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Monday, January 18, 2016

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The Decline Of The Royal Rumble

By @TrueGodImmortal

Remember that feeling you would get watching the Royal Rumble Match? You would hear the numbers winding down, waiting for the next entrant and you just knew it would be a big surprise! Or a big return! Regardless, the Rumble was always exciting and most of the time, it was a way to catapult a rising star to the very top and to the main event scene. It seems however, that over the years, WWE has allowed the Rumble to lose luster and lose its true appeal by becoming boring, predictable and choosing the wrong winners so to speak for years and years now. Absolutely strange how things got so messed up and with Roman Reigns being the favorite to win this year's Rumble AGAIN and retain his WWE Title, something has to give. Let's get started shall?

*The History
-The Rumble used to have predictable winners in the Hogan era. Hell Hogan won the Rumble twice in a row, and the first time he won it, he was the WWF Champion. Just another way for the WWF to push Hogan as the biggest star ever. It would have made sense for Ultimate Warrior to win the Rumble and set his date with destiny at that point with Hogan, but that's another story for another time. From the end of the Hogan era onto the end of the Ruthless Aggression era, the Rumble was utilized to either boost a returning star or push the growing top face or heel into that big spot and the main event at Mania. Yokozuna started the trend with his 1993 Rumble win, while the trend continued for the push of Bret Hart and Lex Luger in 1994. The interesting thing about 1995 was that the roster was so thin, Shawn Michaels won it, and lost his match as a heel against Diesel for the title, then went ahead and won it again in 1996 as a huge babyface to beat Bret Hart for the title. The 1997 Rumble was controversial, as was the 1999 and 2000 Rumble, but the 1998 and 2001 Rumbles were won clearly by Stone Cold Steve Austin in two different scenarios. Technically Austin won the 1997 Rumble, but it was a really controversial finish and it didn't really matter. Fast forward a year later, Austin is the most popular man in wrestling and is in the driver seat to take over as "The guy". His Rumble win solidified him. In 2001, his Rumble win solidified his return after a one year absence and was the catalyst for his game changing heel turn that soon followed.

The 2002 Rumble featured HHH returning from a 9 month injury and winning, making him a main event face for the first time really in his career. It rebuilt him back up to be a top powerhouse in the company, much like the 2003 Rumble legitimized Brock Lesnar after suffering a fluke loss to the Big Show for the WWE Title. Brock would end up main eventing Mania and was clearly the man in the WWE going forward in 2003. Though his name shall not be mentioned of course, Chris Benoit ended up winning in 2004, a year after he had stole the show at the Rumble with Kurt Angle, and that put him at a higher level than he had ever been. He would end up winning the title at Mania and solidifying a legacy that is now hidden, but the moment was huge. The 2005 Rumble marked the rise of two men: John Cena and Batista. Batista officially won, but Cena looked just as strong going forward even after being the last man eliminated. From 1993-2005, the Rumble seemed focused on just building up new stars and solidifying stars who needed that extra momentum.

*The Start of The Decline
-The 2006 Rumble is horrible. The quality of the match wasn't the best or worst, but with a thin list of top tier entrants, it was beyond disappointing. Rey Mysterio winning was different, but it was a pity win in the memory of Eddie Guerrero. Rey wasn't the right choice, and in the 2007, the Undertaker won the Rumble, which I don't mind honestly, as he had never won it before and his career was on a resurgence. The 2008 Rumble to me was honestly a waste however. Cena came back early from injury and ending up winning, then he would cash in his shot at No Way Out instead of Mania, devaluing the Rumble win. That's when it really got started on the true decline. 2009, they definitely got things right as Randy Orton ended up winning the Rumble and he definitely needed the victory. After a bad injury, Orton came into stride with his Legacy stable and the win kicked off a solid run for him going forward as the top heel again. 2010 was the last year where the winner was honestly acceptable and that's when Edge returned from an injury and won it. However, the decline would get worse the very next year, as WWE made a big misstep.

*The Fall
-2011 featured the first ever 40 man Rumble. To me, there was one man who should have won it and his name was CM Punk. CM Punk was the new leader of the Nexus, he was involved in a TV feud with Cena, and he needed that momentum to catapult him to a huge main event title match. The title could have been placed on Orton or Cena going forward, and Cena vs Punk at WM27 with Rock involved somehow could have made for a bigger and better main event. The winner? Alberto Del Rio, who went on to do nothing with the title shot. However, I digress. 2012 seemed as if the returning Chris Jericho would win it, and it made sense, but WWE forced us Sheamus and it backfired tremendously. 2013, the crowd met John Cena's 2nd Rumble victory with indifference. Could you blame them? There were plenty of viable options for the Rumble in 2013, and they could have catapulted a Ziggler or anyone else. Instead the final 3 came down to Sheamus, Ryback, and Cena, which the fans completely shit on.

The story with 2014 is well documented and hilarious. Some idiot in WWE thought Batista vs Orton was a smart match for Mania as main event and booked Batista to win it over a much more popular CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, or the favorite to win it, who didn't even get a spot in the match, Daniel Bryan. The crowd shitted over the finish, the WWE had to change their plans and fix their stupid booking. Last year? 2015? It seemed obvious that someone like Dean Ambrose or the returning from injury Daniel Bryan should win, because they were the most popular. Who won instead? Roman Reigns. To a chorus of boos. Despite his cousin The Rock being there to celebrate, and despite the fact that the crowd wasn't sold on him, they booed him out of the building. Now, let's look at the upcoming Rumble briefly.

*Today's Rumble 
-This Sunday is the Rumble and this one is for the WWE Title. Here's the biggest concern. The WWE isn't utilizing this to put over someone else who needs the victory. They are using to further the idea of a possible Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns confrontation. Here's the issue: Brock, won the Rumble in 2003 and doesn't need the momentum. Reigns, won last year and has been terribly forced since and is the champ. The time is now to pull the trigger and give the belt to someone else and the Rumble win to someone who could use the boost to the next level. Like an Owens. Bray. Ambrose. Anyone but Roman. Brock is a top choice and I'm fine with that, but I would rather someone else who needs to win.

-The Rumble is not what it used to be. It probably never will be again, with the booking only getting worse. They run the risk of ruining all the work of forcing Reigns this Sunday by having him win. This is a must lose situation for Reigns and if the WWE doesn't do it, this just continues the declining trend. Let's hope for the best and hope the Rumble restores the glory.



  1. This year's Rumble ended up kicking ass, although Triple H winning could be seen as a mistake...but nobody expected it that is the honest truth. I see your point however. The WWE Championship shouldn't have been on the line in the match in my opinion this year, I think it hurt Roman who was actually gaining some fandom coming off his feud with Sheamus. Don't believe me? Watch back late December 2015 and early 2016 Raw's up until thge announcement that his title would be on the line at the Rumble. That was the night he was permanantly fucked in his current position. With the brand split, and a clear youth movement within the company, I think one thing is clear going in this year, the Rumble is going to finally and inevitably catapult a young stars career. It is extremely difficult to predict when we look at how both the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship have been booked since the draft with names like Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor holding the gold over the Summer of 2016. There are a lot of stars on the rise, and it looks to me that Balor returning and winning and challenging Owens is a real possibility. That would shift the momentum of 'the decline' as you mention it.