Photo courtesy of WWE.com
After a couple of lackluster Royal Rumble matches in a row, there was a lot of pressure on the WWE to put on a strong one in 2013. Although the ending was ultimately predictable with John Cena prevailing for the second time in his illustrious career, the match itself was laid out very well and was perhaps the best Rumble since 2007.
The tone was set from the very start as Dolph Ziggler entered the match first as expected, while Chris Jericho shockingly came out at No. 2. There had been some talk about Jericho as a surprise entrant, but it was far from guaranteed. Rather than saving it for later, the creative team opted for a surprise right out of the gate, and it definitely got the crowd whipped into a frenzy.
Things were handled very well after that as plenty of star power entered the match and the ring filled up. Even Santino Marella was utilized effectively in the match as he threw all four men in the ring to the apron only for all of them to get back in the ring and eliminate him. Also, Kofi Kingston stole the show with an incredible spot for the second year in a row.
Kofi was knocked off the apron and landed on Tensai's back outside the ring. Tensai dumped Kofi onto the Spanish announce table and Kingston tried to figure out how to get back to the ring. While the easiest route would have been hopping on one foot, Kofi decided to use JBL's chair. Kingston made his way back in, but he was quickly eliminated by Cody Rhodes.
Surprise entrants like Carlito, Shelton Benjamin and John Morrison didn't come to fruition, but Goldust and The Godfather received some nice nostalgia pops. Another entertaining situation arose fairly late in the match as Daniel Bryan eliminated Kane after the pair retained the Tag Team Championships earlier in the night. Kane then pulled Bryan out, and despite Bryan pleading with Kane to put him back in the ring, Kane dropped him on the floor.
Bo Dallas was used effectively in his WWE debut as he lasted for a significant amount of time and eliminated Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Wade returned the favor, so we could very well see them feud in the coming weeks. After that, all the focus was on the company's top stars as the final four remaining were John Cena, Ryback, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler.
Cena and Ryback were the final two, so the fans were treated to an epic showdown I liken to Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior. Cena overcame the odds and tossed out Ryback to win the Rumble for the first time since 2008. I wasn't a big fan of the WWE using the Rumble win on an established guy like Cena, but I was thoroughly entertained.