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The demand to pull my arse out of the Retirement continues as we’re back with more EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING in the form of “ASK TITO” that is exclusively presented to you by LordsofPain.net and has been since October 1998. Haters be damned! With the “Ask Tito” format, I’m feeling my column-writing mojo again even though I really dislike the current wrestling products. However, I’m still a fan at heart and I really love my readers…
But what I really love and cannot resist is the WWE Royal Rumble match… I’m WEAK to that. It is highly likely that I have put down my $9.99 for one month to rejoin the WWE Network just to watch this specific event. It’s my favorite thing about Pro Wrestling because it is the most that wrestling resembles an actual sporting event. Say what you will about its scripted fighting but getting tossed over the top rope can be believed… Rules are simple… 30 men or women in the ring and whomever survives not getting tossed over the top rope wins. And the prize is the #1 contendership to Wrestlemania. It’s the ONLY match that contains a real “sense of urgency” in wrestling right now.
Thus, I’ll likely be watching… Reviewing it is a different matter… We’ll see.
The column that you’ve clicked into is “ASK MR. TITO” in which I answer you questions to the best of my ability. Because it is ROYAL RUMBLE weekend, we’ll stay within that theme for your questions.
What are your full predictions for the 2020 WWE Royal Rumble show?
Come on man… I used to HATE writing the Pay Per View Predictions columns back in the day. And I need to be completely honest with my audience… I’ve skipped a few wrestling events since October. What can I say? When you present me LACK of quality, WWE and AEW, I’ll start checking out what is on Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime more often. I’ve watched some amazing shows and documentaries for the last few months and don’t miss the hot garbage presented by WWE and AEW lately.
Thus, if my predictions are probably a bit off… Well, I don’t give a damn like I used to about the current television product and have been in a WWE Network boycott since whatever offended me about the September Pay Per View (I can’t remember what it was).
I’ll try my best…
Men’s Royal Rumble
I believe that Brock Lesnar being the #1 entrant means something… He’s going to last and mow through most of the competition. Then, it will all depend who is #30 as the surprise entrant into the Royal Rumble. I have 4 possible names for that “surprise” spot:
-Stone Cold Steve Austin
Thus, my prediciton will be conditional as to WHO shows up. If it is Steve Austin or Cain, they’ll beat Brock Lesnar and win the 2020 Royal Rumble. If it is Edge or CM Punk, they’ll put up a great fight but ultimately lose to Lesnar.
PREDICTION: Brock Lesnar unless Steve Austin or Cain Velasquez are surprise entrants
Women’s Royal Rumble
I can see Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte in a singles match being booked at Wrestlemania. Last year, the match with Rousey was a letdown because they had to play up to the former UFC champ’s toughness. Becky and Charlotte can put on a pure wrestling match that could top their previous efforts in the ring as singles competitors.
Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin
Roman Reigns was my initial choice to win the Rumble but Lesnar being the #1 entrant made me think… I could see Corbin stealing the win and Reigns/Corbin continuing this feud through Wrestlemania. I believe that WWE is being a little more patient on Roman right now, given his health and given the ups & downs of 2014-2018 with him as a draw. I’ll call the screwjob here with someone helping Corbin win the match from the crowd or another part of the arena.
PREDICTION: King Corbin
The Fiend vs. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is allergic to defeating Bray Wyatt in wrestling matches. That trend continues here and Fiend isn’t losing until Wrestlemania.
PREDICTION: The Fiend
Becky Lynch vs. Asuka
I’m glad this isn’t an audio prediction to avoid me pronouncing “Asuka”. Asuka won at last year’s Royal Rumble match-up and Becky will avenge that loss this time around. This big win will build up Becky for Wrestlemania when Charlotte wins the Rumble…
PREDICTION: Becky Lynch
Bayley vs. Lacey Evans
I don’t like the heel character of Bayley… Just don’t work for me and I don’t like the changed look either. It just doesn’t fit. Lacey Evans, though, has a lot of upside with her character changes that have embraced who she really is. Time for a title switch to set up something new for Wrestlemania.
