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CALDWELL'S WWE ROYAL RUMBLE PPV RESULTS 1/27: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of Punk vs. Rock, 30-man Rumble

Jan 27, 2013 - 9:50:57 PM
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WWE Royal Rumble PPV Results
January 27, 2013
Phoenix, Ariz.
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


PPV Pre-Show

The 30-minute Royal Rumble PPV pre-show on YouTube started with Matt Striker and Tony Dawson introducing the pre-show. WWE cut to a shot of the concourse area to show fans filing into the arena. Striker noted a U.S. Title match will occur on the free show as Dawson nervously shifted around in his seat. The announcers broke down the PPV line-up before going backstage.

Locker Room: Josh Mathews welcomed in Big Show for a World Title match interview. Mathews first fed to a video package from a few weeks ago when Alberto Del Rio captured the World Title from Big Show in a Last Man Standing match. Before Big Show could speak, the YouTube feed froze. Did Puppet H get hold of this show? The screen was stuck on Big Show glaring down at Mathews, ready to eat him.

The feed returned with the Royal Rumble By The Numbers video package.

In-ring: Antonio Cesaro was introduced for the pre-show title match. Cesaro walked out dressed in U.S.A. gear and waving an American flag. No pre-match promo. Instead, The Miz came out to challenge Cesaro for the U.S. Title.

A -- U.S. champion ANTONIO CESARO vs. THE MIZ -- U.S. Title match

Miz tried a quick cover, but Cesaro escaped at one. Miz did the belt-around-the-waist motion as Matt Striker heeled on Miz, offering Vince McMahon's prepared statements on Cesaro standing up for "correct" American values. Cesaro wow'ed the crowd with a big tilt-o-whirl backbreaker, but Miz escaped a pin attempt. Cesaro followed with a sit-out slam for another two count. Of note, 66,215 people watching the pre-show at this point. Cesaro then hoisted Miz in the air, smiled toward the crowd, and delivered the Cesaro Lift for a two count.

Miz teased a comeback, but Cesaro intercepted him with a mid-air backbreaker for another two count. Cesaro began taunting Miz as the total increased to 67,942 people watching. Cesaro then slapped on a back-stretch, which Miz broke free of. Dawson nearly lost it calling Miz's comeback, which included a Reality Check combination for a two count. Over 69k now watching. Miz then dragged Cesaro to the corner and landed successive right hands before delivering a corner splash. "What a maneuver," Dawson declared.

Miz missed with a top-rope move, selling a leg injury. But, he managed to deliver a snap DDT for a two count. Miz stood up and hobbled toward Cesaro, who decked him, then tried a pin with his feet on the ropes, but the ref saw it and stopped his count. Miz then rolled up Cesaro for a quick two count. Next was a chopblock. He wanted the figure-four leglock, but Cesaro kicked Miz to the outside. On the floor, Cesaro banged Miz's arm into the side of the ring apron.

Back in the ring, Cesaro set up and delivered The Neutralizer center-ring. Cesaro made the pin for the win. Afterward, Miz hobbled to the back, selling the leg injury, according to correspondents in the building. Either legit injury or a great sell.

WINNER: Cesaro at 7:56 to retain the U.S. Title.

Video Package: To conclude the pre-show, WWE ran a hype video for C.M. Punk vs. The Rock ahead of the WWE Title match on the main PPV.

Live PPV Results

The PPV opened with a video package on time passing as a scoreboard clock counted down from 10 to 0. In that time, everything can change. Tonight, 30 stars will fight to stand on a grander stage where champions are made at WrestleMania. Also tonight, C.M. Punk puts his 430+ day WWE Title reign on the line against The Rock. The video noted it's been ten years since The People had their champion.

In the arena, Michael Cole introduced the show and noted they officially begin the Road to WrestleMania tonight. In-ring: Lilian Garcia introduced a Last Man Standing match for the World Title to begin the PPV.

In-ring: Big Show was introduced first for the World Title match. WWE cut backstage to show Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez walking backstage, then Ricardo stopped Del Rio to introduce...Bret Hart. Del Rio said he is honored, then both men acted like they were equals, with Hart trying to endorse Del Rio. Ricardo hung back, then played over-zealous fan talking about all of Hart's trademark moves and looks. Del Rio tried to get Ricardo back on-track, then Hart gave Ricardo his trademark sunglasses.

