Since 1988, the Royal Rumble match, and pay-per-view itself for that matter, has been an annual staple in WWE. From Stone Cold Steve Austin to Batista, it has served as the launching pad for numerous wrestlers into superstardom.
The Rumble match initially featured only 20 men upon its debut in 1988 before expanding to 30 the following the year. This would become the norm for the next 25 years and beyond.
However, 2011's Rumble did something absolutely unprecedented: it featured 40 competitors instead of the traditional 30. It gave more Superstars the opportunity to earn the right to headline WrestleMania for a world championship, but the chances of winning for each participant were lessened significantly.
On paper, it was an excellent marketing technique by WWE. It was hyped as something that had never been done before, which definitely played a factor in the increase of PPV buys that year.
In my opinion, the 2011 Rumble match was easily one of the better Rumbles in recent memory. Not only did it feature shocking returns from Booker T and Diesel, but also breakout performances from Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, John Morrison and others.
Going into the match, many fans thought that the excessive amount of participants would prove to be a train wreck. Granted, the action was confusing at times, but it allowed more stories to be told with a wider range of Superstars.
In the end, it was Alberto Del Rio who emerged victorious, going on to WrestleMania 27 to contend for the World Heavyweight Championship against Edge. Del Rio has since been able to say that he won the biggest Royal Rumble match in history.
That being said, what if the 40-man format for the annual Battle Royal was brought back?
As of this writing, 20 of the 30 participants for this year's Rumble have been named, meaning we are already certain of two-thirds of who will be taking part in the match. Of those confirmed, the only true favorites seem to be Batista and CM Punk, who will be entering at the feared No. 1 spot.
While I am not at all saying that the other competitors don't belong in the bout, viewers simply don't have any reason to believe that someone such as Jey Uso or Xavier Woods will be coming out on top.
Wouldn't adding more people to the Rumble match give more Superstars the chance to compete and more possibilities for fans to buy into?
Needless to say, this year's match obviously lacks star power. It is always possible that Superstars such as Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar and Big Show may enter despite already having competed at the event (wrestlers have pulled double duty in the past), but spots are limited, so only so many of them will be able to participate.
Let's not forget about the obligatory surprise returns every year, which usually prove to be some of the most memorable moments from the Rumble match. The returning Superstars usually take up a spot or two, which means a member of the active roster might be snubbed from the match to make room for one of them.
Of course, I always enjoy seeing a familiar face in the Rumble each year, but it is a bit unfair to those who have worked the entire year for a chance to compete. So, expanding the match to 40 participants on a regular basis would help right that wrong.
All too often are some Superstars overlooked in the match and don't last nearly as long as they should. For example, someone such as Bryan or even Antonio Cesaro shouldn't be relegated to only a few minutes of in-ring time during a Rumble match.
At a time where the roster is filled with rising stars and fresh talent who deserve a spot in the Rumble, I see no reason why it shouldn't feature 40 Superstars. It is too late for it to happen this year, but I would hope that this becomes the norm starting with next year's installment.
Should WWE permanently implement the 40-man format for the Royal Rumble match starting next year? Or is it fine the way it is?
Thanks for reading, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on the situation. As always, your criticism and overall feedback of my latest piece is welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.