Royal Rumble Excitement
I have no real plan for this entry, I just get truly wound up for the Royal Rumble every year. I know Wrestlemania is the big event on the calendar, but I can’t help but feel the Rumble is the true highlight. I see it like this: there are great movies that are amazing for almost an hour and a half, but then the ending is a let down, yet somehow they are still overall awesome. I’ll use Fight Club as an example - I love the movie, but once Edward Norton figures it out, there’s a lot of silliness that doesn’t seem to match the thrill ride of the first 2 acts.
Wrestlemania is the 3rd act. Sometimes it’s a let down, sometimes it’s glorious. But the Royal Rumble is the part that always holds up. Always. No matter what the ending at Mania is, the Royal Rumble is the one time when everything is up in the air, and then planted down.
This year, the Road to Wrestlemania has so many moving parts. I’ve pointed it out a few times, but each key character in the WWE main event seems to have multiple options for opponents by the “Granddaddy of Them All.” Things are starting to get narrowed down (HHH vs Punk, and Bryan vs Orton) but all in all, nothing is concrete.
That can be a bad thing in many cases. There’s been times when we’re watching WWE and thinking about how directionless everyone seems to be, and then during the last month before Mania things start being thrown together. You can’t say this in 2014. Everyone has a purpose and direction so far, with most having several options. It’s a much improved method of booking as I’d rather seeing lots of possibilities for many superstars, than a mess where nothing makes sense.
So where does the Rumble fit in here? It’s the first step. Sure, the signs are there that HHH will return to the ring in New Orleans against “The Best in the World,” but there’s still a strong likelihood that Punk could win the Rumble and instead take on the Authority by challenging the Champion. I’m willing to bet Orton walks into the Superdome as WWE Champion, but would anyone be shocked if Cena wins this Sunday and turns all the possibilities upside-down?
If you’re more of an internet fan than WWE fan, it’s a great time to enjoy wrestling as we are seeing CM Punk and Daniel Bryan set themselves up for greatness in the strongest pushes of their careers.
If you’re a WWE fan more than most smarks who roam these sites, it’s a great time to enjoy wrestling as the returns of Batista, HHH, and Undertaker are added to the mix alongside Cena and Orton.
Basically, everyone should be happy right now, because WWE is attempting, and succeeding, to cater to every level of their Universe.
The Story Within - Iron Man
The Rumble match isn’t just about shaping WrestleMania - the Rumble tells its own story every year.
A big one that we see more and more often since Ric Flair originated it is how long a major talent lasts from the beginning entries to the ending. Looking at all of the Rumbles over the years, it’s become common for someone in the first 5 entries to make an impact by lasting over a half an hour. It’s not just about winning from these spots like Flair, Michaels, Austin, Mysterio, and Benoit (oh, and Vinny Mac) all did at one point. Sometimes failure to win despite lasting almost an hour is a story in and of itself. Kane’s 11 eliminations in 2001 are only a piece of his strongest run in a Rumble match - it’s so easy to forget he lasted over 50 minutes and was the last man to be eliminated.
Recently, we’ve seen these “Iron Man” performance become an indicator of the things to come. Dolph Ziggler lasted the longest last year, and though 2013 wasn’t the best year for the Show-Off, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The impression he made at the Rumble, along with being Mr. Money in the Bank, and the impressive list of strong matches neat the top of the cards helped the strong push online for more of Dolph in the main event.
In 2011, CM Punk lasted the longest, and while I doubt it contributed to his push, I’m sure that it was a sigul of things to come.
So who will put on their Bob Backlund hats and last over an hour this year? I’m guessing we might see Punk or Bryan have the underdog role of fighting for their spot at Wrestlemania, despite the Authority’s intervention. I also think that we might see a member of The Shield be given this lofty push.
I Discovered After Watching Other Rumble Matches This Week...
that Scotty 2 Hotty had a terrible record in the Rumble. He was eliminated from entering the ring during his entrance several times, or entered into the ring as a sacrificial lamb.
In 2001, The Brothers of Destruction were waiting for him, and only wasted 46 seconds before knocking him out of the ring.
In 2002, Undertaker took out his frustrations from being eliminated by Maven out on Scotty, before the brawl with the Tough Enough winner went through the arena.
In 2005, he was attacked by a frustrated Muhammad Hassan who was gang raped by 8 other Raw and Smackdown stars into a quick elimination.
This means his only standard Rumble appearance was in 2000 which led to the Rikishi and Too Cool dance-off, and then being dumped by the man who did it “for da Rock.”
I’ve Attended 3 WrestleManias...
but I would trade any of them to have been a Royal Rumble. The Royal Rumble is usually the best booked event of the year. I know WrestleMania is the biggest, but too often I find the booking to be more for casual fans than my own. It’s completely understandable, and I’m not complaining. But for my tastes as a wrestling fan, I find the Rumble line-up to be stronger more often than not.
This year is no exception. Orton vs Cena, as simple and elementary as it has been, is a huge match up. It’s not the strongest title match in Rumble history, or even between these 2 stars. But as tired as they are, it’s still a match-up that will draw.
Add Brock vs Big Show to the mix, and you’re adding a lot of casual viewers. Sure, it was done before, but how many fans today were watching in 2002-2003 when it originally took place? And the one thing Brock has not faced since returning is someone bigger than him.
The 30 man Rumble match helps spread out the card, and with so many names included in the Rumble, there’s very little issue with filler on the card. We are a long time evolved from midcard matches like Big Boss Man vs Bam Bam Bigelow filling up a Rumble card.
After watching the 2011 Rumble, I’m hoping for the tag division to explode going into Wrestlemania. With the so many rumored matches with top names (not forgetting the possibility of Hogan, Piper, and Sting somehow making the card), there’s not going to be a lot of room for the midcard in New Orleans. And one thing that really cripples an event like WrestleMania is when stupid matches built with the sole purpose of getting as many semi-important names included in a throwaway match. The silly Team Johnny vs Team Teddy from Mania 28 is a prime recent example. Barring a 6 on 6 match involving the Wyatts and The Shield teaming up to take on 6 superstars in a decent match with at least 10 minutes time, it is going to be tough to include names like Antonio Cesaro, Big E. Langston, Alberto Del Rio, and Ryback on the card. And those are 4 men who I think deserve to be on the card, even if I’m not a fan of a couple of them.
So, I am hoping WrestleMania 30 is host to a four team ladder match for the tag titles. Include a couple of current teams, but you’ll need to make room for at least one thrown together squad comprised of 2 names who won’t fit elsewhere, but deserve a spot on the card. If Sheamus has returned and isn’t involved in a singles feud, team him with Wade Barrett for a European connection. Or Mysterio and Sin Cara v.2. Or Ryback and Big E. teaming up. Lots of possible options that are exciting, and can fit quite well.
Oh, and how does that tie into Royal Rumble 2011? I was watching King Sheamus and Drew MacIntyre work well together, and it reminded me of the Empire tag team of Wade Barrett and Drew MacIntyre from FCW.
This would get 8 names on the card who have earned a spot, in a match that can steal the show, and might help bring back some extra electricity to the tag division like we once saw during the age of Hardys vs Dudleys vs Edge/Christian.
And on that note, Peace out
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