WWE cut back to the arena to the announce position, where JBL sold that he can't believe he just watched that. Ricardo then came out on-stage and introduced Del Rio inside the arena. On commentary, Cole and Jerry Lawler went over-the-top endorsing Del Rio as new World Hvt. champ and his "change of heart," which brought an angry response from JBL.

1 -- World Hvt. champion ALBERTO DEL RIO vs. BIG SHOW -- World Title match -- Last Man Standing

The match started with Show delivering a huge chop to the chest. Del Rio shook off Show's early flurry, then knocked Show to the mat. Del Rio climbed to the top rope for a high-impact move, and he connected with a seated splash. On commentary, Cole noted Del Rio is trying to incorporate more lucha-style offense into his arsenal. Del Rio then got the bright idea to try the cross arm-breaker, but Show lifted him in the air before slamming him down to the mat.

The match moved to the floor, where Show destroyed Del Rio's chest with a chop to the chest. Big Show rolled Del Rio back into the ring, then left the ringside area to retrieve a chair. Show brought the chair back into the ring, but left his gut exposed, allowing Del Rio to dropkick him. Del Rio then took the chair and jabbed Show with it over and over. Del Rio got another bright idea to climb to the top rope, but Show intercepted a chair shot and chokeslammed Del Rio. Del Rio made it to his feet at nine, then proceeded to fall out of the ring to the floor.

On the outside, Show stalked Del Rio as Ricardo bailed from ringside. Show then bodyslammed Del Rio back-first onto the ring mat. Del Rio made it to his feet, then kicked Show low. Show sold like he had a bad case of indigestion and could not move, then Del Rio popped him in the head to knock down the big man. Ref Armstrong administered a ten count, but Show made it to his feet at nine. Show, angry, headbutted Del Rio across the stage before kind of tripping and taking Del Rio down with him to the floor. Show followed by whipping Del Rio into the stage, knocking down one of the LED light tubes on the Rumble set. Is an XPW show about to break out?

Show knocked down some more light tubes before clearing a table that contained computer materials. Show set up the table next to the PPV set, then climbed onto the set, lifted Del Rio into the air with one arm, chopped him, grabbed him for a chokeslam, stared angrily into his eyes, and then chokeslammed him through the table below. Del Rio's head/neck took the brunt of that - scary bump considering the landing. Ref Armstrong administered the ten count as Show stood on the production set looking down at Del Rio. But, Del Rio made it to his feet at nine, then fell down.

At 12:00, Big Show knocked Del Rio down the ring entrance back toward the ring. In the ring, Show warmed up for the KO Punch, but Del Rio saw it coming and bailed from the ring to avoid Show. On the outside, Show grabbed the ring steps and wanted to finish Del Rio, but Del Rio ducked flying ring steps. Ricardo then decided to hit Show in the back, but Show shook him off, then smashed Ricardo into the guardrail. Show then saw Del Rio available for a giant splash, but Del Rio moved and Show crashed through the gimmicked guardrail in front of the timekeeper's table. This has become a standard Big Show PPV match spot.

Show made it to his feet, but Del Rio knocked him down again with more chair shots. Del Rio then pulled out a fire extinguisher and doused with him it as the announcers repeated that it's all legal. Why not just pull out a knife or gun and inflict fatal damage to win the match? Not a logical explanation from the announcers. Back in the ring, Del Rio slapped on the cross arm-breaker, then Ricardo pulled out duct tape and tied up Big Show's ankles on the bottom rope. The crowd poo-pooed on the heelish move, then Del Rio released the hold. The ref began his ten count as Show angrily tried to break free of the tape, but he couldn't, and Del Rio won when Show could not answer the ten count.

