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The Royal Rumble event has been a fan favorite since its inception in 1988. It brings together some of WWE’s biggest superstars for an epic battle royal to determine who will main event WrestleMania that year. The Alamodome is an ideal venue for the Royal Rumble. It’s one of the largest indoor stadiums in the United States, with a seating capacity of over 65,000 fans. Covering the Royal Rumble this past Saturday for PWTorch was an honor and privilege, but did it live up to the hype that comes along with Royal Rumble season?
WWE Royal Rumble 2023 – The Presentation
Presentations can be daunting, but with the proper preparation and execution, they can be a memorable experience for everyone involved. In addition, the event should include visuals to help capture the excitement of the show. The WWE Royal Rumble 2023 was an example of how to conduct an effective presentation. WWE’s ability to make these memorable presentations sets them apart as a premiere sports entertainment outlet. The entire ring setup for the Royal Rumble was undoubtedly unique and would have been ideal if WWE had a wrestler skateboard gimmick on a talent. However, the thing I was most impressed with regarding WWE’s presentation was their post-show media scrum. The entire experience felt and looked like a big deal from start to finish. It felt like I was at AFC post-game media scrum for the Kansas City Chiefs. I am delighted that WWE has established doing media scrums after PLEs during the Triple H creative era. They are effective in furthering storylines coming out of the PLE instantly.
WWE Royal Rumble 2023 – The Atmosphere
Man, the WWE fanbase is undoubtedly a fascinating group. The 2023 Royal Rumble broke all-time venue merchandise records, with merchandise sales up 135%. I spoke with employees at the Alamodome throughout the afternoon and confirmed that fans had been waiting outside to get inside the building since noon. With 45,275 tickets sold for the event, there were moments you could hear a pin drop within the Alamodome during the PLE. The fans would get up for the enormous moments like the Brock and Gunther staredown, Edge returning, Cody returning, Cody winning the Rumble, Rhea winning the Rumble, and the post-match angle with the Bloodline. However, outside of those moments there were times I thought I was at a PGA event. We will get the match card quality in shortly, but I think the Mountain Dew Pitch Black match derailed much of the show’s good momentum after Cody won the Royal Rumble. The fans could not have cared less about Alexa Bliss vs. Bianca Belair for the Raw women’s title, and I didn’t hear any real noise again from the crowd until Asuka entered the women’s Royal Rumble as the 17th entrant. The crowd was deeply into the Bloodline main event and loved the post-match angle. The days of the fans from 2015-2019 rejecting things they don’t like seem gone and the WWE fan of 2023 will cheer for what’s hot and sit and, most of the time, enjoy matches that will happen in front of them without complaints.
WWE Royal Rumble 2023 – The Overall Card
The bar for the 2023 Royal Rumble to beat last year’s Royal Rumble was extremely low, knowing what happened on the 2022 PLE. The men’s rumble was fun to good at times and the women’s rumble had an exciting finish. As far as where these Rumble matches rank, I would put them somewhere in the 3rd tier. They are not the best, but they are not the worst, either. Cody and Rhea winning the Royal Rumble was the correct booking decision. I would have preferred Cody enter at number 1 and go all the way but knowing that was Rhea’s path; I understand why Triple H didn’t do that consecutively throughout the PLE. For a match that didn’t even go five minutes, the Mountain Dew Pitch Black match felt like it went 22 minutes. The match overall could have derailed the entire show. Thank goodness it didn’t. Alexa Bliss vs. Bianca Belair was wrestling happening in front of me that I will never remember, which is a shame. Bianca is a megastar. Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns was solid, but certainly one of the weaker matches against each other during their time with WWE. As the referee counted 1, 2, 3 media members were escorted down to prepare for the post-Royal Rumble media scrum. We didn’t see the post-match angle with Sami Zayn live. However, I caught the tail end of the Sami beatdown as the media scrum was about to start. I’ve, of course, gone back to watch the angle from start to finish and this was one of the best things WWE has ever done. I’m looking forward to what happens next with Sami and the Bloodline.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Knowing the Royal Rumble is the WWE conference championship game before the Super Bowl, I thought the experience overall of being in the building lived up to the hype. Even though the match card wasn’t perfect, the 2023 Rumble still offered your primary essentials — Big returns, potential WrestleMania matches, and excellent finishes.