Cody Rhodes won the WWE Royal Rumble after entering the event ranked 30th. Rhodes won by ultimately eliminating Logan Paul and GUNTHER, who were ranked first and second, respectively. GUNTHER not only had the most eliminations (5), but he also established the record for the greatest time spent in the Royal Rumble, lasting well over 62 minutes. Rhodes, Seth Rollins, GUNTHER, and Logan Paul competed in the Final Four.
The WWE Royal Rumble this year featured a star-studded field, a late entry by Brock Lesnar, and numerous potential crowd-pleasing shocks. However, there were few and far between surprises. Edge, Booker T, and Logan Paul were the only three surprise contestants in the 2023 Royal Rumble.
Due to his ties to Roman Reigns and The Bloodline, The Rock remained the topic of conjecture, while Stone Cold Steve Austin—who was strangely posting exercise videos before of WrestleMania season—emerged as a late option. WWE reportedly made a large sum of money to have Austin headline WrestleMania, and the announcement corresponded with a late jump in the Texas Rattlesnake’s odds. Austin had settled in at +550 by Sunday afternoon, firmly inside the Top 5.
Rock and Austin did not attend the Royal Rumble, which kicked off the Big 4 pay-per-view.
The 2023 Royal Rumble had its moments, but it will never live up to the high standards set by its predecessors, like as Steve Austin’s thrilling third-place finish at Royal Rumble 2001 or Brock Lesnar fighting off half the field at Royal Rumble 2020. Instead, the WWE chose to ignore dramatic surprises and nostalgia in order to focus on the future. Edge was the first surprise entry in the Royal Rumble, coming in at No. 24. Legacy stars such as Lesnar, Edge, and Lashley each had limited time in the Rumble in order to promote young stars such as GUNTHER and Dominik Mysterio.
Sami Zayn, a popular selection to win the Royal Rumble bout, was suspicious of his absence. During the pre-show, Roman Reigns requested that Zayn be by his side throughout the night.
As the 2023 WWE Royal Rumble approached, fan speculation concentrated on two favourites: Cody Rhodes and Sami Zayn. Both Zayn and Rhodes appeared to have equal prospects of winning the Royal Rumble, but for very different reasons. Rhodes is being supported in his comeback role. WWE oddly advertised Rhodes’ return for the Royal Rumble weeks ahead of time.
Replicating Triple H’s 2002 comeback vignettes, set to Creed’s “My Sacrifice,” Rhodes was positioned as the Triple H Era’s most cherished return. As a result, the bookmakers gave Rhodes a minor advantage, with 1/1 odds vs 3/2 odds for Sami Zayn. In fact, given that he was not even announced for the Royal Rumble, Zayn’s odds are astounding. Rather, Zayn rose to the top of the field with his Emmy-winning role as The Bloodline’s charming outcast and Honorary Uce.
Fans began experiencing Twitter PTSD as Sami continued his ascension as an unusual Royal Rumble favourite, around the same time Cody Rhodes was poised for a well-produced heroes welcome. Indeed, some fans expected WWE’s fickle public to flip against Rhodes in favour of Zayn. This particular issue has gotten so much traction that Zayn addressed it in a recent interview with Ariel Helwani (h/t WrestleZone).
“I’m not sure if that’s true or not,” Zayn said of fans turning against Rhodes.
“I don’t know that in the fans’ eyes, maybe me and you are looking at a given point a certain way because we’re kind of like diehards, but I believe there’s a lot of casual fans that are just kind of along for the trip. And I don’t think the supporters are where they were five or six years ago, when they were ready to revolt. And they were like, ‘No! Daniel Bryan is your man. You want to offer us Batista? No! We’ll make you!”
“Whether it’s Cody or whoever, it could be anybody,” Zayn added.
“If it’s not done correctly, it could hurt that person. But, you know, we work with a lot of individuals who know what they’re doing. So, if I’m not the person, and truly, one day before the Royal Rumble, I have no idea what the plan is; I have nothing. I’m not sure; it just doesn’t feel like that.”
Contrary to popular belief, the honeymoon period between Cody Rhodes and WWE fans is still active. Fans applauded Rhodes from the minute his music began playing and continued to do so during the climactic final moments of the Royal Rumble contest. Following the entrance of AEW, there has been a significant increase in fan loyalty to WWE. WrestleMania season revolts, such as Daniel Bryan’s in 2014 or Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch’s in 2019. With Triple H in command (for the time being), fans should have faith in the process on the way to WrestleMania 39.