WINNER: Del Rio at 16:58. Okay, I could see Cena getting away with it the first time WWE did this same finish, but doing it yet again was quite lame. Couple that with Del Rio being a fragile character fresh off a face turn, and the booking here was highly questionable. (**)

Backstage: Matt Striker brought in Mr. MITB Dolph Ziggler, along with A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston. As A.J. stroked her hair and looked longingly into Ziggler's eyes, Ziggler cut a promo on Vickie Guerrero. Ziggler then noted he's choosing the #1 spot in the Royal Rumble, because that's what he is. Striker then brought up history that only two Superstars have -- A.J. interrupted and questioned Striker on thinking her Ziggy isn't good enough to win the Rumble from the #1 spot. Big E. then stepped into Striker's space to make him run away. Big took the mic, then entered dramatic announcer voice. Reporting live from the Royal Rumble, Big E. asked Ziggler about winning the Rumble tonight. Ziggler said he's going to win the Rumble, cash in his MITB briefcase to become World champion, and then go on to WrestleMania to unify the World and WWE Titles. Interesting acknowledgement of unifying the titles.

Rumble Video: Sitting in front of a black backdrop, various WWE stars stated why they plan to win the Rumble. Antonio Cesaro, then the Prime Time Players, then Randy Orton, then an over-hyped John Cena, then Wade Barrett, then Sheamus, then Ryback spoke.

Announcers: Cole said many people believe Ryback is the favorite to win tonight. That's the kiss of death. Lawler said he expects some surprises tonight.

Earlier Tonight: The Miz "injured" his leg during the U.S. Title match against Antonio Cesaro on the PPV pre-show.

In-ring: Damien Sandow's music played to bring out Sandow and Cody Rhodes for the Tag Title match on the PPV. After the challengers shook hands on-stage and made their way into the ring, Kane's pyro shot off to bring out tag champions Kane and Daniel Bryan to defend the Tag Titles.

2 -- WWE tag champions KANE & DANIEL BRYAN vs. TEAM RHODES SCHOLARS (CODY RHODES & DAMIEN SANDOW) -- Tag Title match

Bryan and Rhodes started things off, with Bryan catching Rhodes's leg in mid-air to flow into a surfboard stretch. Nice set-up for the stretch. Lawler made strange noises as Rhodes sold agony, but he refused to give up. Lawler said Brian Wilson would be proud. Cole had to insert a note that Lawler was talking about the Beach Boys since people were probably thinking about the MLB closer.

Kane and Sandow then entered the match, with Kane dominating the action. Kane brought in Bryan, who blasted Sandow with repeated kicks to the mid-section. JBL continued to complain about Dr. Shelby being a quack, then Lawler suggested Shelby come over to Smackdown to help JBL and "whoever else" works on Smackdown. Lawler completely forgot Josh Mathews's name, and Cole noted he doesn't work on Smackdown, so JBL gave Lawler a hard time.

The heels had enough of Bryan and went to work on Bryan as the announcers talked about current movies and TVs to find a relevant mustache reference. Bryan then kneed Rhodes in the face to buy some time and space. But, Sandow re-entered and dragged Bryan back to the heel corner. Bryan broke free and tagged in Kane to a light reaction. Kane tore up Sandow, then delivered a sidewalk slam for a two count. Sandow avoided a top-rope move, then Kane sold a knee injury. Sandow followed with what Cole described as an "odd neckbreaker" for a two count.

In the confusion that followed, Bryan tagged himself in for Kane, but the heels didn't realize it. Bryan caught Sandow off the top rope, Kane chokeslammed Rhodes out of the picture, and Bryan slapped on the No! Lock center-ring. Sandow fought, but eventually tapped out, giving Bryan and Kane the win.

WINNERS: Kane & Bryan at 9:25 to retain the Tag Titles. Okay tag match. Just didn't click, and the announcers were all over the place trying to seem "relevant." Apparently Rhodes & Sandow are the new heel version of Alberto Del Rio - build to a title match on PPV, lose, and repeat. (*3/4)

Next Month: Elimination Chamber PPV on the Road to WrestleMania.

Video Package: Royal Rumble By The Numbers.

