We’re coming up on the Royal Rumble event, and that means we’re coming up on one of my favorite matches of the year — the Royal Rumble. It’s an exciting time, not just because it means we’re close to WrestleMania and the build to it proper but because I still get a thrill from that 10 second countdown and the surprise of the next wrestler to enter the match.
Except it isn’t much of a surprise anymore, not really.
That’s because for years now WWE has been doing this thing where wrestlers declare for the Royal Rumble match and/or they simply announce a list of wrestlers who will participate in it. There have been times this resulted in up to some 25 of the 30 participants being known ahead of time.
You could argue that means we can be certain there will be at least five surprises, but that isn’t always the case anyway and you could also argue, which is what I’m doing here, that not announcing any of the wrestlers for the match makes literally every entrant a surprise.
I want to be just as surprised to see a wrestler on the current roster who appears on TV every week as I am a legend from the past as am I a hot free agent as I am a wrestler returning from injury and so on and so forth. The way to do that is for WWE to simply avoid having wrestlers declare for the Royal Rumble.
Realistically, they don’t need to do so anyway. We already assume any wrestler not involved in a major match on the show is going to be in the match. That also means we don’t need to be aware of who is in the match for promotional purposes. The match itself is what sells tickets, regardless of who is participating in it.
I will concede there are storyline reasons for having certain wrestlers declare for the match ahead of time. Cody Rhodes and CM Punk both fall into this category, and I’m not advocating for avoiding the practice altogether. When it makes sense for the story, go ahead and have big stars like this make their intentions clear.
But do we really need to know that Bobby Lashley, too, is going to be in the match before we get to Tropicana Field? Is the tradeoff worth it there?
I don’t think it is, and I don’t think I’m alone in that either.
Let me know if I’m wrong here.