Examining the Most Exciting Elements of WWE Battle Royals

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Examining the Most Exciting Elements of WWE Battle Royals
Credit: WWE.com

WWE Battle Royals are scenes of constant chaos.

Crumbling partnerships, great escapes and star power help turn that chaos into a gimmick match that can produce lasting images.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX can either be a filler match where WWE tosses in all the men who didn't get on the card elsewhere, or it can be multilayered drama powered by suspense. Reflecting on the best elements of the Battle Royal reveal which parts of the match WWE should be striving to repeat.

The following are the components of the blueprint for a great Battle Royal.

 

Allies Collide, Rivalries Begin

Battle Royals have a way of breaking down relationships. The format begs for allegiances to fall apart.

Tag teams partners, best friends and brothers are often forced to battle each other.

At the 1989 Royal Rumble, the Tag Team champs found themselves in a fight with themselves when Ax and Smash of Demolition were the bout's first entrants. They could have simply waited in the ring for the third man to enter, but instead, they traded right hands.

The lure of victory has a way of doing that to allies.

Cody Rhodes and Goldust and the members of 3MB will have to be wary of that come WrestleMania XXX. There is certainly an appeal to having a crew enter a fight of this size, but at some point, cohesion gives way to chaos.

For men who have no loyalty to each other going into the bout, a Battle Royal can serve as the launching point for a feud.

Being eliminated often causes rage to rise. It's how Bo Dallas and Wade Barrett's short rivalry began, for example.

Back at the 1990 Royal Rumble, frustrations born from defeat led to a clash at that year's WrestleMania.

Roddy Piper tossed Bad News Brown to the floor. Brown, though, wouldn't meekly walk away from the fray. He pulled Piper out, leading to a brawl that the referees struggled to stop.

Who will be overcome with similar animosity at WrestleMania XXX?

Titus O'Neil and Darren Young already have plenty of reason to hate each other. Clashing in the Battle Royal should only worsen things. Sheamus and Christian already have an overstock of bad blood as well.

The 30-man match is also a prime opportunity for WWE to begin angles for Damien Sandow or Big Show, wrestlers with no true rival at the moment.

 

Partnerships Form, Allies Collude

As much as Battle Royals erode relationships, they also create them, albeit often only temporarily.

In 1981, the participants of the $5,000 Battle Royal realized that their best chance at winning began with ousting Andre the Giant. Nick Bockwinkel, Ken Patera and others worked together to pummel the big man, hoping to work as a unit to take him out.

Had they succeeded, that alliance would have instantly fallen apart, but that didn't matter in the moment.

Big Show, Mark Henry and The Great Khali's presence in the Battle Royal named after Andre will force similar situations to occur. Fans will get to see strange combos of enemies making nice, such as Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio, something only a Battle Royal can produce.

The match is also home to the dramatic sight of wrestlers being outnumbered, looking up to see that they are surrounded by a united pack.

The nWo encircled Lex Luger in 1996, four men huddling together to plot how best to do away with the fan favorite. Luger then went on a run where he almost took out every one of his enemies. 

Getting that close to a seemingly impossible win was thrilling, an impressive showing in what amounted to an impromptu handicap match.

CM Punk led the New Nexus in the Royal Rumble 2011, attempting the same kind of dominance that the nWo had. 3MB can attempt to continue that tradition, but that trio isn't anywhere near as formidable as the New Nexus or nWo.

 

Escapes and Close Calls

One of the Battle Royal's major strengths is suspense.

The wrestlers who get tossed over the ropes can hang on, clinging to anything within reach to avoid defeat. That often creates exciting moments and iconic images.

Fans won't ever forget Shawn Michaels' feet dangling at the 1995 Royal Rumble.

That is the kind of close call that forces the audience to hold its breath. A man clutching onto ropes, ducking clotheslines to avoid getting knocked off the apron or marooned on the security barricade outside the ring forces our eyes to focus on them.

Kofi Kingston has become a master of doing just that.

His most famous escapes have come at the Royal Rumble, where he has used a handstand, a desk chair and a stunning leap to stay in the match. In 2013, he impressed once more in a Battle Royal to determine the No. 1 contender for the United States Championship.

Can Kingston provide yet another highlight this time around, or will Justin Gabriel or Sin Cara be the one to craft an incredible escape this time?

 

Shrinking Field

The beginning of a traditional Battle Royal can be a cluttered mess. It's hard to see what is going on and difficult for the wrestlers to do much more than throw punches.

As the eliminations pile up, things improve.

The intensity increases as the match goes on and the number of warriors dwindles down. The filler goes away, leaving only the match's biggest stars.

That creates star-studded endings like we saw at the 2003 Royal Rumble. 

When the 30-man battle turned into a four-man clash, it was Kane, Batista, Brock Lesnar and Undertaker who still had a chance at victory.

At this point, the excitement sizzled. Any one of these men could have won that match. Every elimination from that point on amplified the energy, the thrill of a tournament happening in a matter of minutes.

Clearing away the lesser stars for the future Hall of Famers can lead to staredowns like the one Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior had in 1990 or, more recently, Roman Reigns and Batista's at this year's Royal Rumble.

At WrestleMania XXX, WWE would be wise to create something similar in the match's closing moments.

Looking back on Battle Royal history provides a number of tropes to use. The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has a great chance to be the start of a new tradition, providing a jolt of elation to the event.

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