Backstage: Bryan and Kane celebrated their tag victory, then Vickie Guerrero walked in and handed them a card with their Rumble entry number. Kane and Bryan looked at Bryan's number, and Kane concluded, "Interesting." Bryan asked Kane to show him his number, but Kane shouted back, "No!" Bryan said it's the rules. "I show you mine, you show me yours!" Bryan said to laughs in the arena. Kane replied, "Trust me, you would feel very inadequate." Kane laughed and suggested Bryan would be long gone by the time he enters the Rumble.

Raw plug: Raw Roulette Monday night from Las Vegas.

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL were shown on commentary. JBL looked completely annoyed or disinterested as Cole hyped the Rumble Fanfest over the weekend. Cole noted they held an NXT tournament to determine a Royal Rumble entrant, which was Bo Dallas. A video that followed also showed clips of the Superstar Panels on WCW, DX, and Hart-Michaels. Kevin Nash was focused on. The video then showed WWE's involvement in the Phoenix community leading up to Rumble Weekend.

In-ring: Justin Roberts announced the Royal Rumble is next. They're placing it at the top of the second hour. Dolph Ziggler came out first, along with A.J. and Big E. Langston. In the ring, Ziggler talked himself up, then said he doesn't even care who #2 is. After a pause, the lights went down and Chris Jericho's entrance hit. The crowd went nuts as Jericho's light-up jacket flashed on the screen.Jericho, sporting another new hairdo, hit the ring to a huge reaction. The announcers focused on the Original Show-off and the New Show-off in the ring together. Before the bell sounded, Cole noted Jericho was last seen the night after Summerslam when Ziggler got Jericho "fired." Jericho removed his jacket to reveal some new arm tattoos. Cue the bell.

3 -- 30-MAN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH

Ziggler was nearly eliminated 45 seconds into the match, but he only teased going over the top rope via Jericho. Cody Rhodes then came out third selling a neck injury from the Tag Title match moments ago. Jericho teased the Walls of Jericho early on, then #4 came out as Kofi Kingston. Kofi, dressed in West Virginia's alternative uniform colors, dazzled everyone early on, then tried to toss Ziggler, but Ziggler held on. All four men stayed in leading to the next entry.

Out as #5 was Santino. Santino marched to the ring, survived one second, and remained in the match to try to eliminate people, but everyone held on. Santino then found himself alone mid-ring, pulled out The Cobra, and struck Kofi. Jericho stopped the Cobra, then Ziggler popped him with a Superkick. Rhodes followed by dumping Santino over the top rope for the first elimination.

Time for #6, which was 3MB member Drew McIntyre. McIntyre contributed to a three-man elimination tease, but no one was eliminated during this interval. Included was a near-elimination of Jericho, who struggled to skin the cat back into the ring. #7 was Titus O'Neil, who ran over folks in the ring. Titus then did the Millions of Dollars dance into suplexing Kofi. Jericho then eliminated McIntyre via dropkick over the top rope.

Out at #8 was...Goldust. WWE cut to a shot of Cody Rhodes shaking his head. Cody then dropped down to the mat and, fired up more so than perhaps he's ever looked, told his brother to come bring it. Goldust hit the ring and the two brothers went at it. Ziggler interrupted the Harbaugh Bowl moment before they knocked down Ziggler and resumed the fight.

David Otunga was out next as #9. Otunga, sporting a big shiner under his right eye, hit the ring and back-elbowed Goldust. The crowd continued to chant for Goldust, then Goldust and Rhodes double-teamed Titus. They tried to eliminate Titus, then Cody turned the tables and tried to cut Goldust, but Goldust avoided his brother's sneaky attacks.

More 3MB music to bring out Heath Slater at #10. Nothing of note here except for JBL slipping in a Beyoncé lip-synching reference. Sheamus then entered at #11. Sheamus cleaned house, then nearly eliminated Titus. Titus held on, so Sheamus delivered Ten Forearms to the chest. Sheamus then used Otunga to smash Titus off the ring apron for an elimination. Next, Sheamus Bicyle-kicked Otunga over the top rope.

