Pro wrestling fans are a fickle bunch. We're a group of folks that like to think we've got it all figured out and no matter how often promoters try to get one over on us, we're always one step ahead of the game.
But we're all just marks at heart, always hoping for the next great thrill when we forget things like who is "going over" and who is being "buried" or is in the middle of a big "push." Unfortunately, because of the culture created by Vince McMahon and his entertainment empire, WWE, those moments are fewer and far between each and every year that goes by.
The latest attack on our wrestling fandom is of our beloved Royal Rumble. Indeed, if there's one event outside of WrestleMania that we can all agree on is worth the time and financial investment, it's the Rumble pay-per-view and, more specifically, the match itself.
The concept is simple. 30 men (40 in 2011) enter the match at intervals of somewhere around a minute and a half to two minutes, participants are eliminated by being thrown over the top rope, and the last man standing is awarded a title shot of his choosing (against either the world heavyweight champion or WWE champion) at that year's WrestleMania event.
It's structured well, it's simple, and it's highly effective in getting fans prepared for the biggest event of the year. So what's the problem?
The Elimination Chamber, that's what.
The Elimination Chamber was introduced as a match concept all the way back in 2002 at that year's Survivor Series. The first ever winner was none other than the great Shawn Michaels, who won the world heavyweight championship. It was used sporadically as a special attraction match after that, in a similar vein to the Hell in a Cell match.
But you know WWE; if it's successful as a match, it should be successful as a stand alone pay-per-view.
So it was made official starting in 2010 that the February pay-per-view show, after Royal Rumble and before WrestleMania, would be officially entitled Elimination Chamber and would feature two Chamber matches contested for the main titles from both the Raw and Smackdown brands.
In 2010, Chris Jericho defeated six other men to win the world heavyweight championship while John Cena did the same to win the WWE championship, though he lost it immediately after to Batista in an impromptu match. Nonetheless, he went on the WrestleMania 25, along with Jericho, to have a match for the WWE and world heavyweight championships.
That year, Edge won the Royal Rumble and didn't appear on the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
In 2011, the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match was for the world heavyweight championship while the Raw Chamber match held the stipulation that the winner would go on to have a match against the WWE champion at WrestleMania. Edge retained his title in the former, John Cena was victorious in the latter.
That year, Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble and announced his intentions to go after the world heavyweight championship. He had a match against Kofi Kingston at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
Which brings us to this year. The winner of the Rumble match was Sheamus, of course, and he has yet to announce what title he'll be going after. For now it doesn't matter because there are two Elimination Chamber matches set for the pay-per-view on Feb. 19 featuring 12 superstars contesting for both the WWE and world heavyweight championships.
Which ultimately raises the question regarding whether or not WWE is stripping the Royal Rumble of its meaning by having a pay-per-view the following month that features two chances for the champions to lose the titles the Rumble winner is supposed to be going after.
Realistically, what's the point of the Rumble match? To earn a title shot, for one, and to have it occur at WrestleMania, for two, right?
Well, let's look at how ass backwards this is. Sheamus wins the Rumble and he'll get to face one of the two champions, no matter who they are, on April 1 in Miami. That's all well and good, right?
But 10 other superstars are getting a title shot before him at Elimination Chamber and they did absolutely nothing to earn it. Let's look at the two Chamber matches:
CM Punk (defending WWE championship) vs. Chris Jericho vs. The Miz vs. R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
Daniel Bryan (defending world heavyweight championship) vs. Big Show vs. Great Khali vs. Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes
Every single superstar vying for either title was in the Rumble match and lost. Every one. So what, again, is the big appeal in doing everything one can to ensure one wins such a grueling match?
You could say that it's the promise of not just a title shot but of a title shot at WrestleMania, the "Granddaddy of Them All," and that's certainly understandable. But that doesn't really hold up because if you win the Elimination Chamber match, you would go into 'Mania as the champion and would defend your title against the Rumble winner anyway.
Huh. At this point, winning the Royal Rumble doesn't really mean much of anything, does it?
This year that fact is especially magnified considering the main event of WrestleMania 28 was set in stone last year when The Rock and John Cena agreed to a match. That's without taking into account Triple H vs. Undertaker, which is going to be the number two match on the card.
So the highest the Rumble winner can get at this point is to be the third match down at the biggest show of the year. That's not a main event title shot, that's just a title shot.
Again I ask you, what's the point in going to the trouble of winning the Royal Rumble when you can just find yourself in a title shot at the very next show and you have zero chance of main eventing at WrestleMania?
I'm not saying WWE should completely do away with the Elimination Chamber concept. Quite the contrary, it's actually a very well put together deal. There are just better ways to utilize it.
For instance, why not ditch one of the Chamber matches altogether? If Sheamus is going to challenge Daniel Bryan for the world heavyweight championship, why not dump that Chamber match and have the Raw Chamber match stipulation be that the winner gets a title shot at WrestleMania for the other title against its champion?
That would set up Sheamus vs. Bryan and Punk vs. the winner of the other Chamber match while protecting the Rumble's mystique and giving the Chamber a good reason to actually take place other than the fact that it's a good gimmick match.
Storylines could be masterfully crafted on this premise. Every superstar wants to win the Royal Rumble but the reality is only one of them can, so the ones that don't should be absolutely falling over themselves to get into the Elimination Chamber match to get their chance at the other belt, whichever it may be. They could mix the brands, do all sorts of cool, new and interesting things with it.
Now, though, we've got a watered down concept with no real meaning and WWE once again failing to see further than six inches in front of its face.
Am I crazy here or do any of you Cagesiders feel the same?