WWE Royal Rumble 2023 Results, Recap and Match Ratings

The WWE's biggest storyline in years took a huge turn.

Daniel Van Boom

WWE's biggest storyline in years just took a dramatic turn. 

After the Royal Rumble's main event, which saw Roman Reigns defeat Kevin Owens, we witnessed the breakdown of the Bloodline. Sami Zayn refused to attack Owens, instead knocking down Reigns with a chair. That got a deafening reaction from the crowd, but was the end of Zayn in the Bloodline. The pay-per-view wrapped up with Zayn and Owens decimated in the ring together. 

The other headline news is that Cody Rhodes won the Men's Royal Rumble, which was surprisingly the first match on the show. The star of that Rumble was undoubtedly Gunther, who was the No. 1 entrant and lasted all the way until the end. All praise to the Ring General.

It was a good night to be the first or second entrant in the Rumble. Rhea Ripley entered the Women's Royal Rumble at No. 1 and ended up winning the whole dang thing. She cinched victory by eliminating Asuka and Liv Morgan, who entered at No. 2. It was arguably the best Women's Rumble yet.

The lowpoints of the night were the Lights Out and Raw Women's Championship matches. Bray Wyatt's in-ring return was silly, and had an even sillier post-match angle that featured Uncle Howdy. Meanwhile, the Raw Women's Championship was a weak bout that saw Alexa Bliss seemingly go to the dark side after losing to Bianca Belair. 

Scroll through for a full recap of WWE's 2023 Royal Rumble.

Sami Zayn is Bloodline no more

By Daniel Van Boom

Sami Zayn is no longer an Honorary Uce. His long-anticipated separation from the Bloodline has happened, and it was brutal in all the right ways.

The Bloodline hit the ring after Reigns defeated Kevin Owens. Jey Uso started to put a lei around Zayn's neck, but Reigns stopped Jey and demanded the Usos beat down Owens. They locked a chair around Owens' neck, and then Solo Sikoa hip attacked him in the corner. The Usos then handcuffed Owens to the ropes and barraged him with Superkicks. Reigns prepared to clock Owens with a steel chair, but Zayn finally intervened, telling Reigns he doesn't need to do it. That lead Reigns to demand Zayn be the one to beat Owens with the chair.

After a lot of build up, Zayn eventually made his choice: He hit Reigns in the back with the chair.

Zayn didn't try to attack the whole Bloodline, immediately dropping the chair and telling the Usos he was sorry. Jimmy laid Zayn out with a Superkick, then Solo blitzed Zayn with a Samoan Spike. Reigns got on top of Zayn and pounded him down, and all three looked at Jey Uso in the corner. Jey looked disgusted at them and exited the ring, which got a huge pop from the crowd. 

Reigns smashed Zayn with the chair, which got a "fuck you, Roman" chant. Reigns dropped the lei petals on Zayn before walking out.

Roman Reigns beats Kevin Owens

By Daniel Van Boom

Roman Reigns made his entrance alongside Paul Heyman and Sami Zayn, with the noted absence of the Usos and Solo Sikoa. 

This match escalated more quickly than most Roman Reigns main events. It started with a lockup, but the amateur wrestling didn't last long. It was only minutes later that Owens clotheslined Reigns outside and landed a Frogsplash from the apron.

Reigns hit back with a wicked Powerbomb and the first Superman Punch of the match, which got a two count. Reigns attemped a Spear but Reigns dodged it, leading Reigns to smash into the turnbuckle -- and I mean smash. Owens then landed a Swanton Bomb for a two count. 

Owens attempted more high-risk offense, but failed hard. He tried a springboard moonsault but slipped off the rope, falling right atop Reigns. He tried again, missing the Moonsault before eating a Spear from Reigns for another nearfall.

Reigns went for a second Spear, but Owens kicked him in the face and tried to score a Stunner. Reigns countered by pushing Owens into the referee. Owens planted Reigns with a Pop-up Bowerbomb, but there was no ref to count the fall.

Reigns demanded Owens get him a chair, but Zayn hesistated for a second or two. He slid the chair into the ring, but before Reigns could swing it Owens hit the distracted champion with the Stunner for an amazing false finish. Owens tried another Pop-up Powerbomb, but Reigns reversed it into an awesome Superman Punch, following it up with another Spear to get another great false finish.

