On the off occasions I pay attention to the WWE, my favorite thing to do is imagine if the events presented were actual sports, rather than sports entertainment. The internet would absolutely explode if a ref got distracted by a coach yelling at him in the closing minutes of an important basketball game and missed a huge play, but that's the standard fare of pro wrestling.
There's no event where this is more true than the Royal Rumble, my personal favorite wrestling event of the year. (The 2014 installment of the event takes place Sunday.) We're led to believe that a major sports organization is giving a shot at the title -- the most prestigious thing imaginable -- to the winner of an event that gives preposterously high odds to wrestlers who enter the ring significantly after other wrestlers solely due to a lottery supposedly held moments before the event begins.
Because let's be honest: in real life, a wrestler entering the ring in the first five slots would never win. There's no way they'd last as new competitor after new competitor entered the ring after them. But this is wrestling, and it's written ahead of time, and it's AWESOME, and the improbable should be considered probable.
Thus, I present to you THE ROYAL RUMBLE POOL, a game introduced to me by my friend Mike, who I presume would read this and wonder why he didn't get a shout-out if I didn't mention that he introduced me to the game. It's a blind luck game -- sorta like Super Bowl Squares -- that manages to capture the sheer random beauty of Royal Rumble while staking your enjoyment to wrestlers you otherwise wouldn't care about.
Here is how it works.
Preferably some number that's divisible by 30 -- 15, 10, 6, 5, or 30 itself, if you're lucky or on the internet. These friends are going to buy slots in the game. If you don't have a number divisible by 30, people can spend extra for extra slots. I think $10 a square is a good middle-tier price area, and creates the possibility that one person can walk away with $300.
Assign each of these friends a number 1-30
You could write all your friends' names on little pieces of paper and put them in a hat and draw them, but that would require you tearing up 30 pieces of paper. A random number generator and a spreadsheet should work.
Each person is assigned the wrestler who enters at their slot
This is the fun part.
You find out your number, and you sit and wait for your wrestler to enter the ring. The anticipation builds. If your number is in the teens, you're waiting 15-20 minutes to find out who your wrestler is.
This is where the fact that this is the Royal Rumble and not a real sporting event comes into play. Each year, there are, what, 10 wrestlers who can win the Royal Rumble? That's 10 guys the WWE would be fine having in a heavily-billed matchup for the title belt? The other 20 guys have absolutely NO SHOT from the second they enter the ring.
The first year I did this game, I didn't have to wait long. My slot was No. 5. I knew I was probably doomed, but if somebody big came onto the stage at No. 5, I could have a shot at winning some cash.
Instead, The Great Khali came out. I cursed the heavens. A few minutes later he made out with Beth Phoenix and she shoved him over the top rope to eliminate him and end my shot at winning.
To me, this is one of my all-time favorite "what-if-this-were-sports" wrestling moments.
3rd-and-6, AFC Championship on the line. Brady back to pass and ... and ... DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE HAS LEFT THE FIELD TO MAKE OUT WITH A RANDOM WOMAN! HE LEFT JULIAN EDELMAN WIDE OPEN! TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS! THE PATRIOTS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL! WHAT A MISTAKE BY RODGERS-CROMARTIE!
This is the joy of Royal Rumble Pool. Building your hopes up, and then having them smashed by WWE Creative in instants.
Winner takes all the money
I suppose you could play so that the last three in the ring get some portion of the payout, but this is a cop-out. Wrestlers can have amazing streaks in the Royal Rumble, but if they're not the last man standing, their efforts are for naught. So it goes with the pool -- 29 of you will be disappointed, and one person will walk away with cash.
Enjoy, and may the most random person win.