Pruett's Pause: WWE Royal Rumble 2013 - In person perspective on The Rock defeating C.M. Punk, John Cena winning the Royal Rumble, Alberto Del Rio rocking duct tape, and more!
By Will Pruett
- I was at this show in person and I haven't seen the TV version yet, so I won't have anything to say about commentary. I also may have enjoyed this show far more, because I was there live.
- The arena in Phoenix looked fantastic. I loved the basic giant screen up top, which could easily change for the Rumble countdown. I had some of the best seats I've ever had at a wrestling show for this event, and it was a pretty one to watch.
- The Miz vs. Antonion Cesaro surprised me, not because the match was decent, but because the crowd really bought into Miz. I'm not sure if this is a sign that Miz is getting over, or a sign that Cesaro is doing a great job. It's also possible the hot crowd was just excited for the first match of the evening.
- I'm continuously encouraged by what WWE is doing with Antonio Cesaro. He's getting clean wins over prominent babyfaces the majority of the time. After WrestleMania, Cesaro may be in line for a very big push.
- The actual pay-per-view's opening video was pretty cool. I loved the focus on time, both in counting down entrances and with Rock vs. Punk. WWE's production team did a great job with it.
- Big Show was in the ring forever, watching Bret Hart interact with Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. I was fine with the backstage segment, even if it seemed like another very transparent attempt from WWE to make sure people love Del Rio.
- I was wondering how Phoenix would react to Del Rio once his music hit, and they adored him. The crowd was into Del Rio for the entire match. They were a slightly snarky crowd as the night went on, but at the top of the show they towed the babyface line.
- How reenforced must the area of the set have been where Del Rio and Big Show fought? It wasn't just a prop for their match, but a functional area of the set. Del Rio took a major bump there in a very cool sequence.
- Yes, Phoenix was happy to count in Spanish for Alberto Del Rio's possible victories.
- Between the Last Man Standing match and the Royal Rumble match, this show had more counting on it than any in wrestling history.
- While I can understand the argument stating Alberto Del Rio's duct tape aided win was cheap, I don't agree with it. Del Rio made Big Show look like a big oaf. This made Del Rio look smart and cunning, not cheap. If anything, this finish hurt the Last Man Standing stipulation (which is terrible) more than it hurt Del Rio.
- What's wrong with a babyface just being smarter than a heel on occasion?
- Big E. Langston seems to be going more the silly route with his promos. There's no denying his personality, but why not completely embrace it? Wearing his ring gear all of the time doesn't lead me to believe Big E. is the guy he actually is.
- Also, maybe Big E. should be less silly.
- The return of the very short Royal Rumble promos from big stars and midcard wrestlers was great. Those promos should have been on every WWE TV show this week. They would have been the second or third best part of Raw.
- I think people may have been expecting the Rumble match after all of the Rumble promos, because there was a twinge of disappointment in the crowd with Rhodes Scholars entered. The crowd got into their heel act eventually, but it took a moment longer than I expected.
- While I was ready to see Kane and Daniel Bryan lose the Tag Team Championships, I didn't mind them holding onto those belts either. I don't see another place on the card for Kane and Bryan to go with the main event scene as crowded as it is for WrestleMania. Perhaps a match with The Shield is in the cards for 'Mania (or sooner). I'd be more excited about The Shield as tag champions than Rhodes Scholars.
- Kane and Bryan comparing Rumble numbers was pretty fun. They really do comedy well.
- Dolph Ziggler getting another minute of promo time really surprised me, at least until the number two entrant was introduced. Ziggler set up the shock well.
- When Chris Jericho's music hit, the roar from Phoenix was crazy. It was one of the biggest ovations I've ever heard and definitely one of the longest I've ever heard. Jericho's constant vacations and returns certainly do help him stay over.
- The first four wrestler in this Rumble (Ziggler, Jericho, Cody Rhodes, and Kofi Kingston) probably could have worked the entire Rumble on their own. WWE's roster is pretty deep with wrestling talent right now.
