In the world of professional wrestling there is no more anticipated match each year than the Royal Rumble. Sure the main event of Wrestlemania maybe more prestigious, but most years the main event isn’t established until after someone wins the Rumble. The Royal Rumble represents the one match guaranteed each year, that generates interest from even the most casual fan.
The beauty of the Rumble is its simplistic nature. First proposed in the late 1980s by legendary French Canadian wrestler Pat Patterson as an alternative version of the traditional battle royal. Since the first Rumble hosted in Hamilton, Ontario in 1988 and won by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, the Rumble has been a yearly event on the WWE calendar.
The Rumble starts like nearly every other match, two men in the ring. The big difference, pin fall or submission do not win you the match. Instead you have to throw your opposition over the top rope and on to the floor where both feet must hit the floor. However, there is another catch, every two minutes another competitor enter the match.
Unknown to Patterson at the time, but he invented the perfect match for the short attention span, ADD audience. Every two minutes, entrance music plays and the crowd reacts. The wrestling business is based upon two things, selling matches and generating crowd interest that creates a reaction. The Rumble does both, as it represents the second biggest show for the WWE.
In total, 30 men, (and sometimes women,) enter the Rumble. Every year the Rumble has its own surprise entry. Often a legendary superstars from the past return to make an appearance. The crowd goes wild as they hear the theme music of a superstar they haven’t heard from in years. A few minutes later, the surprise entry is thrown over the top rope and eliminated.
Over the next hour give or take a few minutes, viewers eyes are glued to the screen. Wrestlers leave it all on the line, looking to create that one memorable moment that stands the test of time. For the past few Rumbles it has been the acrobatic near eliminations of Kofi Kingston. Although Kingston, has never won the Rumble his ability to avoid elimination has led to some memorable moments. For Kingston, the moment lives on for years, but his time in the Rumble usually comes to an end mere minutes later.
When the 29th man is eliminated, the last man in the ring is crowned the winner. Since 1993, the winner has been guaranteed a main event title shot at that year’s Wrestlemania. While for many of the competitors in the match, there storyline and angles are created as they seek revenge on the opponent who eliminated them.
However, this year is not like the every Rumble since 1993. For the first time since 1992 the winner of the Rumble will be crowned WWE World Heavyweight Champion. In 1992, Nature Boy Ric Flair entered third and was in the ring over an hour to win the vacated the then WWF title. The title was vacated after two “controversial” title changes involving Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker, which saw the title change hands thanks to some interference from Flair.
In this year’s edition, Roman Reigns enters the champion, but after some feuding with WWE owner Vince McMahon, his daughter Stephanie and son in law Triple H, will be forced to defend the title at the Rumble. Adding to the interest this year is how depilated the WWE roster is due to the injuries of main stars and former champions.
Seth Rollins, was the champion for most of 2015, until he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in Ireland and was forced to vacate the title. The two biggest stars of the past decade, John Cena and Randy Orton are both out recovering from shoulder surgery. Former champion Daniel Bryan is out as he still needs to be medically cleared from a doctors following a concussion. Former tag team champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro are both out after Kidd broke his neck and Cesaro underwent shoulder surgery. Former Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett continues to be out with a neck injury.
The Royal Rumble is usually strategically positioned by the WWE during the bye week in-between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. However, the 2016 edition takes place in Orlando on January 24 directly against the NFL playoffs. As injured as the WWE roster is, the list of potential winners is shorter than you might think.
Reigns enters champion and very well could leave the champion. In his two Rumble entries, Reigns has finished the runner up in 2014 and the winner in 2015, eliminating a record 12 in 2014.
Option two is former champion Brock Lesnar. Lesnar won the Rumble in 2003, and could very well run the table as he uses his incredible size and athletic ability to throw everyone else out of the ring.
Option three is on-screen COO Triple H. The real life husband of Stephanie McMahon and WWE corporate executive spent the late 1990s and 2000s as one of the company’s top stars. However, over the past few years, he has spent his time behind the scenes developing talent. On-screen he is the hate authority figure that continues to hold back wrestlers he deems unworthy. A Triple H win would mark his second Rumble win, previously winning in 2002, would set up a Wrestlemania matchup with Reigns for the title.
The three represent the three betting favourites and yes, you can bet on pro wrestling. Other wrestlers who could win include Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens. Ambrose and Owens are also scheduled to meet in a last man standing match for the Intercontinental Title.
If you are feeling like making a wager you can bet on everyone from the muscular 70 year old Chairman and 1999 Rumble winner Vince McMahon, or his two children Shane and Stephanie all three paying 100 to 1. You can even bet on Ronda Rousey at 50 to 1, following her appearance at Wrestlemania 31 and defeat at the hands of Holly Holm.
In many ways the Rumble is foolproof. Many college basketball experts call the March Madness Tournament a foolproof system. The Rumble is similar in many fashions with its dark horses making runs and underdogs eliminating favourites. However, over the past two Rumbles, fans have left disappointed with the winner, but still entertained. This year, the wildcard element is sure to leave fans intrigued on the road to Wrestlemania.