Is the Royal Rumble still the grand gateway to the Road to Wrestlemania?

The Royal Rumble is one of the most recognizable events next to Wrestlemania that truly showcases the grandeur of pro-wrestling in the WWE. It is definitely one of the most anticipated events that are on offer from the company and is one of the ‘Big Three’ events put up by them – Wrestlemania and Summerslam being the others. It also happens to be the first pay-per-view (PPV) event of the calendar year, and the beginning of the much awaited ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ – the build-up of feuds and storylines that ultimately culminate on the grand stage of Wrestlemania.

Now typically, the focus of the pay-per-view (which is named after its main event) is the Royal Rumble match – a 30 man over-the-top battle royal, the winner of which is destined for greatness as he wins an opportunity to headline Wrestlemania, and fight for the WWE/Universal title in the main event. The match usually finds a fan favourite or atleast a popular one, winning an opportunity to become WWE champion and headline one of the biggest pro-wrestling events in the world. Since the event’s inception in 1988 till 2007 the winner of the Royal Rumble had a staggering success rate of 66.66%, of going on to Wrestlemania and winning the WWE title, implying that those who overcome the odds are earmarked for success.

However this highly entertaining and eagerly anticipated event has not lived up to its name in the last few years. Since 2008 till date, the success rate of the Royal Rumble winner has decreased to a paltry 25%, which begs the question, is this still the grand event that earmarks the beginning to the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’? Is the recent past the victories of superstars such as Batista in 2014, Roman Reigns in 2015 and even Alberto del Rio in 2011 were but all in vain as all three went on to lose at the main event in Wrestlemania. Moreover, both the 2014 and 2015 matches were said to be two of the worst in the history of the Royal Rumble, with the winners, Batista and Roman Reigns, receiving extremely negative reactions from the WWE Universe throughout their respective ‘Roads to Wrestlemania’.

This year seems to provide a glimmer of hope in what has been a figurative long dark tunnel for the WWE, with a heavily decked line-up of superstars set to enter the match. With high profile names such as The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg amongst the lot, the event surely has star power on display. What also makes this year’s match a promising one is the endless possibilities of winners who could come out on top, as the sole survivor. Be it veterans like Dolph Ziggler, new comers like Sami Zayn, superstars from NXT who are yet to make their main roster debut, or even a certain DEMON who could end up making a BIG return to the main event scene after an unfortunate injury earlier this year – the possibilities are truly endless. Here’s hoping to a fun and exciting Rumble that provides exhilarating highs and heart-breaking lows – the grand beginning to the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ it was always meant to be.

 

(This article has been co-authored by Rohan Engineer, a pro-wrestling fan and critic.)

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