If the Royal Rumble was being judged solely on in-ring action, angle advancement and quality of surprises, then it was an unqualified success. The ladder match is a (very) early candidate for match of the year, the other matches were top notch and the Rumble match itself was pretty good, with excellent surprises. And most fans, actually everyone besides the jaded internet critic, only judge PPVs based on their face value entertainment.
However, there is another major factor when considering major PPVs, especially one as large as the Royal Rumble:
The big picture.
Take a step back and look at which wrestlers the WWF chose to push at the Royal Rumble. The three stars of the event were certainly Kane, Steve Austin and HHH.
It’s no surprise to anyone that both Steve Austin and HHH were major players in both the World Title match and the Rumble match itself. 2001’s version of Hogan and Nash, Austin and Helmsley continue to wield their backstage power to ensure their top spots are secure, and to make sure up and comers are held down.
But even more baffling was the gigantic push given the Kane. The Big Red Machine, entering the Rumble at #6 was given a double push during the Rumble match. He was awarded the infamous “clear the ring of early scrubsÃ¢â‚¬Â role made famous by Diesel in 1994. However, he was also given the amazing “iron man of the RumbleÃ¢â‚¬Â role, lasting nearly an hour and was eliminated last.
Why was Kane selected to get this opportunity? Granted he is a good worker, and probably the best big man in wrestling today. But the Kane character has run its course. There is no money to be made with Kane as a top level World title contributor. Perhaps with a gigantic character transformation, but there were many other undercard wrestlers that could have benefited much more from even part of the push Kane was given at the Rumble.
The Big Show, who didn’t really look any different, was allowed a high profile run during the Rumble, and could only be stopped by the Rock. All of a sudden, The Big Show is above other, harder worker mid carders with tons more potential.
Even Haku, who was last seen toiling on the low card of WCW with the likes of The Kwee Wee and Crowbar, is thrust into a top tier program with Kane, Rikishi and the Undertaker.
And what about the rest of the roster?
Despite retaining the title Kurt Angle was made to look weak at the hands of HHH. The assumption was that HHH was sure to have won the title if not for Steve Austin. Instead of a clean win over HHH, which would finally have legitimized him
Tazz, who has been made into a comedic joke, was ousted from the Rumble in about 5 seconds!
There is no denying that both the Royal Rumble and Raw is War on Monday were good TV shows. They had top-notch in-ring action and compelling angles. But there is an underlying theme in all WWF broadcasts that the top-level guys are not only on top now, but will be doing anything to stay on top. Seeing HHH in every segment of Raw, whether it is in the ring, in the dressing room or in the parking lot is simply overkill. When Austin isn’t on screen, Jim Ross is sure to talk about him.
When WCW was #1, it had top stars that refused to help build new stars. The WWF still has good workers at the top, and still has good storylines, both of which WCW was lacked. However, there are only so many times we can see Kane and the Undertaker together and separate, and Rock, HHH and Austin intermingle. They need to build stars, and its better to start too early than too late.
Even in the face of the best WWF TV put out by Titan in many months, there are weaknesses that must be addressed, the sooner the better.
With things being as strong as they are in the present, it’s important not to forget how quickly things can change in wrestling.
Hey Vince- don’t lose site of the big picture.