Owens crawled outside to the barricade, where Zayn pleaded for him to stay down. Reigns flew around the ring and Speared him through the barricade. In a grotesque spot, Reigns swung Owens into the teeth of the steel stairs twice, his head clanging off the corners of the ring. Very ew, even if Owens took it safely.

Reigns got one more Spear in the middle of the ring for the win as Sami Zayn looked on in incredible discomfort.

Rating: 4.25 stars. The pacing of this bout was off, probably due to the Royal Rumbles going long and because of the lengthy post-match segment. But despite that, it was a worthy main event, filled with crisp action, plenty of drama and one very believable nearfall for Kevin Owens.  

The post-match angle that saw Zayn get booted from the Bloodline was stellar. It was even better than I imagined: Not only did it get the enormous, defeaning reaction from the crowd, but it also saw Jey Uso dissent from the Bloodline by refusing to take part in the beating. Such smart creative; all round excellent ending to the Royal Rumble. 

Rhea Ripley wins the Women's Royal Rumble

By Daniel Van Boom

Rhea Ripley was both the winner and MVP of the women's Royal Rumble. Ripley entered at No. 1 and lasted longer than any woman in Royal Rumble history, last eliminating entrant No. 2 Liv Morgan to win the match. It was a good Royal Rumble match, despite the questionable choice to have Becky Lynch in only for a brief spell.

The Women's Royal Rumble had a quiet opening section. Ripley was a major player, surrounded by the just-there field of Morgan, Dana Brooke and Emma. Bayley and Shayna Baszler were welcome additions, but didn't do much at the outset. 

B-Fab was the first elimination, lasting just over 30 seconds before Ripley tossed her out. NXT Women's Champion Roxanne Perez got a nice reaction when she entered. She was followed by Bayley teammate Dakota Kai and then Iyo Sky, making Damage CTRL the dominant force in the Rumble.

Damage CTRL quickly eliminated Dana Brooke, Emma and Roxanne Perez. Baszler had a fun exchange with Natalya, which ended with both being taken out by Damage CTRL. Natalya had Baszler on the apron, but Baszler locked her into the Sleeper Hold. Damage CTRL flipped Natayla onto the apron, then eliminated both her and Baszler.

As Damage CTRL was ruling the ring, Big Time Becks entered at No. 15. The crowd instantly came alive, with "Becky!" chants and loud ovations. The numbers game eventually got the best of Lynch, who was laid out by the announcer's table by the trio. (No one was eliminated here, as they exited the ring via the middle rope.)

That the crowd was into Lynch is no surprise. A little surprising was the massive pop they gave Asuka. Asuka came out with a painted face and a much darker attire. She had a great flurry of offense, suplexing and striking the whole field, getting big "Asuka" chants. She got just one elimination, taking out Tegan Knox. (Just moments before, there was an awkward moment when Tegan Knox completely missed a kick but Asuka sold it anyway.)

Entering at No. 19 was Piper Niven, formerly known as Doudrop. She laid everyone out, looking better here than she ever did as Doudrop, before Tamina came in at No. 20. One of the announcers said their clash was the one people have been waiting for, a very curious claim.

Their once-in-a-lifetime showdown was interrupted by Lynch, who the crowd again erupted for. Chelsea Green was next, with the announcers making a big deal about her return to the company -- right before she was immediately eliminated by Rhea Ripley.

That was the first in a series of big eliminations. Lynch threw out both Kai and Sky, but was then surprised by Bayley, who flipped her out of the ring to massive heat from the crowd. Bayley was herself then eliminated by Morgan. Lynch then brawled with Damage CTRL into the crowd.

There was a cute spot where Michalle McCool's music played at the No. 25 entrance. McCool was at ringside watching the show with her kids, at which point she unzipped her jacket and hopped over the barricade and into the ring. She immediately hit a Styles Clash, a nod to her husband's last opponent.

Lacey Evans eliminated Zelina Vega in brutal fashion, putting her in a Cobra Clutch from the second rope. She hoisted Vega up and over the rope, dropping her from the turnbuckle to the floor outside.

The ring was filled with nearly a dozen women by the time No. 30 was due to enter. Sure enough,the final entrant is Nia Jax -- an Irresistable Force that could clear that mass out. Incidentally, the production crew botched her entrance, hitting her music before the countdown clock even started ticking down.

