What -- you thought James Guttman was the only one who could come up with cool lists?
While he's certainly turned listmaking into an artform, historians may remember that I came up with WWI's first "list" column almost exactly one year ago (JG's Note: Aaron Wood doesn't suck. You suck!) when I presented 30 Amazing But True Royal Rumble Facts.
And now, with the Royal Rumble match about a week away, I thought I'd return to give you ten reasons why the match is really, really f*cking stupid.
1. Winning Doesn't Really Prove You Should Be # 1 Contender
To win the WWE or World Championship, you have to (in most cases) pin the champion or make him submit. To win the Royal Rumble? You just have to be the last guy in the ring.
That would still be an accomplishment if you first were given the task of out-wrestling 29 (or this year, 39) other guys. Sure, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit and Rey Mysterio were exceptions to the rule, but in most cases, that's not what happens.
Of the twenty-two 30-man Rumble matches (the first one in 1988 was a 20-man match) throughout history, 14 were won by people who entered in the final third:
Big John Studd
Lex Luger/Bret Hart (tie)
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin
So wait - three of the last four Rumbles were won by someone who entered last or second-last? That's not skill; that's luck of the draw!
What a terrific message that sends wrestlers: "Hey, you outlasted three or four guys. Great work, Potsy! Tell you what - why don't you headline our most important show of the year?"
After eliminating, like, two people.... John Cena is going to WrestleMania!!!
2) Tag Teams Can't Win
That may seem really obvious, but apparently most tag team members don't realize this until, oh, about five minutes before the match begins. And sometimes, not even then.
In the old days, when the World Wrestling Federation aired short interviews before the Rumble match, you'd always hear, say, The Rockers talk about how they were going to win. As if either Marty Jannetty or Shawn Michaels could ever possibly win the... well, never mind.
But mid-interview, something always donned on them: "What if it boils down to.... you and me?"
Is there a problem with The Rockers? Um, yep.
Sorry -- in all the time they were driving down the road together, flying to house shows together, partying together, (allegedly) doing coke together.... Marty and Shawn never ONCE discussed this? How many other conversations could these guys be having while on the road 260-odd days a year? "So... uh, should we wear the neon green sweatbands tonight, or the frilly blue ones?"
And it wasn't just the "tag team specialists" that forgot to talk strategy before the match. Check out what Bobby Heenan's family of Andre The Giant, Rick Rude and Haku had to say just minutes before the Rumble started:
My favorite Royal Rumble moment ever (EVER!!!) happened in 1989, when the number one and two entrants were Demolition members Ax and Smash.
Sure, these guys could have just waited for entrant number three (Andre The Giant) to lumber on down to the ring and start the match then, but no -- Demolition were men about the situation and said "F*ck it - let's just beat the crap out of each other!"
Unfortunately, most tag teams throughout the years only realize that they're opponents minutes before they're paired off against each other, leading to panic and hasty displays of stopgap wrestling. Sorry kids - the winner doesn't get a shot at the team team titles; only the singles strap.
3) "Virgil Could Win The Royal Rumble!"
Not really, no.
At last year's WrestleMania, yours truly had the opportunity to talk to Virgil. JEALOUS?
I may be wrong on the year that Gorilla Monsoon made that outlandish claim, but Wikipedia suggests to me that it was 1993, the year he was thrown out of the match in maybe three minutes by The Berserker.
Is that Virgil's fault? Not really, what with wrestling being predetermined and everything. But I'm not sure that any wrestling fan, past or present, believed the steaming crock of horseshit that Monsoon (may he rest in peace) was trying to sell us.
Of course, Virgil isn't the only jabroni in Rumble history. "Young" Sam Houston didn't stand a chance when he entered it in 1988. Skinner was just warming the turnbuckles during his 1992 run. And not that I don't love the guy, but I couldn't have seen Simon Dean winning the match in 2006 and headlining WrestleMania.
Having said that.... would it have been awesome to see Future WWE Hall of Famer Paul Roma win the whole thing in 1991? You know it would. But statistically, the odds are better that someone will sit through an entire Aaron Wood audio without slitting their wrists.
4) Bribes Are Apparently Fine
I bring you back again to 1989, a year in which The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase drew number 30 in the Rumble.
Actually, that's not entirely true. Ted had a lower draw (demonstrated by a pained look on his face), and he asked manager Slick what number his charges drew. The Doctor Of Style was happy with the number his guys had, and before you knew it, The Million Dollar Dad was able to grease the palm (not literally) of The Slickster and buy the final spot in the match.
Whoa.... two Virgil pictures in the same column!
Oh, and by the way.... Slick was managing two Rumble competitors that year: The Big Boss Man, who appeared in the number 22 spot, and Akeem, who was at number 23. So did DiBiase open his wallet to move back only seven or eight spaces? Or did Slick then use some of his bribe money to trade one of his spots for, say, entrance number eight, which eventually was used by Outlaw Ron Bass.
