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Royal Rumble 2012 Preview and Game Rules
January 28, 2012

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


Even on a weekend where I'm busting my ass, trying to unbreak the OO Forums (I try to do some maintenance, and instead I screw things up to the point where the message boards may or may not be back in time for the Rumble; d'oh), I just can't stay miserable and ornery.
Why? Because Sunday night is the Royal Rumble, and the Royal Rumble is probably the 2nd best night of the year to be a wrestling fan.

Some years, if WWE craps the bed on WrestleMania, it's the best night of the year. Sure there are some Rumbles that have been better than others, but by and large, this is the one match out of the year that's foolproof. The Rumble is almost a lock to be the most fun contiguous 60 minutes of the Wrestling Year. Part of that is the nature of the match itself, and its history of taking advantage of its structure. But the rest of why it's so fun boils down to three words that OO Nation has been lucky enough to know about for a decade:

It started with our crew somewhere towards the beginning of the Attitude Era. And after a few years of keeping it a private matter among friends, I shared the rules with the world, and our Rumble Game has become a mild international phenomenon.

C'mon, admit it: NOTHING is more fun that playing the game so that you actually have a reason to cheer/boo/care-about EVERY SINGLE ENTRY into the Rumble. You can mock your friends when they draw Heath Slater! But then you'll have no choice but to grab the nearest damn bottle and give yourself Instant Liver Damage when you, yourself, get stuck with Alex Riley! 

No more sitting around, only perking up when somebody like Randy Orton or Kane enters the match. Those jokers get enough of the attention as it is. Playing the Rumble Game spreads the excitement out over the entire hour. Nothing says "Sunday Night Funhouse" like caring So Damned Much that you actually jump around like a monkey, cheering on some worthless choade like Tyler Recks, in the hopes that he goes nuts and pulls a Diesel '94 out of his ass, somehow! Trust me, just play it: you'll have fun.

Long time readers should be relatively well-aware of the Royal Rumble Game and its rules. For the uninitiated, though, here's how it goes... and yes, these are back to the ORIGINAL RECIPE rules, after WWE pulled that 40-man crap last year. Happy happy joy joy: 

(1) Count how many people are in your group
(2) Put that number of pieces of paper in a hat (or baggie or box or whatever; though a University of Dayton baseball-style cap IS the traditionally appropriate vessel), each piece containing a number (1 through however many people there are)
(3) Each person draws his/her number out of the hat-like object; your will be assigned wrestlers, in a rotating fashion, based on this number. For instance, if you draw #3 in a five-person game, you will get entries 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, and 28. If you are #1 in a three person game, you get 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, and 28. You get the idea, right? 
(4) Sit on the edge of your seat and start murmuring every time one of your wrestlers is about to enter; hope for the best, but prepare for Hornswoggle! React accordingly, and preferably profanely
(5) You accumulate points thusly: 

- one point (1) for every solo elimination made by your wrestlers...

- one-half point (0.5) for every tandem/group elimination aided by your wrestlers (yes, if eight men team up to get Khali, they each get 0.5 points, even though that adds up to 4.0 points instead of 1.0; this is a game, people, not quantum mechanics!)....
- two points (2) for each wrestler you have that makes it to the Final Five of the Rumble (yes, final FIVE; the final FOUR are usually all bigger stars, but this opens things up for one last surprise guy to net you a bonus, plus it helps level the point distribution between "elim points" and "survival points")...
- an additional five points (5) if your wrestler is the runner-up.... 
- ten big points (10) if your wrestler is the winner of the Rumble. 

If the scoring seems overly-simple, take my word for it: it's time tested. For one, true fans will be drinking their faces off for the annual spectacle that is the Rumble, so simple math is the best math. For two, it's actually quite an elegant set-up, with around 30 points determined by eliminations and spread out evenly, but 25 bonus points "back-loaded" and concentrated into the Final Five. This invariably means that several people will be vying for the point lead during End Game, which makes it all the more exciting.

Oh, and for the sake of full disclosure: the game is fair and "even" with 3, 5, 6, or 10 players (or with 2 or 15, I guess, though it's never come to either of those with our group)... meaning that everybody gets the same number of wrestlers with those numbers of players. In cases of uneven games where some players will get one less wrestler than others, it is permissible to give the handicapped players a "head start." We've settled on giving the handicapped player(s) 2 points to make up for being one wrestler short. Feel free to do the same, should the situation arise in your unique gaming situation.

