When it comes to WWE, January is my favourite time of the year. Throughout the year, I’m impartial towards rumours but January is the month where I embrace them. The speculation as to which matches will top the Wrestlemania bill is rampant and January, more specifically the January PPV is the point that we start to get some answers as to which stars will be involved in what match at the big event.
The unpredictability of the event certainly helps build of excitement. Most rumbles consist of a handful of competitors who could potentially win and go forth to the Wrestlemania Main Event. This year’s coming event for instance, will likely include Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt and a valid argument could be made that any one of these men will emerge victorious. Of course, a hot favourite this year is the returning behemoth Dave Batista and I imagine that quite a number of people will predict a win for Triple H and Randy Orton’s former associate. But, as Chris Jericho proved two years ago – sometimes, the favourite doesn’t always win.
I’ll be posting my PPV article shortly before the event, but I thought in the mean time I would write a Royal Rumble themed article.
In total, there has been 26 Royal Rumble matches – most of which contain elements that make them different to the others. The notable difference in several cases is how the final man (or men) won the match. We had two winners in 1994, Shawn Michaels won the match in 1995 from the dreaded Number 1 spot, the 1997 match was won by a man who was actually eliminated, 1999 was won by a man who spent a significant portion of the match not actually participating, Rey Mysterio lasted over an hour and won in 2006 which was followed by The Undertaker being the first man to win from the advantageous Number 30 position, John Cena, returning much to everyone’s surprise and winning the event in 2008 and in 2009, the team of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase were a difference maker and helped Randy Orton secure the honour.
Due to the unique nature of the rumble match, the different ways in which the match can finish is limited. We’ve already seen a portion of the finishes repeated – winning from Number 1, winning from Number 30, the surprise return, even the duel winner finish (before it went to sudden death obviously). Today, I want to explore some of the unique ways that a rumble match could close.
The Impossible Winner
The Royal Rumble has quite a prestigious list of winners – Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, HBK, Steve Austin. The small list of winners reads as a whose who of the industry. Although it has produced the occasional surprise (Ric Flair, Austin’s Second Win, McMahon), each winner has been a top tier talent or on the cusp of becoming one, even in the case of McMahon you have one of the company’s prime antagonists. For this option, I’m thinking more along the lines of someone completely left of field.
Imagine if Santino Marellla actually eliminated Del Rio and was put on course for the Wrestlemania Main Event? Imagine that Ricardo drove out in his beat up banger of a car and went onto win the event? It would be quite surreal.
Although I see this option as the least likely to happen, mainly because it could affect the prized asset that is Wrestlemania, it still is an option. I’d expect that if the finish were used, it would require someone likeable and it would need a comedy character so the audience walk away laughing rather than grumpy – the aforementioned Santino is a good example. I wouldn’t have been annoyed had he won, I would’ve giggled and put it down to the silliness sometimes involved with professional wrestling.
The Surprise Winner
Similar to the Impossible Winner in that the winner is completely unexpected. Please note, there is a difference to a genuine surprise and a surprise return. For instance, had people known John Cena would return at the rumble, he would’ve been a favourite to win the match, much like Edge was.
Genuine surprises would include wrestlers like Mr Perfect, Diesel or even Booker T to an extent. Stars that are far removed from their prime and have become somewhat of a nostalgia act. The number of potential winners is limited, especially if you only take into consideration performers that would draw enough attention to make such a move worthwhile – one of the aforementioned for instance or someone like The Ultimate Warrior or Mick Foley. If I had to select a star for this year then I would personally select Warrior and have him go against a champion CM Punk who frequently belittles him for being bat shit crazy and undeserving of a Hall of Fame ring. Completely unrealistic of course, but the idea is enough to amuse me. What about you? If you could pick a star of yesteryear to win the upcoming rumble, who would it be? And how would you use them? Dusty and Cody in a father/son feud perhaps? Share your ideas below in the comment section.
The Non-Competitive Winner
In 2012, I predicted that Chris Jericho would win the rumble by simply walking to the ring. It was quite a precise prediction but in the wake of Jericho’s silent return, I believe it would’ve been an amazing opportunity to finish the match in such a manner. Jericho, known for his excellent promo skills had returned a few weeks prior on Raw, worked crowd into a frenzy and all those who were awaiting some Y2J Mic Magic were left bewildered as he left the arena, without speaking a word. He eventually informed the WWE Universe that “this Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it’ll be the end of the world as you know it”. Now imagine tuning into the PPV, excited to see Y2J compete, only to discover he drew Number 30 and all the entrants previously had been eliminated – the audience’s hopes of seeing the ‘best in the world at what he does’ compete would be absolutely shattered. It would’ve been quite a surreal finale and would have suited what occurred in the weeks prior to the rumble.
This particular finish wouldn’t work for a face, as they usually are presented as fighting champions (or contenders in this case). Closing the rumble in such a way is going to be controversial and I imagine it would be risky to place a heel in the same situation as the incorrect heel could attract undesired heat. I have thought about some top heels in the last several years and one who sprung to mind was The Miz – however, at his peak, Miz was still a highly unlikable character and had he been placed in the position, it would have garnered a considerable amount of criticism, not particularly positive either.