Either way, DiBiase was tossed out by Big John Studd and lost the Rumble so really, the money wasn't his greatest investment. For the record, his greatest investment was probably buying the affections of one Sweet Sapphire to mess with Dusty Rhodes.
Money well spent?
But never mind that: DiBiase's bribe was televised, and no one seemed to give a crap. Why didn't WWF President Jack Tunney stop him from going to the ring when he realized that a switcheroo was pulled with Akeem The African Dream?
Isn't that kind of a fatal flaw in your match? That -- in theory -- anyone can buy themselves a good number?
More importantly -- why isn't that trick used all the time? Sure, someone like Jamie Noble may not be able to cough up enough dough to get into the final spot, but how about John Bradshaw Layfield? Or.... never mind that, why didn't self-proclaimed billionaire Vince McMahon buy himself a decent number instead of coming out second in 1999?
Come to think of it -- why the hell did Vinnie Mac need to be in the Rumble at all? But I suppose that's a question for another time...
5) I Dunno... Stay Out Of The Ring, Maybe?
Whenever I play Royal Rumble mode on my SmackDown vs. Raw video games (my most current version is SvR2010, so 95 % of the roster has since been fired and/or died), I try my best to avoid physical contact with the other competitors. It's what Jesse The Body Ventura would call a "brilliant strategy" if he ever sat in on my video-game playing and felt the need to commentate aloud about it for some reason.
Every poorly-rendered 2D graphic for himself.
Unfortunately, my strategy never lasts long because whether I like it or not, some Tom, Dick or Umaga has suckered me into a lockup, and I have to worry about eliminating them before MVP or Jeff Hardy comes in and tries to suckerpunch my ass.
So I can't avoid grappling with other competitors in the video game Royal Rumble. But guess what? In real life, you can.
It's hard to believe, but Jerry The King Lawler and Santino Marella are two of the only competitors in Royal Rumble history that realized "Hey, I can just NOT go in the ring, and people won't so much care."
Sure, the referees may shout a little, and you may have to avoid an angry Kane or Jake The Snake Roberts once in awhile, but there's no actual RULE saying a competitor needs to stay in the ring for the match's duration. Theoretically, a competitor could leave ringside for the entire match and come back near the end to win it.
Oh, and in 1999? That actually happened.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was the first entrant in the match, followed by his archnemesis Vince McMahon. At about the 30-second mark, Vinnie Mac was all like "screw this" and exited under the bottom rope. The Texas Rattlesnake followed him out of the ring, and two settled their differences like men.
Sorry -- that last sentence should read "settled their differences in a men's room".
Yes, Austin followed Mister Mac-Mahon into the crapper, where Stone Cold was jumped by The Corporation, injuring him so badly that he was taken to the hospital. Meanwhile, Vinnie Mac power-walked back to ringside: not to re-enter the Rumble, mind you, but to provide color commentary. Maybe he really missed saying "One, two, three. He got him, Jess! No.... only two! Ah ah ah! Whatamaneuver!"
Some 45 minutes later, Austin was discharged from the hospital (emergency room wait times are apparently much better in the U.S. than they are in Canada), at which point he and McMahon re-entered the ring.
Not once during that entire stretch did anyone think to pull them out of the match for, you know, not being in the ring. I've heard of no countout matches, but this is ridiculous!
I fully expect Santino to capitalize on this loophole one year, showing up a day late for the Rumble match and winning the damn thing because "my-a-feet never-a, how you say, touched-a the floor".
And speaking of which....
6) Zach Gowen Could Win Every Single Year
I know I joked about this last year (and like most of my jokes, you stupid marks are still laughing), but it's also a very valid point.
Royal Rumble rules clearly stipulate that both feet have to touch the ground in order for someone to be eliminated. Well, that's great, but what if you DON'T PERSONALLY HAVE TWO FEET?
In theory, Zach Gowen could take off his prosthetic leg, leave it in the locker room, and then no one could eliminate him, ever. I'm shocked WWE didn't keep him around solely (ooh, bad pun) for this one storyline, you know?
Come to think of it, didn't Kerry Von Erich have a prosthetic foot? And come to think of it, he actually was in the 1992 Royal Rumble! Had The Texas Tornado only unscrewed his fake foot and put, say, a potato in his boot instead, it could have been him -- not Ric Flair -- winning the whole thing.
7) Outside Interference Allowed/Encouraged
Around 1990 or thereabouts (I don't remember the exact year because it was a turbulent time in my life. Also because of the drugs), the powers-that-be banned managers from ringside during the Rumble match.
This made a lot of sense. Before that rule, there was nothing preventing Bobby The Brain Heenan, Jimmy Mouth Of The South Hart, Kim Chee or Sonny Onoo from interfering on behalf of their charges, except for the fact that Onoo was never an employee of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Of course, that didn't stop The Undertaker from being eliminated in 1993 by Giant Gonzalez. And nothing against the former El Gigante, but he wasn't one of the 30 men entered in the match that year.
