2023 Royal Rumble Results, Match Ratings And Predictions Revisited
What a night!
After a disastrous 2022 Men’s Royal Rumble that some legitimately think was the worst in the event’s history, last night was a good reminder of why the premium live event is the favorite for so many wrestling fans. Pat Patterson’s visionary take on the Battle Royal came back with a vengeance last night and delivered multiple record breaking runs, as well as some fun returns and great teases for WrestleMania season. It also gave us one of the coolest spots in the history of the event thanks to Logan Paul and Ricochet being absolute mad men.
I’m not saying the event was better than the ‘92 Rumble, but a lot of it was pretty damn good. So, let’s dive into the results, as well as the match ratings. I’ll also revisit my predictions, which by the way, were really freakin’ good. I don’t want to spend too much time patting myself on the back here, but I didn’t miss the entire night. Some of that is a credit to me, but to be honest, some of that is also because WWE took the safe, logical route, at least until that WTF conclusion after the Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens match.
Let’s break down each one of the matches…
Cody Rhodes Wins The Men’s Royal Rumble
I spent about thirty seconds with my jaw on the floor when they announced The Men’s Rumble was happening first, but as soon as Gunther’s music hit, I was over it and fully locked into the match. He was a great pick to go off first, and Sheamus was the right guy to go second. Their Clash At The Castle match was my favorite of 2022, and I’d love to see these brawlers chop each other again.
Putting Sheamus and Gunther back together was just the first in many mini-stories The Men’s Rumble told. We also got a continuation of the Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley feud. We got some interactions with Seth Rollins and Logan Paul, which could lead to a really exciting WrestleMania match. We got more trolling from Dominik Mysterio when his dad Rey Mysterio didn’t come out. We got a lot of work between Edge and Judgment Day, as well as a possible wink at Judgment Day and The Street Profits. We got tons of teamwork between Sheamus and Drew McIntyre and lots of teases between Gunther and other monsters.
And of course we got Cody Rhodes making his big return. I thought it was smart to keep him confined to later in the match, and I thought he looked really good out there. His interactions with Gunther at the end of the match were excellent, and fans were certainly excited to see him go over in the end, even if the result was a little obvious.
Here’s a quick list of some other things I liked: The Logan Paul and Ricochet spot was a 10/10. I also loved Logan leaning into being a heel. That dude has unlimited potential. I liked the sequence with Gunther and Sheamus ducking shots and accidentally hitting The Miz. I loved seeing Booker T get one more moment, and of course Gunther setting the record for longest time in a single rumble at over 70 minutes.
Here’s a quick list of things I didn’t like: The Rey Mysterio spot was confusing and needed a little something from the announcers. I was really happy to have Pat McAfee back because he’s spectacular, but I thought he acknowledged being gone too often and played too frequently into what’s changed since he was last here with certain characters. I think they announced too many participants before The Rumble started, and I wish we had gotten at least one or two more blasts from the past. Also, I have nothing against Johnny Gargano, but he needs to get over on the main roster. What he did in NXT does not count with most fans, and while he’s extremely talented, he’s done nothing to this point to warrant surviving almost 30 minutes.
Match Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Really good Rumble. Will remember this very fondly, but not a ton of super memorable moments, and we all knew Cody was winning when we didn’t get Sami Zayn or The Rock.
Bray Wyatt Defeats LA Knight In The Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match
Anytime WWE has a product tie-in this aggressive, people are going to complain about it on Twitter. And I get it. It’s a bit odd to have a mentally deranged loose cannon like Bray Wyatt appearing in a match sponsored by a limited edition soft drink flavor, but unlike that time The Miz got eaten by zombies in a crossover match advertising some movie I can’t remember, I thought there was actually some redeemable value here.
Bray Wyatt’s face paint looked incredibly cool under the black light. I thought the pops of Mountain Dew green were pretty cool, and as a change-up to everything else going on, I thought it was a watchable five minutes. That’s better than I expected before the match started. We also got some Uncle Howdy after the match is over but absolutely no clarity on what the hell is going on there.
I also just want to reiterate real quick that LA Knight is an upper mid-card/ lower main event star. This should be the first of many key matches he’s in at WWE premium live events. In fact, I’d love to pitch him working a program with The Miz at WrestleMania. Those two dudes going at each other on promo would be tremendous, and The Miz could put him over for a big win on a PPV card. Just think about it, Triple H.
Match Rating: 2 out of 5 stars. Without question the worst match on the card, but it was harmless enough.
