Prime Tyme Hits The Ring: Fixing The Royal Rumble
A few years ago Kevin and I debated on “The Whole Fucking Show” about which was the greatest Pay Per View Event of the year. I took the easy answer and chose Wrestlemania. It may not be very original but there’s a good reason for that. It’s built as the biggest event in all of wrestling for the entire year. It’s supposed to be the one they focus on months in advance. You’re promised that something amazing will happen. It’s an opportunity to be there for a classic moment as it happens. With all that being said, there’s a window of time every year where I don’t feel that way. It happens during that month long build that kicks off the road to Wrestlemania, as we prepare for the Royal Rumble.
Every year, as it begins to get closer to the Rumble, I turn into a ten year old wrestling fan. I get excited and nostalgic. I recall watching in 1992 when Ric Flair went from number three all the way to the end to win, not a chance to challenge for the title, but for the title itself. I remember watching Shawn Michaels winning it back to back years in what ultimately culminated in his Wrestlemania win over Bret Hart. I think back to all of the surprise entrants, debuts, and legend cameos that have helped to make for the feeling of unpredictability that is the Royal Rumble.
I love the feeling that in wrestling “anything can happen”. It’s what keeps my wrestling fandom going and what event better encapsulates that feeling than the Royal Rumble? Thirty men, all fighting for the chance to challenge for the world title. Every man for himself, alliances breaking down while new ones attempt to form, and with the only requirement to eliminate someone is that you have to throw them over the top rope causing both feet to hit the floor it really is anyone’s game!
If only that were even kind of true.
Since 1993, when the Wrestlemania incentive was added, the list of winners reads off like a who’s who of main eventers. Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, John Cena, and Randy Orton are just a small sampling of past winners. Every year we’re told that anyone can win and then every year we watch as the very people we expected to win are the last standing in the ring at the end of the night. If every year you were given three to five selections as to who would win it’s an almost certainty that you would have the winner in your handful of picks. Five out of thirty? That’s not really “anyone’s” game, now is it?
But what if it was?
What if just once, a nobody rose from the bottom and overcame all of the odds, to stand alone as the Royal Rumble winner?
What if somebody won, that nobody predicted?
Certainly, there is somebody that the officials have on that roster that they believe will be a main eventer some day down the road. There has to be one performer that has decent mic skills and the charisma to pull off the believability of an underdog that is preparing for the next few months to take advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime. Someone, that the casual fans and internet fans could get behind, together.
Imagine as the Rumble comes down to the final four and we’re looking at John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, and say someone of a Tyson Kidd like status. We would all recognize that it was a nice feel good moment that he had made it that far, but nobody would be expecting a victory even at this point. Now from here there are an infinite number of ways you can book a dramatic Rumble victory, but the important part will be that it comes off as a fluke. Out of nowhere this curtain jerker came from behind and eliminated the last opponent in such a way that even they can’t believe it. It’s a great feel good moment that would catch everyone by surprise and you wouldn’t be able to help yourself but cheer. It’s an instant classic feel good moment that every fan would recognize and appreciate.
From there the next two months or so are must watch television as we watch this underdog deal with the open doubt from all of his peers that he stands a chance against the champion. He’ll rack up a few key victories each under circumstances that others are able to point out add up to just another fluke win and don’t in fact prove anything. Every week he grows more frustrated and more determined with lack of belief from others and their resentment that he’s taking a spot away from someone that actually stood a chance.
What happens at Wrestlemania doesn’t even matter as much. Either the underdog wins the title and the story of the underdog is complete or you tell the Rocky story and have him take the champ to his limits only to come up short. Either way you have a new solidified main event level talent. You have a character that developed themselves and a story over time that everyone was able to get behind. You created another special Wrestlemania moment. But more important than all of that, you fixed the Royal Rumble. You made it matter more than it ever has before and you made it a can’t miss event for years to come.
Sadly, we all can safely assume that this will not happen this year or possibly anytime soon.
But what if it did?
What if just once… anything really could happen?
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