By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
The Royal Rumble has often been sold on being all about the luck of the draw. People have attempted to buy, cheat and steal their way to the best numbers, hoping that getting one step closer to the coveted number 30 spot might make all the difference. If you are lucky, you might get close to it; if you aren’t, you could be walking back between the curtains before the match has even truly got started.
It would be too easy to just do a ‘best Royal Rumble competitors’ article, or so I though. I felt I should add an element of this luck and randomness to my celebration of the Royal Rumble concept. With this being the 30th Royal Rumble, the idea of choosing one wrestler from each Rumble seems like an obvious starting point. Once that wrestler has been chosen, that Rumble is off of the table.
There’s more. Why not throw in a random sequence generator? Rather than start from 1988, I’ve allowed a computer to throw together a sequence for me, one that randomly spits out numbers between 1 and 30, leaving me hopping all over the history of the great contest. Finally, and the real test of my luck – once I’ve chosen the wrestler from the Rumble I’ve been randomly assigned, his number is also no longer on the table. For example, if I chose Ric Flair from 1992, I can choose no other number 3s. By the end, I will be picking from scraps; can I make a Rumble that seems good on paper? Let’s find out.
Royal Rumble 2001 (#14)
My first Rumble is 2001, and is effectively a free shot. No number has been chosen yet, no wrestler has been picked in another Rumble, so I can go with someone that I like with limited initial repercussions. Not wanting to ‘shoot my wad’ too early, so to speak, I eschew picking the winner, Steve Austin, or some of the other big names, like the Undertaker. Need to save some wiggle room for later. Instead, I pick the very first entrant into the match – Jeff Hardy. As a means to starting the match in an exciting fashion, can’t go too far wrong with Hardy. Number one here and number one for me.
Royal Rumble 1998 (#11)
Considering this contest takes place during the Attitude Era, this feels pretty weak in terms of the roster. Sure, we have big names against like Stone Cold and Dude Love, but there are also several members of DOA and Tom Brandi milling around in here. My pick for this one (remembering that I have Jeff Hardy in the first slot, naturally) is the number 30 – Vader. Whilst I don’t remember what position very many wrestlers are in each Rumbles, I seem to believe there is a dearth of talent coming in at 30. Vader feels like a solid choice and a guy who can smash Hardy about in the opening two minutes.
Royal Rumble 1990 (#3)
I have my first ‘ah!’ moment when I see Ted Dibiase sitting as the first entrant in this match; my move for Hardy blocking that possibility. Things are still pretty open, but I feel that a heel is needed to build even more sympathy for Jeff. I leave Rick Rude alone in the 28 slot, because I think the twenties are generally full of talent, and better talent than him, so I go for one of my favorite wrestlers in both Rumbles and Survivor Series matches – Bad News Brown, who entered this Rumble at 9.
Royal Rumble 2002 (#15)
A need to redress the heel/face balance comes next, and another guy I feel could sit in a Rumble for a reasonably long time, offer a number of high spots and generally get the crowd going – Rob Van Dam, who came in at 29. As stated before, I worry about using my twenties choices too liberally, but Van Dam is a solid enough bet at this point.
Royal Rumble 1996 (#9)
Just an awful looking Rumble on paper, with very few wrestlers that I would even want to consider anywhere near my contest. The British Bulldog is the number 29, so that cuts out one potential shot. There is a need for some talented fodder within a Rumble; guys who can bring something in the ring, but won’t hang around and crowd up the ring for a prolonged period in mind. With that said, I choose number 19, Hakushi.
Royal Rumble 1991 (#4)
This is beginning to get more difficult. As I want to try and book this somewhat realistically, I believe it is too early to spring for a monster (outside of Vader) to clean house, and some of the bigger stars due to their usual positioning within a Rumble (second half). If Hogan comes out here, what does it do to the balance of the contest? With that in mind, I choose one of the most consistent men of this era, coming in at number 11 and lasting over twenty minutes. My number 6, Tito Santana.
Royal Rumble 1989 (#2)
The second Royal Rumble is full of some of the biggest stars from the 1980s. However, when you have a shot at Arn Anderson, and nothing is standing in your way, you pick Arn Anderson. He entered this Rumble at 16, and will join mine at number 7.
Royal Rumble 2012 (#25)
This seems like as good a time as any to try and increase the modern star power quotient, fully aware of how the limitations of this concept might bite me in the ass later on in the process. As he sits at number 7 in this Rumble, and no constraints are put on what version/era I receive of my pick, I’ll go for Mick Foley – I’d hope I’d get late 90s Foley rather than 2012 Foley, but he’ll do for name value if nothing else.
Royal Rumble 1995 (#8)
Probably the worst ever Rumble, so an absolute nightmare to try and logistically get someone of value onto the card. Part of me would love to choose Dick Murdoch, but a 27 pick feels wasted on him. Owen Hart came in at 11, so doesn’t help me in the slightest. The only real selection I feel works, especially considering his success in Rumbles and Battle Royals over the years is the number 2 entrant, The British Bulldog.
Royal Rumble 1994 (#7)
Similarly to Dick Murdoch in the last Rumble choice, I want to put Genichiro Tenryu down for this one, but his entrance number of 24 feels too precious to give away on a whim. However, I do feel like there is a distinct lack of beef in the ring at the moment, and with a safer position of 15 in this Rumble, Bam Bam Bigelow comes in as my tenth choice.
Current entry order (number in brackets number of entry in chosen Rumble):
- Jeff Hardy (1)
- Vader (30)
- Bad News Brown (9)
- Rob Van Dam (29)
- Hakushi (19)
- Tito Santana (11)
- Arn Anderson (16)
- Mick Foley (7)
- The British Bulldog (2)
- Bam Bam Bigelow (15)
Next time, I will look at numbers 11 through 20, hoping that Lady Luck has been on my side and I can create a worthwhile Royal Rumble amongst all the chaos.