While the inevitability of the rematch didn't sit well with many vocal fans (particularly the "Why can't CM Punk hold the belt for three more years?" crowd), I have to say that the 2013 Royal Rumble was a rather fun show. A star-heavy Rumble match with just the right amount of surprises, plus two very enjoyable World title matches (Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show is a bit of a lost gem), made for a show low on shocking developments, but big on well-executed goodness.
Many didn't see it that way, and saw the 2013 Royal Rumble as the starting point for a WrestleMania they weren't asking for. Naturally, those fans don't complain about WWE any more, since they all stopped watching back then.
10. Divas Denied
A couple weeks before the Rumble, Kaitlyn would defeat outgoing WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres for the belt on Raw in what was actually one helluva match (the final couple minutes had the crowd losing their minds, and really has to be seen to be appreciated). Kaitlyn's title reign would never equal the greatness of her win, sadly, and she missed out on a Rumble match, to boot.
The original plans were for Kaitlyn to defend the belt against Tamina Snuka on the card, a match that would be pulled due to time constraints. The two would face off three weeks later at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, with Kaitlyn retaining the belt in a relatively short match, just a three-minute bit of filler before the Rock/Punk rematch.
9. Jolted Jericho
It was a genuine surprise to see Chris Jericho show up in the Rumble match as the second entry. He hadn't been seen since losing to Dolph Ziggler on a Raw match the previous August, and he would end up bolstering a pretty fun Rumble match across his 48 minutes among the fray. And it's a good thing he was able to work the match, too, because he nearly blew his chance.
One day before the Rumble, Jericho recalls that he was in Anaheim, CA, attending the North American Music Merchants Convention. While there, he'd taken to getting a bit sloshed with members of Avenged Sevenfold, and causing a scene that very nearly resulted in his arrest. In the moment, Jericho remembers thinking that he needed to cool it, because if he went to jail, he'd probably miss the Rumble, and certainly WWE would be quite displeased with having to reconfigure a match heavily dependent on his presence. Thankfully, tempers cooled, and Jericho made it to Phoenix on Sunday without further incident.
8. Sad Trombone
The Rumble match began with a pretty impressive quartet, as Jericho joined Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, and Kofi Kingston in providing a rather-reliable foundation of workers that could keep the match flow running smoothly. The fifth man in was Santino Marella, who wouldn't even last one minute, getting chucked out by Rhodes after a scant 55 seconds.
Marella made a dubious bit of history here, becoming the first (and thus far, only) individual to be the Rumble's first eliminated competitor more than once. In the 2008 match, number three entrant Marella met his fate at the hands of Undertaker and Shawn Michaels in a matter of moments. And how's this for eerie. Both the 2008 and 2013 Rumbles occurred on the date of January 27, both saw Santino go out first, and John Cena won both matches. That's no coincidence, people.
7. The Wright Stuff
Let's be honest here: wrestling fans will always be happy to see The Godfather, as long as he brings his usual accompaniment (referred to by JBL as Godfather's "rat pack") with him. His appearance in the Rumble match was very brief, getting dropkicked out after just five seconds by Dolph Ziggler. And this leads to one of my favourite random Rumble facts ever.
Charles Wright, the man behind the colourful Godfather garb, has been eliminated from three different Royal Rumbles in three different decades, with three different characters, each lasting less than a minute. Papa Shango was tossed from the 1993 Royal Rumble match in just 28 seconds, while The Goodfather (trading his menagerie for morals) exited the 2001 Rumble in a mere 13 seconds. But he's a Hall of Famer anyway, and really, God bless 'em.
6. More Surprises
The list of Rumble entries that were surprises was much shorter than the previous year, restricted to Chris Jericho (who had a short-term return), Goldust (who would return later in 2013), and Godfather. With one exception, the remainder of the field consisted of full-time WWE regulars, quite of few of whom would've been reasonable winners. But other names were considered for one-off entries, so the surprises could've been more numerous.
