few minutes was clever.)
Rock went back into the ring where Punk attacked him. Punk hit a bulldog in the corner followed by a clothesline. Punk went to the top rope where he hit the Flying Elbow for a two count. Crowd loved that. CM Punk wanted the Go To Sleep. Rock fought out of it and Rock hit a Spinebuster in the center of the ring. Rock hit the People’s Elbow and it connected this time. He covered for the victory at 23:20.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: The Rock
Analysis: **** That was an exciting match that was full of a lot of emotions. I thought their chemistry was very good for two guys who hadn’t had a match before. Punk did everything he could to beat Rock and he just fell short. One thing I wish they did more of was submission moves since they spent the first ten minutes of the match focusing on that. But that’s a very minor thing. The last ten minutes of it was everything I love about pro wrestling. Drama, action and a really hot crowd. I didn’t go into the match thinking CM Punk was going to win, so when they teased that finish with The Shield getting involved it surprised me. I liked how they brought Vince out because of what he said on Raw about how Punk would be stripped if The Shield had a role in the match. I think Rock did an awesome job of continuing to fight despite getting attacked like that and persevering for the win. Did I love the idea that one People’s Elbow could beat Punk? No. I thought Punk should have kicked out of that. Then Rock should have hit the Rock Bottom to win the match. Other than that I really liked how it was booked and I thought they executed the match perfectly. For the Rock haters out there, he did not appear to be fatigued during the match.
As for Punk’s reign, I’m sad that it has come to an end, but I thought this was inevitable. They’re luck there was no injury there. Look at it this way. He’s a bigger star now than he was when he won the WWE Title over 400 days ago. And guess what? After he has his rumored WrestleMania match against The Undertaker, he’ll be a bigger star then too. In the end that’s what matters. He’s a legend because of that title reign and because of that match with Rock as well as that rumored match with Undertaker. If you’re a fan of his be happy for him. He’s done an amazing job.
(This was a great match aside from that table breaking when Rock was trying to do the Rock Bottom. It made me miss CM Punk a lot because he was one of my favorite wrestlers during his WWE career and this match was when Punk was at his best. Even though this was The Rock’s first match in about ten months, he looked like a guy that was active all the time and the fans were behind The Rock as much as ever. Did it bother me that Punk lost? No, because I think Punk became a bigger star because of this title reign and I was happy that it happened for him. Sure, I think Punk could have been in a WrestleMania main event in his career and I understand that frustrates him. I just think Punk did accomplish a lot by having such a long title reign, so I’m glad he was able to have that in his career.)
Post match, The Rock celebrated with the WWE Championship. They showed Rock’s family in the crowd. I believe referee Mike Chioda told Rock to celebrate on all four corners, so that’s what Rock did. Cole mentioned it was Rock’s eight World Championship in WWE while JBL put it over as Rock winning the World Title after ten years. The crowd was very loud in support of the new champion. The show ended with Rock holding up his newly won title.
This show went 2:46:36 on WWE Network.
Show Rating (out of 10): 7.75
I didn’t write final thoughts in 2013, so here they are in 2021.
I thought this was an excellent PPV with only four matches on the card and none of the matches were bad. John Cena winning the Royal Rumble was one of the most predictable Rumble matches ever, yet when I watched the match again I was really entertained by it. Plenty of fun moments in the math. The Del Rio/Big Show opener was entertaining with a creative finish. Team Hello No kept their titles and the fans loved their act, so that made them happy. Putting Rock/Punk in the main event was the right call with the crowd really into it and a false finish before Rock won the WWE Title back for the first time in over a decade. I recall some fans hating that Rock won, but it was obvious that was going to happen. The match was very good too.
There were a lot of happy moments on this show with babyfaces winning the four matches that took place.
Best Match: The Rock vs. CM Punk (**** out of 5)
Worst Match: Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (**3/4) – When the worst match is nearly three stars, that tells you it’s a very good show.
Five Stars of the Show
- CM Punk – The former champ deserves respect.
- The Rock – The new WWE Champ did a great job as I thought he would.
- Dolph Ziggler – Lasted the longest in the Rumble. Put on a show.
- Chris Jericho – So great seeing him again. Four months away and was as sharp as ever.
- John Cena – He did a good job in winning the Rumble match.
Also, credit to Del Rio and Show for putting on an entertaining match in the opener.
Check out the WWE Royal Rumble review archive right here.
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