Out next at #12 was Tensai to no reaction. Poor guy even stumbled entering the ring. Everyone ganged up on Tensai, but Tensai held on and avoided elimination. Brodus Clay was then introduced at #13. Brodus danced with Cameron and Naomi, then took his time removing his ring gear before hitting the Rumble match. Clay and Tensai picked up a battle, then Cody sent Goldust across the ring with a hip-toss. Cody did Goldust's trademark pose, then the brothers battled on the ring apron. Cole slipped and called him Dustin, then Rhodes eliminated his brother off the ring apron. The crowd booed as Rhodes smirked.

Out at #14 was Rey Mysterio, who was returning after missing several weeks. Rey, wearing a trucker-looking singlet, Dropped the Dime on Jericho before Rhodes targeted him. No eliminations as the wrestlers battled around the ring.

Getting the Rumble half-way through was Darren Young at #15. D-Young then helped a group of five men eliminate Brodus Clay. Kingston then eliminated Tensai off the ring apron. Kofi was nearly eliminated by Ziggler, but Kofi fell onto Tensai's back and landed on the announce table. So, Kofi was not eliminated because his feet didn't hit the floor. Kofi tried to figure out what to do, and took JBL's chair from him.

Meanwhile, Bo Dallas from NXT entered at #16. Kofi then hopped across the ringside area in JBL's office chair, made it to the ring apron, and survived. He then dumped D-Young over the top rope upon re-entering the ring. But, all that effort by Kofi went to naught when Rhodes promptly kicked him off the ring apron to the floor.

Out at #17 was The Godfather. Break Time in the ring as Godfather took forever entering the ring. Once Godfather finally entered the ring, Ziggler dropkicked him. Godfather hung on the ropes for a while, so it was about a three-second elimination before he hit the ring. Godfather's music continued to play, and he promptly took his ring gear, valets, and left.

After that interval, Wade Barrett entered at #18. Barrett and Jericho tried to eliminate Sheamus, but Sheamus held on. Rhodes then nearly eliminated Rey, but everyone stayed safe. Out at #19 was John Cena. A lot of booing mixed with cheers. Everyone in the ring stopped and looked toward the stage as Cena removed his ring gear and hit the ring. Mad scramble center-ring as everyone ganged up on Cena to give Cena the big star treatment. Cena then grabbed Slater and chucked him clear over the top rope. Rhodes's night ended with Cena eliminating him next. Bo Dallas then got himself a piece of Cena, keeping him occupied in the corner for a big spotlight moment.

Damien Sandow entered at #20 and went right after Dallas. Meanwhile, Barrett eliminated Mysterio to end Rey's return. On the other side of the ring, Jericho teased the Walls of Jericho on his old nemesis, Cena. Out at #21 was Daniel Bryan, whose number seems inconsistent with the Kane promo exchange earlier. Bryan entered the ring and promptly No! Kicked everyone in sight as the crowd chanted along. Big spotlight for Bryan here. The crowd applauded as Bryan stood center-ring surveying his work. Bryan tried to eliminate Jericho, Sheamus helped, and Jericho...hung on.

Time for #22, who was Antonio Cesaro. Cesaro marched to the ring and kneed Barrett in the back. Cesaro then Euro-cutted Bryan and Sheamus. The crowd picked up another dueling pro and anti-Cena chant as men battled in the ring. Time for #23, which was given to Great Khali. Running out of time and space here 35 minutes into the Rumble. Poor guy could barely make it to the ring. Khali chopped folks and barely managed to walk around inside the ring. Things came to a crawl before #24 was introduced as Kane.

Kane promptly entered the ring and went after Ziggler as Cole rattled off Kane's Rumble resume. Ziggler survived another near-elimination as the wrestlers looked for space to operate and set up elimination teases. Time for #25, which was Zack Ryder. Ryder tried to eliminate Ziggler, then Kane cut Khali and Bryan promptly eliminated his partner, Kane. Suddenly, Bryan fell over the top rope and landed in Kane's arms. Kane debated whether to help Bryan not get eliminated, then he decided to open his arms and drop Bryan on the floor, eliminating him.

Time to get real with Randy Orton at #26. Orton destroyed everyone, then Orton decided to end Ryder's night. Out at #27 was Jinder Mahal, the last member of 3MB. As Mahal tried to feel his way out, Cena dumped Cesaro over the top rope to the floor for another elimination. Over 40 minutes for both Ziggler and Jericho at this point.

