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WWE Royal Rumble 2023 results, match grades: Cody Rhodes, Rhea Ripley win the Royal Rumble, Sami Zayn turns on The Bloodline

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One of WWE’s most compelling stories in years continued to be gripping television, while two stars are one step closer to main eventing WrestleMania following the Royal Rumble. 

Inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, Cody Rhodes entered at number 30 and won the men’s Royal Rumble match. In the women’s Royal Rumble, Rhea Ripley won after entering at number one. 

After tearing his right pectoral tendon, Rhodes made his long-awaited return to WWE. “The American Nightmare,” the son of Dusty Rhodes, outlasted several of WWE’s big-time talent. That includes Gunther, who ended up going over 70 minutes in the match, a new Rumble record. Rhodes is expected to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania in April for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title (more on him later). 

“It’s fun to do stuff that you haven’t done in seven months,” Rhodes said following the match. “I think the thing I missed the most is the thing that took me the longest to get. I love this audience. Some people think it’s try-hard, or fake emotions. This is a real story… I have the privilege but also the burden. I don’t play a character, I play me, and me was enough tonight.”  

MORE: Will WWE be sold following Vince McMahon’s return?

In the women’s Rumble match, Ripley ran the gauntlet and exceeded expectations. She had six eliminations and did not tire out. There were a few surprises, including the Kana version of Asuka and the return of Nia Jax. With Ripley’s win, she has the option to face past rivals in Charlotte Flair or Bianca Belair. 

Also on the card, Bray Wyatt beat LA Knight in a Mountain Dew Pitch Black match, while Belair beat Alexa Bliss to retain the RAW Women’s Title. Finally, Reigns defeated Kevin Owens to retain his title, but it was Sami Zayn turning on Kevin Owens that everyone will remember. The Bloodline is officially broken. 

Here’s how it all went down, with match grades from the Royal Rumble event: 

WWE Royal Rumble 2023 Live results, highlights

Welcome everyone to The Sporting News’ live coverage of the 2023 Royal Rumble.

The Bloodline are having some issues, as Roman Reigns rants to them. Sami Zayn almost gets in trouble, but Jey Uso is help him out. The story is the best thing going in WWE. Reigns stated Zayn will be with him for his match against Kevin Owens. Tonight is Zayn’s night. 

Pat McAfee is back following his college football run. That deserves an A+ grade on its own. 

Men’s Royal Rumble match

Sweet American Dream: Cody Rhodes returns, wins the men’s Royal Rumble match

While the ending outcome appeared obvious, the lead-up to Cody Rhodes winning the Royal Rumble match was well-executed.

The men’s Royal Rumble match was very entertaining from start to finish, featuring some of WWE’s top stars. There were some dragging points, but it wasn’t overwhelming. Not only was a winner announced, but it set the scene for several WrestleMania matches and turned Gunther into a star. 

Gunther and birthday boy Sheamus started the Royal Rumble, reigniting their feud from 2022’s Match of the Year contender. Clash at the Castle. Right away, the try and beat the other down to submission, a strong opening to the match. The Miz is number three, one of these things is not like the other. Miz was the first elimination in a shocking move, as he was taken out by Sheamus. 

Kofi Kingston botched a Royal Rumble save by trying to land onto a chair, which didn’t help things. Things kicked into high gear when Brock Lesnar entered at number 12. He eliminated three wrestlers right away, and then Bobby Lashley speared him to continue their feud from a few months ago. In a shocking moment, Lesnar was eliminated early. Lesnar went crazy, attacking everything and everyone in his path, a true highlight at the beginning of the match. Lashley’s momentum was quickly evaporated when Seth “Freakin'” Rollins eliminated him, which was confusing.

Another confusing moment was Rey Mysterio announced as number 17, but not coming out. Judgement Day took him out, but he never entered the match, and there was no replacement.  McIntyre and Sheamus teaming together makes for a scary sight. They fought Judgement Day and everyone else in their way, making double-eliminations. Edge returned at 24 to set up a potential WrestleMania match with Judgement Day. Monsters entered the ring late, as Omos and Braun Strowman came into the match at 26 and 27. 

Logan Paul returned and came in at 29. He was bullied by everyone in the match, but impressed.

Number 30 was the returning Rhodes. No Sami Zayn then.

Rollins and Rhodes renewed their classic rivalry. Rollins was eliminated by Paul. The final two were Gunther and Rhodes (number one and 30, a first).  A great story was Gunther’s chops vs. Rhodes’ previously torn pec. Rhodes beat Gunther to win the Royal Rumble. It was a tremendous showing by Gunther (lasting about 71 minutes), who is thriving under the Triple H-led WWE.

