As the 22nd entrant, Sheamus won his way into a title shot at Wrestlemania when he eliminated Chris Jericho to become the Royal Rumble winner. Sheamus will most likely be challenging the World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania. Whether the champion will be Daniel Bryan or somebody else remains to be seen.
Even though Sheamus won the Royal Rumble match, chances are he will not be maineventing Wrestlemania. The Rock vs. John Cena seems like the obvious choice of the main event at Wrestlemania since its been built up as the ultimate dream match, but even if the WWE decides to put something on last besides it, the odds of Sheamus vs. WHW Champion going ahead of Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk or The Undertaker vs. Triple H seem slim to none.
The reason Sheamus won the Rumble match was because the WWE wants to give him a rub to get over as an well-established, credible top babyface, although putting him in a midcard match at Wrestlemania, even if its for a title, doesn’t make him feel like he’s the next big babyface in the WWE.
Sheamus wasn’t the first “trial and error” Rumble winner; just last year Alberto Del Rio won the Rumble match by eliminating Santino Marella to test to see how much Del Rio could bring to the table under the spotlight. Not a lot of positive things came out of Del Rio winning the Rumble, however. He had a feud with Edge that people hardly remember what it was about, and he ended up losing to Edge at Wrestlemania. Not only did he lose to Edge, he lost in the opening match, and to make matters worst for Del Rio – after the match Edge and Christian destroyed his car as he just looked on in disbelief.
Del Rio losing didn’t end the trend; he extended it.
The year before, 2010, Edge won as a surprise entry as number 29, but he also lost his title shot at Wrestlemania to Chris Jericho in a match that was placed in a the mid-card and also had little build.
In 2009, Randy Orton won as the 8th entrant. He was the first heel to win the Royal Rumble since Vince McMahon in 1999. He was put in a mainevent feud with Triple H that had oodles of heat. Orton had built up so much momentum that he was in a must win situation at Wrestlemania against Triple H, but Randy Orton ended up losing to Triple H in the main-event match as well.
The last wrestler to actually win the Royal Rumble, mainevent at Wrestlemania, and win the title was Batista when he defeated Triple H in 2005.
Another fascinating stat: before 2007, the average winner entry of the Rumble was 14th, which is nearly right in the middle. From 2007 to now, the average entry to win is 25th. Even though Del Rio was 38th, the number is very high because of two 30s, 29 and a 22.
And ever since the brand split and the debut of the World Heavyweight Title in 2002, only 5 have mainevented Wrestlemania. Even though 5 out of 10 doesn’t sound bad, the last one was in 2009.
Plus, from 2002 to 2005, everyone mainevented Wrestlemania. Therefore, only 1 out of the last 6 (7 if you want to count Sheamus already) have mainevented Wrestlemania. Out of the last 4 Wrestlemania winners, zero have gone on and won at Wrestlemania.
In conclusion, the Royal Rumble match has become nothing but a shell of what it was. Instead of using it to build somebody up for a Mania mainevent match, the WWE is using it more as a shocking device for people to comeback and win or for someone to pull an upset, knowing that they don’t even have to main-event Wrestlemania or compete for the better, more valuable title. On top of that, many of the wrestlers who didn’t win the Rumble had to go through less to earn their title shot and yet they get a higher spot on the card. It just doesn’t look right and it devalues the importance of the Royal Rumble match.
The Rumble use to stand for something. It use to be the only way you could wrestle at Wrestlemania as a challenger. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter who really wins or doesn’t. Del Rio won the Rumble last year and he was curtain-jerking, while John Cena didn’t win much of anything but he was in the mainevent. Furthermore, the winners of the Rumble use to be top contenders or near the top and just needed an extra boost. Nowadays, people aren’t close to being ready are winning the Rumble. Hell, Santino almost won last year….enough said.
The Rumble has not only lost some of its merit, but it’s also borderline of losing all its merit. All these statistics have proven the little significance the Rumble has had over the past several years, especially the one that proves the Rumble winner hasn’t even won the title in the last 4 years at Wrestlemania.