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WWE Discussion: Should the Royal Rumble Winner Always Headline (last match) WrestleMania?

The “WWE Discussion” is a new weekly feature we are adding to TJRWrestling where I ask our readers on Facebook a WWE related question and then I post their responses in a post like this one along with my thoughts. Here is this week’s question.

Regarding the upcoming Royal Rumble, do you think the winner of the Royal Rumble match should be in the main event (meaning last match) at WrestleMania or is it okay to put the match elsewhere on the card?

I ask because in the brand extension years from 2003 (the first one after the brand extension) to 2012 or so, we saw several Royal Rumble winners not get in that last match.

Here’s the rundown: 2003 Lesnar – last match, 2004 Benoit – last match, 2005 Batista – last match, 2006 – Mysterio – not last, 2007 Undertaker – not last, 2008 Cena – not last, 2009 Orton – last match, 2010 Edge – not last, 2011 Del Rio – not last, 2012 Sheamus – not last.

That’s 6-4 count for Rumble winners not getting the last match at WrestleMania. It started out that way with the first three guys, but then it changed. It’s hard to guess what it might be this year without knowing who will win and what title that may person may challenge for.

TJR TAKE

I think the Rumble winner should be in the main event of WrestleMania as a way to put over how important winning the Royal Rumble is. WWE likes to call multiple matches the “main event” because that’s a traditional way to promote pro wrestling. I just don’t think wrestlers think of that way. Remember CM Punk bitching after he left WWE when he said he was mad that he didn’t get to main event a WrestleMania while a part timer like The Rock got to main event against Cena twice when Punk was arguably the top guy. That’s one of those decision that forced Punk to leave WWE. Wrestlers care about being the last match at WrestleMania. They aren’t going to say it publicly, but we know that they care.

With that said, when it comes to WrestleMania there are always going to factors in play that changes things up.

When I think about the best way to explain it, I’m reminded of the Legends with JBL show that had JBL interviewing Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and Triple H about Undertaker. There was a part there where they spoke about WrestleMania 25, which featured the incredible Undertaker vs. Michaels match that I consider the best WWE match ever. As they were getting ready backstage, Michaels and Taker found out they weren’t going last. Apparently it upset Undertaker a lot and it made Michaels more motivated. Triple H, who was the WWE Champion that faced Rumble winner Randy Orton that night, looked at Orton and said they were f**ked because. He knew that Undertaker would be mad about the match order. If you recall that show, the crowd was so into Taker/Michaels and didn’t seem to care that much about Triple H/Orton since they had so many matches.

Another example of it would be at WrestleMania 18. The last match should have been The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, but I don’t think WWE knew that Hogan was going to get cheered as much as he did by the Toronto crowd. Triple H was the babyface that won the WWE Title from Chris Jericho in the main event that night. What were people talking about the most the next day? Rock vs. Hogan, so that should have been last.

A year that I think about also is 2007. The Undertaker won the Rumble after an amazing final two sequence with Shawn Michaels. Instead of putting Undertaker’s World Title win over Batista on last, they put John Cena retaining the WWE Title over Shawn Michaels. Why? Because they viewed Cena as THE top guy and wanted him in the last match. I thought it diminished Taker’s Rumble win severely because the runner up got to main event instead of him.

That’s why I can’t sit here and say that the Rumble winner’s title match MUST go on last. I think most of the time it should, but not all of the time. Sorry for the cheap answer. I just don’t know how to say it because there are exceptions to it.

READER THOUGHTS

Here are the reader comments that will appear in blue and red font with my comments immediately after.

Michael Reichmuth
I think the title match (wish there was only one to make it more meaningful) should always go on last. It’s all about the build up. I get when dream matches happen, but the title build can be at that level too. It should be the biggest match of the year every year.

I think a lot of fans are like Michael in wanting just one major title, but I don’t mind that WWE has two right now. He also makes it clear that he wants the title match to be the definite main event and treat it like a big deal.

Darnoc Ttam
Normally, I’d say yes but I think it depends on the card as a whole. The last match should be the match that’s going to get the best crowd reaction. If you put the best match on the card earlier in the show, you can burn the crowd out for the main event, like HHH vs Reigns.

The main event should truly be whatever the MAIN event is. I think the winner of the Rumble Championship shot should always be the MAIN event, but that’s more failure in booking than anything.

Hey it’s backwards name guy! I think what he’s saying is pretty fair in that WWE should push the Rumble winner as the main match at WrestleMania, but it’s not always the case.

Eric Hay
I think it depends on if the main event will be a special attraction match or not. Like WrestleMania 28 no other match would main event. I like the title going on last but in some cases it’s ok if it isn’t.

