(1) Royal Rumble Match (’92) vs. (16) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Ultimate Warrior (’91)
Oliver: Oh, Rumble 1992 – I think it might be slightly overseeded here, but it’s certainly an easy winner in this contest.
Prime Time: It’s 1992, obviously. Say no more.
The Doc: Slaughter vs. Warrior was a rock solid WWE Title bout, but surely Rumble ’92 is on the short prohibitive favorite list to go all the way, right? The prospect of a Final Four showdown with the MSG Street Fight is scintillating!
Mazza: If everything goes to plan then I am going to have one hell of a bitch of a decision to make when the winner of bracket C goes up against the winner of bracket D. That certainly won’t be a match up involving Sarge and Warrior. 1992 FTW.
mizfan: Let’s be real here, the only good part of Slaughter/Warrior is Savage and Sherri cleaning Warrior’s stupid clock six ways from Sunday. There’s not much there worth checking out besides that. Whereas the ’92 Rumble is an unparalleled masterpiece and should probably win this whole thing out of hand. Easiest choice yet!
Skulduggery: Putting Slaughter and the Warrior through here would not be fair to Flair! So it’s gotta be the ’92 Rumble.
Samuel ‘Plan: Many consider 1992 to be the best ever version of the Rumble match. It’s not a sentiment I agree with, but it’s a reputation that continues to cast a very large shadow to this day. While I’m not quite as fond of it as the general IWC tends to be, I still admire it greatly. There is, after all, much to like, though the same can be said for the WWF title match here opposing it. Warrior and Slaughter put together a clever match that toys with shared universe and lights up an already explosive crowd. Its energy is quite remarkable. Sadly, though, that energy doesn’t quite hold up to the multi-layered and expansive scope of Flair’s golden hour that would take place one year later.
(1) Royal Rumble Match (’92) wins 7-0
(8) Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler (’11) vs. (9) Edge vs. Shawn Michaels (’05)
Samuel ‘Plan: What a fascinating showdown this one is! One that demonstrates, I think, why a talent like Ziggler will fail to meet the heights of a talent like Michaels. The 2005 match that helped propel Edge to a career-changing Money in the Bank win a few months later watches as the more cerebrally robust of the two. It is, however, also slower paced and less explosive. Both matches seek to ‘elevate’ a new talent starting to make in-roads towards the top of the company, and while 2005 has a stronger follow-up on that front, on the night it was 2011’s World title bout that left a longer lasting impression on me. For that reason, I go for the fluid last hurrah of the Rated R Superstar on Rumble night. I vote Edge vs. Ziggler.
Skulduggery: Toughest decision of the first round for me. Perhaps it’s in part due to the fact that the three wrestlers involved here all rank very highly in my curt list of personal favorites (with Edge being my all-time favorite), but I can’t help quickly noticing the brilliant similarities between the two matches. Edge can’t win either match with the Spear – one due to his opponent’s maddening tendency to keep kicking out, and one because of a tyrannical set of rules. So, in both matches, the Ultimate Opportunist simply finds other ways to win. A younger, brasher, more mentally precarious Edge takes a page out of the dirty handbook and, though the moral may call it plunging to lower depths than Michaels, the cold may simply call it outsmarting HBK. Time travel six years ahead, and a more matured Edge is now faced against the dirty handbook, with which of course he is all too familiar himself. An opportune Spear is still hit while the law and order looks elsewhere, but then the crafty Edge polishes things off by borrowing from the arsenal of his best friend.
