10 Biggest Missed Opportunities In WWE Royal Rumble History
Re-writing the Royal Rumble's history.
This is probably an unpopular opinion (or maybe not, but at least it's not one you often hear), but this writer has always thought that the Royal Rumble, not SummerSlam, was WWE's second most important annual show.
The Rumble is centred around one of the cleverest and most popular match-concepts of all time, it attracts more viewers than any PLE besides 'Mania (from 1988 to 2013, the Royal Rumble's buy rate surpassed SummerSlam's 18 times), and it kickstarts the most exciting season of the year in WWE: the Road to WrestleMania. People who no longer watch wrestling or have taken a break from it will often time still look up what went down at the Rumble, or be curious enough to sit through the whole show. Does anyone do that for SummerSlam?
It should also be said that the Rumble and its titular match, throughout its history, has generally been well booked, whether it's the winners and runners-up, the storytelling during the match or the surprise appearances and returns.
There's a couple of things it could've done better though...
10. André The Giant As The Inaugural Winner (1988)
If someone were to form an opinion on WWE alumni based on binge-watching Royal Rumble matches alone, he'd reckon André The Giant was as much of a legend as Chuck Palumbo, and that is not how you'd ever want the first WWE Hall of Famer remembered.
Originally, McMahon was not too fond of the Pat Patterson-pitched Royal Rumble concept. This may explain why on the night, his two biggest stars (Hogan and André) were assigned to a contract-signing segment and had nothing to do with the experimental main event.
But while the show was a hit, setting the record for highest viewed wrestling TV special, in retrospect, winner Jim Duggan looks nonetheless a little out of place amongst the Hogans, Austins, Cenas and the like. No disrespect to him, (and the same goes for John Studd) but winning the Rumble was the highlight of his career. He needed it in order to stay alive in our memories. The Rumble did not necessarily need him.
Again, you can't blame WWF, but in hindsight, what an inspired choice André would have been as the inaugural winner. It would've been a win-win situation: the accomplishment would've been a welcome addition to André's slim list of WWF honours, and it would've given the Royal Rumble winners' lineage a more prestigious and worthy forefather.