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COMMENT





Rumble indeed fresh if you avoid the hype
One writer's grand experiment pays off ... sort of
By DAVE HILLHOUSE - SLAM! Wrestling




The obvious question is: did it work? Was my self-imposed banishment from the land of WWE successful in making it difficult to guess that Rey Mysterio Jr. would win the Rumble? Absolutely. It worked like a charm. The second, more difficult question is: was it worth it? I'm still working on the answer to that one.

With the wrestling gods firmly on my side for this experiment, the Burlington theatre where I took in the event was experiencing technical difficulties, so there wasn't any audio for most of the pre-event hype. This made it very easy to simply avert my eyes and be none the wiser of any recent happenings. As of the last time I watched anything current in the WWE, of course, Batista and Cena were the champions and Kurt Angle seemed to be on a direct line to Cena's belt.

I was therefore quite pleased by the placement of the Rumble in the middle of the card. While historically it's been more effective as the last match of the night, it kept me guessing as to who the next entrant would be. I fully expected Angle, Undertaker, and Edge to come down the aisle at some point, and would have struck them off my list had the title matches gone first (instead, I got to see Goldust and Tatanka, and I'll never complain about that -- honestly).

Right off the bat, I was suspicious of a start-to-finish win for Triple H. Remember, I had no idea who he may be feuding with, but it never hurts to bank on his appearance in Wrestlemania's main event. The only other serious contender, as far as I could gather, was Randy Orton. It was no surprise to me that they ended up among the final four, and I thought that Mysterio had put in the traditional "nothing to be ashamed of" performance. In this way, indeed, I was happily caught off-guard by the outcome.

Here's the catch in all this, though. In fact, there are two catches.

Firstly, even with the unexpected winner, the fundamental nature of the Rumble didn't change. Animal, you see, was not going to get that title shot. So being unaware of current storylines doesn't change the fact that at least 25 contestants are just there for fun. Secondly, I'm getting the impression that a good number of people, those who have been following the storylines since Survivor Series, were also legitimately surprised by Mysterio's win. So I'm struck by the possibility of a terribly unfortunate coincidence that had me trying this little experiment for a Rumble that actually pulled a trick out of its hat anyway.

If that's the case, you see, I'm not sure that it was worth it. Going in blind provided some intrigue as the Rumble came and went, but I definitely missed the build-up which, like so many big sports and movie events, is often just as exciting if not more so than the event itself.

I suppose there's a third question, then: will I do this again next year? Right now I'm thinking no, but I'll be hard-pressed to bet on the WWE producing two legitimately surprising Rumble outcomes in a row. At least I have a whole year to think about it -- and they have a whole year to come up with a good story.

RELATED RUMBLE STORIES

  • Avoiding the Rumble hype
  • Mysterio claims Rumble; Cena reigns again
  • Column: Xtreme Makeover: Royal Rumble Edition

    Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter living in Niagara. Let him know at facegrabber@hotmail.com if you thought Mysterio's win was truly unexpected, or if any surprise was likely a by-product of being 'spoiler-free'.


    Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!


  • WWE Royal Rumble 2006 DVD