The Road To The Royal Rumble

Right then. It was bound to happen at some point. You can only do a podcast and write and think about wrestling for so long before you get that itch. It’s just there tickling away, the thought that you know better. You get it and they don’t.

You, and only you, know how to fix the WWE.

Which I do, so let’s get on with it:

There are basically two strands to this. The first, and it’s been bothering me for a while, is people getting on the mic and announcing that they’re in the Royal Rumble. This annoys me because being in the Rumble should be a big deal but at the moment being in it seems almost too easy.

This feeds into the second strand which is the lack of competition in the WWE. Oh, sure, you get feuds and people struggling for titles and that but where is that feeling of progression? Of people fighting their way up the ranks to get to the top of that mountain? Wins and losses don’t mean a thing, just ask whoever the Intercontinental Champion is after they lose yet another non-title match.

(You could ague that because this progression has been handled so well the most important title currently in WWE is around the waist of Sami Zayn, but that’s another article)

What needs to be done is to find some way to inject this sense of competition into the company and give meaning to every match you see on TV or a Pay Per View (PPV).

Simple: we go to Japan.

The G1 Climax has been held by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) since 1991, similar tournaments go back to the mid-seventies. It consists of all the wrestlers in the company fighting each other in a round robin tournament. There are two groups, the winner of the two groups end up fighting each other. The winner of that match then gets a title shot against whoever the current IWGP Champion is at the biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom in Tokyo Dome.

It’s a big deal. It draws huge crowds, gets on the front page of the newspapers and makes a lot of money. But more than that, it’s important. It is a big deal and every match in that tournament has weight to it because of that importance.

And it’s something that the WWE nearly has at the moment in the form of the Royal Rumble.

Since it started in the late eighties the format was pretty simple; 30 wrestlers enter a ring every five minutes until you’re left with one winner. In 1993 a new stipulation was added; the winner would face the WWF Champion in the Main Event at WrestleMania.

So the Rumble kicks off the Road to WrestleMania, the end of that show laying out the feuds and storylines for the next couple of months until you get to the Biggest Stage of Them All.

But where is the Road to The Royal Rumble? Those 30 places in the Rumble should be seen as the most important thing as having one means you’ve got a shot at getting to the top of the hill. What does a WWE superstar have to do in order to get into the Rumble?

Currently it’s not that clear. So why not make it clear.

How about the Raw after WrestleMania Triple H walks down the ramp and sets it out; this year will be different. In order to get into the Royal Rumble each wrestler in the WWE will face each other over the course of the next few months. Tag team partners, best friends, hated enemies. Everyone will face each other. From this each wrestler will earn points and the top 25 at the end will be the entrants in the Royal Rumble. The cut off for the points will be the final Raw before the day of the PPV. If you’re not in the Top 25 by this point then you don’t get your shot in the Rumble.

The WWE Champion will of course be exempt from this. The IC and US belt holders will get automatic entrance into the Rumble, as well as the Tag Team Champs. This will give the belts more importance as if you hold them then you’re in the Rumble.

Spreading it over a long period will give bookers more options. You’ve got the list of matches so you can move them around to make sure you get the good looking matches on PPVs or on Raws. Matches on Main Event or Superstars get an extra buff. Some scenarios as examples:

  • Sammy Zayn. He moves up to the main roster from NXT but struggles. He keeps getting beat, gets worn down, bottom of the table. Then he starts going on a streak, starts winning, but is it too late? It comes down to the last Raw before the Rumble, he has to win his match to get his place, to get his shot. Only the last person he has to fight is Rusev. Can the underdog do it?
  • Christian. He’s getting on, getting old. It’s time for one last show, one last run at the belt. He picks up a win here, a win there. He comes out every night and swears to his fans that he’ll be there, in the Rumble to get his shot. Can his body last? Can he make it?
  • Kofi Kingston. He’s been plugging away but getting no where. The crowd like him but he just hasn’t been able to string together a decent run of matches to get into the Rumble. But then, somehow, he wins the IC belt. Can he now hold onto the title long enough to get into the Rumble? Can he raise his game to be a true champion?

This would also be a good way to bring in some factions as there is safety in numbers. You can see a Tyler Breeze having a couple of guys as back up, say Heath Slater or Fandango, for his matches to make sure he gets that win. Or those wannabe Paul Heyman guys stick together.

But you’ll also notice that we said earlier that only the Top 25 guys were getting in the Rumble, the other 5 entries are for wild cards. The surprise entrant has become one of the best things about the Rumble, but this is where we have to draw a line; no more comedy entrants. Sure, seeing The Godfather and his Ho Train come to the ring again was great but he was dumped straight over the top rope. It was a waste.

The wild card should be there for when a Chris Jericho comes back. Or a Daniel Bryan, returning from injury. Maybe you have an audience vote for one of them, maybe the wrestlers have a vote, maybe The Authority picks their favourite. It gives the booking a bit more flexibility.

Having everyone take on each other also freshens things up, you’ll get people working with new people that will hopefully keep the crowd interested. You might also find that spark that can grow into a proper feud, one that you might not have found.

Is it perfect? Lord no, there are probably gaps in there that you could drive Hulk Hogan’s Monster Truck through. But the idea here is to try to conceive of a way to make sure that all the matches in the company mean something, from the bottom to the top of the card. In a world where Raw is three hours every Monday surely it would be best to cram it with as many important matches as possible rather than just treading water.

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