Jake The Snake Roberts also figured out that anything goes in the Rumble, unearthing his python (get your heads out of the gutter!) on Andre The Giant, who couldn't get out of the ring quickly enough. Not sure how that was a legal elimination, but whatever.
In 1990, Macho King Randy Savage didn't even make it to the ring, being attacked by a mystery competitor as he was about to exit the Gorilla position. Of course, that could also mean that Savage's feet never touched the ground -- we'll never know now.
Even worse (or better, depending on how you look at it), Sid Justice was on the verge of winning the Rumble in 1992, when a freshly-eliminated Hulk Hogan decided to display outstanding sportsmanship and toss Big Sid out himself.
So if I'm CM Punk (and I'm not, so please stop drawing the obvious comparisons), all I'd have to do is station Nexus members near the entrance ramp to beat up the other 39 competitors. One way ticket to WrestleMania, baby!
Yet there's a double-standard: In 2008, Finlay was actually disqualified from the match because he interfered on behalf of his son Hornswoggle.
Look at this little bastard, sticking his nose where it doesn't belong....
The lesson learned here? Irish fathers can't protect their pint-sized children, but if you're a "nearly eight foot" monster wearing a furry jumpsuit and the object of your fury is a half-dead zombie, go nuts.
8) If At First You Don't Succeed....
Canadian Bulldog Fact: I am a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan. I watch their games with interest every year, their slow but steady improvement, and their eventual elimination from the pennant race.
That said, does everyone remember last year, when they were eliminated from even the Wild Card spot, but were allowed to try for American League dominance again? Yeah, me neither.
Apparently, the Royal Rumble match doesn't have such restrictions. Take 1998 for example - Cactus Jack was the first entrant, but was soon eliminated by his good buddy Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk wearing powdered-white pantyhose over his head - um, don't ask).
Halfway through the match, and Mankind is the 16th entrant. Now, I don't have the DNA tests to prove this or anything, but I'm pretty sure he's the same f*cking guy as Cactus Jack. Still, Mankind didn't "have a nice day", as he was quickly eliminated by The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust (Goldust being even stranger than normal - um, don't ask).
As we neared the end of the match, Dude Love was determined entrant number 28. Thankfully, he was eliminated by Faarooq (Ron Simmons doing a Nation of Islam ripoff gimmick - um, don't ask), ending the possibility that Mick Foley would somehow have to wrestle himself in the match's final moments.
But Bulldog, you might say, that was a one-off incident. Surely it doesn't need paragraph upon paragraph written about it. Otherwise people enter the ring and then leave it - no big whoop.
They choppy choppy your Rumble.
In 2000, Sho Funaki and Taka Michinoku tried to relive the glory days of Foley by repeatedly entering the ring and coming back whenever they got tossed out. Evil? INDEED.
And then five years later, Kurt Angle liked the idea so much that he re-entered the Rumble after being eliminated by Shawn Michaels, returning the favor and dumping out HBK.
So the next time you happen to be in a Royal Rumble match and your feet hit the floor, just calmly take a deep breath and get back in that ring.
9) Non-Roster Entrants Are Generally Pointless
WWE has often gone to an independent wrestler, someone from a different company, or even a certified WWE Legend to kill time in the Rumble. With this year's event expanding to 40 competitors, it's very likely they'll take this route again.
Now... while it was great to see, for example, Carlos Colon in the 1993 Rumble (and for Gorilla Monsoon to refer to him as a "youngster" at the spry age of 44), there have been quite a few entrants over the years that weren't actually with the company:
The Great Kabuki
Dory Funk Jr.
The Squat Team
The Honky Tonk Man
Superfly Jimmy Snuka
Rowdy Roddy Piper
Rob Van Dam
Wow.... Tenyru got a lot of ring time over two Rumbles. But most of those guys, while top competitors at some stage in their career, had little chance of winning the match. Given they weren't, you know, signed to a WWE contract.
I suppose you could argue that some of those people didn't need a WWE contract to get over, such as Rob Van Dam, Rowdy Roddy Piper or Drew Carey, but nonetheless, I think it's important t... wait, DREW CAREY?!?
Ayup. The star of The Drew Carey Show was given a spot that rightfully belonged to either D-Lo Brown or Chaz. The team known as Lo-Down even won a qualifying match right before the PPV and everything.
And it's not like either former ClubWWI.com guest would have won the Rumble, but hell.... you'd have to think their chances were somewhat better than Drew Freaking Carey!
As you can see in the above clip, Drew attempted to bribe Kane (Hey - someone noticed the DiBiase loophole!), but The Big Red Machine decided that The Price Is Wrong, having none of Carey's dirty money.
My point being, no one would ever get behind the idea of Doug Gilbert or Omori as a Rumble winner. So why even go there?