Royal Rumble 2023

|Date: January 28, 2023
|Venue: Alamodome |City: San Antonio, Texas
|Attendance: 51,338

|tweet me: @BastionBlogger

The opening package is narrated by Hardy. It’s not a bad little package but it didn’t get me overly excited like some packages do.

Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcome us to the Royal Rumble. And they are joined by the returning Pat McAfee! It’s a total surprise to Michael Cole which is nice. Cole is really excited. Corey Graves acts like he hates it.

The 2023 Men’s Royal Rumble match

Match: Gunther and Sheamus kick off the Royal Rumble match which is fun and every bit as hard-hitting as you’d expect. The start of the match had a real Smackdown feel with 7 of the first 10 being form the blue brand. The Miz got the dreaded #3 spot and was the first man eliminated. I was surprised to see Karrion Kross eliminated second. I popped big time when Brock Lesnar came in. you just know business was going to pick up. He didn’t last long though, Bobby Lashley eliminated him pretty quickly before being eliminated himself by Seth Rollins. It looked like Kofi was supposed to do one of his rumble moments but dived out too quickly at a chair and went straight through it. Baron Corbin got drilled by an angry Brock Lesnar on his way in which was fun and then lasted all of 7 seconds when he finally got into the ring.

Rey Mysterio didn’t come out when his music hit and it seems as though Dominik had attacked him backstage as Dominik came out with Rey’s mask. The Judgment Day had a great spell where they dominated until Edge came out and eliminated both Priest and Balor. They would then battle to the back where Rhea Ripley would get involved until she got speared by Beth Phoenix. Booker T was the first surprise entrant, Logan Paul was the other. There was a nice spot from Logan and Ricochet where they both hit springboard clotheslines on one another. I really liked Drew McIntyre and Sheamus working together for the duration of the Rumble. It was a good tactic and kept them in the match until Gunther eliminated both. Gunther came in at number one and was the runner up. He lasted 1 hour, 11 minutes and 40 seconds which is a record for a 30 man Royal Rumble match. Seth Rollins and Logan Paul made up the final four with Logan eliminating Seth Rollins. In the end though it was Cody Rhodes who came in at #30 and won the match. He and Gunther battled for a while at the end and it’s an amazing rub for Gunther. Cody goes to Wrestlemania though for what will be an epic showdown with Roman Reigns.

Result: Cody Rhodes wins, last eliminating Gunther.

1. Gunther (#29 Cody Rhodes)
2. Sheamus (#21 Drew McIntyre & Gunther)
3. The Miz (#1 Sheamus)
4. Kofi Kingston (#4 Gunther)
5. Johnny Gargano (#14 Dominik Mysterio & Finn Balor)
6. Xavier Woods (#3 Gunther)
7. Karrion Kross (#2 Drew McIntyre)
8. Chad Gable (#7 Brock Lesnar)
9. Drew McIntyre (#22 Gunther)
10. Santos Escobar (#5 Brock Lesnar)
11. Angelo Dawkins (#6 Brock Lesnar)
12. Brock Lesnar (#8 Bobby Lashley)
13. Bobby Lashley (#11 Seth Rollins)
14. Baron Corbin (#9 Seth Rollins)
15. Seth Rollins (#27 Logan Paul)
16. Otis (#12 Drew McIntyre & Sheamus)
17. Rey Mysterio (unable to compete)
18. Dominik Mysterio (#23 Cody Rhodes)
19. Elias (#13 (Drew McIntyre & Sheamus)
20. Finn Balor (#18 Edge)
21. Booker T (#15 (Gunther)
22. Damien Priest (#17 Edge)
23. Montez Ford (#16 Damien Priest)
24. Edge (#19 Finn Balor)
25. Austin Theory (#26 Cody Rhodes)
26. Omos (#20 Braun Strowman)
27. Braun Strowman (#24 Cody Rhodes)
28. Ricochet (#25 Austin Theory)
29. Logan Paul (#28 Cody Rhodes)
30. Cody Rhodes (Winner)

Review: This was a good Royal Rumble match. There was a point where I was shocked at just how much start power they had in the match. Cody Rhodes was always the predictable winner and it’s no bad thing that he won. He’s the top babyface (although that could also be Sami Zayn) and it’ll be a hell of a moment should he beat Roman Reigns for the title at Wrestlemania. I don’t mind Cody winning at all. I think this Rumble match did miss a couple of surprises. Booker T was fun but not totally unexpected being that he is an NXT commentator. I would have preferred to have seen Bad News Barrett come out. Gunther got a huge rub tonight and came out looking like an absolute superstar. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting a main event run in the future. A good match to kick things off and a big win for Cody Rhodes.

