Counterfeit Pennies 01.23.04: Why The Royal Rumble Is Better Than WrestleMania

Over the past week, I have heard many hardcore professional football fans blast the Super Bowl for being too much of a spectacle, and not enough of a championship football game. In fact, WFAN (New York Sports Radio 660) overnight host Joe Benigno even went as far as to say the football season ended after the last snap of the NFC championship game was played.

There is a lot of truth to Benigno’s comments, because the Super Bowl is so accessible to the general population that the football junkie is virtually thrust aside to make room for Aerosmith’s entourage. Even the advertisements promoting the Super Bowl contain about 10 % football and 90 % everything else, from cheerleaders and half-time performance to pre-game specials and post-game TV premieres.

Here’s one simple question: What happened to the f&^%ing game?!

The bottom line is that the Super Bowl as an athletic competition rarely lives up to the hype. In terms of professional wrestling, I feel like the same can be said for WrestleMania.

My favorite WWF/WWE offering has always been the Royal Rumble. To me, this coming weekend is the wrestling equivalent of the NFL conference championships, because the rumble match itself is the most distinctive in WWE’s arsenal. For all of the Elimination Chambers and Hell In A Cells, nothing beats a 30-man, over-the-top battle royal.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Rumble match even before the provision of an automatic WrestleMania title shot was thrown into the mix, and now I love it even more. This is the only match that contains intermingling storylines within storylines, surprise entrants, returning wrestlers from injury, tag-teams that turn on each other, alliances gone awry, and the added suspense of a guaranteed title shot for the winner makes all in one shot!

The reason I like the Rumble over WrestleMania is that for all of WrestleMania’s legendary moments, I feel like there are times when the main event matches just cannot live up to the incredible amount of hype and expectations. For every Rock-Hogan, Hogan-Warrior or Austin-Michaels moment, there is a Jericho-HHH, Sid-Undertaker, Fatal Fourway with a McMahon in every corner debacle.

The Royal Rumble match never disappoints me because even if I am dissatisfied with the winner of the match, I can at the very least hang my hat on some of the other developments that unfolded with the 29 participants who didn’t win but placed well. I can’t say the same thing about any other match, especially one-on-one showdowns, because during these matches I have too much emotion – whether it is love or hatred – invested in the outcome.

Of the big four Pay-per-Views, the two WWE events I haven’t seen live are the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. I have been fortunate enough over the past two years to catch Survivor Series at Madison Square Garden and Summerslam at Nassau Coliseum. This coming March, I will be attending WrestleMania XX at the Garden, and I am extremely excited to have a ticket.

It will be interesting to see what develops between now and WrestleMania, and I am personally hoping that Mick Foley returns at the Rumble in game shape and prepares for some kind of WrestleMania match against Randy Orton or even HHH. Mick, of course, is my favorite wrestler of all-time.

I have also heard rumors that WrestleMania may be extended to as far as the five-hour range this year, and if that is the case, I must say that I have mixed emotions about it. I am afraid that Vince McMahon and Co. will try to make this year’s WrestleMania more of a mainstream spectacle than a wrestling show. And, in all honesty, I am petrified that Trish Stratus is going to have a match against Rhonda Sheer, or that Test and Tommy Lee will wrestle Scott Steiner and Vince Neil.

At least I know that this coming Sunday, as I sit in front of my TV with friends and chow down on some Dominos pepperoni and bacon pizzas, the Royal Rumble won’t disappoint.

Unless, of course, David Arquette wins the whole thing, and then my argument gets thrown right out the window.

That’s all for now Peace.

-Chris Biscuiti

Chris Biscuiti also writes The Weekly Media Monitor – a timely, all-inclusive look at sports, entertainment, pop culture and general news coverage and media trends – for 411 Black.