We didn’t know what bloated was. In April 2018, the 50-man monstrosity that was Greatest Royal Rumble (complete with Performance Center dwellers and a Yokozuna cover band) cracked a window into just how colossal WWE’s roster really is. Seven years earlier, the 2011 Royal Rumble begged the question of, “How much is too much?” when it expanded the field to accommodate 40 contestants. We thought we knew what big was. We didn’t.
Even with 10 extra wrestlers helping to comprise the largest Rumble in history to that point, it’s not as though the match were improved by the additional humanity. Whoever the bottom 10 per cent were in terms of popularity and prestige could’ve been excised in favour of a stronger cast, but what’s done is done. Other than two monumental returns, a nifty John Morrison elimination save, and a fake-out ending that had a cynic like me buzzing, the match was 70 minutes of basic. Despite having the overhead to pull off a 40-man match since, WWE hasn’t (save for the paid-for match with the green belt).
The 2011 Royal Rumble was a basic show, as basic as a crack in the sidewalk, with a few quaint moments that kept things above the current. Given some of the tedium and rage-fodder that lay ahead in the coming years, basic’s good.
10. By Process Of Elimination
Well, something had to open the show, and given that there were four scheduled matches, Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler for the World Heavyweight title was as good a choice as any. The match may have been the best of the quartet, with fast-paced action and a little “it could go either way” drama down the homestretch, with main event newcomer Ziggler holding his own.
This would mark the first time that a World title (WWE or World Heavyweight, not ECW) match opened a Big Four pay-per-view. And it certainly wouldn’t be the last, as the two Rumbles following this, as well as next two WrestleManias, would see the Big Gold Belt put up for grabs in the curtain-jerker. That was some mercy-killing when they unified the straps at the end of 2013.