Saturday, 17 January 2015

50 Greatest Royal Rumble Moments

If December has Christmas, then January has the Royal Rumble.

It's no secret I am a big wrestling fan. Every January, the WWE has the Rumble, a 30 man staggered entry battle royal. Two men start off, every two minutes another man (or sometimes, woman) enters the fray. Entries are by a random (to the fans) draw, so no one watching knows who is coming out next. It is every man for himself, so any friendships or partnerships go out the window for this one night. Folk are eliminated by going over the ring's top rope and having both feet touch the arena floor. And the match continues until one person is left, who wins a title shot at their biggest show of the year, WrestleMania.

It's a fairly simple concept, thought up by the Ray Bradbury of professional wrestling, Pat Patterson. (By that, I mean, for over thirty years, if anyone has ever needed an in ring story for a match, they go to Pat - in terms of piecing the theatre together for the crowd, his mind is second to none.)

It's hard to explain how such a concept can have one riveted to the edge of their seat each year. But, conversely, it's also quite easy. Just not in print! When I watched the first rumble that coincided with Mandy's existence in my life - 2007 - she sat down next to me to get the feel for this thing I had been raving on about for months. Within ten minutes, she admitted she could see the appeal, and within forty she was cheering on folk she had decided, on the spur of the match, were her favourites! It's an easy thing to get lost in, with new characters arriving (and departing) so quickly, one can get a feel of the landscape without having to watch hours of WWE tv.

It's the one wrestling match in which you can get comedy (usually involving Santino Marella), surprises (in the modern era, old Hall of Famers or folk returning from injury tend to make surprise returns in the match), feats of astounding acrobatics (usually involving Kofi Kingston, a Ghanaian wrestler who seems to be allergic to gravity), drama, intrigue (who is next?) and the spontaneity of the event. Careers have sadly been ended by the match (through injury or stupidity), but other careers have been made entirely.

It's the nexus around which the wrestling world lives.

So in tribute to the next rumble match (only eight days to go!),  here are the 50 greatest Royal Rumble PPV moments.

Most of them are from the match itself, but there was a few from outside the rumble match too good to go to waste.

As usual, I'll try to explain anything which an outsider looking in would need explained as we go along.

50. Tazz debuts
Royal Rumble 2000

In the land of ECW (a grunge rock alternate wrestling promotion run by Paul Heyman), there was one boss. One Terminator. One unstoppable monster who would Suplex everyone in his sights, or choke them out. And his name was Taz.

By late 1999, Taz was spinning his wheels in ECW. He decided to jump to Vince McMahon's WWF, and video packages were shown on TV in the weeks to the Rumble. Not entirely clear video packages, as teen me thought they were for WCW star Bill Goldberg, then the biggest name not signed to the WWF!

But the crowd at Madison Square Garden knew what was up. As Olympic Gold medalist and pro-wrestling prodigy, Kurt Angle, stood addressing the MSG masses about who his opponent "To be confirmed" was, the crowd loudly chanted for Taz.

Goodness, if it had been a surprise cameo for, say, Ken Shamrock (former MMA champion, and WWF star, who was on a sabbatical at the time - a sabbatical, incidentally, now into its 16th year and quite probably permanent!) or Tiger Ali Singh (don't ask), the crowd might have rioted!

Not to worry, out came Tazz (extra z for copyright issues), to the biggest reaction of his entire career. He swiftly destroys Kurt Angle, who had chickened his way out of potential losses for months, and ends the Olympians undefeated career. In walking into the company and doing so, he looks a complete monster.

By the end of the year, Tazz was part time due to neck issues, and Kurt Angle was the World Champion. So it goes!

But for one night, Tazz was the newcomer everyone was talking about.

It's just a shame his debut was the crowning moment of his run!

49. Christian Tries Family Reunion
Royal Rumble 2003

At the early part of this century, there was one tag team at the top of the WWF ladder. Edge and his (storyline) brother Christian held the WWF tag team championships a record seven times, and became extraordinarily popular for their Jekyll and Hyde like performance of being egotistical fame seekers who would permit "flash photography for 5 second poses" only, but who would then try to murder opponents with steel folding chairs. They had a bit of a Houdini thing going on with title defences, where they would be seen to be easily beaten, but somehow escape with the title belts. With the comedy elements of pro-wrestling being second nature to them, but also earning their audience cred in tough, insane matches.

