Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2013)

It's a Punk-Rock Rumble!

Royal Rumble 2013 - US Airways Center - 1.27.13

Speaking of The Rock showing up, the 2013 edition was mostly built around his in-ring return which was announced months earlier when he declared himself the #1 Contender for the WWE Title.  Yeah, he just showed up on RAW the previous summer to announce that he'd be challenging the WWE Champion at the Rumble.  Not sure how that works, where a wrestler can call his shots just cuz he's more famous than the others.  Anyway this Rumble was light years better than the 2012 edition, featuring a solid undercard and a decent Rumble match.

Up first once again was the World Title match (In what universe does a World Championship earn prestige by always going on first?) between Alberto Del Rio - fresh off a horribly ill-conceived babyface turn - and The Big Show.  This Last Man Standing match was decent, but the company's desperation in finding a Hispanic star to take up Rey Mysterio's mantle was showing.  Del Rio was and is completely unsuited to playing a heroic character.  He got over as a heel by acting better than everyone else.

Next was a strong Tag Title match as Champions Team Hell No faced The Rhodes Scholars.  This was at the height of Daniel Bryan and Kane's chemistry as unlikely partners, and they had a fine match with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow.

It's like Superman vs. The Thing
For the first time since 2006 the Rumble match was not the main event.  The 2013 Rumble had a pretty good field of stars but one very obvious winner.  Since all signs pointed to a Rock-Cena rematch at 'Mania there wasn't much suspense here.  Still this match was immeasurably more enjoyable than its predecessor.  Much of the match was carried by Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho, who drew numbers 1 and 2, and both stayed in for over 45 minutes.  In the end the battle came down to superheroes John Cena and Ryback, who had a somewhat awkward exchange leading to Cena's eventual victory.

Participants: Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston, Santino Marella, Drew McIntyre, Titus O'Neil, Goldust, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Sheamus, Tensai, Brodus Clay, Rey Mysterio, Darren Young, Bo Dallas, The Godfather, Wade Barrett, John Cena, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Antonio Cesaro, The Great Khali, Kane, Zack Ryder, Randy Orton, Jinder Mahal, The Miz, Sin Cara, Ryback
Final FourJohn Cena, Ryback, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler
Long Man: Dolph Ziggler (49:47)

The main event was of course the WWE Title showdown between CM Punk (longest-reigning Champion in 25 years) and The Rock.  The match itself was pretty underwhelming, as Rock's ring rust really showed here and in his two subsequent PPV matches that year.  One of the stipulations was that if The Shield interfered Punk would lose the Title automatically, so of course late in the match the lights went out, a thud was heard, and when the lights came back on it was clear someone had put The Rock through a table.  Vince stopped the match and was about to award the belt to The Rock based on the evidence at hand, but Rocky refused to win that way and demanded a restart.  A few minutes later The Rock beat Punk clean with The People's Elbow (a move that should never, ever, EVER be used as an actual finisher).  At the time I was quite bummed that Punk had to drop the belt to a returning Attitude Era star, despite the obviously predictable outcome.  I've always been a big believer that having current full-timers lose big matches to stars of the past is terrible long-term business, as it conditions the audience to perceive today's stars as inferior.  This was the first in a string of such losses for Punk that year.  As I said, the match was just okay and had a very convoluted ending.

Worst. Sharpshooter. Ever.

The 2013 Rumble was certainly not a great show, but it had four good matches, no bad ones, and The Rock's return was presented as a big deal, even if I disagreed with putting the belt on him, and with the WrestleMania XXIX direction in general.  To his credit though, at least he appeared on every PPV while carrying the strap.

Best Match: CM Punk vs. The Rock
Worst Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show
What I'd Change: For one thing, Punk should not get pinned after a People's Elbow!  Also I'm not sure why Rock-Cena II needed to be for the Title (or happen at all, but that's another argument).
Most Disappointing Match: Punk vs. Rock
Most Pleasant Surprise: Very little about the product was surprising at this point.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Better than WrestleMania XXIX, SummerSlam '13 and/or Survivor Series 2013? - Yeah sure, Not Even Close, and Most Definitely

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