With all the talk of Wisconsin basketball, hockey, and football recruiting, B5Q pauses to talk about a serious topic.
The 2019 Royal Rumble.
Yes, this is one of the best professional wrestling events of the year, and many of our B5Q writers are avid fans. Heck, I even trained for it back during my college days—which admittedly, I was terrible at and I believe I made the right career choice in whatever it is I am doing now.
For those that don’t know, the WWE takes over Chase Field this Sunday (read: today). There will be titles on the line in individual matches, but there will also be two Royal Rumble matches—men’s and women’s—where wrestlers have to eliminate each other by throwing opponents over the top rope (and two feet have to touch the outside ... this is a very important detail that makes for great theatrics).
We asked some of writers and friends of the site, Robert O’Neill and Chris Nowak from SB Nation’s Big East Coast Bias and Team Speed Kills, to give us their thoughts on today’s event and their favorite Royal Rumble memories.
What is your favorite Royal Rumble or Royal Rumble moment?
Andrew Rosin: I have to go with 1997. It had it all. A Samoan playing a Sultan [Rikishi]. Mil Mascaras eliminating himself. Farooq eliminating himself. The start of the double turn that had the WWF on the comeback trail as Stone Cold Steve Austin literally stole the Royal Rumble from Bret Hart. I’d argue 1997 was the best year in WWE history. And this Royal Rumble was the first piece of that puzzle.
Drew Hamm: Most of my Royal Rumble memories are rather hazy due to the fact that I have a group of friends that plays an extremely intense drinking game for the Rumble. If you’d like the rules, I’d be happy to send them you way! It’s super fun but I’d make sure you have enough Jameson to kill a small nation’s worth of people.
Anyways, some of my favorite Rumble moments are as follows: when Philadelphia booed Roman Reigns; whatever year it was that Rey Mysterio came in second (or maybe first) and won the whole thing; when what’s his name from Tough Enough eliminated The Undertaker that one time; Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens duking it out a few years ago was dope; any time that Kofi Kingston was almost eliminated but actually wasn’t; any time that Stone Cold cleared the ring with Stunners (that involves a lot of drinking in the game, btw); and I enjoyed Shinsuke Nakamura winning last year.
If you ever liked wrestling at all, but haven’t watched in a while, the Rumble is a great place to get back into it. It is by far the coolest and best match of the year and hopefully Roman Reigns doesn’t win.
Owen Riese: I think my favorite Rumble was in 2001 when Kane set the previous record of 11 eliminations and Stone Cold won after being bloodied by Triple H, but I also have a fond place in my heart for the 2002 rumble, which featured Undertaker beating Maven to a pulp after being eliminated, Mr. Perfect making a surprise appearance, and Triple H eliminating Kurt Angle after coming back from the quad injury.
Robert O’Neill: I rewatched most of the previous Rumbles in the last week and I think Ric Flair’s entire 1992 performance has to be my favorite. From the leadup to the fact that he lasted an hour (a record at the time) to the iconic post match interview with Gene Okerlund, it was the highlight of Flair’s first WWF run. Plus, That Royal Rumble was pretty cool because it was the Royal Rumble debut of guys like The Undertaker, and it was the first time Shawn Michaels was really able to show what he could do as a singles act. It was a changing of the guard type of event in WWF history.
Chris Novak: I have to go with the only Royal Rumble event that I’ve been to: 2008. The event had some really good World Title matches (Randy Orton-Jeff Hardy, Edge-Rey Mysterio) but the Rumble was what truly set this apart. Namely, what happened at the end. 16-year-old me didn’t think that John Cena would come out at the No. 30 spot. My mother spoke it into existence, and then once that theme song hit, the roof blew off Madison Square Garden. I’ve been to many wrestling events before. All the Big 4s [Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series], [NXT] TakeOvers, etc. But that’s my favorite and my pick for the greatest moment that I’ve ever seen live.
Jake Kocorowski: Y’all mentioned the ones that I was thinking of, but I definitely agree with Robert about the Flair win back in 1992. That one takes the cake. Honestly, I just love the surprise entrants and who could or could not make debuts or returns to the WWE. We’ll see who shows up on tonight’s show.
Who are your picks to win the Rumbles this year?
Andrew: Drew McIntyre and Alexa Bliss. Gonna be some kind of mishegoss in the Women’s Rumble. Bliss benefits from it.
Drew: Charlotte Flair is probably winning the Women’s Rumble, right? People don’t like her so WWE will probably do that. I want Braun Strowman to win the Men’s Rumble, but everyone else says Seth Rollins is gonna win ... but screw everyone else! GIMME THE MONSTER AMONG MEN!
Owen: Samoa Joe and Becky Lynch.
Robert: I’m going off the board here. Rey Mysterio and Charlotte.
Chris: Give me Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch.
Jake: I’ll say Seth Rollins and Charlotte, but really, it is us—the fans—who are the true winners of this annual spectacle.