Grade: A-

Men’s Royal Rumble match entrances and eliminations 

Entrances (1-30) Eliminated by
Gunther Cody Rhodes
Sheamus Gunther
The Miz Sheamus (first elimination)
Kofi Kingston Gunther
Johnny Gargano Dominik Mysterio
Xavier Woods Gunther
Karrion Kross Drew McIntyre
Chad Gable Brock Lesnar
Drew McIntyre Gunther
Santos Escobar Brock Lesnar
Angelo Dawkins Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley Seth “Freakin'” Rollins
Baron Corbin Seth “Freakin'” Rollins
Seth “Freakin'” Rollins Logan Paul
Otis Sheamus and Drew McIntyre
Rey Mysterio  N/A – Did not enter match
Dominik Mysterio Cody Rhodes
Elias Sheamus and Drew McIntyre
Finn Balor Edge
Booker T Gunther
Damian Priest Edge
Montez Ford Damian Priest
Edge Finn Balor
Austin Theory Cody Rhodes
Omos Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman Ricochet and Cody Rhodes
Ricochet Austin Theory
Logan Paul Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes Winner

Twisted Bray Wyatt takes out LA Knight

Bray Wyatt faced LA Knight in a Mountain Dew-sponsored Pitch Black match. The rules of this match were unknown to start things off. All it is are blacklights with painted colors highlighted, Naomi’s gimmick. Wyatt did look pretty cool, but outside of that, the match was tough to see. We’ve learned in the past that matches with colors outside of the normal lights don’t generally work. 

Knight and Wyatt beat one another up throughout the arena. There was plunder and a lot of weapons were involved. Wyatt quickly won with a Sister Abigail. Wyatt then put on a mask and stalked Knight. Uncle Howdy comes out as Wyatt puts Knight to sleep. Howdy then dropped from a large platform onto Knight. 

In his first match in two years, a lot more was expected from Wyatt. Once the lights were off, it was hard to find interest in the match. Time to move on. 

Grade: D-

The attendance for the Royal Rumble: 51,338.

Bianca Belair retains RAW Women’s Title over a game Alexa Bliss 

Bianca Belair vs. Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Title was next. These two have been involved in a heated feud and did not disappoint to start the match.

Bliss uses Belair’s hair against her and would be the aggressor through the beginning. Belair finally used her strength to bully Bliss. This wasn’t a technical classic, but it didn’t need to be. Belair continued to drop Bliss all over the ring once she took control. A powerbomb attempt was blocked and Bliss hit Belair with a DDT. She then regained control. 

Belair landed the KOD and that ended the bout. No spooky shenanigans on the part of Bliss. Uncle Howdy showed up after the match to get into Bliss’ head. 

It wasn’t the best outing between the two, but perhaps there were expectations following several teases of a darker Alexa Bliss. Belair continues her great run as champion. 

Grade: B-

IronWoman: Rhea Ripley wins the women’s Royal Rumble match

The women’s Royal Rumble had some great moments, even if the crowd was tired. We saw the return of several stars, including Piper Niven and Nia Jax. In the end, Rhea Ripley continued her hot streak and won the women’s Rumble match. Here’s how it all went down: 

Rhea Ripley, who was involved in the men’s Royal Rumble earlier in the night (and is holding her ribs), comes in at number one for the women’s Royal Rumble match. Liv Morgan is number two in the match. Dana Brooke comes out at number three. Emma entered her first Royal Rumble match at four, and MMA Four Horsewomen member Shayna Baszler comes out at five. 

Bayley ripped a fans sign before entering the Royal Rumble. B-Fab comes out after her but is eliminated by Ripley not long after. NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez enters next. Number nine is Dakota Kai, ready to help Bayley, and Iyo Sky was not far behind. Damage CTRL took over the Royal Rumble, eliminating everyone. Natalya has returned from injury, and Candice LeRae came out after. Natalya and Baszler renew their rivalry, and both are eliminated by Damage CTRL. 

Another NXT star in Zoe Stark enters the Rumble, followed by Xia Li. Becky Lynch comes out at 15 and the crowd finally wakes up. Damage CTRL try and take out Lynch on the outside. Tegan Nox is out next. Asuka comes out to a louder ovation then Becky and she is wearing her Joker makeup from her Japan days as Kana.

Piper Niven (the former Doudrop) is back at 18 following a long absence, followed by Tamina. Becky is back and has taken out Damage CTRL. Chelsea Green is back at number 20 but was eliminated in five seconds. Becky took out Sky and Kai but Bayley took out Lynch. Michelle McCool enters the match at 25 after being announced in the crowd before. Nikki Cross bolts her way down to the ring. Nia Jax is back in WWE at number 30. A very shocking return signing. 

Ripley calls for the entire ring to eliminate Jax, taking her out. Raquel Rodriguez had momentum but was taken out by Ripley. The final three were Ripley, Morgan, and Asuka. Everyone is on the apron in a tense moment. Asuka spits mist onto Morgan. Ripley eliminates Asuka. Almost eliminated, Ripley eliminated Morgan.