- It was nice to see Santino back after surgery, even if I don't particularly get a kick out of his act anymore.
- Whenever 3MB's music hit, the crowd instantly recoiled. It wasn't just heat, but they just sat down and looked dejected all over the arena. I almost felt bad for 3MB, but then I remembered how annoying they are.
- Titus O'Neal received a surprisingly big reaction. I haven't been a proponent of turning the Primetime Players babyface as some have suggested, but after seeing this, I can understand it.
- The return of Goldust was another fun moment. He didn't quite get the Jericho roar, but he did get a major reaction. Once he started going at it with Cody Rhodes, I was hoping for Dusty Rhodes to eliminate both of his sons.
- I loved the way Sheamus entered and brought the crowd back into the match after the disappointed entrances of David Otunga and Heath Slater. The Rumble is always a fascinating match to look at the construction of and this was great construction.
- Next up was the fat guy portion of the Rumble, with Tensai receiving no reaction and Brodus Clay getting the standard babyface pop. It is still fun to see Brodus' act live, even though it's played out on TV.
- Rey Mysterio was in the Rumble for a long time, but I don't remember much more than his dual 619's that he performed upon entering. This was a surprisingly plain performance from Mysterio. I would also rather see him stick with the full shirt instead of the singlet. Mysterio doesn't need to look like a mini-Undertaker with a mask.
- Darren Young's reaction was noticeably quieter than Titus O'Neal's. He did, however, have one of my favorite lines of the night during the short Rumble promos. I'm beginning to love the "Ain't nobody got time for that" catchphrase and I might hate myself for it.
- I was slightly disappointed by Kofi Kingston's big spot this year. I fully expected him to jump from the announce table to the ring. The rolling chair felt like a cop-out solution. Even somehow spring boarding off of Tensai would have been entertaining. This came off as more silly comedy than actually trying to save himself.
- Bo Dallas' initial reaction was mainly confusion from the live crowd, but as the match went on, they actually bought into him. This was a great way to introduce a new superstar and let him shine a little bit.
- Why would anyone run at an opponent against the ropes in the Rumble? It never turns out well.
- The Godfather's entrance is something I probably would have groaned about at home watching, but seeing how into it the crowd was, I had no choice but to cheer. He didn't get the level of reaction Jericho, or even Goldust, did, but it was a fun little cameo.
- The crowd was very conflicted all night on whether John Cena should metaphorically "Go"'or whether he did, in fact, suck. I didn't expect this much of a split dynamic from Phoenix, but they delivered a fun environment.
- I was sad to see Cody Rhodes, who was the Rumble's third entrant, get taken out in a lackluster spot by John Cena, but I understood it. Not every wrestler gets a big story from the Rumble and Rhodes actually got even more than most.
- Damien Sandow truly seems like an old school guy. He entered the Rumble selling his shoulder injury from earlier in the night (when he tapped out). I love it when it seems like a wrestler is paying attention.
- You wouldn't believe how into Jericho applying the Walls of Jericho to Cena the crowd was. I'm thoroughly impressed by Jericho's return and the amount of time he spent in the match. I'm hoping he ends up with a chance to tell a story going into WrestleMania.
- Why was Daniel Bryan dreading entering in the last third of the Rumble?
- Great Khali is huge when you see him live. It's also more apparent, in a live appearance, how injured his legs really are. It's painful to watch this guy, not just because of a lack of wrestling skill, but because he just seems like a human in great pain.
- 16 Royal Rumbles in a row is an impressive streak for Kane. He's been an amazing superstar and a workhorse for WWE since 1997. His long career is a much deserved one.
- Zack Ryder's loud reaction from the crowd amazed me. I know fans love the silly comedy babyfaces, but Ryder isn't funny and really has not done anything worth watching in over a year. Even if he had been pushed as he begged for on his Internet show, I still believe people would be tired of him now.
