The Royal Rumble is upon us and I'm pumped. You pumped? I'm pumped. Totally pumped. This is the wrestling equivalent of Christmas.
The brainchild of Pat Patterson, the Royal Rumble match was originally a gimmick used for a house show that did terribly. Less than 2,000 people showed up for it, there were no TV cameras and they actually gave away the winner during intermission. No, really. They said that the winner would get a title shot against Hogan the next time they were in town and when hyping up the next card, they announced Hogan vs. One Man Gang for the title. Then One Man Gang won!
The first mainstream Royal Rumble, showcased in 1988, came from an attempt to screw over Jim Crocket Promotions, as the Rumble was a free TV special aired against a PPV. That year, the Rumble match featured nothing but midcard acts. The next few years included main eventers like Hogan and only acted as a vehicle for bragging rights and a large winner's purse. The WWF Championship was vacated at the end of 1991, meaning that the 1992 Royal Rumble winner would be champion. After that, the Rumble has been a path to a WrestleMania title shot against whoever the champion may be.
While they've been doing it annually, there have been some extra Rumbles. In the mid-90's, they had a couple take place at house shows with Owen Hart and the Undertaker winning. Members of D-Generation X and the Corporation fought it out in a Corporate Royal Rumble for the right to be #30 in the 1999 match. When Chris Benoit won the 2004 Rumble and snuck off to Raw, Paul Heyman declared, "SCREW CHRIS BENOIT!" and held his own Royal Rumble with 15 Smackdown wrestlers. And who could forget Hornswoggle being forced into a Royal Rumble against vertically-challenged clones of famous superstars? I wish I could!
Having watched every Rumble all over again, here's my take on the 100 best moments. Keep in mind, I'm only counting the Rumble matches, not the PPV, so Undertaker dying and flying into Heaven doesn't count because that was from a separate match.
100. TEACHING DANIEL PUDER A LESSON Royal Rumble 2005
Daniel Puder won Tough Enough and, depending on who you ask, was intended to fail. Namely, his MMA background got him in hot water, especially when he tried to shoot on Kurt Angle during a televised exhibition that he was never meant to win. He got a spot in the 2005 Rumble and walked out while Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero fought it out in the ring.
He grabbed the mic and boasted about how he was going to win this, his first Rumble match. His ego rubbed the two former champs the wrong way and they decided to work him over. Then Hardcore Holly came out next and joined in on the fun. For the following few minutes, the two stiffed the hell out of the kid, delivering chop after chop. Then they dumped him out and moved on.
Part of it rubs me the wrong way because it was essentially a hazing ritual performed by a future murderer, a guy known for his temper, and a man defined for being one of the biggest bullies in the wrestling business. Still, they built it up well in terms of kayfabe by making it look like Puder really deserved it, so that worked at least.
99. BIG SHOW SKINS THE CAT?! Royal Rumble 2009
Commentators will always try to talk up how anyone who is huge automatically has an advantage over everyone else because bigger = better. After all, how can you stop somebody like Andre or Yokozuna if you can't get them over the top rope? What they never talk about is that the problem cuts both ways. If Shawn Michaels or Chris Jericho goes over the top rope, they can hang on and pull themselves back in. If Viscera goes over the top rope, he's done.
Big Show fought against that logic when getting pounded on by Undertaker. A boot sent Big Show over the top and he actually grabbed onto the rope and suspended himself off the ground before both feet could touch! It wasn't perfect and it only lasted an instant, but it was damn impressive and even Undertaker had to react with an angry, "DAMN!" that would make Ron Simmons proud.
98. THE AWKWARD TAG TEAM REUNIONS Royal Rumble 2003
The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian was a great rivalry in the Attitude Era, but a lot had changed by 2003. Jeff Hardy and Edge were good guys while Christian and Matt Hardy were selfish and conniving. So conniving that they both came up with the same plan that year. Christian came out to see Edge in the ring and rather than fight him, he hugged his best-friend-or-is-it-brother-I-can't-keep-it-straight. He tried to butter him up into teaming up against Edge's then-current tag partner Rey Mysterio. Instead, Edge Speared Christian.
Later that night, Jeff Hardy arrived to see Matt in the ring, excited to see him and acting like they should team up. Jeff shut him down in awesome fashion by just looking emotionless, shaking his head and making "talking" movements with his hand like he wasn't hearing any of this.