And then Christian turned on his brother. As in Eastenders, so in WWF. Upset Edge has won a prestigious tournament, and Christian had not, Christian snapped, beating up his own flesh and blood, and winning Edge's IC Championship with that most nefarious of cheating, the low blow.

Christian, when he turned heel, also had an awesome theme tune, riffing off of Bohemian Rhapsody, with Italian operatic interlude.

And so, after two years of being grumpy, Christian shows up in the 2003 rumble in the middle of a show down between Edge and Edge's current tag partner, the Mexican legend Rey Mysterio. Christian, ever the opportunist, decided then and there was the best point in time to make ammends, and gives Edge a big hug. Edge responds by pretending to reciprocate, before working with Rey to tackle Christian to the mat.

I guess he was still sore about the family betrayal!

48 Clock Trouble
1997 Royal Rumble

This stems from an accident of timing. At the start of the 1997 Rumble, they had clock issues. Namely, the clock which counts down to the next opponent was broken. Whilst technicians hastened to fix the issue, as a lot of the timing of the match is needed to a T, and the countdown is part of the fan interaction, as they count the numbers down to the next participant excitedly, we did get this great moment of timing on commentary.

Vince McMahon - "We continue to have problems with our clock."
Jim Ross - "Don't need to wait long, it's every ninety seconds."

No sooner does Ross finish his last syllable than the crashing symbol of the music of Stone Cold Steve Austin plays, seemingly out of nowhere, and he casually walks down to the ringside area.

It wouldn't work every year, as it would rob the fans of their countdown excitement, but that one time when suddenly the music played out of nowhere was a tantalising glimpse.

Plus, the accidental timing on Vince and JR's part was spot on.

(Here - as blogger is in a huff about embedding videos at a certain time in...)

47. The Debut of Giant Gonzalez
Royal Rumble 1993

Sometimes, they are surprises in the Royal Rumble.

And sometimes, a legit 7 foot 8 monster walks down to the ring and destroys one of the most unstoppable forces in wrestling.

In terms of how to make an impact on your debut, laying out The Undertaker is certainly one way to go about it.

Sadly, Jorge Gonzalez's health problems, caused by his massive height, meant a short wrestling career (and even sadder, a short life). But his debut in the WWF will last long in the mind.

46 Roddy Piper wins IC title
Royal Rumble 1992

Throughout the 1980s, Roddy Piper was Lex Luthor to Hulk Hogan's Superman, the villain forever snipping at the heels, but never was the hero fully able to put them away.

But a strange thing happened on the way to the 1990s. Piper won over the fans. By the time of his retirement match in 1987, he was a fan favourite.

He returned to the ring in 1989 (in wrestling, you might have several retirements, Terry Funk is on his 15th...) to the cheers of audiences everywhere.

There is no doubting he was one of the biggest legends in wrestling history. But one thing eluded him. Despite a win/loss record to envy, Piper had not had his hands on a WWF title.  Incredibly so.

This was to change, one sleepy Winters afternoon in Albany. Piper was a last minute substitute to the Intercontinental title match on the PPV, his friend Bret Hart suffering from a fever. (In real life, Hart either had a fever, or was unsuccessfully talking to a rival promotion, depending on how cynical you are!) He took on IC Champion, The Mountie (a gimmick so entertaining and over the top, of course copyright issues had to end it early). And then Piper won the match, finally winning a WWF Championship.

Roddy Piper would go onto the Royal Rumble, where he aimed to become the first man to win both the major titles in one night. A valiant effort came up short. And at WrestleMania that year, he took on Bret Hart, his friend, who won back the IC Championship, in the process becoming the first man ever to pin Rowdy Roddy Piper in the WWF, a decade on from his debut.

45. "I wasn't ready!"

