January is upon us, which means we are nearing one of the most important Sundays in sports and entertainment history, a day that has virtually become a national holiday for many Americans. It’s a day where we will gather our closest friends and enjoy one of the most anticipated days on the sports calendar.
...yes, I am of course talking about WWE’s Royal Rumble.
Wrestling’s best will compete in an over the top battle royal to determine who will go on to the main event at Wrestlemania, and I am here to answer the question that has been on everyone’s minds for years: What would happen if Atlanta Braves players competed in a 30-man over-the-top battle royal?? Well look no further, because your least favorite TC writer is here to book the entirety of this 30-man slugfest. Welcome to the Braves Royal Rumble.
First, let’s go over the rules:
- The Rumble starts with two competitors in the ring
- Every two minutes, a new competitor is entered into the match
- A competitor is eliminated when they are thrown over the top rope and both feet touch the floor
- The last man remaining in the ring is the winner
The commentary team for tonight’s action is, of course, a team made up of Chip Caray and Jeff Francoeur. Now, as with any good battle royal, the job of the commentary team is to remind the audience of the rules of the match every 3-5 minutes, yet at the same time, somehow forget the rules at various points during the match. Chip and Jeff should be perfect for the job.
We start with the first competitor: Over the PA system, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen plays, and FREDDIE FREEMAN walks down to the ring, waving to the crowd. Chip and Jeff are in awe: Jeff, Freddie has an uphill climb coming in at the #1 spot, but he is my favorite to win it!! After entering the ring, the arena goes quiet, and NICK MARKAKIS walks down to the ring. No music. He doesn’t wave. He doesn’t seem to know where he is. Jeff retorts: Chip, now THIS is MY pick to win the whole thing!
They lock up. This is a match that starts slowly, with the two competitors seeming to feel each other out. They both realize they have a long way to go, so they need to save their energy. A couple of near eliminations, but the match really needs to fill up before things get exciting. After a few minutes pass, AUSTIN RILEY and OZZIE ALBIES have joined the fray. Riley nearly eliminates Markakis, but he’s able to hold on! Freeman charges at Albies, and Ozzie ties him up in a wristlock, using his own momentum against him to take him over the top rope and onto the floor!
Oh my god! We haven’t seen Freddie eliminated this early since October!
Riley and Albies face each other, while MIKE FOLTYNEWICZ enters the ring, and Riley immediately tosses him into the corner, standing above him, punching him in the head ten times. The crowd counts each punch in unison: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! After the tenth punch, Riley grabs Folty by the back of the neck and eliminates him.
JAVY LOPEZ enters at #6, followed by DAN UGGLA. Before entering the ring, Uggla reaches under the ring and grabs a chair, bringing it into the ring with him. He swings it wildly at Lopez and misses. He swings at Riley, and misses. He swings it at Albies...and misses.
SEAN NEWCOMB enters at #8, bringing a fire extinguisher into the ring with him. He sprays Uggla in the face with it, causing him to drop the chair, and then smashes the fire extinguisher on the ground outside the ring. DALE MURPHY enters at #9, smiling as he walks to the ring, waving to the fans.
I don’t know about you, Jeff, but it’s really refreshing to see Murphy get inducted—I mean invited here!
Murphy stands next to Markakis, who is leaning against the turnbuckle, watching the rest of the action.
Chip, I cannot say enough about the tenacity displayed by Markakis in this match!
EVAN GATTIS enters at #10, dressed as a janitor, holding a metal trash can, he hits the lid of the can with his hand as he walks to the ring. Not many people know this, Jeff, but Gattis worked as a janitor before becoming a baseball player! Gattis comes to the ring and immediately starts cleaning house. He’s mopping the floor with everyone. He eliminates Newcomb, Albies, Riley, Uggla, and Lopez in short order. Dale Murphy, walks up to Gattis and reaches out his hand for a handshake, but Gattis grabs his arm and tosses Murphy over the top rope. He doesn’t seem to notice Markakis.
The ability of Nick Markakis to stay in this match is incredible! The passion! The drive! The will to win is second to none!
