WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of Battle Royals at WrestleMania

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVMarch 29, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

In just over one week, WrestleMania 30 takes place from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. One of the main attractions on the card will be a 30-man over-the-top rope Battle Royal.

Appropriately, the match will be named after one of the greatest competitors in WWE history—Andre the Giant.

The Battle Royal match is a way to get several Superstars involved in the biggest show of the year. Fans enjoy these matches for the excitement and unpredictability they bring.

In the history of the big event, WWE has held Battle Royals where the winner or winners have earned anything from a guaranteed title shot to bragging rights.

But have any of these matches changed the history of WrestleMania? Or are they filler matches that are mostly forgotten amongst the millions of fans who have followed the history of WWE?

Here, we will take a closer look at each and every Battle Royal that has been held at WrestleMania and try to determine if the Battle Royal set to take place on April 6 can become a classic in the history of the event.

WrestleMania 2

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Credit: WWE.com

The second annual WrestleMania featured perhaps the most unique Battle Royal in WWE history.

Not only did this Battle Royal feature WWE Superstars, but players from the National Football League competed in it as well.

WrestleMania 2 took place in three different locations: Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. The Rosemont Horizon in Chicago was the site of this infamous 20-man Battle Royal.

Six NFL players stepped between the ropes, and four WWE Superstars were eliminated at the hands of a football player. William "Refrigerator" Perry picked up two eliminations, tossing Big John Studd and Tony Atlas out of the match.

In 2006, Perry was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for his efforts in this match.

Jimbo Covert, Bill Fralic, Ernie Holmes, Russ Francis and Super Bowl XII co-MVP Harvey Martin also represented the NFL, and they were all very formidable in the match.

However, the night belonged to Andre the Giant, the man the WrestleMania 30 Battle Royal has been named in honor of.

Andre imposed his will and used his immense size to dominate the competition. In the end, he threw out both members of the Hart Foundation to win the match.

WrestleMania 4

Credit: WWE.com

WrestleMania 4 is remembered for the tournament it held to crown a new WWE champion—won by Randy Savage.

But in the first bout of the night, 20 Superstars entered the ring inside the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City to compete for a very large trophy.

The field was comprised of several tag teams, including the Hart Foundation, Young Stallions, Rougeau Brothers, The Bolsheviks and The Killer Bees. Guys like Harley Race, George Steele and Junkyard Dog also took part in the match.

Junkyard Dog, Bret Hart and Bad News Brown were the final three men in the match. After combining to eliminate JYD, Hart and Brown seemed to agree to share the victory.

But Hart turned his back, and Brown attacked him before throwing him over the top rope.

Brown's celebration would be short-lived, however, as Hart attacked him after the match and destroyed the trophy in the ring.

WrestleMania 14

Credit: WWE.com

WWE would go 10 years before holding another Battle Royal at WrestleMania. At WrestleMania 14, 30 men took part in a 15-team Battle Royal. The catch was that if you were eliminated so was your partner.

The Legion of Doom, complete with Sunny as its new valet, made a surprise appearance to compete in the match.

Both Los Boricuas and the Nation of Domination had two teams each, but that wasn't enough for either faction to win.

Hawk and Animal had to fight through several tough teams, including The Godwinns, The Quebecers and The Headbangers before finding themselves one of the final two teams in the ring.

The other team was the New Midnight Express.

Bodacious Bart and Bombastic Bob did all they could to get the victory, but they couldn't pull it off. Hawk and Animal eliminated them to win the match and earn a future WWE tag team title shot.

WrestleMania 15

Though this Battle Royal actually took place on Sunday Night Heat before the pay-per-view even got underway, it was another very unique match.

Twenty-one Superstars took part in the match, and though it featured both tag teams and singles competitors, the last two men in the match would become a tag team to challenge for the tag team titles on the pay-per-view itself.

Legion of Doom, Too Much, Disciples of Apocalypse, Public Enemy and The Hardy Boyz were all entered into the match, but D'Lo Brown and Test were the last two men in the ring.

Brown and Test continued to brawl after they were determined to be the final two competitors in the match, and they made for a strange team to be challenging for the belts.

Later that night, they faced the tag team champions, Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, and were defeated when Jarrett pinned Brown with a roll-up.

WrestleMania 2000

WrestleMania 2000 gave fans another one-of-a-kind match that came around the height of hardcore wrestling. The match was called the Hardcore Battle Royal.