- Kane being eliminated by Daniel Bryan was fun, but the ensuing drama between Kane and Bryan was more fun. Their "yes" and "no" argument was great, as was the moment of Kane letting Bryan down. The crowd was pretty disappointed right then. It'll be interesting to see if there is followup to this on Raw, or if Kane and Bryan are friendly again.
- Randy Orton still receives a superstar pop when he enters, but it is noticeably quieter than it was this Summer. Now is the time for Orton to go back to his heel persona, especially when credible heels are hard to come by.
- In both the Rumble match and the pay-per-view preshow match, The Miz did not use the giant inflatable "Awesome" as he usually does on big pay-per-views. Color me disappointed.
- Given how involved The Shield were with The Rock and Punk in the last week, I really didn't expect to see them involved in anything but the main event, even with the ban.
- Alberto Del Rio is definitely the superior Hispanic hero to Sin Cara.
- The story told with Bo Dallas and Wade Barrett was truly Undertaker and Maven-esque, only Dallas was made to look game instead of lucky. I believe this should be the Intercontinental Championship rivalry for the next month or two. This was a strong introduction for Dallas and he should stay on this roll.
- Introducing a new talent in the Royal Rumble match is a gutsy move, but it turned out to be one of the best stories told all night. Kudos to WWE for taking the risk and using one of their biggest stages to promote a new star. The crowd chanted "Let's go Bo!" as he was eliminating Barrett and he really seemed to get over.
- Putting Ryback at the number 30 slot made some sense, but WWE robbed themselves of the opportunity to have Ryback clear the ring and lead a massive "Feed me more" chant which would feed into the countdown.
- Why are fans still chanting "Goldberg" at Ryback? They know Ryback is being pushed in a different way and has actually lost, right? They should also know Ryback probably has more skill and staying power than Goldberg. Stop trying to be the "cool fan" and open your eyes, people!
- This was an interesting Rumble because it moved very quickly (presumably to give more time to the main event) and the ring was never cleared to just one person. At the same time, it wasn't just a festival of dead weight like the 2009 Rumble. This match seemed meticulously booked and it was really fun as a result.
- Chris Jericho lasted almost 50 minutes in the ring in his first match since August. What an impressive effort from the newly tattooed Y2J.
- Dolph Ziggler was so close to going the distance and being the last man eliminated. I was actually disappointed for a moment when he didn't. Dolph worked hard in this Rumble match and I hope he gets something out of it, other than another loss on TV to John Cena.
- John Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus are WWE's three lead babyface powerhouses. It was a pretty cool moment to see the three of them in the ring together.
- I think the normally anti-Cena and anti-Ryback portion of the crowd was pretty upset at the end of the Rumble. I understand why they would be, but there was nothing wrong with this final two.
- The Cena and Ryback confrontation was akin to Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior at the end of 1990. I liked the Hogan and Warrior moment better and felt like it was better booked. I still enjoyed Ryback and Cena doing their thing though.
- Many times in booking, the obvious choice is the strongest choice. WWE went with the obvious choice of John Cena winning the Royal Rumble and to me it was the strongest choice possible. Is it exciting for the anti-Cena contingent? No. Will it excite the much larger pro-Cena fans? Yes. Was the Rumble match great? Yes.
- If you ever have the chance, go see the Royal Rumble live. The match, as exciting as it is on TV, is twice as exciting in the building. It's a truly special concept that has to be seen. This might have been my favorite live show ever, and I go to far more wrestling than a person should.
- The pyro going off behind the WrestleMania sign was directly above my head. Don't worry, I didn't catch on fire. I was a little disappointed in being right underneath the WrestleMania sign, as it made taking a picture of myself pointing to it an impossibility.
- I was fully expecting a Diva's match to act as the Rumble to main event buffer, but we didn't get one. This was a five match card and it stayed at five matches. Luckily, all five delivered quality.
- The Rock's promo before his match was a little heavy-handed with his talk about cancer and faith, but I can definitely see where it would be inspiring as well. The Rock, in this promo especially, was more of the classic babyface and the role actually fit him relatively well. Was the promo a little much? Of course, but it was also still effective.