Fair point because that Rock vs. Cena match had one year of build. It made sense as the last match even though some fans probably wanted WWE Champion CM Punk in that spot.

Tim Yingling
Here’s how I see this going. Vince will always see the Raw title as the IT title, so that will most likely go on last. Now, if a SmackDown wrestler wins, then he won’t go last. If a Raw guy wins, he’ll go on last. Do I think that is right? No. The person who wins the Rumble should decide which title to go after and that match should be on last, no matter what. But we all know Vince and how he protects Raw for some reason, even though the better wrestlers are on SmackDown.

I think there’s less favoritism towards Raw especially now that Smackdown is live and they are trying to build an audience on Tuesday nights. While I think the favoritism existed in the past, it’s less of a thing now. I see what your point is, though.

Toby Tobias
See Jericho/HHH after Rock/Hogan as why it all depends on the card.

Short and to the point. A very good point too.

Dan Pittman
In their own commercial, WWE says winner will headline Wrestlemania, or IMO, the biggest match of the night. It should be last.

To a lot of fans, that’s how simple it should be. WWE says the winner gets to main event WrestleMania and for most of us, that means last match. I don’t think WWE sees it the same way, though, so that’s where the difference of opinions come in to play.

Daniel Mount
Depends, but you should default the title to the main event. Rock/Cena I? I can see it. Rock/Cena II should not have been for the belt or go on last.

It’s easy to see why that match headlined WM28 and WM29, but I can also understand why fans would question those decisions as well.

Matt Wayne Breeding
I 100 percent think the winner of the Royal Rumble should be in the main event. I actually was upset when they stopped putting the winner of the Rumble in the main event of Mania. I think it helps the Royal Rumble mean more when the winner goes on to main event Mania.

Once again it’s another fan stating what should be obvious – that the Rumble winner should be the absolute main event of WrestleMania. I absolutely agree that it hurts the Rumble match winner by not having that person in the last match at WrestleMania every time. For years I wrote about how the winner of the Rumble doesn’t even matter because often times the runner up or somebody else got to main event WrestleMania. The announcers can yell that the winner “is going to WrestleMania” but so are the others. I think WWE has to do a better job of convincing fans that winning the Rumble really means a lot again.

Joe Sondag
If WWE wants to make the Royal Rumble important to win then having the winner’s title opportunity be the last match at WrestleMania that much more prestigious then yes I believe it should. It would help both the Royal Rumble match and give incentive to the wrestlers to want that win even more in the story leading up to the Rumble.

That words fits really well here – incentive. We need to hear the wrestlers talk about the incentive. They should do promos about how they dreamed about main eventing WrestleMania and in order to do that, they have to win the Rumble. It’s a simple concept that works.

Tommy Dinardi
There’s no reason the title shouldn’t be the main event, period. Even when Triple H/Jericho headline WM18 instead of Rock/Hogan, I thought it was the right call for protecting the prestige of the championship. When LT headlined the show with Bam Bam at WM11, it didn’t quite feel right though the fact is LT was arguably a bigger name than any of the matchups on the card back then. If WWE wants to shortchange their current stars & devalue their own branding by burying the prize in a midcard match, I’ll begrudgingly be watching either way.

I think Tommy makes a couple of good points. He strongly believes that the Rumble winner’s match should be the last match on the card. With that said, he also admits that he’s going to be watching either way. A lot of fans would agree with that last point because WrestleMania just as an event is the draw. That’s also something WWE knows, which is why they likely don’t mind putting on different matches on last because they know the people are going to be watching anyway.

Robert Litchford
Winner gets to main event challenging for the championship of their choice. Doesn’t matter who wins, that’s how it was for very many years before they started treating the win as a second tier thing. If the win just means you get to become #1 contender for a World Title, then it loses part of the thrill behind it. It has always come off as if WrestleMania was the biggest stage, then winning the Rumble or holding a major title, was the only way to headline, main event, top of the marquee, whatever you want to call it.

Well said. I don’t have much to add to that except to say I like that Robert did a very good job of explaining his point of view.

Kevin C Staed
The title match should always be the grand finale. It think for it not to be the focus of the grandest show of the year cheapens the legacy of the title.

A lot of fans feel that way. I can remember reading similar opinions in the mid to late 2000s when Rumble winners were not in the last match at WrestleMania.

Connor James McClain
I think it should be one of the last three matches. They can break it up with squashes, but I feel like it always should unless we have a bigger match that could top it. It shows that it’s just as important and it’s not just a title match. It’s my opinion, but it brings value both to the Rumble and Mania PPV respectively.

The last three matches point make me think of Del Rio in 2011 and Sheamus in 2012 as Rumble winners that were the opening match at WM events. A lot of fans hated that. At least saying one of the last three matches it’s later in the show and a more important spot. That’s a fair compromise if there is a much bigger match on the show.

