20 Days of Battle Royals: Prelude

January 6th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , ,

Later this month, it’ll be time for WWE’s annual PPV the Royal Rumble. Despite the Rock/CM Punk main event, the real draw for me is – and always will be – the 30-man Royal Rumble match. No matter my feelings on the current WWE product, I’ll always be game for this annual match. I’ve already shown my love for it with a big list of my favorites, so it’s not like I can visit that well again.

Instead, I’m going to talk about the pie that the Rumble is a piece of. It’s an offshoot of the whole battle royal concept and while the “one man enters every two minutes” thing makes it the best version of the battle royal, there’s much to be said about the match type. I have no idea when the first battle royal started, but there’s something so fun about a gigantic match of every dude in the area fighting it out at once to see who’s the best. It gives a real feeling of unpredictability as even though a couple guys in there may have a real shot at winning, the idea that it’s anyone’s game from the very beginning is appealing.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to begin 20 Days of Battle Royals. No list of worst-to-best like I’d usually do. Just a look, in chronological order, of notable battle royals from the various big wrestling companies. A lot of these I’ve seen and recall fondly. Some are terrible pieces of wrestling history that are worth poking fun at. A couple I’ve never even seen before, but recognize them as notable enough to discuss.

Some honorable mentions that I won’t give full entries to because I’ve covered them in some way before over the years:

– The Royal Rumbles, natch. This includes the 15-man Rumble they had on Smackdown in 2004 to create a #1 contender for Brock Lesnar at No Way Out.

– The ECW King of the Hill Battle Royal, which was like a Royal Rumble only tag teams were allowed to enter together under the idea that if they won, they’d split the winnings. Coincidentally, the first episode of ECW TV I’ve ever seen.

– A ridiculous 108-man Royal Rumble put together on New Year’s Eve by Big Japan Pro Wrestling, Dramatic Dream Team and Kaientai Dojo.

– The Wrestlemania battle royals. I’ve also covered these in my old Wrestlemania Countdown and while I suppose I could touch on the dark match battle royals they’ve done, none were notable enough to make the final cut. Though Heidenreich and Hurricane briefly befriending each other sure was fun.

Look how pumped Simon Dean is!

– The Immunity Battle Royal from Survivor Series 2001. With the main event being WWF vs. the WCW/ECW Alliance with the winning side getting complete control, they had a battle royal of midcarders where the winner was immune to being fired. Alliance member Test winning made the main event even more obvious than it already was.

– The 15-man Brisbane Cup Battle Royal in 2009. I haven’t mentioned this one before and I really don’t know who won and there’s no footage of the entire thing. I only mention it here as an excuse to post this clip.

I’ll start it off tomorrow as we go all the way back to 1987.

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2 comments to “20 Days of Battle Royals: Prelude”

  1. Nice.

    I have a little bit about the origins of the modern battle royal for you. I heard about it on some Wrestling Observer podcast earlier in the year, and it’s kinda, well…here’s a quote from Wikipedia, which is pretty much what I heard,

    “Before 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was signed, battles royal often appeared on the undercard of boxing matches. These fights would normally involve five or six slaves fighting blindfolded and bare-knuckled. Depending on the pre-agreed rules, these fights would either last until one man was left standing, the winner, or until two remained standing, at which point the blindfolds would be removed from the combatants and the fight continued until one was unable to continue. The owner of the winner would receive the prize, which was usually small.”

    So…yeah. They didn’t talk about the first battle royals in wrestling, but they presumably just took the idea from boxing.

  2. @Schide: Wow, that’s… sobering. And also a strange crossover into what David’s been writing about.