Breaking Down WWE Royal Rumble 2023

(Photo Credit: WWE)

The Royal Rumble for 2023 is in the books and unlike last year, the winners were correct this time, the rumbles being somewhat underwhelming though. The Pitch Black match was a disappointment but the ending angle to close the show, was one of the best show closing angles in a very long time containing The Bloodline and Sami Zayn.

30-man Royal Rumble Match

The show opened with the big match, the Royal Rumble, which was the first time in rumble history that the Royal Rumble match opened the PPV. It was an alright affair with some good things but a lot of it is forgettable. However the starters were not forgettable, Gunther came out at number 1, then Sheamus was number 2. This was a great choice to start off the rumble based off their great feud from last year, and it should still be the match at Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental title. Miz came out at number 3, played games trying to get in the ring, once in he was beaten by both Sheamus and Gunther. Kofi Kingston was number 4, Johnny Gargano was number 5, he went after Kofi and Miz, got Miz over the top rope, leaning back first against the ropes, gave Sheamus the chance to hit Miz with 25 beats before eliminating him.

6 was Xavier Woods, Karrion Kross was out at 7, and he got into it with Gunther and Sheamus, which are matches that could be good in the future. Chad Gable was 8 and then Drew McIntyre came out at number 9. McIntyre eliminated Kross before after Gunther, another match which would be fantastic in future.

Based upon what happened on Smackdown with Rey Mysterio, it was surprising that we got nothing between the pair but apparently Rey may have suffered an injury, so maybe that was why Kross didn’t last very long in rumble. 10 was Santos Escobar, 11 was Angelo Dawkins, then at 12 was Brock Lesnar who went on an elimination rampage, eliminating Escobar, Dawkins and Gable. Then we got a staredown between Gunther and Lesnar. This was great, and it may have only been a staredown, but it’s a great tease for a potential match in the future, maybe later in the year or next year, but either way, great moment.

Bobby Lashley was the next man out at 13 and immediately delivers a spear to Lesnar, before hitting spears on everyone else, then Lesnar went for an F5 on Lashley, which was countered into Lesnar getting eliminated by Bobby Lashley. This whole thing surely has to be leading to the rubber match between Lesnar and Lashley at Wrestlemania 39, their previous matches don’t suggest it’ll be all that great but that is the direction it looks like its heading. When Baron Corbin came out at 14, Lesnar was still on the outside, fuming at being eliminated, he cut Corbin off from getting in the ring and delivered an F5 on the outside, he then proceeded to throw a referee over the barricade before he basically stormed out. Seth Rollins came out at 15 and threw Corbin into the ring, and then throws him out eliminating Corbin in quick fashion. Otis was then 16. While at 17 it was meant to be Rey Mysterio but with the alleged injury he didn’t come out.

Dominik Mysterio came out at 18 wearing the Rey mask, it was great how he just strolled down to the ring like he owns the rumble, but he did the heel thing where he tries to get inside the ring when Sheamus wasn’t looking, it worked, but got caught. Otis was eliminated. Elias came out at 19 and was quickly eliminated. Finn Balor was at number 20 and he eliminated Johnny Gargano. 21 was the first real surprise which was Booker T, didn’t last too long though. 22 was Damien Priest with Montez Ford out at 23. Then, the big return of Edge at number 24 and immediately went after Judgement Day, he eliminated Balor and Priest, tried to eliminate Dominik, but Balor and Priest still on the outside, eliminated Edge. A big brawl between Edge and Judgement Day breaks out all the way down the ramp, all while Austin Theory comes out at 25. When they got to the entrance area, Edge had taken care of Balor and Priest, until then he was hit from behind by Rhea Ripley. But then a returning Beth Pheonix showed up from behind and speared Rhea and she got a great reaction too. But the storyline is not over, this is probably going to pay off come Wrestlemania 39. However with what happened later in the show, Beth Pheonix vs Rhea Ripley will probably happen before Mania sometime, maybe Elimination Chamber.

As the entrants continued, Omos at 26, Braun Strowman at 27 and Ricochet at 28. Gunther meanwhile, eliminated Sheamus and McIntyre, and that hopefully is a tease for Gunther vs Sheamus 3 for Wrestlemania. 29 was Logan Paul, a bit of a surprise, but as soon as he gets in the ring, he gets attacked by everyone, he also hit a nice buck shot lariat on Ricochet. Then the final entrant of the rumble match was very predictable at this point, but it was a returning Cody Rhodes at number 30. Comes out and gets a great reaction, comes in starts hitting his big moves and eliminates Dominik.