The action is, as one could expect, excellent in both affairs; perhaps a touch more crispness and flow in the ’11 match but arguably more character laden in 2005. And I think that will be the nudge that tips me, marginally, towards the Edge/Shawn Michaels match. The maniacal Edge of 2004/2005 is a tremendous character that grows more and more steadily insecure until the validation of his Money in the Bank win at WrestleMania 21. His match against HBK is a perfect snapshot of this evolution – he rocks the Showstopper with two Spears, only to have it revealed that neither are enough to win. Scrambling, he resorts to underhanded tactics to win, which isn’t something brand new to him – even as a babyface in 2004, he had a villainous Randy Orton kick out of a Spear, pushing an unsure Edge into tight-pulling measures to get victory. The more and more Edge was unable to win by the standard way, to win via his finishing moves, the more he had to resort to finding other – often dirty – opportunities to achieve victory. Eventually born was the Ultimate Opportunist.
You still have to give a huge nod to Ziggler and Edge in 2011, though. Countering the Fame-Asser into a Sit-out Powerbomb? Wrecking replay buttons everywhere.
Prime Time: I can imagine there’ll be some interesting comments about the way this has fallen. I’ll take the 2005 match here. This is Edge building up to where he was about to explode as a main event talent.
Oliver: Skul, how many Edge matches do you pick just because you love him? It’s funny, neither of these two have stuck in my memory really well. Edge vs Ziggler, though, in spite of it having the worst stipulation of all time – ‘oh, you can’t use this move!’ unless the referee doesn’t see, of course. It probably shouldn’t work, it’s overbooked to the point of being Lord of the Rings, it has a terribly stip, but those two guys made it work.
The Doc: I am a fan of the HBK vs. Edge match, as it pit two of my three all-time favorites against each other, but Ziggler became one of my favorites of this decade because of matches like the ’11 Rumble World Title bout opposite Edge. HBK had probably over a hundred better matches, but Ziggler has matched what he accomplished against the Rated R Superstar maybe a handful of times. We’re talking about a quarter star difference here, so it’s close, but the eighth seed squeaks by in my opinion.
Mazza: On this day, I see clearly, is it 11 or 05? It’s 05.
mizfan: You know it’s funny, I like HBK a lot more than Ziggler, but I think I’m still going with the Ziggler match here. The Vickie stuff was fun and the way they built the nearfalls up were quite nice. HBK/Edge just didn’t grab me this go ‘round.
(8) Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler (’11) wins 4-3
(5) The Rock vs. CM Punk (’13) vs. (12) Royal Rumble Match (’95)
The Doc: You won’t find many bigger fans of the Punk-Rock match than yours truly. I was incredibly excited for it when it happened and, after a brief period of being jaded about the booking and the victor, came around to the conclusion that it was / is destined to be underrated. I thought that Rock’s comeback was enormously successful across the board, not just from the standpoint of boosting his Hollywood career and providing WWE an economic influx, but also from the standpoint of its in-ring achievements. Four singles matches, two that I loved and two that I liked very much, is something to write home about. The Rumble bout was one of the two that I loved (Rock-Cena 1 is the other). Punk was a master here, executing his end both physically and psychologically as one grew to expect during his epic 2011-2013 run, but credit to Rock as well for offering his usual creative input on sequencing and spot creation. I wanted Punk to win as much as the next diehard fan beginning his irritation with the budding part-timer epidemic, but Punk losing has done nothing to weaken this performance on replay. Cheers to both. I’m hoping for a Sweet Sixteen run for this one.
mizfan: Jeez, do people really like the Rock/Punk match on the level of a #5 seed? I admit there’s some good stuff there, but the whole restart thing is soooo drawn out and so unbelievably lame, just the most incredibly lazy writing. I’ll point out again that to this day we don’t really have any clue while the Shield got involved in this match, since their motivations were so poorly explained. The ’95 Rumble isn’t one of the best but it’s still a lot of fun, and I will gladly give it my vote here.
Samuel ‘Plan: Ah, another New Gen Rumble and another bad rap to contend with. Sure, in isolation the ’95 Rumble watches as a little strange, disappointing even. It is an odd one, to be sure, but one that makes the absolute best out of a tough situation. Bulldog and Michaels both anchor it with two of the all-time great Rumble performances, Crush and Luger provide intriguing second-tier favourites to pull off the victory, there’s some fun shared universe antics involving Bret Hart and the match is very cleverly angled, the reduction between entrants leading to Vince calling it the fastest-paced Rumble of all-time. He wasn’t wrong. Still, though, Rocky and Punk‘s first go-round is considerably better than people remember – a perfect blend of contemporary self-awareness and Attitudinal fun. The winner shouldn’t put anyone off what remains a fantastic title bout that, here, picks my vote up.
