WWE Royal Rumble 2014: 5 Worst Booking Decisions in Event History
Throughout its long and illustrious history, the Royal Rumble match has featured some outstanding instances of exemplary booking.
The 1990 match featured the staredown between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior that teased their epic WrestleMania VI bout.
Ric Flair's 1992 run, which saw him enter at No. 3 and outlast 29 other Superstars en route to capturing his first WWE title, was an iconic moment in a legendary career.
Vince McMahon putting a kink in Steve Austin's plans to challenge for the WWE title at WrestleMania XV by dumping him over the top rope with the help of The Rock and winning the 1999 Rumble furthered his rivalry with Austin and set up a huge cage match the following month.
Kane's dominance in 2001, Maven eliminating Undertaker to the shock and awe of everyone in 2002, Batista and John Cena rising to stardom in 2005 and the finale of the 2007 bout involving Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are among the best booking decisions in Rumble lore.
While not as frequent, there have also been some head-scratching booking decisions in Rumble match history.
What are the worst booking decisions to ever occur in the annual January bout?
Let's take a look.
Mr. Perfect Does Not Win (1990)
In January of 1990, there were few Superstars as hot as Mr. Perfect.
He not only had exceptional in-ring skills, perhaps better than anyone else in the company at the time, he was rapidly developing a cocky and arrogant personality that had made him one of the most despised Superstars in the World Wrestling Federation.
There was speculation in some circles that Perfect was being primed for a feud with top draw Hulk Hogan and a win in the 1990 Royal Rumble match.
Said win would have immediately elevated him to the top of the card and put him in contention for a shot at Hogan's WWF Championship.
Somewhere along the way, however, plans were changed and Hogan was given the win. Adding insult to injured ego was the fact that Perfect was the final man eliminated from the match.
Perfect, real name Curt Hennig, would go on to have a Hall of Fame-worthy career with the promotion as one of its finest workers. He never quite broke through the proverbial glass ceiling, however, and instead is remembered as one of the great midcard stars of his generation.
Indecisive Booking (1994)
Bret Hart and Lex Luger were the top two performers in the World Wrestling Federation as the 1994 Royal Rumble kicked off. As such, it was widely believed that one of the two Superstars would leave the Civic Center in Providence with their arm raised in victory.
Exactly which one it would be, however, was the real question.
After all, the company had invested a ton of money into marketing Lex Luger as a patriotic hero and the New Generation's answer to Hulk Hogan. He had been promoted as the man to knock off the massive Yokozuna and save the WWF title from the Japanese (not really) Superstar.
Hart, on the other hand, got over and stayed over by being the best wrestler in the world. His budding rivalry with brother Owen only helped develop sympathy for the character.
The Hitman may have had the ever-so-slight edge over Luger in terms of popularity heading into the show, but it was no guarantee that that edge would earn him the right to leave as the No. 1 contender.
Fans could not make up their minds as to whom to cheer, alternating between the two Superstars as the match neared its end.
As it turns out, the company could not make its decision either, as it booked a draw in the finish of the Royal Rumble match. Hart and Luger were named co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble, as fans groaned at the company's inability to choose, thus letting both men win.
Luger would squander another title opportunity, thanks in large part to crooked officiating from Mr. Perfect at WrestleMania X, while Hart would defeat Yokozuna and regain the WWE title.
The sight of both men tumbling over the top rope and realizing the company had gotten out of choosing who to back heading into Wrestlemania X by letting them both win helps solidify the 1994 ending as one of the worst booking decisions in event history.
60-Second Intervals (1995)
The 1995 Royal Rumble match is historic for being the first one to feature a Superstar entering at No. 1 and going the distance to win the match.
That Superstar was Shawn Michaels, and in many ways, his performance in '95 set in motion his great main event run that catapulted him to his first WWE Championship a year later.
But that Rumble was also notorious for being one of the worst in the match's long and illustrious history.
A talent crop that featured greats such as Mantaur, Aldo Montoya, Kwang and the Bushwhackers severely hurt the quality of the match, but that was only the beginning of the issues surrounding the match.
The biggest problem the 1995 bout had was the shortened intervals between entrances.
Rather than the two-minute intervals or even 90-second intervals that had been in place throughout the history of the match, the intervals between entrants were shortened to one minute, ensuring that the time for the match was split in half.
That meant that the eliminations were more rapid and that there was less time for the match to unfold and for stories to be told. Given the talent in the match, that may have been a good thing.
Unfortunately, the match never got out of first gear and despite outstanding performances from Michaels and "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, it is considered to be the first big letdown in match history and one of the worst as well.
The 40-Man Royal Rumble (2011)
In theory, adding 10 more guys to the traditional Royal Rumble match and making it the biggest in WWE history sounded pretty cool. After all, 40 guys vying for a shot at either the WWE or World Heavyweight title meant that there would be more entrances and increased drama.
However, decreased star power meant that Superstars who had wrestled in earlier title bouts pulled double-duty, and guys that really had no business being on the card were suddenly part of the biggest Battle Royal of the year. Guys like JTG, Hornswoggle and Yoshi Tatsu, wrestlers who could not sniff Superstars most weeks, were thrown into the mix just to help meet the quota.
The match became watered down as a result and never lived up to its potential. The dominance of the New Nexus early on bogged down the pace of the match, and John Cena single-handedly fighting off the group on his own was ridiculous.
There were a few bright spots, including Diesel and Booker T's returns and Santino Marella's dramatic late-match surge, but those spots could not make up for what was a disappointing Rumble match, all because of the poor booking choice to expand a bout that really did not need it.
Commentators Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Booker T Enter the Rumble (2012)
The Royal Rumble has long been associated with shocking moments. More times than not, those moments deliver and greatly enhance the match itself.
In 2012, however, that was not the case.
Throughout the Rumble match, commentators Michael Cole, Booker T and Jerry Lawler all rose from the announce position and made their presences felt in the contest.
With a talented roster of Superstars, some of whom were doing nothing else on the broadcast (Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater, to name two), why reduce part of the match to comedy by inserting Cole into it?
None of the commentators, event veteran wrestlers Booker and Lawler, made much of an impact in the match, so why bother going that route rather than rolling Tyson Kidd a bone and letting him get some pay-per-view time?
It was a questionable booking decision and one that did not have to be made given the surprises of Jim Duggan and the returning Kharma.