Probably the spot of the match went to Logan Paul and Ricochet who hit springboard clotheslines smacking into one another in midair making an incredible impact. Cody and Theory eliminated Strowman and Ricochet. We see a standoff between Cody, Rollins and Gunther, which is a great visual but in the end Rollins was undone by Paul not being eliminated and eliminating Rollins which surely teases a Mania match between the two, obviously there has been some teases with John Cena for example, but it looks more likely that Cena will face Theory and Logan Paul will challenge Seth Rollins.

Cody eliminates Paul leaving the two men who book-ended this rumble, Gunther and Cody Rhodes. A fantastic one on one between Cody and Gunther which lasted several minutes. In the end it was Cody Rhodes who was victorious and is the winner of the 2023 Royal Rumble. Which also was apparently the first time the number 1 and number 30 entrants have been the final two in a Royal Rumble.

While it was not the best rumble it had its moments, and going with Cody Rhodes is the correct move, which obviously means it will be Cody vs Roman at Wrestlemania 39, and it should be an entertaining feud. In the meantime, it will be very interesting to see what Cody does while The Bloodline drama goes down into Elimination Chamber.

Bray Wyatt vs LA Knight – Pitch Black Match

Oh this one was underwhelming and fairly disappointing as well, for as hyped as the Bray return was originally, for this to be his first match back, not a great look. However, if there was a huge positive to come out of this, it would be LA Knight and how good he really is, and he has gotten to show how good he is and could be. But in terms of the visuals, it was basically a glow in the dark match with Bray wearing this glow in the dark paint.

This was on the shorter side, the one big spot in the match was when LA Knight sent Bray through the announce table. Bray obviously won his comeback match here. Following the match, bray had on a new mask, which he then stalked LA Knight who tried to get away, but was unable to when he got to a structure in the crowd, Bray applied the mandible claw, he then looked up, to Uncle Howdy who was standing above on a higher structure, and jumped off it on to LA Knight. Bray Wyatt stood tall.

All in all, it shows that these gimmicky matches with Bray have got to come to an end, because they clearly just have a negative effect on his character, similarly to The Fiend, this really could have just been a regular No DQ match and it more than likely would’ve been better under normal circumstances. Now that LA Knight can move on, it would be great to get him in something new.

Alexa Bliss vs Bianca Belair – RAW Womens Championship

Very forgettable match, just a simple match for Belair to win in a fairly short match. Post match there was an Uncle Howdy video that popped up on screen which obviously targeted Bliss, and its very clear the plan is to revert her back to similar to how she was with Bray Wyatt before. So what is this going to achieve if Alexa just goes back to what she was doing before? I just think it would be sending her backwards into an old gimmick that just isn’t needed. Nevertheless, Bianca Belair retained here to keep her strong going into Elimination Chamber and then Wrestlemania.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Similarly to the Men’s rumble, this was fairly okay, noting too special and it was a little less focused but it was still entertaining at points and had some good moments and the right winner. There were a few more surprises in this rumble, not to mention, NXT entrants, of which there none in the Men’s.

Rhea Ripley came in at number 1, with Liv Morgan at number 2. Dana Brooke at 3, 4 was Emma, with Shayna Baszler and Bayley at 5th and 6th in the match respectively. B-fab came in at number 7 but was eliminated fairly quickly by Rhea. The current NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez was out at 8, had a decent showing for the small amount of time she was in there, but she was eliminated by Damage CTRL who united after Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky were 9 and 10. They also eliminated Emma and Dana Brooke.

11 was Natalya, then 12 was Candice Lerae, who went after Damage CTRL, where she almost eliminated Dakota and Iyo. But Damage CTRL continued their Rumble dominance, as they eliminated Baszler and Natalya who got knocked off the apron. But another NXT female in Zoey Stark was number 13, 14 was Xia Li. Lerae was eliminated by Damage CTRL as they were taking control of the match, that was until number 15 and Becky Lynch who came out. She faced off with Damage CTRL immediately, they all end up fighting on the outside, none of them going over the top rope so not eliminated, they sent Becky over the announce table. Tegan Nox was then 16.

A return at the Rumble, and at 17 was Asuka, she returned and she is back wearing the Kana face paint, which was an awesome thing to see. Hopefully this gives her a platform to be an important part of the show. 18 saw another return, this one being Piper Niven, who finally got her name back after so many months, which is great and she looked good in there too. 19 was Tamina. While Becky got back into the ring she once again targeted Damage CTRL and after the next entrant, being a returning Chelsea Green, who was eliminated immediately by Rhea Ripley. But within a short span of time, Becky eliminated Iyo and Dakota, only to be eliminated by Bayley, who was then eliminated by Liv Morgan. Becky and Bayley then brawled on the outside.