Oliver: I liked Rock vs Punk I, probably a lot more than I should have done. It’s good fun. I like fun. I hate the ending, of course, because it’s shit. And also, Punk loses to the damned People’s Elbow – not even a Rock Bottom! But the rest of it is good fun, at least.
Mazza: Enough with 1995 already. I want it eradicated from this tournament. Got to be Phil and Dwayne here.
Prime Time: The 1995 Rumble is an abomination in so many ways. It lives and dies by that finish and its reputation is founded on ignoring so many of the problems that getting there caused. Rock and Punk for me.
Skulduggery: Another tough decision, but for a vastly different reason than the (8) vs. (9) matchup. Neither of these matches appear on any must-watch list in my world. Gimme Rock/Punk because at least it’s not 39 minutes of card stock.
(5) The Rock vs. CM Punk (’13) wins 6-1
(4) Royal Rumble Match (’08) vs. (13) Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Glamour Girls (’88)
Oliver: JUMPING BOMB ANGELS VS GLAMOUR GIRLS FUCK EVERYTHING ELSE.
Skulduggery: The ladies did an excellent job at the inaugural Rumble. Great little tag team match. But I’ll go with Cena’s insane return in Madison Square Garden. As much as the reputation of this Rumble hangs on that moment, it’s actually got a lot of meat before it, too. Taker and Michaels continuing their dust-up from one year prior by entering 1 and 2 is nifty – and I love that HBK gets the less meaningful, but still satisfying, revenge on the Deadman. Speaking of Shawn and continuity, he once again acts kryptonite to Shelton Benjamin. The main negatives of this one are the wasteful appearances of Hornswoggle, Piper and Snuka, but they’re not needling enough to knock it out of the first round.
The Doc: If you’ve never watched the Women’s Tag Title match from back in the day, then please be sure to do. That said, Rumble ’08 is one of the greatest Rumbles of all-time, starting with a nice sequel to the HBK vs. Taker drama from the prior year, getting a lot of the little things right in the mid-portion, and then nailing the climax not just with the shocking Cena return but also the Cena-HHH-Batista closing trio that drew off of their historic run of WrestleManias (those three dominated from 20-23). Nevertheless, I predict it to remain on upset alert for as long as it is the higher seed.
Mazza: How awesome are the Jumping Bomb Angels? Well the answer to that question is “not awesome enough to mess with MSG’s hilarious reaction to John Cena showing up as a shock number 30 in 2008″. It really is a very fun rumble match, even if Super Cena’s miraculous recovery cost Hunter.
Prime Time: Difficult to know exactly how this way will go. Major props for the surprise of the return but I’m choosing the women’s tag match.
mizfan: Surprisingly, I don’t actually care for the ’08 Rumble that much. It’s got some pretty lame entrants, and while the Cena return was shocking for a moment, the match descends badly into predictability once the novelty of his return wears off, and drags noticeably before they reach the end. The women of ’88 are actually quite a bit more fun for me, complete with Vince McMahon having absolutely no clue what the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels are. Give the ladies my vote here!
Samuel ‘Plan: I know, right? Why vote for what is clearly the inferior match? Simple: I refuse to allow the myth that 2008 is a great version of the Rumble to propel the ’08 match to victory in this tourney. I’ll be voting like clockwork against it because, yeah, I have a grudge. One historic moment does not make for a good 60 minute match by my critical standard, and beyond Cena’s surprise you have a steady onslaught of cliché, repeated ideas and uneventful brawling. It regularly rates towards the bottom of my own personal Rumble rankings and that it gets so much love serves only to set me harder against it! So yeah, pettily I vote for the women’s tag.
