I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but WWE is in a weird place right now. After record-setting lows gave way to even more record-setting lows, the company hit a soft reset a few weeks back when the McMahon family declared that the days of not listening to fans and familiar booking were gone. Since then the results have been…well… not great. Oh, SmackDown has been pretty good. NXT remains fairly stellar. 205 Live is still having great matches that no one is watching. Really, it’s just Monday Night Raw — the flagship program of the entire company — that stinks on ice. It’s got the best time slot, a ubiquitously recognized brand name and major crossover stars like Ronda Rousey and John Cena, but the red brand of WWE is often a bit of a chore to sit through. Yet despite the better writing, pacing and character development of all of the other brands, you’re kidding yourself if you think anyone but a Raw superstar is winning the Men’s Royal Rumble Match. Whether it’s an Architect most expect to dethrone The Beast, a sizable Scotsman expected to be the next face of the company or a… well, those are kind of your only real options. Raw‘s taking the men’s match — which is probably fair, as the only viable options on the women’s side of things are decidedly blue.
It’s certainly not a bad thing that this year’s event is a little harder to predict, though it does make plotting out our 2019 Royal Rumble Drinking Game a little more difficult. While previous years have been a bit easier, the company’s new direction and limited star power has forced us to get a little creative with this game. Though there are some familiar rules that return players may recognize, we’ve trotted out a few new ideas to get your Royal Rumble Party going.
The Big Three
No surprises here. These are the basic rules that all players participating must abide by. Unless you’re Andre the Giant or the front of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s shirt, you’ll only want to play during one of the Rumble Matches. It’s a toss up which will be better this year, but I’d suggest the women’s match, and I’ll explain why when we get to rule #2.
1). Take a drink for every elimination
Easy peasy…well, as easy as 29 drinks go down. Yep, for every person chucked over the top rope you’ll need to take a drink, so I suggest sipping something light, as there are other rules that will require you to take a drink throughout the match. Don’t be a hero.
2). Take a drink for any returning superstar
Whether it’s an Attitude Era holdover seeking a quick payday or the re-emergence of an injured performer, the Rumble is usually chock full of returns of varying quality. For every Mr. Perfect or Diesel, there’s a Doink the Clown or Vickie Guerrero. Alas, it matters not how long they last, for every star making a comeback in the Rumble match, you’re taking a drink. Expect more than a few too, as even using the women’s divisions of both Raw and SmackDown won’t be able to fill the ring. So expect to see the more athletic remnants of the Divas division enjoy a quick run in the Rumble en route to a Charlotte Flair win…or a Becky Lynch win…or a Ronda Rousey win? It’s one to watch, is what I’m getting at.
3). Take a drink for any debuting superstars
This is one I fully expect to bite several players in the butt, as WWE recently shortlisted a number of NXT talents for the main roster – and kept them out of televised matches ever since. Last year saw the main roster debut of luminaires like Andrade
“Cien” Almas, Ember Moon and Adam Cole (Bay Bay), and the options this year are myriad. This year provides a wealth of opportunity for appearances from NXT and NXT UK competitors. There isn’t a ton of potential for wildcard entries this year. Well, I guess there is one New Japan export that may make his presence felt. A former champion that is well loved by Dave Meltzer and the Wrestling Observer. A man whose ring work is celebrated the world over with 5-star ratings. Of course I’m talking about Yujiro Kushida!
The Player Rules
Much like last year, the 2019 Royal Rumble Drinking Game is going to feature a number of rules built around the common tropes and themes of the match. You know the deal: Pick one from each category per-player. The rules will be listed in order of likelihood to get you drunk, so be safe and choose wisely.
WWE announcers are nothing if not predictable, and that’s double in gimmick matches like the Royal Rumble. This year’s Men’s Rumble will be called by Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jerry “the King” Lawler and JBL which….not, really ideal if I’m honest. The women’s match, on the other hand, will be helmed by Graves, Renee Young, Beth Phoenix and Tom Philips. Also not great, but so long as Stephanie McMahon isn’t back for commentary on the women’s Rumble, we’re looking at an upgrade of last year’s affair. But you’re not here for commentary, you’re here for drinking rules. So grab an ice-cold Steveweiser and sip that sumb*tch whenever…
- Someone says “business is picking up”
- Someone mentions Renee or Beth’s husbands
- Someone mentions “main eventing WrestleMania”
- They mention someone having won from X number
- We are reminded of how long one superstar has been in the match
- Michael Cole yells “OH MY!”
- JBL says “Maggle“
- King cracks a joke that would have been lame 20 years ago
- One of the announcers says a Superstar “is having fun”
Slam that drink…
- If an announcer enters the match
Rumble Moment Rules
As the start of the Road to WrestleMania™, the Royal Rumble has a very well defined history. A lot of that history has to do with the basic layout and structure of the Rumble match itself. From playful near-falls to moments built for WrestleMania video packages, there are a couple of sights you’re sure to see (and drink for). Such as…
- Whenever a wrestler “Skins the cat“
- Whenever a Superstar does their signature pose only to be immediately eliminated
- When a wrestler lasts less than 10 seconds in the match
- When a group of smaller wrestlers teams up to eliminate a super heavyweight
- Whenever someone goes through/under the ropes, not over
- When two Superstars do the Hockey punch spot
- When the action stops long enough for everyone in the ring to face off
- Whenever someone looks/points/gestures at the WrestleMania sign
- Whenever a tag partner/stable member eliminates their teammate
- For however long a Superstar is left alone in the ring.
Character Specific Rules
Of course, WWE is nothing if not predictable, so there are a number of things you can expect to see happen in the Rumble match. A lot of them, it turns out, are character specific. From signature spots and familiar poses to crowd chants and audience call outs, you’ll want to keep your Smirnoff Ice handy for…
- Whenever Titus O’Neil does something embarrassing
- Whenever Baron Corbin does something embarrassing
- When one person eliminates the entire Riott Squad
- When Elias plays a song about how “29 souls will get thrown in holes” or something
- Whenever someone from NXT pops up in the Rumble
- Whenever someone who already had a match appears in the Rumble itself
- Whenever Mandy Rose is a bad friend to Sonya Deville
- Whenever someone enters the ring and hits more than two people with their finisher
- Whenever Kofi Kingston/Naomi narrowly avoid elimination in some inventive way
Kneel down and swig that Ice…
- For however long Carmella/R Truth’s dance break lasts.
The 2019 Royal Rumble will take place Sunday, January 27 at 7 p.m. EST. If you plan to play along, please drink responsibly and remember, no matter how much you want it, no matter how hard you book it in your mind, no matter what sense you make of it….Kenny Omega is never going to the WWE. SEE YOU SUNDAY!