In the same spirit as 2011’s “The True Story of Wrestlemania”, WWE is releasing “The True Story of the Royal Rumble”, which is reaching its thirtieth anniversary in January. The DVD/Blu-Ray drops on December 6 but WWE has released a seventeen minute First Look on the WWE Network. Today I’ll be watching the First Look and seeing what kind of highlights we might be seeing and maybe hoping for. Let’s get to it.

While the full video is only available on the WWE Network, here’s the trailer from WWE’s YouTube.

Scott Hall summed up the Royal Rumble as well as anyone else I’ve ever heard: take thirty wrestlers, put them in a ring, last man standing wins a prize. That’s where the Rumble gets its strength: it’s a simple concept that is turned into something so much bigger with the history and impact on the upcoming Wrestlemania season.

As you might expect, we start off with the first Royal Rumble, which of course ignores the history with Jim Crockett and Vince McMahon screwing over the NWA’s “Bunkhouse Stampede” show (the NWA was trying its second pay per view debut so the WWF aired a free show at the same time). This leads into a discussion on the origins of the match with Dick Ebersol (head of NBC Sports) loving the idea of a countdown clock on screen and the drama it could build.

That right there sums up so much of why the Rumble works. Thirty times during a match, there’s a question of who is coming down that aisle in the next ten seconds. Sometimes it might be Jimmy Uso or B. Brian Blair but sometimes it might be the debuting AJ Styles or the WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan. There’s the chance it’s someone like Ricardo Rodriguez doing a funny imitation of Alberto Del Rio’s entrance or Kane trying to break his record for most eliminations. The key though is you can’t miss an entrant and that’s all that matters.

Then it’s 2015 and this is about to get rough in a hurry. Roman Reigns acknowledges the horrible booing but Randy Orton says it wasn’t about Reigns winning but rather Daniel Bryan losing. That’s quite the spin on one of the worst reactions in wrestling history but they did more than I was expecting.

Now it’s off to “Royal Rumble 2005” with the double elimination ending. Batista admits that it wasn’t the planned finish but the real story here is Vince McMahon coming out and charging into the ring, tearing BOTH quadriceps at the same time. The visual of McMahon sitting on the mat and ordering the match to restart had Batista cracking up on camera and I can’t say I blame him. Batista would of course eliminate Cena a few seconds later to win.

I’m glad they included this as the rise of Cena and Batista really was the start of a new generation. Things had been a little stagnant after Triple H destroyed Randy Orton’s push and made it clear that it was all about him no matter what. With Batista winning, it was finally time for things to go somewhere new. The McMahon story is just gold though and I laugh at him every time.

That brings us back to one of the major draws: the surprise entrant with Chris Jericho in 2013 as the feature attraction. Bubba Ray Dudley was brought to the gorilla position four minutes before he was scheduled to go on after hiding on a tour bus all day. To continue the theme in 2010, we have the BRILLIANT move of Edge returning at #29 instead of the big #30 like everyone was expecting. This is capped off with the big Cena return in 2008 which is still one of the best surprises I’ve ever seen.

We wrap it up with a look at the cameo appearances with names such as Roddy Piper, Bob Backlund and Diesel getting the focus. Of course none of these come close to Mick Foley and the Mr. Socko vs. Cobra duel. That’s a great example of something you knew was coming and it was every bit as glorious as you imagined it would be.

They took an interesting path on this First Look and that’s probably the right choice. I know there are other great matches in the show’s history but honestly, how many of those do people care about in comparison to the Rumble itself? It’s just a different level of importance and this managed to focus on the big match instead of anything else, which is the right call. “Royal Rumble 2016” has a good chance to be able to live up to some of the greatness this series has put together over the years but given some of the stuff included here, it’s going to have its work cut out.


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