There’s no denying that the Royal Rumble is a ton of fun. Every year wrestling fans come together to debate potential winners and fantasise over what might happen and who might be involved. Each year’s instalment has its pros and cons, but some mistakes made in a Rumble match can be pretty damaging and should definitely be avoided at all costs. Let us not forget the absolute debacles that were the 2014 and 2015 Rumble matches, which taught us that not every Rumble match has the potential to be a blockbuster, sometimes it can leave a very sour taste in the mouth.
2019 is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable Rumble events in some time. With the major players of both Raw and Smackdown being occupied with their own feuds on the card, it leaves for a shining opportunity for an up-and-coming name to solidify themselves as a main eventer. We are in store for a very exciting couple of hours, with both a men’s and women’s Rumble match to look forward to. WWE really don’t want to start the year with a missed opportunity, so here are five big mistakes that the writers want to avoid going into next weekend’s event.
1. ‘Legends’ in the Women’s Rumble match
One thing that absolutely killed the hype surrounding last year’s inaugural women’s Royal Rumble match was the abundance of ‘throwbacks’ used to fill up the quota of 30 entrants. I won’t deny that the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita and Molly Holly have had a huge impact throughout history, and certainly warrant legendary status. I’m all for one or maybe two legends making a cameo, but when every other entrant happens to be a nostalgia act, it starts to get a little silly.
I’m willing to let this slide considering it was the very first women’s Rumble, an event which was primarily used to celebrate the evolution of women’s wrestling, so naturally they’d want to make it as star-studded as possible. Now we are reaching its second episode, it’s time to get serious and shift the focus back onto the current roster.
Should we once again be witnessing a variety of returning faces like Kelly Kelly, Brie Bella and Torrie Wilson, then it goes to show that there is a distinct lack of depth in the women’s roster. WWE need to use the 2019 Rumble match to start building up the credibility of their whole division, rather than just a handful of them. With a few fresh faces on their way to prevalence on the main roster – Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, Kairi Sane – what better time to allow them to showcase what they can do, rather than dwell on the past and prove to the world why we’ve left certain eras behind?
2. Forgetting MVP performances
It seems that the only superstar that is ever remembered coming out of a Rumble match is the winner. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: of course you want the winner to be celebrated and to be the biggest talking point coming out of the event. But this shouldn’t mean another superstar’s fantastic efforts to make the match memorable should be swept under the carpet.
I think back to last year and remember Finn Balor’s amazing run, starting at the number 2 spot and fighting his way into the final 4. It was incredible, yet seemed to have been forgotten about as soon as Shinsuke eliminated Reigns to become the winner. Logically, Balor’s MVP performance should make him one of the favourites heading into this year’s match, if he weren’t facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. Perhaps it should have even warranted him the number one contender’s spot once Nakamura chose his Wrestlemania opponent.
Either way, WWE need to start finding ways to highlight the efforts of other stars than the winner. The Iron Man of the Rumble is always a talking point, so maybe this year they should allow one of the rising stars from Smackdown Live to outlast most of the competitors – Mustafa Ali or Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas – maybe even give some sort of award to the competitor who gets the most eliminations, or even the one guy that somehow finds a way to eliminate Big Show.
3. Surprises for the sake of surprises
In a previous article, I wrote about the importance of surprise entrants in a Rumble match, how when they’re used correctly with the right people, they can really benefit the match itself and the individual’s career as a whole. AJ Styles remains one of the best surprises ever to happen in a Rumble match: that number 3 entry was so perfectly orchestrated that it made AJ seem like as big of a deal as he is, and allowed him to flourish as a major threat from the get-go of the match.
Should WWE choose to spend a good few spots in this year’s line-up on NXT call-ups and special appearances, then they need to make sure they’re going to benefit the superstars in the long-term. Last year’s NXT presence was in the form of then NXT elite, Andrade Almas, Adam Cole and Ember Moon, all made for a fun debut, but their involvement in the match didn’t really amount to much. Sure, they established themselves as future members of the main roster, but were any of their efforts remembered upon their arrival?
It’s very likely that this year at least one or two names from the NXT roster will make an appearance for the sake of placating the smarks, but if they are going to use this chance to introduce a Velveteen Dream, a Johnny Gargano or a Tomasso Ciampa to the casual audience, then at least make it worthwhile. Let them rack up a few high-profile eliminations to give them something to be identified by. It allows for ready-made feuds to be waiting for them upon arrival, forgoing those awkward stages where an NXT alumni is trying to find their feet on either of the brands.
4. An anti-climax
WWE are already setting themselves up for a real stinker of a final entrant this year. Let’s be honest with ourselves: do we really want to live through the anticipation of the #30 spot, only to remember that it’s R-Truth? Quite frankly, Truth does not deserve to be given that illustrious spot in the match. Knowing WWE, they’ll use it for the sake of some light-hearted hijinks – either Truth is eliminated in record timing, or he literally forgets that he’s meant to be #30.
This would make for one of the biggest anti-climaxes since the 2014 Rumble, where everyone in attendance was ready to roar for Daniel Bryan, but were instead given Rey Mysterio. It left everyone feeling cheated and the match itself fell flat. The best outcome for this year’s Rumble would be if someone was to attack Truth backstage, stealing his entry and abusing the seemingly anything-goes nature of the Rumble.
Who should take this spot is fair game at the moment. There’s no one person that the crowd would desperately want to see instead of Truth, aside from maybe Kenny Omega but I can almost guarantee that’s not going to happen. Perhaps it should be one of the ‘fresh faces’ on the roster – EC3 maybe? Or potentially a champion that happens to lose their title earlier on in the evening – Lesnar and Bryan are both the sort of characters that wouldn’t give a damn about R-Truth and his #30 position.
So long as he doesn’t amble his way down to the ring for a dance break in my Royal Rumble match, then I’ll be satisfied.
5. McMahon interference
When times are tough for WWE, Vince and his family feel like the best way out of the situation is to involve themselves more with the product. The Mr. McMahon character has indeed been one of the most successful pieces of kayfabe in the history of the business, but does that necessarily mean we need to see him, or any of his family members somehow being linked to the main event scene? No, we do not.
This is all eerily similar to the events of the 2016 Rumble, where Vince McMahon forced Roman Reigns into defending his WWE Championship in the Rumble match itself. Halfway through said match, Vince appeared at ringside alongside The League of Nations, throwing a spanner into the works and attempting to take Roman out of the match. Of course this failed, but Vince eventually got his way when his son-in-law Triple H eliminated Reigns and won the championship.
As of this writing, Mr. McMahon isn’t involved in any on-screen feuds, so he shouldn’t have any reason to be at ringside or to ruin anyone’s chances in this year’s Rumble. Does that mean he won’t somehow cost someone the match, or ensure a certain someone wins? Who knows. There’s only a certain number of times WWE can re-hash the definitive feud of Vince/Austin, it’s not something we need to see again come Sunday.
They are only 5 pet peeves of mine when it comes to the Royal Rumble. Not that I want to come across as overly pessimistic of the concept, but there’s a lot that can go wrong. I sincerely hope we get to see two excellent Rumble matches this coming weekend, so let’s all hope they manage to avoid those pesky mistakes.
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