Amalgam Rhapsody: Royal Rumble Memories Submitted by LoneLee on 01/27/2019 at 05:09 PM
Royal Rumble Sunday! Still my favorite of the Big 4 WWE Pay-Per-Views throughout the year. Even though...
Yes, it isn't always a positive experience. Over the years, the Rumble has become either diluted or somewhat of an afterthought as to who will be in Wrestlemania's main title match. Still offering a mystique around possible surprise debuts or returns, it also offers comedic relief entrants (Hornswoggle, legends etc.) that are often regarded as wasting a spot. Not to mention the annual Kofi spot evading elimination and "Diesel spot" or big man that clears the ring upon entrance. Plus, it's fun to keep with time differentiating intervals between entrants better known as "Titan Time." Gotta make it fun somehow sitting through two Royal Rumble matches, right?
That is another issue. Somehow the match itself has become so convoluted it continues to lose significance and weight in value. Originally intended for a main event title match at Wrestlemania, now going on 2 years since that has not been the case for the winner. Also considering there are 2 main championships (4 counting the Women's titles) and an Elimination Chamber PPV in February to determine the other challenger, winning no longer feels as important as it once did. That's why today i want to look at 3 Royal Rumble matches from different eras that were made to feel important and captured the magic on the road to Wrestlemania.
1992 - Ric Flair with a tear in his eye. Of course I had to start my list with the marathon performance of the Nature Boy. It was one of the first chances for WWF faithful to truly take notice of the cardiovascular strength and showmanship that set Flair apart from the rest. Setting records at that point for total time in the Rumble match and earliest entry to be victorious, this would also be the first and only Rumble match for the vacant WWF championship (Roman Reigns would 'defend' his championship in the 2016 match). Flair's victory left us feeling convinced by not only being active throughout his entire participation rather than taking a breather clutching the bottom rope (a la Rey Mysterio and Road Dogg) but nearly two-thirds of the competitors felt like viable contenders to be champion. Flair would go on to follow it up with one of his most iconic promos thus solidifying this match as one of the most important nights in his career.
2004 - Chris Benoit, the overlooked winner. Without getting into the morality of the man in question and whether or not it's right to forget this match ever happened, there's two huge reasons it needs to be remembered. Firstly, this would be the 2nd time a competitor had won the match from entering at the No. 1 spot, but look at the difference in times. Shawn Michaels would accomplish this feat nearly a decade earlier but in the shortest Royal Rumble match to date coming in at just under 39 minutes. Benoit would be in there for nearly twice the amount of time. And second, this would be the first match in which the winner could decide which show's world title he would compete for, via loophole found kayfabe by Benoit. This would go on to be the stipulation for the winner in the years to come.
2015 - The fans turn against Roman Reigns. Not every Royal Rumble is memorable in a good way. Having just been a year since Roman Reigns set a record for the Diesel spot and had proven to be the standout amongst the still shining Shield, this would be the exact point where the majority of fans decided to reject the new face of the company. The always passionate Philadelphia crowd really disengaged the outcome of the match once fan-favorite Daniel Bryan was eliminated and the aging Big Show & Kane ran roughshod over the more popular wrestlers. Even the returning Dwayne The Rock Johnson's interference and endorsement of his cousin was met with resounding disdain and boos from the crowd. #CancelWWENetwork immediately trended worldwide on Twitter as fans could see the writing on the wall. Many fans wonder the exact moment an era started or ended, or a career began it's setting off point. This night will forever be remembered as the night in which the most polarizing figure in all of wrestling came to be and his rise to Herculean stature in the ring would ensue.
I'm curious to see the presentation as it will be the first Royal Rumble to take place in a stadium. No doubt an attempt to bring the PPV's majesty back to it's original regalia. With the Rumble only a few moments away, will a name be made tonight? Will a new era begin Or will it be another forgettable speed bump on the way to the biggest show of the year?