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Posted in: Just Business
Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Re-booking Rumble Winners and the Issue of Timing
By Samuel 'Plan
Jan 19, 2018 - 6:43:25 PM

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Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Re-booking Rumble Winners and the Issue of Timing

The LOP 2018 CSI writing tournament hosted its seeding round this week, and there’s still an hour to get your entry in without getting penalised for it! Fancy having a go alongside a raft of LOP legends, Main Pagers and CFers in the most stacked field of talent the site has seen in a single competition ever?! You know you want to! Just read these rules and get a move on to get your column in this weekend: CSI 2018: Seeding.

This week on The Right Side of the Pond, it’s a Double Suicide Dive special as Maverick and I decide to not care that Mazza can’t make it and go ahead and use the very idea he proposed in the first place as we sit down to discuss, at quite some length, who we would re-book to win every Royal Rumble Match since 2011! This one was a lot of fun to record folks, so don’t miss it.

It was in the process of both thinking about the issue in preparation for the show tonight but also in discussing it with my esteemed tag team partner that I came to realise that history, in my eyes, demonstrates one essential key to ensuring you make a success of both a Rumble victory and the storyline that then follows: timing.

When you think about Ric Flair winning the 1992 edition and taking home the then-WWF Championship, or of Stone Cold Steve Austin being given the perhaps surprisingly big ‘rub’ by taking home the winner’s trophy in 1997, or even when Triple H somewhat predictably marched his way to a win in 2002, they all had timing in common with one another. It’s really the same with the very best Rumble victors. Without it, what eventuates is often, it seems, a lost opportunity or a sour concept difficult for the fan base to swallow.

Can you imagine what Ric Flair’s run in the WWF might have been like had he never won that famous Rumble bout and carried the championship? What might have happened to Austin’s momentum heading into the hottest year of his early WWF tenure without being catapulted straight into ‘Mania main event contention? How much more tepid might Triple H’s comeback might have proven if he entered the ’02 edition and come up short? The timing was perfect in each of these chosen examples, and was capitalised on appropriately.

Since 2011, this has not been the case. Though Alberto Del Rio had been on the receiving end of some majorly beneficial presentation since he arrived in the late summer of 2010, he was hardly an obvious choice to win the only 40 man Rumble in history; and after he did, WWE provided him with a lacklustre, promo-heavy build he was ill suited to simply to jerk the curtain at ‘Mania rather than main event it. Is there any wonder, in retrospect, that many might consider that entire affair to be what my fellow Ponder Shinobi would no doubt call a damp squib?

He was hardly an isolated case, either. In only the impossible fashion we see in WWE, the company managed to repeat their apparent mistake the very next year with Sheamus; and this time they so catastrophically dropped the ball that the 18-second squash that was the Rumble winner’s reward ended up pushing the man many believe WWE considered to be the wrong guy!

From Cena’s victory in 2013 right through to Orton’s victory in 2018, it feels like this concept of timing has sat the heart of the issues many fans have developed with Royal Rumble’s treatment over the last decade and, while I always try to be a force of positivity that looks for the best in what we’re provided by the ‘E, it’s difficult not to empathise with the criticism.

On the show later tonight, you’ll hear me talk about this in greater depth and wonder out loud what might have happened had WWE perhaps nailed their timing a bit better in each instance; if, instead of the left field victories of ADR and Sheamus that so readily embraced notions of unpredictability, they had put their energies into salvaging the emerging downward trends of Wade Barrett and The Miz’s once-imagined main event careers respectively.

It is, perhaps not unexpectedly, a prescient issue as we move ever closer to the next instalment of my favourite pay-per-view of WWE’s calendar year too. The question we must ask, I have come to firmly believe in my empirical analyses of the Rumble’s history, is who is in a place where winning the Rumble Match would feel like great timing?

It’s fairly easy to identify who isn’t. I think we can all agree John Cena and Randy Orton have no business winning another one this year, and neither is in a position, in creative terms, to warrant it. The same really applies to Roman Reigns as well. It is unfortunate that these men are among the favourites.

Though it might be unpopular for me to claim it here, I don’t think these recent rumours about Daniel Bryan becoming a favourite are suitable either. Not only would I eat my hat if he comes out of retirement while still with WWE (yes long-term Pond fans, I’m on that one again!) but, if he did and if he won, I would be left scratching my head as to why WWE felt a sudden need to cram him into a main event scene that needs to be rebuilding itself with a fresher focus on, frankly, more relevant talents.

Rather, it is to Shinsuke Nakamura and Seth Rollins I find my attention turning to the most.

In the case of the former, his situation is not unlike that of Barrett’s or Miz’s in the not-so distant past. Questionable presentation in the back end of 2017 – arguably since his debut – has left him in need of a means by which to re-establish the prominent aura he carried so easily during his time in NXT. A Rumble victory, leading to a fan pleasing match up with AJ Styles come WrestleMania, seems to be a perfect vehicle; but it would have to be now otherwise you may need to adjust to the prospect of seeing him in a multi-man mid card Ladders Match of one sort or another at the Showcase of the Immortals instead.

In the case of the latter, Rollins has been on a journey since his defeat of Triple H last year and winning a Rumble Match and moving closer towards a World title once again – and one would envision it being Styles’ WWE Championship and a move to Smackdown Live for the Architect, unless this steroid scandal worsens any – would not only provide an emotionally fitting close to his year-long arc but also quickly reinforce in the minds of the popular audience that he remains a ‘top guy.’ Timing is less critical for Rollins than for Nakamura, but will perhaps never be better suited considering the recent re-debut of his beloved Curb Stomp / Blackout finisher that, on Monday Night Raw, definitely felt like, and was reacted to in the fashion of, a top flight competitor rediscovering a certain lost mojo.

These are the two men I will be backing come the end of this month because recent Rumble history teaches that timing is everything, and the timing of a Rumble win for either the King of Strong Style or the Kingslayer feels more suitable than any other possible favourite. I hope this year WWE pays attention to that.

We’ll find out whether they do in just a couple of weeks, and you can find out how and why we wish they had over the last seven years in just a couple of hours on the next instalment of The Right Side of the Pond, airing only on Lords of Pain Radio to kick your weekend off right! The Right Side of the Pond airs only on LOP Radio every Friday night, 9pm GMT / 5pm EST, or can be listened to on demand at any time via BlogTalkRadio or on iTunes, so be sure to check it out!

Do be sure to let me know how you think timing and the Royal Rumble Match go together, and who you believe a Rumble win would be best timed for this year, in the comments below, over on social media or even by signing up to our own LOPForums, where TRSOTP and every other LOP Radio show has its very own discussion thread for you to throw some responses our way without the limitations of Twitter or Facebook; just click here to sign up!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store or Amazon today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP, or on the icon to the left to be taken directly to Amazon!

Click here to add me on Facebook!

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