97. ANIMAL VS. EARTHQUAKE Royal Rumble 1991
When Earthquake came to the ring, he had Animal from Legion of Doom waiting right for him. The two biggest men in the ring, who had no beef with each other prior, stared each other down before outright clubbing each other back and forth with their arms. The stiff exchange gave Animal an advantage when he landed a clothesline, but an attempt to finish Earthquake off failed when the massive Canadian ducked the second clothesline and sent Animal to the outside. With Animal gone, Earthquake was easily the top of the food chain.
96. JOHN CENA'S RAPPING ENTRANCE Royal Rumble 2003
In his Rumble debut, "the Doctor of Thugganomics" John Cena came to the ring with a mic in hand, rapping about how he was going to win. He spent the next minute and a half, slowly walking, taking his sweet time. By the time he finished and got in, the clock was ready to start ticking for the next entrant. I have to rank it just for style alone, but I can't rank it high. Why? Because the rapping was terrible. Usually Cena could bring out some witty stuff, but he was completely off his game.
"Yo, it doesn't matter, kid, 'cause I'll rip your nose off.
I can battle you naked with no clothes on!"
He also claimed that one of the reasons he'd win was because he cuts you up like cucumbers... only he didn't rhyme it with anything and just moved onto the second reason. Man, I don't even...
95. LEX LUGER ELIMINATES BAM BAM Royal Rumble 1994
I mentioned this when talking up how great Bam Bam Bigelow did at his lone Royal Rumble in 1994, but here you go again. Bam Bam lasted longer than anyone in the match, but he was also the victim of one of the best eliminations in Rumble history. He threw Lex Luger into the corner and ran at him for a headbutt to the sternum. Luger dodged it and instead, Bam Bam hit the post, flipped over, and landed on the apron, completely disoriented. Luger ran right at him and cold-cocked him with his metallic forearm. Bam Bam went straight down and played dead. Made that move look like a million bucks.
94. KANE REMEMBERS THAT HE'S KANE Royal Rumble 2001
Kane showed up at #5 and remained in the '02 Rumble for rest of the match, racking up more eliminations than anyone in Rumble history. They had to make him a monster, but they couldn't just have him throw dudes out willy-nilly. That would get really boring. They needed something to slow him down.
Raven showed up with a trash can full of weapons and that did the trick. Followed soon after by other hardcore wrestlers Al Snow, Perry Saturn, and Steve Blackman, Raven led the assault on Kane with various sheets of metal. As the ring filled up, Kane suddenly decided that he had had enough. Fed up, he snapped and went on a rampage, using the weapons for himself. He completely cleared the ring of everyone, including an amusing bit where Steve Blackman tried skinning the cat to get back in, only for Kane to clobber him with a trash can lid.
93. BRADSHAW'S BLITZ Royal Rumble 2004
Few throw a lariat as sweet as Bradshaw. It looks like he had his arm replaced with a baseball bat and just hits a running homerun when he nails it. He entered the Rumble at #5 with the previous four guys still in play. Upon entering, BAM! Clothesline from Hell on Orton. Not wasting the momentum, he bounced against the ropes and BAM! Clothesline from Hell on Mark Henry. He pulled Tajiri away from Chris Benoit and BAM! Pulled him into a Clothesline from Hell. Benoit fought back for a moment until running straight into the turnbuckle, leaving him stunned. Bradshaw ran at him and B—Crippler Crossface out of nowhere!
Bradshaw powered out by getting to his feet, but Benoit was able to leverage it so that he went over the top rope and remained on the apron, while Bradshaw fell to the floor. Good run for such a short time.
92. DREW CAREY
Royal Rumble 2001
Eh, this one was harmless fun. TV personality Drew Carey rubbed Triple H the wrong way backstage and was given a spot in the Royal Rumble. He came out to see Jeff and Matt Hardy duking it out and proceeded to stay out of the way. The Hardy Boyz appeared to be too evenly matched and eliminated each other. Yes, for one shining moment, Drew Carey was the last man standing. He seemed pretty high on himself and didn't quite get a grasp on the idea that he was meant to fight a bunch of dudes.
Then the explosions kicked in and Kane walked out. The two briefly rubbed elbows backstage and Kane was a bit offended by Drew's inclusion. Cornered, Drew tried bribing Kane, but that didn't work. Kane grabbed the improvisational host by the throat and prepared to do some Pete Rose-style thrashing, but then Raven entered the match and made the save. Finally realizing how much danger he was in, Drew Carey ran over the top rope and eliminated himself.
91. SANTINO CLEARS THE RING... ALMOST! Royal Rumble 2013
Santino came back from a lengthy vacation due to injury and made a beeline to the ring, where four opponents were busy fighting each other. Santino didn't even want to waste his energy on softening them up. No, instead, Santino grabbed each wrestler and flung them over the top rope. Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, and Chris Jericho: all tossed over the top. Santino stood in the middle of the ring, overjoyed and totally pumped.