People like to be remembered for good things. Sometimes, however, we fondly remember mediocrity.  In the name of remembrance, here are a few compilations of those who aimed for Royal Rumble supremacy, but found that if the audience blinked, they missed their entire effort.

(excuse the music)

(The Trope Namer in all his glory)

Despite his infamy here, Santino Marella shows up later on this list too.

44. Virgil turns on The Million Dollar Man
Royal Rumble 1991

Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar Man, claimed that everyone had a price he could buy. For anything, even servitude. For years, his bodyguard Virgil was first in line for whoever was coming after the nefarious millionaire, with hints of blackmail along the way to keep him in check. Throughout all the abuse, Virgil was stoic, and eventually the fans were screaming for him to stand up for himself.

By the 1991 rumble, the fans had almost lost hope, but then, after a win, DiBiase started to berate Virgil, and brought his mother up. Virgil had taken enough, and walloped the Million Dollar Man with his own title belt! The fans exploded with such happiness, Virgil the wrestler was able to remain one of the most popular on the roster for a good three years after this moment.

(Number 9 in this video, about 2 mins in)

43 Mick Foley returns
Royal Rumble 2004

Mick Foley was one of wrestlings most popular stars, and a best selling author, when he had to retire due to injuries in early 2000. Talk of a short term comeback had been on the cards for some time, when he returned to the WWF (after a public falling out with owner Vince McMahon) in the summer of 2003. Sadly for him, the Mick Foley appreciation took a turn for the worse when Randy Orton, an up and comer who styled himself The Legend Killer, attacked Foley backstage, and kicked him down a flight of stairs.

Six months on, Orton had become IC Champion, was the crown jewel of Triple H's group Evolution, and a favourite for the 2004 Royal Rumble. He started off second in the entry list, but by the time number twenty-one was due, forty minutes later, he was still in the match.

The music of the next entrant, Test, played. And played. And nobody came out. 

Then suddenly, out came a late replacement. 

The returning Mick Foley!

The roof exploded as Foley returned to the ring for the first time in four years to take care of the young whippersnapper who had forced him out of retirement. In the space of a few minutes, Chekhov's Gun (the attack in June) had gone off, and we had a WrestleMania level feud, in which Foley returned to try and get revenge. 

42. KANE!
Royal Rumble 1999

The 1999 Royal Rumble isn't well remembered. At the height of Vince Russo's writing the shows (think of the average controversial soap showrunner who decides the best way to boost ratings are shocking moments which make no sense, or sudden airplane crashes in the middle of the village - Russo is wrestling equivalent!), the Rumble focused less on the Rumble and more on the stories he felt like telling. Or in many cases, had set up and completely ignored. 

But one moment which stands up is when Kane enters the match and in the space of a minute cleans house. 

Sadly, the Russo style writing swiftly jumps in with Kane eliminating himself (why?) from the match to go after a bunch of mental hospital orderlies (why?) who Vince McMahon had ordered to go after Kane (why?) despite the fact he had one of the best chances of eliminating McMahons nemesis, Stone Cold Steve Austin, from the match. 

So even in its best moment, the 1999 match still reminds us of the horror of Vince Russo's writing. What a great job he did!

41. Drew Carey vs Kane
Royal Rumble 2001

Drew Carey is an annoying comedian.

He participated in the 2001 Rumble match to promote a PPV live comic thing, which bombed badly. In fact, people only remember it because of this.

He met some kindly friends in the match.

Go on Kane! 

40. Welcome to Wrestling, Mr Puder
Royal Rumble 2005

Daniel Puder won the 2004 Tough Enough contest, a contest in which members of the public competed in tests to win a WWE developmental contract at their training school. At one point in this contest, the participants won the chance to get in the ring with Olympic gold medalist and multiple World Champion Kurt Angle, just to show them some ropes in front of an audience. Daniel Puder got this chance, but Puder had MMA training and swiflty decided, for no other reason than to be a dick, to lock a legit martial arts submission move onto Angle  - who has well documented neck issues - in front of a live audience. Angle couldn't submit, for obvious storyline reasons, so Puder could easily have broken Kurt Angle's arm, had officials not got involved on the fly to stop it without harming Angle's reputation.

