Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2023/01/27/pollocks-news-update-historical-look-at-the-royal-rumble/
POST IT NOTES
**I want to thank all the POST Wrestling Café members that joined us Thursday night for our live Watch Along of the 1997 Royal Rumble match. The Watch Along is available for all Café members to sync up with the Rumble match with instructions attached with the link as well as video.postwrestling.com for members. We will probably do some more of these in the future.
**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live at 11 p.m. ET tonight for all Café members as we preview the Royal Rumble and go through SmackDown & Rampage. We will also take calls near the end and your feedback from the POST Wrestling Forum.
**The ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show returns next Tuesday and questions can be submitted on the POST Wrestling Forum thread.
**On Saturday night, Wai & I will be live minutes after the show ends with the Royal Rumble POST Show for a full recap of the event from San Antonio. You can watch live & free on the POST YouTube channel.
Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting (11 p.m. ET, Patreon)
Saturday: Royal Rumble POST Show with John & Wai
Saturday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & Alan4L (Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Jun Izumida & Tamon Honda – Jan. 16, 1999)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio
THE ROYAL RUMBLE
The 2023 edition of the Royal Rumble takes place on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and will be among the biggest non-WrestleMania events in company history.
WrestleTix reports approximately 43,000 tickets have been distributed for the event while the Observer adds the gate is estimated at around $7 million, making it one of the largest gates in company history. It is far cry from the first time the Alamodome hosted the event in 1997 where the paid figure was 48,014 but the gate was only $480,013. The Alamodome also hosted the event in 2017 when Randy Orton won the battle royal.
The concept is credited to Pat Patterson, who was educated under Roy Shire, who always held a major battle royal at the Cow Palace each January as well as a staple of 50th State Big Time Wrestling in Hawaii.
The idea was first executed in 1987 as a house show attraction in St. Louis that did poorly as it drew under 2,000 fans at the Kiel Auditorium. The trivia answer of who won the first Royal Rumble is One Man Gang, limited to twelve men, but the idea was nearly shelved.
As Jim Crockett Promotions was gearing up for its Bunkhouse Stampede pay-per-view, WWF countered with a live special on the USA Network the same night in January 1988. Sensing that the card wasn’t strong, NBC executive Dick Ebersol pushed back on the lineup and McMahon deferred to Patterson’s concept that he had championed and felt it was better suited as a television presentation.
On January 24, 1988, the Rumble aired from Hamilton, Ontario, and generated an 8.2 cable rating as Jim Duggan won the Rumble with an expanded field of twenty participants and became the company’s fourth pay-per-view on the year calendar beginning in 1989.
JCP countered with its pay-per-view from Long Island that was headlined by a steel cage Bunkhouse Stampede match which was won by company booker Dusty Rhodes and did an estimated 200,000 buys. This came just months after WWF pulled a power play with cable operators to disrupt JCP’s Starrcade event in Chicago by launching the Survivor Series and telling cable operators that anyone that carried Starrcade would not have access to the following year’s WrestleMania event, only five cable operators took Starrcade and it was a damaging blow to JCP. In March 1988, JCP would launch the Clash of the Champions to oppose WrestleMania and featured the famous 45-minute draw between Ric Flair and Sting in front of a gigantic television audience with a match that blew away anything on the WWF show.
The Rumble that many harken back to is the 1992 edition from Albany, New York where Ric Flair entered at #3 and won the Rumble and the vacant WWF championship. The joke was Flair was the best worker involved in the match, followed by Bobby Heenan, who turned in a legendary performance as Flair’s advocate in the booth with Gorilla Monsoon.
In 1997, when business was struggling, they booked the Alamodome and did a heavy local marketing campaign while aligning with AAA to draw in San Antonio and the hopes of attracting over 70,000 fans. It was a sizable crowd but with a paltry gate, it reflected that the company did not have the juice to draw at a stadium level in the U.S. during this era.
Steve Austin caught fire during this period and would win three Rumble matches between 1997 and 2001, which coincided in massive revenue years for the company during its second boom period, eclipsing WCW and the latter going out of business on the backend.
An added wrinkle to the Rumble matches has become the surprise entrants, which largely took form in 2001. While you had Bob Backlund the year prior inside the arena he drew so well in, Madison Square Garden, the following year saw entrants that included the Honky Tonk Man, Drew Carey, and WCW Hardcore Champion Haku (who had just appeared on a WCW pay-per-view the weekend prior but was contractually available). The next year featured the returns of Curt Hennig, Goldust, and The Godfather, and has become a staple of the match to see names from the past pop up for easy reactions and more surprise elements to keep one’s attention.
In 2011, they tried the experiment of a 40-man Royal Rumble, which was won by Alberto Del Rio but never tried again, reverting to the traditional 30-man presentation the next year.
