It’s a lesson we learn as wrestling fans time and time again, and that’s to never get your hopes up. Last night’s Royal Rumble event wasn’t bad. Not bad at all. Two great Heavyweight Championship matches for both brands, and a fairly unexpected Rumble winner in Randy Orton. While Orton is a main event caliber superstar, he wasn’t exactly among the favorites to win; especially while he’s bowing to the whims of Bray Wyatt. It’s an interesting story arc indeed, and one that will bring Randy Orton (presumably with Bray Wyatt either in his corner or as his opponent) to WrestleMania.
But a respectable winner is not all we look for in a Royal Rumble match. Mainly, there’s a thirst for cheap pops and simple surprises. However, the biggest surprise we got was maybe… Tye Dillinger? The fans clamored for the Perfect 10 to come out as the man who drew number 10, and the WWE gave the universe what they wanted. However, aside from Dillinger, there weren’t really any surprises. Even Samoa Joe, who many fans (including yours truly) thought was a guarantee , was nowhere to be found.
So, why would WWE almost deliberately let down fans and opt to not include superstars in the Rumble who are already at their disposal? Samoa Joe was in the audience at NXT TakeOver: San Antonio the night before the Rumble. Not competing. We knew he was in town. It just seems like a deliberate attempt to tease fans. Hopefully, they’ll have the common sense to bring Joe to the main roster sooner rather than later, and not make us all wait until the next Draft.
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And to announce that Kurt Angle will be the first inductee in the 2017 Hall of Fame, bringing him back to WWE, only to NOT have him surprise the Rumble crowd; well that’s just plain rude. It’s not the fact alone that Kurt Angle was not in the rumble that irked me. It’s the way they rubbed it in. Yes, this was an unprecedented lineup with the likes of The Undertaker, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar alone. But they had all three enter in the last five numbers, leaving number 30 open for a legendary surprise. Who would join Undertaker, Goldberg, and Lesnar as the final participant? Could it be Kurt Angle, creating a final four with so much rich history?
Alas...the buzzer sounds, and it’s none other than one of the biggest Royal Rumble bummers of all time, Roman Reigns. It feels like a joke, because this is no way to get Roman over as a face. If WWE expected fans to have a positive reaction to Roman being the final entrant, they should have their jobs reevaluated. Reigns’ rise and plateau reminds me of that Stephen Crane poem:
A man said to the WWE universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the WWE universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”
So, while I may have had an unrealistically high expectation for the 2017 Royal Rumble, I don’t think it’s asking too much for some element of surprise. The Rumble is easily my favorite event of the year, so the fact that I have to wait 364 more days until the next one is deeply upsetting. My solution: more Rumbles.
Now, I’m not suggesting a second Royal Rumble at another time of year. No, Rumble Day is a sacred day. But it goes by so quickly and usually leaves us wanting more. I think the best way to remedy this emptiness in our souls is to have a women’s Royal Rumble match to accompany the Men’s on the same show.
As we are in the midst of the Women’s revolution, it’s time for them to have their own Royal Rumble. Previously, a woman entering the men’s Rumble match was a rare occurance. Only three women in history had entered the Royal Rumble: Chyna, Beth Phoenix, and Kharma. Even though it was uncommon, it was an assumed possibility and set the precedent that the Rumble match was unisex. But with today’s political climate, it’s not likely that we’ll see a mixed gender wrestling match of any kind, anytime soon.
But there are enough women between Raw, Smackdown, and NXT (and, God willing, Blue Pants) to provide sufficient talent for a 30-woman Royal Rumble. More fun. More betting. More opportunities for the women’s division. It would be a guaranteed success for WWE, as you can’t go wrong with the current depth of female talent on their roster combined with the excitement and anticipation of the Royal Rumble format. There’s always next year, so maybe we can get a #WomensRumble movement going viral and finally hear the phrase, “Every woman for herself.”
Get on it, internet!
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston. He hosts the comedy podcast, "So Now I'm the Asshole" on Fans.FM and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke