The following is an excerpt from Fightful's Inside The Royal Rumble feature. For the full story an additional context, please visit the full article at this link, and when posting quotes from this piece, please link to the original article.
Pro wrestling and WWE specifically are often a variety show, hence the term "sports entertainment." The Royal Rumble isn't any different. With an hour-long battle royal, some variety is common sense and has led to times that helped make a character. Shane Helms, who we mentioned as a surprise earlier also had a memorable outing in 2002.
Helms will be quick to point out that his Hurricane alter-ego isn't a superhero, he thinks he's a superhero. So when that alter-ego went after Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin, he was quickly disposed of. He didn't need to eliminate a host of competitors to make a special moment.
"That was 100 percent me. As short as it was, that was all my idea," Helms told Fightful in 2016. "Pat Patterson always (helped) put together the Royal Rumbles, and that was the Bushwacker spot. You come in, get out quick. It came to be known as the Bushwacker spot. This was going to be something similar. Now I know I’m going to be in there with two top guys. THE two top guys in the company. Not just any two, THE two. … Now, also, keep in mind that I’m still a new guy in the company, still fresh-faced … You gotta be tactful when you’re going up and suggested spots with the top two guys in the company, with your monkey ass still a new guy in the company, but I knew it was a good idea."
Getting that idea over less than a year after migrating from the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling could be a rough situation for many still adjusting to a new-ish locker room, but Helms knew who to go to. Or so he thought!
"I talked to Kurt quite a bit; Kurt Angle was the first guy I went to because I had an amateur background," Helms recalled. "Nowhere near as extensive as his, but we had that in common and he was a cool guy and he was someone I went to (for advice.) I told him the idea and he popped huge; he was like 'Yeah! Go tell Steve!' I think in my mind I just wanted him to offer to go tell Steve for me, to suggest it for me, and I was like 'dammit.' So I go to Austin, and I tell him and he goes 'HAHAHAHA', big pop from him, and he goes “yeah, go run it by Pat (Patterson),” and I’m like DAMN, so now I gotta go tell Pat. … So then I go to Pat Patterson and run it by him. ‘Oh my god, I love it! Crowd go banana!’"
The crowd would indeed go "banana." It wasn't just the crowd, though. Everyone that Helms pitched the idea to seemed to think that it was a great idea as well.
"So now I gotta go tell Triple H too. So I go run it for the fourth time, like ‘yeah, here’s the idea, I wanna see what you think,' he’s like 'aw, that’s great, that’s perfect.' That’s over the course of like two hours because everyone was always busy every time I went to them, they were never just free, so there’s all this anguish because you don’t want someone to go ‘Who the f*ck do you think you are suggesting such a thing to me?’, you know what I mean? You don’t want it to come off like that," Helms clarified.
When it came time for the Rumble match itself, Helms was nervous. Not about the spot, but about the reaction his still-relatively-new character would get from the crowd.
Helms noted “All I remember was being at the curtain and being like (prayer hands) 'Please pop when they play my music.'"
But how did Vince McMahon like the spot? Where did it rank from "not good" to "good shit, pal?" Apparently, pretty high.
“I came to the back, got the big thumbs up, but even better, the next day, they were watching in catering … and that spot unfolded again, and (Vince) was like 'HAHAHAHA, now that’s good shit!'" Helms fondly remembered. "But I’ll tell you what I said when I came through the curtain, (after the spot in the Rumble) I looked at him and I said 'I almost had those motherf*ckers.'”
Sometimes those classic Royal Rumble surprises and comedic moments cross over. Ricardo Rodriguez saw those two meet during his lone appearance in the 2012 Rumble. He'd been seconding Alberto Del Rio, who was unavailable for the match. The pitch actually came from Rodriguez himself and caught the ears of that influential name, Pat Patterson.
"Alberto was out with an injury he had sustained late December," Rodriguez told Fightful. "Fast forward to like a week or two later in Tampa. We had just finished an FCW show and a group of us decided to go to Cheesecake Factory to eat. When we walked in I saw Pat Patterson sitting at the bar by himself. When everyone went to go sit down I went over to Pat to say hello and offered to buy him a drink. I sat with him for a few minutes and just casually said 'hey wouldn't it be funny if for the Rumble, they play Alberto's music but then I come out?" We chuckled and just left it at that as I went back to my table. Several days later we're stuck in Dallas on a layover because of a storm. I was chatting with (Dean) Malenko and I casually brought up the Rumble spot again. He laughed and said that would be funny and then left it at that. Neither Pat nor Dean mentioned it to me again. ...then the day came and Michael Hayes told me I was in it!"
Michael Hayes is a right-hand man of Vince McMahon, heralded as a creative mind of his own. Not only did he find out he was going to be in the Rumble match, but that he'd have a very special entrance meant to parody the fancy car that Del Rio would drive to the ring.
"The day of the Rumble, I was ringside rolling around and Michael Hayes had asked me if I had seen my car yet. I didn't know what he was talking about and thought he was referring to my rental car that maybe someone had damaged it or something! Then he took me behind the TitanTron and showed me the car I would be using for the entrance. That's when he said, " no one told you?" Umm NO, none one had told me. That's how I found out!" Rodriguez said.
The rest is history.