While the match became an easy layup on an annual basis, in many ways like pizza where even a bad Rumble was still enjoyable, they did manage to bungle it in 2014 and 2015. Both years focused on Daniel Bryan as the crowd’s chosen favorite while countering the existing plans. In 2014, while losing to Bray Wyatt on the undercard, it was never made clear that Bryan would not be in the Rumble match. When the 30th entrant was revealed to be Rey Mysterio, the crowd booed Mysterio and turned on the match. It led to a flat ending with Dave Bautista, in his return, winning the Rumble and the audience rejecting the direction. Fast forward one year and after Bryan has missed a major portion of time due to injury, he announced his return to the Rumble and became the sentimental favorite again. Unfortunately, it was not in the cards with Roman Reigns set to win his first Rumble. When Bryan was eliminated, the audience in Philadelphia turned on the match, and Reigns was soundly booed, which couldn’t even be quelled by an unannounced appearance by The Rock to endorse Reigns.
The addition of the women’s Rumble came in 2018 and was the backdrop for the debut of Ronda Rousey at the conclusion of the first women’s Rumble, won by Asuka. For the past five years, two Rumble matches in one night would seem like overkill but have generally worked because of the intrigue in the booking, match layout, and differentiating the two.
Technically, the longest Rumble was the Greatest Royal Rumble from Saudi Arabia in 2018 where Bryan Danielson lasted 76:05, although it appears WWE is currently recognizing Rey Mysterio’s 62:12 length from 2006 as the longest time in the match. For the women’s match, the record belongs to Bianca Belair with 56:52 in the 2021 match.
Steve Austin remains the leader having won three Rumble matches while Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Batista, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Edge have won two each.
When it comes to the longest time spent in the Rumble altogether, Chris Jericho is the leader at 4 hours 59 minutes and 33 seconds followed by Randy Orton at 4:34:08 and Rey Mysterio at 4:14:45. Dolph Ziggler and Cody Rhodes are among the top ten. For the women, it’s led by Charlotte Flair at 2:22:30 with Bianca Belair at 2:17:12 and Natalya at 2:14:35.
The current lineup for Saturday’s show included the following:
*Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns © vs. Kevin Owens
*Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair © vs. Alexa Bliss
*Pitch Black Match: Bray Wyatt vs. L.A. Knight
*30-man Royal Rumble: Announced – Austin Theory, Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Baron Corbin, Cody Rhodes, Omos, Dominik Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Santos Escobar, Ricochet, Rey Mysterio, Gunther, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Braun Strowman, Karrion Kross
*30-woman Royal Rumble: Announced – Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan, Candice LeRae, Emma, Zelina Vega, Shayna Baszler, Raquel Rodriguez
**The funeral ceremony for Jamin Pugh a.k.a. Jay Briscoe will be available to view online. Laurel High School will be streaming the service at 1 p.m. ET. Earlier this week, a vigil was held for the late Pugh in Laurel with a visitation scheduled before the funeral service on Sunday.
**Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported on a third lawsuit filed against Vince McMahon since his return to the role of executive chairman at WWE. After previous suits filed by shareholders Scott Fellows and the Detroit Police & Fire Systems, the latest was filed by stockholders Carole Casale and Chrystal Lavalle over McMahon’s hush money payments made to various women over the years. Additionally, McMahon recently reached a multi-million-dollar settlement with former WWF referee Rita Chatterton, who sought damages of $11.75 million from McMahon after alleging in 1992 that she was raped by McMahon in a limo six years prior. McMahon’s attorney Jerry McDevitt stated last week that McMahon is settling to avoid litigation and denies the allegation.
**WWE has changed the time of its quarterly investors call next Thursday from 8 a.m. ET to 5 p.m. They will be releasing the financial reports for the fourth quarter and year-end for 2022 prior to the call with analysts.
**Friday Night SmackDown takes place live from the Sames Auto Arena in Laredo, Texas tonight on the night before the Royal Rumble. It was stated on Raw that Roman Reigns didn’t want to see Sami Zayn until Saturday, so it’s unknown if he will be appearing on the show tonight (he was in San Antonio on Thursday doing media). They should address whether Zayn is in the Royal Rumble because if they leave it open-ended, it’s almost a guaranteed letdown when the #30 entrant hits and they realize Zayn isn’t in the match. There is also the possibility of Zayn being involved in the Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens match and injuring Zayn to make it clear he is not coming back for the Rumble. Here are the matches announced for tonight:
*Kevin Owens vs. Solo Sikoa
*Karrion Kross vs. Rey Mysterio
*#1 Contender Tournament: Drew McIntyre & Sheamus vs. Hit Row
*#1 Contender Tournament: Joaquin Wilde & Cruz del Toro vs. Giovanni Vinci & Ludwig Kaiser
**AEW Rampage airs at 10 p.m. ET with a taped show from Lexington, Kentucky, and the following matches and segments announced:
*Eliminator Match: Jamie Hayter vs. Emi Sakura
*Hangman Page vs. Wheeler Yuta
*Best Friends & Danhausen vs. Jeff Jarrett, Satnam Singh & Jay Lethal
*Powerhouse Hobbs in action
**WWE has released a behind-the-scenes video from Raw is XXX from Monday in Philadelphia.
**The WWE stock closed at $84.63 on Friday.
**House of Glory returns next Friday with a show from the NYC Arena with Jacob Fatu defending the HOG World Heavyweight title against JTG, The Mane Event vs. Amazing Red & Brian XL for the tag titles, Charles Mason vs. Bryan Keith for the Crown Jewel title, Violette vs. Viva Van for the women’s title, and Mighty Mane vs. Nolo Kitano for the Cruiserweight title.
**The Bella Twins appeared on the Tamron Hall Show and explained their comments on Instagram Live on the lack of mention regarding the women’s evolution on Raw is XXX:
**The Bloody Elbow site is facing serious hardship after Vox Media informed members of the site that will no longer be supported and monetized by the company amidst layoffs at Vox. This news comes days after Vox informed the site’s founder and manager Nate Wilcox that he was being let go with others receiving the same news today. Bloody Elbow has been one of the most important journalistic outlets in the sport covering many important stories when it comes to fighter pay, managers, sport washing, and other areas of the sport that don’t receive enough coverage. There are many talented reporters attached to the site and I’m hopeful that Bloody Elbow can find a way to continue separate from Vox as the MMA media space is a weaker one with their contributions. Stephie Haynes of the site said their goal is to continue running the site independently.
**Despite lots of backlash after the premiere, Dana White’s Power Slap rebounded with a much stronger audience for the second episode. The viewership increased by 40 percent from 295,000 to 413,000 with the 18-49 demo increasing 33 percent. The show benefited from a strong lead-in from Dynamite with the final quarter of AEW averaging 991,000 viewers and 433,000 for the Mark Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal match (last week’s final quarter did 867,000 and 350,000). It would be hard to dispute that all the negativity in the media did drive curiosity to see how brutal the damage is but it’s a question whether this will sustain over the remainder of the series that has six more weeks to go. (Data from Wrestlenomics)
**Jake Paul and Tommy Fury are officially set to box on 2/25 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia with the fight scheduled to stream on ESPN+ and BT Sport. The fight was originally scheduled for December 2021, but Fury had to withdraw from the fight which led to Tyron Woodley stepping in to fight Paul for the second time. The two will compete over eight rounds at 185 pounds. Fury, 23, is the younger half-brother of Tyson Fury and has a pro record of 8-0 while Paul is 6-0 and coming off a decision win against Anderson Silva last October.
**ESPN was the first to report that 20-year-old Bella Mir, the daughter of former heavyweight champion Frank Mir, has signed a NIL deal with the UFC. It is the first NIL deal in the promotion’s history with Mir currently a member of the wrestling team at the University of Iowa. She won multiple state titles in wrestling at 144 pounds and made her pro-MMA debut in October 2020 with her record at 3-0. Her last fight took place last June at Xtreme Fight Night where she submitted Jessica Link-Davis in the first round with an armbar. Her father made his MMA debut in 2001 and was signed by the UFC after two pro fights as a heavyweight prospect. Mir won the heavyweight title in 2004 but vacated the belt after a horrific motorcycle wreck that sidelined him for a considerable amount of time. Mir would go on to be involved in one of the biggest cards in UFC history with his rematch against Brock Lesnar in July 2009 at UFC 100.
**Randy Couture spoke with MMA Junkie about Francis Ngannou leaving the UFC after his contract expired and contrasting with his own battles against the UFC in the past.
**Oliver Bateman has an article condemning Power Slap.
ON THIS DATE
John Cena makes a surprise return at the Royal Rumble in 2008 after tearing his pectoral muscle the previous October, which was a remarkable recovery turnaround. Cena entered the Rumble in the final slot and eliminated Triple H to win the match but opted to challenge champion Randy Orton at the February pay-per-view.
Cena also won the Rumble on this date in 2013 to set up his rematch with The Rock at WrestleMania 29. The Rumble did not close the show as the main event slot went to CM Punk and The Rock where Rock ended Punk’s 434-day title reign to leave as champion.
Almas vs. Gargano (and chill):
Bobby Heenan makes his WCW debut at Clash of the Champions on this date in 1994 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
WATCH ALONG: WWF Royal Rumble 1997
Join John, Wai & Brandon from NJ as they watch the 1997 WWF Royal Rumble match LIVE! Featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Mil Mascaras and more. Exclusively for members of the POST Wrestling Café.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite from Lexington, Kentucky, featuring Mark Briscoe wrestling Jay Lethal on TBS in honor of the late Jay Briscoe.
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REWIND-A-WAI #124: NXT TakeOver: New York (2019)
John Pollock & Wai Ting review NXT TakeOver: New York (2019) from April 5, 2019, featuring Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole in a 2-of-3 Falls match for the vacant NXT Championship.
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