TYLER FLOWERS enters, and saunters down to the ring, standing nose-to-nose with Gattis. They stare at one another, waiting to see who makes the first move. After two minutes of standing, JUAN FRANCISCO enters at #12.
These three behemoths are gonna tear each other apart!!!
They start slugging it out, haymakers thrown left and right. RONALD ACUÑA JR enters at #13, to a huge pop from the crowd. He quickens the pace, jumping off the top rope, dropkicking everyone in sight. JOHAN CAMARGO enters and joins him, teaming up against their larger opponents. Acuña looks to Markakis in the corner and tries to enlist his help, but Markakis declines.
GREG MADDUX is at #15, walking down to the ring holding a clipboard and a calculator. We aren’t sure why. Before entering the ring, he grabs Acuña’s leg, pulling him under the bottom rope, hitting him over the head with the clipboard and leaving him on the outside. He does the same with Camargo, pulling him back into the ring before getting into the ring himself and tossing a weakened Camargo over the top rope. The fans start to turn on Maddux, booing loudly.
CRISTIAN PACHE enters at #16, running quickly to the ring and beginning to kick at the legs of Flowers. Acuña starts to come to his senses and makes his way back into the ring.
Nick Markakis is my MVP of this match so far!
The music plays for #17, and none other than Braves legend SID BREAM enters the match. He pauses to look at the crowd, and runs as fast as he can to the ring.
Two minutes later, CHIPPER JONES enters at #18. Chipper runs down to the ring, passing Bream on the way, and enters the match. Chipper immediately locks up with Pache, hoisting him up and tossing him over the top rope.
Eerie, gloomy music begins playing for entrant #19, and after the fog clears, former President of Baseball Operations JOHN HART appears on the entrance ramp. Nick Markakis, having been standing motionless in the corner of the ring for nearly forty-five minutes, immediately looks up with eyes of fire. Hart passes Bream on the way to the ring, and is met by Markakis, and the two begin brawling, trading punches and signature moves. The other wrestlers watch as the two brawl, to the outside of the ring, through the middle rope. Outside the ring, they begin hitting each other with chairs and various weapons, incapacitating one another.
During the fight, and while the rest of the wrestlers brawl, RON GANT is introduced as entrant #20, passing a sprinting and visibly winded Bream on the way to the ring.
Bream finally enters the ring, and is immediately met with a clothesline by Tyler Flowers, sending him flying over the top rope and out of the ring. Maddux attempts to eliminate Flowers, but is instead lifted up in a gorilla press and thrown clear out of the ring.
CHARLIE CULBERSON enters at #21, and joins the fray as a stumbling Markakis and Hart make their way back to the ring. Markakis eliminates Hart, and returns to the same corner of the ring, barely noticed by the other competitors.
Jeff, in all my days of calling matches, I have NEVER seen a more gutsy, a more courageous, a tougher performance than what we have witnessed out of Nick Markakis on this night!
ANDRUW JONES enters at #22, and joins Chipper in an attempt to eliminate Acuña, but their efforts are interrupted when the lights in the arena go out. After several seconds of darkness, the lights turn on as we see that former Minnesota Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek has appeared in the ring, and he hoists Ron Gant up in the air and over the top rope! The rest of the combatants stop as security rushes to the ring to apprehend Hrbek, placing him in handcuffs and ushering him out of the arena to a chorus of boos. Some fans are throwing trash as Hrbek eggs them all on.
Acuña and Culberson attempt to go after Gattis, who easily brushes them both off, as DANSBY SWANSON is announced at the 23rd competitor. He teams with Culberson to go after Chipper, but Andruw cuts them off.
Chip, what Nick Markakis has been able to accomplish in this match is beyond heroic!!
MARCELL OZUNA makes his Braves debut at #24, to a huge ovation. Chip and Jeff are shocked! Culberson and Swanson are met with a double clothesline by Juan Francisco, and both eliminated from the match at the same time. Francisco is immediately eliminated by Acuña, who begins gloating, staring at Francisco on the outside of the ring, grinning. As he stands there admiring his accomplishment, Acuña is grabbed by the hair by Chipper Jones, and thrown out of the ring.