Rating: 7.5/10

There’s an ad for WWE merchandise and an Austin Theory promo video.

LA Knight makes his entrance and we get a video package for his match with Bray Wyatt.

Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight

Background: On the December 30 episode of SmackDown, following a couple of months of alleged attacks by Bray Wyatt on LA Knight, with Wyatt claiming it was someone named Uncle Howdy, Knight challenged Wyatt to a match at the Royal Rumble and Wyatt accepted. Howdy then appeared and attacked Wyatt. It was later confirmed that this would be a Pitch Black match. This was also notably Wyatt’s first televised match since WrestleMania 37 in April 2021. On the January 6 episode of SmackDown, commentator Michael Cole further stated that the match would be anything goes that ends via pinfall or submission, but nothing else was known.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV match between these two men.

Royal Rumble PPV Record: Bray Wyatt is 2-4 at Royal Rumble events but all four of his losses came in Royal Rumble matches. LA Knight makes his WWE PPV debut tonight.

Match: I’m not sure what to expect here but the lights go out (or rather a blue light comes on). Bray Wyatt has UV facepaint on which looks pretty cool and LA Knight has bright gear on that looks glow in the dark. Bray Wyatt has the advantage in the early going but LA Knight soon takes control on the outside. Knight manages to put Wyatt through the announce desk and some weird UV bits fly everywhere. LA Knight continues the assault with a kendo stick but Wyatt hits Sister Abigail out of nowhere for the win.

Result: Bray Wyatt wins by pinfall.

Review: This match was very short, just about five minutes. It felt like it was only getting started when Wyatt hit his finisher out of nowhere. I guess this will be the end of this rivalry especially with what happens after the match. The real story is what this Uncle Howdy business is all about. Why did he attack Wyatt before but helped him tonight? And how does Alexa Bliss fit into it all?

Rating: 3.75/10

After the match Wyatt puts on a mask and chases Knight through the crowd. He no sells kendo shots before knocking out Knight with a mandible claw. Uncle Howdy appears 20 feet above them and then dives onto Knight as human size firefly funhouse puppets watch on. What is going on! It’s absolute madness but I honestly love it.

There’s an ad for Wrestlemania and a promo video for Brock Lesnar.

The attendance is announced as 51,338

Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss – Raw Women’s Championship match

Background: On the December 12, 2022, episode of Raw, Alexa Bliss defeated Bayley to become the number one contender for the Raw Women’s Championship. After the match, champion Bianca Belair congratulated Bliss and as the two hugged, Bray Wyatt’s logo appeared on the TitanTron (due to Bliss’ past association with Wyatt) and Bliss positioned Belair for a Sister Abigail but came back to her senses before performing the move. The following week, Belair and Bliss were interviewed backstage, where at the end of the segment, Wyatt’s logo again appeared on the screen and Bliss hit Belair over the head with a vase of flowers. During her championship match against Belair on January 2, 2023, episode, Bliss was distracted by people wearing Uncle Howdy masks, and after Wyatt’s logo appeared on the TitanTron, Bliss attacked the referee, forcing a disqualification and allowing Belair to retain. After the match, Bliss attacked Belair, performing two DDTs on the steel stairs. On the January 16 episode, Belair challenged Bliss to a championship rematch at the Royal Rumble and Bliss accepted. The two then brawled with Bliss getting the upper hand after an appearance by Howdy.

Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV match between these two girls.

Royal Rumble PPV Record: Bianca Belair is 1-2, Alexa Bliss is 0-3.

Match: The girls come out of the blocks fast, exchanging right hands and kick. Alexa soon takes control but struggles to lock on a bow and arrow. she does manage to use the hair in a modified bow and arrow. Plenty of chin locks and strikes from Alexa as Bianca tries to use her power to take control. Bianca does finally take control with a suplex. She fires up hitting right hands and then a standing moonsault. Alexa counters a KOD attempt and then hits a DDT for a near fall. Bianca counters a Sister Abigail attempt and hits KOD for the three. A bit flat.

Result: Binaca Belair retains the Raw Women’s Championship by pinfall.

Review: This was a small improvement on the previous match and they were given slightly more time but still it felt a bit flat. Maybe because of how predictable it was. I would have liked a little more from Alexa and her relationship with Bray Wyatt. This felt like a match we’d see on Raw. It wasn’t terrible but it felt like a orutine title defence for Belair.

Rating: 4/10

There are ads for Applebees and Elimination Chamber. 

We get a promo video for The Judgment Day.

2023 Women’s Royal Rumble match

Match: Rhea Ripley starts th ematch with Liv Morgan. Morgan had been hoping to be number 1 but she settles for 2. Dana Brooke gets the dreaded #3 and is one of the first out. B-Fab is the first girl eliminated, it’s actually her main roster in-ring debut. Bayley is in t #6 and is soon joined by the rest of Damage CTRL. They dominate as a trio for a long time in this match. Becky Lynch puts an end to that before being eliminated herself by Bayley. There are a few NXT entrants such as champion Roxanne Perez who had a great showing as well as Zoey Stark and Indi Hartwell, the latter of which the commentators didn’t seem to know.

Natalya returned after a few months on the shelf. Doudrop returned under her previous name Piper Niven. Chelsea Green made her debut and lasted all of 5 seconds whilst Michelle McCool, who was sat. in the crowd, was a surprise entrant. Dana Brooke, Liv Morga, Natalya and Tamina are the four girls that have wrestled in every single women’s Royal Rumble. The final entry was the surprise return of Nia Jax who everyone teamed up to eliminate. The final four were Rhea ripley, Liv Morgan, Nikki Cross and Asuka. I really liked Asuka in this, she had some throwback facepaint and honestly looked better than she has in a long time. I wanted her to win but in the end it was Rhea Ripley who eliminated Liv Morgan to win. A great win for Rhea who truly is the future of the women’s division. I expect her to challenge Bianca for the Raw Women’s Championship.

Result: Rhea Ripley wins, last elimninating Liv Morgan.

1. Rhea Ripley (Winner)
2. Liv Morgan (#29 Rhea Ripley)
3. Dana Brooke (#2 Damage CTRL)
4. Emma (#3 Dakota Kai)
5. Shayna Baszler (#6 Damage CTRL)
6. Bayley (#13 Liv Morgan)
7. B-Fab (#1 Rhea Ripley)
8. Roxanne Perez (#4 Damage CTRL)
9. Dakota Kai (#10 Becky Lynch)
10. Iyo Sky (#11 Becky Lynch)
11. Natalya (#5 Damage CTRL)
12. Candice LaRae (#7 Iyo Sky)
13. Zoey Stark (#16 Sonya Deville)
14. Xia Li (#14 Zelina Vega)
15. Becky Lynch (#12 Bayley)
16. Tegan Nox (#8 Asuka)
17. Asuka (#28 Rhea Ripley)
18. Piper Niven (#25 Raquel Rodriguez)
19. Tamina (#15 Michelle McCool)
20. Chelsea Green (#9 Rhea Ripley)
21. Zelina Vega (#17 Lacey Evans)
22. Raquel Rodruguez (#26 Rhea Ripley)
23. Mia Yim (#24 Piper Niven)
24. Lacey Evans (#20 Raquel Rodriguez)
25. Michelle McCool (#22 Rhea Ripley)
26. Indi Hartwell (#18 Sonya Deville)
27. Sonya Deville (#21 Asuka)
28. Shotzi (#23 Mia Yim)
29. Nikki Cross (#27 Liv Morgan)
30. Nia Jax (#19 (Asuka, Lacey Evans, Liv Morgan, Mia Yim, Michelle McCool, Nikki Cross, Piper Niven, Raquel Rodriguez, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi & Sonya Deville)

Review: I preferred this Royal Rumble to the men’s earlier. I really liked the finish to this match withe fight on the apron between Rhea, Liv and Asuka. There were some really big pops for the likes of Becky Lynch and Asuka. Nia Jax was a complete surprise, I was expecting Naomi to be honest. The Michelle McCool cameo was fun. Roxanne Perez was really impressive, she bought a lightning quick pace and is crisp as you can get in the ring. She’s lacking in character but that can be worked on. I look forward to seeing what they do with Cheslea Green. But Rhea Ripley wins the Royal Rumble (I’m over people winning from #1, they make it look easy these days. That’s three of the four paerticipants that started Royal Rumbles tonight making it to the final two. The spot at the end with Rhea hanging from the top rope was so risky but she did very well. Rhea goes to Wrestlemania, for a fourth Wrestlemania title match in a row.

Rating: 7.5/10

There are ads for the WWE Network and A&E series. 

A Braun Strowman promo video is next.

Hardy is out for his performance next. This was bad. I’m sorry but man, he is not a live performer.

There is a Ric Flair promo video and then a video package for the main event.

Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens – Undisputed WWE Universal Championship match

Background: At Survivor Series WarGames, Kevin Owens, who had past issues with Roman Reigns, was one of the members of the opposing team in a WarGames match against Reigns’ team, The Bloodline. The two previously feuded over the Universal Championship only for Owens to constantly lose due to interference from members of The Bloodline, including their manager Paul Heyman—Owens and Reigns’ last title match was at the 2021 Royal Rumble. The Bloodline was victorious at Survivor Series thanks to Sami Zayn—Owens’ former best friend—betraying Owens to show his loyalty to The Bloodline.[16] Despite the loss, Owens continued to target The Bloodline over the next few weeks and Owens teamed with a returning John Cena to defeat Reigns and Zayn on the December 30, 2022, episode of SmackDown, where Owens pinned Zayn. The following week, Owens challenged Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, which was made official.