Out at #28 was The Miz. Miz didn't even get in the match, as he attacked Cesaro when their paths crossed. Cole said Miz injured his ankle on the pre-show, then Miz hobbled to the ring. Meanwhile, Sheamus eliminated Jinder Mahal. Bo Dallas still in here, by the way. Time for #29, which was Sin Cara also returning from injury. Not much reaction for Cara, who kicked Miz and Ziggler in the head upon entering the match. Suddenly, Dallas eliminated Barrett, shocking Barrett and the announcers. Lawler said Bo picked the wrong man to eliminate. Barrett then broke the rules by eliminating Bo by yanking him over the top rope.

Time for the final entrant. At #30 was checking in at the 46:00 mark was Ryback. The field is complete with one major surprise return (Jericho), a few nostalgia returns (Goldust and Godfather), but no real shocker from the main roster. Ryback promptly eliminated Sandow, then Sin Cara, then Miz.

Down to six wrestlers. Jericho and Ziggler resumed their battle, then Ziggler superkicked Jericho off the apron. Down to five men now. Orton RKO'ed Ziggler, then Cena. No eliminations, though. Then, an RKO to Sheamus. Orton DDT'ed Ryback, then stood tall center-ring with all four other men down on the mat. Ryback then clotheslined Orton over the top rope.

Final Four - Cena, Ryback, Sheamus, and Ziggler.

Sheamus then Brogue-Kicked Ziggler off the ring apron, ending Ziggler's night at 49:46. So, it's down to three - Sheamus, Cena, and Ryback. Sheamus and Cena tackled Ryback, then suplexed him. They glanced at the WM29 sign, then battled mid-ring as Ryback recovered in the corner. Cena delivered signature offense, then Ryback ran him over with a massive clothesline. Ryback scooped up Sheamus and wanted Shell-Shock, but Sheamus blocked and delivered White Noise.

Still at three men 52 minutes in. Sheamus measured Ryback for the Brogue Kick, but Ryback lifted him in the air and dumped him over the top rope to the floor. So, it's Ryback and Cena. Cole said Cena told Ryback months ago that it's Ryback's time, but JBL says that's not the case tonight. Ryback and Cena came face-to-face and Ryback led a "Feed Me More!" chant in Cena's face. Cena answered with You Can't See Me, then Ryback ate him up with a spinebuster.

Ryback wanted the Meathook clothesline, but Cena intercepted with an STF. Cena locked it in to wear down Ryback as the crowd picked up a loud dueling chant. Ryback faded out, but Cena couldn't lift up the dead weight. Cena finally got Ryback to the top turnbuckle, but Ryback smashed him with right hands. Ryback then Thesz-Pressed Cena (awkwardly) before bashing Cena's head into the mat. Ryback then tried to grapple Cena and drag him over the top rope, but Cena reversed and whipped Ryback over the top rope, giving Cena the win.

Post-match, Cena sold shock and processed the moment before fireworks shot off in the arena. Cena looked toward the WM29 sign hanging in the arena and pointed, letting everyone know he's going to WrestleMania. Cena celebrated on the way out, then told the ringside cameraman that he's going to WrestleMania on April 7.

WINNER: Cena at 55:05 to win the Royal Rumble. Solid, pretty good Rumble, but not a super-memorable edition. WWE used their bullets early on with Jericho, then had some good moments like Rhodes-Goldust and some other items that could be in-play for WrestleMania Season. The finish was really strong with the big stars that vowed to win the Rumble in the mix. Cena winning confirms this is his Redemption Year, and the exchange between Cena and Ryback at the end sets the stage for a potential post-WM29 feud between Cena and Ryback. (****)

