An alternative history of the Royal Rumble

Only four winners of the men’s Royal Rumble Match since 2007 have gone on to capture a world championship in WWE at the same year’s WrestleMania. Outlasting 29 other superstars in the January battle royal far from guarantees a wrestler will then be booked to win gold at “The Showcase of the Immortals” these days.

“Royal Rumble” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by SportsAngle.com

It used to be so different. From 2001 when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin won a record third Royal Rumble through to The Undertaker’s victory six years later, seven consecutive winners went on to WrestleMania title triumphs.

The Rumble can be used to elevate a wrestler onto the next level. This either works with underdogs such as past winners Chris Benoit (2004) and Rey Mysterio (2006) or talent that is in the process of getting over like Batista’s first victory in 2005.

As a concept projected to fans, the Royal Rumble is one of the most popular and exciting live entertainment events in wrestling. They continue to find new ways to keep the audience immersed such as how the wrestlers maintain their personalities across the various social media platforms. The developments in wrestling are similar to the casino industry as they are both entertainment packages and online sites such as Space Casino have utilized live casino to offer a new immersive experience to players.

Wrestlers drawing numbers isn’t random like it outwardly appears in the Royal Rumble, but part of the booking. Being the thirtieth and final entrant should give that superstar a huge advantage in the Rumble, yet those entering first and second have a better record.

Shawn Michaels (1995), Vince McMahon (1999), Benoit and Mysterio all started Royal Rumble matches and lasted to the end. Most were in herculean style efforts. Mr McMahon spent most of the contest out of the ring on commentary.

Entering the Rumble last works best with surprise entrants. See 2008 when John Cena made an earlier than expected return from injury to be last man in and last man standing.

The same trick worked for Edge in 2010 when he came in at number 29. Surprise entrants are part and parcel of the Royal Rumble with speculation surrounding who will get a spot each and every year.

There have also been two Rumbles in the event’s storied history where the WWE Championship itself was on the line. This battle royal was perfect for crowning a new champ when the title was vacant in 1992 and Ric Flair came to the then-WWF still in possession of the “Big Gold Belt” from the NWA/WCW claiming to be the real world champ.

The Nature Boy entered at number three and added the first of his two WWE titles to the many championships he won. Roman Reigns tried and failed to defend the gold in the 2016 Royal Rumble won by Triple H, who entered last.

There was a certain symmetry to this as The Game emulated his idol, erstwhile Evolution stablemate and former manager in becoming champion in this unique way. All members of that famous faction with its allusions to The Four Horsemen of Flair’s heyday have won the Rumble – Triple H (first in 2002), Randy Orton (2009 and 2017) and Batista (for the second time in 2014) all doing it twice.

Multiple winners of the match read like a mini Hall of Fame. Alongside Austin (1997, 1998 and 2001), Batista, Orton and Triple H are Michaels (again in 1996), Hulk Hogan (1990 and 1991) and Cena (once more in 2013).

From 1980s heroes “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Big John Studd down to this year’s winner, Drew McIntyre, the Royal Rumble is still going strong and drawing crowds despite history spanning across five decades.

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