PREDICTION: Lacey Evans
Sheamus vs. Shorty G
WWE always books Sheamus strong when he’s a singles wrestler. Can’t go against that.
Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo
I saw Humberto on RAW yesterday when I watched it on Hulu and was like “who is that?”. I’ll go with the known quantity to this now casual fan.
Which Rumble Match do you believe is the best of all time?
Easy question – The 1992 Rumble match is the BEST, period, and it’s not even a debate. If you want to know what was great about 1980’s wrestling, watch that match. WWE’s roster is LOADED at that time because most regional promotions were dead at that time and World Championship Wrestling was a complete tire fire during 1990-1992. Davey Boy Smith, Ted Dibiase, Ric Flair, Haku/Meng, Shawn Michaels, Kerry Von Erich, Roddy Piper, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, the Undertaker, Macho Man Randy Savage, Iron Shiek, Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter, and Sid… LOADED! And I could mention more midcard talent, many of which are WWE Hall of Famers, from that match as well.
Then, the match itself tells the story about how Ric Flair is entrant #3 and lasts a full hour…
Oh, and did I mention that the WWE Title was on the line for this Royal Rumble? It was vacated after Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker had several questionable finishes to their matches late during 1991.
The 1992 Rumble Match is booked incredibly well, too… Just a constant flow of talent, well told eliminations, and the pure drama of Ric Flair chasing the WWE title. Nice touch, too, with Bobby Heenan in a pure panic about Ric Flair’s chances, too.
In my opinion, Ric Flair winning the WWE Title at the 1992 Royal Rumble fully legitimized him as a Pro Wrestler. After ruling the South and overcoming actual ageism in WCW thanks to Jim Herd, Flair conquered the North. Fans of NWA/WCW during the 1980s and early 1990s were very pleased.
Sadly, the WWE didn’t deliver Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair as it should have… While I enjoyed Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair, the Sid vs. Hogan match at Wrestlemania 8 was a complete letdown.
What is the BEST overall Royal Rumble show from top to bottom?
Easy question again… Royal Rumble 2000. In my opinion, that was the show when the late 1990s Attitude Era and the younger talent that ruled the year 2000 collided… Without Steve Austin in place, many wrestlers stepped up and put on an amazing show. Rumble 2000 was held in Madison Square Garden, too, which helped boost the atmosphere of the show.
Just look at the highlights of this show…
Kurt Angle was undefeated at the time from his late 1999 debut and talking lots of smack on who his “mystery opponent” could be. For weeks, we’ve been seeing hype videos with the #13 on someone debuting soon. Everyone assumed it was Taz (later became “Tazz” in the WWE) based on the color schemes and the rumors of Taz leaving ECW at the time. Then the badass music hit and a former ECW star debuted in New York City to a HUGE ovation. Tazz dominated Angle by suplexing him repeatedly and then choking him out with the Tazmission. It was awesome… Sadly, it was the WWE peak for Tazz as his short size and injuries began to change the minds of creative on how to use him. No problem, as Tazz would turn into an awesome color commentator…
Hardy Boys vs. Dudley Boyz in a Table Match was AMAZING and it was the Dudleys’ coming out party for the WWE. They proved that they could hang in the WWE environment and it set the table for many, many great matches to come. As a huge Dudley fan from ECW, I was so happy for the Dudleys pulling off this great match. Furthermore, I also growing my respect levels for Matt and Jeff Hardy as a team as well following their Ladder Match during late 1999.
I don’t care what anybody says… I LOVED the Bikini Contest, especially with Mae Young losing her top. I was in a room full of friends when that happened and everyone went crazy.
Triple H vs. Cactus Jack was a 5 Star Match, period, and was match of the year for 2000. That is a significant statement to make because 2000 was full of great matches. I just learned the other day that a piece of wood got lodged in Triple H’s leg during the match and he was bleeding heavily from his leg for much of that match. Foley is a king maker and Triple H seized his opportunity to shine as a Main Eventer and he would go on to arguably have the best Year & a Half of ANY pro wrestler in terms of in-ring performances. HHH was on fire until he blew out his quad muscle during the Spring of 2001.