Choosing the right character to close the rumble in such a manner is difficult as I believe it requires a heel who is highly respected but plays his part well enough to garner immense hatred – Sgt Slaughter at his peak or Mohammad Hussein come to mind. Both of whom I believe, were respected enough not to be harmed by such a choice.
The Stable Manipulator
Similar to The Non-Competitive Winner, but rather than having a competitor simply walk out to win, this one would require a good stable to enforce it.
Yet again, I believe this would require a heel (or heels) to enact, simply because a team of faces would be expected to continue competing for the honour. Additionally, it does require a particular stable, one which is focused entirely upon the success of the leader – CM Punk’s Nexus or The Wyatt Family are good examples. With other stables, there’s always the chance that the lesser members of the group may step up to challenge for win. Had Triple H been eliminated earlier and we were left with Randy Orton and Legacy in 2009, do you think they would’ve just stepped outside the ring? Whilst possible, it lessens the integrity of young Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Whilst the Legacy duo bordered on being ‘followers’, they weren’t to the same extent of say a Harper or Rowen. Removing themselves so Orton could win would’ve weakened the pair and possibly changed the dynamic of the stable for the worst. Furthermore, how would this be reflected upon at a later date? Cody and Ted had bright futures at that point and forcibly removing themselves from the match in favour of Orton could have been detrimental to two young stars who are expected to rise up through the company’s ranks. Harper and Rowen on the other hand are ‘brainwashed’ so the finish may not harm them as much in the long run, as they could claim it was a low point in their lives.
Interestingly, this finish could occur in the upcoming event, with The Wyatt Family being the best candidates. As stated, I don’t believe it would harm any of the people involved. It would however strengthen Bray’s character and show that he can manipulate minds to his own benefit extremely well, a trait which can be quite dangerous. Do I expect this to happen this year? No. But it would be pretty cool to witness.
The Stable Superior
Another finish that involves a stable (although it could also be staged with a strong tag team). However, unlike the previous conclusion whereby the stable members only have the interests of the stable leader in mind, this requires a stable of performers considered equals. You could argue that Legacy had the opportunity to create these closing moments but as the stable was still in its establishing phase, I feel it wouldn’t have worked as neither Cody or Ted would be considered contenders above Randy.
It would require a strong stable with two or more performers that could be considered winners in order execute. Two or more stars to help build that tension, unpredictability and excitement. Think back to the downfall of Evolution – had Triple H been involved in the rumble and it came down to him and Batista, the tension as to whom will come out on top would’ve been great. Triple H was the outright leader of the faction, but Batista’s rise was unavoidable and he soon became ‘the man’, able to stand beside (or opposite) Triple H as a considerable entity in his own right.
It has its similarities to the Hogan and Warrior dynamic in that two forces are finally coming to a head but rather than a mid match clash, this would be the closing moments of the rumble and the stakes would be higher because one of the men will emerge the winner.
It’s quite rare to get a stable of wrestlers whereby all of the individuals or at the very least, two are strong enough to warrant winning the Royal Rumble match. Batista in his final days as an Evolution member is possibly the latest example of such an instance. Today however, we have the luxury of The Shield, a dominant faction with three members, all likely to succeed in the industry. Roman Reigns would of course be the hot favourite to emerge as the winner, but there is a slight possibility that Ambrose and possibly Rollins could be used as a swerve. In that regard, it becomes unpredictable and if you haven’t figured it out thus far, unpredictability is highly favoured by yours truly.
Katniss and Peeta
“We’re gonna eliminate everybody and we’re going to do it with the most efficient teamwork possible. And then once we get to where it’s us three we’re gonna have to figure that out then. The gloves may come off or maybe we’ll make a stand. Maybe we’ll do something no one’s ever done before. We walk out of that sucker; who knows?”
The following statement was taken from a recent interview with Roman Reigns. I admit, this conclusion was not one that I thought of but it’s a great idea and like the previous finale, we have a stable of men in a perfect position to implement it.
Of course, the implications of such an occurrence would be quite significant – would the men be forced to fight until a winner was declared? Would they forfeit their right to the main event? Who knows. But surely that would be enough to get viewers to tune in each week and find out.
For such an option, I believe you would need a strong person in power – Vince McMahon or The Authority for example. Tension would need to be built between the faction and the power figure(s) so there is some reason as to why these men have sabotaged the rumble. Wrestlemania is the WWE’s prized possession and any authority figure would not take such an action lightly so the repercussions of the event would be immense. From the standpoint of the faction itself, they would be standing tall as the men who defied the powers that be and gave them the middle finger. It would be a very interesting moment indeed.
That’s it for this week folks. I’ve given you five different options (and a stolen one) – maybe there’s another (that I’ve not mentioned) which you believe would be a fun way to end the match. Share your ideas on the comment section below (on WrestlingEdge.com) or post your ideas on the Talking Theatrics facebook page.
I’ll be back next week with my Rumble Build Column.