WWE needs the ex-AEW guy to main event WrestleMania (2023)

WWE Royal Rumble 2023 takes place tonight (Sat., Jan. 28) from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. It begins at 7:00 pm ET with the Kickoff show leading right into the main course at 8:00 pm ET on Peacock in the U.S., WWE Network everywhere else, or your local cable pay-per-view provider.

Cody Rhodes is back in WWE to win the Royal Rumble and headline WrestleMania

The Royal Rumble match is unlike anything else in WWE, and that’s one reason why this event always ranks among WWE’s most anticipated nights of the year.

The rules of the 30-man Royal Rumble match are simple. Two wrestlers start the match, a new superstar enters the fray at regular intervals, and elimination occurs when a competitor goes over the top rope and both feet hit the floor. The winner of the match is the last person standing after 29 other wrestlers have been eliminated. The winner earns a world title match at WrestleMania.

Here are the names of the 19 wrestlers who have been officially announced for the men’s Royal Rumble match:

  • Kofi Kingston
  • Santos Escobar
  • Ricochet
  • Austin Theory
  • Seth Rollins
  • Bobby Lashley
  • Baron Corbin
  • Rey Mysterio
  • Cody Rhodes
  • Omos
  • Drew McIntyre
  • Sheamus
  • Braun Strowman
  • Karrion Kross
  • Dominik Mysterio
  • Xavier Woods
  • The Miz
  • Brock Lesnar

Many different stories will play out during the course of this match. Let’s start with last year’s winner, Brock Lesnar. He returned to WWE this week to F5 the hell out of Bobby Lashley. Will Bob willingly accept help from Omos if that’s what it takes to eliminate The Beast?

One other story to keep an eye on is what happens when Rey and Dominik Mysterio cross paths. Despite Dominik’s turn to the dark side last year, Rey has refused to raise a hand to his son. That approach could bite Rey in the ass tonight, especially given how eager The Judgment Day is to hurt and eliminate Rey.

Speaking of The Judgment Day, will we see Edge return to WWE in this match? He has a bone to pick with those guys after what they did to his wife Beth Phoenix in October.

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Who else might show up as surprise entrants? Logan Paul? Bad Bunny? Matt Riddle? Randy Orton? Kane? A forgotten mid-card comedy guy from over a decade ago?

Finally, let’s talk about the likely winners. Based on the official list of entrants, it looks like WWE is depending on Cody Rhodes to main event WrestleMania this year. Cody is returning tonight after more than seven months on the sidelines and will try to continue where he left off as the top men’s babyface in the company. He stands out as the clear favorite of the 19 official entrants, particularly because consecutive wins for Brock doesn’t seem like the best idea.

But Sami Zayn has also emerged as a leading candidate to win, even though he might not even be in the match. Zayn is perhaps the most popular guy in WWE today due to his excellent character work as the Honorary Uce of The Bloodline. Tensions are escalating recently between Sami and Roman Reigns, and there is an obvious story to tell where Sami wins the Royal Rumble and fights Reigns at the biggest wrestling show of the year.

Some people are holding out hope that The Rock will make room in his busy schedule for a WrestleMania match this year, and in that scenario he is also a potential Royal Rumble winner tonight.

Last year’s men’s Royal Rumble match was something of a boring disaster, so hopefully this time WWE will remind us about all the things that make a Royal Rumble match so fun. It’s Triple H’s first time running WWE creative for the Royal Rumble, so he should be motivated to make it special.

The rest of the card

Here are the remaining four matches that are currently advertised for Royal Rumble:

Women’s Royal Rumble match

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The rules here are the same as the men’s match, only this time it will be 30 women trying to throw each other over the top rope in order to earn a title match at WrestleMania.

WWE has done a poor job of creating interest in this match, despite having more than two months to get there. That’s partially because only seven women were announced for the match as of 48 hours ago. That number is up to 12 now, and here they are:

  • Liv Morgan
  • Candice LeRae
  • Rhea Ripley
  • Raquel Rodriguez
  • Shayna Baszler
  • Zelina Vega
  • Emma
  • Bayley
  • Dakota Kai
  • Lacey Evans
  • Xia Li

The lack of Becky Lynch sticks out like a sore thumb, though I do expect that she will join the match looking for revenge on Bayley, IYO SKY, and Dakota Kai.

It sure sounds like Ronda Rousey won’t be involved in this match. The singles champions don’t typically enter this match either, so it seems unlikely that Bianca Belair or Charlotte Flair will be in the mix. Alexa Bliss is also probably off the table since she has a separate match on the card. Sasha Banks and Naomi left WWE a long time ago. The end result is a women’s Royal Rumble match that is severely lacking in star power on paper.