Also, the most recent rule amendment we've made was this: it is now legal for a player with an "extra" wrestler in an Unfair Game to TRADE his last wrestler (ONLY his last wrestler, since then he's taking a huge risk of it being a Final Five Wrestler, and really has to ponder whether it's worth it or not) to one of the handicapped players in exchange for the guaranteed 2 points, if he can find a willing partner.
According to our rules, this transaction must be agreed upon before the Rumble Match starts, though you're certainly free to tweak that particular regulation if you think it'd be fun to have heated in-match negotiations as two guys are keeping track of what wrestlers are still "on the board" (basically, the Rumble Game equivalent of Card Counting in blackjack).

It is completely appropriate to append a Cash Prize to the game, as well. You can have each player post an entry fee deemed appropriate (with "winner-take-all" being the payout format), but we've also done it where the winner simply has his share of the PPV price tag (and perhaps the accompanying food delivery from a local sub shop) waived, and it's absorbed by the others for a less-intense and more-friendly game. Your choice.
So there you have it, your rules for the Royal Rumble Game, and another year of my hearty encouragement that you play along at home with your friends. You'll have nothing short of a blast, you have my word on it!
And since we're both here (and since I probably won't get to do my usual preview on the Forums' PPV Thread), why don't we look at Sunday's card, really quickly. And I do mean quickly; they've only officially announced 4 matches. Here's what's on tap for the PPV:

  • 30 Man Royal Rumble Match. Not only have they only announced 4 matches, they haven't even bothered announcing a partial roster for the Rumble match. I mean, in recent years, they've stopped pretending like there's a set-in-stone 30-man roster (since surprise entrants are now the norm), but they've usually thrown out a 27-man roster to lock down MOST of the spots. Not so this year.
    In addition to protecting surprises, my guess is that this is being done to avoid spoiling the outcome of undercard matches. WWE has gone out of the way this year to emphasize that anybody who wrestles an undercard match is still eligible to be in the Rumble... so we can now safely assume that Dolph Ziggler will get a chance to be in the Rumble, although WWE can't announce that without confirming that Dolph is not, in fact, ready to be a world champion. Ergo: they're playing it even more coy than usual.
    Without knowing for sure who's in, you'd think it'd make it hard to predict the favorites. But you'd think wrong. Given what's known about WrestleMania plans, the only two likely winners from the current rosters are Chris Jericho (on RAW, challenging CM Punk to prove who really is the "best in the world") and Randy Orton (re-establishing himself as SD's top megastar by dethroning that pesky Daniel Bryan). Of the two, I'd probably favor Orton, since there are indications WWE wants to keep their options open with the RAW Title; if Triple H decides he and Undertaker can't replicate last year's magic, they'll use Jericho as Taker's foil (and HHH would be a likely challenger to Punk, in this scenario). Even if they stick with Jericho/Punk, it's easy as pie to set that up using the Elimination Chamber PPV.
    But either way, my money would be on one of those two. I can't see anyone else currently on the active roster being tapped for the win. However, all bets are off if WWE has an ace up its sleeve... the problem is that this year, I'm having a hard time thinking of aces.
    There could be a few "surprise" returns by injured guys: Alberto del Rio's almost certain to show-up after being out for 2 months, and there's an outside shot that Christian could be ready to go, too. But neither really feel like they're ready for such a hot-shot angle into a WM title match. One guy who might be able to pull off a surprise win like that is Rey Mysterio, but last I heard, he's actually behind in his injury rehab and might not even be ready for Mania (much less tomorrow's Rumble). Also: I wouldn't be TOO surprised if Taker was a surpise entrant (if necessary, it'd be a way to kickstart a feud with Jericho), but he can't win, since there's no sense making his WM match about a world title, when the Streak is ample in terms of high stakes.
    Mick Foley's already been granted a spot in the Rumble, and there could be other older/legend type guys who'd show up as crowd pleasers, but who aren't legit possibilities to win (like Booker and Diesel last year). This could be a good spot for Goldust to show up in his full glory (after being gone for over a year with an injury, and then making limited appearances as "Dustin"), if it's true they're planning on a brother vs. brother feud between him and Cody.
    If you throw logic out the window, WWE might decide to remember that stupid "Cena vs. Rock will be for the WWE Title" promise that Cena made last year... that would open the door for the Rock to blow the roof off the dump tomorrow night as a surprise entrant/winner (or for Cena to do so after his match with Kane, albeit to a substantially lesser reaction). Like I said: it doesn't really make logical sense, but since when has WWE specialized in plots that lack massive logic holes?
    I'd also like to take a moment to throw all of reality out the window with my one suggestion for a surprise entrant/winner that would own the entire multiverse: Brock Lesnar. Let's face it, SOMEbody's gonna dethrone Daniel Bryan at WM. And frankly, Randy Orton does nothing for me. So this is my outlandish fantasy: Lesnar (who IS retired from MMA, and Dana White has not shot down the idea of him going back to wrestling) shows up, wins the Rumble, and then decides to focus his attention on that so-called "submission specialist," D-Bry. Lesnar as the World Champ could give WWE a way to really distinguish the SD Title from the RAW Title, as they'd book Lesnar more like an MMA Champ: a special attraction guy who only fights on big shows (maybe 5-6 times per year for WWE, versus 2-3 for UFC).
    There are, of course, a billion reasons why this won't happen (including the fact that this WM is already gonna have enough "stunt casting," with The Rock and Shaq, so you don't want to overdo it and leave nothing special for next year), but o to dream, right?
  • CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE Title Match with John Laurinaitis as the Special Referee). Even with the deck stacked against him, Punk seems a mortal lock to retain here, simply because the Road to WM is no time for a rising mid-card act to be booked as the top star of the company. And don't pull the "yeah, but Ziggler has already been world champ" crap on me; we both know it was only for 2 days, and furthermore, it was on SD. So that basically doesn't count.

