'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

Roughly 33 minutes after the opening bell, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan eliminated One Man Gang to reign victorious in the Royal Rumble Match. The event was not just a creative success, but also a commercial boon. The USA Network television special, which acted as counterprogramming to Jim Crockett Promotions’ ill-fated Bunkhouse Stampede pay-per-view, drew an 8.2 rating, making the program an unequivocal success. The very next January, the concept became the centerpiece for WWE’s newest addition to the pay-per-view calendar, the eponymous Royal Rumble.

WWE.COM: Were there any lessons you took away from that first Rumble? As soon as it ended, were you trying to think of ways to make it even bigger and better?

PATTERSON: Vince came up with that idea, to make it bigger and to include 30 Superstars. I thought to myself, “Holy crap, it’s going to be even longer now with all those guys in there.” And I wasn’t too sure if it was too long, if it’d take too much time. But if you have the right talent, it doesn’t matter; you can go an hour and a half if you wanted to. He had good talent, so it worked out very well.

As long as the fans love it, that’s all that matters.WWE.COM: A lot of big match types have been invented since 1988 — Hell in a Cell, the Elimination Chamber, TLC Matches. What is it about the Rumble that’s enabled it to stand the test of time?

PATTERSON: What makes the Royal Rumble exciting is the surprises. Who’s next? Who’s going to be eliminated? It’s really exciting. The buzzer goes and it’s like, “Wow, this guy’s in now!” And a lot of times, we have guys who left the business and we bring them back for one night and things like that. There’s always action going on in the ring and it’s a long match — it’s over an hour, you know, for one match. One hour. [Laughs] It’s a lot of fun. Hard to put together, but it’s a lot of fun when you watch it.

HART: The beauty of the Rumble is that every couple of minutes, another guy comes out, and just seeing what kind of difference it makes. When you’re having a Royal Rumble, and all of a sudden they send out Bob Backlund, he’s a whole different type of wrestler than The 1-2-3 Kid or Andre the Giant. It changes the complexity of the entire match. Everyone knows that if Andre is walking up, everyone’s antenna is going to go up. It’s a whole different mentality.

WWE.COM: Looking back over your many creative contributions, where does inventing the Royal Rumble Match rank?

PATTERSON: I’m very proud of it, no question, but it doesn’t blow up my head, like, “Oh man, I created the Royal Rumble!” I was never looking for that. I was just looking to be creative and do something different and I’m glad I did. I’m happy I did it. The fans love it, the boys love it, I love it, Vince loves it. That’s part of the job, to be creative. When something’s good, it lasts forever. I’m proud of it, but I don’t brag about it. Who invented it doesn’t matter. As long as the fans love it, that’s all that matters.

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

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