The Royal Rumble, my favorite pay per view of the year. I don’t know if it’s seeing all the wrestlers, the surprise entrants or if it’s just something to look forward to during a long Ohio winter. But it is one night of the year that I look forward to the most. This year’s rumble will be one of the biggest yet, when it comes to attendance.
The Royal Rumble will take place from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. An anticipated crowd of over forty thousand will witness what is shaping up to be quite a show. What is it about the rumble that will attract forty thousand people you might ask? Good question, but a question that I plan on diving into.
The first Royal Rumble took place over thirty years ago in 1988 with the first ever winner being WWE Hall of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. The rumble has evolved into one of the most exciting matches of the year, with the winner of the rumble guaranteed a title match at Wrestlemania.
For the first thirty years the Royal Rumble match was “exclusive” to men. Occasionally there would be a woman who entered the rumble match, like Chyna, Beth Phoenix and Kharma. Now the women have a rumble match of their own and this year will be the second edition of the women’s rumble.
Last year, the winner of the first ever women’s royal rumble was current Smackdown women’s champion Asuka. The celebration of Asuka winning the rumble was short-lived as, Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut immediately after the match to announce that she would be wrestling at Wrestlemania in a few months.
The women’s rumble was full of returning legends like Lita, Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Ivory and Kelly Kelly. I believe this year’s match will have less legends in it, as the women’s roster has grown quite a bit over the past year. I have my thoughts as to who will win it this year, but you will have to check the predictions page on Friday for that.
Now the men’s rumble match, a match that has had hundreds of wrestlers in it over the last thirty years, is one of the most unpredictable matches in WWE. You would think a big man would win the match like Andre the Giant or The Big Show. But neither one of them have been able to win it. As a matter of fact, Andre eliminated himself after Jake Roberts chased him around the ring with a snake.
Like I said, you never know what you’re going to see during the rumble. The biggest man to win it was Yokozuna back in 1993, the same year that Bob Backlund returned and lasted in the rumble for nearly an hour. Yokozuna went on to win the WWF title at Wrestlmania nine over Bret Hart. Only to lose it minutes later to the one and only Hulk Hogan.
Speaking of Hulk Hogan he was the first man to win multiple Royal Rumble matches, doing it in 1990 and 1991. Other multiple winners are Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, Batista and Randy Orton with Stone Cold doing it three times. Alberto Del Rio won the first ever forty man Rumble back in 2011 and Braun Strowman won the fifty man Rumble in Saudi Arabia in April of last year.
What’s great about the rumble is that it’s the start of at least a three-month long story line leading into a match at Wrestlemania. Long story lines are something of the past and not seen to often anymore. But if written correctly, a three month long build to a match is going to add so much to an already big match.
Over the years there have been some great builds, like in 1991 when Hogan won and was to take on Sgt. Slaughter at Wrestlemania that year. It was also the time of the Gulf war, and Slaughter was playing a heel with Hogan being the “Real American”. It’s an easy story to write, but with three months to do it and no Monday night RAW at the time it was hard to get eyes on the story. Luckily for WWE, it was Hulk Hogan and that’s all they needed to get eyes on their product.
Another great build was in 1998 when Stone Cold Steve Austin was on the rise and on his way to his first WWE championship. Mike Tyson was also involved at the time and champion at the time Shawn Micheals was on his way out of the business to deal with a back injury. It was also the beginning stages of what is the now infamous attitude era.
The biggest and best build to a Wrestlemania match was in 2001 when again, Stone Cold Steve Austin was the winner of the Rumble. His opponent at Wrestlemania that year was none other than The Rock. The Rock and Austin were by far the two biggest stars in all of wrestling at the time and the build for that match was amazing. Just watch the promo for the match at Wrestlemania 17, if that don’t make you want to watch the match, not sure what will.
In 2005 the winner of the Rumble match was Batista, who at the time, was a member of Evolution. The leader of Evolution was Triple H, who was also the World champion at the time. So a member of Evolution was going to take on the leader of the faction. Another story line that could have gone a million different ways but, the writers got it right with a slow turn of Batista, and led to a great match at mania that year.
In 2013, the winner of the rumble was John Cena, who would be taking on The Rock for the second year in a row, but this time for the WWE championship. Again this was a rematch from the prior years mania, so there is already history, but now it’s for a title. Easy writing for the WWE, but a great build for the Wrestlemania match.
Those are just a few of many that stand out to me as great builds for Wrestlemania matches. But there were also great performances and what are now Royal Rumble traditions. Like Kofi Kingston, who has never won a rumble, but has done some amazing things to avoid elimination in the rumble.
Shawn Michaels also made a memorable moment when he was sent over the top rope by the British Bulldog, but only had one foot hit the floor. Thus emphasizing, that both feet have to hit the floor in order to be considered eliminated. Michaels then returned to the ring and was able to eliminate the Bulldog for a rumble victory.
I could go on and on about the rumble, but the match speaks for its self, and really needs no hype anymore. The rumble is a January tradition that I look forward to every year and I can’t wait until next Sunday to see what unfolds in Phoenix.
Thanks for checking out gohomepwb.com and be sure to check out the top ten on Wednesday this week and for my NXT Takeover and Royal Rumble predictions on Friday. Have a great week!