Bianca Belair Defeats Alexa Bliss For The Raw Women’s Championship
This wasn’t Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 38, but it did exactly what it needed to do. Alexa Bliss had some flashes of potential for another main event run, which she hasn’t shown in years. Bianca looked mostly in control as a physically dominating, long-term champion should, and we got some character development for Alexa, who is clearly returning to the fold with Bray Wyatt, at the end.
I wish they would have been given a little more than seven minutes and change to tell their story, but time is always going to be at a premium when you have two Rumble matches and an extended televised post-segment added to another match at the end of the card. So, given all that, I think this went well enough.
The real question is whether this is the end for Bianca and Alexa Bliss or whether we’ll get a rematch after Alexa fully joins forces with Bray and becomes darker and much more sinister. That could be a compelling program to run back, but it’ll likely depend on whether WWE is going to do Rhea and Bianca or Rhea and Charlotte Flair. I suspect they’ll do Bianca and Rhea, which would leave Alexa free to develop her character and build back up slowly, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Match Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. This was a perfectly nice match that was mostly well-executed by both women, but given its length and what else was on the card, it won’t be super well-remembered down the road.
Rhea Ripley Wins The Women’s Royal Rumble
They gave us a little bit of doubt. Rhea Ripley was the heavy favorite in the minds of many prior to The Rumble, but after she was kayfabe injured during a post-elimination segment in The Men’s Rumble by Beth Phoenix and she came out at number one, the door opened for her to lose without losing any credibility. But she wouldn’t need the excuse.
The Judgment Day heel started off the match with Liv Morgan, and the two women put on a dominating performance, winding up as the final two entrants after battling each other for over an hour. In between, we got a lot of good mini-stories, just like we saw in The Men’s Rumble. There was a pretty dominating segment in the middle in which Damage CTRL basically took over the match, eliminating a bunch of women between them and looking very much in control. That ultimately ended at the hands of Becky Lynch, which clearly telegraphed a program between Bayley and Becky that will almost certainly climax at WrestleMania 39.
The other big stories were Nia Jax, who made a surprise return at number 30 and Asuka, who debuted new facepaint and an updated look. Jax was gang eliminated by everyone in the ring pretty quickly, which is a clear signal she’s going to be treated with tremendous respect, and Asuka wound up finishing third. She lasted over a half hour and eliminated three women, a great sign for her too. Expect both of these women to do major damage and be involved in very key storylines this year.
Here’s a quick list of some of the things I liked: Rhea Ripley’s entire performance. Chelsea Green’s surprise return and almost immediate heave-ho, which gives a good sense of the character we’ll see from her. Damage CTRL’s mid-match dominance. Michelle McCool looking great in the ring, as per usual, and seeing Doudrop return to the Piper Niven character and having a nearly thirty minute run.
Here’s a quick list of some things I didn’t like: No Naomi. No Sasha Banks. No Forbidden Door. Not a ton of legend appearances, outside of Michelle McCool. Not enough big, well-choreographed spots.
Match Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. This was a very solid Rumble with a lot of good talent and some effective storytelling. I’d complain about both Rhea and Cody being really obvious winners, but they were both the best choices available, at least among those that entered The Rumble.
Roman Reigns Defeats Kevin Owens (And Sami Zayn Turns On The Bloodline)
This was never going to be the most exciting match in the world because I don’t know a single person who thought Roman Reigns would lose his titles before WrestleMania. That just didn’t make any sense storyline-wise. So, the only possible results we could get were a Roman Reigns victory or a screwy Kevin Owens win by countout or disqualification, which would have likely elicited anger and boos from the crowd. So, it was always going to be Roman Reigns.
And it was Roman Reigns in a pretty dominating performance. Kevin Owens got a few hope spots of course with a pop-up power bomb and a stunner. I’ll admit I lost my logic and fully immersed in the match a few times and felt my heart jump during a couple close call pinfalls, but in the end, Roman, of course, won in a solid main event match.
What always mattered most here though was The Bloodline storyline development, and what an absolute treat that turned out to be. We got a little during the match itself when the referee was knocked out and Reigns asked Sami to get him a chair. He hemmed and hawed for a bit and clearly felt bad. He eventually delivered but the delay allowed Owens to regain his strength and turn the tables. Roman was clearly pissed off, and after the match, he and the rest of The Bloodline handcuffed KO to the ring and beat him.
