'I always wanted to do something that’s never been done': The story behind the Royal Rumble Match

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January 21, 2014

WWE.COM: What was the genesis of the Royal Rumble Match?

PAT PATTERSON: I was working in the office and my job was to be creative, and I always wanted to do something that’s never been done. It’s like, for example, a simple Steel Cage Match. Somebody, somehow, decided to have a Cage Match. Where that started, I have no idea, but somebody came up with the idea. I started thinking about the Battle Royal, but I had it in mind to simply start with two guys and then every two minutes a new guy comes out. When one guy is eliminated, he’s out, and so on and so forth. And I knew it was going to work. I could visualize it, I could see it. There was no question.

WWE.COM: Is it true the match was inspired specifically by the annual Battle Royals that used to take place in the San Francisco territory?

PATTERSON: Well, you know, [San Francisco wrestling promoter] Roy Shire was very good at building a Battle Royal. Once a year, he had the Battle Royal and you could bet on it: Somebody was going to be carried out on a stretcher, somebody was going to get hurt and it was exciting. He’d fly in some stars that were not in the territory — Dusty Rhodes and The Funks. Bringing in stars like that made it very, very special, but it was just a Battle Royal.

Watch every Royal Rumble pay-per-view on WWE Network!

WWE.COM: So did others in WWE share your vision for the Royal Rumble Match?

PATTERSON: I used to talk to Vince [McMahon] about the Royal Rumble idea, even though I didn’t call it by that name, and Vince couldn’t visualize that. He’d say, “Oh my god, it’s too long. My god, all 20 guys, that’s going to take forever.”

WWE.COM: How did the concept get from the page to the ring? What brought it to fruition?

PATTERSON: We were having a meeting with [TV executive] Dick Ebersol. We had a special — I think it was the first ever special live on USA Network — and it was a live show from Hamilton, Ontario. So, we gave Dick Ebersol the matches we were going to have, and Dick Ebersol, for some reason, didn’t feel the card would be that exciting. So, we’ve got to figure out what to come up with, and Vince turns around and goes, “Pat, why don’t you tell Dick Ebersol your stupid idea.” [Laughs] So I turned around and looked at Vince and I said, “Well first of all, it’s not a stupid idea.” [Laughs] It was kind of funny.

I described what the concept would be and Dick Ebersol went crazy. He loved it. He said, “That would be so great for live television. Every two minutes another wrestler comes running in and you don’t know who it is until you hear the buzzer!” So Vince went, “You’re on your own. You’re going to have to do it yourself. You’re going to have to produce it.” Holy crap. It sounded good in my head, but to put it together was another story.

WWE.COM: With so many moving parts involved, how’d the process of actually executing that first Royal Rumble Match go?

PATTERSON: Oh my god, it was crazy. Actually, I produced the first Royal Rumble the morning of. The morning of. I was going crazy, because for some reason I thought I was going to sit down with Vince and put it together and all that and then he got so busy, tied up. And Vince says to me a day or two before, “Did you get your Battle Royal produced?” I said, “No.” I had to produce it that morning, going nuts. But I did it.

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