Puder would go onto win that years Tough Enough, and part of his prize was a spot in the 2005 Royal Rumble.

Well, I say prize.

It was probably more like retribution.

Puder enters third, while Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit are in the ring. They stop fighting to properly slap the hell out of Puder. Now, there are many things you can pull in a wrestling ring - you don't think they really punch each other, do you? - but a slap to the chest is not one of them. Puder's chest goes bright red, and that look of pain is a real one.

Up next? Hardcore Bob Holly, a grumpy bully of a man with a reputation for hating all rookies. The three men continue to beat on Puder with a stiffness to their blows which borders on the legit.

Puder was swiftly eliminated, and never heard of again.

Really, one shouldn't condone this kind of action in front of a live global audience. (Especially given who one of the punishers was, in hindsight!) But like all acrobatic/theatrical stunt like work, the entire show is reliant on the trust among workers, that you can put your body on the line and the other guy is there to protect you, and vice versa. That's what prevents a ballet in which people get dropped on their heads, turning into a real life version of Mortal Kombat fatalities. Puder transgressed that line to make a name for himself - and as such, its a useful reminder, not only of the fact it believes that every bad deed has a receipt, but in that whole nature of trust which is so vital to the game.

39.  Austin wins 
1998 Royal Rumble

Throughout 1997, Stone Cold Steve Austin became the biggest star in all of the WWF. By 1998, there could only be one winner of the Rumble match. Austin went on from this moment to be the highest money making star in all of wrestling history. 

38. Sid eliminates Sgt Slaughter
1992 Royal Rumble

Most of the time, to eliminate someone requires lifting them up, or taking advantage of their positioning, or the like. 

Unless you are Sid, wrestling's cult hero. 

Be he a villain or be a hero, Sid is the man. An incoherent destroyer with so much charisma, he practically has his own solar system orbiting him.

And in the 1992 Rumble match, he found another way to eliminate former WWF Champion, Sgt Slaughter. Merely throw him from one side of the ring to another so fast the man crashes over the turnbuckle and to the floor. Ouch!

Sid is the only man to eliminate someone standing in the opposite corner to which the elimination occurred. 

Like I said, he is the man.

37. Owen eliminates Bulldog
Royal Rumble 1997

Owen Hart and The British Bulldog were brothers in law. They were also the tag team champions. Due to Bulldog's honourable nature, and Owen's willingness to win by any means necessary, they had friction in and out of the ring. In 1997, Owen arrives in the match as his brother in law nearly has long time Hart Family rival Stone Cold Steve Austin out. Owen decides this is the best moment to sneak up and eliminate Bulldog instead, pleading his innocence all the way.

Owen and the Bulldog were such a great double act.  I miss them both.

(Not online, so here is Bulldog promoting the his own way.)

36. Mr Perfect eliminates Ric Flair
Royal Rumble 1993

Michaels favourite wrestler, Mr Perfect, returns from a long in-ring hiatus to feud with Ric Flair. On eliminating his rival from this match, he celebrates like he personally won the Superbowl. Alas, he is soon gone himself. But we'll always have Paris.

35. Kurt Angle snaps
Royal Rumble 2005

Kurt Angle started the 2005 PPV hoping to win the WWF Championship. Shenanigans prevented that.

Then he bullied his way into the Rumble match to get a second opportunity.

There in, he walked right into Shawn Michaels superkick, and was eliminated shockingly early.

Something inside Kurt Angle snapped, he eliminated Shawn Michaels, and went to town on him with the ringside steps, before locking in the devastating Ankle Lock submission on a bloodied Michaels.

Suddenly, out of the blue, with no foreshadowing, two of the biggest stars in wrestling were feuding. They had never faced off before, and nobody expected it to ever happen.

It's no longer online, but most wrestling fan forums, live at that moment, basically exploded akin to the internet reaction when Missy's identity was revealed in the last series of Doctor Who. 

Incidentally, the match they wound up having at WrestleMania? Bloody awesome. But then, the fans knew it would be, with two men known for having awesome matches paired together.