Except that Nia Jax eliminated exactly no one -- instead all the women ganged up on her. They blitzed her with big moves, ending with Ripley planting her with a (weak) Riptide.

There was a series of quick eliminations from here, with Asuka, Ripley and Raquel Rodriguez all scoring eliminations. Rodriguez nearly powerbombed Ripley out of the ring, but Ripley countered and sent Rodriguez flying over. The final three came down to Ripley and Morgan, who started the match out, and Asuka.

All three women quickly ended up on the apron. Asuka tried to spray mist at Ripley, but Ripley ducked so the mist sprayed Morgan instead. Ripley did a sweet 619 to kick Asuka off, and then eliminated Morgan to win the Rumble.

Rating: 3.5 stars. Still flawed, and in need of more star power, but possibly the best Women's Royal Rumble yet.

Bianca Belair retains Raw Women's Championship

By Daniel Van Boom

After the hokey Bray Wyatt bout, it's was time for Alexa Bliss to challenge for Bianca Belair's Raw Women's Championship. As Bliss walks to the ring, Cole asks Corey if Bliss is possessed by Bray Wyatt. Corey Graves talked about how disturbed he was when Bliss told him she was "the face of evil." Very cool.

The crowd was dead for this at the outset, and how could they not be? The Royal Rumble was more anticipated, and the Lights Out match was in essence a more theatrical version of this exact story.

Belair tried to get the crowd into it, beckoning them to make some noise as she mounted offence early in the bout, but it only worked momentarily.

After some very average wrestling, Bliss attempted a Sister Abigail but Belair countered it, powering out and landing a KOD for the win. Not even the announcers sounded excited about any of this.

Afterwards, when Bliss was in the ring, the lights went dim and a spookey Bray Wyatt message played. Bliss stared off ominously into the distance as the segment ended.

Rating: 1 star. The match was bad. Bliss is much smaller than Belair, and her offense is sloppy, which makes it hard to really buy into her as a threat. The wrestling, even if it was good, was also just filling time until Bliss' demonic turn, which ended up being after the match instead of during it. Bleh. 

Bray Wyatt pinned L.A Knight

By Daniel Van Boom

Bray Wyatt defeated L.A. Knight in the Mountain Dew Light's Out Match. It was slightly better than you'd expect, but still not worth watching. 

So first up, what is a Lights Out match? It'd be more accurate to call it a Blue-Light match. A blue light descened on the ring, making the ropes and L.A. Knight's tights go a neon yellow. Wyatt also had body paint on which lit up. It looked cool. Also, there's a big Mountain Dew logo in the middle. Really, the "Mountain Dew" part of the "Mountain Dew Light's Out" match is the most important.

Wyatt attacked Knight out of the gate, taking him on the outside. Knight fought back by throwing Wyatt into the steel stairs. Wyatt tried to suplex Knight on the steps, but Knight stopped him, jumped off the barricade to land a cross body on Wyatt, who was standing on the stairs. They crashed through the announcer's table, which exploded with neon fluff. 

Knight got a Kendo Stick and started battering Wyatt with it, but Wyatt countered a swing by turning it into a Sister Abigail for the win. 

After the match, Wyatt's facepaint turned red and he stalked Knight through the area. Knight kept hitting him with Kendo Sticks, but Wyatt no sold them. Up by the audio area, Wyatt locked the Mandible Claw onto Knight. Then, on the stage above, Uncle Howdy appeared. He jumped off the stage onto Knight -- or at least tried to, he landed next to him instead of on him -- causing a super fake looking explosion. Really silly.

Rating: 1 star. Not fun. The post-match stuff was especially stupid. 

Cody Rhodes wins the Royal Rumble

By Daniel Van Boom

Cody Rhodes won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Gunther, the No.1 entrant. After an outstanding final few minutes, Rhodes hit Gunther with a Cross Rhodes and then a clothesline out of the ring to win the match -- and a WrestleMania main event. 

Austin Theory was the first of the final five to be taken out. Rollins blitzed him with a Curbstomp, which allowed Rhodes to eliminate him. That left Gunther, Rhodes, Rollins and a sidelined Paul.