Unfortunately, his throwing arm needed some work. Everyone landed on the apron and nobody was gone from the match. Rather, the four all surrounded Santino and even donning the Cobra wasn't enough to save him from a Dolph Ziggler superkick and easy elimination.
90. SID JUSTICE VS. SGT. SLAUGHTER Royal Rumble 1992
During the early 90's, Sergeant Slaughter wasn't exactly known for his mobility. He was pretty over-the-hill and lumpy and his main advantage was his methodical style. Sid didn't seem to be aware of that or possibly just didn't care. Late into the Rumble, he grabbed Slaughter and launched him across the ring with an Irish whip at about 80 miles per hour. Slaughter broke the sound barrier hitting the ring post and skipped over it like a rock in a lake. Seeing Slaughter fly was one of the most rewindable moments in Royal Rumble history.
89. BIG SHOW'S BACK! Royal Rumble 2001
Big Show left WWF for over half a year due to both his weight problem and notable lack of endurance. It was such a big punishment that they removed him from the video game No Mercy and replaced his spot in recreating the Royal Rumble 2000/WrestleMania 2000 storyline with Steven Richards. He was a surprise entrant in the already-stacked 2001 Rumble, where he came out at #23.
He cleaned house immediately. Test and K-Kwik were dealt with. Then he delivered chokeslam after chokeslam on Albert, Val Venis, Bradshaw, Crash Holly and finally Kane. He then grabbed the last man left, the Rock, and held him by the throat, but Rock was able to break free thanks to a swift kick in the Little Big Show. Rock clotheslined Show out of the ring and remained in the match. Unfortunately for him, Show wasn't so pleased and dragged him out of the ring. Big Show chokeslammed the Rock through an announce table and left in a huff.
88. HACKSAW CARRIES THE RUMBLE Royal Rumble 1988
When it came to the first televised Rumble, they had the concept but nothing else. They didn't get creative with the booking until the next year, so everything was rather aimless. Charismatic forces like Junkyard Dog, Hillbilly Jim, and the Ultimate Warrior would come out to compete, go into the ring and do absolutely nothing memorable until being unceremoniously dumped outside.
It changed up a bit when "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan showed up at #13 because he was able to stand out. He retained his presence by actually playing to the crowd and making his movements count. He became the only thing memorable about the Rumble, such as how he used his 3-Point Stance clothesline to eliminate Danny Davis and was able to defeat both Dino Bravo and the unstoppable One Man Gang in the finals.
I swear it's a total coincidence that the one 1988 entry ended up at #88.
87. KANE BETRAYS RVD Royal Rumble 2003
In early 2003, Kane and Rob Van Dam were good buddies because where there's smoke, there's fire. Also because Kane became a really down-to-earth monster that you wanted to hang out with and RVD was mellow enough to chill with him. Late in the '03 Rumble, the two were both in the ring and started putting their teamwork to good use. They fought against Batista and A-Train and used several double-team maneuvers while having each other's back. After double-clotheslining A-Train out of the ring, they turned their attention to Batista.
Kane motioned for RVD to run across the ropes so Kane could pick him up and throw him down onto Batista's hide. RVD did so and once Kane held RVD up over his head, he turned away and threw him out of the ring, onto A-Train. RVD got up, a bit offended and saw Kane shrug. RVD forgave him and they went on to become tag champs a couple months later.
86. LEX LUGER VS. MABEL Royal Rumble 1995
In the early days, they couldn't come up with a good way to get rid of the really big guys without either having everyone gang up on them or trick them into eliminating themselves. Even guys like Big John Studd and Hulk Hogan had to simply hit Akeem and Earthquake in the back just to make them run over the top rope. It never looked all that good and we never got a cool moment of a strong dude showing off his power in such a memorable way.
When Mabel came out in the '95 Rumble, it started out looking really cool. He was emitting a ton of charisma in his entrance with a definite focus on taking out King Kong Bundy. The two fought it out, which should have been cool, but it kind of sucked, really. Mabel removed Bundy from the ring in the most boring way possible to the point that I think Bundy fell out by accident and was supposed to hold on for the next half a minute.
Lex Luger came out next and wailed on Mabel from behind. While Mabel took like a minute to get rid of Bundy, Luger just picked Mabel out and flipped him over the top rope like he was nothing. It came off as impressive and reminded us that Luger was supposed to be the strongest guy around.