Immediately, the video feed goes to a split screen shot, where backstage reporters frantically rush to the locker room of Freddie Freeman, trying to get his immediate reaction to the events that transpired. Reporters assure the broadcast team that they will be committed to getting statements on the Acuña situation from every other competitor who participated in the match.
As this is taking place, MAX FRIED is introduced as #25, and the tension of the match starts to weigh upon the faces of those who remain, except for Nick Markakis, who remains expressionless in the corner.
Jeff, what we are seeing from Nick Markakis in this match has literally changed my life! I will never be the same again after bearing witness to this performance!
COLE HAMELS is #26, and he and Fried begin to create an alliance against the rest of the combatants.
Cole Hamels and Max Fried are the first father and son to appear in the same match in Royal Rumble history!
Hamels and Fried are close to eliminating Tyler Flowers, when the music for #27 plays, and everyone remaining in the match—Gattis, Ozuna, Flowers, Hamels, Fried, Chipper, Andruw, Markakis—turns their attention to the stage to see who will be entering, but no one appears. Nearly a minute passes by, and a masked, hooded man is lowered from the rafters, holding a baseball bat, and begins to clear the ring with the bat. Ozuna, Fried, Hamels, Chipper, and Andruw are all eliminated. Flowers and Gattis stare at the masked man as he takes off his hood to reveal a small, bald head. He removes his mask…it’s JOHN COPPOLELLA. Chip and Jeff are apoplectic. The crowd is stunned.
As the broadcast team is trying to pull themselves together, a voice comes over the PA system “STOP THE MATCH, STOP THE MATCH!” It’s commissioner Rob Manfred sprinting down to ringside. He immediately disqualifies John Coppolella and orders him to be taken out of the arena. Coppy winks at Gattis as he is taken away in handcuffs by security.
Gattis and Flowers remain…with Markakis standing in the corner. The two lock up, while MIKE SOROKA is announced as #28, coming to the ring holding a Canadian flag. The fans immediately start booing. We don’t know why this is, but wrestling fans are obligated to hate Canada.
#29 is none other than former Braves closer JOHN ROCKER, and by this point, the crowd is completely turning on this match. Rocker enters to a chorus of boos, and begins yelling at each fan that is booing him on the way down to ringside. It takes him nearly the full two minutes to get to the ring, as he is shouting at each and every fan in the lower bowl. He slides into the ring and locks up with Tyler Flowers, while Soroka and Gattis battle.
Chip, I have decided that after this inspiring, legendary performance, that I will name each of my future children Nicholas William Markakis Francoeur.
And here we are at #30, the best possible position in this match…after the music starts blaring, the crowd erupts when LUKE JACKSON appears on the entryway, and goes sprinting down to the ring. Jackson and Rocker lock up, as do Flowers and Gattis, with Markakis in the corner. Jackson eliminates Rocker with a backdrop, and the crowd explodes with cheers. Gattis clotheslines Flowers over the top rope, eliminating him, leaving us with our final four.
Nick Markakis, Luke Jackson, Evan Gattis, and Mike Soroka. The crowd is going crazy.
Gattis punches Soroka, sending him back against the ropes, while Jackson meets him with a kick, sending Soroka over the top. Jackson and Gattis stare at each other. Jackson calmly walks over to Markakis, who is motionless on his feet, and gently lifts him up and over the top rope, with no resistance whatsoever. Chip Caray begins audibly crying.
With Jackson on the edge, Gattis pokes him in the eye, blinding him, and he backs into the corner. Gattis lifts him up and over onto the ring apron and begins punching him, while Jackson holds onto the ring ropes. One final punch sends Luke Jackson to the floor.
Evan Gattis is your Braves Royal Rumble winner. He celebrates as his music plays, confetti falling from the arena ceiling. He raises his arms in victory and tears open his janitorial coveralls in celebration. The lasting image as the show goes off air is the camera zooming in on Gattis, and what can be seen, visibly across his left shoulder, is a piece of tape…and underneath…a small buzzer.
JDunnah is a contributor for Talking Chop. He is not sure whether to be proud of this article, or whether it’s just sad. Maybe it’s both.