34 Samu Hangs Himself
Royal Rumble 1994

Talk of a moment which very nearly got nasty in a hurry. Samu, a tag team wrestler, was stuck in the ring with both of the Steiner Brothers, in general not a pleasant place to be. Missed a dive, fell over the ropes, and due to movement, Samu wound up with his neck in between the ropes, hung by them. Luckily, he was able to get out of the predicament before anything serious happened.

And sticking to the script, as soon as danger passed, he was casually eliminated as if nothing had happened!

33. Ric Flair is Third
Royal Rumble 1992

We'll get back to this moment in time. But here is Bobby Heenan's hysterical reaction to finding out his man, Ric Flair, has drawn number three in the Royal Rumble match.

32. The CM Punk Lecture
Royal Rumble 2010

Usually rumbles are wars of attrition. Not the case early on in 2010, when CM Punk, in the midst of a saviour storyline where he denounced all vices (mirroring his real life straight edge lifestyle) entered and dominated. In between eliminations, he carried on lecturing the audience about their need to purify themselves.

The highlight is the moment when he pauses ("Excuse me, it's clobberin' time!") to eliminate a new competitor in very short time, before returning to the mic to announce "As I was saying..."

31. The Caskets on Fire
Royal Rumble 1998

How do you write Undertaker off TV for a few months to deal with a niggling injury, while promoting a WrestleMania match at the same time?

Lock him in a burial casket, and have his brother, Kane, set it on fire, of course.

Seems obvious now I've mentioned it. Heh.

(Obviously he wasnt in the casket, he escaped under the ring via the crowd being distracted and cameras looking elsewhere. Wrestlers might survive many things, but actually being burned to death isn't one of them.)

30. Kane's Eleven
Royal Rumble 2001

Not content with burning his brother to death (he got better), Kane would stick around as a Rumble match MVP for most of this century. As one of the most underrated big men wrestlers in history, the Rumble was his calling card. Best example was 2001, when he not only lasted 54 minutes, but eliminated eleven men, a record which held for fourteen years.

29. Mr Perfect Returns!
2002 Royal Rumble

Mr Perfect, my favourite wrestler, left the WWF in 1996 to go compete in WCW. The Atlanta based company swiftly let him linger in the reserves before ending his tenure in 2000. He seemed destined to finish his career in the indies. 

Then, in the 2002 Royal Rumble, he made one of those legends entries I mentioned before. And lasted to the final three.

I was so deliriously happy at the time, jumping up and down with excitement at this unexpected development. More so, when it was announced he was staying around full time, to work as a mentor/trainer to the younger wrestlers. Hooray!

I was much less happy when he got fired a few months later for drunkenly getting into a fight with a NCAA triple champion on an airplane. 

And even less happy, in fact, quite the opposite, when he was to die of a drug overdose just over a year later. An event which his friend Wade Boggs seems to attest to suicide. 

Bloody gutted is the phrase, in fact. And still am.

But right before he went, he got the opportunity to come back. His curtain call in the mainstream wasn't losing to Shawn Stasiak or some other WCW no name. It was going toe to toe in the Royal Rumble with Kurt Angle, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and for those minutes looking like the clocks had turned back time and he hadn't lost any of those steps through injury and age. 

Good on you, Curt. 

28. Demolition
1989 Royal Rumble

As I have previously mentioned, the entry draw into the rumble is random. This was shown off early in Rumble history, as Tag team champions Demolition, Ax and Smash, drew numbers one and two. They went at it, when common sense might suggest time wasting would be the safer course of action, and soon regretted that, given the next entrant was Andre the Giant!

27. Paul London enters another Dimension
2005 Royal Rumble

Some men are nondescript. Hercules had a combined 2 hours in the Royal Rumbles. Who remembers anything he ever did? Other men stake their claim at immortality. Paul Londons entire Royal Rumble career, before he decided that in a choice between drugs and a career the drugs would win, lasted one match and little over three minutes. Yet, his elimination, a full 360 to the floor off a clothesline, was enough to send him to hospital for concussion checks, to illicite a "Holy Shit!" chant from the watching audience, and to make him a permanent feature in all Youtube lists of Greatest Rumble Eliminations. 

He might have been an underdog in the match, but he certainly wasn't when it came to making an impression!

26. John Cena ruins Triple H's party
Royal Rumble 2008

In October 2007, John Cena, WWE Champion, suffered an hamstring/muscle tear injury which was meant to keep him out of the ring for a year.

The scene was set for Triple H's second Rumble victory, and he entered late, dominating.

As the clock ticked down to number 30, the watching audience mentally noted that every announced competitor had entered the match. So who was left?

The buzzer sounded, and out came John Cena, in a surprise so well kept, even the Madison Square Garden crowd, long time critics of Cena, cheered at the shock.

Triple H couldn't believe the ghost he saw in front of him. And so off his game did the shock make him, that Cena was able to then win the Rumble match in his comeback.

His comeback, six months earlier than expected. 

To this day, no one is sure if the WWE had overstressed the injury deliberately, or if the rehab had gone better than expected. Your guess is as good as mine.

But it still remains one of the biggest genuine shocks in Rumble history.

And when I say nobody saw it coming, I mean nobody. Not the spoiler hounds, not journalists, not a single soul bar those in the know. Quite incredible in the modern internet age.

25.  Austin v Bret
1997 Royal Rumble

Or, how to sell the Rumble in one facial expression.

Steve Austin had been in the ring since the 5th entry, and cleaned house. Waiting for a late entry, his rival Bret Hart shows up.

24. Rikishi Dances/Kills
2000 Royal Rumble

In 2000, Rikishi was getting cheers as loud as you'd expect for The Rock or Stone Cold.

Perhaps it was the moves...

Or his willingness to do anything in a match....

Or the fact he was a big man who liked to dance

But his Rumble 2000 performance might have helped, when he entered the match and threw out seven men. The MSG crowd took him to their hearts, and his momentum seemed unstoppable from then on. (Until bad booking took over, but thats another story.)

23. Great Khali 
Royal Rumble 2007

22. Yokozuna wins
1993 Royal Rumble

Before 1993, the big men had their role in the rumble match. Come in, look unstoppable, be defeated. In 1993, Yokozuna decided that really wasn't his cup of tea. The brightest and best tried to get rid of him. And instead, he threw them all out one by one. In the end it was Randy Savage against the big man, and while Savage momentarily floored him, not even Macho Man could stop Yokozuna winning the match and going onto the WrestleMania title match.

21. Kofi Kingston Hates Gravity

Like I say, Kofi Kingston hates gravity.

And yet, he's still never won a Rumble. So it goes!

20. Shawn Michaels eliminates both big men
1996 Royal Rumble

Sometimes, momentum allows one to do things they couldn't otherwise. So it was in the 1996 match, when Shawn Michaels running against the ropes was able to use the momentum and positioning of both Yokozuna and Vader to eliminate both men. 

19. "And that's why I kicked your leg out of your leg!"
1994 Royal Rumble

Bret Hart had done it all. Two time tag champion. Two time IC Champion. He wanted to be Two time World Champion, but a miscommunication in a tag match with his brother Owen had caused a family divide. Worried about what that would do to the family, Bret and Owen patched things up, and went for the tag titles at the 1994 Royal Rumble. In the match, Bret suffered an injury, but instead of tagging out to his younger brother, Bret stayed in the ring and the match wound up being ended due to referee's discretion. Owen was incensed, and snapped, kicking Bret in the injured knee.

A new villain was born!

And the lengthy Bret v Owen feud - in which Owen shocked the world by winning their most high profile match - turned Owen Hart into the other Hart brother, rather than being one of Bret's nondescript many other siblings. The feud gave an added edge to Bret too. 

Oh, and it was bloody awesome. I fully sympathise with Owen, of course.

18 Marty Jannetty's elimination
1989 Royal Rumble

Now, Marty Jannetty is a mess and potentially a horrible human being, but in the 1989 rumble, his elimination is class. Arn Anderson hits him with the Spinebuster, Arn and his tag partner Tully Blanchard toss Jannetty over the top rope and Marty fights for his life before the two men finally get him to the floor. Too many men make it clear its they are just hitting their mark, its nice to see the life and death nature of winning show its head now and again.