85. BRYAN VS. PUNK VS. REGAL Royal Rumble 2011
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan started out the 2011 Royal Rumble as #1 and #2 respectively, which Matt Striker was correct to label as total fanservice. He noted that the internet was loving this matchup, causing Michael Cole to scream that nobody cares about the internet, only a couple years before he'd constantly shill the WWE App.
If the internet loved that, they'd be head over heels when William Regal joined the fray. For the next minute and a half, we experienced smark nirvana as Regal suplexed his two opponents and then traded European uppercuts with Daniel Bryan. The three tore into each other and by the time the clock counted down, Bryan was the only man on his feet. Michael Cole still buried him for it. Unfortunately, according to Wrestlinginc.com, Daniel Bryan said he's currently not set to be in the 2014 Royal Rumble.
84. EDDIE AND ANGLE VS. RIKISHI Smackdown Rumble
The final three in the Smackdown Royal Rumble of 2004 were Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle and Rikishi. Rikishi was on the way out of the company by this point and his star was faded, but he still came out looking like a real threat. He took on both competitors by himself, doing really well until trying to crush Angle with the Banzai Drop. Angle moved out of the way and Rikishi landed ass-first onto the mat. He stood up, stunned and leaning against the ropes.
Eddie tried hoisting him over the top, but he wasn't strong enough. Rikishi pushed him off. Angle tried the same thing and once again, he got knocked away. Without even looking to each other, Eddie and Angle sprung to their feet and each grabbed a leg. Together, they easily flung Rikishi over and that left them to settle the rest of the match...
83. JERRY LAWLER MEETS REVELATIONS Royal Rumble 1996
As Jake Roberts entered the Royal Rumble, he carried a bag over his shoulder with his trusty python Revelations inside. He tossed the snake into the ring and good God was it gigantic. Everyone in there cheesed it like there was no tomorrow, including Mabel launching himself through the ropes. The only one who wasn't paying attention was Jerry "The King" Lawler, who was too busy strangling Henry Godwin in the corner. Jake dragged Lawler into the center of the ring, where he covered him in Revelations to a massive pop. Lawler acted like he just saw his entire life flash before his eyes and crawled around the ring before escaping as well.
82. JOHN CENA AND HORNSWOGGLE Royal Rumble 2011
As Cena and CM Punk battled alone, Hornswoggle entered the Rumble to test his mettle and perhaps earn a WrestleMania title shot. Once Cena disposed of Punk, that left just him and the leprechaun. Instead of attacking or at least trying to politely remove Hornswoggle from the ring, Cena instead allowed him to be his sidekick for the time being. The next couple entries were Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater and Cena had a ball, letting Hornswoggle in on the action. Not only did they do a Ten-Knuckle Shuffle on Slater, but Hornswoggle was able to get Kidd on his shoulders for the world's smallest Attitude Adjustment.
Later on, Horswoggle was Brogue Kicked out of the ring by Sheamus, but I have to admit that it was fun while it lasted.
81. THE ENDLESS RUN-INS Royal Rumble 2000
It was decided before the show that wrestlers from the undercard would be allowed entry into the 2000 Royal Rumble. This meant that Kaientai and the Mean Street Posse would lose their spots. The five were outraged, claiming that they were being persecuted for being Japanese and rich. While the decision remained, they wouldn't let it go.
During the match, the two teams tried running in several times. Each time, they were all taken out immediately, meaning their outrage was moot. The Posse at least became instrumental in eliminating both members of the Acolytes, but Kaientai was the more memorable faction. Taka flew over the ropes and landed face-first onto the ground, causing a great need for medical attention. Funaki would run in on his own later on while Lawler kept asking for more replays of Taka falling on his face.
80. THE FIRST LADY Royal Rumble 1999
Through winning the Corporate Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant, not only did Chyna earn her way as the first woman in Royal Rumble history, but she also earned the spot of #30! Her time in the ring was fairly short, though. She came in and took it to Mark Henry, still angry that he claimed they had sex on their lone date (back then it was more, "THAT'S WHO I DO!" than, "THAT'S WHAT I DO!"). She threw out Sexual Chocolate, unaware that Steve Austin was crouched and ready right behind her. She turned around and got clotheslined out of there. Mark Henry was no longer sore about his loss, choosing to point and laugh at Chyna's misfortune.
This wouldn't be Chyna's last foray into the Rumble and she was a trailblazer for other women who wanted a piece of their male counterparts, such as Beth Phoenix and Kharma.
