Sam’s Note: As you may or may not be aware, we currently have a columns writing competition going on in the Wrestling Headlines Columns Forum called the Wrestling Headlines Last Man Standing. We have entered the second round now and the assignment for the entrants was to write a current events column with a 1000 word limit. Column Forum veteran Mavsman was the first to post with this beauty of a think piece and I thought we should share the love and highlight it up here on the main page.
If you have ever thought about writing about wrestling, the Columns Forum is the best place on the internet to start. You will have free reign to write about whatever you want and a ready made audience of die hard fans and veteran writers to help you out along the way. You can check out more columns in the tournament or sign up for youself here.
Enough from me though, on with Mavsman’s column.
The WWE should cancel the Royal Rumble this year.
Not the pay-per-view, mind you. And not the women’s Rumble match. Just the men’s rendition.
Before you burn me at the stake for heresy, allow me to explain.
I love the Royal Rumble. It’s my favorite event of the year. While WrestleMania has grander matches and more lore, by that point the proverbial cake is already baked. Conversely, the Rumble is reminiscent of a fully stocked bakery, simply waiting for the bakers to alchemize raw ingredients into a delicious dessert. I enjoy the anticipation of what may come more than I do the realized result.
Like with cakes though, too much of a good thing can spoil one’s appetite. As much as I love the Rumble match, having two of them on the same night is overkill. For one thing, it makes the evening feel bloated. I understand that the WWE’s roster is bigger than ever, and Rumble matches are a great way to allow the company’s multitude of talent to shine. But four-hour cards are a slog, especially when they include multiple hour-long matches as part of that marathon. I’d much rather see fewer wrestlers given the time to craft more meaningful stories – quality over quantity.
Limiting the card to one Rumble match helps more than just the flow of the evening, though. It also allows the Rumble matches themselves to feel fresher. Given its illustrious history, fans have come to expect certain tropes from the Rumble. Think comedic entrants, elaborate evasions of elimination, dominant forces clearing the ring of riffraff. Having multiple Rumbles on the same evening means the match producers must deplete their battle royal bag of tricks, scraping the bottom to keep the two matches from feeling overly similar. The knock-on effect of this is that the next year, when returning to the bag, the tricks feel less remarkable. Reverting back to one Rumble a year allows for bookers to leave some tricks in the bag to call upon in future editions, allowing for easier match production on the night while preserving the magic of the Rumble highlights we’ve come to know and love.
As an added bonus, without the Royal Rumble match the WWE will be forced to get creative when it comes to the men’s main event picture at WrestleMania. The Rumble is often a crutch for WWE’s storytelling. Granted, there are years like 2004 or 2006 where the Rumble exists as an exciting plot point in a main event storyline that’s already underway. But in recent years, the booking has been far more routine. To wit, a hodgepodge of upper mid-carders declare for the Rumble, with very little motivation or character development entering the match outside of the guaranteed title shot at WrestleMania. One of them wins, and a storyline with the champion of his choice develops from there. It’s easy booking, but it’s lazy booking. Remove the crutch and force the writers to traverse the Road to WrestleMania without a familiar aid to rely on. It will be uncomfortable at first but ultimately will result in a stronger product.
So given it makes the night longer, the Rumbles staler, and the road to WrestleMania more rote… why was a second Rumble match added at all? Was it worth it?
The move to install a women’s Royal Rumble match was a move for equality and was long overdue. It was a reward earned through the hard work of hundreds of female wrestlers over the course of decades. A women’s Rumble in 2000 would have been a disaster. Beyond the shortage of available talent, the quality of women’s wrestling on display in the WWF at that time paled in comparison to the men’s offerings. But over the years the dynamic has changed due to the efforts of headliners like Lita and Charlotte as well as underappreciated workhorses like Victoria and Naomi. By the middle of last decade, there were pay-per-views where the women outworked the men. It was a travesty that until a few years ago the opportunities the women had to shine numbered far fewer than those for the men. Hence, a second Rumble.
It’s a deserved reward, and one worth preserving. But there’s a deeper reason the men’s Rumble should be canceled in favor of the women’s. I’ll allow the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to explain, albeit in a roundabout manner.
“When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court and I say, ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
The true equality female wrestlers deserve is not simply their own version of the Rumble match. Rather, we will know equality is here when the WWE and its audience don’t bat an eyelash at the notion of a female Rumble existing alone, the exact opposite of the way things had been for decades.
Of course, reversing inequities between injured parties doesn’t reduce grievances. It just distributes them differently. Thus, I’m not proposing that the men’s Rumble match be cancelled every year in favor of a women’s Rumble – I’m not crazy. Beyond causing an outcry, there’s simply too much history inherent in the men’s Rumble to eliminate it completely. But if we want to preserve the magic of the Rumble while promoting equity, the only solution is to alternate years between the genders rather than force two Rumbles onto the same card.
Because while cake is delicious, you don’t want to eat it for every meal. I love the Rumble match, but it’s a shame to see it watered down by overexposure. The good news is there’s a way for the WWE to reinstill the Rumble’s magic while simultaneously striking the most serious blow yet for gender equality in professional wrestling.
They just need to cancel this year’s men’s Royal Rumble match.