PHOENIX — On New Year’s Eve, John Cena made a promise to himself and to the WWE Universe: After a disastrous 2012, the Cenation leader vowed to turn things around and make 2013 his year. Tonight, the 10-time WWE Champion took a big step in that direction, outlasting 29 other Superstars to win the Royal Rumble Match and earn a World Title opportunity against the champion of his choosing at WrestleMania 29 on April 7.
It was only fitting, perhaps, that the road to Cena’s big win began with the very Superstar to whom the Cenation leader made his now-prescient New Year’s toast, as Dolph Ziggler chose to enter the over-the-top-rope challenge at No. 1. But it was the emergence of the No. 2 entrant just 90 seconds later that sent the WWE Universe in Phoenix into a frenzy. When the familiar strands of “Break the Walls Down” blared and the lights went out, Chris Jericho made his shocking return to WWE.
With the crowd still on its feet and the entire mood of the night suddenly and irrevocably altered, the two Superstars circled each other inside the ring, and a rivalry that came to a head at SummerSlam was quickly renewed.
Jericho and Ziggler furiously traded blows until the ring filled up with other entering Superstars. As Ziggler, Jericho, Cody Rhodes and Kofi Kingston battled it out, Santino Marella made his way to the ring and looked for a moment to have eliminated everyone else in the ring. But all of the rumblers landed on the apron, not the floor. Despite striking Kofi with The Cobra, Santino would be the first elimination of the night, tossed over the ropes by Rhodes.
When the ring inevitably filled with competitors, Ziggler and Jericho fought as the match dictated, battling whomever stood in their way. Still, they both seemingly drifted back towards one another, always looking to settle their long-standing score.
Like Shawn Michaels and Rey Mysterio before him, “The Showoff” may have drawn an unlucky number, but with an abundance of talent on his side, Ziggler looked to make the best of a badly dealt hand, despite the fact that he seemingly found himself teetering on the ring apron constantly over the course of the melee.
One of the time-honored traditions that makes the Royal Rumble Match so unique is the guessing game that takes place in living rooms of WWE Universe members all over the world — which past Superstars will make their one-night return to enter the melee?
This year was certainly no different, as a number of beloved Superstars arrived back on the scene.