Will Hoefer: Ah, the Royal Rumble. A time of the year where your money is well spent, regardless of whether it’s for the steep price tag of a WWE PPV event, a couple of numbers in your annual Royal Rumble Match pool, or a few drinks at the bar that’s showing the iconic WWE event. The Royal Rumble is one of those rare wrestling shows that can transcend the barriers that pro wrestling fans use to identify themselves. If you are a fan of wrestling, odds are you’re either following or watching the Royal Rumble this weekend. Now, obviously the main attraction is the Royal Rumble Match, a 30 man battle royal that has participants enter at 1-2 minute intervals. However, aside from the suspense, surprises and spectacles that the Royal Rumble offers, there are other things that we take away from each event. This column will take a look at one of those things by providing a compendium of Royal Rumble faux-paxs that made us shrug, groan and laugh.
NOTE: I know that Andre the Giant, Randy Savage, Mil Mascaras and many others have had some mighty mishaps in the Royal Rumble. However, I’d prefer to not go into detail on some of these more notable mistakes, as I feel that they have been talked about to death. This is not as a much of a top 5 as it is bringing attention to a grouping of boneheaded decisions that made fans wonder if these people actually knew the rules.
Ahmed Johnson Eliminates Himself (1997 Royal Rumble)
Yeah, Ahmed decided that it was vital to go after Faarooq than be in the Royal Rumble match. There was clearly no other option. Too bad that Hawk didn’t give him some common sense with those “show-da-pads”; otherwise Ahmed could’ve gone under the top rope to give chase after Faarooq and still have been able to re-enter the Rumble. We would see something similar to this when Kane would hop over the top rope to give chase to the white clad asylum workers that were looking to re-commit the Big Red Machine during the Royal Rumble match in 1999, but before that it was Ahmed who was showcasing this particular lack of judgment. Then again, it wouldn’t have given us Ahmed going after Faarooq WITH A GOD DAMN 2×4 later in the night. Beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.
The Texas Tornado’s Opportunity Left on the Table (1991 and 1992 Royal Rumble)
Here’s something I never understood. Kerry Von Erich (aka The Texas Tornado), for those of you that don’t know, had his right foot amputated after a motorcycle accident in 1986. Well, why didn’t Kerry just abuse the Royal Rumble’s “both feet must touch the floor” rule, and say that he was never truly eliminated from the match? I’m sure his mutilated right foot was just sitting on top of a locker in the Sportatorium, or on the mantle of whatever mansion the Von Erichs bought on Dallas’ finest Indian burial grounds. Hell, he could even just take off his prosthetic foot and lock in up in a safe, and he would be immune from any eliminations in the two Royal Rumble matches that the former NWA World Champion was a part of. This just makes me wish that Zach Gowen were a part of at least one Royal Rumble, since perhaps he would’ve been smart enough to take advantage of his somewhat similar disability.
The Referees Say That Finlay Is…Disqualified? (2008 Royal Rumble)
For the refs in the Royal Rumble, I just want consistency. For example, if a home plate umpire in baseball doesn’t call the outside corner for my team’s pitcher, that’s fine. Just don’t call it for the opposing pitcher. Be consistent with your zone. The refs in the 2008 Royal Rumble were anything but. Finlay runs out before his number was called, since Hornswoggle was in trouble. The refs disqualify Finlay, in a match with no DQs. Now, they DQed him since he did violate the rules of the Rumble by going out to the ring too soon. But what about Al Snow in the 2001 Royal Rumble? He runs out before his number is called, and starts hitting people with weapons. But is he DQed? Nope. I know it’s a lot to ask for continuity in pro wrestling, which I’ve practically thrown out the window in order to watch pro wrestling. But even if you put aside that particular continuity lapse, they actually decided to use the term disqualification in a match where they specify that there are NO DISQUALIFICATIONS. Couldn’t they at least said that Finlay was “eliminated” for “breaking the rule” of entering before his number was called? That would at least saved a little face for this baffling call.
Super Crazy and Eugene Buy Royal Rumble Numbers (2007 Royal Rumble)
People forget how mean Cryme Tyme actually was for a pair of faces, especially during their first run. JTG and Shad Gaspard just abuse this duo of a luchador with poor English and a mentally challenged nephew of Eric Bischoff by selling them “Royal Rumble numbers.” Super Crazy forks over “dosciento dolares” (aka $200) for his number, and poor Eugene forks over his money for #30, only to get told by Shad and JTG that #1 is better, but it’ll cost him an additional $50. So yeah, Super Crazy and Eugene forgot that the only truly valid numbers in the Rumble come from that lottery spinner that Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff used in the 2005 Royal Rumble. However, here’s what makes this even more baffling. Super Crazy actually ended up being in the 2007 Royal Rumble! Did Cryme Tyme end up giving Super Crazy a fake number that WWE officials thought was real? Did he have a number already, and was just hoping he could improve his chances by buying out another number? Could Cryme Tyme actually have used the #30 that they printed out, and end up taking the Undertaker’s spot and win the Rumble? How much did Ron Simmons pay for that counterfeit painting of Edvard Munch’s The Scream? Perhaps some questions are better left unanswered.
Vince McMahon Wants a Restart to the End of the Royal Rumble Match (2005 Royal Rumble)
Oh my god was this just a comedy of errors. John Cena and Batista, the last two remaining participants in the 2005 Royal Rumble, had just simultaneously eliminated each other (sound familiar?) after John Cena had countered a Batista Bomb into a head-scissors of sorts (yeah, that actually happened) over the top rope that sent both men tumbling to the floor. One ref claimed that John Cena had won, and another claimed that Batista was victorious (sound familiar?). Who can resolve this crisis? Why Vince McMahon, of course! Out he comes in full power walk, and he looks pissed. He enters the ring under the bottom ropes, and proceeds to tear not one, but both of his quads upon attempting to get to his feet. Apparently, Vince’s muscle tissue forgot how connectivity works. Nevertheless, we now have supremely pissed Vince (who, to be fair, must be commended for not missing a stride after incurring what is a near-career ending injury for most athletes), sprawled out on the mat, pondering what to do. Well, based on precedent of this type of finish in past Rumbles, he makes the logical choice, right? Nope. Vince decides to RESTART THE MATCH. Wait, what? Shouldn’t this be a case where you declare co-winners, like the 1994 Royal Rumble where Bret Hart and Lex Luger had the exact same finish that happened in this Rumble? Now, I know that continuity doesn’t exist in wrestling. But until there’s some consistency in all of the rules in the Royal Rumble, will anyone truly know how it actually works?
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