After months of speculation and an anticipated announcement this past Monday that the Royal Rumble would be emanating from Los Angeles in 2017, the WWE announced that the 30th annual event would take place in San Antonio, Texas. Mark your calendars for January 29, 2017, as the Royal Rumble returns to the Alamodome for the first time in 20 years.
Fans likely remember that 1997 marked the first time Stone Cold Steve Austin would win a Royal Rumble, repeating the feat the following year and again in 2001. Austin remains the only WWE superstar to win the Royal Rumble three times. While Stone Cold won the Rumble, Shawn Michaels defeated Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship. However, the two, of course, would not meet in the WrestleMania main event until 1998.
Several other notable names that appeared on the 1997 Royal Rumble included the Undertaker, The Rock, Mick Foley (as Mankind), Bret Hart, and Triple H. And two decades later, there is plenty of significance to go around. As noted, the 2017 edition will mark the 30th edition of the Royal Rumble and the 20th anniversary of that memorable pay-per-view in San Antonio.
But the WWE and its top officials hope that’s not all. According to Cageside Seats, the company is trying to convince several of the key performers from the ’97 Royal Rumble to make a special appearance on the 2017 Royal Rumble. The top three names currently being discussed, and courted, are Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and the Undertaker.
The Undertaker, who has not been seen on WWE programming since his WrestleMania 32 match with Shane McMahon in Dallas, lost a singles match to Vader at the 1997 Royal Rumble before entering the battle royal match itself. Ironically, though, the Deadman was the last person eliminated en route to Austin’s victory that night.
It’s no secret that Austin, Undertaker, and HBK are all from Texas, with Michaels residing in San Antonio. There have been some back-and-forth reports of Shawn relocating to Orlando due to Triple H recruiting him to become a coach at the NXT Performance Center.
The WWE will try to at least recreate the attendance figures from the Royal Rumble 20 years ago when more than 60,000 fans packed the Alamodome, which still stands as the record for any Royal Rumble in history. The country’s bigger venues had previously been reserved for WrestleManias, but talks have heated up over the last year to include the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam in those discussions.
There is definitely a chance that the three legends would not have a physical role at the event, so certainly something to keep in mind. The last time we saw Michaels and Austin in a ring was also at WrestleMania 32, where they, along with Mick Foley, made a surprise run-in following a match between The New Day and the League of Nations. However, if the Undertaker were to appear, it’s highly unlikely the moment would be wasted.
If the Undertaker commits to one final match at next year’s WrestleMania, the thought is that the Royal Rumble would be the perfect setting to plant the seeds for that angle, based on his proximity to the location and the WWE’s efforts to load up on marquee attractions for the Rumble going forward. We had reported several months ago that the Undertaker’s relationship with Vince McMahon had soured to the point that he was seriously considering retiring without any fanfare.
However, recent Undertaker sightings in promos, vignettes, and WWE website articles are a clear indication that the sides have mended fences.
As noted, Mick Foley and Triple H were on that show 20 years ago as well. Foley will undoubtedly be present at the 2017 Royal Rumble, but that’s no surprise considering his current role as RAW general manager. HHH recently tweeted that “you never know who might show up” with a picture of his 2016 Royal Rumble victory. That led to speculation that he’ll defend his win, but that’s highly unlikely considering the plans for his WrestleMania match with Seth Rollins.
[Featured Image by WWE]