The road to WrestleMania has begun.
Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view didn't have many matches, but the few definitely delivered.
The conclusion to this pay-per-view slowly shaped the storylines heading to WrestleMania in April.
There was a collection of familiar faces, one new one and a couple of surprises along the way.
From the namesake Royal Rumble match won by John Cena to the highly anticipated bout between The Rock and WWE champion CM Punk, each match had its fair share of memorable moments.
Now that everything is in the books, here are 10 of most memorable moments of the 2013 edition of the Royal Rumble.
The 2013 Royal Rumble kicked off with its traditional pre-show match via YouTube. This pre-show featured another United States Championship match.
Reigning champion Antonio Cesaro had to defend his title against The Miz.
The match itself was fairly entertaining but there was a spot that may not have gone as planned. The Miz appeared to sustain an injury during the match. His limp was noticeable.
Cesaro quickly got The Miz in his signature Neutralizer for the win. The match may not have gone as planned but it still leaves room for a rematch between the two superstars.
The Miz, in his new face turn, had the opportunity to get a big pop from a WWE legend; that did not turn out so well.
But it seems like Alberto Del Rio might have the opposite result based on Sunday’s Royal Rumble.
Prior to the opening pay-per-view match, Bret Hart confronted Alberto Del Rio and his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez.
The self-proclaimed best there is, best there was and best there ever will be praised the World Heavyweight champion on his new-found success.
He even called Del Rio a Mexican Bret Hart, which is one of the most endearing things the former champion has said to a current superstar.
And even though Del Rio recently switched from heel to face, he managed to sneak a hint of arrogance of his former self. Del Rio cleverly responded by complimenting Bret Hart. Only in this case, the Mexican aristocrat called Bret Hart the Canadian Alberto Del Rio.
Given the great reaction Alberto Del Rio has had over the course of a few weeks, having him drop the title to former champion Big Show seemed improbable.
But in order to keep fans guessing, there had to be a catch that would keep interest and have Del Rio come out on top.
Del Rio and Big Show had an impressive outing in the opening match of the Rumble.
The match saw a few athletic dives from Del Rio, who at times channeled his inner Rey Mysterio with his high-flying antics.
Later in the match, however, Show had the upper hand as the two superstars vacated the ring in favor of the barricade and the stage.
Big Show pulled off one of the most impressive moves of the night when he chokeslammed Del Rio to a table.
Of course, since it was a last man standing match, there were moments of agonizing anticipation as both superstars waited until the very last second to get up.
The match ultimately ended in comedic fashion, which is a great decision considering that Del Rio and Rodriguez are taking themselves very lightly.
As Del Rio had Big Show in a cross armbar, Ricardo Rodriguez grabbed duct tape and wrapped Show’s ankles to the bottom rope, making it virtually impossible for him to get up.
On last Monday’s Raw, Kane and Daniel Bryan graduated from their anger management class.
The culmination of their months-long skits appeared to mark the end of this tag team, which is why Team Rhodes Scholars had a very good chance of becoming the new champions.
Surprisingly, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes did not capture gold. Instead Daniel Bryan got Sandow in his No Lock for a win via submission.
But while everything seemed to go well for Team Hell No, trouble brewed as Raw managing supervisor Vickie Guerrero handed each superstar their number for the Rumble.
Bryan showed Kane his number but Kane refused to show his. This small problem escalated in the match itself, when Bryan eliminated Kane and vice versa.
So while Hell No is still intact, their small spat may signal an eventual end.
Right before the Royal Rumble match was about to begin, WWE aired a few quick promos of various superstars in succession.
Not only did it build up some hype for the match itself, but also the promos seemed to be a throwback to the halcyon days of the old WWF.
All the segments really needed to was the old logo in the background and an appearance by “Mean” Gene Okerlund himself.
Since Dolph Ziggler was the first entrant in the Rumble, it seemed that he would be in the match for the long haul and eventually find himself against an old foe.
Luckily for fans, the wait lasted for only a few seconds.
In a surprising turn, Chris Jericho made his return to WWE.
The two superstars have competed against each other last summer, when Ziggler defended his Money in the Bank briefcase against the Fozzy frontman.
And surprisingly, both superstars managed to stay in the match for the majority of the Rumble.
Fans will have to wait and see if Jericho’s appearance on Sunday marks a comeback or simply a one-time outing. Given that the road to WrestleMania has begun, there is a good possibility of the former.
Chris Jericho’s entrance surprised many considering that he was recently a full-time talent, but a few superstars showed up to the rumble who were merely nostalgia acts—not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Goldust was the first to make his appearance in the Rumble. Coincidentally, his brother Cody Rhodes was already in the ring when the Shattered Dreams Productions still appeared on the screen.
Throughout the match, Goldust seemed adamant on getting the best of his brother. The two fought for the majority of Goldust’s time in the ring. But being a surprise legend in the Rumble never bodes well; He was swiftly eliminated.
The other superstar to make his grand entrance was The Godfather, who somehow snuck past the FCC with his escorts by his side. No direct mention of the ladies following him by the announcers, but The Godfather was there to compete.
Unfortunately, he was eliminated rather quickly by Dolph Ziggler.
But that is okay; The Godfather calmly put his attire back on and, with a smile, headed backstage.
The Royal Rumble had one spot for an up-and-coming NXT talent. That superstar was Bo Dallas.
For those not familiar with Dallas, he is the son of Mike Rotunda, who is known to most WWE fans as IRS.
Given that this was his first official match, it was surprising to see how long Dallas stayed in the Rumble.
He managed to eliminate Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett in the process, but the former bare-knuckle brawler got his revenge.
This may be the start of a feud between Dallas and Barrett, which would make the Intercontinental championship picture more interesting.
Last Monday on Raw, Vince McMahon stated that CM Punk would be stripped of his title if The Shield interrupted the WWE Championship match between Punk and The Rock.
This claim gave no room for The Shield to take part in the match, but they did.
And Vince McMahon came out and stripped the belt off Punk, but he actually didn’t.
Allow me to explain: While CM Punk was down for the count and The Rock was ready to pin the champion, the lights went out in the arena.
All throughout the blackout, announcer Michael Cole exclaimed that it was The Shield. Then the thud of someone being slammed through a table followed. This, of course, has been The Shield’s calling card since their debut.
So while no one actually saw them, they did make their appearance.
The same goes for Vince’s announcement. He caught CM Punk red-handed; he was going to strip him of the belt—if it weren’t for The Rock’s abrupt demand for a rematch. The Rock eventually bested CM Punk, resulting in Punk losing the WWE Championship.
Probably the most surprising thing to happen at Royal Rumble was the crazy outcome to the WWE Championship match, but The Rock won the title at the end.
The stage was set up perfectly for this outcome. His mother was in the audience, The Shield had interfered, which resulted in a rematch and the match was the main event.
The Royal Rumble match traditionally closes the show, but The Rock’s star-power made it a close second.
The win leaves many fans wondering: Where does the WWE Championship picture go from here?
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