79. SHAWN MICHAELS VS. SHELTON BENJAMIN Royal Rumble 2008
For some reason throughout Shelton Benjamin's WWE career, he was the paper to Shawn Michaels' scissors, especially in the Royal Rumble. The best example came in 2008, where Shelton entered the ring like a house of fire. He immediately hopped up to the top rope in the corner, grabbed both Miz and John Morrison and draped their necks down across the top rope. CM Punk got in his way and ate the Paydirt. Shelton popped up and before he could even look for his next victim, Michaels appeared out of nowhere with Sweet Chin Music and launched him several blocks away. Tough break, but it certainly looked cool.
78. LEGION OF DOOM VS. THE UNDERTAKER Royal Rumble 1991
Undertaker was still new in the '91 Rumble and they obviously wanted to make him a big deal. They just didn't want to push him straight to the top just yet. Understandably, they wanted to keep him away from Hogan and that meant they needed to get him out of the Rumble without ruining any of his credibility. What better way than having him take on the most dominant tag team of the time?
Undertaker strangled Hawk in the corner, but soon enough, Animal came rushing in to aid his partner. The two had Undertaker against the ropes, pounding him in the breadbasket in tandem when Undertaker suddenly sprung to life and strangled both of them, pushing them back with each hand. They broke free thanks to two well-timed kicks and then sent Undertaker over the top rope with a double-clothesline. Undertaker landed on his feet and the crowd went nuts for it. It was a moot point for Hawk, who was clotheslined out from behind thanks to Hercules and Rick Martel. The visual of LOD vs. Undertaker is still one of the things I remember most fondly about the early Rumbles.
77. THE HURRICANE REVENGE SQUAD Royal Rumble 2002
Speaking of double chokes that go completely wrong...
Triple H and Austin were the only ones in the ring and proceeded to knock the wind out of each other. They were both down and easy pickings for the next guy out. That turned out to be the Hurricane, who appeared just a little too high on his so-called super strength. As the two stumbled to their feet, Hurricane grabbed them by the throats in preparation for a double-chokeslam. Rather than budge, Triple H and Austin slowly came to their senses and shared a look at each other as if to ask, "Is this guy for real?" Then they grabbed him by the head and sent him sailing over the top.
76. SHELTON BENJAMIN: STINKFACE VICTIM Smackdown Rumble
The Stinkface is one of those things about the Attitude Era that I kind of hate myself for once enjoying. Whenever I see it in old clips, I kind of have to sigh because, really! Come on!
Still, I laugh at the spot when used in the Smackdown Rumble match. Rikishi performed the move onto several victims and the one that really stood out was Shelton Benjamin. Shelton sold the move better than anyone in the business by letting out an over-the-top, horrified shriek with the ass right about to hit his face. After Rikishi moved on to his next victim, Charlie Haas ran over and tried to help his partner by frantically wiping the butt sweat off of his face.
75. SHANNON MOORE HELPS OUT Royal Rumble 2003
Shannon Moore never got to be part of the Royal Rumble in any form, but he at least got the next best thing by serving the Sensei of Mattitude, Matt Hardy Version 1.0. For whatever reason, the referees allowed Moore to hang around during the proceedings, where he did a fantastic job of assisting his mentor. If Matt was being pushed out of the ring, Moore would push him back in. When Jeff went for the Swanton on his evil brother, Moore would drape himself over Matt's carcass to take the punishment. He did an A+ job as both a human shield and Lakitu from Mario Kart. Unfortunately for Moore, there's only so much one man can do and when Brock Lesnar F5'd Matt out of the ring, that dude was gone.
74. WRATH OF THE NEW NEXUS Royal Rumble 2011
2011 was the biggest Royal Rumble ever (at least in WWE. I once saw a Japanese Royal Rumble with well over 100 participants). The extra ten guys were really for the sake of giving the New Nexus their time to shine without outright breaking the show. Punk was #1 in the Rumble and waited it out until Husky Harris came in at #9, Michael McGillicutty came in at #13, and David Otunga came in at #15. From there, they seemed unstoppable. It was the four of them against anyone with the misfortune of coming into the ring. Tyler Reks, Vladimir Kozlov, and R-Truth exited just as quickly as they entered. Jerry Lawler proceeded to whine about how this wasn't in the spirit of the Royal Rumble.
The Great Khali arrived and broke the line, even succeeding in getting rid of Husky Harris. His headway was short-lived, as the final New Nexus member Mason Ryan was next and took care of Khali singlehandedly. After getting rid of a returning Booker T, the group met their end at the hands of John Cena. Normally the idea of Cena singlehandedly defeating the entire New Nexus would have me rolling my eyes, but they did it really well here. Cena didn't simply overpower them all with pure brute strength, but was able to maneuver around and outwit them before clearing the ring of everyone but himself and Punk. Punk didn't last much longer anyway.
