Royal Rumble Deadlist, 2009
A somewhat annual event here at Big Stupid Tommyland...the WWE's Royal Rumble is tonight. It's the 22nd annual...every year ('cept '88, mind you) 30 men enter the ring, vying for the illustrious label Royal Rumble Winner. Since 1993, the winner's automatically gone on to Wrestlemania as a Main Eventer...
It's the springboard for Wrestling's biggest and most eventful corridor...it's not a coincidence, I don't think, that it coincides with the end of the NFL season and operates during the lull between football and baseball.
The Royal Rumble is my favorite event. Yeah, what I watch is grown men pretending to fight in predetermined events generally designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I think what I like about the Royal Rumble is that it doesn't always follow the Lowest Common Denominator outcome...what happens is often somewhat random and not easy to determine prior to the outcome. I think it's the closest that professional wrestling comes to being an actual sporting event....
Yeah, I watch pro wrestling. I like the pageantry. I like the concert atmosphere. More than that, I like the Hollywood Sporting atmosphere--the feeling you get when Rocky finally beats Apollo Creed or Clubber Lang, or when Daniel-san crane kicks Johnny. Wrestling is very much about Revenge and Getting Even. It's part Morality Play, part Soap Opera. It's also very much about violence for the sake of it.
To be honest? I dig all those things.
Beneath all this though, there's something else.
Wrestlers tend to have a short lifespan, especially over the past two or three decades. Travel, lack of time to heal and an environment that encourages a body-type that, frankly, isn't natural...well, it leads to a lot of guys living hard, short lives.
I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me...it's something I think about long and hard, perhaps no time longer and harder than when Chris Benoit was finally overcome by any number of demons, and ended the lives of his family just before ending his own.
Still, I do watch. I don't have any illusions about it. At the end of the day, these guys choose the paths they take, as we all do.
I'd also be lying if it didn't hold a certain morbid fascination. I guess it all comes from the same place where we slow down at a traffic accident, or my own fascination with a barn near my parents' house, that is slowly falling in upon itself.
Or the part of the Oscar or Emmy ceremony, where we look back at all the stars and workers who have passed on in the previous year....
Tonight's show will be the 22nd over-the-top-rope match, and in keeping with that, we look at how many of the previous years' rumble entrants are no longer with us...
1988: Dino Bravo is dead
1989: Big John Studd, Andre the Giant, Big Boss Man, Hercules Hernandez, Bad News Brown
1990: Andre the Giant, Dino Bravo, Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, Hercules Hernandez, Bad News Brown, Earthquake
1991: Dino Bravo, Hawk (of the Road Warriors), Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, Davey Boy Smith, Hercules Hernandez, Kerry von Erich, Crush
1992: Big Boss Man, Hercules Hernandez, Davey Boy Smith, Kerry von Erich
1993: Owen Hart, Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, Yokozuna
1994: Owen Hart, Crush, Bam Bam Bigelow
1995: Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart, Crush, Dick Murdoch
1996: Owen Hart, Yokozuna, Davey Boy Smith
1997: Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Crush
1998: Owen Hart
1999: Owen Hart, Big Boss Man, Golga,
2000: Big Boss Man, Davey Boy Smith
2001: Crash Holly
2002: Big Boss Man, Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig
2003: Eddie Guerrero
2004: Chris Benoit
2005: Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit
2006: Chris Benoit
2007; Chris Benoit
2008: Nobody. (Yet).
Kinda floors ya, still. Only Rumble without a dead guy is the one that took place a year ago....