Back on December 2nd, I wrote about the tragic passing of wrestling legend Pat Patterson.
Despite being the right hand man to Vince McMahon for decades and having numerous accolades on his WWE GHall of Fame resume, his legacy may best be tied to the Royal Rumble match. As the story goes, NBC executive Dick Ebersol was looking for a wrestling special to air. Vince McMahon jokingly told Pat Patterson to pitch his ‘stupid Royal Rumble idea.’ The rest is history.
In Pat Patterson’s mind, the concept was simple. We had seen battle royals before. Every promotion had done them, so that was nothing new. A whole bunch of guys enter the ring, and the only way to win is to throw your opponent over the top rope. A giant free for fall in there with so many wrestlers going at it at the same time. It was usually fairly crowded in there, but it made for a fun and different atmosphere.
Being a genius wrestling mind, Pat knew there was more to it than that though. Why not have wrestlers enter one at a time? Why not have a countdown clock, anticipating who would be next? Why not have a set number of wrestlers? Why not have a big climax at the end for the final entrant before a victor? Why not build up each moment and elimination rather than just have everyone in there at once and the bell ringing?
Pat Patterson knew it would work and despite Vince’s sarcasm and hesitation, the idea did indeed work. It was a huge hit on television, and a massive hit with fans!
Eventually, the gimmick transformed into an annual January pay-per-view tradition with the added stipulation that the winner would face the WWE/World/Universal Champion at WrestleMania. Absolutely high stakes in the world of wrestling. In 2018, a second Rumble was added to the card – a Womens Royal Rumble! Needless to say, over 30 years later the idea was amazing, and the legacy lives on…
…which brings us to this Sunday’s 2021 Royal Rumble PPV event.
In that very December 2nd column last month I referenced earlier, I suggested the upcoming Rumble be dedicated to Pat Patterson. I dubbed it the Pat Patterson Memorial Royal Rumble match, but any name is fine. It doesn’t really matter to me. All I request is some sort of tribute to the creator of the Royal Rumble match this Sunday at the pay-per-view. That is all. I’d say he more than deserves it. For Pat, his way or the highway on the road to WrestleMania…
By Justin Watry (Twitter: @JustinWatry)