17. Austin and Rock lock eyes
2001 Royal Rumble

Three men left in the match. Kane, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. From opposite corners, Austin and The Rock turn their attention to each other. They lock eyes. The crowd come unglued. In a seconds notice, a WrestleMania main event is born. They've tried to repeat this moment with others since, but it never works.

16. Santino, Nearly
2011 Royal Rumble

Remember how Santino lasted one second in 2009, earlier in this list? He was in the 2011 Rumble, and by fluke, nearly won the entire damned thing!

I maintain to this day he would have been a better winner than Alberto Del Rio. There was so much potential in the ultimate underdog no one takes seriously going up against Edge, the then marquee champion. 

Instead, they stuck with mediocrity. So it goes.

(This, for the record, was the most surprising thing I couldn't find on Youtube properly!)

15. Undertaker v Shawn
2007 Royal Rumble

How to end the 20th Royal Rumble match? Have two home state legends go at it for a seven minute sprint! Works for me.

14. As it was..
2008 Rumble

And to start off the next Rumble, those same two...

13. "Only One of Shawn Michaels feet"
1995 Royal Rumble

That man Shawn Michaels yet again, providing the trope namer for the annual reminder that both feet must touch the floor. In 1995, everyone thought, including the man himself, that Bulldog had finally won a Royal Rumble. He was celebrating, his music played. But an eagle eyed referee watched and spotted that only one of Shawn's feet touched the arena floor, despite the other swaying, before he could enter the ring again, thus he was not eliminated.

From that point, the rule, which had been taken forgranted by all, was repeated ad naueseum, and only one foot tricks were repeated all the time.

12. Dibiase vs The World
1990 Royal Rumble

The 1990 Rumble has the greatest start in history.  The Million Dollar Man starts off with jobber to the stars Koko B Ware, who doesn't last long. Out next, Marty Jannetty, who has some good moves in before he goes out too.

Next? DiBiase's long time nemesis, Jake the Snake, who walks slowly down to the ring pointing at the Million Dollar Man, fans going crazy.

Next? Macho Man Randy Savage, rushing to the ring to aide the Million Dollar Man.

Next? Roddy Piper to level the sides!

Next? The Warlord. Never mind him.

Next? Then tag team wrestler Bret Hart, to a massive cheer, so loud in fact it takes commentator Tony Schiavone by surprise and he lets out a "Wow". 

In the next three entrants out comes territories legend Dusty Rhodes and movie star, wrestling legend and pop culture icon Andre the Giant. 

It's the most star studded star to a Rumble match in history. Wonderful.

11. Sgt Slaughter, WWF Champion
Royal Rumble 1991

Not only because it sets up the Warrior/Savage feud which created the best WrestleMania match of all time, in terms of the drama and storyline arc. But also because, despite the "jumping over the line twice" nature of having a pro-Iraqi sympathiser as Champion during the Gulf War, the commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper's reaction is gloriously OTT in its outrage.

And it provoked this rare moment of Hulk Hogan fluffing his lines on live TV

10. Ric Flair
Royal Rumble 1992

Flair did draw number 3, but by the midway point, he was alone in the ring.

Alone in the ring?

Here comes Roddy Piper!

9. "Maven from Tough Enough!"
2002 Royal Rumble

You will have heard of The Undertaker. Multiple time World Champion, twenty-five year career, one of the few wrestlers to transcend into popular culture.

You will never have heard of Maven, the first ever winner of the aforementioned Tough Enough competition. Again, a prize was entry into the Royal Rumble.

So, when he comes out, and its just The Undertaker alone in the ring, you can probably guess how that goes...


This remains one of, if not THE most shocking Rumble elimination of all time. A rookie who hadn't even had 5 matches in his entire career, getting to eliminate the Pillar of the WWF. 

He subsequently got his ass kicked.

But that moment will live with Maven longer than his career ever did. (Hell, its lasted about thrice as long as his career so far, and has no sign of abating yet!)

One year later, he tried to repeat the trick

As you can see, lightning doesn't tend to strike twice!