At 21, Zelina Vega came out, who eliminated Xia Li. Raquel Rodriguez was at 22, Mia Yim at 23 and Lacey Evans at 24. Before the match Michelle McCool was shown on camera in the crowd, so at 25, it was her that jumped over the barricade and entered the rumble. Indi Hartwell came out at 26, Sonya Deville was 27 and eliminated Zoey Stark who lasted a good while, which is good. Then Shotzi was 28, Nikki Cross was 29. Then the return of Nia Jax who showed up at number 30 as a huge underwhelming ending to the entrants. She got in the ring and is surrounded by everyone, Raquel eventually stands up to her. Rhea Ripley hit her with the riptide in an incredible show of strength, then the whole field helped eliminate her.

Raquel eliminated Lacey, went up against Asuka who got an armbar, Raquel’s strength enabled her to get Asuka to the apron, Sonya also ended up on the apron and was eliminated by Asuka. Rhea then eliminated McCool, Mia Yim eliminated Shotzi, but was eliminated by Piper Niven. Raquel then managed to get piper over the top rope and eliminate her, which was followed by her own elimination at the hands of rhea. The final four was Nikki Cross, Asuka, Liv Morgan and Rhea Ripley, with Cross being eliminated soon after leaving three.

All three women ended up on the apron, with Asuka spitting mist that was meant for rhea but hit Liv instead, this gave rhea the chance to eliminate Asuka, leaving Liv and rhea on the apron, with Rhea managing to keep herself on the apron and take down Liv to win the royal rumble match.

The ending to the rumble was great, I thought making it happen on the apron was creative, and it was very nicely done and the right woman won in Rhea Ripley, and she should face Bianca Belair and win the title at Wrestlemania. But it was also interesting to see the first two entrants go the distance and being the last two in the rumble in this setting specifically. But overall it was probably slightly better than the men’s rumble, and had some fun surprises with a great finish.

Roman Reigns vs Kevin Owens – WWE Undisputed Universal Championship

The fact that this match was going on in the main event over the rumble match itself, meant something big was going to go down, and it did, somewhat during the match, but most certainly after the match. The match itself was great, capping off the Roman v Owens Royal Rumble trilogy.

During the match, there was a ref bump, which enabled Reigns to pick up the advantage by hitting a low blow on Owens. This is where Roman tells Sami to get a chair and hand it to him, in which Sami visibly hesitated, possibly a tease of things to come. Owens hit a stunner on Reigns for an incredible nearfall. That’s one thing about Roman, he has seemingly mastered the art of kicking out at the last possible moment, and pulling you in, so that was great. But the ending of the match saw Reigns take Owens and slam him twice on the stairs which looked brutal for Owens. From there Reigns won the match and retains the titles.

This is where it all goes down, after the match, Roman is joined by the rest of The Bloodline in the ring. The Usos then get ordered to beat down on Owens and this starts what is a vicious beatdown. They had Solo Sikoa hit his hip attack into the corner with Owens having a chair around his neck. Owens was then handcuffed to the top rope, it was the superkick after superkick to Owens delivered by The Usos. Roman then grabs a chair and as he goes to hit Owens with the chair, Sami steps in and tells him that is enough. Roman then tells Sami to do it instead, and you can see the hesitation in Sami, it is phenomenal at this point.

Then, the moment where Sami Zayn hits Roman in the back with the chair when he was trash talking Owens some more. This crowd popped huge for that, however it was also the moment Sami Zayn dug his own grave for The Bloodline to fill it. The whole Bloodline is stunned and just start beating him down, Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa and Roman Reigns. The only one not joining in was Jey Uso, and in an incredible misdirect, Jey walks away to the back literally barely holding himself together, so conflicted between his family and Sami Zayn. Just incredible storytelling here. Roman just starts bashing Sami with the chair over and over again. Until they all leave the ring with the picture of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens left there beaten and battered. An incredible ending to the show, shocking, emotional and it will all lead to amazing things leading up to Wrestlemania.

The acting from these guys was top notch as well, from Sami and Jey literally crying about their respective positions here, the love that Sami Zayn still has for Kevin Owens even after War Games, after everything, they could never hurt each other. It was absolutely unbelievable, so good and coming out of the Royal Rumble, we are going to see the aftermath of Jey’s decision here. Ideally what should happen now, Sami shouldn’t be seen for a bit, to sell the attack, and then have him challenge Roman at Elimination Chamber in Montreal, because that crowd and the atmosphere would be incredible, and even though he wouldn’t win, it would be an amazing choice, then Owens and Zayn go after the tag team titles and beat The Usos at Wrestlemania 39. There is also a possibility that because Sami Zayn is now basically the biggest babyface in the company now, plans change and he gets inserted into the World title picture for Wrestlemania as well, just something to keep in mind now that Wrestlemania season is now underway.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and