Hello and happy New Year everyone around the NoDQ Galaxy. You've landed on Planet Kayfabe.
The 2018 Royal Rumble event will take place on January 28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Of course the buzz this year is surrounded around the news that broke on Raw by, who else, Stephanie McMahon, of course... That this year the first ever women's Royal Rumble match would be taking place at the PPV.
That's pretty big news and well deserved was the 'YES!" chant that came after the announcement. I mean, sure, I could have done without seeing Absolution, who were portrayed as ruthless invaders, crying and hugging their babyface counterparts in the f***ing middle of the ring but... whatever.
Personally, I go into this with some reservations and haven't entirely thrown myself into the whirlwind of excitement that comes with such a "historic" event... and yes that "historic" in quotes to denote a bit of sarcasm. While I'm glad this is being done, I'm also hoping that is done right. Some people seem to get lost there. Fans and wrestlers alike even will say "they should do a women's Royal Rumble" and when asked "ok how?" the response is pretty much "just book it" and ask questions later.
The reservations I have pretty much stem from WWE's main roster take on the "Divas Revolution" turned "Women's Revolution" not currently labeled "Women's EVOLUTION" being just a big pile of corporate marketing and PR just to make Stephanie McMahon look like a strong leader and to make the company look progressive. Despite WWE touting the "first ever women's Hell in a Cell" and the "first ever women's Money in the Bank" as historic events in women's wrestling... they weren't. As a matter of fact both matches sucked and the first ever women's MITB will forever be stained by having James Ellsworth (a male superstar, by the way) be the one to actually grab the MITB briefcase.
The reason why I single out the main roster era of the "revolution/evolution" is because as I'm sure many of you early NXT fans are aware, the REAL women's revolution happened there on NXT. It happened naturally. It happened without forced marketing and hashtags. It happened... but booking actual female wrestlers in real matches and giving them enough time to have good matches. Sometimes the best matches on the show. It was done with the focus on the TALENT. The focus wasn't on how progressive NXT is. The focus wasn't on Triple H. The focus wasn't on a f***ing hashtag. The focus was on the women in the ring having quality matches and it quickly got noticed by the fans.
Of course once the main roster got their grubby paws on this can't-miss piece of market pandering they had to force the issue by doing what they do best... Plastering a McMahon all over it to soak up the glory, this being the female Stephanie McMahon whose face and voice is plastered all over every "historic" women's revolution moment now and shove it down our throats.
On October 7, 2015 at NXT TakeOver: Respect Bayley and Sasha Banks wrestled in the first ever women's Iron Man match in WWE history. It was a great match and a true historic moment for women's wrestling. Though it gets little mention today because it was on NXT and because Stephanie wasn't there to book it on TV (I guess) it pretty much goes unmentioned today.
With the women's Royal Rumble, I have no reason to assume that this is not like anything else on the main roster's take on this "evolution". While of course I'm giving it a chance I don't want it to fall in the same pitfalls that the previous matches did that were pretty much forced with little planning and just booked for the sake of booking them because to WWE it didn't matter if the matches were any good. Just booking the match was "historic".
Little side note, WWE. Booking women in matches is not historic. You can take any crazy stipulation at any PPV and throw women in the match and it's not going to mean shit if people are bored and people forget the match happened a week after the fact. It has to mean something and it has to be great. Like Bayley and Sasha was.
Unlike many people I've never been wild about the idea of a women's Royal Rumble. Some people have been wanting this for years. Honestly, I could take it or leave it, but I'm still open to the idea and won't write it off until I see it for myself, but assuming WWE wants to take this match with the serious attitude it deserves and not just toss these women out there and get it over with just so they can say WE DID IT! LOOK AT US! WOMEN'S RUMBLE! WWE MAKIN' HISTORY UP IN THIS BITCH!
Some things can't change. One being, if I had written this sooner, I'd suggest WWE not do a 30 woman Rumble match for multiple reasons. The main reason being the numbers don't add up. The men's Rumble has 30 entrants and even still they put one or two legends in there and sometimes the bullshit spot where they pluck JBL off the commentary booth just to get dumped out in 2 seconds. There's about 18 active women on the main roster. Even if all of them are in the match, there's going to be -- what? 10 call ups from NXT and 2 returning legends or one returning legend and the debut of Ronda Rousey? It just seems to me like with a big hole like that there's going to be long lull periods where the fans are watching a group of superstars that they know have no shot because they're either A: still in developmental or B: just making a one time appearance.
