411’s Instant Access 01.27.13: WWE Royal Rumble 2013
Hey kids, I’m Scott, and this is 411’s Instant Access: WWE Royal Rumble 2013. Instant Access is the companion piece to 411 Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus in Instant Access is on first thoughts and initial reactions instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to
one two three FOUR writers’ thoughts on the show. Here’s the team for the Royal Rumble:
• Scott Slimmer, author of Don’t Think Twice.
• Michael Benjamin, current author of 411’s WWE Main Event Report and 411’s WWE Smackdown Report.
• Tony Acero, author of The Wrestling 5&1 and The Low End Theory.
• Michael Ornelas, author of The TV List.
Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let’s get to the wrestling.
Match Result: Antonio Cesaro defeats Miz with the Neutralizer.
Match Length: 7:40
Slimmer: This was a good match by pre-show standards, and my interest in it increased greatly once I remembered that Cesaro won his United States Championship in a pre-show match. I mean, if he won the title on the pre-show, then it would be somewhat poetic for him to lose it on the pre-show as well. The fact that I actually believed Miz could win the title made the match much more enjoyable, and they managed to pack a decent amount of action into less than eight minutes. In the end I like having Cesaro retain the belt, because I think there’s still life in his “I’m the best United States Champion because I’m not from America” gimmick. I’d be more than happy to see Cesaro vs. Miz for the title on the main card at Elimination Chamber, but I could also see one or both of them in chamber matches as well.
Benjamin: Did you see that tilt-a-whirl back breaker Cesaro gave Miz? That was impressive. Anyways, I really enjoyed the match these two gave us. Cesaro was on offense more often than not and obviously delivered. He’s doing a great job of establishing a physical and visually impressive move set to go along with all of the TV time he’s been getting lately. This man knows how to maximize his TV time. Unlike Miz, who’s all over WWE television and feels stagnant because of it. His angle with Flair probably isn’t going to help either. Despite my qualms with his character, he more than held his own in there tonight. The real question is, who’s taking the belt off of Cesaro?
Average Match Rating: **¾
Alberto Del Rio (Champion) w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. The Big Show
Match Result: Alberto Del Rio defeats the Big Show (with some assistance from Ricardo Rodriguez and a roll of duct tape)
Match Length: 16:56
Slimmer: This was actually a fun match, and I loved the choke slam through the table from the lighting rig. Seriously, that table was sitting on the concrete arena floor. That was a sick spot. I was definitely a bit wary of Del Rio as a face, but I’m beginning to see how this could work. If nothing else, I’m impressed by the way that Del Rio has tweaked his offensive repertoire to better suit his roll his role as a face. Seeing a man his size fly as well as he does really is quite impressive. All of that being said, I just can’t figure out what’s going on with the World Heavyweight Championship at the moment. Del Rio and Big Show are currently feuding over the belt, and it seems like Ziggler and his MitB contract been lurking in the wings forever at this point. But let’s not forget about Sheamus and Randy Orton, both of whom have been rumored for the World title match at WrestleMania. And then there’s Wade Barrett, who I’d love to see as the World Champion at some point in 2013. Hmm… that’s six men. And that’s such a convenient number for an Elimination Chamber match…
Benjamin: Creative took an interesting route to get us here. Giving us the same match on free TV two weeks ago was non-traditional to say the least. I really enjoyed that match so I was pretty excited heading into the rematch. The first thing that really stood out to me was how OVER Del Rio was. He’s making the transition very nicely. Alberto and Show put in another solid performance tonight. The crowd really started getting hot after Alberto took a HUGE chokeslam off of the set through a table. He didn’t fall flat enough and appeared to narrowly escape a shoulder injury there. Things kept chugging along at a great pace, including a clever spot or two playing off of their previous Last Man Standing match. I’m expecting an epic ending at this point and then Ricardo tapes Big Show’s feet to the bottom rope for the ten count. Really!? I didn’t like when Cena did it and I don’t like it now. There’s a difference between looking smart and looking cheap. This made Alberto look cheap and left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. It seems really out of touch to assume that’s what we want to see out of our champions. Other than the finish, the opener did its job and got the crowd pumped up.