Sami was later given a chair to join in and instead of hitting KO, he turned on Roman and hit him with the chair in what elicited one of the loudest pops I have ever heard watching WWE. This thing was like Attitude Era levels of bedlam. Sami obviously got jumped by The Bloodline afterwards, but Jey Uso refused to be a part of it and left the ring, leaving the future of both The Usos, the most dominant tag team in WWE history, and The Bloodline, one of the most dominant factions in WWE history, in jeopardy.
We always knew Sami and The Bloodline would turn on each other. That was only a question of when, but the Jey Uso wrinkle was completely unexpected and now creates so many future storyline possibilities. I cannot wait to watch it unfold. Will The Usos break up? Will they fight each other at WrestleMania? Will Jey put his tail between his legs and go back to The Bloodline?
Match Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (if you’re including the post-segment). This Bloodline plot is the most emotionally nuanced and compelling storyline WWE has ever done, and everyone involved should be so proud of themselves.
|Major Event||Matches Guessed Right||Matches Guessed Wrong|
|2022 Survivor Series||2||3|
|All 2022 PPVs||48||19|
|2023 Royal Rumble||5||0|
Here's a look back at my predictions from before the event. I added a bolded paragraph after each to talk about how I did.
Bray Wyatt Vs LA Knight In A Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match
Let me talk to you. LA Knight is a freakin’ star. That dude is capable of having a Miz-like career where he just rolls for ten years, mostly crushing the midcard and talking segments but occasionally popping into the main event picture. He’s spectacular on the microphone and knows how to work the crowd. He’s also pretty good in the ring, and I see a super bright future for him. Obviously, WWE does too, given he’s opposite Bray Wyatt in the big man’s first program after his return, and he was on Raw XXX doing segments with The Undertaker.
That being said, it’s hard to imagine Bray Wyatt coming back to this much fanfare and then losing his first match. He needs to establish himself as a dominant force in the ring so he can compete in the main event scene if WWE wants to take him there, and a loss to LA Knight at this point puts him very far away from that goal. I guess there’s a chance we see some interference from Uncle Howdy or Alexa Bliss that forwards his storyline and costs him the victory, but I just don’t see it.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt
How'd I Do?: Yeah, I mean this was the easiest prediction of the night. Bray was always going to roll coming back, and he did so in about 5 minutes. I still believe in LA Knight long-term in a big way though. 1/1
Bianca Belair Vs Alexa Bliss For The WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Bianca Belair is one of the most talented women in the history of the business. Every bit of success she’s had so far has been well-deserved, and I think her future is as bright or brighter than anyone else in the women’s division. But… if you really listen closely to the crowd response, she’s not quite as over as you’d think. Fans like her, don’t get me wrong. She gets a healthy round of applause. People are happy to see her— but are they as happy to see her as they are someone like Becky Lynch? No, they’re not.
I blame creative. Her feud with Bayley and Damage CTRL was okay, but it didn’t really have any complexities or nuances. Now, she’s in the middle of this semi-rushed feud with Alexa Bliss, and it’s, in my opinion, making her tepid reactions worse. Fans want to see Alexa Bliss, who has been spinning her tires for a bit, return to Bray Wyatt, and every time that gets teased, it’s only natural for fans to root for it— even if it means rooting against Bianca.
So, because Bianca is not as over as you’d hope right now and because there’s a lot of hype around Alexa Bliss’ future, I think all possibilities are on the table here. At first, I thought we might get an Alexa win thanks to some creepy Funhouse interference in order to keep Bianca looking strong, but now, I think we’ll get a close match and Bianca will retain thanks to that very interference. Look for Alexa to maybe be in position for a victory when Uncle Howdy comes out and lures her officially back into the fold with his creepy sinkhole energy. Then she can start rebuilding alongside Bray.
Prediction: Bianca Belair
How'd I Do? We didn't get any interference from Uncle Howdy or Bray Wyatt; so, not surprisingly, Bianca Belair rolled. I'm happy we got some character development at the end for her though, and I do think she's about to rebuild stronger with Bray. 2/2
Roman Reigns Vs Kevin Owens For The Undisputed WWE Universal Championship
There are, at least in my mind, only two outcomes that matter here, at least outside of putting on an entertaining match for fans. 1. Roman Reigns needs to leave The Royal Rumble with his belts so we can get a proper climax at WrestleMania. 2. Whatever happens needs to progress the Kevin Owens/ Sami Zayn/ Bloodline story arc.
If both of those requirements hold, then that means we almost certainly need to get interference and either Roman Reigns needs to win in any fashion or Kevin Owens needs to win by disqualification or countout. That makes the ending to this match more complicated to predict because we’re not going to get any final resolution. I’ll go with The Tribal Chief, but the only real surprise would be Kevin Owens winning the belts.
As for how the Bloodline plot will advance, I think we'll probably see Sami Zayn try to help Roman but end up costing him in a key spot in the match. That will further sew distrust between him, Reigns and Wise Man Paul Heyman, which can be explored over the next month or two on Smackdown.
Prediction: Roman Reigns
How'd I Do? As suspected, Roman Reigns rolled, but we ended up getting way more character development than I expected after the match. What a freakin' story this continues to be. 3/3
The 2023 Women’s Royal Rumble
While I think there are a couple of real good options to win The Men’s Royal Rumble, I think the Women’s Rumble is wide open. We’re not looking to continue any important feuds right now. We’re looking to put something entirely new in motion for The Road To WrestleMania, and considering that could be in a program with either Smackdown Champion Charlotte Flair or Raw Champion Bianca Belair (or Alexa Bliss), all options are on the table. Let’s run over some possibilities.
Becky Lynch could win, given she’s the most over women’s wrestler on the entire card. Bayley could win, given she could have a terrific feud opposite Charlotte Flair, especially in promo v promo segments, though I think Becky and Bayley will probably continue working together into 'Mania.
Asuka could get another main event push, which she’s desperately needed for a while. Raquel, who has been quietly getting a pretty big push for a while, could take a massive step forward. Naomi could return to a monster pop and insert herself back into the main event picture. Sasha Banks could shock everyone and return in what would likely be the loudest surprise Rumble pop in the event’s history. Ronda Rousey could come back and intentionally piss off fans in a move that could generate the loudest boos in Rumble history.
There are so many good options, but I’ll take Rhea Ripley. The Judgment Day is a fantastic stable, and they desperately need some gold to add a little credibility. I’d love to see Rhea Ripley emerge as the full-on leader of the faction, and I’d love to see Damian Priest escorting her out to her matches as one of the most physically intimidating valets since a young Kevin Nash as Diesel used to back up Shawn Michaels. She has so much potential, and while I love seeing her work with the men in whatever Judgment Day is doing, I’m ready to see her emerge as a huge star in the women’s division.
Prediction: Rhea Ripley (hopefully in dominating fashion).
How'd I Do? I guessed Rhea Ripley would roll in dominating fashion, and she rolled in dominating fashion. She went wire to wire and had seven eliminations. 4/4
The 2023 Men’s Royal Rumble
There are technically a lot of potential options to win here, as I broke down in my piece ranking the most likely 2023 Royal Rumble winners, but from a storyline perspective, I think we’re down to three options that are much more likely than the rest: Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn and The Rock.
I think those are the three that make far more sense from a storyline perspective than the others. So, let’s briefly talk about why.
Prior to his injury around Hell In A Cell last year, Cody Rhodes seemed well on his way to finally winning the WWE Championship that has eluded him and his father. He was getting great crowd responses and it only seemed like a matter of time before he’d be put in a big spot for the historic title. Unfortunately, he got injured and what once seemed like a sure thing, now seems like more of a question mark. My read is fans want to see him continue his storyline for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away, especially because fans may want to see two other stories Roman Reigns could tell more.
The first is with The Rock. The WWE legend and Hollywood mega-star has been at the center of rumors around a possible WrestleMania return. Those whispers have gotten a little cold water poured on them lately (allegedly because The Rock is worried about being in good enough cardio shape), but I think there’s still a decent chance he’s in for ‘Mania, especially after how well Stone Cold’s return went over last year. If he is going to show up, there’s no better place to start that program than at The Royal Rumble, and if he does show up, it's hard to imagine him losing.
And finally, we have Sami Zayn. The Honorary Uce is the most popular person on WWE’s roster right now, and he’s involved in the most popular storyline. Fans would lose their minds if he won The Rumble, but whether or not WWE sees him as a WrestleMania main event star is another conversation entirely. Is he capable of moving tickets? Is he capable of generating crossover interest from casual or non-wrestling fans? I guess we’ll find out if WWE has the confidence he can.
Prediction: I’m sticking with Cody Rhodes
How'd I Do? This was a lot harder to predict when I thought we were going to get Sami Zayn and potentially The Rock in The Royal Rumble. Cody was still the pick, but without those two, he was the obvious pick. So, I'm happy I got it right, but this was less impressive than most years would be. 5/5
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