73. BRET HART'S REVENGE Royal Rumble 1995
Bret Hart had a right to be angry. He had a chance to become champion in an undercard match against fellow face Diesel, but his enemies Owen Hart and Bob Backlund got involved and caused the match to end in disqualification. Well, two could play at this game. When Owen came out for the Royal Rumble, Bret was there to greet him with a whole lot of angry punches to the face. Officials pulled Bret away and a hurt and frightened Owen ran into the ring for asylum. You know, where all the other guys were busy attacking anything that moved. Owen ran right into a backdrop courtesy of the British Bulldog and was gone in three seconds.
Backlund had the same problem and took a moment to recuperate. After sixteen seconds of standing there, watching Bret get led away, he was wide open for Lex Luger to clothesline him from behind and send him to the floor.
72. THE LEGACY OF MIL MASCARAS Royal Rumble 1997
This one was originally going to be on the "worst Royal Rumble moments" list, but I had a change of heart. In 1997, they used a handful of luchadors unknown to mainstream American audiences to fill up the Rumble roster. One of them was legendary Mexican wrestler and eventual WWE Hall of Famer Mil Mascaras. Mascaras has been called the "Hulk Hogan of Mexico" and it's not just from his status as figurehead of everything wrestling. It's also because he was known for being a jerk when it came to wrestling politics. He refused to sell and he refused to put anyone over. This came into play at the Rumble, where he eliminated Pierroth and Cibernetico, then climbed to the top rope and splashed down onto them. The referees refused to let him reenter, claiming that he had eliminated himself.
You see, Mascaras didn't want anyone else to get the credit for eliminating him, so he chose that way to lose. Pretty funny, considering future top guy Austin was in the ring and Mascaras thought losing to him was beneath him. The reason it's on the list is because of the aftermath. See, if Mascaras lost to whoever, it wouldn't have been more than an obscure piece of trivia. Instead, he became known as that idiot who eliminated himself. Kids who didn't know Mexican wrestling would only remember him for being a complete and utter dumbass. JBL, who legit did not like the man, made sure to bring it up during commentary as an example of something you should never do.
71. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW? Royal Rumble 1994
Diesel and Crush found themselves to be the only ones in the ring and went at it. Doink the Clown came out and chose to play it smart... almost. He stayed in the corner and let the two big men clobber each other. He may have gotten away with it longer had he not laughed about it and gotten their attention. He played it cool by using a squirting flower and stomps to the feet to keep himself standing tall, but it wouldn't last and the two took turns smashing his head in.
Doink's nemesis Bam Bam Bigelow came out next, noticing that Doink was left in a heap in the center of the ring. Diesel and Crush took a break from the beating in order to sit down on the middle rope and hold up the top rope to offer Bam Bam an easier entry. Bam Bam easily disposed of Doink, which led to a unique moment in Rumble history where there were three heels forced to fight it out and nobody else.
70. CHEKOV'S TABLE Royal Rumble 2007
Sabu had yet to burn his bridge with WWE, so he got a spot in the Rumble match. When he came out, he made sure to set up a table near the apron facing the entranceway. It became a looming threat for the next few minutes, where he tried throwing Gregory Helms into it to no avail. Kane stepped in to wreak havoc and got into it with Sabu. Sabu tried his hardest, but found himself standing on the apron with Kane preventing him from reentering the ring. Kane made the elimination count by clutching the throat and chokeslamming Sabu through the table. What a way to go.
69. LEGACY RAMPAGE Royal Rumble 2009
Orton and his flunky Ted Dibiase Jr. were already working together, but once fellow Legacy member Cody Rhodes showed up, the three took to conquering the ring. Like a pack of dogs, they'd attack Triple H and beat him down. Then they'd do the same to Finlay and shortly after, Mike Knox. Mysterio could see the writing on the wall and tried to prevent the same from happening to him by targeting Dibiase. He had him stunned and plancha'd from the apron to the ring, only Orton was there to shut him up by catching him with a super sweet RKO and Legacy went back to ruling their domain.
68. TRIALS OF THE PAST Royal Rumble 2006
This one was a bit subtle, but I always thought it was cool in retrospect. The Rumble started with Triple H and Rey Mysterio and they were both destined to last a very, very long time in the match. Mysterio would win while Triple H would get third place. Early on, after ridding the ring of Simon Dean, the two fought each other until Mysterio had the advantage. Then Psicosis entered and while the commentators didn't pick up on it, Mysterio and Psicosis had quite a history over the years and have wrestled each other a million times. After making sure Triple H stayed down, the two mixed it up until Mysterio proved himself better and eliminated his old rival.
