Last August, I decided to look back at the way the WWE SummerSlam logo has evolved over the years. I can be a bit of a geek for logos here and there and since the Royal Rumble is likely my favorite event of the year, it frazzled me when they changed the logo yet again this year.
Rather than just put up a Quick Takes about that, I decided to dive deeper and do another case study of sorts looking at the various logos WWE has used for Royal Rumble since its inception.
At first memory, you may not realize how many times WWE has tweaked this logo—or, in some cases, how long it went without adjustments and how sometimes, WWE couldn’t sit on one for more than a year.
The very first Royal Rumble from 1988 was a one-time logo:
This is far from the best, but I do like its simplicity for the time. It’s just generic script text encased with a flowery design, but the crown for the WWF logo is a nice little touch. It instantly gives you the “royal” vibe they were going for. Not bad for 1988 and a first effort.
From 1989 all the way through 1995, this logo was used:
There are elements of this I both love and hate. For instance, I’m disappointed the crown went away, but I do like how the text is now more personalized. Instead of one script font, it’s two distinct different ones that work with the words themselves. Royal is more regal and Rumble is more rough.
There’s also—intended or not—a sense of “over the top” about it with Royal being positioned like that above Rumble. It’s very, very subtle, if not just me reading into it too much, but I always liked that aspect nevertheless.
They used variations of this with slight tweaks to the colors, but a big change happened with the 1996 Royal Rumble:
Fun fact: I associate this particular logo with frustration. Not because of anything WWE did. No. But back in the day, I was unable to watch the 1996 Royal Rumble because the only tape any video store in my area had, unfortunately had a glitch on it where someone tried to tape over the Royal Rumble match itself and it cut off at Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s entrance. Thus, I always remember this as indicative of a Royal Rumble I didn’t get to see until the internet made it easier to watch them.
Back to the logo itself, this keeps up a semblance of what came before it, but with some tweaks. Royal is still in a similar style of a font, but Rumble has changed to something else. It gives off the rough edge once more, but instead of being more literally rough around the edges with a jagged font, it looks more like the font’s been shaken up and glitched out.
The biggest addition is the red triangle behind Royal, which accentuates the “over the top” element with a slight hint of a crown. Again, it’s stretching, but I can see it. Maybe you can, too.
WWE ditched the red triangle in 1999 with this variation:
I’m not big on this. It’s too basic. Whenever something is just pure text, it loses value to me.
But at least this “pure text” wasn’t just pure text, like what happened in 2000:
This was easily the worst so far and may still be. 2000 is notorious for being a time frame where everyone thought everything had to be “cool” in a particular way that dates it to 2000, in retrospect. I’m sure someone thought typing this out in all lowercase was legitimately a rebellious thing to do, rather than just lame.
I hate it. It never should have been a thing. Staggering the letters does nothing for this gimmick and implies more of a tunnel, rather than “over the top” in any way. Terrible.
This version from 2000 wasn’t any better, either:
Things were a little better with 2001:
This isn’t my favorite by any means, but at least they tried to give it an actual logo.
I get more of a sharp, barbed wire feel to this. It’s more of an emphasis on the Rumble part in that fashion, as well as the R for that being directly in the center.
That in and of itself is something that bugs me, though. If you look at it, it’s formatted as “royal Rumble” instead of “Royal Rumble” and I just think a few more tries at the logo would have come out with a better design. Maybe the barbed wire points could have been used as a top rope somehow, rather than this version of it, which just wraps it up in a different way:
2002 through 2004 takes things down to another bad design with this:
Why is the M singled out? I’m legitimately confused about that concept. The M means absolutely nothing to this match and it makes it read on some posters as “Royal Ruble” since it blends in so much.
Also, it’s just text. That didn’t take them more than 5 minutes to make and most of that was in processing time to save the file.
It’s lazy, uninspired and should not have been used for one poster, let alone all the promotional material for several years.
Sadly, things don’t get much better for a long, long time…
In 2005, WWE decided to switch things up and pretty much just chose a different font with Boston Traffic:
Yet again, it’s JUST text. There’s nothing at all to it. You could replace “Royal Rumble” with “Backlash” or “Armageddon” or “Vengeance” or “Unforgiven” or “Judgment Day” or even “No Disqualification” and it wouldn’t change anything about it.
What’s the most frustrating thing about this is that it stayed this way for TEN YEARS. Arguably the worst design of the bunch and it lasted far longer than anything in WWE history except the most basic foundation of the WrestleMania logo!?!?!!?
All WWE did over the course of 2005-2015 was adjust the emboss, change the color or rearrange where the WWE logo went. None of them looked any better than the next and when they settled on red as the predominant one, it was just the same, but red.
Naturally, I was very happy to see a change with 2016:
Yes, it was still mostly just a font (Jupiter in this case) but at least it was new, different, and felt more regal. Having it evoke stone imagery and accompanied by Roman architecture and such was a much better fit for this pay-per-view.