Steve Austin took part in an interview with Wade Keller of PWTorch.com on Thursday and, as expected, said plenty of provocative things. Austin provided thoughts on many different topics, but one of the highlights of the chat was his opinion on the Royal Rumble match as an idea and also about the challenges in executing such an important part of WWE’s business.
They're very hard matches to work, but I always look forward to them to see the execution and planning behind them to see how they unfold and who WWE has their designs on with the chess pieces going into WrestleMania.
Austin spoke openly about the machinations of the battle royal structure, the Rumble in particular, and managing all the moving parts both as a booker and as in-ring talent:
They're really a cluster-muck to work. That was the match that...I was fortunate enough to win three of them...but I never really liked battle royals because of all the elements. (There are) so many guys in the ring and then this guy is going to bounce off the ropes and do a high spot. There is discombobulation everywhere.
Battle royals as a whole require intensely specific and detailed booking. It isn’t a matter of who wins the match, far from it. The bigger concern is everyone else, the "when" and "where" and "how" and timing everything accurately. So many workers depend on it to break out from the pack. Austin explained:
People don't understand how important that Rumble is; how it can make or break you. It's everything. Royal Rumbles are hard. It's a tough work.
All the times when you see a guy tied up with another guy trying to throw him over the top rope, and you'll see three or four different sets of guys doing it around the ring because you're trying to buy time and put in time. Because you can't just be draped over that rope.
Austin still holds the record with three Royal Rumble match victories. John Cena and Batista are the only other WWE superstars this century with two wins. Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels have won two as well. Legends and Hall of Famers such as The Undertaker, Triple H, and the Rock have won one, and only 22 men have won the match since its inception in 1988. Austin says he hopes one day his record is broken:
It will be interesting to see if anyone ever beats the three wins that I have, and hopefully they will. And it will be a very special person that they have very high hopes for...
Barring a major surprise appearance, no one entered in the 2015 Royal Rumble has ever won the match, so whoever comes out on top will be a first time winner. If it’s Roman Reigns, the record could be in danger, due to both youth and expected card position in the future.
To explain his desire to see the record shattered, he points to a love of the industry:
Let me say on-record that when I'm critical of the business, I love the business. I don't want to come across as bitter, but I earned my stripes and I do have an opinion. We're voicing our opinions, but I absolutely love the business. If it could change a little bit, I would love it a little more. And I do this because I care.
Based on those comments, it can be interpreted that a three-time winner would mean there’s a mega-star for the first time in a long time and that WWE has its next true standard bearer. Could that man be in the ring on Sunday?
The difficulty in reaching Austin’s record is the reality required to make it happen. A star has to be a big enough name to be both atop the landscape and popular backstage, but also must be available for the Rumble match. The Rumble winner shouldn’t be in the Title match and almost never is, so that individual can’t be the Champion in January based on the current format. An injury or extended absence is almost a necessity in order to be in the correct position for a second or third win.
Wade Keller’s entire interview with Steve Austin can be found at PWTorch.com