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Published: January 28, 2013
By Jared Silberkleit - Coming in with significantly more hype than usual thanks to The Rock’s first WWE Championship match in a decade, the 2013 Royal Rumble seemed primed to be a very memorable PPV by WWE. The show was good, but didn’t hit its potential thanks to some questionable booking in all 3 of the major matches on the card. The Punk/Rock match itself was a slight letdown, and when it was over it felt like a bit of a wasted opportunity. Predictably, Rock won the title and John Cena won the Royal Rumble to apparently set up Rock/Cena once again at Wrestlemania after they main evented last year’s show. The show seemed predominantly designed to set up that match and didn’t really set things in motion for any other programs for Wrestlemania, and this is made worse by the fact that Rock/Cena itself is not a fresh matchup.
With the Last Man Standing stipulation, they got plenty of time here. Del Rio targeted the arm throughout and they used a bunch of weapons, especially chairs that came heavily into play. Slow beginning before they started brawling up the entrance ramp towards the stage. They climbed a piece of the set hanging from the ceiling and Show chokeslammed Del Rio off of it through a table on the ground below. Crazy spot right there with Del Rio nearly landing on the back of his head. After the action moved back towards ringside, Del Rio dodged a charging Show and Show crashed through the barricade next to the timekeeper’s table. Del Rio used a fire extinguisher and nailed Show with chair shots to the back and arm. Finish saw Ricardo help Del Rio duct tape Show’s feet together to the bottom rope, and then Del Rio put Show in the cross-armbreaker. Show couldn’t beat the 10 count and Del Rio won. Finish was lame and came across strange. Del Rio only recently turned babyface, so you’d think that he would have beaten Show more decisively instead of using cheap, heel-esque tactics. Nonetheless, the match was good up until that point with the two big spots and weapon use getting the crowd into it. Match Time: 16:58 Star Rating: ***1/4
This was fine for its spot on the card. Bryan shined here with his always-smooth transitions and counter wrestling, and the match was good when he was in there. For the most part, it was a pretty basic tag team match with Bryan getting worked over for much of it before the faces made their comeback. Sandow was very bad here, as he was taking bumps improperly and seemed very out of sync with everyone else. Finish saw Kane chokeslam Rhodes and Bryan submit Sandow with the No Lock. One has to wonder if Rhodes Scholars will ever win these titles. Average match hindered slightly by Sandow’s sloppiness. Match Time: 9:25 Star Rating: **
Due to Rock/Punk, the Rumble match itself did not close the PPV for the first time since 2006. Dolph Ziggler revealed earlier that he would start the match at #1, and he surprisingly started the match with the returning Chris Jericho. Jericho and Ziggler were the workhorses, as they started the match and ended up as 2 of the final 6 guys. The other two surprise entrants were Goldust, who lasted a while and had several exchanges with Cody Rhodes, and The Godfather, who came out with a couple girls and was instantly eliminated by Ziggler upon entry. Other than that no big “surprises”, but the match had a consistent flow to it with mostly everyone getting ample time in the ring and almost all upper midcard and main event guys looking competitive. The big non-elimination spot this year was Kofi Kingston getting knocked off the apron, falling onto the eliminated Tensai, and landing on the Spanish announce table. Kofi then borrowed JBL’s chair, hopped it like a pogo stick over to the ring apron, and reentered the ring. He was then eliminated by Rhodes almost immediately after. Bo Dallas, who won an NXT tournament at the Royal Rumble FanFest to earn a spot in the match, lasted for a long time and eliminated Wade Barrett, but Barrett came back in to toss him out. Funny spot where Daniel Bryan eliminated Kane, and then he was immediately tossed onto Kane. With Bryan still technically not eliminated, Kane contemplated rolling him back inside, but just dropped him to the ground.
The match eventually came down to Jericho, Ziggler, Sheamus, Randy Orton, John Cena, and Ryback, who entered at #30. Ziggler and Jericho had a great exchange, which ended with Ziggler superkicking Jericho to the floor after several counters. Orton then started RKOing everyone before Ryback clotheslined him to the floor. To everyone’s dismay, Sheamus then eliminated Ziggler after a Brogue Kick knocked him off the apron. Sheamus and Cena double-teamed Ryback, and Sheamus connected with White Noise. Sheamus then went for the Brogue Kick but Ryback dumped him over the ropes. Cena and Ryback as the final two. Cena had Ryback in the STF before they had a brief exchange. Eventually Cena reversed a whip from Ryback and sent him to the floor to win the Rumble. Most of the Rumble was extremely fun and enjoyable, but it seemed that Ziggler’s elimination took the wind out of the match’s sails, as it seemed cliché that the top 3 faces would battle it out in the end. The finish also wasn’t as strong as last year’s between Sheamus and Jericho due to Ryback’s limitations. This was definitely a better match than last year’s Rumble but it could have used a better finish than same old Super Cena. Still, it was nice to see a lot of the roster get spotlighted and look like they had a chance to win, with some of the rising stars getting rubs by looking competitive with established main eventers. Match Time: 55:05 Star Rating: ***3/4
This really could have been something epic, but unfortunately this match just didn’t hit its potential and wasn’t even in the same realm as Cena/Rock from Wrestlemania 28. For the first 15 minutes or so, things were going along well. There was a somewhat surprising split crowd, as there were dueling chants in the opening minutes. Punk targeted Rock’s midsection during the heat to play off the attack by The Shield. Punk sold his surgically repaired knee on a couple of high spots and Rock targeted it as he tried to fight back. Rock teased the Rock Bottom and Punk went for the Go to Sleep, then Rock escaped only for Punk to counter the Sharpshooter into the Anaconda Vice. Rock got the ropes and cinched in the Sharpshooter, only for Punk to get the ropes after a lengthy struggle. They brawled outside the ring and Rock went for the Rock Bottom on the Spanish announce table, but the table collapsed underneath both guys before he could hit the move. Both men sold knee injuries and Rock made up for the blown spot by hitting the Rock Bottom on the floor, but Punk kicked out of a pin attempt in the ring. Both guys traded blows before Rock went for the People’s Elbow, but the lights went out.
The sound could be heard of the other announce table breaking and Cole identified The Shield as being the culprits. The lights came back on with Punk in the ring and Rock lying on the broken table. Punk rolled Rock into the ring and pinned him to retain the title. As he celebrated, Mr. McMahon came out on the stage. He was about to strip Punk of the title due to The Shield’s interference, but Rock convinced him to restart the match. The bell rang and Punk beat on Rock before hitting the Savage elbow for 2. Punk went for the GTS but Rock blocked and hit a spinebuster followed by the People’s Elbow for the win. The crowd went crazy and they played this up big time. The match was good but disappointing since WWE chose to go the route of overbooking rather than just letting Punk and Rock go out there like Cena and Rock at Wrestlemania and try to have a great wrestling match. With it being Rock’s return vs. Punk’s lengthy title reign, this really had hardly any drama as it lacked emotion and the gripping near falls you’d typically see in a match like this. This should have been CM Punk throwing everything he had at The Rock in order to keep his title reign going, and The Rock throwing everything he had at CM Punk in order to win the title for the first time since 2002. Instead we got a solid story, but nothing out of the ordinary. For a big time dream match that we probably won’t ever see again, this wasn’t exactly a classic and unfortunately won’t go down as very memorable. This was newsworthy, but that’s about it. Match Time: 23:20 (total bell-to-bell time) Star Rating: ***1/2
Overall Rating: 7.25/10
Tagged with: Barricade, Chair Shots, Del Rio, Duct Tape, Entrance Ramp, Fire Extinguisher, Hype, John Cena, Last Man Standing, Last Man Standing Match, Letdown, Matchup, Punk Rock, Ringside, Royal Rumble, Stipulation, Things In Motion, Timekeeper, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania