The 2023 Royal Rumble has come and gone, and what a show it was! The two Rumble matches delivered a ton of memorable Rumble moments and memories that will last a lifetime for sure, but the show also left fans with several questions and scratching their heads at certain pieces as well. Let us now take a look back at a few excerpts from the latest installment of WWE’s annual year-opening event!
The Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Well, WWE wasted no time in getting right to the point, starting off the titular event with the men’s installment of the match for the first time ever. The fans never lost interest in this year’s match, and it had so many fun flowing parts to it that nobody can forget! GUNTHER was the night’s big star, breaking the record for the longest entry in a standard 30-man Rumble match, previously held by Rey Mysterio for the last 17 years. GUNTHER’s 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 25 seconds was nearly 10 minutes longer than Mysterio’s 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 12 seconds from 2006, and GUNTHER was in just about everything. He had showdowns with Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Brock Lesnar, and Braun Strowman, among others, and he made it all the way to the final two, just barely being eliminated by Cody Rhodes to win the whole thing. GUNTHER elevated himself, the Intercontinental Championship, and the number one spot in the Rumble match all in just over an hour. Speaking of Rhodes, his long-awaited return from injury was almost everything fans hoped it would be. He got a huge pop, looked great, and won the whole thing, as he was heavily favored to do. The biggest gripe many had, me included, was how predictable it was, most especially when he was number 30. Perhaps his being number 30 was to prevent any fan backlash from it not being the Rock or Sami Zayn, but either way, having him come in a bit sooner and creating more intrigue could have perhaps served his win even better. Nonetheless, Rhodes winning was the right call.
On top of those things, seeing the likes of Logan Paul and Booker T make appearances in the Rumble was both cool, and awe-inspiring, most especially in Paul’s case, considering the knee injury he suffered back in November coupled with his insane mid-air collision with Ricochet. Whether you love him or hate him, he has a knack for the squared circle, and how can we not enjoy what he’s doing? Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley’s interactions were fun, and the Judgement Day portion really hit it out of the park, both with Edge (again) returning in the Rumble and taking it to the Judgement Day, Beth Phoenix getting involved, and Dominik Mysterio looking like he genuinely belonged in there, it was all really great. The main negative I have with this Rumble is Rey Mysertio’s spot. It was a waste and made no sense to have him just not enter if they knew he couldn’t compete. Having Dom pull up with the mask regardless of Rey’s inclusion would’ve still gotten him heat, and that empty spot could have allowed a Bronson Reed, Dolph Ziggler, or Bron Breakker to really get some shine in the Rumble. Either way, it was a largely fun Rumble with more pros than cons!
The Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan saw GUNTHER make it to the final 2 after entering at number one and must have said “hold my beer”, entering at 1 and 2 and being the final 2 remaining. This is only the fourth time in history that the starting 2 in the Rumble were the final 2 in the same Rumble. Ripley and Morgan join Shawn Michaels and the British Bulldog in 1995, Vince McMahon and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in 1999, and Edge and Randy Orton in 2021. That’s a pretty crazy list to add yourselves to, and Ripley and Morgan should be proud. They both also broke Bianca Belair’s record for longest entrants in a women’s Rumble, both clocking in at one hour, one minute, and 7 seconds each (tack one second extra on for Ripley as she was never eliminated). Ripley also becomes the 1st woman, and 4th person overall, to ever win it from number one, joining the like of Edge and Shawn Michaels. So much history packed into one match, and yet it seemed very predictable. It was both similar and different to the men’s offering on the night as they were both extremely predictable (Rhodes and Ripley had been the odds-on-favorites for weeks if not months), but at least Ripley had more doubt, entering at number 1. Plus, that ending sequence with Asuka and Morgan was tense, and any woman could’ve won it there, so there was a good amount of drama there. Even still, while they were both the most logical choices to win, many hoped there would’ve been some more swerves and surprises, which there was a minimal amount of. Nia Jax returned, so that was something, but not on the level of what fans had hoped for. All in all, it was another solid Rumble with the right winner and a reminder of why a smartly booked Rumble will always be best.
The “Mountain Dew Pitch Black” Match
A match sponsored by Mountain Dew, it was a match that quite literally nobody knew what the rules were or what to expect going in, and what we got was definitely unique but not 100% coherent. The glow-in-the-dark lighting, LA Knight’s gear, the neon particles everywhere, and the face paint on Bray Wyatt’s face were all cool touches, but surely it was a hard match for fans in attendance to watch, and LA Knight, while he got a massive pop, didn’t really stand a chance, and got beaten rather quickly. Then, he was attacked afterward and led to a platform where Uncle Howdy dove on him, siding with Wyatt just weeks after attacking him. Wyatt’s WWE return has been very interesting and fun, but the confusing circles we have had to go in to try and understand everything has become too much to handle. Hopefully, WWE can reel things in and make sense of things in due time!
Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens / The Bloodline Implodes
Now the entire rest of the show was there and surely served their purposes, and they all had pros and cons, but this one is quite literally and figuratively cinematic in the purest form WWE could produce, and it is something that may never be replicated again. First, the match itself between Owens and Reigns was yet another classic in the rivalry that has helped define their careers (3 Universal Championship Matches at 3 different Royal Rumble PPVs alone (2017, 2021, 2023) have proven that. They tore down the house, and all of the Sami Zayn intertwined teases were next-level gold, leading to Reigns somehow once again leaving with his titles in tow. But, it is what happened after the match that has been most talked about and remembered, and what will surely be the most talked about and remembered Rumble moment, overall moment, and storyline, of this generation, and maybe ever. The Bloodline, in full force, handcuffed Owens to the ropes and started making a public example of Owens for all of his transgressions against them. Sami tried to be the voice of reason, eventually finding himself in possession of a chair with Roman Reigns verbally berating him, shoving him, and trying to force him to take the chair over Owens to show his forever undying loyalty to the Bloodline. That is when it happened.
The chair shot heard around the world. Sami Zayn got to the Bloodline before they could get to him. He took the chair to Roman Reigns’ back (a callback to the Shield’s final night when Seth Rollins did the exact same thing), causing the world (specifically the Alamodome) to go ballistic. The Bloodline would obliterate Sami, with Roman emotionally distraught after what he tried to do for Sami. Then, Jey Uso was seen despondent, and he walked out on his two brothers and his tribal chief. Jey did not attack Sami, he did not join the attack, and Roman Reigns’ airtight Bloodline doesn’t just have cracks, it’s a raging inferno from within, and as he told Solo Sikoa heading up the ramp, ‘they are at war now, and they will take no prisoners.’ There are so many paths that can be traveled these next few months on the Road to Wrestlemania in Hollywood, but one thing is for certain: Sami Zayn is in Roman Reigns’ way on that road, and will that cause there to be a complete collapse of the Bloodline? Will Sami take the titles or even one title from Roman? Where does that leave Cody Rhodes in all of this? There are so many questions that will be answered over these next 7-8 weeks or so, but we can guarantee this: this year’s Wrestlemania is an absolute must-see attraction for so many different reasons!