Jeff Kimble
I think the Royal Rumble winner should always go on last. It makes winning the Rumble seem more prestigious. If you throw the match in between a divas match and a backstage vignette, it’s kinda less meaningful. The key is if you’re not ready for Zayn to actually main event Mania, don’t have him win the Rumble. Also, I think Balor returns to shock the world.

It’s as simple as he said it there. If WWE’s choice for the Rumble winner isn’t somebody they want to go on last then pick somebody else. I think that’s fair.

Ruffin Harris
The Royal Rumble winner does not have to be in the main event for me as long as they have a prominent role. There are two bouts that featured the Royal Rumble winner that main evented that should not have main evented and that was Jericho vs HHH and HHH vs Orton. The bigger matches that should have main evented in those Wrestlemanias were HBK vs Taker and Rock vs Hogan. So in my opinion the bigger match is the main event plus I think it is unfair to put one major title in the main event when you have two. The WWE has it now that the Universal Championship is equal to the WWE Championship so putting one in the main event may make the other one less significant.

That’s a good point because whatever title isn’t in the main event is going to feel a little less significant if the other title is in the main event. We’ve certainly seen that before when Raw’s main title headlined more shows than Smackdown’s main title for many years.

Brandon Quillen
I’m a traditionalist. I think the championship should ALWAYS be the main event. Royal Rumble is a huge event. The stakes are high with the Rumble. A Wrestlemania championship main event is what makes the winning the Rumble so special. So I absolutely believe the winner should get that spot. Also, it’s usually painfully obvious who’s going to win. It’s usually down to just one or two guys who could potentially win. I would love to see the winner be someone completely out of left field. Someone like Miz or Ziggler who nobody would expect. That would make the Rumble feel like anything could happen.

The predictability of the Rumble match certainly can hurt it at times. When it’s unpredictable people will remember it more. If you know what’s coming then is it as exciting? I don’t think. To WWE’s credit, this year’s Rumble does have a bit more unpredictability to it without an obvious winner right now, so that’s a good thing at least. What we don’t know is if the 2017 Rumble winner will actually main event WrestleMania.

Jerry Roth
I think the winner should be the main event at Wrestlemania. There is no such thing as a middle of the card main event. I have been to shows where they claim there’s a main event in the middle of the card and people use it as a bathroom break still. On the subject none of the part timers should win the Rumble and neither should Roman.

This opinion is gaining some steam with a lot of fans talking about how much they want the Rumble winner in the last match.

Van Wilhoite
If it’s the last match then they’re main eventing WrestleMania, if it’s not then they aren’t. When Memphis had their weekly Monday night at the Mid South Coliseum they didn’t advertise THE KING in the main event and have it open the show or in the middle… It was on LAST.

Here’s a fan referencing something from 30 years ago. It’s a fair and valid point. People grew up as wrestling fans being told the main event is the last match on the show, so they want it to end the night rather than be some midcard match.

John T. Clair
I think it does. I strongly believe that winning the Royal Rumble should not only grant you the title shot but also lock in the main event. It puts the importance of that championship and importance of winning the Rumble. I understand why they would have the top guys on that billing, but if the WWE does not give that spot to whoever wins then when the guys like Taker, Cena Lesnar, Triple H etc. keep getting the main event it fails to build the newer top guys into the true top guys for the future and we will not feel as though they are not built enough.

That’s a very good point. The Rumble match needs to be seen as opportunity to elevate somebody into that main event level. If somebody wins and doesn’t become a top guy at a WrestleMania then are they really being elevated just because they won the Rumble match? I’m not so sure.

Alex Jackson
I should be last match, or at least next to last match. I ate when they would say the winner gets into the main event and then you see them opening the show.

Very true. They did it in 2011 with Del Rio and 2012 with Sheamus. I hated that. This was around the time when I really grew frustrated with WWE’s presentation of the Rumble.

Dale Schofield
I don’t think it matters. Only one of the Title matches can go last. I actually quite liked the run for a couple of years where the WHC match kicked WM off.

See that? Back to back posts where one guy didn’t like the Rumble winners kicking off a WM PPV, but another fan did. That’s why there’s no right answer to something like this.

In Closing

I’m going to wrap it up there even though there were more comments. I think the best way to summarize is to say there really is no easy way for WWE make a call on this. There are times when the Rumble winner should absolutely be in the last match at WM, but it’s easy to see why they didn’t get to be the last match in other years. Like I said with the last comment, there really is no right answer.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. You can also hit me up on Twitter @johnreport as well.

I’ll be back next week for another WWE Discussion topic. Thanks as always for reading and supporting TJRWrestling.