ORDER OF ENTRY

#1 - Dolph Ziggler
#2 - Chris Jericho
#3 - Cody Rhodes
#4 - Kofi Kingston
#5 - Santino
#6 - Drew McIntyre
#7 - Titus O'Neil
#8 - Goldust
#9 - David Otunga
#10 - Heath Slater
#11 - Sheamus (2012 winner)
#12 - Tensai
#13 - Brodus Clay
#14 - Rey Mysterio
#15 - Darren Young
#16 - Bo Dallas
#17 - The Godfather
#18 - IC champion Wade Barrett
#19 - John Cena
#20 - Damien Sandow
#21 - Daniel Bryan
#22 - U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro
#23 - Great Khali
#24 - Kane
#25 - Zack Ryder
#26 - Randy Orton
#27 - Jinder Mahal
#28 - The Miz
#29 - Sin Cara
#30 - Ryback

ORDER OF EXIT

#1 - Santino (via Rhodes at 6:05)
#2 - McIntyre (via Jericho at 9:25)
#3 - O'Neil (via Sheamus/Otunga at 15:55)
#4 - Otunga (via Sheamus at 16:15)
#5 - Goldust (via Rhodes at 19:45)
#6 - Clay (via six men at 21:56)
#7 - Tensai (via Kingston at 22:10)
#8 - D-Young (via Kingston at 24:35)
#9 - Kingston (via Rhodes at 24:40)
#10 - Godfather (via Ziggler at 26:00)
#11 - Slater (via Cena at 29:12)
#12 - Rhodes (via Cena at 29:18)
#13 - Mysterio (via Barrett at 30:46)
#14 - Khali (via Kane at 37:50)
#15 - Kane (via Bryan at 37:55)
#16 - Bryan (via Kane at 38:34)
#17 - Ryder (via Orton at 40:10)
#18 - Cesaro (via Cena at 40:55)
#19 - Mahal (via Sheamus at 42:42)
#20 - Barrett (via Dallas at 44:30)
#21 - Dallas (via Barrett at 45:25)
#22 - Sandow (via Ryback at 46:30
#23 - Sin Cara (via Ryback at 46:55)
#24 - Miz (via Ryback at 47:10)
#25 - Jericho (via Ziggler at 47:53)
#26 - Orton (via Ryback at 49:20)
#27 - Ziggler (via Sheamus at 49:46)
#28 - Sheamus (via Ziggler at 52:25)
#29 - Ryback (via Cena at 55:05)

After the Royal Rumble match ended, the announcers reset the show before going to a video package on the WWE Title feud between C.M. Punk and The Rock.

Backstage: The Rock cut a passionate promo about The People uniting with The Rock as one to become WWE champion. Rock noted his mom, who beat cancer, is in the crowd to stand tall with him.

In-ring: WWE champion C.M. Punk was introduced first. Punk came out with Paul Heyman and confidently strolled to the ring for the biggest match of his title reign. After a pause, The Rock’s music played to bring out Rock to a huge reaction. Rock bounced up and down on-stage before marching to the ring. Cole excitedly noted on commentary that the feeling changes when Rock arrives. It’s just different, he said. Rock posed in the ring, then Justin Roberts handled formal ring introductions. After Rock was introduced, Punk walked right up to him and flashed the WWE Title belt in his face. Rock just kept bouncing up and down, unmoved by Punk’s pre-match antics. Of note, the crowd was 80 percent for Rock, but there were some vocal boos for Rock. Big Fight Feel in the audience, though.

4 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK vs. THE ROCK -- WWE Title match -- If Shield interferes, Punk is stripped of the WWE Title

Once the bell sounded, Rock and Punk charged each other and traded blows. The fight moved to the floor, where Punk recovered with help from Heyman. Heyman then hit Punk from behind with the ref pre-occupied. This allowed Punk to take control, working on Rock’s “internal injuries” that The Shield caused on Raw before the Rumble. Punk acted cocky as he kept Rock downed in the ring. Punk then dropkicked Rock off the ring apron and sold re-injuring his knee. Punk shook off Heyman, then climbed to the top rope and splashed Rock on the floor. Punk sold a knee injury, but waved off Heyman, who continued to sell concern.

Back in the ring, Rock targeted the knee, which didn’t draw much of a reaction since it wasn’t a strong transition to Rock on the offensive by going after his opponent’s injury. Rock’s offensive advantage didn’t last long, as Punk dragged Rock to the floor. Punk landed offense on the floor, but Punk airballed a top-rope move back in the ring. Rock then punished Punk with right hands, but without much reaction to his first sustained offense in several minutes.