Previous PPV matches: These two men have wrestled four times on PPV before and they currently holds two wins each.

Royal Rumble PPV Record: Roman Reigns is 3-7, Kevin Owens is 1-6.

Match: Roman Reigns is joined by Paul Heyman and Sami Zayn. There’s some big Sami Uso chants. It’s a cagey start to the match. Owens takes control and crotch chops Sami. There’s been lots of crotch chops tonight. Roman takes control and hits a drive by dropkick. It’s back and forth between the two until KO hits a frog splash on the outside and then another inside the ring for a near fall. Roman hits a superman punch for a two count. Owens hits a top rope senton for another near fall. The two men then slug it out up top until Owens hammers the champion down. Owens looks for a springboard moonsault, slips and accidentally falls on Reigns. Owens tries for another moonsault but Reigns gets his knees up and hits a spear for a near fall.

Owens counters a spear, Reigns counters a stunner and pushes Owens into the ref who goes down. KO hits a pop-up powerbomb but the referee is out. Roman hits a low blow and then tells Sami to get a chair. Sami tells Reigns that he was told to do nothing but Reigns screams at him. Zayn is slow to get a chair but he slides it in to Roman. Roman turns around into a stunner for a near fall. Reigns then counters a pop up powerbomb with a superman pinch before hitting a spear for a near fall. Sami is having kittens on the outside. On the outside Sami tells KO to stay down. Reigns then spears Owens through the barricade. Reigns drives Owens into the ring steps twice and Sami can barely watch. Back in the ring and Roman hits a spear for the win.

Result: Roman Reigns wins by pinfall.

Review: This was a really good match. The psychology was amazing. These two men have a lot of chemistry and they compliment each other. There was never any doubt that Roman Reigns was retaining but this was all about the story that they told. Sami Zayn was the wildcard and you could see his change in this match. It’ll be Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes at Wrestlemania and I am looking forward to that main event.

Rating: 8.75/10

The rest of The Bloodline come out after the match. Jay looks to put the lays around Sami’s neck but Roman stops him. The Usos then beat down KO. They wrap a chair around KO’s neck and Solo hits a hip attack. They handcuff Owens to the top rope and hit multiple super kicks. Roman looks to swing a chair but Sami asks him to stop. Reigns hands the chair to Zayn. Zayn hesitates and Roman slaps him. Sami then lays out Reigns with the chair to a huge pop! Jimmy Uso lands Sami with a superkick and he and Solo lay into Zayn. Jey holds his ground and then exits the ring before walking to the back. Roman then lays into Sami with the chair. A big “fuck you Roman” chant breaks out.

And that was the 2023 Royal Rumble event. It was a decent show but not an amazing one. The two Royal Rumble matches were good and the main event was the highlight but the other two matches didn’t really deliver. I thought the men’s Royal Rumble would close the show and we’d go off the air with Cody Rhodes celebrating his win but that wasn’t the case. Still, Cody was the right winner and my main criticism with that match was the lack of surprises. The two matches that followed weren’t too good but I did enjoy Uncle Howdy throwing himself off a tower on to LA Knight. Bray Wyatt picked up the win and Bianca Belair defeated Alexa Bliss. I felt like this could have been better but it was what it was.

Rhea Ripley would then win the women’s Royal Rumble match after coming in at number one. Rhea is a good winner and is establishing herself as one of the best in the business. For me it was Asuka that stood out and I hope she gets a good push going forward. The finish to this match was great too with Rhea, Liv and Asuka. And then came the main event which was a match that will be talked about for some time. We knew Roman Reigns would win this match but I didn’t predict the brutal ring stair spots. Sami Zayn seemed to be in two minds for the whole match and it would all become clear after the bell. Sami attacked Reigns with a chair and finally left The Bloodline. Zayn and Owens would get brutalised before Jey Uso walked out on his family. I have a feeling I know where this is going. This has truly been the best storyline in wrestling for a long long time.

Overall Rating: 63/100 (ranked 121st out of 420)

Match Of The Night: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Worst Match Of The Night: Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight
Surprise Of The Night: For me, the return of Nia Jax
Worst Booking Of The Night: Hardy
Superstar Of The Night: Cody Rhodes
Royal Rumble 2023 Will Be Remembered For: Cody Rhodes winning the men’s Royal Rumble match and to a less degree Rhea winning and Sami leaving The Bloodline.

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