Royal Rumble was great… Loaded with talent, controversial ending, and great action all around. Probably a top 5 Rumble match. I didn’t like the match when I initially reviewed it during 2000 but it has grown on me.
This show happened 20 freakin’ years ago too… What the hell… Scary thing is that I actually reviewed that show 20 years ago, too, for LordsofPain.net. Here is my 19 year old self reviewing that show on 20 years to the date: Mr. Tito’s Phat Daily Column 1/24/2000
Which wrestler benefited the most from winning the Royal Rumble?
Take your pick from 1997 or 1998, Steve Austin. Both wins boosted his star power. During 1997, he was eliminated but never seen by the referees. As a heel, he stole that Royal Rumble win and it told a great story for his rivalry with Bret Hart. It was a building block for their fantastic Wrestlemania 13 as the hungry Steve Austin took on the increasingly bitter Bret Hart in possibly the best WWE match of all time.
1998, however, had a babyface Steve Austin winning it… It was his time. 1997 had Steve Austin finishing his role as a midcarder while Bret, Undertaker, and Shawn were battling each other at the top. With Bret now out of the way, it was time for Austin. Best part is that Austin wins the Rumble with Mike freakin’ Tyson watching from the Skybox and then the infamous shove happens the following night on RAW. Winning the Rumble one night and then pushing Mike Tyson the next? Good lord, what a life! Austin skyrocketed to the top of the wrestling business on those 2 days.
Which wrestler benefitted the least from winning the Royal Rumble
The 2010s have given us many disappointing winners of the Rumble… Del Rio, Sheamus, Batista, and Orton… But the nod should go to Shinsuke Nakamura. Just look at him now… Complete midcarder.
Nakamura is one of those rare guys who peaks on his debut and then declines afterward… His match with Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover Dallas 2016 was my “Match of the Year” for that year and he could never re-capture the magic he had in smaller arenas at NXT or from New Japan. I thought that his match against AJ Styles was a letdown at Wrestlemania and that’s simply because the mileage piled up too much on both competitors’ bodies.
It’s proof positive that Rumble victories do NOT make a wrestler into an instant main eventer.
Where do you think that the Royal Rumble match could improve?
I personally liked the year they had 40 competitors… For the Men, the overall match was perfect.
For the Women, however, the ring ropes need to be LOWERED for them. Maybe perform in a slightly smaller ring? If you think that I’m being harsh, then why does Women’s Basketball play with a smaller basketball then Men?
To me, the female competitors struggle getting tossed over the top rope. Hell, many of the female wrestlers struggle with Irish Whips to the ropes because their shoulders aren’t even tough enough to reach that top rope. Watching a few Women’s matches lately, some were actually jumping at the ropes as they were running towards them just to connect the shoulders with the top rope. Think about that… When you’re in the lower range of 5 foot, that top rope being 4.5 feet in height is higher than you think. On top of that, Women physically can’t jump over that top rope like Men, nor can they physically toss their opponents over the top rope like Men with their strength.
I would also keep the Royal Rumble match only at the Royal Rumble Pay Per View. Sorry Saudi Arabia, but unless you host the traditional Royal Rumble match, you shouldn’t have any variation of this unique once-a-year match.
Lastly, I would not let the Elimination Chamber event determine the other World Title contender during February. That waters down the “sense of urgency” to win the Rumble match. I hate that match, anyway.
Other than that, no changes needed for me.
And now that we’re done with the questions, it’s time for my rant…
THE LAST WORD
Can we stop using the WWE Royal Rumble match as a “Hail Mary” to push wrestlers who clearly aren’t ready for prime time?
