Good day everyone! Welcome back to the Royal Rumble series with the 26th edition. The only tagline attached to Royal Rumble 2013 is the word “Finally…”. And for the first time since 2006, the Rumble match did not headline the show. Instead, The Rock challenged CM Punk for the WWE Championship. You can find all 25 previous editions of the series linked below.
#1 (’88) – #2 (’89) – #3 (’90) – #4 (’91) – #5 (’92) – #6 (’93) – #7 (’94) – #8 (’95) – #9 (’96) – #10 (’97)
#11 (’98) – #12 (’99) – #13 (’00) – #14 (’01) – #15 (’02) – #16 (’03) – #17 (’04) – #18 (’05) – #19 (’06) – #20 (’07)
Royal Rumble 2013 – US Airways Center
There isn’t much to be said about the undercard. Aside from Cesaro retaining the US title on the Kickoff show, the main program only featured two matches before the Rumble. These were contested for the World Heavyweight Championship & WWE Tag Team Championship. Alberto Del Rio retained against the Big Show in Last Man Standing, and Team Hell No defended against Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow. Because of this, you could say the only things worth revisiting is the Rumble and the main event.
With The Rock returning in 2012 to face John Cena in a supposed “Once In A Lifetime” encounter, many fans predicted WWE would find a way to do it again. So when The Rock announced he would challenge the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble on Raw 1000… all the way back in July (almost six months earlier), it became a formality. Whoever went to the Rumble to face The Rock… would inevitably lose the title. As the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era, CM Punk retained against Ryback and John Cena at Survivor Series. With The Shield unable to interfere, making Punk the clear underdog, he still went in to the match with plenty of confidence.
Although it was cool seeing The Rock with the title for the first (& last) time in eleven years, he ended Punk’s with a People’s Elbow. Some fans hated that, as they felt it cheapened Punk’s reign and hindered everything WWE had worked towards. The Rock becoming WWE champion was a ploy to get around the fact they dubbed Cena vs. The Rock “Once In A Lifetime” at the previous year’s WrestleMania. There are no other reasons than The Rock needing to put Cena over, like how Cena did for him.
We begin with Justin Roberts announcing the Royal Rumble. Dolph Ziggler starts us off (with AJ Lee & Big E Langston), and it seems to to become a tradition for the first entrant to spew a bunch of nonsense before the second entrant. Only this time, it works so incredibly well. Ziggler sells himself as the winner of the match, saying he doesn’t even care who #2 is. “Break The Walls Down…” – HUGE POP! Oh my god, goosebumps! Chris Jericho’s been away a while and 15k+ are on their feet. Literally every single person in the building chants “Y2J!”.
An electric atmosphere, I can’t remember us ever starting the Royal Rumble like this. The fans are popping for everything and chant “You Still Got It!”; did he ever lose it though? Jericho gives Ziggler a superplex as #3 is here… Mr. Cody Rhodes! And Jericho gets in to a chop fest on his chest. Ziggler saves Cody and forms a brief alliance with him. Jericho fights back and turns Cody over for the Walls of Jericho, but Ziggler breaks him out of it. Kofi Kingston enters as Cody & Dolph have the advantage, evening the playing field. Jericho helps Kingston from being eliminated as the fans chant “Y2J!”.
Seems the entries are quicker this year. Santino! He gets close to eliminating Ziggler, Rhodes & Jericho in the first seconds. After getting the Cobra out, everyone else gangs up on him for some reason. Cody eliminates Santino, making him the first to go. Who’s next?! 3 MAN BAND! Jobber Drew McIntyre is here. How times change… we got two AEW guys, the WWE Champion… and the never changing Ziggler. Cole calls Drew the “jokester” of the group.
He works over Kofi Kingston and not much happens til Titus O’ Neil enters as #7. Jericho springboard dropkicks McIntyre off the apron to the floor, meaning Drew lasted slightly less long than it took to beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Cody shakes his head as a wild Goldust appears! The two brothers go at it right away! Ziggler tries getting involved, but Cody & Goldust briefly team up together to stop him, before turning their attentions back to one another. Goldust chants?? Wow, that’s rare.