    Ziggler's day will come; he's finally turned the corner these last 4 months or so. But that day is not Sunday.
    On the upside, these two are capable of having one hell of a wrestling match, and the added nuclear heat provided by Johnny Ace should really up the entertainment value. You can bank on the Rumble being 60 minutes of fun, and I think it's almost as sure a bet that Punk/Ziggler will be 30 minutes of awesome in its own right.
  • Daniel Bryan vs. Mark Henry vs. Big Show (World Heavyweight Title Cage Match). Mark Henry is nursing all manner of injuries (including a knee injury at SD tapings that made for an awfully awkward main event last night), but he's expected to compete. With a cage and with 3 men, they should be able to "hide" him and any limitations; and if not, the "brutality" of the cage means they can always write him out, too.
    But I don't see it going that way. The likely story here is Bryan once again retaining his title, despite being over-matched. That could mean more borderline cheating (perhaps even help from his "grievously injured" girlfriend), but it almost CERTAINLY means that he'll get his cheap win thanks to Henry and Show taking each other out and forgetting to pay attention to the little guy.
    There's enough here for an amusing little 15 sports entertainment segment, if you ask me.
  • John Cena vs. Kane. Kane returned (with his mask) for the sole purpose of making John Cena admit that -- deep down -- he isn't really the sunshines-and-rainbows good guy he pretends to be. Deep down, Kane believes John Cena is as full of hate and anger as anyone. And he wants Cena to embrace it.
    So then there have been parts of the story that have worked, and played off the "Dark Side Recruitment" angle first introduced by Darth Piper. And then there have been other parts that have been massively retarded, which kind of hampers your ability to care about the whole over-arching story.
    At least the build-up ended on a fairly compelling note, as Kane decimated Cena's buddy Zack Ryder, and Cena was too late to save him from a trip to the hospital. The hatred towards Kane was co-mingled with self-doubt (and maybe a bit of indignation) when Eve blamed Cena for what happened to Zack. WHY DOES NO ONE APPRECIATE CENA?!?!? HE'S RESPONSIBLE FOR ZACK'S SUCCESS!!! WITHOUT CENA, ZACK WOULDN'T EVEN BE ON RAW!!! BUT WAIT: WITHOUT CENA, ZACK WOULDN"T HAVE BEEN ON RAW TO GET HIS ASS KICKED!!!
    Oh, the inner turmoil. So very much inner turmoi.
    Pretend like you care. And then, soon enough, the Rock will be here to render Cena entertaining again.
  • Other Stuff. Four matches ain't gonna get the job done, even if I anticipate two of them will take up 90 minutes. The other two probably shouldn't take up more than 30. So there will be more. Carting out the women to do something would be sensible, as I can't remember the last time WWE did a 100% diva-free show. I don't see using your higher-profile Rumble entrants (Miz/Truth or Sheamus/Barrett) on the undercard, since that'd mute the pop they get in the Rumble. But maybe a tag title match? Or Kofi/Swagger for the US Title? We'll see..
There you have it... everything you need to know about the Rumble PPV in order to have a hell of a time on Sunday night. Including how to play the legendary Royal Rumble Game!
So kick back and have a good time, if it is your wont. And if it isn't? Just come on back to OO on Sunday night around midnight or so, and I'll have Pyro's recap posted for all you cheapskates out there! See you then, kids....

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PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
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RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.



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