Unless WWE shoe-horn the annual affair into WrestleMania 36 at the last second, we won’t be seeing the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at this year’s show of shows. This particular tradition has divided the WWE Universe right down the middle, some enjoying the chaotic ruckus, some considering it a waste of a WrestleMania match. I personally am on the side of those that quite like seeing 20-30 superstars cram into the squared circle and doing their best to string a match together.
Last year’s battle royal saw Braun Strowman stand tall above the rest of the roster, giving him the right to laud the golden André trophy for a couple weeks before handing it back over to storage until the next WrestleMania. Ultimately, winning the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal amounts to nothing. Previous winners have failed to capitalise on their success and are rarely booked into any meaningful feud after their ‘big’ win.
It’s a shame, really. WWE could have been on to something when they first put this battle royal together for WrestleMania 30. Previous winners like Cesaro, Mojo Rawley and ‘Woken’ Matt Hardy could have easily been booked into a mid-card feud following their win. After all, it’s a WrestleMania victory, surely that counts for something in WWE lore.
Despite the lack of tangible effect, the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is still a fun 10 minutes of wrestling. Seeing WWE scrape the bottom of the barrel to fit the entire roster on the card is actually quite a nice gesture. They don’t have to find a place for the likes of Zack Ryder, Titus O’Neil and R-Truth every year, but they do, and that must be a rewarding moment for those particular superstars who’ve dreamt of being featured on the Grandest Stage of them All. It’s quite exciting to sit back and try and spot your favourite dark horses, back those unlikely heroes that may be just about to fall upon the biggest win of their career.
This also goes for the Women’s division too, as they also have their own version of the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but instead of a giant André trophy, it’s a pretty generic ‘WrestleMania Cup’. Those that have gone onto win said battle royal have also found little in the way of success after their ‘Mania victory, but it’s a nod of appreciation in of itself for those superstars to be given the win over the rest of the undercard roster.
It’s a flash of momentum that wouldn’t have come otherwise, and sometimes that could be enough to get the crowds behind them for the rest of the year. Look what it did to Cesaro: even though it didn’t amount to a singles championship, it ensured that the wrestling world paid attention to his singles career for the while that WWE ran with it. It gave fans a reason to care about him, for that brief period of time. The same goes for Braun Strowman, Carmella, Big Show and the rest of the names etched onto the André trophy.
Again, unless WWE plan to drop the battle royals onto the WrestleMania pre-shows at the last minute, it’s a shame that the undercard and a few extra special guest appearances won’t be given the opportunity to get that rub. This year the field was pretty open for anyone to step up and take home a big win. The unpredictability of the match made it a really intriguing spot on the card, and this year’s would have been no different. There’s no individual superstar that has been set-up to step up to the challenge and go on to win the whole thing.
Usually there’s at least one superstar who announces their intentions to enter and claim ownership over the trophy. Last year’s was Braun and of course we all know what laid in wait for him in New York. This year is almost like the entire roster has forgotten that the event exists.
With WWE now more willing to include the NXT and 205 Live rosters on their main roster programming, this could have been a great opportunity to start introducing the more casual audience to some of the biggest names from those brands, while also giving them their first WrestleMania moments.
Likewise, there’s a few superstars currently on the main roster looking for a slice of success in the run up to this year’s WrestleMania. Jeff Hardy recently returned to SmackDown Live in a winning effort against King Corbin. Since that win, Jeff has vanished off the face of the Earth. What better opportunity for ‘The Charismatic Enigma’, or someone of equal stature, waiting to secure their first big victory since returning, to rebuild their singles career?
Here’s hoping that WWE might slot in the André and Women’s battle royals at the last minute, giving us a bit of excitement during the pre-shows of the two night extravaganza. Even though they might be two of the more hotly anticipated matches on each year’s card, I’m going to miss them this time round. Where else am I going to get my yearly appearance from No Way Jose and Dana Brooke?
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