For many people, the New Year is a time to reflect upon the mistakes of the past and better one’s self. Whether that means exercising more, taking a long awaited trip, or learning a foreign language, these efforts are usually focused on placing the individual in a better place than they were last year. For wrestling fans the New Year is less about self reflection and more about THE ROAD TO MOTHERFUCKING WRESTLEMANIA!!!! It’s the time of year when the WWE finally starts to pay attention to its creative output and heads into the home stretch, building to the biggest event of the year with a full head of steam. This year’s creative arc for the WWE has been….not great. Sure there have been some bright spots here and there (Braun Strowman’s emergence as the best anti-hero in the business and the revitalization of The Miz, for example) but for the most part, fans are heading into the Royal Rumble hoping for something big to get us excited.
Fortunately, this Sunday is the Royal Rumble – the 30-man over-the-top battle royal that sends its winner to the “main event” of WrestleMania* (*The “main event” may in fact open the show). Now in its 30th year, the Rumble has established a pretty hearty collection of tropes and cliches — so much so, in fact, that some enterprising wrestling fans have created a drinking game around the event. Much like the pronunciation of the word caramel, the rules tend to be regional and based on personal preference, but as we did last year, we thought we’d pull together our own rules to get your viewing party going. So call in sick on Monday and prepare your liver, because here are the rules for The 2018 Royal Rumble Drinking Game!
The Big Three
First up, the ground rules. These will apply to everyone participating in the game.
1). Take a drink for every elimination
This one’s going to be a doozy, given that the Rumble features 30 participants and much like the Highlander, there can be only one. Unlike the Highlander, however, women are actually interested in participating! That’s right, this year we’ll see two Rumble matches! Given that there are other rules that will require you to take a drink, maybe choose only one Rumble match to play with. I’d recommend the men’s, though, because honestly, the women’s match is shaping up to be the more exciting event, so being lucid for that one would be worthwhile. Either way, pace yourself and take small drinks.
2). Take a drink for any returning Superstars
In the past, the Rumble has proven a great way to reintroduce a superstar to fans who haven’t seen them in a while. Whether it’s a charismatic enigma returning from shoulder surgery, the original anti-diva looking to make history, or a former star working a short term deal with the company, you can expect a few of these surprises in this year’s Rumble matches — particularly with the women, as the current roster’s lack of depth means at least a third of the field will have to be made up of unknown (or at least, unfamiliar) faces.
3). Take a drink for any debuting Superstars
One of the most subtly brilliant things about the Royal Rumble is the addition of the 10-second countdown clock that heralds each entrant. It builds up such crazy levels of anticipation that WWE has decided to use the bump to introduce some gravitas to a debuting superstar. How deafening was the pop for AJ Styles’ debut in the 2016 Rumble? Last year’s Rumble saw a great reaction for the emerging Tye Dillinger at the 10 spot. This year? Take your pick. In addition to the plethora of NXT talents ready to make their main roster debut, the WWE recently announced the signing of big name indie talent like War Machine, Candace LeRae and (King) Ricochet. Then there are the rumors that place one EC3 at the WWE Performance Center or have Pete Dunne clearing his schedule on Rumble weekend, and that’s to say nothing of the long gestating debut of former UFC Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey.
The Player Rules (only applies to individual players)
This year, we’re going to vary things up a bit. Because there are so many tropes and cliches to be found in any Rumble, we have separated the rules into three separate categories. Furthermore, we’re listing the rules in order of “likelihood to get you drunk,” so keep in mind precisely how krunk you are prepared to be. For the game, each player should choose one rule from every category so pace yourself — unless you’re looking to slam Stevewiesers down the front of your shirt like Stone Cold. It may be messy, but it should help you stay responsible.
The WWE has a pretty tight grip on the things its announcers can and can’t say. As such, you can expect Cole, Saxton and Graves to hit on more than a few of these. Take a drink…
- …whenever they mention a hashtag is trending
- …every time the announcers mention the "Road to WrestleMania"
- …every time they mention how long a wrestler has been in the match
- …every time they say that someone has won the Rumble from X number.
- …whenever someone brings up the "Both feet must touch the floor" rule
- …every time someone says "it’s every man for himself"
- …whenever they mention "history between these two competitors"
- …whenever someone says "Who can stop this man/woman?"
- …every time Michael Cole says "Are you kidding me?"
And of course…
- Down your drink if an announcer actually enters the match.
Familiar Sight Rules
After 30 years of doing this, the WWE has developed a very particular aesthetic for the Rumble. The company is building to this year’s WrestleMania, so a ton of this footage is going to find its way into video packages for matches on that show. As such, you should take a drink…
- …whenever someone goes through the ropes instead of over them
- …whenever one man is left alone in the ring.
- …whenever someone points at the WrestleMania sign.
- …whenever a group of wrestlers teams up to eliminate one of the larger Superstars in the match.
- …whenever one wrestler "skins the cat."
- …whenever one tag team member eliminates the other.
- …whenever a wrestler is eliminated before their music stops playing.
- …whenever a smaller wrestler tries to stare down a giant wrestler (take another if they visibly gulp).
And of course…
- Chug your drink for however long two men/women have a face off in the middle of the ring under the WrestleMania sign.
Character Specific Rules
The WWE is nothing if not consistent, and there are a few things you can bank on in the Royal Rumble. These rules are a little different than the others, because for each one you’ll have to down your drink. So toss back a cold one whenever…
- …Kofi Kingston avoids elimination through some ridiculous means.
- …Tye Dillinger comes in at number 10.
- …Bobby Roode does his "Glorious" pose.
- …John Cena embarrasses an up-and-coming Superstar.
- …a non-wrestler enters the match (yes, Ronda counts. I know that’s she had wrestling training, shut up).
- …someone who already had a match appears in the Rumble.
- …someone "too sweets" someone else.
- …the Riott Squad faces off with Absolution.
And of course…
- …chug for the entire time the crowd chants for “Rusev Day”
The Royal Rumble kicks off this Sunday, January 28 at 7pm EST. If you plan to partake in a few adult libations during the event, please remember to do so responsibly.
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