Rollins got in Rhodes face, telling him he wouldn't steal his spotlight again. They were about to fight it out when Gunther interrupted. Rhodes and Rollins teamed up to take out Gunther, both hitting a Pedigree on him -- but not eliminating yet. Cole noted at this point that Gunther has broken Rey Mysterio's record, lasting longer in the Royal Rumble than anyone in history.

Rollins and Rhodes have a great exchange, and Rollins set up to eliminate Rhodes when Logan Paul appeared out of nowhere and eliminated Rollins. 

The crowd did not like that. Paul pointed to the WrestleMania sign, earning him a massive shower of boos from the crowd. Paul couldn't bask in their hate for long, as Rhodes caught him with a Cross Rhodes and eliminated him.  

There was a great moment where Gunther missed a Big Boot and ended up on the apron. Rhodes attempted a Disaster Kick, but Gunther slapped him down, literally, with a huge chop. Gunther then worked over Rhodes' previously injured pec, stomping him out in the corner. The two end up on the corner turnbuckle, where Gunther suplexed Rhodes off. Gunther kicked Rhodes around, but Rhodes fired himself up, Hogan style, and lands a Cody Cutter on Gunther before clotheslining him out of the ring onto the apron.

In a throwback to his brother Goldust, Rhodes set Gunther up in the corner, legs stretched to either side on the middle ropes, and hit a Shattered Dream -- a kick to the nuts. It doesn't keep Gunther out though, as he quickly fought back with a Powerbomb. Gunther attempted to toss Rhodes out, but now Cody hung on at the apron. Cody managed to fight back into the ring, land a Cross Rhodes and score the elimination to win.

Rating: 4.5 stars. Michael Cole said after the match that it might be the best Rumble ever. That's overstating it, but this was excellent. It was tight, and well paced. As noted, the final minutes between Rhodes and Gunther were so, so good. Gunther was undeniably the MVP of the match, making Cody's win bittersweet. He was the right person to win, but Gunther, in a sense, turned into the great underdog. 

This Rumble also did a great job at continuing and setting up feuds: Lesnar and Lashley come to mind, as well as Edge and the Judgement Day. Rollins' surprise elimination by Paul may also be setting something up between those two, which would probably be great. 

Logan Paul enters at 29, Cody Rhodes at 30

By Daniel Van Boom

Logan Paul is back and fighting fit. After injuring his leg during his Crown Jewel match against Roman Reigns, Paul made his return to WWE by entering the Royal Rumble at 29. Lucky guy.

He does some flippy stuff, but is quickly cut off by Braun Strowman, who lands a big Powerslam. Unlucky guy.

His entrance left just one final Royal Rumble participant: Cody Rhodes. Like Paul, Rhodes has been on the shelf with an injury, having suffered a gross pec injury before his match against Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell last June. Cody hit the ring with fire, and quickly eliminateed Dominik Mysterio. 


Rhodes' momentum was halted by Strowman too, who planted him with a Powerbomb. In perhaps the most impressive display of power of the night so far, Gunther hoisted Strowman up for a Last Symphony. In definitely the most impressive display of athleticism, Paul and Ricochet springboarded from opposite sides of the ring to clash together in the air. It was insane.

Ricochet and Rhodes teamed up to toss out Strowman, and then Austin Theory eliminated Ricochet. We now have a final five: Rhodes, Gunther, Theory, Paul and Rollins.

Edge returns at the Royal Rumble

By Daniel Van Boom

Damian Priest entered, allowing the Judgement Day to run amok. They beat down Rollins and eliminated Montez Ford. This of course led to the return of Edge, who was last seen losing to Finn Balor in an I Quit match. Edge hit the ring, landed massive Spears on Priest, Balor and Dominik, then eliminated both Priest and Balor.

Edge then got in a staredown with Rollins, but is ambushed by Dominik. Edge quickly got the better of Dominik, and tried to eliminate him. But Priest and Balor hopped up on the apron and pulled Edge out, eliminating him. 

Edge chased Balor and Priest up to the ramp, and brawled with both. But Rhea Ripley attacked him from behind, leading to Edge's wife Beth Phoenix to return -- Balor won the aforementioned I Quit match against Edge by having Rhea Ripley attack Phoenix. Pheonix hit Ripley with a Spear before referees came out to separate everyone. 