8. "It takes a King..."
Royal Rumble 1997

Rumble 1997 is very underrated. It has a share of fun moments, and a stellar cast (Bret, Austin, Vader, Mankind, Undertaker, Terry Funk, a young Rock, and 2 Cold Scorpio) to finish the thing off.

But midway through, Bret Hart was beating down on Stone Cold Steve Austin, the only two in the ring, as the buzzer counted down to the next man.

Now Jerry Lawler was a long time rival of the Hart Family, but by this point he was part-retired and on the commentary team for PPVs. 

Nevertheless, the music of the King played, and he arose from the commentary table, announcing "Watch this! It takes a King..."

Unfortunately for Lawler, his music might have hinted to Bret something was happening, so as Lawler snuck into the ring, Bret turned around to swiftly punch him back out of the ring in about four seconds.

Lawler falls back to the commentary desk, retrieves the headphones and says " know a King", finishing his own sentence!

He then pretends to have no knowledge of ever entering the match in the first place!

7 Double Winners
1994 Royal Rumble

In 1994, they couldn't separate Lex Luger and Bret Hart. Quite literally. Both men fell out at the same time, necessitating co-winners of the match for the one and only time.

6.  The Final Six
2004 Royal Rumble

Leaving aside the obvious elephant in the room (the winner was later to suffer post-concussion syndrome and murder his wife and son), this was the best final stretch of any Royal Rumble match. The Kurt Angle elimination in particular is the best in history.

Just, you know if you can get past the obvious real life thing. For me, its like watching They Shoot Horses Dont They? knowing Gig Young's real life fate. Others have different views.

5. Austin wins, 1997

Bret Hart finally eliminated his nemesis, Stone Cold in the 1997 rumble. Unfortunately for him, all the referees were busy with a Mankind and Terry Funk fight on the floor. And we thought Premiership referees were bad!

4. Hogan eliminates Savage
1989 Royal Rumble

Every man for himself, and Hulk Hogan eliminates his best friend. I'm sure that wont come back to haunt him. 

Whats that? Wrestlemania feud?

Oh well!

3. Diesel Cleans House
1994 Royal Rumble

In January 1994, Kevin Nash was an afterthought, a 7 foot irrelevance destined for the scrapheap of pro-wrestling. Then, in one swoop, he entered the 1994 rumble, and dominated. He threw out so many men, at points he was waiting for entrants to enter. This had never happened before, and the fans started cheering loudly. 

In one night he went from no name to potential main eventer. Within a year, he was the World Champion. All thanks to some (at the time) unique Rumble booking, and a very appreciative crowd.

2. Warrior v Hogan showdown
1990 Royal Rumble

Hulk Hogan was pro-wrestling.

The Ultimate Warrior was the speedboat who had torn throw the entire company.

Suddenly, the ring in the 1990 Rumble was down to them and them alone. 

The crowd went bonkers.

And in that second, a million gate receipts for WrestleMania were formed.

But for Number One, they can there only be one...


Ric Flair wins 1992 Rumble

Bobby Heenan was an exhausted man. He had bet his career on Ric Flair winning the Royal Rumble. So when his main man entered, with the luck of the draw, number 3. 

An hour later, Flair was still in the ring, and it was down to three men. Flair, Sid and Hulk Hogan.

Flair took advantage of Sid eliminating Hogan (and Hulk Hogan being the worlds worst loser) to win the match, causing Heenan on commentary to explode in delight.

Ric Flair was the man in 1980s wrestling. He ruled the NWA. 

But to a 90s WWF crowd, he was an unknown quality. What this performance and match did, was take The Man, and present him as The Man to an entirely new audience.

An hour previously, he had been a wrestler who went on about being real world champion, but had yet to show his credentials in the WWF.

After the 1992 rumble, he was the undisputed WWF Champion. And no one watching could deny the calibre of Ric Flair.

A man who had been 8 times the World champion before this point didn't need a coming out party. But in the WWF, this was Flair's coming out party. And the exclamation mark on one of the greatest Rumble matches of all time.

(and why yes, I do get to finish this by sneaking Mr Perfect into the final spot!)