As far as the probable winners are concerned, Rhea Ripley stands out from the pack as the big favorite. Raquel Rodriguez has also been pushed strong in recent weeks leading up to the match.

Hopefully WWE has some interesting surprises lined up for filling out the field, because this Royal Rumble match needs a lot of help.

WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens

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Roman Reigns has been the Universal champion for so long that he is now recycling opponents he’s already defeated multiple times earlier during his run on top. When Owens’ past failures to beat Roman are combined with the fact that WrestleMania is coming up soon, it’s incredibly difficult to find a scenario where KO will walk out of this match as the new champion.

In many ways, the story here revolves around Sami Zayn choosing loyalty to The Bloodline over his friendship with Owens. However, Zayn has been so eager to prove his worth as a member of The Bloodline that he has stepped out of line with Roman multiple times. He defied Roman once again on this week’s SmackDown, showing up to assist Solo Sikoa despite the Tribal Chief telling Sami that he didn’t want to see him until Royal Rumble.

Paul Heyman tried to convince Reigns to boot Sami out of The Bloodline at Raw XXX, but Jey Uso vouched for Sami and stopped that from happening. Reigns said that Zayn’s “final test” takes place tonight. We already saw Sami choose Roman over KO two months ago at WarGames, so it’s not clear what that means.

It feels like Sami’s time with The Bloodline is coming to an end, even with Roman as the overwhelming favorite to win this match. Roman has been using Sami for his own benefit this entire time, and once Reigns is finished with KO, he may very well decide that there’s nothing more to squeeze out of Sami as far as his utility to The Bloodline is concerned.

Pitch Black Match: Bray Wyatt vs LA Knight

This is Bray Wyatt’s first televised match since he returned to WWE over three months ago. And it’s sponsored by Mountain Dew.

The story here stretches back to mid-November when LA Knight responded to a Wyatt apology by slapping him the face twice. Knight was then targeted in mysterious backstage attacks, which brought Uncle Howdy into the story. Wyatt and Howdy appear to be different people on the surface, but Wyatt has contradicted himself about Howdy’s identity.

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Wyatt and Knight were clearly headed to a fight, so WWE put them in this Pitch Black match at Royal Rumble. WWE hasn’t bothered to explain the specific rules of this new match type. They’ve offered a general idea that anything goes, but that’s not very helpful.

Knight has gotten over on his mic work and catchphrases during the last two months, but most of that goes out the window once the match begins. Wyatt is very comfortable in the darkness and will very likely swallow him up in whatever the hell a Mountain Dew Pitch Black match entails.

Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

Alexa Bliss and Bianca Belair were allies two months ago at WarGames, but Wyatt’s return to WWE has brought back some of Alexa’s erratic behavior from the dark days when she was trapped under Bray’s spell.

Bliss has turned her attention to winning championship gold, and Uncle Howdy has made his presence known as part of that effort. Belair doesn’t really understand what the hell is going on, and who can blame her?

Alexa tried to injure Bianca by attacking her with a vase. Bliss also intentionally got herself disqualified in their first title match in order to inflict more punishment on Belair. The champ needed stitches as a result of Alexa’s aggression. Even so, Bianca’s track record of dominance over the last two years suggests she is the solid favorite to retain the gold.


It’s the Royal Rumble! This is always an exciting time to be a pro wrestling fan, not only for the Rumble matches, but also because this event officially begins the road to WrestleMania. So make sure to gather ‘round a close group of friends, whether in person or right here in the comments at Cageside Seats, count down the clock to zero together with every new entrant, root like hell for your favorite wrestler(s) to pull off a miracle, and be ready to go on a wild ride.

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What will you be looking for at Royal Rumble?


Is AEW bigger than WWE? ›

We can make many strong arguments about AEW's booking process or get into which company has the better matches. However, WWE is still the biggest stage for pro wrestling in the world.

Who won the WWE Royal Rumble? ›

Got it! Cody Rhodes won the 2023 Royal Rumble match, and is set to return to Raw. WWE Raw advertised the Raw return of Cody Rhodes, who won the 2023 WWE Royal Rumble, in addition to women's Royal Rumble winner Rhea Ripley, who was to declare her WrestleMania opponent.

What is more popular WWE or AEW? ›

WWE has a much larger fanbase than AEW and more money, too

AEW doesn't even come close to WWE's levels of popularity or success. Tony Khan might be a billionaire, but he only has that money because of his rich daddy, Shahid Khan.

