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

Page 3 of 4
January 21, 2014

WWE.COM: What was the reaction from the wrestlers upon hearing about the match format?

PATTERSON: The funny thing is when the boys found out, they went, “What the hell is this?” Some of them thought it sounded good. Some thought the match was going to take a long time. I said, “Yeah, but it’s the first time, and we’re going to do it.”

JIM DUGGAN: I think any time when something new like that comes out, people wonder. They used to do Battle Royals one way in WWE at the time. So when they come back and change the whole format, I think everyone wondered if it would get over to the extent it has. I don’t think anyone knew how big it would become.

PATTERSON: The boys were excited, but they were trying to figure it out, asking different questions. “What number am I?” And all that stuff as far as the entrance goes and who is going to be next. I told them not to ask me too many questions and just listen, and when it’s your turn to go out there, that’s it.

JAKE ROBERTS: I knew that it would work, because pumping people in, one after the other, just creates excitement. If you put a fresh guy in every minute or so, it becomes, “Here comes this guy. Who is it? Who is it?” It’s an anticipation thing, and the fans are hoping that the next guy to come out will help their guy to win it. It’s all about the fans. It was tough on the damn athletes, though. It really was.

WWE.COM: Did you think the Royal Rumble Match would provide a lot of creative opportunities for storytelling?

PATTERSON: Absolutely. Over time, the boys got more and more creative. When you first started, you were just happy to get it done and that it worked out well.

DUGGAN: There are so many guys in the ring, and there are big men moving around. Joints are always an issue. No one wants anyone else falling on the back of his legs. It’s tough out there.

TITO SANTANA: When you’re a young guy in these matches, you want to go in there and do a bunch of stuff, and it doesn’t take long for one of the veterans to make you realize whatever you do you have to be aware of your surroundings. You can’t just be thinking about yourself.

HARLEY RACE: I was just thinking about how I was going to survive this thing and reduce the chance of injury and stuff like that. A lot of the younger ones that were there just for the sake of being there were all hyper and jumping around. You just find a way to keep yourself out of that part of it and hopefully you’re still there at the end.

BRET HART: It became a challenge to keep the fire going. It’s like having a fire on a branch in the ring and you have to keep passing it around and keep it lit all the time. And you have to keep that fire going throughout the entire match. Sometimes you bounce from one opponent to the next trying to light that fire again. For me, I found that, as much action that was going on, I could spark something in the corner that would steal all the attention from everyone else and make people watch me. I had an ability to not exactly steal the show, but make people watch the flare-up I had going with somebody in the corner. Then I would move onto somebody else and kick-start something else on the other side of the ring.

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

WWE.COM: What was the immediate reaction to the first Royal Rumble Match? Did you know as soon as the match began that you had something special?

PATTERSON: Oh, yeah. I felt it, without a doubt. I didn’t know what to expect at first, and we had the first two guys in the ring and then the buzzer hit and here comes another one, and after three or four guys went in, I knew we had something. It was so good. I didn’t think it was going to be that good. [Laughs]

HILLBILLY JIM: Lo and behold, after we did the first one, I knew it was going to keep on going. Of course, everything WWE was doing was pretty landmark stuff, innovative and groundbreaking, and everything was working in our direction and everything was in our favor. Wrestling was on fire. And the Royal Rumble, along with WrestleMania, was just a perfect fit, and all the boys on the show knew that it was something that was going to be going on every year after that.

View Comments
Pat Patterson Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Jake "The Snake" Roberts Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Bret Hart Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Hacksaw Jim Duggan Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles