WWE Royal Rumble 2023
January 28, 2023
San Antonio, Texas
Meet Our Reviewers:
Sean Sedor: Well, last year’s Royal Rumble PPV was pretty dry and boring (I thought it was one of the worst PPVs of 2022), so the bar isn’t exactly high coming into the 2023 edition of this event. I’ll be watching the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona (also on Peacock) on the side, which I’m sure will offer more exciting action than anything WWE could offer to us. Anyway, you can find me on Twitter @SASedor2994. If you’re interested in some of my other escapades, you can watch me play the Formula 1 games on YouTube (just search my name), and you also go to the Be The Booker forums if you’d like to check out my EWR Diary, where I play as WCW (started in 1998, currently in 2001).
Suit Williams: I’m already in a foul mood before this thing even starts. First, the PS5 doesn’t remember my password so I spend 20 minutes on that. Then I found out that my cable provider stopped giving out free Peacock subs a half-hour ago, forcing me to pay for this thing. So pardon me if I’m a little grumpy watching this show. Follow me on Twitter @SuitWilliams.
Cody Rhodes wins the Men’s Royal Rumble
Sean: Kinda odd that we’re starting the show off with the Men’s Royal Rumble. On the whole, this wasn’t a super great Royal Rumble by any means, but it was EASILY better than last year’s absolute slog of a Rumble. There were some lulls here and there, plus a botch or two (mainly talking about Kofi Kingston messing up his big Rumble spot for the second year in a row), but for the most part, there were plenty of spots and moments throughout that managed to keep me engaged from start to finish. You had the continuation of the Brock Lesnar/Bobby Lashley feud, with Lesnar cleaning house after entering 12th and cleaning house before Lashley came out at 13th and cleaned house before eliminating Lesnar (though Lashley uneventfully eliminated by Seth Rollins a few minutes later, which was a little odd). You also had the reigniting of the Edge/Judgment Day, with Edge making his return, eliminating Priest and Balor before they eliminated him in return (never been a fan of those spots, but whatever), and then a brawl breaking out in the aisle which involved Rhea Ripley and a returning Beth Phoenix. There were also a couple of surprise appearances from the likes of Booker T (who looked like Great Muta walking down to the ring….dude must have horrible knees) and the returning Logan Paul, who had an incredible springboard midair collision with Ricochet that was easily the coolest spot of the match. Paul would also eliminate Seth Rollins, which seems to set up a WrestleMania match between the two.
There were also the usual iron man style outings with guys starting early who lasted a very long time in the match. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre were both in there for a very long time, but the man who was easily the MVP of this match was Gunther, who started things off as the #1 entrant, and lasted all the way to end while scoring several eliminations. However, the Intercontinental Champion would ultimately come up short, as he was tossed out by the eventual winner….the returning Cody Rhodes. Pretty much the result that most would’ve expected coming into this show, and I’m actually kinda looking forward to Cody vs. Roman, as Cody seems like a guy who is a legitimate threat to take the belts off Roman. Again, this was by no means a great Rumble, but it was pretty good. Some really solid moments with random filler in between. Better than the men’s Royal Rumble from last year by a country mile, though I wouldn’t say it’s a match you need to run out of your way to see. ***1/2
Suit: There were things that happened in this match that set up Wrestlemania matches. Lashley eliminated Brock Lesnar, Dom Mysterio attacked Rey backstage and came out with his mask, Logan Paul dumped out Rollins. Edge returned and eliminated Balor and Priest before brawling with them up the ramp, which led to Rhea Ripley and Cavewoman Beth Phoenix brawling. And the end of the Rumble was fun, with Cody overcoming GUNTHER and his chops to the PEC to pull out the win.
But the majority of this match saw very little happen. It was a lot of brush waiting to be cleared out by either Lesnar or the Judgment Day or Cody at the end. The Rumble needs consistent action peppered throughout, not random bursts of action in between standard battle royal fare. This was better than last year’s match, mostly because people were happy at the end of it. But they still haven’t gotten the formula right for these Rumble matches. Oh well, there’s always next year.
Oh man, we’ve got another one tonight. Buckle up, kids. **1/2
Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match – Bray Wyatt def. LA Knight
Sean: So there’s Mountain Dew logos everywhere. The lights go out, and it’s revealed that the ropes (and LA Knight) are in this neon, glow-in-the-dark yellowish color. Meanwhile, Bray Wyatt is supposed to be in this glow-in-the-dark style paint….I guess….but it didn’t look nearly as good as say….whenever Jeff Hardy came out with the glow-in-the-dark paint. They do a spot through the announce desk, which shoots out a bunch of green stuff when they go through it (don’t really know how to describe it). Bray eventually puts LA Knight away in what felt like a relatively quick match.
My brother came home from work while this was getting started, and his reaction was “This Is Cringe”, which says it all. However, this KEPT GOING even after the bell. Bray chased LA Knight through the crowd to this platform area (while the paint on his face had changed colors), and put Knight to sleep. Then, Uncle Howdy appears on an even higher platform behind Bray, and trust falls off onto Knight as fire shoots up all around them. Human forms of the puppets from the Firefly Funhouse then appear as the segment fully ends. This was the textbook definition of a DUD. While I would say that the zombie lumberjack match with Damian Priest and The Miz (with the zombies supposedly “eating” The Miz) does beat this in the “Completely and Utterly Ridiculous” category, the concept itself was still very absurd and totally ridiculous…all in the name of product placement. Then the post-match stuff happened and I was like…..what am I even watching? The Krusty The Clown/“What The Hell Was That?” gif from The Simpsons couldn’t be more appropriate. DUD
Suit: I often wonder what it was like living through pure, unfiltered Vince Russo pro wrestling. It was no doubt infuriating at points, but at some point it had to get to a level where you just started laughing. This was the laugh point for me. The second the lights went down and LA Knight’s gear started GLOWING IN THE DARK, I just started laughing. And every second that passed, I just laughed harder. When I saw the ropes glow, or the glowing confetti that went everywhere when the announce table broke, or the glowing kendo stick LA Knight used, the laughter never stopped.
Then, after Wyatt jobbed out Knight in five minutes, he dragged him to a side stage where Uncle Howdy did a stage dive on Knight that was juuuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside. Then pyro went off. Then I saw puppets. Then there was a Wrestlemania promo. With a tear in my eye, I declare the Mountain Dew Pitch Black match a massive success! This goes up there with the Shockmaster’s debut, the Uncensored Cage match, and the David Arquette Triple Cage match as pure, uncut WrestleCrap. They completely failed in capitalizing on Wyatt’s buzz on his return, thus squandering another potential star that landed in their laps, but WWE did succeed in putting a smile on my face here. So that’s something. Get high, turn this on, and get ready to laugh your ass off. DUD, but a ***** DUD
WWE RAW Women’s Title – Bianca Belair (c) def. Alexa Bliss
Sean: Not going to lie….I really do not care about this match at all. Alexa takes control early, but Bianca eventually mounts a comeback and hits the K.O.D. for the win. The match itself was just a backdrop for the post match, where a creepy video package plays featuring Uncle Howdy and footage of Alexa’s spooky character. Nobody in the crowd cared about this match, and I really do not care about this Alexa story at all. Does she go back to being spooky and spewing black goo and throwing fireballs? I guess? Whatever. I don’t even know what else to say. *1/2
Suit: I’ll be honest. I didn’t pay attention to a second of this match. Belair won with the KOD. After the match, Uncle Howdy reached out to Bliss from BEYOND THE GRAVE because he BLEW UP 15 MINUTES AGO. Anyway, local pedophiles can rejoice as Schoolgirl Alexa will be skipping her way back onto our televisions in short order. Well, not my television. But someone’s television. **
Rhea Ripley wins the Women’s Royal Rumble
Sean: Putting the Women’s Royal Rumble this deep in the card and after the Men’s Royal Rumble was certainly a choice, but we’ll see how it goes. The first two in the match were Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan, and when the dust settled, they ended up being two of the final three in the match, along with a returning Asuka (she got a HUGE pop when she came out as the 17th entrant…easily the biggest pop of the entire match), who was decked out in her old Kana look with face paint. With all three on the apron, Liv got misted by Asuka, who got swiftly eliminated by Rhea. Liv (blinded by Asuka’s blue mist) tried her best to fight Rhea on the apron, but she ultimately got sent to the floor by Rhea, who secured the win and a title shot at WrestleMania.
So the Women’s Royal Rumble Match last year totally stunk. Downright bad. This year, the Women’s Royal Rumble was….better….but not by much. There were some notable moments here and there, such as Damage CTRL ganging up to eliminate a bunch of women before running into their main rival Becky Lynch (the fighting between them continued even after all four were eliminated), NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez having a decent showing early on, Zelina Vega coming out dressed as Juri from Street Fighter, and Doudrop getting her name changed back to Piper Niven. Aside from Asuka, some other returns included Chelsea Green (who was immediately eliminated) and Nia Jax, whose music hit right as the countdown for #30 started (she wound up getting tossed by the remaining field). Beyond those bits however, there really wasn’t much to care about. Half of these entrants came out to absolutely no reaction at all, which just goes to show how not over a sizable chunk of this women’s roster is. There were only a couple of choices to go with here in terms of potential winners, and Rhea was definitely in that conversation coming in, so I can’t really knock the result. Again, a slight improvement over the Women’s Royal Rumble from last year, but that’s not saying much. **1/4
Suit: These long ramps at the Rumble suck. People get a pop, then it dies, then they get to the ring and start doing their moves. I have like 5 sentences of notes that aren’t entrances or eliminations. Asuka returned with a cool new facepaint look. Chelsea Green did a Grandpa Simpson. I’ll let you figure out what that means. Nia Jax was #30, and the entrance was botched. The finish was cool, with all three women on the apron before Rhea eventually won. This was really boring. **
Undisputed WWE Universal Title – Roman Reigns (c) def. Kevin Owens
Sean: So after we got an unexpected Hardy concert (WHY?!), we finally get to the main event, and as soon as the bell rings, the entire crowd starts chanting “Sami Uso”. Kevin Owens hits a cannonball early and takes control as things spill to the floor. Reigns regains control in the ring and the action slows to a crawl. The pace picked up a little bit after Owens hit a splash to the floor, though that came crashing to a halt after Owens horribly botched a jumping moonsault attempt.
Predictably, the referee got taken out, and Kevin Owens seemingly had the match won. A low blow from Roman followed. He demanded that Sami get him a chair. He hesitated, but gave Roman the chair. Owens managed to hit a stunner and got a nearfall. Roman would get a nearfall of his own off a Superman Punch and a Spear. Sami told Owens to stay down before Roman speared Owens through the barricade. He then slammed Owens neck and head first into the ring steps repeatedly before putting him away with yet another spear. This was just kinda there. Technically fine, but the crowd was just waiting for whatever was going to happen with Sami to happen during the match, and aside from Sami hesitating briefly to hand Roman the chair….it really didn’t. **1/2 for the match, but the real story was the post-match.
Once the match was over, the rest of The Bloodline came out, and the beatdown of Kevin Owens would continue. The Usos beat the crap out of him. They put a chair around his head before Solo Sikoa would hit the running hip attack. They then handcuffed Kevin Owens to the ropes and continued to beat on him. Roman went to hit Owens with a chair, but Sami stopped him and told him it was enough. Roman tells Sami to hit him with the chair even though Sami clearly doesn’t want to. He then hits Roman in the back in the chair (which got an insane pop), which leads to Sami getting beaten down by Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa. Jey Uso (the Uso that Sami had to win over the most) was also….wait for it….CONFLICTED….and leaves the rest of The Bloodline behind in the ring as the beatdown of Sami continued.
Here’s the thing with this Bloodline/Sami Zayn storyline. In a vacuum, I think it’s been a pretty solid story, on the whole. However, the big problem I have is a lot of people have gone SO FAR in one direction (I’m talking about all the “THIS IS THE GREATEST STORYLINE IN THE HISTORY OF WWE” takes….especially from people in the wrestling media) that is just comes off as pandering and overcompensating. WWE gives these people the first good story in who knows how long, and they’re treating it like it’s the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen in their entire lives. Hey…..I thought this angle was good too! The crowd went nuts when Sami hit Roman with the chair and they were booing like crazy during Sami’s beat down. It would’ve been better if it didn’t happen at the end of a freaking long-ass PPV that had a two hour plus matches and a concert, but it was indeed a good angle. I just wish people would stop with all of the overcompensating….unless these people do legitimately think this is the greatest thing they’ve ever seen. If that’s the case, then I’d say there’s A LOT of great stories out there (both inside and outside of wrestling) that you’ve been missing out on.
Suit: This show is sooooooo long. Costco Kid Rock sang a song. There was a 5 minute video package. Then Owens came out. Then Roman made his usually long entrance down the super long ramp. And now we’re running a match that centers around the guy at ringside.
The post match is the news here. Owens was thoroughly beaten by Roman, and the Bloodline decided to beat him down more. They cuffed him to the ropes, and Roman was gonna give him the old Tommy Dreamer/Raven chairshot. Sami stepped in to stop it, so Roman made Sami take the chair to crown Owens. After much, much, much debating, Sami hits Roman with the chair to a NUCLEAR pop. The rest of the Bloodline jumped Sami, except for Main Event Jey, who was conflicted and took a powder. Roman killed Sami with the chair to big heat, and left both Zayn and Owens laying. The angle was good. I probably would have liked it more if I didn’t sit through two Royal Rumbles, a Pitch Black match, and a concert to eventually get here. The WWE fans are into this, so while it’s not my cup of tea, I can’t call this anything less than a success.
Oh yeah, Roman won the match. **