Acero: A surprisingly solid match from these two that both topped their previous Last Man Standing Match. I thought the chokeslam into the table was rather weak, but if this isn’t proof that the face turn is working for Del Rio, then I don’t know what is. Big Show was so good here that he was sweating 2 minutes in! The duct tape method of winning was rather heelish, though, which confuses me a bit. Still, it helps that Del Rio didn’t go all Miz on his face turn. Bret Hart’s little nod to Del Rio was Flair-Miz-esque and seemed rather forced, but I liked Del Rio’s response “You’re like the Canadian Del Rio.” I know people were calling for a Dolph cash in but I don’t think it’s time for that. All in due time. Anyways, the match was pretty solid and a nice way to start the show.
Ornelas: If Only Big Show had done hip hop abs like I did, he’d have been able to get out of that.
Average Match Rating: **¾
Match Result: Team Hell No defeated Team Rhodes Scholars.
Slimmer: My WWE.com stream died just a few minutes into this match, and I didn’t recover it until after the match was over. I liked the back and forth action I saw in the first few minutes, but I really can’t comment on the quality of the match beyond that. However, given that Team Hell No retained the belts, it’s certainly noteworthy that Daniel Bryan eliminated Kane from the Royal Rumble only to have Kane refuse to help Bryan avoid elimination himself. Kane and Bryan may have graduated from anger management therapy, but I’m guessing their progress is about to take a few steps back tomorrow night on Raw. I could see their partnership deteriorating until they eventually lose the titles at Elimination Chamber, but I could also see them losing the belts on Raw and being inserted into one of the chamber matches at Elimination Chamber.
Benjamin: The chemistry these teams have established was noticeable almost immediately. Every move delivered was crisp and their familiarity with each other made for another solid outing, I wish I could say that this match was more than solid though. It wasn’t even as good as their Main Event match. The Rhodes Scholars really needed to win the titles to maintain some credibility. How can they logically get ANOTHER shot at the titles now? I’m going to be very interested in seeing where these four men are headed on the Road to WrestleMania. Here’s to hoping they can re-establish The Rhodes Scholars as threats sooner rather than later.
Acero: This was a pretty solid match, but that was an expectation going in. I didn’t think they were going to give Rhodes Scholars the titles quite yet, and I’m not sure why, but I think they need a bit more time with them. Unless, of course, they’re ready to give those two a single’s run – which seems to be the route their going with Bryan and Kane.
Ornelas: I wasn’t really watching because my girlfriend was looking up Jenna Haze as soon as Tony mentioned her name. Then I watched Cody’s Mustache with an erection and I was okay with it.
Average Match Rating: **¾
Match Result: John Cena wins the Royal Rumble match.
Match Length: 55:15
Slimmer: This match was a ton of fun, but that’s almost a given with a Royal Rumble Match. In my mind, the single most important factor that made this match so exciting was Chris Jericho entering at #2. Jericho’s return to the ring was certainly the biggest surprise of the match, but having such a big surprise right at the beginning of the match made it seem like anything could happen. I also love the fact that we got another tease of the long-rumored Rhodes / Rhodes feud. I would love to see Goldust vs. Cody Rhodes with Dusty Rhodes as the special guest referee at WrestleMania, but I just don’t know if there’s enough interest in Goldust to justify that kind of match. Kofi Kingston once again had the most impressive non-elimination of the match, but the fact that he was eliminated mere seconds later certainly diminished the impact of his heroics. The last five men in the match were John Cena, Ryback, Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Dolph Ziggler. All of those men except Ryback have been WWE and / or World Heavyweight Champions, and they all seem poised to play major roles in the title scenes in 2013. Many predicted that Cena would pick up the win, and all of them were correct. Cena will almost certainly choose to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, but I’ll discuss that possibility in more detail in my comments on Punk / Rock below. What I find more interesting is that the current rumors suggest that it will be Sheamus vs. Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. Given that neither of them won the Royal Rumble, it’s a bit difficult to imagine how that’s going to happen, and if does, where does that leave Del Rio, Big Show, and Ziggler?
