The Royal Rumble is probably one the two events that I most look forward too every year, alongside Wrestlemania, in the WWE event calendar. The 30-man (and sometimes woman) battle royal match with a twist has been a staple of every wrestling fan’s January since the late 80s. So it was with great anticipation that I watched the True Story of the Royal Rumble, a documentary focusing on the history and intricacies of the match, the event and everything surrounding it. Unfortunately, it was something of let-down.
A few years ago WWE released a similar documentary on Wrestlemania, and one of the things that I loved about that was the inclusion of loads of unseen archive footage, untold stories, and the thoughts of people heavily involved in the process. This doc has very little of this, with almost no unseen footage, and very little in the way of surprising stories. It’s nice to hear from Pat Patterson on how he came up with idea and how they perfected it in the early years, but from around 1992 this gets to be pretty rushed and fails to go into the level of detail that I’d ideally like to have seen.
It’s a shame because there are so many untold stories I’m sure that this could have been so much more. The talking heads are good, because we do get Hacksaw Jim Duggan, the first winner of the match, and Bret Hart who was involved in many rumbles amongst others. However, these appearances seem vastly outweighed by the minutes given to the likes of Simon Gotch, Aiden English, and Darren Young whose opinions are fairly irrelevant in this context. The only people who would have had less interesting insights would probably have been Konnor and Viktor from The Ascension, but thankfully we were spared that fate. This really would have benefited from more Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, or even the likes of Triple H and John Cena who would have added a lot here, but as it stands it feels almost half-finished, which is really disappointing.
The match selection is a bit of a mixed bag. I appreciate you can’t just keep adding the 1992 rumble to these shows but the 1994 match was pretty bad, so including that seems a weird choice. The 2001 match however, is excellent and a real high-point of this release, possibly featuring the most star-studded line-up in WWE history. The non-rumble matches included are also excellent, with CM Punk vs The Rock from 2013, Tazz’s debut from 2000, Sid vs Shawn Michaels from 1997. The match quality definitely goes some way to making up for the documentary, but not enough to pull it back completely. A rare disappointment from WWE.
EXTRAS: If you discount the matches (which I do, because if anything they are part of the main presentation here), then the extras are mostly just quick stories from a few participants over the years, nothing memorable whatsoever, with the key highlight coming from Hacksaw Jim Duggan explaining about a moment he had with The Undertaker in the rumble match and how that worked out 20 years later in the same match in that year. It's fine for what it is, but as is symptomatic of this set as a whole, it's not the spectacular affair it perhaps should be.