Another reason why doing this at 15 or maybe even 20 entrants tops would have been better is because the typical Royal Rumble is at least an hour long. Have two 30 person Rumble matches on one card is a bit overkill. Assuming the women's match is going to come before the men's I can see the match having little heat until the absolute very end with the final 4 competitors because the fans will be saving their energy, so-to-speak, for the later Rumble match that will determine the main event of WrestleMania. In the future, assuming this will be a new tradition, they should perhaps do a Network special, maybe a all female card where this match is included on it the Saturday before the Royal Rumble. It might seem like a slight, but they'd be getting their own event with all the eyes on them and like I said with two 30 person Rumble matches on one card, I can already see 95% of the fans only interested in investing all their energy and heat into one of them.
Another suggestion with both match quality and safety in mind, and I'm not even sure if this would be possible, but I suggest lowering the ring and the ropes for this one match. Considering most of the women are shorter than 5'5" and under 130 pounds and assuming along with every other rule being the same, that these ladies are still going to be taking top rope bumps to the outside, I hope some sort of measure has been made so they don't end up killing themselves even if it's just extra padding to the outside if my first suggestion is too much trouble or impossible in the first place. It has to be safe but also not look fake. That's my concern. Either they will over-compensate and take dangerous bumps (cough... Sasha Banks) or you'll see a lot of "light" eliminations or everyone is going to get thrown on the apron and take a fore arm to the floor.
Finally... WWE... Please... This may be the hardest request to grant in order to truly legitimize this match but... Do not put Stephanie McMahon in this f***ing match. It will be instantly dead. I recently read an article (sorry, no link, plug or shout out) on a different website (again, not putting them over by mentioning) that listed a few possible surprises for the women's Rumble. Finally this writer got to Stephanie McMahon who he said should be the 30th entrant and WIN THE WHOLE THING. All for the sake of heat. Living and dying by heat. Well, like I said, the match and the whole concept will be dead if Stephanie McMahon wins this f***ing match. Especially the first of its kind. Learn from the past. Vince McMahon won the Royal Rumble in 1999 when the WWF could do no wrong and everyone still thought that was shitty back then and he won it for no reason anyway since he gave up his #1 contender status shortly thereafter. Stephanie being in this match alone would be a total joke. Her 41 year old ass winning it as a non wrestler who has had like 3 matches in the last 15 years would turn off fans and any future "historic" matches that Stephanie books on TV will not be taken seriously and the female superstars, that's right the actual WORKERS who are on the road taking bumps every night, trying to get over and make a living in this business, deserve better than that.
So, there's my thoughts on the women's Royal Rumble match. Legitimate concerns, that weren't taken into account in the Hell in a Cell match and how to legitimize it, unlike the Money in the Bank match. They can call those matches historic, but they aren't and no one talks about them today and if no one is talking about a match even a year after it happens, then it has no historical significance outside of just being the first of its kind which is about as shallow as it gets. Which makes sense since WWE's marketing of the "Women's Evolution" is about as shallow and self-serving as it gets.
To legitimize it, it's simple. Just don't have a f*** finish. To me the women's MITB will carry a stigma for a while because the first match of its kind didn't have a legitimate winner free of controversy. That might work later on. Not every match has to have a clean winner to get over. However, the first match of its kind should have a clean winner to put over not just the winner of this first women's Royal Rumble match, but to put over the match itself. You're asking the fans to invest themselves in TWO 30-person battle royals. The least you can do is make it worth their time by avoiding pointless swerves and other nonsense.
Thanks for reading everyone. As always I look forward to the Royal Rumble. Like many of you it's one of my favorite events of the year. I'll have a preview later in the month where I will predict a winner.
Will all of this, good luck ladies. Hopefully this match lives up to everything it deserves to be. You're the stars here, not the shrieking middle-aged mom who plasters her face all over these "historic moments" and soaks up all the glory for allowing these women to "make history" all thanks to Stephanie McMahon. Yay! STEPHANIE! STEPHANIE! STEPHANIE! It's all about you! Ugh.... f*** off.
Okay, leave a comment below. See you next time. For NoDQ, I'm Paul Matthews. Stay over.