Rock teased Rock Bottom 11 minutes in, but Punk elbowed out. He wanted Go To Sleep, but Rock blocked and teased the Sharpshooter, but Punk blocked. Punk then slapped on the Vice near the ropes. Rock escaped, then managed to slap on the Sharpshooter. Punk sold tapping out, but eventually grabbed the bottom rope as Rock sold exhaustion after sitting down on the Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter for a near-minute.

The fight moved to the floor, where Rock clotheslined Punk before clearing the Spanish announce table. Rock beat Punk with right hands, but Punk popped him with a kick to the head. Punk then teased GTS, but Rock blocked. Rock wanted Rock Bottom, but as he pushed off to lift Punk in the air, the table collapsed. Both men crashed down to the mat, with both men selling knee injuries. Rock was the first to recover and re-entered the ring to stop the ref’s ten count. Rock then scooped up Punk on the outside and delivered Rock Bottom on the ring padding. It took a while for Rock to get Punk back in the ring, which allowed Punk to kick out of a pin attempt. Ringside, Heyman just shook his head as he leaned against the ring apron.

Rock and Punk reset at 17:30, then Punk blasted Rock in the head with a kick. Heyman pounded the mat to wake up Punk to cover Rock, but Punk couldn’t make it to his feet until Rock also made it back to his feet. Rock and Punk traded blows center-ring, with the crowd mixed for both men. Rock then flew off the ropes with a big clothesline into a spinebuster. Rock then stood over Punk, kicked his shoulders together, tossed his elbowpad into the crowd, bounced the ropes, and wanted the People’s Elbow, but the lights went off.

Chaos ensued in the darkness. Cole said their announce table is being destroyed, then Cole said The Shield was involved. In the chaos, Rock found himself going through a table. The lights came back on as Cole shouted toward ref Chioda in the ring that Shield did this. JBL told Cole not to be a stooge. In the ring, Punk smirked and looked toward Rock on the floor. The crowd booed as things reset with Heyman smiling as Punk rolled Rock back into the ring. Cole said this is over, then Punk slowly covered Rock, and Rock...did not make the dramatic kick-out. Punk retains the title via pinfall.

WINNER: Punk at 21:25 to retain the WWE Title.

Post-match: The crowd sold dejection and shock as Punk celebrated with Heyman in the ring. Ringside, Rock’s mom was not happy. Back in the ring, Punk kicked Rock out of the ring, then celebrated again. As Punk celebrated, Mr. McMahon’s music was introduced. McMahon walked out on-stage and told Punk that he needs to stop celebrating. McMahon said we’re not stupid and we know Shield was involved. As Heyman pleaded with McMahon not to strip Punk of the title, The Rock interrupted from ringside. Rock said they aren’t ending this night like this. Rock told McMahon to restart the match. McMahon looked around the arena, then said, all right, and re-started the match to big applause as Punk freaked out in the ring.

4b -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK vs. THE ROCK -- WWE Title match

Once the bell sounded, Punk beat down Rock in the corner. Punk delivered a top-rope elbow, but Rock kicked out of a pin attempt. Punk then wanted the GTS, but Rock blocked and set up, then delivered People’s Elbow. Rock covered, pinned Punk, and it was good for the three count. Rock is new WWE champion. Cole said the ten-year wait is over. The crowd exploded in the arena, then WWE showed Rock’s mom celebrating ringside. In the ring, Rock grasped the WWE Title belt, then posed in the corner. After a replay of the finish, they cut back to Rock celebrating center-ring. Rock continued posing as Lawler said Rock reigns supreme. No Cena. Rock continued to celebrate before the Rumble went off the air ten minutes before the top of the hour.

WINNER: Rock at 23:18 total to win the WWE Title. Not an epic singles match, especially with the crowd not invested until the false finish, but a strong moment for Rock leading to WrestleMania. Now the key is whether Punk gets his title re-match at Elimination Chamber next month or if they turn this into a three-way at WrestleMania. Since Shield was not shown in the flesh, it will also be interesting to see what the individual storyline direction for Punk is following this PPV. (***)

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