According to The Wrestling Observer, names considered for the match included both Rikishi and Shelton Benjamin. In fact, Benjamin was seemingly a sure inclusion, but the Observer notes that his spot was given to the winner of a special tournament the day before (more on that in a moment). Tommy Dreamer was also in the cards, having wrestled a one-off for them the previous month.
5. We're Getting Old
The winner of the tournament noted in the prior entry was NXT wrestler Bo Dallas. The tournament took place at Royal Rumble Fan Fest, consisting of eight then-NXT talents, with a spot in the Rumble at stake, with Dallas defeating Luke Harper, Conor O'Brien (The Ascension's Konnor), and Leo Kruger (Adam Rose) to earn the opportunity.
With his entry at the number 16 spot, Dallas became the first Rumble entrant in history that was born after the first Royal Rumble in 1988. The second son of Irwin R. Schyster was born 25 May 1990, when three Rumbles were already in the bag. Of course, now we're at the point where there are folks on WWE's roster born after the Shawn/Razor ladder match (Lio Rush, Liv Morgan...), so this little tidbit about Bo loses a bit of perspective.
4. Double Time Is Now
So yeah, Cena winning the Rumble match was as inevitable as your next blink, as well as the result of the forthcoming WWE Championship match. Coming five years to the day after his miracle comeback Rumble win at Madison Square Garden, the 2013 victory wasn't as memorable or special, but it was wholly necessary for the big money rematch to come.
With the victory, Cena became the first man in 15 years to win more than one Royal Rumble match. Not since Steve Austin went back-to-back in 1997 and 1998 had anybody captured a second Rumble win, which is rather indicative of WWE's desire to use the Rumble to elevate a new star on an annual basis since. Of course, three more two-time Rumble winners would follow Cena, which also speaks volumes about the latter-day product.
3. A-List Meets B-Team
As a part-time wrestler (one that hadn't wrestled in 10 months) needing to prepare for a 20-plus minute match, The Rock set about training with a certain WWE wrestler, not only to knock off some rust, but also to get in proper ring shape to make it through said match. Any veteran wrestler will tell you that there's a world of difference between "being in shape" and "being in ring shape".
The Rock's training partner for these sessions was fellow third-generation grappler Curtis Axel, four months before the real-life Joe Hennig adopted that very ring name. Rock would even give a shout-out to Hennig on Twitter after the fact, praising his talent and humility. Perhaps it because of Hennig's helpfulness that he was given a shot as a Paul Heyman guy, and an IC Championship reign of five months, later that year.
2. A Great One For All Seasons
After a fakeout finish involving a pitch-black Shield beatdown, The Rock rebounded after the restart, ending CM Punk's 14-month reign as WWE Champion. It would mark the 10th different time under the WWE banner that Rock would hold a World title (two runs as WCW Champion included), and the first time in more than a decade that Rock was a World Champion of any sort.
With the win, The Rock became just the second man in WWE history to win the WWE Championship in three different decades. Rock won nine of those belts between November 1998 and July 2002, and should the mood strike, maybe he'll make it four decades with one more nostalgia run in the 20's. As for the first one, Hulk Hogan pulled off the tri-decade feat upon defeating Triple H for the belt in April 2002.
1. Still The People's Champ
WrestleMania 28 set the all-time WWE pay-per-view buyrate record with more than 1.2M buys, so of course WWE was going to look to try and put The Rock in more main events. While the 2013 Royal Rumble wouldn't quite equal that impressive WrestleMania figure, Rock's presence managed to boost the event beyond the modern day standards.
At 579,000 buys, the 2013 event was the most bought Royal Rumble in 10 years. After the 2003 show did an impressive 585,000 buys, the numbers began a gradual decline, before falling into the 440,000-460,000 range between 2009 and 2012. With Rock's first Royal Rumble in 11 years as the headliner, the 2013 Rumble did the sixth-highest buyrate in event history, behind only the 1999-2003 Rumbles (91,000 short of the record of 670,000 set in 2002).