The Royal Rumble was once my favorite WWE PPV of the year. I always loved the Royal Rumble match. There is so much anticipation and excitement to see who is coming in, when, who will be eliminated and how, and of course, who will win. Each year the winner goes on to challenge for the title in the main event at Wrestlemania. For a long time, I really enjoyed going back and watching the 1994 Royal Rumble. I thought the angle of having dual winners was pretty exciting, plus, it hadn’t been done before. These days, I go back and watch a lot of the older Rumbles. Mostly for nostalgic value, but also because they seemed more important back then.
The Rumble is still an exciting match to watch, if for no reason other than to see people clashing in the ring that you never see against each other. It’s always fun to see tag team partners going after each other, two faces locking up in front of a divided crowd. The Rumble also provides moments for people to stand out, to do things that make their time in that ring memorable, even if they don’t go on to win it. I think back to Diesel eliminating a ton of people, CM Punk preaching to the crowd, Beth Phoenix taking a GTS. How about those surprise entrants? It’s always cool to see an old name or a surprising return.
A few things have happened which has made the Royal Rumble fall a few notches in my book, however. First of all, they keep trying to inject a lot of comedy in there. Maybe they’ve done this back in the day as well, but if so, they did it better. Watching someone like Santino get in there and jump around like a fool or Hornswoggle spending so much time bouncing around and emulating various wrestlers. It makes the match seem less important, then again, WWE has spent a lot of time making a lot of things feel less important than they used to be.
Another thing that has negatively impacted the importance of the Royal Rumble is the Elimination Chamber PPV. Whereas, in the past, the winner of the Rumble would challenge for the title and that match would be built up from the Rumble until Wrestlemania, now we have this extra PPV thrown in where the titles can (and have) changed. You lose several weeks of build up and while you could have a Rumble winner matching up against someone you really want to see him face, come February the title changes hands and you don’t get it. Also, which I’ve not really understood, the point of winning the Rumble is to get that title shot but, even if you don’t win, there’s a chance you’ll be one of the handful of people in the Elimination Chamber to challenge for it the next month anyway. I enjoy Elimination Chamber, but I’d move it further in the year. Replace one of those half-assed PPVs that nobody orders with the Chamber. There are several moments throughout the year where there is nothing that has a “big time” feel to it. You could easily shift Elimination Chamber to one of those times.
Finally, and this is highly specific to this year, the winner of the Royal Rumble is NOT going to challenge for the title in the Main Event, unless the Rock wins the Royal Rumble and John Cena is the champion. Hasn’t WWE made it clear that their Wrestlemania main event is going to be Cena vs the Rock? Didn’t we also get Shawn Michaels vs the Undertaker Part 2 as the main event over the title match that year, as well? It may just be a matter of semantics, but just change the language and remove “in the main event” from the promotion. “The Winner of the Rumble goes on to challenge for the title at Wrestlemania.” Sounds fine to me, but if you’re going to tell me it is the main event, and then it isn’t, I feel slighted.
Last year the Royal Rumble was 40 competitors. This year, we’re back to 30. I’m not sure why that is, and I don’t really have a big problem with this, but it’d be nice to have been given some sort of an explanation. It seemed as though last year’s Rumble worked out very well, I know I enjoyed it. Why the shift back to 30? Also, what the hell does it mean that “this year, every superstar is eligible?” Weren’t they always?
This year, it’s as up in the air as it always is. 30 competitors, but really only a handful of people who are probable to win. It seems likely that some names to be considered for victory this year have to be some of the old standbys; Randy Orton and Chris Jericho, for instance. Then again, there has been some speculation about people like Sheamus or the Miz. Will we see the return of some previously injured people, or people who haven’t been on television lately? Sometimes WWE likes to have a big return and give the victory to that person, see John Cena and Edge, for example. Honestly, this year, I have not yet decided on who I am putting my money on. This is partially due to the possibilities and partially due to WWE’s failure to make any one person stand out. It all seems arbitrary sometimes.
Either way, I know that this Sunday I will be sitting in front of my television watching the 2012 Royal Rumble. I can’t resist it, it will always be one of my favorite PPVs. It kicks off the Road to Wrestlemania, it plants the seeds for Wrestlemania, it is the first PPV of the year and it can often show us how the entire year is going to trend. Let’s hope this year is the best one yet. I’ll see you on Sunday.