Who is WWE competition? ›

WWE's top competitors include New Japan Pro Wrestling. New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd., operating as New Japan Pro-Wrestling and also referred to as NJPW or New Japan, is a Japanese wrestling league based in Nakano, Tokyo…

Is WWE losing viewers to AEW? ›

AEW Dynamite garnered 752,000 total viewers, down 23% from last week, with a 0.26 rating in the 18-49 demo. WWE NXT drew 676,000 viewers, down 8% from last week, with a 0.18 rating in the 18-49 demo.

Is WWE losing viewers? ›

From last year, where the show this week did a record low in 18-49 against a monster football game, Raw was down four percent in viewers, up 16 percent in 18-49, and up 32 percent in 18-34, and factoring in the decline in homes getting the station, realistically it's a two percent increase in viewers, a 23 percent gain ...

Has John Cena won a Royal Rumble? ›


Cena is the fourth Superstar to win multiple Royal Rumble Matches. The others are all Hulk Hogan (1990 and 1991), Shawn Michaels (1995 and 1996) and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (1997, 1998 and 2001). All three are WWE Hall of Famers.

Who won WWE Royal Rumble 2023? ›

Cody Rhodes wins Royal Rumble Match in WWE return: WWE Royal Rumble 2023 highlights. The American Nightmare moved one step closer to his dreams with a Royal Rumble Match victory in his return.

Who wins the 2023 Royal Rumble? ›

Rhodes became the fifth person to win the match from the #30 position. Additionally, Gunther set a new record for longest time spent in a men's rumble match and the second #1 entrant after "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in 1999 to be the runner-up.

Who is statistically the best wrestler of all time? ›

1. The Undertaker. The workhorse of the WWE and widely regarded as the greatest wrestler ever produced by the company, The Undertaker has been under contract for the company since the 1990s.

Who is the most liked WWE superstar of all time? ›

15 Most Popular WWE Wrestlers of All Time
  1. Stone Cold. The greatest wrestler of all time is Steve Austin. ...
  2. The Rock. ...
  3. Bruno Sammartino. ...
  4. The Undertaker. ...
  5. Kurt Angle. ...
  6. Hulk Hogan. ...
  7. Ric Flair. ...
  8. Shawn Michaels.
Feb 7, 2022

What is the most watched wrestling show ever? ›

1Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker10,721,000 viewers (most watched wrestling cable match in history). Overrun segment
11Jeff Jarrett vs. Val VenisUnopposed edition of RAW
12Cactus Jack vs. Mideon & VisceraUnopposed edition of RAW
13The Royal Rumble Match (1988)
9 more rows

Do WWE wrestlers know who wins before the match? ›

In some cases, the two wrestlers will know who's supposed to win, how long the match is supposed to take, and then plan out with their opponent the sequence of three or four moves that will make the finishing montage, ending with the pin (1-2-3), the count-out, the disqualification, or general mayhem.

Who is the biggest winner in WWE? ›

With the WWE Universal Championship, Lesnar holds the record for most reigns, and he was also the first wrestler to hold the WWE Championship and the WWE Universal Championship. Lesnar is a 12-time world champion, but WWE does not recognize his Inoki Genome Federation's IWGP Heavyweight Championship reigns.

Is WWE fake or acting? ›

As in other professional wrestling promotions, WWE shows are not legitimate contests but entertainment-based performance theater, featuring story line-driven, scripted, and partially-choreographed matches; however, matches often include moves that can put performers at risk of injury, even death, if not performed ...

Has AEW ever beat WWE in ratings? ›

Dynamite viewership was down 11% from last week's episode, which became the first broadcast in AEW history to defeat Raw in the 18-49 viewership.

Why is WWE becoming less popular? ›

Although wrestling is big, there is an overall decreasing interest in the WWE. Quite simply, the fans aren't tuning in to pay-per-views and TV shows or getting excited about matches and story lines like they once did.

Why are AEW ratings so low? ›

AEW's problems have been intensified by the huge momentum swing toward WWE in the Triple H Era. WWE Raw viewership increased 14% in young adults (18-34) during the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to 4Q 2021, while WWE NXT on Tuesdays has seen a 16% increase.

Why is there no blood in WWE anymore? ›

From July 2008 onward, due to its TV-PG rating, WWE has not allowed wrestlers to blade themselves. In most cases, any blood coming from the wrestlers is unintentional.

Are WWE in debt? ›

Debt Level: WWE has more cash than its total debt. Reducing Debt: WWE's debt to equity ratio has reduced from 85.9% to 49.9% over the past 5 years. Debt Coverage: WWE's debt is well covered by operating cash flow (104.1%). Interest Coverage: WWE's interest payments on its debt are well covered by EBIT (13.7x coverage).

