|"It is my destiny to jerk the curtain!"|
Nah, just kidding. The big question on my mind is "Why in the blue hell should I care?"
In recent years, the Royal Rumble has become more and more like Survivor Series: a unique pay-per-view concept that WWE doesn't have the slightest clue what to do with but doesn't have the guts to kill off. Well, at least WWE doesn't have Michael Cole refer to the big battle royal as "the traditional Royal Rumble match." Yet.
The Royal Rumble used to be the way to main event Wrestlemania short of being the champion already. Now, it's a way to throw a bone to an upper mid-carder, an excuse to dump them into the opening match and scratch that pesky World title match off the list of the bookers' concerns for the company's biggest PPV of the year. What once was a must-win match is now a stepping stone to being an afterthought. So what went wrong with the fan favorite Rumble match? Let me count the ways....
1. There are two world titles. It's been a decade since the WWE Undisputed Championship became disputed again, and with every year that peculiar quirk of the "brand extension" gets more and more tiresome. Even if you disregard the fact that the brand split is almost entirely non-existent thanks to the "Raw supershow" every Monday night, where one giant roster fills three hours of TV a week, the idea of two "world" champions in the same promotion kills a lot of drama that should be happening in WWE.
Remember that old Ric Flair saying, "To be one of the two men, you gotta beat one of the two men"? No? That's because Slick Ric would never say anything so laughable and far-removed from reality (and this is a man who nicknamed his penis after a Disney ride). Shawn Michaels's boyhood dream was not to become one of the two WWF champions. To my knowledge, there has never been any legend or satisfying work of fiction in which a hero is on a quest to be one of the top two. Yet any up-and-coming superstar in WWE has to swallow his pride and claim that his goal is to be a champion, even though he most certainly wants to be the champion.
The idea of two number ones is antithetical to basic storytelling, especially when those "number ones" rule over the same domain and are nominally rivals, but never challenge one another for supremacy. You would think that people with such drive and determination would not get to the top of the mountain, so to speak, only to never try to knock the other guy off and be the sole king.
I think Oscar from The Office said it best: "Look, it doesn't take a genius to know that every organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn't have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be, without the popes?"
|"There can only be two number |
ones in WWE, Cena.
Me and Christian."
|McKayla Maroney is not|
impressed with the #2 title.
Why should the Royal Rumble
|Ooh, shiny! I want that one!|
It's not just me who considers the Smackdown title inferior, it's the people who book Wrestlemania, which brings me to my second point.
|Lex Luger lived out his dream of opening a Wrestlemania.|
On January 27th, 30 men will battle
for the chance to do the very same.
|You don't get to call yourself best in the world by |
finishing second. Unless it's the Royal Rumble.
|Not pictured: Royal Rumble winner |
Alberto Del Río.
|Michaels on the brink of having |
to main event Wrestlemania 23.
|Santino must face the incredible|
1 in 6 odds of winning the title and
automatically going to Wrestlemania.
4. Title shots are a dime a dozen, especially between Rumble and Wrestlemania. Thanks to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, winning the Royal Rumble match itself is of less importance than ever. Yes, the winner of the Rumble gets a guaranteed title shot at Wrestlemania, but the very next month, ten other contenders (including schlubs like Ted Dibiase, Jr.) get shots directly at the two champions and their titles. In other words, outlasting 29 men gets you a chance to win the title, but outlasting five other men in a Chamber match lands you the title itself.
|Forget everything you know |
about the WWE world titles!
No, seriously, it would help us out a lot.
All of these flaws contribute to the fifth big reason why the Royal Rumble is increasingly irrelevant....
|"Now I go to Wrestlemania to face one of 12 men!"|
|"But for the next month, I'll just twiddle |
my thumbs until the whole title
picture sorts itself out."