Cody Rhodes, Rhea Ripley And 6 Other WWE Superstars Who Look Better Than Ever Coming Out Of Royal Rumble 2023

Cody Rhodes pointing to the WrestleMania sign after winning the 2023 Royal Rumble
(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)

The Royal Rumble 2023 is behind us and all roads lead to WrestleMania. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves and start planning out the next few months of WWE programming, though, we have to take a moment and look back on what was undoubtedly the best Royal Rumble event of the past decade, and up there on the list of best of all time. From start to finish, the first WWE premium live event of the year was an exciting spectacle that made everyone look like a million bucks (well, almost everyone), whether they won or lost their respective matches.

Though Cody Rhodes and Rhea Ripley won the Men’s and Women’s Royal Rumble matches, respectively, they weren’t the only WWE superstars who came out looking better than ever. With respective runners-up Gunther and Liv Morgan setting records for time spent in a match, a major advancement in the ongoing drama surrounding The Bloodline, and some of WWE’s stables looking like major threats, there was a lot to love. Let’s break it down now.

Cody Rhodes after winning the 2023 Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)

Cody Rhodes

Despite being telegraphed heading into the Royal Rumble, Cody Rhodes coming back from injury (he had been out since tearing his pectoral in June 2022) and winning the match to earn a championship opportunity at WrestleMania 39 was one of the highlights of the night. Rhodes and WWE found a way to avoid a situation like Batista returning and winning the 2014 Royal Rumble or Brock Lesnar last year, which really shows how much the fans love the “son of a son of a plumber.”

Though he wasn’t in the match as long as someone like Gunther (more on him later), Rhodes put on a hell of a showing, knocking out five competitors in a little more than 15 minutes. He also continued his rivalry with Seth Rollins that kicked off at WrestleMania 38, a feud that was cut way too short due to the aforementioned injury.

Rhea Ripley winning the Women's Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE)

Rhea Ripley

Rhea Ripley was another WWE superstar all but guaranteed to win the Royal Rumble, but few expected to see such a dominant performance by the former NXT Women’s Champion. Rarely do you see a wrestler enter the rumble in the number one spot and last the entire match, but that’s exactly what Ripley did during her 61 minutes in the ring, eliminating seven competitors in the process.

And it wasn’t like she just fed on lower-tier talent, as Ripley squashed the hopes of headlining WrestleMania for Asuka, Michelle McCool, Nia Jax (along with 10 other wrestlers), and Liv Morgan on her path to glory. The only question remaining is who she will challenge when WrestleMania goes Hollywood in April.

Sami Zayn standing with a chair after hitting Roman Reigns at the 2023 Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)

Sami Zayn

Despite not being booked in any of the matches or performing a single wrestling maneuver during the 2023 Royal Rumble, Sami Zayn still came out looking better than ever, and that’s thanks to the incredible and dramatic saga of The Bloodline that has slowly become the best written and most nuanced angle in years.

For months now, the beloved superstar has had ups-and-downs with Roman Reigns and company, earning their trust and then distrust as the WWE Universal Champion feuded with Zayn’s longtime friend, Kevin Owens. It was all capped off when Zayn refused to hit a handcuffed Owens following the stellar main event match, instead turning on the Tribal Chief and suffering a beatdown from Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa. Strong, principled, and an uncompromising babyface, we witnessed his rebirth.

Jey Uso confronting Sami Zayn after he attacked Roma Reigns at the 2023 Royal Rumbe

(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)

Jey Uso

Zayn wasn’t the only member of The Bloodline to come out of the 2023 Royal Rumble looking better than ever. Jey Uso, who has gone from despising Zayn only a few months ago to being his biggest supporter during the “Trial of Sami Zayn” at the Raw 30th anniversary show prior to the Rumble, was the only member of the stable to not beat him down following the attack on Roman Reigns. Instead, a visibly upset and fed up Uso left the ring looking like a new man.

It’s crazy to think about, but it’s only been a few years since the Usos were one-dimensional tag team wrestlers with face paint, and now Jey Uso is without a doubt one of the most interesting figures in professional wrestling.

Gunther entering the Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)


Intercontinental Champion, Gunther, who has been putting on some of the most physical and violent matches in WWE the past few months, came out looking like a world champion in the making following his record-breaking performance in the Men’s Royal Rumble match. Over the course of 71 minutes (the previous record was Rey Mysterio’s 62-minute outing in 2006), the leader of Imperium dominated in the ring, knocking out five wrestlers before being eliminated by Cody Rhodes to end the match.

Seriously, it would be shocking to not see Gunther win the Men’s Royal Rumble match next year after this performance. If you weren’t on the Gunther hype train before, now is your time to claim your seat.

Liv Morgan entering the 2023 Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)

Liv Morgan

Though she ultimately fell short of winning the Women’s Royal Rumble match, Liv Morgan put on one hell of a showing, lasting 61 minutes (a new record she set along with Rhea Ripley) and helping put an end to Damage CTRL’s reign of terror in the ring.

The former Smackdown Women’s Champion was already one of the most exciting WWE superstars prior to the match, but her performance essentially told the world that 2022 wasn’t a fluke and that she was here to stay. It’s rare you see someone look so strong and come out looking better than before while losing a match.

Judgment Day in the ring at the 2023 Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)

Judgment Day

While The Bloodline came out of Royal Rumble looking like a group on the ropes, the same can’t be said for Judgment Day, who looked more dominant than ever before throughout the show. On top of Rhea Ripley’s record-shattering victory in the Women’s Royal Rumble match, the group’s other members – Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio, and Damian Priest – added an exciting dynamic to the Men’s match.

All entering within a few minutes of each other, the trio used their alliance to their advantage to rough up the competition and sneak in a few eliminations in the process. It should also be noted that Mysterio, who prevented his dad from entering the match and stole his mask, looked like a completely different wrestler, making you wonder if his paternity storyline from 2005 was more truth than fiction.

Damage CTRL beating down Rhea Ripley at the 2023 Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE/Peacock)

Damage CTRL

And then there is Damage CTRL, the stable consisting of Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky that has been making life difficult for the Women’s division since debuting at SummerSlam 2022. All three members each had five eliminations, most of which were done so as a team, proving once again that it doesn’t hurt to have a strong alliance heading into a match like this.

Though Kai and Sky were eliminated at the same time when Becky Lynch knocked them out of the ring, Bayley was there to get even with “The Man,” ending her quest to headline WrestleMania 39. Maybe this will set up a high-profile tag match with all involved parties at the “Showcase of the Immortals” instead.

These weren’t the only WWE superstars to come out looking better than ever, as Sheamus, Logan Paul (that mid-air collision with Ricochet was an all-time great Rumble moment), and the commentary team looked and sounded amazing. If you want to go back and relive the 2023 Royal Rumble, or watch any of the upcoming WWE events, you can do so with a Peacock Premium subscription.

Stream the 2023 Royal Rumble on Peacock.

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.