Why are so many people leaving WWE? ›

Yet, some superstars have chosen to leave the company. Most of them were frustrated with their creative direction in cut-throat competitive times. They accomplished little before leaving the world's largest wrestling organisation. Usually, they chose to sign with other companies and are now top stars in them.

Who has the highest Royal Rumble? ›

Stone Cold Steve Austin holds the record for victories with three, achieved in 1997, 1998 and 2001, while Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Batista, Triple H, Randy Orton, Edge and Brock Lesnar have all won the match twice.

Has Cena beaten Lesnar? ›

Two years later, Lesnar beat Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2014, but in their title rematch at Night of Champions, Cena defeated Lesnar again but it was by disqualification with Lesnar retaining the WWE Championship.

Who invented Royal Rumble? ›

Pat Patterson

Where is Royal Rumble 2024? ›

The event is scheduled to be held as a two-night event, taking place on April 6 and 7, 2024, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Who is the oldest wrestler to win the Royal Rumble? ›

#1 1999 Royal Rumble, Vince McMahon - 53 years and 5 months

There has been only one Royal Rumble winner above the age of 50, and he is the company's CEO, Vince McMahon. The 75-year-old won his only Royal Rumble Match 22 years ago at the Arrowhead Pond. Mr. McMahon was the second entrant in the 1999 Royal Rumble match.

Is Randy Orton coming back to WWE? ›

There is reportedly no firm timetable for Randy Orton's return to WWE after undergoing back surgery.

Who is the youngest person to win a Royal Rumble? ›

Youngest Rumble Winner

Capping off one of the greatest debut years in WWE history, Brock Lesnar took only 8 minutes and 59 seconds to win the 2003 Royal Rumble at the age of 25 years and 6 months.

How many wrestlers have won the Royal Rumble 3 times? ›

WWE Royal Rumble records

The record for most wins is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin with three (1997, 1998, 2001). Six other wrestlers have won the event twice: Hulk Hogan (1990, 1991), Shawn Michaels (1995, 1996), Triple H (2002, 2016), Batista (2005, 2014), John Cena (2008, 2013) and Randy Orton (2009, 2017).

Did Roman Reigns win the Royal Rumble 2023? ›

Cody Rhodes won the WWE 2023 Royal Rumble Match. Cody Rhodes won the WWE Royal Rumble in his return to WWE, entering the event at No. 30.

Who is the most respected person in WWE? ›

The Rock is considered the best professional wrestler in the world. Born in 1972, Dwayne Johnson started his wrestling career in the year 1996. The Rock has won the WWE title 8 times, and his real name is Dwayne Johnson.

Who is the WWE goat? ›

Hulk Hogan is widely considered the GOAT (or greatest of all time) of wrestling. Here's a look back at Hogan's career and his ties to Florida.

Which wrestler is a billionaire? ›

Vince McMahon ($2.4 Billion)

His daughter Stephanie McMahon now runs the company. Despite paying an estimated $14.6 million in settlements to the women he allegedly abused, McMahon still retains the majority share of the company and is the WWE's only billionaire.

Who is the most underrated wrestler of all time? ›

The 28 Most Underrated WWE Wrestlers
  1. Ted DiBiase. WWE. Years Active in WWE: 1979, 1987-1993, and 1994-1996. ...
  2. Owen Hart. WWE. Years Active in WWE: 1988-1989, 1991-1999. ...
  3. Rick Martel. WWE. Years Active in WWE: 1980-1982, 1986-1985. ...
  4. Marty Jannetty. WWE. ...
  5. Bam Bam Bigelow. WWE. ...
  6. Mr. Perfect. ...
  7. Rick Rude. WWE. ...
  8. D'Lo Brown. WWE.
Jan 9, 2023

Who is the number 1 wrestler in the US? ›

1Spencer Lee11-0
2Patrick Glory12-0
3Matt Ramos23-3
4Killian Cardinale8-0
29 more rows

Who is the winningest wrestler of all time? ›

Despite being an actor (and former rapper), John Cena still managed to keep his focus on WWE and rack up the most career match wins in history. In addition to his record-breaking number of wins, Cena also tied Ric Flair's record for world title reigns, bringing home an astonishing 16.

How much of WWE is scripted? ›

Although roughly 99.9 percent of the things that have happened in professional wrestling over the years have been carefully scripted and planned for, spontaneity is bound to creep in every once in a while. In fact, some of the most memorable moments in WWE history were unscripted.

