Yup, another wrestling post.
Hey, Gang! It’s January and the new year on the professional wrestling calendar means the Royal Rumble, the big WWE event going back to 1988 that is considered the first stop on “the Road to Wrestlemania”. Of course, the Royal Rumble event plays host to the Royal Rumble match.
The Royal Rumble match, to boil it down, is a 30 man battle royal where instead of all 30 guys in the ring at the same time, the match starts with only two men and a new entrant comes in at roughly every two minutes. Tossed over the top rope until there is only one person left, and the winner becomes the challenger for the WWE Title and main events Wrestlemania. This year however WWE Champion Roman Reigns was put into the match to DEFEND his WWE Title.
Now, I’ve always been a fan of the Royal Rumble match, but I have to be honest, the last few years have not turned out very well for them. Specifically, the last two Rumble matches have ended with the winner being booed out of the building, even though they were being portrayed as concurring heroes and good guys. Last year’s event turned out so badly that the fans in the arena were damn close to rioting and it was lucky no one got hurt.
I’ve made mention of it before in looking at these matches and picking them apart, but what does make a Royal Rumble match a good one, at least for me? Well, let’s take a look at 5 things that can make or break the Royal Rumble match.
I made mention of this last year when I rewrote the 1995 Rumble event. The Rumble has always advertised 2 minutes before a new entrant will enter the match, but usually, it ends up being less than that. 1:45, and 90 seconds seems to be more accurate as to when a new person comes out, even if on screen they are saying 2 minutes. Either of those intervals is fine by me, but when the WWE tried 1 minute between wrestlers entering the match in 1995, it just did not work. While the WWE lauded it as “a faster-paced match” it cut the time of the match in half and made Shawn Michaels going from number 1 until the end looks like a joke. The Rumble match was made to go and hour (roughly) and it should stay that way. Thankfully the WWE hasn’t cut the time down that drastically since then.
2) How that time is used.
A little bit more of an abstract concept, but what I mean by this is that it’s the Royal RUMBLE. A bunch of guys with no rules beating on each other until there is one guy left. It doesn’t make much of a rumble if there are only 2 guys in the ring at any given time. I believe it was the 2010 Rumble match that was guilty of having no more than 3 or 4 people in the ring for much of the match. When a new guy came out, someone was tossed. At the time, I called it the “efficiency rumble” where no one was in the ring for very long and people were tossed as fast as they came in. That’s no fun. Let the bodies pile up for a little bit so it looks like a rumble!
3) Talent Depth
Let’s face it, when you put on a match with 30 wrestlers when your normal talent roster is hovering around 55, not everyone in the match is a favorite to win the thing. The early Rumble matches (my favorites) were guilty of putting in a lot of tag team guys to kind of pad things out a bit, that that was before the winner would get anything for his trouble. The match is no fun when it’s stuffed full of guys who never really cared about the other 364 days a year, so why do you care about them now? Several Rumbles, especially during the early and mid 90’s suffered from the lack of credible wrestlers in the rumble and it took some time before the WWE got things right on this front.
4) Depth of believable winners
It’s one thing to stock your Rumble match with guys that are above curtain jerking and tag teams, you have to make people believe that more than one person actually has a chance of winning the whole thing or else no one will be interested. The 1992 Rumble is a perfect example of getting this right. The winner was going to become the Champion and not only was it stocked with a lot of big names, but that roster had 8 to 10 guys in it who could have won the match and the title and been totally believable as Champion. However, a lot of the rumbles during the attitude era were built around one guy (Austin or the Rock) where there wasn’t anyone even close to take the top position at Mania. Sure, the company would put in some tricks and smoke and mirrors to make it look more competitive than it really was, but we knew better. This year’s rumble has maybe 2 or 3 possible winners in the field and made it so the last men standing for the finale are pretty much guaranteed to be Lesnar and Reigns (with Sheamus possible there as well). Not good form when you can see the finish coming a mile away.
5) Surprises… but not too many surprises.
The WWE has made the “Surprise entrant” an annual thing since around 2000 or so. Every year now there is as much talk about who the surprise entrants will be as who would win the match. Some of the surprises over the years have done well, others not so much. I’ve seen a lot of disappointment over the years with the mystery guys. Another problem is when the WWE puts too many of them in the match and none of them are serious entrants. In the 2014 Rumble, the mystery entrants ended up being Kevin Nash, Great Khali, El Torito and all three members of the broadcast team. All this while Daniel Bryan wasn’t in the match at all. Surprise entrants can be fun, but can just as easily be overdone and take away from the match more than add to it.
As for this year’s Rumble match. Point number four is going to be the one to get them. As I said, only Brock Lesnar, Sheamus, and roman Reigns have been positioned to be winners this year, and adding the stipulation that Reigns was defending his WWE title, let alone how he “drew” the number one position yesterday (and was that segment awful!) pretty much means he is going to be in the match for an hour since Vince isn’t going to have his new golden boy getting tossed out in the first 5 minutes. My guess for the ending is that Brock Lesnar eliminates him last (with some screwy finish involving Vince) and Lesnar takes next month’s show off while Roman and Seamus fight it out to see who the contender at Mania will be.
We will wait and see. See you all next week!
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