Royal Rumble Part One: The experience is everything
Editors note: The following is part one of a two-part series, looking at the first-hand accounts of the WWE’s Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View event from two of Couch Side’s finest writers.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have been to numerous sporting events in my life. I’ve been around loud crowds, hyped-up environments, and have seen my fair share of gripes, surprises, controversy, and full-on rowdiness. But nothing could have prepared me for what WWE’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view gave me on January 27 at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Ariz.
Now, I’ve been a wrestling fan for a long time now. I watched religiously from 2003 to about 2006 but then lost some of that consistency until the summer of 2011, more known as “the Summer of [CM] Punk” (more on him later). So when the opportunity came for me to experience WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view of the year mere miles from my house, I jumped on that chance and didn’t look back and let me tell you, it was well worth it.
I won’t go into the main details of every match on the card because that is not what the point of going to an event like this is. The point is to be part of the experience and let me tell you, the Royal Rumble was incredible. Showing up in Downtown Phoenix an hour and a half early to eat was awe-inspiring itself as nearly every restaurant and bar was packed with fans who were only getting prepared for what the nigh would bring. Hell, halfway through our “pre-game” festivities (if you will), Matt and I got to experience the familiar “LET’S GO, CENA!” “CENA SUCKS!” chants at a bar. A BAR! Not the event, but a local bar. I could tell we were going to be in for quite a night.
We were somewhat worried about getting in after getting tickets off Craigslist but thankfully, they were legitimate and soon enough, we were in our seats and ready to rumble (get it?). From then on, it was all about the crowd reactions to the matches, entrances, spots, and moments. And the Rumble is arguably the best PPV for those reactions.
After matches for the United States Championship, World Heavyweight Championship and Tag Team Championships were all fought in above-average matches, the night’s premiere match started, the Royal Rumble. After Dolph Ziggler entered, as expected, at No. 1, the moment of the night occurred as the familiar BREAK THE WALLS DOWN hit and out came Y2J himself, Chris Jericho! You want to talk about an experience, I’ve never experienced the pop that Jericho received and I might never again no matter how many game-winning goals, walk-off homers, or buzzer beaters I see live. It was that incredible and I was a part of it.
As far as the Rumble match goes, nostalgia always plays a big part in it and it isn’t surprising to see a couple of former full-timers get in on the action. So when Goldust and The Godfather emerged from backstage, I popped like no other along with the crowd.
Unfortunately, the Rumble has to end and after popping for Jericho, Goldust, The Godfather, another innovative way for Kofi Kingston to avoid elimination, Kane (and his pyro — and for that matter, EVERYBODY‘S PYRO!), Daniel Bryan, and Randy Orton amongst others, the match ended with John Cena standing tall as the last participant left, guaranteeing him a championship match at WrestleMania 29. I predicted it, even though I did not want it to happen. But, this is the WWE we are talking about.
Then, came the main event — The Rock vs. CM Punk for the WWE Championship. The electricity was in the air from the get-go and did not stop throughout the match. You could feel the tension in the air. You could cut it with a knife, it was that intense. So, when CM Punk “won” the match (due to “interference”) and Vince McMahon, the Chairman of the Board, came out to a great reaction and restarted the match, everybody in attendance knew what was going to happen.
And it did. The Rock fought off CM Punk, delivered The People’s Elbow and as the ref’s hand came down for the 3-count, the crowd exploded in celebration, capping off one of the most eventful evenings of my life. It was truly a great experience and it will be hard to top that one — except for when the Suns win an NBA title, the Coyotes get sold to an owner who will keep them in Glendale, when Breaking Bad returns this summer, or when I lose my virginity (maybe being a wrestling fan has something to do with it?).
Professional wrestling has always been a sort of weird subject to talk about. Everybody knows it is scripted so it’s hard to legitimize it as a sport, but it is as fun and as memorable as anything you will ever experience, and the 2013 Royal Rumble PPV was no exception. Now, let the Road to WrestleMania begin.