Would a wrestler beat a boxer in a fight? ›

Once again, boxers can't use sheer force to get back to their feet. They must learn exact procedures. So overall, wrestlers would beat boxers 8 out of 10 times in a street fight. Their chances go even higher if the fight is in a closed space like a bar or a room.

Do wrestlers get to keep their titles? ›

Champions maintain permanent possession of these belts even upon losing their title, with a new belt made when a new champion is crowned.

Who has the best biceps in WWE? ›

Scott Steiner is the man who has the biggest biceps in WWE History at 26 Inches which is bigger than the faces of most people. He is a living legend of wrestling and this year he was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame for his immense contribution to the spurt.

Why do people love WWE even though it's fake? ›

Action, drama, humor, infidelity, love stories, betrayal, overcoming adversity, facing tough obstacles, pain, both mental and physical, joy, happiness, and family issues are just some of the aspects of pro wrestling that make it entertaining.

How do wrestlers decide who wins? ›

The wrestler with the most points wins the match by decision. If there is no winner at the end of the three regulation periods, an overtime period is added. The 1-minute overtime period begins immediately after the regulation match, with the wrestlers starting in the neutral position.

Are WWE matches fixed? ›

It's not exactly a secret that WWE is a scripted show, and so is pro wrestling as a whole. The basic premise of the shows is a bunch of Superstars engaging in feuds with each other and rising up the ranks in order to bag the top prize. WWE matches, as fans are well aware, are predetermined and choreographed.

Why AEW is getting bigger than WWE? ›

It makes no qualms about being a pro wrestling company. The whole premise of AEW is that pro wrestling can be entertaining in its own right. It's going to make its money being a pro wrestling company. As WWE runs away from pro wrestling as an entertainment genre, AEW embraces it.

Who pays more AEW or WWE? ›

WWE pays more. Moxley is the highest earner in AEW and makes 6 million. Where Lesnar makes 15 million, Cena 13 million and reigns 10 million. AEW's other top talents make 3 million, which is slightly less than what Becky Lynch makes.

What is the biggest wrestling company? ›

The most prominent promotions in the United States are World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), All Elite Wrestling (AEW), Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor (ROH), Major League Wrestling (MLW), and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).

Is AEW making any money? ›

All Elite Wrestling is doing very well business-wise in 2022 with AEW President Tony Khan sharing the news that the company will gross over $100 million this year.

Is professional wrestling losing popularity? ›

Professional wrestling—namely, WWE—has been on a decline in popularity since the turn of the millennium. The most prominent wrestling program on television, WWE Raw, has seen its Nielsens more than halved in the past decade.

Did SmackDown beat AEW in ratings? ›

WWE's Supersized SmackDown on FS1 defeated AEW Rampage in total viewership per fast nationals overnight ratings data, with SmackDown garnering 793,000 to 549,000 for AEW Rampage.

Is AEW a threat to WWE? ›

How there is a viable second major company where wrestlers can work, but specifies that AEW is not a threat to WWE: “It's just a viable, healthy company.

How much do WWE refs make? ›

According to Crunchy Sport, A top-level professional referee tends to be on the following terms: $250,000 annual flat contracted wage. $10,000 per PPV match. $3,000 per regular match.

Is AEW declining? ›

AEW Rampage ratings have cratered in 2022, particularly among young viewers. According to Nielsen data, AEW Rampage viewership among young adults 18-34 has plummeted 45% compared to last year.

Who is the highest paid wrestler in WWE 2022? ›

For that reason Lesnar is the highest paid WWE fighter on the planet. According to online sources, Brock Lesnar has a yearly wage of $15 million. To this day, Lesnar is the only man ever to hold world heavyweight championship belts in UFC, WWE and the NCAA.

Who is the No 1 wrestler of all time? ›

1. The Undertaker. The workhorse of the WWE and widely regarded as the greatest wrestler ever produced by the company, The Undertaker has been under contract for the company since the 1990s.

Why is everyone moving from WWE to AEW? ›

Whether it be a case of a performer getting released, or AEW managing to outbid WWE to land them, several former WWE superstars ended up debuting for AEW in 2021, as they continue to grow an ever-expanding roster, as the company reaches a wider audience.

How much is the AEW belt worth? ›

A redacted police report lists the belt as being worth between $20,000 and $100,000.

What is the AEW WWE ratings war? ›

The Wednesday Night Wars were a period of mainstream televised American professional wrestling in which All Elite Wrestling (AEW)'s Dynamite debuted on TNT opposite WWE's NXT on the USA Network in a competition for Nielsen ratings each week. The ratings war lasted from October 2, 2019, to April 7, 2021.


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