The Big Takeaway: With some interesting backstage insight on the documentary portion and some fun Royal Rumble matches, The True Story of the Royal Rumble DVD is worth a look.
In the midst of this holiday season and with the beloved annual WWE event only a few weeks away, the timing for a release of a new DVD feature on the Royal Rumble would seem to be pertinent. It went on-sale in the UK yesterday and today in the U.S. with a First Look 18-minute clip available on WWE Network now.
The compilation packs a lot into it: a documentary; a handful of full-length Royal Rumble matches; a collection of the best singles matches hosted by the event; and some non-PPV Rumbles.
While watching this collection, I took to Twitter in an effort to gather some opinion on this event. Knowing that it can often bring the lapsed fans out of the woodwork for the pop of seeing an old star make a one-night return, I wanted to also gain an understanding as to what people liked about the concept.
Do you like the Royal Rumble as a match concept?
— JCoxF4W (@JCoxF4W) November 28, 2016
Despite its drawing power, having wrestlers eliminating their competitors by tossing them over the top rope with both feet touching the floor could be viewed as a fairly implausible occurrence. The ease with which veritable giants or those who are rarely beaten 1-on-1 are dispensed with – and in such a short amount of time – could be jarring.
But, no, this event would appear to hold a place dear to many hearts and seems to be a winning formula that continues to serve WWE well. It is perhaps more intrigue than wanting to suspend disbelief that brings fans back every year.
Other than the documentary feature, there is little here that is not already available for Network subscribers.
For those don’t have shelves bulging with Royal Rumble DVDs, the Rumble matches from 1994, 2001 and 2007 (including Chris Benoit) are here to watch in full. Although this gives viewers a sense of the Royal Rumble over time, there have been better Rumble matches than 1994 and 2001.
The 65-minute main documentary feature takes a look at Pat Patterson’s involvement. The WWE Hall of Famer, credited as the inventor of the Royal Rumble, appears throughout the documentary in backstage moments filmed at this year’s event. There are also fleeting appearances in the form of talking heads from the late Roddy Piper to Jake Roberts and Kevin Nash.
Patterson’s input is valid, but the way that it comes across on screen is that a camera crew appear to have ambushed him on the street outside the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. He tells us how the concept developed in a way that feels like he’s told this too many times before and so each time he now tells it, it gets more concise and less in-depth.
More interesting are the segments filmed backstage at last year’s event, showing AJ Styles holed up in a blacked out production truck and reaction in the gorilla position to Roman Reigns keeping his cool at the end of last year’s event when he was booed.
What starts out as a focused chronology of how the event originated and was conceived – and how through its evolution there have been subtle changes – the documentary falls back on the familiar WWE Network Top-10 style approach to the event. Thus, the latter part of the feature is more of a listing of statistics all of which are played out every year in the ‘Royal Rumble by the numbers’ trail. To the uninitiated, significant moments, top surprise entrants, most eliminations and other storyline data might well be interesting, but to fans who more or less follow the product, it will wash over them.
Superstars like Randy Orton, Bautista, Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho have interesting accounts of their recent encounters with the event and give some backstage stories about how finishes and spots were received behind the curtain. Orton and Jericho are particularly noteworthy for the contributions here, and a loose, honest and articulate Orton is a pleasure to watch in this context.
Ultimately, there are few must-have WWE DVD releases these days, but there are none that are quite as perfectly suited to fill stockings this holiday season. Whether you’re ambivalent to the concept of a new entrant every two minutes or enjoy seeing the roster being stretched out across a 30-man match, there’s always something intriguing about the Royal Rumble.