If you look at the past Royal Rumble matches, the Rumble was the LAST chapter in potential main eventer’s climb towards earning that Wrestlemania match. That, or the wrestler was already a Main Eventer and just needed the Rumble to earn another WWE Title shot.
Just because a wrestler is pushed to a Title Shot doesn’t mean that they are OVER like a Main Eventer. REAL Main Eventers can draw crowds or retain them, grow merchandise sales, draw in mainstream media attention, or boost television viewership. Pro wrestling should NOT be an environment of “Everybody Gets a Trophy” or forcing a guy who isn’t ready. Becoming a Main Eventer should be a promotion for a wrestler after YEARS of hard work and proving that they’ve outgrown each midcard booking given to them. Steve Austin, for example, was selling far more merchandise than any of the Main Eventers during late 1997 and Austin was Intercontinental Champion at the time. He was bursting at the seams in his current midcard role and therefore, winning the 1998 Royal Rumble match seemed logical for his progression to become WWE Champion at Wrestlemania 14.
Take Shawn Michaels… The man won the 1995 Royal Rumble but then failed to capture the WWE title at Wrestlemania 11. He wasn’t ready… He had a little more seasoning needed to establish himself as a Main Eventer. By 1996, he was ready… He won the 1996 Rumble and went on to defeat Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12. While many will mock Michaels for being WWE champion during 1996 when the WWE was declining, do you dare deny his star power during 1997-1998? HBK didn’t have much to work with during 1996… But he was a legitimate star when he gained his smile back during 1997 to form Degeneration X.
Batista worked for years as a midcard talent for Evolution, either tagging with Ric Flair or wrestling in the midcard as a singles. When Bastist polished his in-ring style and gained a swagger about his character, he began to outgrow his midcard role. The latter half of 2004’s in-ring work and improved personality & promos for Batista proved that he was ready for the spotlight. Then, he won the 2005 Rumble and he was ready to defeat Triple H for the title at Wrestlemania 21. He was a star for 5 more years following that and had to often carry Smackdown with a bad television contract in place. He’s a movie star right now, by the way…
But let’s look at the dark side of the Rumble… Alberto Del Rio won during 2011 Royal Rumble. I was FINE with that win at the time because he was having great matches and starting to outgrow his midcard role. BUT, I was also fine with Alberto Del Rio FAILING to defeat Edge that the following Wrestlemania. All could have been fine and dandy, as Del Rio could have gone the HBK route of winning back-to-back Rumbles to overcome the Wrestlemania loss by winning it the following year. It’s a good story… But no, the WWE soon moved Alberto Del Rio to the RAW roster to begin his WWE Title push at SummerSlam 2011 by stealing the title from CM Punk via Money in the Bank cash-in. WWE ruined the chase on Del Rio and he was never the same.
Roman Reigns was mostly a Tag Wrestler for 2013 through mid 2014. Then, throughout the Summer of 2014, the WWE put Roman in multiple World Title matches and then tried to have him defeat Randy Orton cleanly at SummerSlam 2014. Shortly thereafter, Roman gets hurt and yet he somehow wins “Wrestler of the Year” for the Slammy Awards. When the WWE had him win the 2015 Royal Rumble, it was a complete and utter disaster. He was NOT ready… The Boos for him didn’t stop until 2018. For almost 4 years, the WWE tried to make Roman into the “next John Cena” and the fans completely rejected it. Winning the 2015 Royal Rumble proved to be detrimental towards his early singles career and he probably has never recovered.
Nobody liked Sheamus as a World Champion before 2012… What makes the WWE believe that fans wanted to see that happen again by having Sheamus win the 2012 Royal Rumble? They didn’t notice the lack of drawing power then? What makes them so sure that things would improve during 2012?
It baffles me the ultimate storyteller, Vince McMahon, just feels the need to rush things. Does he not understand what made the WWE great from 1982 through 2005? He should watch his own WWE Network to see each of his main eventers grow from start to finish. It’s a process…
(a) Debut as a midcarder.
(b) Win a few matches against lower midcarders or jobbers, see how the crowd reacts.