- The big match feel was evident with C.M. Punk taking on The Rock. The crowd was more split than I expected for a Rock match, but the Punk group was a more vocal minority than a full half.
- The entire arena, all the way to the back row, was standing as Punk and Rock were introduced in the ring. Pardon the phrase, but it was electric.
- I never thought I would have the opportunity to see The Rock wrestle live again. It was a real treat to sit back and soak it in as a fan.
- This match used more of the bells and whistles Rock had available to him in the Attitude Era than Rock's match with John Cena did. It fit the build better and Rock looked better in this match because of it.
- I loved Punk's coverup for the announce table breaking pre-maturely, but its ultimate untimely collapse was a scary moment and seemed to hurt the flow of the match a little bit. Rock and Punk recovered beautifully, even with the odd moment.
- Seeing a Rock match focusing on working a body part was new for me. I liked the build into the Sharpshooter and was amazed at the pop the Sharpshooter generated.
- Even most of the pro-heel fans (including a group of people in Dolph Ziggler shirts) were cheering for The Rock in this match. I can promise you there was never a moment where the crowd was flat.
- When the lights went out, it was The Shield that came out and Rock did fully take the triple Powerbomb through the announce table. I was surprised to see this occur in total darkness, since it was a major bump and a big spot.
- I appreciated the effort to continue the Punk and Shield story, even with them being banned from interfering. The next chapter of this story should be very interesting.
- The Rock going down and staying down for The Shield's big Powerbomb really helps the group seem like a threat.
- There was an aura of confusion as Punk celebrated. The arena as a whole seemed disappointed and actually angry at the interference.
- The pop of the night went to Vince McMahon, who once again caused the entire crowd to rise to their feet. I can understand certain qualms about the booking of this match ending, but the reaction definitely sold me on it. It also gives Punk a pinfall over The Rock to brag about, which may be important going forward.
- The Rock asking for the match to be restarted after taking a serious beating further reenforces him being in full on babyface mode on this night. It's nice to see a star who was made in the "shades of grey" era of booking take on being the babyface and do it so well.
- The match ended a little too abruptly after the restart for my tastes.
- While I was surprised to see The Rock win the match with The People's Elbow, it harkened back to his greatest career victory, at Backlash 2000. He won his match against Triple H with the People's Elbow as well. It was odd, but not completely unprecedented.
- The Rock's pinfall and celebration were like a party in Phoenix. I don't know when the show went off the air, but I doubt it was before the fans stopped applauding. This was a crazy moment to be a part of.
- After the show, The Rock celebrated specifically for Phoenix. He thanked the fans, his family, and all of the WWE Superstars for creating such a magical night. He didn't speak for long, but he closed with the crowd pleasing "If you smell" line and sent everyone home happy.
- Once again, the obvious choice was the right one with The Rock winning the WWE Championship. No one wants to see a one month title change going into WrestleMania. The Rock was going to win the title since his speech the night after WrestleMania XXVIII on Raw. I know Punk fans are upset, but this was the right move.
- The show didn't close with a Rock and Cena stare down, which was probably the right choice. I hoping for a Punk vs. Rock one on one rematch at Elimination Chamber, with Cena promising to choose the winner of the match. I'm mildly convinced Rock will be in an actual Chamber, but we'll see what happens.
From a live perspective, this show was amazing. The Rumble match delivered some great action and story. The main event was a little overbooked, but the conclusion was electric. The other matches on the show were in the good-to-great range. WWE delivered a very fan-friendly show and a great kickoff to the Road to WrestleMania.
From a booking perspective, I believe WWE made all the right choices here. It might be frustrating for some to see Rock vs. Cena down the road again, but the build to their second match will most likely be better than their first. I'm not fully sold on it yet, but I don't see a better option for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
I have to say again that I loved this show. It was an amazing night to be a wrestling fan.
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this show! Feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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