The WWE introduced the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal into the annual lexicon in 2014. New Orleans and WrestleMania 30 played host to the inaugural over-the-top challenge, which is about to embark on its fourth annual bout this coming April in Orlando. However, the Battle Royal concept is not a new phenomenon on WWE’s grand stage. Before 2014, WrestleMania hosted Battle Royals on 11 different occasions.
In most cases during the 14 total Battle Royals, WWE officials were simply trying to do their best to get every WWE superstar on the WrestleMania card. That’s been the case, as well, in the dawning of the Andre match, but it’s gained notoriety since adding the the label and trophy made in the likeness of Andre. There have been several instances where a Battle Royal was staged to determine a number one contender for a particular championship in the WWE as well.
Cesaro won the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 2014. The WWE’s Swiss Superman last eliminated the Big Show, who would go on to win the match the following year in Santa Clara. Last year, Baron Corbin made his WWE debut by winning the Battle Royal during WrestleMania 32 in Dallas. If current plans fall into place, none of the three will be entered into this year’s match unless they’re called upon to do double duty in Orlando.
Cesaro & Sheamus appear on track to challenge for the WWE RAW Tag Team Championships along with Enzo & Big Cass and Gallows & Anderson. Baron Corbin looks to be facing off with Dean Ambrose for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, but Big Show is the wild card for the year’s event. Even though the WWE set the stage for a collision between him and Shaquille O’Neal for a year, there have been reports that the match may be in jeopardy.
Big Show and Shaq had a memorable stare-down in last year’s Andre Battle Royal before being eliminated by the rest of the remaining superstars. They’ve built the showdown via social media and appearances outside of the WWE, but in recent weeks, the battle seemed to go on life support. On Monday, Shaq said he had resumed discussions with WWE officials in hopes of getting in back on the card.
With the WWE RAW brand just completing its final pay-per-view before WrestleMania, there has yet to be any mention of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on WWE television. That figures to change Tuesday night. In their weekly tease of what to expect on the upcoming taping of SmackDown Live, the WWE website made sure to mention that several blue brand superstars will begin throwing their hat in the ring for the match this week.
RAW superstars may follow suit next week, as this Monday’s show was about the fallout to WWE Fastlane and building the marquee matches for WrestleMania. As far as SmackDown stars go, rumored matches for ‘Mania include Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon, John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse, Corbin vs. Ambrose, American Alpha vs. The Usos and some variation of a match featuring the SmackDown Women’s division.
Factoring all that in, WWE superstars on SmackDown currently with an open dance card for WrestleMania include Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews, Kalisto, Kane, Luke Harper, The Vaudevillains, Breezango, Mojo Rawley, Heath Slater, Rhyno, Curt Hawkins, The Ascension and perhaps, James Ellsworth. Harper will be interesting to follow considering his involvement in the top storyline with the WWE Championship as rumors have surfaced that he will return to Bray Wyatt’s side for the feud with Randy Orton. Erick Rowan is also scheduled to return soon, and he would find himself in the same position as Harper.
There are two other things worth following as the WWE continues to fill out the Battle Royal. Leading up to the match in the first two years, John Cena tried to declare for the bout, only to be interrupted by his eventual WrestleMania opponent. He was never considered for the match, but WWE officials used him to help sell it. He missed out on the build last year due to injury, but we’ll see if he makes mention of it this year with a mixed tag program already on the books.
The other is whether or not Hulk Hogan returns to the WWE. If you recall, Hogan was the one who introduced the concept to the WWE Universe to honor Andre’s legacy. Rumors have been floating for months regarding a reunion between the WWE and The Hulkster now that all his legal issues appear to be in the past.
[Featured Image by WWE]