When the WWE announced the first-ever edition of the ‘Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal’ at Wrestlemania, fans were ecstatic. We not only got to honour the best big-man in the history of professional wrestling, but at the same time use his name and this slightly innovative concept to elevate stars of the future.
This concept and it’s potential however, didn’t last all that long despite the initial excitement.
What was presented to us is simple, the winner of the match is the last man standing in the ring and he who survives receives the honorary trophy of this larger than life individual to carry forward onto the next WrestleMania. A trophy is generally a symbol of achieving something grand, something larger than life and it should reflect on the talent who accomplish this feat, but it seems like this is where the ball has been dropped.
WWE’s concept here was simple, and something anyone could get on-board with, but their biggest flaw has been failing to maintain the importance and relevancy of such a match. These failures stem from both the concept itself, as well as external storyline factors following the match itself from the respective winners.
I’ve recently been thinking on how this concept is far from the death we think it is, and that with a few minor tweaks & suggestions, the WWE can revive this match and make it something that it once meant to be almost 5 years ago.
Pick A Star And Stick With Them!
It would be cruel to suggest that the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal hasn’t given WWE’s newer talents time in the spotlight, when it fact for the most part have done just that. Guys like Cesaro, Mojo Rawley & Baron Corbin not only all started their careers down in NXT and have successfully won the Battle Royal, but what exactly has followed to maintain that brief burst of momentum during their respective victories?
Cesaro getting his monumental victory lead to a partnership with Paul Heyman that seemed loaded with potential, which ultimately failed due to the obvious lack of chemistry and direction the two had going for them. Baron Corbin won the match on his first night as part of the main roster, but was sent into months of random, obscure booking to follow. Even Mojo Rawley got a surprising victory at last year’s Wrestlemania but has done next to nothing of note almost 365 days removed from the big win.
If WWE are going to pick a future star to have their hand raised during this match; and they should, it not only needs to be someone with that ‘star’ potential, but needs to have a clear direction for their respective career to go in. One of the main reasons nobody cares for this match, is because of the lack of payoff. It’s almost useless for fans to get invested in a star when their directions either take them nowhere from the get-go, or ends up in them slipping right back down to the position on the card they started in.
Bring Out The Part-Timers
A lot of the modern-day wrestling fanbase has attached a negative stigma to the use of ‘part-timers’ in the wrestling business, claiming they either overstay their welcome or hold a spot that should be used for a current, more relevant star. I personally struggle to disagree with that stance. But by no means does it mean these faces of the past can’t use their names and past to elevate certain circumstances.
With the Battle Royal itself serving as a call-back to one of the (literally) biggest names in the history of the business, bring in some more familiar names would do no harm to the situation. Not only do past names attract nostalgic fans who get to see familiar names from their wrestling pasts but can be a big bonus to the importance of this match. Matches like the Royal Rumble are widely known for their recruitment of some familiar faces, so why not do the same here?
The 2016 edition of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal featured an appearance from Tatanka, a name that may not be on the level of The Undertaker or Triple H but is certainly one who stands out to a portion of the fanbase. His appearance occurred completely unadvertised, without a care in the world and even managed to stun the announcers at ringside.
Not every legend needs to look as strong as they did in their prime, but I feel using these names, in relevant quantities, could really give this match the life that it so desperately requires.
Keep The Battle Royal Far Away From The Kickoff
The general stance amongst Wrestlemania and its pre-show, is that its great for any name to even be on it since they get to be a part of the biggest show of the year. But do we really see the Pre-Show in the same light of the usually stacked main card?
The answer is simple; no.
Despite the pre-show sometimes featuring a plethora of great talent and matches (Wrestlemania XXX is a great example), the vast majority of wrestling fans wait to drool over the actual 4 to 5-hour spectacle that commences following it. In no way is this meant to diminish the talent on this section of the card, but it’s obvious that most of us contain our excitement for whatever main attractions are on offer later on in the show.
Wrestlemania XXX hosted the inaugural edition of this match, placing it right in the middle of the shows main card, and as a result it felt completely relevant in that moment. We had no celebrity guests or past legends, just an opportunity that was built as it was meant to be perceived, as a part of history. A match like this is all about placement, what other addition follow only add to the concept, but before even contemplating making this match matter again, you need to make sure it’s in a position to matter amongst your audience first.
Raise The Stakes
One of the easiest ways of adding importance to any match you place on a card, is providing stakes. Matches without stakes aren’t always meaningless of course, many serve as the progression of an existing storyline or arch, while others serve to close the chapter on an extended storyline. The issue with battle royals is their constant cramming of multiple arch’s and stories into one overly-crowded ring, and as a result we can’t expect one single storyline to always be the focal point of the action.
This is where my idea comes into play; have the winner receive a World Championship Match of his choosing either on the following edition of RAW or Smackdown (potentially based on the brand), potentially even at one of the following Network specials on offer. Providing a shot at the biggest prize in the business on the line is a simple, and easy way of making the audience care about the outcome.
An opportunity like this could be used to give an underdog competitor a shot we would never imagine them getting, or even push your next biggest star right up into the main event picture for the world to see. While the concept may sound like a slight ‘spoof’ on the existing idea of Money in The Bank, it would give the match and the winner itself far more meaning beyond a trophy that is rarely referred to after this match ends every year.
Giving this match the platform of honouring one of the business’ biggest names is a great move, and something I actually applaud the WWE for. But how great would it be to attach something currently relevant to the name of Andre The Giant, the ultimate symbol of ‘passing the torch’ onto the next big item in professional wrestling.
All these ideas are my own personal opinions, but I am almost certain think they could revive a concept that is currently struggling to find its footing on the WrestleMania hype-train. If WWE are going to use a legends name to promote the future of their product, then they should do it right.