Matt Striker has discussed the Royal Rumble match and how the commentary team is often as surprised as the fans when the WWE Superstars make their entrance. Speaking to Fightful, the newest Impact Wrestling announcer opened up on commentating on the Rumble match.
Striker explained his take on how to call the match:
“You basically are trying to create thirty magical moments that last about twenty seconds for an entrance. You want to, on the entrance, make it like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this person can do it.’ That’s how I tried to approach it, but I got great advice from Jerry Lawler who said, ‘you don’t want to look at the list, you don’t want to know’…You want to genuinely react and some of my most famous reactions were, let’s say, genuine.”
“You also have to remember, never was I tasked with the ‘responsibility’ of a, say, Michael Cole, who probably needed more of that information than I. I had the luxury of being able to straight-up react. If you knew all the different things that were going on, it’d make your head explode.”
One of those genuine reactions Matt Striker is referring to is also one of Striker’s favourites. He could barely contain his excitement when Diesel made a shock return at the 2011 Rumble. Striker said:
“For me, it’s the one where I almost cursed on internationally broadcast [television]. Because bless her heart, my grandmother was still alive at that time and she called me afterward. The second one has to be for Booker. For so many people, I don’t know why it’s remained with a lot of people. I think that’s nice if it empowers their love of pro wrestling.
I guess by the time this rolls around I was fortunate enough that either that or they were silly enough to leave me to my own devices, to be honest with you. But, I think at the end of the day it was about making every single person that came down that ramp for at least ten to twenty seconds, in every fan’s mind, they have to have plausible doubt to say, ‘This person can do it. There’s a logical path to victory for this fifth party candidate.’”
Matt Striker also gave a little insight into how WWE handle surprise entrants. As well as how he believes the genuine reactions he offered made him a better commentator:
“WWE’s great at this, they hide people. It’s not like everyone’s backstage, herd in a pen and we see, ‘Hey, you’re Stone Cold Steve Austin. I guess you’re here tonight.’ No. You don’t see certain people the whole entire night. So, when they pop out through the curtain you’re like, ‘Holy sh…I didn’t know he was here.’ But, you don’t finish your sentence.’ Yeah, it is nice when the reaction can be genuine. Look, when I can be a seven-year-old kid that watched wrestling with his dad, that’s when I think people enjoy me the most. When I become this overproduced mechanism of something other, then people have different opinions.”
The Royal Rumble has become one of the most popular events in the WWE calendar over the years. Chiefly down to the use of surprise entrants in the Rumble matches. With spaces still available in both the men’s and women’s matches, fans will be looking forward to seeing who might show up.