The most exciting event of the year is undoubtedly the Royal Rumble match where 30 men and women will fight each other to earn a championship match and eventually main event WrestleMania. As WWE currently opened their “door” in creating some partnerships with other pro wrestling companies, it will be more exciting if fans will receive some extra surprise entrants that are currently signed from other “partner” wrestling companies. In this scenario, however, 30 participants for the two respective Royal Rumble matches may seem not enough to give a chance to most WWE wrestlers with the addition of these “surprise” entrants. So, does the WWE really need to increase the number of participants from the Royal Rumble match, or is 30 already good?
Sticking to the tradition
When WWE initially launched the Royal Rumble match in a PLE with the same title as the gimmick match in 1988, it consisted only 20 participants. During that time when Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan won the match, WWE was somehow testing the waters if the gimmick match will be liked by the audience (which it was), then it eventually upgraded to a 30-man Royal Rumble match a year after. The match itself created numerous iconic moments and superstars that are still remembered to this day. Since 1989, WWE stuck to the Royal Rumble match with 30 participants. Apart from the Greatest Royal Rumble live event in Saudi Arabia that featured a whopping 50-man Rumble match, only the 2011 Royal Rumble PLE had the highest number of participants in the same PLE with 40 participants which was won by the one and only Alberto Del Rio (what a pick from Vince).
As I watched both the Royal Rumble matches last year, it honestly lacked with the number of surprise entrants, specifically with the men’s rumble match. What did we get from the 2022 rumble match? It was personally only Booker T who was the surprise entrant among 30 superstars. It was annoying that a returning Cody Rhodes, from suffering an injury, unceremoniously announced his entry into the Royal Rumble match which turned out to be not surprised anyone anymore despite rumors of him being able to perform just in time for the Royal Rumble event. Meanwhile, the Women’s Royal Rumble match was just decently fine due to the good amount of surprise returns and entries, which ranges from Michelle McCool to Chelsea Green’s return to WWE ring and Asuka’s coming back from injury. Oh yeah, and there goes the returning Nia Jax too which her entrance was also botched.
Some records might be disregarded
The hard-fought record by some WWE Superstars who participated in the Royal Rumble match might be disregarded if WWE plans to change the number of participants from the traditional 30 people. One of these records is the time that a wrestler lasted in the ring upon entering. Inclusion of the 50-man Royal Rumble from Greatest Royal Rumble PLE in 2018, Bryan Danielson (known in WWE as Daniel Bryan) easily wins since he entered at number one and lasted for one hour, sixteen minutes, and five seconds (01:16:05) which he was also third to the last to be eliminated from the entire duration of the match. Gunther, on the other hand, lasted for one hour, eleven minutes, and forty seconds (01:11:40) which was the longest duration for a traditional Royal Rumble match. For the women’s Royal Rumble match, which was only introduced in 2018, Rhea Ripley currently holds the most number of eliminations in a single Royal Rumble match with 20, and the longest duration with one hour, one minute, and eight seconds (01:01:08).
When WWE changes the default number of participants, these records might be shattered easily especially if the entrants number 1 and/or 2 will be the final two. An example of this scenario happened in 2021 Royal Rumble match where Edge (entrant no. 1) and Randy Orton (entrant no. 2) were coincidentally the last 2 participants to fight in the rumble match. In the end, the duration of the entire match will still depend on how “tough” the participants are in the match. This will also depend on the depth of storylines that are integrated in the Royal Rumble match, especially this year when there are many conflicts within the match itself. These include Damian Priest and Drew McIntyre, Gunther (with Imperium) and Kofi (with Xavier Woods), and the stellar feud of CM Punk and Cody Rhodes.
WWE should not announce who will participate
WWE should stop from announcing more participants in the Royal Rumble match, which translates to giving some spoiler to excited fans on knowing who will showing up as surprise entrants. During an episode of RAW before Royal Rumble, Hulk Hogan said in a vignette for the Dawn of Hulkamania, that the WWE Universe will never know who will show up at Royal Rumble and stated that “there is still one left” in him. These subtle hints might just give anyone a spoiler and in turn, it will just be an overall boring and lackluster move. Of course, the Rumble match may still consist of current WWE roster from Raw, SmackDown, and NXT but the element of surprise for returning legends, returning wrestlers from other company, or a result of a “partnership” from other pro wrestling companies will make the Royal Rumble experience complete and would probably last a lifetime. However, in terms of business or marketing strategy, not announcing participants of at least 10 Superstars might not translate to lower ticket sales or hype.
So…is 30 really enough?
When it comes to the ease in booking things with enough layers of kayfabe, 30 participants of both Men’s and Women’s Royal Rumble match will be the sweet spot. The element of inserting many feuds in the Rumble match will be great to see on how these will be continued during and after the match itself. Occurrence of kayfabe during the match might happen in terms of how one eliminates the other, what might be the potential factors of elimination, or if they continue to fight outside the ring and probably destroy the Spanish announce desk and fight their way out of the arena through the crowd. The concept of the Royal Rumble itself will go beyond expectations of entertainment and overall satisfaction if Triple H and the entire WWE personnel will do it right for the fans around the world. As being said in almost every Royal Rumble match, it’s every man for himself which means there are no friends when they meet in the ring thus everyone will grab the chance to outlast 30 other superstars, main event WrestleMania, and win a championship gold…and finish the story perhaps.