That ending was one of the greatest finishing sequences in Rumble history. Ripley, the hottest act in WWE today, wins the Royal Rumble. 

Grade: A-

Women’s Royal Rumble match entrances and eliminations 

Entrances (1-30) Eliminated by
Rhea Ripley Winner
Liv Morgan Rhea Ripley
Dana Brooke Bayley, Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai
Emma Dakota Kai
Shayna Baszler Bayley, Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai
Bayley Liv Morgan
B-Fab Rhea Ripley
Roxanne Perez Bayley, Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai
Dakota Kai Becky Lynch
Iyo Sky Becky Lynch
Natayla Bayley, Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai
Candice LeRae Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai
Zoey Stark Sonya Deville
Xia Li Zelina Vega
Becky Lynch Bayley
Tegan Nox Asuka
Asuka Rhea Ripley
Piper Niven Raquel Rodriguez
Tamina Michelle McCool
Chelsea Green Rhea Ripley
Zelina Vega Lacey Evans
Raquel Rodriguez Rhea Ripley
Michin (Mia Yim) Piper Niven
Lacey Evans Raquel Rodriguez
Michelle McCool  Rhea Ripley
Indi Hartwell Sonya Deville
Sonya Deville Asuka
Shotzi Michin
Nikki Cross Liv Morgan
Nia Jax Asuka, Lacey Evans, Liv Morgan, Mia Yim, Michelle McCool, Nikki Cross, Piper Niven, Raquel Rodriguez, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi, and Sonya Deville

Music star Hardy performs in front of what may very well be a tired crowd. 

Roman Reigns def. Kevin Owens to retain Undisputed WWE Universal Title

Roman Reigns faces Kevin Owens at the Royal Rumble, a tradition at this point, for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title. Sami Zayn will be in Reigns’ corner, so expect a great story.

The crowd chants “Sami Uso” right away, which upsets Reigns. Reigns uses his power to overwhelm Owens. Owens lands a few power shots of his own. He stomps away at Reigns in the corner and lands a cannonball. On the outside, Owens takes control. Reigns regains control when he’s back in the ring, landing a standing Rock Bottom. Now Reigns begins his slow pace of trying to tire out Owens, but to no avail. 

Owens tries to chop Reigns, but Reigns shrugs it off. They exchange shots in the middle of the ring. On the outside, Owens lands a Frog Splash. Now a top rope Frog Splash by Owens, but only for two. Superkick attempt blocked into a sitout powerbomb by Reigns. Superman Punch attempt misses but Reigns gets it on the second attempt. The announcers are watching every move of Zayn. Reigns goes for the spear but Owens blocks it and lands a superkick. Swanton by Owens but only for two. Back on top, Owens is attacked by Reigns.

Owens tries to go high risk but botches the spot. He tries again and misses a moonsault. Spear by Reigns but only for two. Spear attempt into a Stunner attempt, and the ref was taken out just as Owens landed the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Low blow by Reigns. Reigns yells at Zayn to get a chair, who was hesitant.

Stunner by Owens but only for two. Powerbomb attempt by Owens reversed into into a Superman Punch into a spear, but only for two. Zayn tells Owens to stay down. Reigns lands a spear through the barricade and then drops Owens’ head into the steps. 

Reigns slaps Owens and lands a spear for the three. While not the best of the series between the two at Royal Rumble events, they got the job done. The real main event is what happened after…

Grade: A-

The Bloodline is Broken: Sami Zayn turns on Roman Reigns

The Bloodline beats down Owens after as Zayn watches. The Usos and Solo Sikoa decimate Owens as Reigns has handcuffs now. Held by the ropes, Owens is helpless. Zayn tries to plead mercy as the Usos land superkicks. As the crowd chants for Zayn, Reigns goes for the chair shot but Zayn steps in front of Owens. He tries to convince Reigns he’s better than this. Reigns gives Zayn the chair instead. Zayn looks like he’s going to hit Reigns, and Reigns slaps him for struggling. He hits Reigns with the chair and the crowd goes wild.  

The Usos attack Zayn, so does Sikoa. Jey Uso is upset. He exits the ring, not attacking Zayn. Reigns continues his attack then drops flowers onto Zayn. That was cinema, a masterpiece. 

Grade: A+

WWE Royal Rumble 2023 results

  • Cody Rhodes wins men’s Royal Rumble match 
  • Bray Wyatt def. LA Knight in a Mountain Dew Pitch Black match
  • Bianca Belair (c) def. Alexa Bliss for the WWE RAW Women’s Title
  • Rhea Ripley wins women’s Royal Rumble match 
  • Roman Reigns (c) def. Kevin Owens for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title

Credit: sportingnews.com

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