Benjamin: You surprised? You can’t say that they didn’t do their best to put a little doubt in our minds. Look at the final six: Jericho, Sheamus, Orton, Ziggler, Ryback, and Cena. It would have been nice if they tried a little harder with putting doubt in our minds before tonight’s match though. It’s a bit deflating when a winner is so telegraphed. The match itself was fun as usual. They kicked the Royal Rumble match off with a surprise return right out of the gate. The crowd ERUPTED when Chris Jericho came out at number two. Goldust was the second return. I was feeling impartial to it until I realized he was headed straight for Cody. I remember Goldust Twitter lobbying to make that a Mania match on last year’s card. Maybe we could see The Rhodes Scholars vs. Bookdust this year? The Godfather was the third return. He was eliminated immediately by Dolph. That’s pretty much the best use for him in 2013. The returns felt a little lackluster given all of the rumors but that’s my own fault for reading spoilers and setting high expectations. The match was filled with those fun Rumble moments that we’ve come to expect. Santino had a pretty funny moment where he threw four men over the top rope only to realize they were all still standing on the apron and that it didn’t count. Kofi managed to sneak a memorable moment in when he used JBL’s announce chair to pogo his way from the announce table back to the apron but it was a little unspectacular given the minute of build up before he actually executed it. Kane and Daniel Bryan had a nice little exchange eliminating each other which was expected. Besides Cena, the two men that left the biggest impression were Ziggler and Ryback. Dolph Ziggler came in at number one and made it to the final six. He never faded too far into the background either, unlike some iron men in the past. I was always aware of the fact that Ziggler was in there fighting for his life. Ryback came in late but quickly made a huge impression. He definitely looked right at home in there with all of the franchise players. Cena/Ryback could be big money down the line. Overall, the 2013 Royal Rumble match was a solid entry but not one of the best.
Acero: Jericho! Goldust! Godfather! The Rumble is always exciting, and tonight was no different…until the last few seconds. Look, I predicted John Cena to win, but I just knew how badly it would all turn out. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be surprised because we all knew it was going to go down this way, but there was some sort of hope inside of me that the WWE would surprise me and make me feel like a kid again. Alas, they didn’t and Cena won. I wanted to be a dick and rate this Rumble match like No Stars, but that’s just unfair to Kofi’s chair stunt, Dolph’s performance, and the Jericho surprise.
Ornelas: John Cena! My boy won my girl $30!! So screw the predictable logic, I love this decision.
Average Match Rating: ***½
Match Result: The Rock defeats CM Punk with the People’s Elbow.
Match Length: 22:39 (total match time)
Slimmer: This was a great match that definitely had that elusive “big match” feel, but unfortunately there were a few factors that kept it from being a true classic. The first blemish is the botched Rock Bottom through the Spanish announce table. I know these things happen, and I know there was really nothing Punk and Rock could have done to avoid it, but it really did seem disappointing given how impressive a clean Rock Bottom through the table would have been. While I can’t really blame Punk and Rock for the table breaking prematurely, I do somewhat fault them for going ahead with the Rock Bottom on the floor a few seconds later. Things go wrong in wrestling matches, but I’ve always felt it’s best to move on instead of artificially recreating a botched spot. But hey, I suppose that’s ultimately a minor point. My bigger complaint about the match was the finish. I was pulling for Punk all the way, but I had made my peace with the fact that Rock was probably going to win. However, if that was going to be the case, I think Punk at least deserved to go out with a great closing sequence of counters, reversals, and near falls. Instead, the longest title reign of the last quarter century ended with a Dusty Finish and the People’s Elbow. Punk didn’t even get Rock’s best finisher. Seriously, that’s kind of shady. So now Rock is the WWE Champion, and John Cena will almost certainly challenge him for the title at WrestleMania. While some have been calling for a Rock / Cena / Punk triple threat match, I’m actually hoping that Punk has a singles match elsewhere on the card. The triple threat title match can work at WrestleMania (e.g., Triple H / Michaels / Benoit), but more often than not it’s ended up being a muddled mess (e.g., Angle / Orton / Mysterio, Orton / Cena / Triple H, or Edge / Cena / Big Show). Let Rock and Cena have their sequel, and let Punk shine with someone else. If the rumors of Punk / Taker are true, then Punk would be in a great position to have an amazing match with one of the all-time greats. In fact, if I were Rock or Cena, I’d be a little concerned about having to follow Punk / Taker. Taker may be slowing down physically, but his track record of amazing matches at WrestleMania over the past half a decade is just phenomenal. Taker will bring it at WrestleMania, and you know Punk will as well. Tombstone vs. Go To Sleep. Hell’s Gate vs. Anaconda Vice. The most respected man in the business vs. a man who craves respect above all else. Make it happen, Vince.
