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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents a 30 Part Column Series - Ranking the Royal Rumbles (#26)
By Dave Fenichel
Dec 10, 2017 - 9:24:56 AM

Hi kids.

I’m back with part 4 of my 30 part column series, “Ranking the Royal Rumble Matches”. Today, I’ll discuss the Royal Rumble that came in at #27 on the countdown. As a reminder, here are the criteria that I used to analyze the matches:

The Participants - The easiest way to create a Royal Rumble is to have a compelling roster that people want to see participate. I’ll take a look at the level star power, the level of “overness” of the other players, and whether or not there were an unnecessary amount of jobbers and/or non-factors in the match.

The Storylines and Flow of the Match - The storylines are without question the most important part of a Royal Rumble match. I’ll look at whether or not the storylines presented enhanced the match. I’ll also look at the surprise entrants and evaluate whether or not they added value. Lastly, I’ll look at whether or not the match had a solid flow or if it dragged at times. This is by far the most important category, and it will be the category in which I spend the majority of each column discussing.

The Final Four - Every Rumble inevitably comes down to a “show down” between the final four competitors. Here, I’ll look at whether the WWE chose a strong group to represent the final four, and whether or not the end game to the Rumble was compelling.

The Winner - I’ll evaluate three things relating to the winner of each Rumble. First, was the winner a surprise? I have a strong appreciation for Rumble winners that weren’t necessarily expected to win. Second, was the winner satisfying? Just because the winner wasn’t someone I expected doesn’t mean that I enjoyed the outcome. On the other hand, just because the winner was a foregone conclusion doesn’t mean that I didn’t love every minute of it. Lastly, how did winning the Royal Rumble impact this wrestler at Wrestlemania and beyond? The overall success of the subsequent push impacts how I view many of the Rumbles and their winner.

A couple additional disclaimers:

First – lengthy Royal Rumble runs rarely move me. Sure, you might love Rick Martel lasting 53 minutes in 1991. I didn’t. He, as well as almost everyone else that goes coast to coast, spent the majority of the match sitting in the corner getting kicked. For me, a single wrestler’s longevity is the most overrated factor in evaluating the strength of a Royal Rumble.

Second – these factors aren’t weighted evenly. They are merely talking points. My overall impression of the Rumble is what ultimately mattered when I made my rankings.

Last, but certainly not least – I’ve added a new wrinkle to this column series. As you already know, my thought process on wrestling seems to wildly differ from the majority of the fans in our community. Many have taken me to task in other forums over where my rankings ultimately landed. I’ve decided to incorporate that into this column series. As such, every entry will end with a guest “rebuttal” telling me exactly why I’m an idiot for ranking that particular Rumble where I did. The guests range from my fellow columnists, both on the main page and the Forums, to real life friends, to buddies I frequently interact with on social media. I try not to take myself too seriously, and I think you’ll enjoy the alternative takes.

Today’s rebuttal comes from Hitesh Kumar Kulhan, often Facebook commentator and A+ Fenichel roaster.

Here is where the countdown currently stands:


#30. The 2009 Royal Rumble.
#29. The 1991 Royal Rumble.
#28. The 2011 Royal Rumble.
#27. The 1998 Royal Rumble.


Question of the Day: Would the WWE have been better served by going with a 1 on 1 match between The Rock and Triple H at Wrestlemania 16?

#26. The 2000 Royal Rumble.


The Roster.



D’Lo Brown
Grand Master Sexay
Mosh
Christian
Rikishi
Scotty 2 Hotty
Steve Blackman
Viscera
Big Boss Man
Test
The British Bulldog
Gangrel
Edge
Bob Backlund
Chris Jericho
Crash Holly
Chyna
Faarooq
Road Dogg
Al Snow
Val Venis
Prince Albert
Hardcore Holly
The Rock
Billy Gunn
The Big Show
Bradshaw
Kane
The Godfather
X-Pac

I have absolutely no issues with the roster for the 2000 Royal Rumble. While I view the true Attitude Era to span from 1997 to 1999, it is without question that the WWE had the most talented roster they’ve ever had in the early 2000s. They still had a ton of mid-carders who achieved tremendous popularity during the Attitude Era and were starting to reap the benefits of the influx of WCW talent.

Just about everyone in the match was over. You had legitimate main eventers in The Rock, The Big Show and Kane. You had incredibly over acts in Too Cool, DX, The Godfather and Val Venis. In the British Bulldog and The Big Boss Man, you had two legends who had returned for a final act to much more success than you would think. You also had tremendous rising stars in Edge, Christian and Chris Jericho.

This roster was so loaded that they could afford to have Triple H, Mick Foley, The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, Kurt Angle and Tazz NOT compete in the Rumble. I have absolutely no issues with the wrestler composition of the 2000 Royal Rumble.


The Storylines and Flow.

I wish that I could laud the storylines and the flow in a manner befitting of the roster involved. Unfortunately, this is where the 2000 Royal Rumble fell flat. I don’t know how the WWE could have misused the roster worse than they did here.

There was so much talent on the roster and in this Rumble that the WWE felt the need to make every match at Wrestlemania XVI a multi-person match just to give all of the wrestlers that were over a sufficient spotlight on the biggest show of the year. Such was not the case here.

This was a Rumble that should have been loaded with top to bottom angles and storylines worthy of the wrestlers involved. Instead, we got Kaentai and The Mean Street Posse over….and over…..and over…..and over again. Both groups were nothing more than punching bags. The idea was that both groups were upset that they weren’t included in the Rumble, and that they’d continue to interfere in protest. I guess the WWE thought it would be great comic relief to have each group get their butts kicked and tossed out of the ring repeatedly. It wasn’t. This took up a tremendous amount of time during different phases of the Royal Rumble, and I was completely bored by it. Assasine, just assanine.