Triple H got up and was able to make a comeback, keeping Mysterio down on the mat for a few minutes. During that time, Ric Flair showed up. The two had recently feuded, so it was the same kind of situation where Triple H had to fight off his own personal ghost in order to move forward.
67. ALBERTO DEL RIO VS. SANTINO MARELLA Royal Rumble 2011
Santino entered the Royal Rumble at #37 and ran directly into a Brogue Kick via Sheamus. Santino crumbled and slipped under the bottom rope, where he wasn't heard from for another twelve minutes. During that time, Alberto Del Rio was able to endure and throw out Randy Orton, seemingly making him the winner. While his music played and he smiled in victory, Del Rio didn't notice a half-conscious Santino slowly getting up behind him. Santino was never eliminated! The ref tried to warn Del Rio, but before he knew it, Santino was there to blindside him with the Cobra!
Santino is a guy who made his debut winning a big match that he had no right winning. Could he be the one going to WrestleMania? The crowd was pumped for it as he grabbed Del Rio and led him towards the ropes to throw him over. Instead, Del Rio twisted around and used Santino's momentum against him, once again solidifying himself as the winner. Stomping dreams: what a great heel tactic.
66. UNDERTAKER VS. THE TEXAS TORNADO Royal Rumble 1991
"Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich had a discus punch as a finisher and while it may have won him some matches, it was definitely one of the weaker finishers of the early 90's and it didn't help his credibility when he'd hit that move on everyone in the '91 Rumble. Sure, they'd all fall over and flip around, but he wasn't going to really knock anyone out with it.
On the other hand, the Undertaker was being built as a major dude, but they had yet to really show how powerful he was. So far all he had done was squash Koko B. Ware, blaze through jobbers (well, other jobbers), and get a double count-out with Dusty Rhodes. Just how unstoppable was this guy supposed to be?
They let us measure that by having Von Erich spin around and punch Undertaker right in the face... only for Undertaker to completely no-sell it. The same move that won him the Intercontinental Championship against Mr. Perfect didn't make so much as a dent on this guy. That's one of the first moments you could tell they meant for Undertaker to be something special.
65. THE START OF THE MICHAELS/ANGLE FEUD
Royal Rumble 2005
Earlier in the night, Kurt Angle lost a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship, but his dreams of glory weren't over. He stole Nunzio's Rumble entry through bullying tactics and showed up at #20. He started out on fire, delivering various suplexes and Angle Slams to everyone in the vicinity. Shawn Michaels was able to counter both the Angle Slam and the Angle Lock, culminating in Sweet Chin Music sending Angle over the top rope.
Moments later, Angle came to his senses and was furious. He dove back into the ring, grabbed Michaels and dumped him to the outside. He slammed ring steps into his skull and beat on him some more until officials pulled him away from the bloodied Michaels. This was WWE's way of advertising a drool-worthy WrestleMania feud and it was certainly a great start.
64. WHERE'S LAWLER?
Royal Rumble 1996
After that earlier situation with Jake Roberts and Revelations, Lawler took advantage of the confusion by not reentering the ring. He just hung out under it, biding his time and occasionally sticking his head out for a peek. He spent about a half hour under there, but Shawn Michaels ended up on the outside – though only through the ropes, so he was still active – and got wind that Lawler was hiding. He crawled under the ring, grabbed Lawler by the ankles and dragged him kicking and screaming back into the ring, where he was able to send him back out over the top rope. This spot would constantly be brought up in Lawler's commentary for years to come.
63. EVERYTHING KURRGAN
Royal Rumble 1998
Kurrgan's Hollywood career has been taking off in the last few years with roles in 300, Sherlock Holmes, and Pacific Rim, but for a short while, they were pretty serious about making a big deal in the WWF. Before inexplicably turning him into a goofy face, Kurrgan was an unstoppable monster figure and his time in this match was truly something to watch. It wasn't even really on him, but the reactions of everyone around him.
First off, as he marched to the ring, Chainsaw Charlie reached over the ropes with his hand out as if to make friends. When Kurrgan ignored it, Charlie did a hilarious, slow jog across the ring, as if to say, "Annnnd, we're walking!" Mosh tried pounding on him in the corner while standing on the second rope, but Kurrgan just picked him up and dropped him to the floor. Mosh landed perfectly on his feet, transitioning immediately into a look of disappointment. Steve Blackman did a sweet jumping roundhouse kick that was like an inch away from Kurrgan's face. Kurrgan responded with his yelling, sounding much like Tom Waits speaking in tongues, and shortly after threw Blackman out.
