The road to the Road to WrestleMania is in full swing, and there’s already one major shakeup in store for this year’s Royal Rumble. This is great news for WWE fans who, while buying into the premise of the Rumble, are often disappointed in the lack of creativity in the booking of the winner.
Remember in 2011 when we were ever so briefly tricked into thinking that Santino Marella might somehow win the biggest match of his career?
It was charming for a moment, but the real question is … how would the WWE have booked the aftermath of this underdog story? Fans who analyze the WWE product like a chess match knew that Santino wasn’t winning the Rumble. But what if we lived in a world where someone like Santino could win the match? For that matter, what would be some truly unexpected outcomes and storylines to come out of the 2018 Royal Rumble? What would be something we legitimately haven’t seen before?
While we don’t recommend putting your hard-earned money on the line for any of these ideas to actually happen, we hope this sparks a discussion about the winner, and that it opens up the possibilities for some surprising burgeoning main event player to blaze a new trail.
So, here goes. Some alternative ways to book the winner of the big match. (And another way to occupy our time before January 28th in Philadelphia.)
The Winner Of The Royal Rumble Demands His Title Shot Before WrestleMania
While it’s every wrestler’s kayfabe dream to headline WrestleMania and come out the winner, what if a Superstar declared that their dream is to not only go into and leave the biggest show of the year as champion, but to take the opportunity away from someone else?
A traditional heel like The Miz could work this angle really well. Whether they’re successful at “cashing in” doesn’t matter — this gives the Royal Rumble match a sort of Money In The Bank feel, and opens up the field for who can win.
The GM Coerces The Title Opportunity Away From The Winner
True, wrestling fans over the age of 30 have experienced a lot of storylines where general managers, chairmen, and commissioners were way too involved in the main event. And Shane McMahon is most certainly too involved in the WWE Championship picture over on Smackdown at the moment.
But is there a way for a brand’s General Manager to convince the Royal Rumble winner to give up their opportunity? This idea is [eyeballs rolling in the back of the head emoji] for a lot of wrestling fans, but for the next generation to also think that McMahons get too involved in the main event, we could see something like this happen.
The Last Two Superstars In The Rumble Refuse To Battle, Attempt To Become Co-Winners
The “every man for himself” line has shown up in every single Royal Rumble since way back in the early years of the event. What if it came down to two people who just refuse to fight? It could be people we already expected to pull off something like this, or it could be the reveal of a new Unholy Alliance or Two Man Power Trip. Or in the case of current storylines, it could be Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Imagine the show ending with genuine confusion as to what happens next. Rampant fan theories would dominate social media the next day. Aren’t we all for sure, absolutely, 100 percent watching the next Raw and Smackdown? Yes. Yes we are. (We probably were anyway.)
The Title Shot Is “Traded,” Similar To A Major Sports Draft Pick
For those of you who don’t follow any traditional sports, a quick primer: Often times a team will trade a future asset like a high draft pick in the upcoming draft class for something that is more “guaranteed” (in theory). If you’re a fan of mixing actual sports with sports entertainment, this is right up your alley.
WWE has already done Superstar trades many times. They’ve experimented with kayfabe contracts expiring, and the WWE Draft (or Superstar Shake-Up, or whatever) is now an annual event. Why not continue the experiment? Imagine the Royal Rumble winner trading their title shot to Brock Lesnar in exchange for being represented by Paul Heyman. What if SummerSlam was going to be in the winner’s hometown, and they preferred to win their first title there?
While these are all long-shot ideas (especially the last one), it opens up a bigger discussion that would be smart for WWE to address. If we believed more people could win the Royal Rumble, and that winning the Royal Rumble could mean anything, then the match that is the most fun to fantasy book every year suddenly becomes even more fun.