(13) Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Glamour Girls (’88) wins 4-3
(3) Royal Rumble Match (’04) vs. (14) Neville vs. Rich Swann (’17)
mizfan: Neville/Swann is fine, very athletic, but I feel like 205 Live has actually improved tremendously since those days. Bit uncomfortable with Swann as well still, after the legal trouble he had, though not knowing the full story I leave some room for reasonable double. The ’04 Rumble is a masterpiece regardless, one of the absolute best ever, and it should completely stomp through here. Brilliant storytelling on multiple levels, probably the most layered Rumble of all time.
The Doc: Can we be honest for a second? If the famous Chris Benoit had not become the infamous Chris Benoit, this would have been a one-seed and been a darkhorse contender to win the whole damn thing. Such is my opinion, anyway, as a supporter of the idea that the only Royal Rumble Match in January Classic lore that is anywhere near its level is 1992. When I think of what I want a Royal Rumble to be, this is the match that I think of. My favorite thing about it is how it was so well utilized to build WrestleMania and I would argue that no Rumble ever complimented its WrestleMania brother/sister better. There are not 50 better matches in WWE history period.
Samuel ‘Plan: I love, love, love that Neville’s bout against Swann made it into the brackets! It would, of course, kick off one of the best in-ring years from a WWE performer we’d seen in a long time and provide 205 Live its much needed centre of gravity to really begin building itself into something worthwhile. It is heavily outmatched here, however, courtesy of an unkind seeding: the ’04 Rumble remains one of the best versions of the match, despite it being understandably consigned to a dark corner by WWE themselves. Nonetheless, in forums like this we have the opportunity to extol our appreciation for its creative and athletic achievements, and I look forward to doing that as this tourney continues – I imagine it’ll go far, depending on any anti-Benoit sentiment. 2004’s Rumble takes it for me.
Prime Time: Problematic as it is now and with a real sense that many will never want to watch it again, the 2004 Royal Rumble is one of the better ‘goes the distance and wins it all’ affairs. It deserves to win, looked at dispassionately.
Oliver: This is a bit of a tough one for me, but I’m siding with Benoit’s story over Neville vs Swann. I’m not sure either match will survive that long in this, because outside of Benoit’s story the ’04 Rumble is OK at best, and Neville vs Swann is a midcard 205 Live match doing midcard things.
Skulduggery: 2004 is a fine Rumble – watchable, with its moments of excitement (Foley’s impromptu entrance and elimination Orton; Goldberg’s short-lived dominance), and a (at the time) feel-good winner. But rewatching it for this project, and having the unavoidable circumstances of innately comparing it to the slew of other Rumbles, it actually watches back to me as far more pedestrian and riddled with minor speed bumps than most. The entry order is odd, with a pile of heels filling things up quickly. I think, at one point, it is like Benoit and seven villains. Additionally, there are a number of poorly timed eliminations in the first half – several times, a guy goes over while the cameras are focused on an entrance, and instant replay is necessary to keep track of who’s in and out. And past Foley and Goldberg, there’s not a ton of crowd-inciting entries.
The Cruiserweight title match was solid – honestly, a little slower than I remembered, but at least fitting to the character of the newly poisonous Neville. I never thought I’d vote this way before rewatching both, but given 2004’s tendency to merely buzz when you want sparks flying, I’m actually going to send the cruisers through here.
Mazza: People seem to love 2004. I am not a big fan. I actually find it quite a dull rumble. I am sure to argue about this with Mizfan over the next few weeks however it is safe for now against the cruisers.
(3) Royal Rumble Match (’04) wins 6-1
(6) Royal Rumble Match (’02) vs. (11) Royal Rumble Match (’97)
Mazza: I mean seriously, you expect me to go with 97 here? Even without Hunter I absolutely love 2002. One of the best ever for me. I really hope it gets through here so I can try and fail to convince everyone it is better than 2004 in the next round.