Crash Holly went into the match as the champion, essentially defending his title against 12 other men and the clock.

The rules of the match would be the title could change hands multiple times in a 15-minute time limit, and the man who was champion once time expired would leave with the belt.

The other participants were Hardcore Holly, Tazz, Viscera, Funaki, Taka Michinoku, The Headbangers, Faarooq, Bradshaw, Joey Abs, Pete Gas and Rodney.

In those 15 minutes, the title changed hands 10 times with nine different Superstars earning short title reigns.

The last elimination saw Hardcore Holly pin his own cousin, Crash, to leave with the belt.

WrestleMania 17

Credit: WWE.com

WrestleMania 17 in Houston was the site for perhaps the most memorable Battle Royal in WrestleMania history.

Billed as the Gimmick Battle Royal, the match featured 20 former WWE Superstars. On top of that, Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan were brought out to call the match.

It was an excellent trip down memory lane for fans as they were reintroduced to Superstars like The Iron Sheik, Earthquake, Tugboat and Repo Man, to name a few.

But that was about as far as it went. Once the nostalgia wore off, the action began, and seeing these older, less talented Superstars go at it was not all that entertaining.

The Iron Sheik, who could barely walk, was declared the winner of the match, last eliminating Hillbilly Jim.

This was not one of WWE's prouder moments.

WrestleMania 21, 22, 24, 26 and 27

Credit: WWE.com

In recent years, WWE has tried to hold a Battle Royal prior to the event going live on pay-per-view.

While it hasn't done it every year, it has given Superstars who weren't otherwise part of the show a chance to get out in front of the live crowd and perform.

At WrestleMania 21, Booker T got by Chris Masters in the end to win a 30-man Battle Royal. The next year in Chicago at WrestleMania 22, Viscera outlasted 17 other Superstars, last eliminating Snitsky to get the win.

At WrestleMania 24, a Battle Royal featuring 24 Superstars was put together. While this match took place on the pre-show, it did have implications on the pay-per-view portion of the show.

That is because the winner would receive a shot at the ECW title later that night.

Kane was able to get by Mark Henry in the end, winning the Battle Royal. A couple hours later, Kane shocked the massive crowd in Orlando when he took the ECW title from Chavo Guerrero, defeating him in just 11 seconds.

At WrestleMania 26, Yoshi Tatsu got the biggest win of his WWE career when he won a 26-man Battle Royal. Unfortunately for him, the only WWE fans who saw it were those who were already seated in the arena.

The following year at WrestleMania 27, a match that was supposed to be on the main card between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus with the United States title on the line in a Lumberjack match was changed to a dark match.

Shortly into the contest, the lumberjacks engaged in a massive brawl that forced Smackdown general manager Teddy Long to come out and change it to a Battle Royal which consisted of a total of 23 Superstars.

Sheamus managed to make it to the end, but he couldn't get the giant Great Khali out of the ring, and Khali went on to win it.

WrestleMania 25

Credit: WWE.com

One of the most intriguing matches leading into WrestleMania 25 was the 25-Diva Battle Royal in which the first Miss WrestleMania would be crowned.

WWE promised to bring back Divas from the past to compete with Divas from the present for the crown. WWE completely dropped the ball on this match.

It did a terrible job alerting fans as to which Divas were in the match, and it was unable to secure any big names from the past such as Trish Stratus or Lita.

The match started with what amounted to a mini Kid Rock concert, as he came out and performed five songs, finally playing the Divas to the ring.

When the match got underway, viewers still had no idea who all the competitors in the match were, and on top of that, Santino Marella, under the guise of his twin sister "Santina," won the match.

Historical Impact

As a whole, the Battle Royals WWE has staged at WrestleMania have certainly had unique twists and stipulations, but they haven't had a huge impact on the event itself.

The Divas' Battle Royal at WrestleMania 25 was very poorly promoted and should have been so much better. On the flip side, Battle Royals such as those at WrestleMania 2 and WrestleMania 4 were well done.

Can the Andre the Giant Memorial Make an Impact?

Absolutely. This is WWE's chance to make a star out of someone while getting as many of its Superstars on the card at the same time.

A trophy depicting Andre's likeness has been created, and WWE could make the Battle Royal an annual match at WrestleMania each year.

In the same way the King of the Ring tournament used to elevate a Superstar on the cusp of breaking out, the Andre memorial could do the exact same thing.

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