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Liam DunneJanuary 28th, 2015BlogComments Off on The Curse Of The Royal Rumble

The Curse Of The Royal Rumble

If you would allow me to indulge you for a moment, let me take you back to the Royal Rumble in 2003. I was only a 12 year old lad, who had been watching wrestling for a couple of months. The high of the Attitude Era had left and we were firmly in the, now titled, “Ruthless Aggression era” named so after a promo by Vince McMahon in 2002 when he was discussing Brock Lesnar but had somehow got turned into the defining years of John Cena’s rise to power.

I didn’t know of Wrestling websites back then, so watching the event on a Monday evening after I had done my home work was a joy, I had nothing to spoil it. And after 3 hours and a rumble that blew me away (come on it was my first one, give me some slack!) I was enthralled. The Royal Rumble had cemented itself in my head as the most exciting event in the WWE calender. Yes we had WrestleMania, the granddaddy of them all, and yes we had SummerSlam, the biggest party of the Summer… but it was at the Rumble, where RAW and SmackDown! Stars would compete in the same match for a single prize that got me most pumped for any wrestling action.

TNA World Drinking Title
More akin to the prize I would need for watching a Rumble match now…

But over ten years later… I find that the Rumble has lost it’s quality. Bad decisions made year after year, with predictability and “guests” have worn thin on me. It’s no longer the must see match of the year, but more of a gimmick that, to me, has worn thin.

Let me ask you a question dear reader… when was the rumble BOTH exciting and unpredictable, and most importantly, when did it actually mean something?

For me, I’d say the closest Rumble to fit that description was 2005. That’s ten years ago, which is a crazy amount of time, heck it was last decade! Ten years ago I was a spotty 14 year old, who hadn’t worked on Avengers: Age Of Ultron by that point (points to those who listen to The Suplah).

Ultron to win Royal Rumble 2016. Leads to a Survivor Series style match against The Avengers. Book it!

This Rumble was the one that turned both John Cena and Batista into mega stars, with the two of them both being the last two in the ring and eliminating each other at the same time. It was a crazy moment, because it seemed that we had no winner. It was something we hadn’t seen in over 10 years, and genuinely felt, to me, like a moment that wasn’t scripted, which is when I love it best. I was completely absorbed in emotion of who had won the match. And when Vince “HAVE SOME FUN DAMMIT” McMahon stepped out and some how Kevin Nash’d himself and tore a muscle in his leg, resulting in him looking like a spoilt child on the verge of tears demanding for Cena and Batista to re-start, I knew this was a moment I will always look back on fondly (and amusingly, seriously I know Vince is injured by damn his whole reaction was hilarious).

Look at him. Sitting there being all pissy whilst being in tremendous pain.

Although the result became moot as WrestleMania 21 started, seeing as both Cena and Batista got world title shots regardless, and both matches were over shadowed by the debut of the first ever OHMAHGAWD MONEY IN DA BANK MATCH *SPAFFS EVERYWHERE* (Another point if you listen to The Suplah). It had the core essential values that made up a Rumble:
1) The Rumble was the main event of the night
2) 30 of WWE’s performers competing, no obvious guest throw away spots.
3) Excitement and unpredictability

Yet since then, no single Rumble has featured all these qualitys.

2006 was fun, but with Eddie Guerrero passing away only a couple of months before hand, and Rey Mysterio being a huge part of the post-Eddie death stories that emerged from it, it was somewhat obvious he would win, even if it did feel like WWE let him get the win because “he was Eddie’s friend, let’s give him a break” and “Chavo who?”, but also it was the 5th our of 7 matches on the card, just because the final match, featuring Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry, had a gimmicky end where Undertaker made the ring collapse through poor storytelling, or as the writers would have you believe, “super powers”… yes “super powers” he never used again. Brilliant.

2007 featured The Undertaker winning his first ever Rumble match in history, promising him a title shot at whichever champion he fancied (not in that way… go to Brazzers for that) at WrestleMania 23. But for some very surprising reason the match ended up being half way through the event. Even fans were surprised at the bookings decision for this. Instead the match was headlined by Shaun Micheals vs. John Cena for the WWE title, with the hook of the match being that both men were World Tag Team Champions at the same time. I get that is an interesting premise for a world title match, but neither men won the Rumble. In fact Shawn was the last one eliminated in that years Rumble and he get’s higher billing than the winner?

Undertaker’s reaction when he was told he wasn’t headlining WrestleMania 23

2008 featured a similar issue too. This time it was John Cena getting his first decisive win in a Royal Rumble match, and last eliminating Triple H. So in theory he should have gone on to main event WrestleMania. But nope! For a third year in a row the Rumble winners title match got pushed down the card. Granted not as badly as the previous year, as it was one of the major matches of the night, but instead the true main event belonged to Edge and Undertaker in a “Yeah sorry Taker, you should have main evented last year… hope this makes up for us cocking stuff up!”. Because, you know, the drawing names of Randy Orton, Triple H and John Cena is no match for a surprise main event run in by future Hall Of Famers Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, truly… that night we were in the presence of legends. #Sarcasm

This brings us to 2009’s Rumble. Which started to look promising on paper. Yes it main evented the Royal Rumble event itself and Yes Randy Orton, the winner, went on to fight for the title in the main event WrestleMania 25 in a lackluster match that was forgotten about because OHMYGAWD DAT MICHEALS UNDERTAKER MATCH *SPAFFS EVERYWHERE AGAIN*. But the problem? This was the Rumble that started to feature guest spots. One was by Rob Van Dam, who had been missing from WWE for 2 years by that point. And as much as I don’t like to say it, it was a great little moment. I will admit to you all, I kinda marked out. But that taste was ruined a bit by Hacksaw Jim Duggan making an appearance. I know he won the first ever Royal Rumble, I get that. But seriously? It felt like a waste, we all knew he wouldn’t win it. Now I’m sure those reading this would respond by saying “BUT LEEUM, DA USOS R IN RUMBLES ND WE NO THEY WONT WIN HERP-A-DERP” to which I would reply, dear reader, with a list of links to English schools to better your spelling and grammer (and for those of you who have spotted many of these in this article… I realise I’m a hypocrite, but just let it slide for the sake of a joke, kay? Thx). The difference between giving the spot to somebody like an Uso over Duggan is that the Uso can use it to raise their profile, to hang with the likes of Orton and Triple H and other main eventers in a situation that, typically, wouldn’t bring them together in a working environment. Jim Duggan has had his day, yes it’s nice fan fare, but at the expense of some full time roster member desperate to get his shot in the lime light.

