WWE missed an opportunity to build a new star at The Royal Rumble
The Royal Rumble is an opportunity to create a new star, but WWE dropped the ball.
Another Royal Rumble has come and gone, and a disappointing trend seems to be developing. With the exception of Roman Reigns, the last 10 Rumble matches have all been won by veterans.
There is nothing wrong with a vet getting a renewed push, but the Rumble is a rare opportunity to take a new or mid card Superstar and push them right into the main event scene. Unfortunately, it's not often used to elevate a young wrestler anymore.
Building someone into a main event talent takes time and effort. Management has to plan out storylines for that person and hope the WWE Universe will connect with them. Sometimes a person catches fire right away and WWE can put them right into the hunt for the WWE title.
However, the majority of Superstars take years to be ready for a world title push, and some never reach that point at all. The Royal Rumble match is one of the few chances WWE has to jump over those steps in the middle.
Granted, a Rumble win does not guarantee the person will remain in the title picture, but it's easier to maintain their momentum from the victory than it is to build it from the ground up.
Let's take a look at a few examples from past Rumble winners to see exactly how the push can affect someone. The earliest example of a young Superstar being put over in the Rumble is Yokozuna in 1993.
He was only 27 years old and had been with WWE for roughly a year when he won the 30-man Battle Royal. He went on to defeat Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 9, and he stayed a major player until his departure three years later in 1996.
Two years after Yokozuna won, Shawn Michaels would take the biggest step forward in his career when he entered the match at No. 1 and lasted all the way until the end, eliminating The British Bulldog to finally clinch the win.
As you all know, The Heartbreak Kid ended up becoming one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling. He likely would have reached the top without the Rumble, but it may have taken longer had WWE gone the traditional route.
HBK ended up winning two of the titular Battle Royals in a row, but in 1997, Stone Cold Steve Austin would win his first of three Royal Rumbles. Austin may have been in the industry for a while at that point, but he was still a newcomer to WWE and had yet to fight for a world title.
After he won in '97, Stone Cold skyrocketed up the ladder to become the company's biggest star since Hulk Hogan. He helped usher in the attitude era and became a catchphrase-producing machine.
It took another six years before WWE would use the match to push a new Superstar, but it was worth the wait. In 2003, Brock Lesnar burst onto the scene and immediately began dominating the entire roster.
There's no doubt Lesnar would have been a main eventer at some point, but winning the Battle Royal and facing Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 19 is what made Lesnar the megastar we know today.
Two years later, Batista would get the same push by winning the 2005 Royal Rumble. He went on to defeat Triple H at Wrestlemania 21 to win his first world title, and he remained a top star until leaving the company in 2010.
The only other example of a newcomer winning the match came in 2011 when Alberto Del Rio won the first and only 40-man Battle Royal. He had a prolific career in Mexico before joining the company, but to most casual WWE fans, Del Rio was a rookie.
For these Superstars, The Royal Rumble represented their stepping stone from upper-mid card status to being in the main event. For most of these men, they remained in a top spot until they retired.
Randy Orton doesn't need to win a Battle Royal to earn a title match. His veteran status allows him to be dropped into the title scene without anyone giving it a second thought, and the same can be said about most of the other recent Rumble winners.
This event should be used to give a deserving Superstar the extra boost they need to be considered one of the top stars on their brand. Guys like Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler and Rusev would have benefitted so much more from the victory than someone like Orton.
Nobody is saying The Viper didn't deserve to win.
He has been operating at a high enough level for his entire career to earn a second Rumble victory. It's just unfortunate WWE didn't see this as a chance to make a new star out of someone who has been having trouble rising to that next level. With any luck, WWE will use next year's event to give someone new a chance to headline WrestleMania.
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