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Monday, February 8, 2010

royal rumble

Every year, the Royal Rumble match evokes memories of previous occurrences of the battle royal - Ric Flair winning the WWF Title, Bret Hart and Lex Luger tumbling over the top rope and hitting the floor at the same time, The Undertaker's showdown with Shawn Michaels, John Cena returning from injury months ahead of schedule, etc.

The battle royal has produced many memorable moments over the years, and will continue to do so due to the fact that WWE has protected the match so well. Yet there was something missing this year.

That's not to say that this year's Royal Rumble match was bad; the nature of the battle royal match means that fans are virtually guaranteed an action packed main event, and I would recommend the event overall. However, the main event was slightly disappointing, as there was opportunity to make the match so much better.

Clocking in at 49 minutes, the 2010 Royal Rumble was shorter than all but the 1995 version, due to the short amount of time between entrants. It was advertised that wrestlers would enter the ring in 90-second intervals, but the timekeeping proved to be quite erratic in the end. The traditional two-minute intervals make for a more memorable match and typically add more to the drama.

Also, the Rumble didn't allow the mid-carders to have much of a chance to shine rubbing elbows with the main-eventers. C.M. Punk was excellent while he was in the ring, demonstrating why 2009 was such a great year for him. But wrestlers lower down the card were not given the opportunity to shine. JTG, Zack Ryder, The Miz, MVP, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Yoshi Tatsu, and Chris Masters were in the ring for less than a minute. It was almost as if WWE's mid-card wrestlers were receiving coaching tips from The Warlord backstage before making their entrance. The established stars were given much more of an opportunity to impress.

Previous Royal Rumble matches are remembered for ten or more superstars battling it out in the ring at the same time, which is a major selling point of the event. Unfortunately, a by-product of the mid-card wrestlers being eliminated so easily was that the ring never became full, with wrestlers regularly being thrown over the top rope seconds after they had entered the ring.

The Royal Rumble was more of a character-driven match this year, with the main storylines being Shawn Michaels using the match as a vehicle for gaining a re-match against The Undertaker, and Edge returning to gain a measure of revenge over Chris Jericho and claim the WrestleMania title shot. This aspect of the match played out really well, as Shawn Michaels was excellent in his role, expertly conveying a sense of despair when he was eliminated by Batista. But the mid-card wrestlers would have benefited from having their own storylines for the match, or at the very least a few more minutes in the ring. Miz-MVP was the exception, but even their program was given a brief run in the spotlight.

The 2010 Royal Rumble match was enjoyable and worth watching if you have not seen it yet, but in many ways it was a reflection of the problems with WWE television. The mid-card stars as a whole were not given the opportunity to stand out and they were easily disposed of by those higher up the card in short measure. A return to two-minute intervals is one way in which the match could be improved next year.

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