Prime Time: The 2002 Royal Rumble is actually a bit of a let-down, when you look at how little there is going on in there and consider the starpower involved. The 1997 match, by contrast, has probably the most innovative conclusion, is one of the best executed, and they managed it with a miniscule roster that was propped up by AAA wrestlers. If we’re being even remotely fair about it, it deserves the nod.
Skulduggery: 1997 is a fantastic showcase of Austin. His emptying of the ring and waiting for the next entrant goes from cocky and watch-watching to exhausted and shocked at the opening chord of Bret’s music. Plus, his faux-elimination and retry is one of the more refreshing finishes in Rumble history. Unfortunately, it’s against a personal juggernaut. 2002 was the first PPV ever watched by a young Skulduggery. Not only did Austin continue checking his watch 5 years later, but there were a dozen other fun moments. Maven eliminating the Undertaker, Austin eliminating Booker T with a Stunner, Hurricane trying to single-handedly flatten Stone Cold and HHH, Scotty 2 Hotty dancing into a Taker right hand, and Stone Cold filling up his downtime by re-inserting and re-eliminating a series of wrestlers are all gold. The tiny knock on 2002 is that although the somewhat weak start and somewhat weak middle section are organized well to play stage to the dominance of Taker and Stone Cold…there still is a somewhat weak start and there still is a somewhat weak middle section. Its populous moments of sheer entertainment and excellent finish are easily strong enough to carry it through here, but we will see if those bite it in the ass later.
mizfan: I’d say the ’97 Rumble is massively underseeded here, it’s one of my favorite editions of the match and I think it holds up spectacularly. The final stretch includes Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Undertaker, Vader, Foley, and Terry Funk, just for a start, and the names involved are absolutely delivering as well. It’s such a special Austin performance in particular, I don’t see how you could not absolutely love this match. The ’02 version is quite good as well but it’s overlong and drags a bit at times. ’97 should absolutely grab the upset in the seedings here.
Samuel ‘Plan: This was a fairly easy one to pick for. The ’97 Rumble isn’t up to much thanks to the company deciding – even needing – to bring in a series of luchadors to help bolster the thirty man field. It still has its upsides. Austin’s performance is one of the greats, a rival to the aforementioned 2003 Jericho powerhouse outing, and quite comparable on a number of levels. The Hitman puts in an effective big star turn, the ending innovates (and leads to one of my all-time favourite matches at the pay-per-view the next month) and parts of the action aren’t too shabby. 2002 is definitely the better of the two however, even if it is, in its own right, a little bloated. Its mix of evocative comeback win and a menagerie of star power sees it go through comfortably.
Oliver: Is this the first Rumble-off we’ve had? I think it is. I imagine we have more to come. The 97 Rumble is essentially just a match to get Austin over from numbers 5 to 21, and as a result suffers against a slightly faster working, more focussed 2002 version.
The Doc: Straight chalk through this bracket for me. The ’02 Rumble is by no means perfect, but it is still an exceptional reverse battle royal, featuring as it does great moments throughout that have stood the test of time. Mr. Perfect’s cameo was spectacular and he delivered a vintage performance; Steve Austin was quite memorable; Taker getting eliminated by Maven and the ensuing beatdown reminds in present day how valuable Taker could be as a character when not handcuffed by being “dead”; Angle was fantastic; the entire exercise was like a Monday Night War All-Star Game; and of course Triple H was at his peak, protagonistically. Skul could’ve seeded this as high as a #3 and I would not have thought ill of it.
