Editor's note: this is a repost of last year's feature to promote the release of the latest Fightful Books It Podcast!
I'd like to preface this by saying the Royal Rumble isn't broken. It doesn't really need fixed. I still look forward to it more than any other match of the year, even though the quality of it is rarely too hot. The Rumble, like anything else, has to evolve -- and it has. The move from 20 to 30, and once 40 entrants. The addition of a title shot being the stakes. The oft-changing intervals. The Rumble isn't beyond change.
In recent years, the WWE has seemed a little tone deaf. You can't give fans what they want all the time, but since 2011, it seems the fan choice hasn't won the match. You'll always have those who cry "predictable" but if it's good, I'll take predictable all day. A little too often, though, it's been unpredictably bad, and infuriatingly senseless.
Stop Allowing Eliminations From People Who Aren't In The Match
This one hasn't been a rule in almost two decades, and it should be. Remember when Vader went guano crazy after being eliminated and tossed everyone? Didn't count. That's the way it should be. People who aren't in the match at all? Shouldn't count. Anything goes shouldn't be an absence of all rules. There's a lot at stake, here!
Change The Stakes
WWE is all about branding. Ryback even recently suggested that WWE didn't want mega-stars, in favor of the brand being the sell (hard to believe). We've seen this carry over to the championship belts themselves. Beautiful designs give way to titles that prominently feature the WWE logo for easier identification. WrestleMania transcends sports entertainment and is a big pop culture phenomenon. Only once since 2006 has someone won the Rumble, THEN won in the main event (that goes on last at WrestleMania).
I propose a change.
Allow the winner of the Royal Rumble the match of their choosing at WrestleMania. Does Brock Lesnar want another crack at Goldberg at Mania, even with no title on the line? Let him. Does Seth Rollins want to prove he's the dominant member of the Shield? Cool, do it. Does The Miz win and instead opt to get "HIS" Intercontinental Title back? I'm all for it. Of course, most would choose the obvious and traditional route, which they should. But this option adds a little bit of intrigue, and a whole lot of flexibility to storylines. If you need to add prestige to a title, this is a nice way to do it.
No More Goofing Off Around The Ring
Rare exceptions, sure. The "get knocked out of the match for 30 minutes" thing is dumb. It's cheap. No more please. Why would anybody ever actually get in the ring? If you don't get in the ring by the time the next entrant comes in, well....
Push The Unpredictable
For years we've heard the announcers marvel over size of the competitors, and how hard it'll be to toss them out. I think we've figured out in 30 of these, that's not the case. Instead, push the unpredictable angle: the double winners, cruiserweights and returning stars who have won, Santino Marella making the final two. Not only that, have some guys that need the help toss out guys who can elevate them. Getting chucked over a top rope isn't going to hurt anyone, but doing it sure can help someone (see Maven). Top talents can't be the only ones eliminating people. That's lazy, too.
I remember watching WWF Action Zone back in the day, and every week they'd show who has entered their names in the match so far. WWE's Youtube provides them the ability to do that. Put the entrants over big, highlight their success in past battle royal matches, their positive attributes. If it worked on us as kids, it'll work on them today.
This doesn't happen much these days, but as I watched each Royal Rumble to prepare, I noticed things. Lex Luger preventing people from being eliminated. Wrestlers being press slammed, but not tossed out. Hulk Hogan deliberately bringing Mr. Perfect back in the ring. Hogan throwing temper tantrums as a babyface when eliminated. Hogan.....again....climbing to the second rope for ten punches. The old saying "think shoot, then work" really should apply here.
The Royal Rumble is such a perfect way to continue and start new stories. As mentioned before, being eliminated doesn't hurt anyone, but eliminating stars can help someone. It can ignite feuds, and continue stories. If Kofi Kingston screws up his awesome annual spot, just make a story out of it by saying another New Day streak has been broken. Call an audible and run with it. The company should also carry a bevy of stories into the match, maximizing those eliminations.
The Clock Should Be Real
Just have one on screen at all times. That's not too tough.
Move The Elimination Chamber
This was always a big problem to me, and now that it's back, it could be again. Why in the hell would you fight through 29 other guys in January for a title shot when you can be one of five people to get one the next month? Sure, get all the chances you can, but it always cheapened things for me.
Promote The Rumble Mid-Year
When ratings are down in those Summer or Fall months, I always thought the idea of having a commercial free (or at least a picture in picture commercial) "Raw Rumble" would be a cool idea. Even if it's with fewer talents, you could have some surprises and really hype it as a special show. Three hours isn't easy to write, y'all.
The Royal Rumble match is usually an indication that WWE is in tune with their audience, or completely tone deaf. With a few tweaks, the Rumble can be even better. Listen to me!