Jim Duggan’s still alive?

Although 2010’s Rumble rectified that issue of using legends to fill numbers, by featuring just RAW, SmackDown! And ECW characters, it made the unforgivable mistake that every Rumble from 2006-2008 made, which was have the winner (in this case, Edge) fail to main event WrestleMania, because it was Michaels’ retirement match. Yes okay this is the one where there is potentially a chance to defend this booking, considering 1) the first encounter between Michaels and Taker went down so well and 2) it was he retirement of a major star, but in response to that I would say, in that case, why didn’t Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair main event WrestleMania 24?

Then we come into 2011. Oh 2011, you should be renamed to “The year The Rock wanted a big pay-check for 10 minutes work”. This Royal Rumble featured 40 entrants, the biggest they’ve ever done, and one they have refused to do again. Why? Because it was with this Rumble that WWE realised that they didn’t actually have 40 guys on the roster that the audience gave a damn about. So what did they do instead? They brought back guest spots, including Kevin “We all thought he was dead too” Nash. This years match was won by Alberto Del Rio, who chose to go after the World Heavyweight Championship, despite the fact we all knew it was the WWE Title substitute now as opposed to it actually being a world title. But the kicker? Del Rio’s “WrestleMania Main Event Title Match” opened the show! Why? Because the company wanted to focus on Rock and Cena and that storyline that would take over about 2 years of programming.

Insert witty Caption here

So for those that hoped that 2012 would be a better year for the Rumble were seriously disappointed. Not only did it have MAGGLE Cole in it, but it was won by Sheamus who went on to OPEN WRESTLEMANIA 28 AND WIN HIS TITLE MATCH IN 28 SECONDS. I get that Rock and Cena had been building for a year by that point, and this would have been the one instance where I would have said it’s fine that the Rumble winner didn’t get the main event, really I would say that… but to open the show?

Then we go into 2013, the one that John Cena won so he could challenge The Rock in a Twice in a Life Time match. The major issue people had with this Rumble was that everybody saw it from a mile away. Back in June of 2012, The Rock announced he would be challenging the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble. Straight away the crowd knew, 6 months early, that Rock would win the title and that Cena would win the Rumble to set the stage of a rematch and redemption. You can understand the WWE’s thinking to be fair, no match they had made before Rock vs. Cena I had that much mainstream media coverage, so why not recapture it (except for the fact it wasn’t actually a great match anyway and the rematch just featured a rhythm of finisher-kickout-finisher-kickout-repeat for 30 minutes).

And here starts the true curse of the current day Royal Rumble. The predictability. And only just now are the fans being vocal in their disappointment.

2014 was the year that many hoped Daniel Bryan would be pushed to the moon, after a cock-teasing end to 2013. But instead Bryan was pushed to the side for the returning Batista, not even making an appearance in the Rumble which angered many fans, with poor Rey Mysterio getting the brunt of the boo’s due to being the number 30 spot. Now I believe that Batista winning the Rumble wouldn’t have so bad, if they did it slightly differently. I’m not saying the fans would have been happy, but it would have made the 2014 less predictable, and that would have been to have Batista return, unannounced, at the Rumble itself and win. But in this day and age with news travelling at the speed of light through the internet, word got out that Batista was returning, and WWE pulled the plug on the surprise and just had him come back earlier. The problem with this is that, and it’s a pattern I’ve noticed for years, WWE writers aren’t great at “thinking on their feet”. When the fans catch wind of a twist, they change the twist but usually for the worst. Remember when Jeff Hardy kept getting “attacked” during his feud with Edge a few years ago? Many people believe it would turn out to be Christian, who we knew was due back in the company at any moment. Instead it turned out to be Matt Hardy in a very hap-hazardly thrown together “you’ve overshadowed me” storyline that came completely out of left field.

More over than a Roman Reigns promo

WWE did eventually win the fans back by sticking Daniel Bryan into the main event of WrestleMania, pretty much last minute and having him win it. But the damage was done, the Rumble match itself couldn’t be saved now.

But in AMAZING fashion, WWE somehow managed to do the same thing again in 2015! Everybody knew that Roman Reigns was being molded and prepped to be the new main guy in WWE since late 2013/early 2014. And although I’m not as much of a critic of Reigns as many of the IWC are (you’re only as good as the promo they write you), the issue again was that we knew he was being set up to win the Rumble before the Rumble was even being advertised. What also didn’t help matters was that the incredibly popular Daniel Bryan had only just returned, in time for the match. WWE had a chance to make it unpredictable and have Bryan win, but instead they remained stubborn and insisting that “this is what we really want”, back fired for a third time.

At the end of the Royal Rumble back in 2003, I was enthralled, I didn’t want the match to end. Brock Lesnar won and had his hand held high as fans cheered and 12 year old chubby Liam tucked into his popcorn with anticipation for the road to WrestleMania… now, 24 year old Liam must wonder weither he will ever feel that anticipation again?


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