(6) Royal Rumble Match (’02) wins 5-2
(7) Men’s Royal Rumble Match (’18) vs. (10) Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz (’00)
Samuel ‘Plan: The Tables Match from the 2000 Rumble is another instance of a cult classic that I just can’t manage to understand the love for. It’s ok, it features a couple of fun stunts from Jeff, but I’ve never really considered it anything special worth writing home about. I know it has its fans though, so it could do well here. I still vote for the latest Men’s Rumble Match however – I think it’s a thematic powerhouse, playing so self-consciously and effectively on both the ongoing discussion around the prevalence of part-timers and old-timers while at the same time acknowledging, and seemingly seeking to partially rectify, mistakes specific to the recent past of the Rumble itself. Throw in some character-driven action, a number of star-enhancing outings and a refreshing take on the final six and you have a very worthy contender for the second round of this tournament.
Mazza: This is actually pretty tough. I really liked this year’s rumble match, but that tag team table match was fantastic and is often overlooked in that 3 team rivalry. With time the 2018 rumble may well establish itself however right now I think I have to give the edge to… dammit, this pun isn’t going to work. Matt, Jeff, Bubba and D-Von please.
The Doc: I appreciate the seeding given that this match has not yet passed the test of time, and I do think it will potentially effect this match’s reputation that Nakamura and Styles underwhelmed at WrestleMania. We do indeed have to reconcile the fact that so much of the presentation’s success was how it played off the anxieties many a diehard fan has felt for the last few years about Roman Reigns and part-time talent at WrestleMania; accordingly, it will be interesting to see how people view this match in five or ten years when the part-timer problem has phased out as an awful trend that ruined multiple generations of the upper tier talent. Nevertheless, I have not felt so emotionally wrapped up in a match in at least two years. When they played it as the past versus the present when the match transitioned into its early climax, I was enamored, and when they then proceeded to turn it into the chosen ones of the present versus the guys desperately trying to shatter the glass ceiling, I was blown away. I don’t even like Nakamura, but his victory was so incredibly cathartic to me. Add in the considerable and far from inconsequential storytelling and sequencing aspects of the match during its first forty or so minutes and you have a powerhouse example of WWE reminding us of what ‘Plan often says – that when WWE gets it right, nobody does it better.
Skulduggery: Things I liked about the 2018 Men’s Rumble: Mysterio’s return, Andrade Cien Almas, the Class of ’02 showdown with the new guys, and Heath Slater continually getting destroyed.
Things I didn’t like about the 2018 Men’s Rumble: Jinder Mahal owning the New Day, Sheamus (of all people) getting the quick elimination, Finn Balor going nearly bell-to-bell, and the brilliance of Bray Wyatt getting tangled up in the mess of Matt Hardy.
Things I liked about the Tag Team Tables Match: Everything.
Things I didn’t like about the Tag Team Tables Match: Nothing.
Looks like an easy one for the Hardys and Dudleys! I mean…my “Nothing” is a little stylistic. I suppose it could have used a little more Edge & Christian, and a little more ladder. But, hey, I got my spoils in the WrestleMania and SummerSlam tournaments.
Oliver: The Rumble 2018 might be the very best of recent years, and possible an all-time top five Rumble – it rules. And hey, I like Hardyz vs Dudleyz and wouldn’t mind it going through – but not on my card.
Prime Time: I’ll take the tag team match here, because the tag titles felt like a much bigger deal in 2000 than who wins the Rumble match does today – and while E&C were the real stars of the division, these two were also really huge stars at that point in time.
mizfan: I liked the Hardys/Dudleys match, though I would have liked it more if they weren’t recklessly concussing each other all the time. The 2018 Rumble was a little contrived at times, I thought, but it was a massive improvement over previous years and overall quite enjoyable, and I’ll happily give the most recent edition my vote here.
(7) Men’s Royal Rumble Match (’18) wins 4-3
(2) Chris Jericho vs. The Rock (’02) vs. (15) Goldust vs. Razor Ramon (’96)
Skulduggery: This one’s closer than the seeding suggests. Goldy and Razor deserve big props for their envelope-pushing, psychological dust up. And a needling analysis of Jericho/Rock could look at the fact that, technically, it was a very solid match but nothing extraordinary – and that Jericho had to use about 5 levels of cheating to get the win. But throw away the pencil-pushing technical aspect, and the sheer electricity, chemistry, and pace of the 2002 championship match gives it the win over the psychologically superior Goldust match. Come to think of it, that winning blend tends to be pretty common for the better Rock matches.