This Rumble felt far too much like the previous entry on my list, 1998. Like the 1998 Royal Rumble, it was all about the top superstar. In 1998 is was Austin, in 2000 it was The Rock. Just as was the case in the 1998 Rumble, the WWE made me feel like I was just waiting around for The Rock to show up. That is a recipe for an extremely flawed Rumble.

Unlike the 1998 Rumble where every attempted storyline fell flat with me, the 2000 Rumble had a couple of major hits.

First, I loved Bob Backlund’s surprise entrance. He hadn’t been around in roughly five years, and absolutely no one expected him to show up. The nostalgia pop was tremendous and I thought this was one of the better nostalgia surprises that the WWE has ever done.

Second, and much more important, I absolutely loved the Two Cool storyline early in the match. I cannot overstate how popular the group was at the time. Having all three clear the ring and do their trademark dance was a ton of fun. Rikishi turning the tables post-dance and eliminating them both was excellent. The WWE was looking to build Rikishi as a legitimate singles star, and it made sense to have him stand out here. This entire angle was not only fun but very memorable. It provided a change of pace that you hadn’t previously seen in a Royal Rumble, and wouldn’t see again for quite some time.

Outside of the abovementioned storyline, everything else leading up to the end game was completely uninspiring. This was a Rumble that took me several nights to get through? Why? Easy. I fell asleep watching it twice. The flow was that bad and the action was that boring.


The Final Four.

The Final Four of the 2000 Royal Rumble was rock solid – pun intended. The Rock, The Big Show, Kane and X-Pac were all incredibly over and compelling acts.

I thought the WWE did a phenomenal job convincing me that X-Pac could actually win. He was a chicken-$hit heel at the time. I loved that he snuck back into the match after his elimination while the referees were distracted by an outside of the ring brawl between Kane and the NAO. To me, this felt like a replay of the 1997 Rumble with Austin, and cast serious doubt on what otherwise was a foregone conclusion. Having X-Pac eliminate Kane was smart and furthered the narrative.

My biggest critique of the final four was that The Big Show eliminated X-Pac in a squash-like manner. X-Pac sneaking back into the ring was such a cowardly move. It generated electric heel heat. It would have made so much more sense to have The Rock be the one to give him his comeuppance. It was definitely a spot for a face, not for a monster heel.

Outside of the abovementioned nitpicking, the final four was excellent. The action between The Rock and The Big Show was really solid. I thought having The Rock’s feet touch the floor first but not be acknowledged was clever booking. Although I enjoyed both instances where controversy at the end of the Rumble played out on the same night, this wasn’t the right year to have that happen. Instead, it allowed for The Rock to have his much deserved Royal Rumble moment while also allowing the WWE to revisit an angle that would lead them through Wrestlemania XVI on Raw the following night.

Overall, this Final Four holds up as one of the better installments in Royal Rumble history.


The Winner.

The Rock winning the 2000 Royal Rumble was a foregone conclusion. Although the WWE tossed in a nice red herring with the X-Pac antics late in the match, there was never any chance of any other outcome other than The Rock standing tall as the victor.

Much like in 1998 with Austin, The Rock’s victory was another example of how a predictable winner can still be extremely satisfying. The late 90s were a time period where both Steve Austin and The Rock achieved popularity the heights of which very few superstars in history ever reached. With Austin going down with a neck injury and being out for a year, this was absolutely The Rock’s time.

Because it was The Rock’s time, I take major issue with the link between his Rumble victory and what happened at Wrestlemania XVI. I get that Mick Foley rode an incredible wave of momentum and there were a lot of people who clamored to see him finally get an opportunity to headline Wrestlemania. With that said, the move was to make The Rock v Triple H. Triple H was a monster heel and the Rock a monster baby-face. With very little exception, The Wrestlemania main event should be the top two guys in the company going at it for the world title. Instead, the WWE turned the Rock’s win into a clusterf*ck Fatal Four Way and had Triple H go over. What the hell was the point? The WWE gave us the Rock v Triple H match we wanted a month later, but the fact that it didn’t occur at Wrestlemania on the biggest stage possible really cheapened The Rock’s Rumble win in 2000.


Overall.

It isn’t a coincidence that the 2000 Rumble is ranked alongside the 1998 Rumble. The similarities are uncanny. Like the 1998 Rumble, the 2000 Rumble saw the WWE misuse a very strong roster, drop angles and storylines that didn’t make sense, make the match feel like we were just waiting around for the top star to show up, and had a compelling final four that culminated in a satisfying victory for the mega star at the time. The 2000 Rumble gets the nod due to the strength of the Two Cool Storyline – plain and simple.

The Rebuttal – by Hitesh Kumar Kalhan.

Hitesh: I must say, I am very disappointed with the Eternal Optimist. He seems to only appreciate technical “wrasslin” and athletic stunts in matches.

In my opinion, the 2000 Royal Rumble is fantastic. It may not be a spot fest or a great technical feat, but It is a decent story and above all else, thoroughly entertaining.

From Rikishi"s amazing performance and the many antics that were involved, to Chyna entering, to everyone wanting revenge on The Rock for his Muhammed Ali-like trash talk, to the controversial finish, the 2000 Rumble is non-stop entertainment and a phenomenal spectacle.

I am so thoroughly disappointed in Dave, I vote to denounce him as the Eternal Optimist and anoint him as one of the internet “Wamboo Bamboos” he consistently rails against!


That’s a wrap kids. Join me next time and find out which Royal Rumble takes the #25 spot on our countdown. Sound off below!

Facebook: David Fenichel

Twitter: @FFFightLeague

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