(c) If the crowd likes you, start to wrestle established midcarders.
(d) If the crowd reaction continues to grow, start to wrestlers in the hunt for a midcard title.
(e) If the crowd reaction continues to grow, start to challenge the midcard champions.
(f) Chase the title until the fans are ready to riot until they win the midcard title.
(g) If the wrestler draws well as a midcard champion, have them start to wrestle competitively against upper midcarders.
(h) If the crowd reaction continues to grow, lose the midcard title in controversial fashion.
(i) Start to wrestle upper midcarders regularly until separation in in-ring skill and crowd reaction is fully observed.
(j) Begin to wrestle Main Eventers but not the World Champion…
(k) If the crowd reaction continues to grow, have the wrestler obtain a big win over a name or two in the Main Event scene.
(l) Once separation from the other Main Eventers is scene via in-ring ability and crowd reaction, then begin to prepare a 6 month build towards the coronation of this wrestler as World Champion.
(m) Win a big event, such as the Royal Rumble match…
(n) Review the crowd reaction from the Rumble through weeks before Wrestlemania. If the reaction is strong, consider making them champion. If not, consider another year of build up (the HBK 1995/1996 route).
Folks, I’m not re-inventing the wheel here. It’s how EVERY establised Main Event superstar, with the exception of freak athletes like Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle, got over. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels started as tag wrestlers and worked their way up to the Intercontinental Title and then eventually, the WWE Titles. Steve Austin endured years of midcard hardship in WCW and then joined the WWE as the Ringmaster. It was almost a full year and a half of midcard hardship from the “Austin 3:16” speech until Wrestlemania 14. Macho Man Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior drew strong as Intercontinental Champions before becoming WWE Champions. Ditto for the Rock and ditto for John Cena as US Champion.
WWE makes the same mistakes with the Money in the Bank briefcase, possibly worse… I’d argue that CM Punk was NOT ready to be World Champion during the late 2000s and those briefcase cash-ins looked very cheap. End result was a much weaker World Champion than what he became during 2011 when the scars of the wrestling industry sold to fans that it was his time.
“Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it!” -George Santayana 1905-1906
If the WWE tries to rush a superstar to the Main Event via winning the Rumble match this year, they will predictably FAIL in the Main Event scene or as World Champion.
Sad thing is that nobody really feels ready to win right now… WWE has burned out many top guys from Roman Reigns to Seth Rollins to Braun Strowman. All 3 are worn out… Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre have the look but don’t have the drawing appeal. Meanwhile, many other other NXT call-ups were either poorly booked, lack size, get injured easily, or just aren’t ready for the big spotlight.
So… Who is ready to defeat Brock Lesnar or the Fiend? Who could seem credible to defeat either one?
I just don’t see it…
With the WWE being stagnant at the moment in the ratings, they should show PATIENCE. Go back to the old roadmap of letting wrestlers work their way up to the top. Fans LOVE watch the growth of wrestlers and their climb to the top. Take the damn Intercontinental Title and US Titles seriously while having a real separation between midcard and main eventers (too much commingling now).
Have a legitimate Tag Team division… Tag Division can act as a built-in Farm System. Ask Bret or Shawn where they came from, ditto Batista.
All you have to do is watch your own WWE Network to figure out how to book a wrestling promotion successfully. You know, the network that you actually own and operate, Vince.
Enjoy the Rumble!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
I recently appeared on the Tommy McDougall Podcast which you can listen to by CLICKING HERE.
Play my Super Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:
Die Hard (themed after the Bruce Willis Film): 2YH-48W-HMG
Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time Wrong Warp: 2RX-QCV-N9G
Super Link Bros: HBD-H5C-QRF
Santa Bowser Came Early: GL8-F48-3XG
Super Wrestling Bros: 0H6-9HT-S5G
WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
WWE Elimination Chamber: P3B-5DJ-91G
WCW World War 3: BT4-W1Y-HRG
Extreme Championship Wrestling: 42J-4GT-W3G
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