Oliver: Jericho vs Rock, just for Nick Patrick forgetting that 2 comes after 1.
Prime Time: As much as I love Jericho this wasn’t the finest stretch of either his career, or of Rocky’s for that moment. I think you have to give the nod to the 1996 match, with full credit to just how successful they were in making that feel like daylight robbery. I can think of very few instances where a cheap title change has been carried off as well as that, and has generated as much anger. It did also lead to probably the best run of Dustin’s career.
mizfan: These matches were actually about even in my book, despite the big seeding difference. Jericho/Rock was a hot match but I thought it was really missing a 4th gear, and the random interference mid match was quite superfluous. Goldust/Razor is actually the match I think I prefer just based on the ring work, but it’s also hard for me to unsee the arguably homophobic/transphobic elements at play, so even though it’s executed well it does feel less fun to watch 20 years later. I think I’ll go with Jericho/Rock here but I hope the #2 seeding doesn’t hold up, I think there are a lot better choices to go deep in the tournament here.
Mazza: Didn’t I say I’d had enough of 1995? That includes 1996 too. Pretty much the same thing really. Jericho and Rocky to take home the last win of round 1.
Samuel ‘Plan: Very few pairings in the history of WWE are able to live up to the standard set by the incomparable combination of Jericho and Rocky, and their 2002 Undisputed Championship clash sees them firing on all cylinders. A detailed breakdown of the bout’s narrative intimates issues, but any such issues pale in comparison to the quality and fun of everything else. By contrast, I’ve never, again, felt very excited about the Bad Guy’s title defence opposite Goldie – I much prefer the Jarrett match for content from the year before, and it’s still hard for me to watch the intonation of Goldust’s homoerotic actions because of the ugly implications produced by their non-committal presentation.
The Doc: I think it’s going to be interesting to see how far Rock vs. Jericho can go. Their pairing was one of the finest examples of in-ring chemistry in WWE history, and the ranking of their Rumble match reflects that unadulterated fact. How far can that chemistry carry this match in the tournament at hand? I truly don’t know, but that’s what it will all boil down to for them. The memory of Jericho’s lousy first title reign – backed up by the fact that he didn’t get a second run at that level for six and a half years – combined with the finish to this finale of their three PPV series (heavily overbooked) shouldn’t effect it in Round 1, but if it’s up against the 2018 men’s Rumble, it could be in serious trouble.
(2) Chris Jericho vs. The Rock (’02) wins 6-1
First round’s in the books! Jumping Bomb Angels and Glamour Girls toppling the 2008 Royal Rumble is easily my upset of the round. Can it be lumped in with Tajiri/Kidman, Kidman/Noble, Christian/Jericho, and WWE/Nexus as Cinderella runs past? Time will tell. A near-upset included the (2)-seeded 2007 Rumble narrowly squeaking by the 1994 edition (yours truly had just a touch of perspiration going on as vote after vote for 1994 came through!).
On the other end of things, though (1)-seeds are traditionally expected to blow through at least the first round, this was actually the first time in Madness history that every single (1)-seed recorded a 7-0 sweep to kick things off. Will they continue to dominate?
In terms of years, 2008 was the biggest loser, as it had 3 matches in the tournament and none of them advanced to Round 2. ’16 (only 1 match out of 4 advanced), ’94, ’96, and ’10 (all 0-for-2) weren’t far behind. Not a single year has more than 2 matches still alive, though – the survivors are chronologically spread out very evenly. In terms of wrestlers, Jeff Hardy had 4 non-Rumble matches in the project (tied for second among all wrestlers), and none of them advanced.
What more surprises are to come? Which matches will prove to be the most divisive? Can any continue to go 14-0 through the second round? Madness – just getting started!
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