This has been a brilliant match so far… but the fans share their collective groan at the sight of David Otunga’s entrance. Titus O’ Neil finds himself at the mercy of the Rhodes Brothers… why get between these guys? The ring is filling up nicely as there have only been two eliminations so far. The leader of 3MB is here! Heath Slater, the guy who can’t even make it on to Impact Wrestling TV. By the way, this was well before he cut his hair and had kids. Cole admits he follows Slater on Twitter… which is kinda’ sad. The defending Rumble winner Sheamus cleans house as he storms to the ring. He gets rid of Titus O’Neil and David Otunga in short order. Who’s next? Is it Albert? Or A-Train?? Or even Matt Bloom? Nope, it’s Tensai.
One thing I do like about Cole during this match, is how he keeps throwing out quotes about the Rumble concept from legends like: Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Ohh! It’s about to get FUNKY up in here! As Brodus Clay enters with his Funkadactyls Naomi & Cameron. Meanwhile, Cody & Goldust are fighting hard on the ring apron. Cody whips Goldust hard in to the turnbuckle and eliminates him! Damn you, Cody.
“Booyaka 619!” — Rey Mysterio hits a 619 on Ziggler, before executing the 619 and The Dime on Jericho. Cole calls Tensai a… moose? JBL would rather call him a tattooed hippo. Flattering! Darren Young makes his Rumble debut. Everyone gangs up on Brodus Clay when there are far bigger threats like, Tensai? Jericho? Mysterio? Sheamus? I guess it’s because Clay is the widest? Speaking of which, Kingston eliminates Tensai all by himself. Ziggler hits Kofi, who avoids elimination by jumping on Tensai’s back. Conveniently, Tensai places him on the Spanish Announce table and referee’s escort him away.
No one cares about the match, as we all want to see how Kofi will find his way back to the ring. Cole talks about Star Trek teleports when there’s no way he’s a trekkie (I can tell…), as JBL encourages him to jump. Kingston asks JBL for his chair. As JBL hands it over in excitement, the first-ever NXT entrant arrives. His name is Bo Dallas, before they made us “BO-Lieve”. The crowd dies of laughter as Kofi uses JBL’s chair like a pogo stick to get back. It’s good going, if that were me I’d have slipped.
The crowd pops as he gets on the apron and referee’s give him the OK. Darren Young charges at him and goes flying over the top rope that Kingston pulls down. Cody hits the Disaster Kick! Meaning that Kofi is eliminated anyway after all that effort. #17 is… The Godfather!!! Pimpin’ ain’t easy man! He’s only got two ho’s as it’s all he can handle these days. He is in the match for literally five seconds… and then Ziggler dropkicks and eliminates him This is probably the most disappointing moment of Royal Rumble ’13.
The Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett enters his third Rumble. The crowd dies down before #19… John Cena (sucks)! JBL botches by saying no one is on their feet here… oops, he meant sitting down; he got excited! Cena enters the ring and everyone jumps on him, which is the smartest thing I have seen so far. Goodbye Heath! See you later Cody (he did really well)! Chris Jericho is the only one who can stop Cena’s path of destruction. Funnily enough, Bo Dallas works over Cena. Cole calls him the “Fire & Desire” of NXT (so that’s where they got Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville’s tag team name).
HALLELUJAH! Damien Sandow makes his Rumble debut. Mysterio gets real close to eliminating Barrett, so the IC Champ repays the compliment and eliminates him instead. The fans go crazy with a “Let’s Go Cena! Cena Sucks!” chant. The crowd pops loud as Jericho turns Cena over for the Walls of Jericho… but he loses grip. Amusingly, Cena sells it while it’s not even remotely locked in. Jericho does finally do it, but everyone is focused on Daniel Bryan entering at #21. Bryan chants “NO NO NO NO” but the fans chant “YES YES YES YES”. Daniel Bryan is the only one standing at the moment, and there are many guys remaining.
He & Sheamus work together and cannot eliminate Jericho, as the United States Champion Antonio Cesaro makes his presence known. The Cena chants continue. Oh no… it’s The Great Khali. Cole lets us know he unloads on the roster (I could just be dirty-minded, but that sounds wrong). JBL says there is an “inter-species” relationship going on between Khali & Natalya… implying Khali isn’t even human.
Kane is entering his 16th Rumble (14th in a row). Not much happens til WWYKI Zack Ryder darts his way to the ring, with his 1m+ Twitter followers. Team Hell No work together to eliminate Khali… then Bryan eliminates his partner! But Bryan ends up on the apron and Cesaro uppercuts him in to the arms of Kane! Bryan begs to throw him back in, but Kane doesn’t want too… so he drops Bryan to the floor and rightly so.
While Michael Cole & JBL argue over the sports reference “Goat” (not greatest of all time), Randy Orton doesn’t waste much time getting to the ring. We get two snap powerslams, and a double ring rope DDT to Ziggler & Dallas. Ryder eats a RKO and bad landing upon his elimination. Cesaro team up against Orton. Imagine saying this in 2013: The Future WWE Champion Jinder Mahal is here! The last member of 3MB. Cena eliminates Cesaro. Cole says Cena has been a “beast”, but he has hardly done anything! The Miz is #28 and attacks the already eliminated Cesaro. He has an injured ankle from a spot earlier in the night. Sheamus easily gets rid of Jinder Mahal.
Interesting, the original (botchy) Sin Cara is #29. Bo Dallas has been in for a long time and wow! He eliminates the IC Champion Wade Barrett! He walks off, but returns a minute later to eliminate Bo Dallas! What a sore loser. Wade gives Bo the Bullhammer Elbow. Only one man remains… “FEED ME MORE!” There are some light Goldberg chants, but that’s to be expected. Ryback eliminates Sandow, Sin Cara and The Miz, but is stopped in his tracks by a Codebreaker from Jericho! Big pop… the crowd loved that.
Jericho’s turned it up… a lionsault to Cena! He holds his own against Sheamus, Orton & Ziggler. Y2J looks to eliminate Dolph, but he throws him over his shoulder to the apron and follows up with a Super Kick! The fans are absolutely gutted with Jericho’s elimination; he was by far their favorite. Orton takes over proceedings and RKO’s Ziggler! Sheamus counters a RKO and sends Randy to Cena… who gets RKO’d instead! Sheamus misses a Brogue Kick and gets RKO’d anyway. Middle rope DDT to Ryback. He wants to follow up with a RKO, but Ryback fires back with a wicked clothesline and eliminates The Viper! Ziggler is desperately trying to fend off Sheamus, but ends up chewing on a Brogue Kick on the apron; which we know isn’t possible to survive.
Sheamus & Cena team up on Ryback, which I think is the wrong choice by Sheamus. They double suplex Ryback and then do the annoying little thing where they stare up at the WrestleMania sign. Cena gets the upperhand on Sheamus and attempts the 5 Knuckle Shuffle, but Ryback runs him over! Sheamus counters Shellshock with White Noise. He sets up for the Brogue… charges at Ryback, but gets thrown over the top! So we’re down to two.
We still have an electric atmosphere, with half the crowd pulling for Cena, while the other half chants “FEED ME MORE!” as loudly as they can. Cena throws punches at Ryback, whips off the ropes and is taken down with a spinebuster. Ryback goes for another clothesline, but Cena takes him down with an exceptional drop toehold in to the STF. Somehow Ryback fights out of it and lands on top of Cena with a Lou Thesz press.
It looks like Ryback wants to powerslam Cena, but it’s countered and Cena pushes Ryback forward and over the top! Surprise, surprise, Cena is going to WrestleMania. He becomes only the fourth man to win two Royal Rumbles. Funny moment happens, where he goes over to an anti-Cena fan and tells us we’re going to WrestleMania! If you want to watch the match, fast forward to the 1 hour, 1 minute mark in the video below.
Aside from the predictable result, the match was amazing! Definitely one of the best Rumbles of the modern era. We can attribute much of this to Chris Jericho, because his return got the fans excited and their energy remained throughout; even after his elimination. I think the fact the fans had only seen a few matches beforehand helped, as they had plenty of energy left in the tank. Unlike the previous Rumble, there was less emphasis on silliness and they kept a decent number of guys in the ring. There were few dull moments, because the entry time was kept short, so we weren’t allowed to feel any kind of lull.
The worst part is the commentary, especially JBL… who was making dumb comments for the sake of sounding dumb? I don’t get what he was trying to do. He didn’t add much, and neither did Lawler. Strangely, and I can’t believe I’m saying this… but Cole carried things. As for the winner, it makes sense given they wanted to do Rock vs. Cena II. But if The Rock wasn’t available? I think they would’ve struggled to decide between Cena, Jericho, and Ryback. This was the perfect time to give Ryback a huge push, or to re-establish Jericho, both of whom were getting the biggest reactions other than Cena. Also, this was probably Bo Dallas’ biggest match of his career. We know he became a tag team many years later, but this is his proudest achievement to date.
So after all that, we can say that Royal Rumble 2013 delivered in so many ways. But how did WrestleMania 29 turn out? If you can’t remember… you can find my old review (from 2016) at the shared link. Thank you for reading! — WrestleMania 29