Once upon a time, the Royal Rumble was sacred beyond any WWE institution. Not even WrestleMania brought together fans both lapsed and hardcore to share in the simplistic pro wrestling magic of counting down from 10 and getting a nice surprise by the end.
That dissolved in the 2010s, and was all of their own doing.
An uneven decade for the contest saw the first few pass with a frustrating lack of incident before the company placed a three-year hex on the battle royal's ability to effectively build its top star. In Batista, Roman Reigns and Triple H, the 2014, 2015 and 2016 matches left viewers feeling depressed about the 'Show Of Shows' right as the sign-pointing hype commenced. The sheer vitriol towards Reigns in particular was used to manufacture a huge pop for two-time tried and tested 2017 winner Randy Orton, but was this the lifting of the curse?
2018 was one of the best WWE shows of all time thanks to the sheer quality of the Rumble matches alone, but winners Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka peaked there, rather than on the 'Grandest Stage'. The second double-Rumble show in 2019 produced the right winners if not necessarily quality contests to boot, not everything had yet been made right.
To the 2020s. A fresh start, or an old familiar feeling?
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Nash).
Michael can be found in articles or on podcasts extolling the virtues of New Generation WWF, New Japan Pro Wrestling or the new WWE angle they definitely definitely won’t ruin this time.