Benjamin: These guys absolutely tore the house down. It was a knock down drag out war from the second the bell rang. There was a bit of a fumble in the early going when the announce table collapsed before The Rock could deliver a Rock Bottom but I thought he covered for it well by giving Punk another Rock Bottom on the floor. The crowd was PISSED when The Shield came out and attacked The Rock in the dark. When CM Punk retained you could hear the crowd being let down. Of course Vince restarted the match and The Rock picked up a win with The People’s Elbow. I still have a hard time taking The People’s Elbow seriously though. I’d have preferred an elbow and then another Rock Bottom but that’s just me. Giving it to The Rock is the right call. This is going to bring a lot of eyes to the product when Vince has his biggest show of the year to promote. I can only speculate that we get Cena/Rock/Punk at Mania since Punk and Cena can both lay claim to the belt now.
Acero: This match was as great as I wanted it to be, save for the ending. The Rock – no matter who believes it – is seriously in top notch shape, and this match had the intensity that I wanted. My only issue is the ending, with a People’s Elbow to end the reign that lasted over 400 days. I know it’s nit-picking but still….Again, the result wasn’t in question, and when Punk won with 20 minutes left in the match, I kinda knew where this was going. The Shield being involved was expected, as well, but the darkness was a nice touch. I suppose this is the beginning of the “Heyman Guy” stable of some sort.
Ornelas: I think the announce table botch really hurt the momentum of this almost-classic. It had the big match feel, but Punk’s reign ending with an elbow felt a little off. We all knew who was winning this, though.
Average Match Rating: ****
Match of the Night:
Slimmer: CM Punk vs. The Rock (****¼)
This was the biggest match on the card, and for the most part it delivered. Sketchy table and wonky finish aside, Punk and Rock delivered with Rock more than holding up his end of the bargain.
Benjamin: CM Punk vs. The Rock (****)
CM Punk’s title reign is over! These guys put on a memorable and historic match. The overbooking really worked in this matches favor as both men walk away more interesting than they walked in. It should be interesting to see how the WWE Championship picture plays out tomorrow night on Raw.
Acero: CM Punk vs. The Rock (****)
The Rock and CM Punk exceeded expectations, and came off really well. This match made really wish that The Rock was back full-time because homeboy’s still got it. Seriously. CM Punk was his usual self, and I really enjoyed both the match and the feel that it had.
Ornelas: CM Punk vs. The Rock (****)
This really did deliver, just not as much as it could have. The false finish didn’t hurt it, but I wish they wouldn’t have done the gimmicky spots because this match didn’t need it.
Trash of the Night:
There really was nothing to call trash here. Sure, Del Rio and Show re-used the old Cena / Batista duct tape finish, and sure, Cena winning the Rumble was more than a bit predictable. But there were no frivolous filler matches, and we didn’t have to slog through a Divas match between the Rumble and the WWE Championship match. Four title matches and the Royal Rumble? That’s a fine card as far as I’m concerned.
Benjamin: The Del Rio / Big Show finish.
The match was good. Don’t get me wrong. I can’t stand the fact that Ricardo taped Big Show’s feet to the ropes though. Especially after such a hard fought match. The response when Cena did this was less than favorable so I’m surprised they ran with that finish again. The crowd didn’t mind too much though. as they’re getting solidly behind Del Rio.
Acero: John Cena winning. I knew it was going to happen. I knew it. This didn’t make it upset me any less.
Slimmer: This show delivered on most levels, and my complains are ultimately fairly minor. The Royal Rumble was a ton of fun, and Punk / Rock was historically significant. My normal bottom line is whether or not I’m glad I spent $44.99 (yeah, they raised the price four cents!) on the show, and tonight I definitely am.
Benjamin: This was a solid show from top to bottom. There was nothing on the card that was actively bad and though the outcomes were predictable, they all make sense moving forward. Check it out if you didn’t get to see it!
Acero: I sound like a broken record, but this show was everything I expected it to be.
Ornelas: I’m just glad Tony paid for this.
Average Match Rating: ***½