The Royal Rumble serves many purposes in the WWE season. For starters it's the first pay-per-view of the new year and both kicks off the Wrestlemania season as well as provides a transition to fresh storylines, leaving behind the remnants of 2012. For WWE fans though, the titular match of the event holds special meaning as it is by far one of the most unique events they will bear witness to over the course of the year and often means surprise one-night-only nostalgia runs from former WWE superstars and long retired veterans. The 2013 Royal Rumble held significant meaning as it's main event put the year-plus long WWE Championship reign of CM Punk against the long awaited (by some) in-ring return of The Rock (last seen victorious nearly a year prior at Wresltemania against John Cena). The match was the essence of old versus new, in more ways than one.
With the exception of two disappointing and in hindsight, predicable match conclusions, the 2013 Royal Rumble is a quite spectacular WWE pay-per-view event. Opening with an enjoyable, albeit unspectacular World Heavyweight title match between defending champ Alberto Del Rio and The Big Show, the event is followed with a brief tag team bout between reigning tag champs Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) and Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow). Despite the skill of all four men involved, like so many other tag contests of this era, the match doesn't even make it to the ten-minute mark, not fully allowing the competitors to properly entertain a crowd at an event that bafflingly put an almost equal-in-length contest between Antonio Cesaro (one of the most underused talents in the WWE) and The Miz into the pre-show. At the end of the day, these opening bouts are merely warm-ups for the main event and the Royal Rumble itself.
The 2013 Rumble match starts things off right, setting up a career building number one entry from Dolph Ziggler (who would nearly go the limit in the match) and the best surprise return of the evening: Y2J himself, Chris Jericho. The Rumble match was truly anyone's match this year up until the predicable final four: Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Ryback, and John Cena. The inevitable happens, with Cena taking home the prize yet again, throwing fan favorite, but still to early to fully push, Ryback over the top rope. It's at this point, that a lot of the fun of the event diminishes as the proverbial handwriting is on the wall: yes, the WWE is going to set up a second Wrestlemania main event between John Cena and The Rock.
The main event should have been at least exciting, even if before the opening bell rings, we know The Rock is going to end a year-plus long reign by a new talent for little more than to briefly hold the belt in a quick boost to ratings and Wrestlemania sales. The truly sad aspect of the match is despite looking like he's in phenomenal shape and trumping CM Punk in sheer size, The Rock's cardio is lacking and the brief 23-minute match (which included a restart that fooled no one but the most gullible and/or youngest fans) wisely ends much earlier than most main events of the era. The whole spectacle is a testament to the new breed of WWE booking: safe and unspectacular. The end result is a program that isn't truly horrible in any single match, but the blatant predictability of the outcomes makes the whole event end on a sour note.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer sports brilliant, rich color reproduction of the event itself. Detail levels are not as strong as something sourced from a modern HD broadcast should be, possibly due to some minor compression artifacts that seems to be the standard for WWE DVD releases (it's much better than a few years back).
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio is a solid, albeit non-mind-blowing experience. Commentary is front and center, but never mixed to overpower the sounds of the arena, nor do the mics focused on the in-ring action feel off-balance. A few matches in, and the sound isn't as immersive as being live (simply due to the constant commentary), but there's nothing to detract from the experience.
The lone extra is a brief segment of John Cena sharing his thoughts on the event.
The outcomes of the two biggest matches on a four match card (to be fair, the Rumble does traditionally last about an hour) might leave a foul taste in a fan's mouth, but the overall spectacle and vast majority of each match's length, makes the "2013 WWE Royal Rumble" a solid start to a new year of wrestling. Highly Recommended.