After the Edge-Judgement Day fiasco, Omos entered at No. 26. He beat everyone down, landing a gigantic Chokeslam on Gunther, but No. 27 is Braun Strowman. Omos and Strowman get in a slugfest -- it's not pretty -- before Strowman eliminated Omos with a monstrous clothesline.

Ricochet is in at No. 28. He and Strowman, now teammates, joined forces, but don't eliminate anyone. The big eliminator turns out to be Gunther, the No. 1 entrant, who managed to throw out both Sheamus and McIntyre at the same time.

Brock Lesnar enters early, eliminated early

By Daniel Van Boom

Brock Lesnar was in unusually early, entering at No. 12. Sheamus and McIntyre try to team up against him, but he takes them all to Suplex City. Lesnar eliminated Santos Escabar, Angelo Dawkins and Chad Gable in quick succession.

Lesnar briefly got in a showdown with Gunther, which the crowd was mega into, but they were interrupted by Bobby Lashley. Lesnar's tenure in the Rumble would turn out to be brief: Lashley entered, Speared Lesnar and, after countering an F5, Lashley eliminated Lesnar with a clothesline.

Lesnar didn't take elimination well, smashing up the announcer's table a bit. Baron Corbin entered at No. 14, but didn't make it into the ring before Lesnar cut him off and F5'd him. Rollins came in at 15, rolled Corbin in the ring and eliminated him.

Lashley's huge elimination wasn't a portent of victory. Seth Rollins ended up tossing him out rather unceremoniously just a few minutes later.

Rey Mysterio's music hit for him to enter at No. 17, but there was no Rey. The clock ticked down for the next entrance, and it turned out to be Dominik Mysterio, who came out with Rey's mask. Michael Cole speculated that Dominik did something to Rey in the back, because there's no way Rey would give his son one of his masks.

Elias hit the Rumble at No. 19, entering with his guitar. He got a brief flurry, smashing his guitar against Gunther, but was decimated by McIntyre and Sheamus who hit him with a Claymore and Brogue Kick at the same time. It was super gnarly.

Finn Balor is in next, and comes to the defense of Dominik Mysterio. The two eliminate Johnny Gargano before beginning to brawl with Sheamus and McIntyre. As they do, Booker T makes his entrance. Booker looks good for 57, but is no longer moving so well. He hit a few kicks, a Book End and, most importantly, a Spinerooni before being tossed out by Gunther.

Men's Royal Rumble kicks off the show

By Daniel Van Boom

The first match of the night is the men's Royal Rumble, and it's starting with a banger. Gunther is the No. 1 entrant of the Royal Rumble, and No. 2 is Sheamus. These two had an outstanding match at last year's Clash at the Castle; this was the perfect time for a reprise. 

Gunther and Sheamus started the match out by demolishing each other with chops and strikes; Sheamus almost immediately got a blood-red chest. The field began to fill up, with Miz coming in third, Kofi Kingston fourth and Johnny Gargano fifth.

Miz was first out. Sheamus delivered his 10 Beats of the Bodhrán -- where he clubs the guy's chest 10 times while they're tied up on the ropes -- and then hit a Brogue Kick to Miz to eliminate him. At that moment, Xavier Woods entered at No. 6.

Karrion Kross was the seventh entrant. He got a full black-and-white entrance and began to run wild, but was briefly cut off by Gunther. They had a great exchange -- Gunther is so wonderfully stiff -- which Kross got the best of. Next in was Chad Gable, who landed a bunch of suplexes before getting in an amateur wrestling exchange with Woods. This was actually awesome and got a pop from the crowd.

Drew McIntyre is the first major contender to enter, coming in at No. 9. He makes his presence immediately felt, hitting Kross with a Claymore to eliminate him. Kross' unimpressive performance in the Rumble says a lot about how far he's fell since his return, when he was positioned as a main-event player.

Pat McAfee is back at the announcer table

By Daniel Van Boom

The Royal Rumble kicks off with a return -- but not of a wrestler. Pat McAfee is back at the announcer desk, much to the delight of Michael Cole and to the frustration of Cory Graves. 

I mean it, Cole is delighted. He goes absolutely buck wild for McAfee. They announce that the very first match of the night is the men's Royal Rumble.