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I love the Royal Rumble. I think most wrestling fans do, it’s one of those things that it’s almost impossible not to get swept up in, and it’s always one of the most exciting and surprising things WWE does in a year. But as this year’s Rumble approaches this weekend and I find myself obsessing over how it works, I think there’s a pretty big flaw. Not in the event itself, but in the event as a storytelling tool that exists in the ongoing narrative that WWE is constantly building, tearing down, and building again.
The event itself is brilliant in just about every respect, and part of that is because it’s so much bigger and so different from the average wrestling match. It’s a departure from everything we think of as pro wrestling — the very idea of having to throw someone over the top rope to win is so compelling for that very reason. It’s the exact opposite of winning a match by pinning someone’s shoulders to the mat, and throwing 30 people into the ring isn’t just making it fifteen times bigger than a singles match, it allows for factions to form, teams to unite or divide against each other, and massive feats of strength.
The storytelling potential in the Rumble is incredible, too. Even staggering the entrances at two minutes apart creates the instant suspense of wondering who’s going to come out next, or for different factions to gain and lose the advantage as teammates and rivals hit the ring — and they make it such a long match that you can have entire stories play out in a single night. Remember when CM Punk and the Nexus owned the ring for half an hour, throwing out anybody who got in by sheer force of numbers? Or when John Cena made his surprise comeback and the whole arena lost its mind? It’s great.
So yeah, if anybody wonders why Pat Patterson’s in the Hall of Fame, there it is: One of the most inherently exciting and dynamic nights of the year, presented in a form that’s almost impossible to screw up. But there’s a catch.
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