It wasn't until Ken Shamrock was able to stun the big man that everyone ganged up on him and threw him out. Kurrgan landed on his feet, keeping the idea going that nobody had been able to knock him over yet in his career. He angrily yelled his scratchy-voiced nonsense, causing a nearby fan to respond with his best Kurrgan impression.
62. AUSTIN WINS THROUGH LOSING
Royal Rumble 1997
Austin lasted a long, long time in the '97 Rumble, but it seemingly came to an end when Bret Hart threw him to the outside. Austin was luckier than anyone realized, as the referees were all too busy splitting up the fight between Mankind and Terry Funk, so nobody even knew that Austin was out of the running. He slipped back into the ring and in a burst of energy, eliminated Vader, Undertaker and Bret to become the Rumble winner.
Bret had a fit, natch, and it was decided that Austin would put that title shot on the line at the next PPV against the three men he illegally removed from the ring. Then due to Shawn Michaels "losing his smile" (ugh), it became a title match.
61. SUDDEN DANCE PARTY
Royal Rumble 2000
Grand Master Sexay and Rikishi both endured the early parts of the 2000 match, but it became awkward when they were the only ones left in the ring. That meant that they had to fight, right? More specifically, that meant Grand Master was going to get flattened. The next entrant turned out to be the third member of their trio, Scotty 2 Hotty, and he wanted to diffuse the situation. He did it via applying sunglasses to Rikishi.
The lights dimmed and their theme music started playing as the three friends danced in the Royal Rumble ring, delighting the Madison Square Garden crowd. Then in the middle of it, Rikishi turned on his partners and flung them out of there. Grand Master and Scotty understood and fist-bumped their bro before leaving and allowing him to dominate the match for the next several minutes.
60. YOKOZUNA: IMMOVABLE OBJECT
Royal Rumble 1993
Yokozuna is the only monster heel to ever win the Rumble and they did a wonderful job making it seem completely hopeless. This wasn't like when guys like Michaels, Flair or Orton won because they all looked like there was some kind of window of opportunity to get them out of there. Yokozuna simply could not be beaten. A handful of wrestlers thought it would be best to team up on him and try to hoist him over the top rope together. Yokozuna put the kibosh on that by knocking them all off of him, dissuading them from trying to work in conjunction. But if they couldn't stop him together, how were they going to stop him divided?
They simply didn't. Even when guys like Bob Backlund and Randy Savage were able to get a brief advantage, there was nothing even suggesting that they could have gotten him over the top rope. Yokozuna pretty handily won that match.
59. KOFI'S GOT THE CHAIR!
Royal Rumble 2013
Not all chair uses in wrestling are based on offense. Kofi Kingston got knocked out of the ring, but was able to latch onto Tensai's back. Kofi ended up on the announce table, which was a good news/bad news situation. Good news was that he was still in the match, since he hadn't touched the floor. The bad news was that he didn't have a chance to ever make the jump to the apron. Instead, he asked JBL for his roller chair and the commentator happily obliged, curious to see where this was going.
Kofi crouched onto the chair and used it as a pogo stick of sorts, slowly inching his way to the ring. He made it to the apron, but his stunt was all for naught. Cody Rhodes met him with a Disaster Kick and sent him back to the floor.
58. MR. PERFECT VS. RIC FLAIR
Royal Rumble 1993
The inclusion of Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair into the '93 Rumble added an incredibly interesting wrinkle. Mr. Perfect had recently turned face on Flair and their feud reached the point where there was only room in the company for one of them. On the following night on Raw, they'd have a Loser Leaves Town Match. That had me hoping that whoever lost that match would win the Rumble, just to see where they would go with such a storyline. They didn't go that route and in retrospect, it was pretty obvious that Flair was going to lose the next night since they used the Rumble to create a Perfect/Lawler feud and they had Bob Backlund break Flair's record for longest time in the match.
Anyway, when Perfect showed up with Flair already in the ring, the place went nuts. More importantly, Bobby Heenan on commentary went nuts, watching these two guys tear into each other. Though I guess more specifically, it was Perfect tearing into Flair with Flair occasionally saving himself with a thumb to the eye. In a preview of the next night's Raw, Perfect decisively beat Flair to a huge ovation.
57. AUSTIN'S NEW RIDE
Royal Rumble 1999
There was a lot of ridiculous stuff going on outside the ring in this Rumble, but one thing that was pretty slick was how one angle transitioned into another. Vince McMahon was on commentary, happy over the fact that Austin was taken care of and would in no way be competing for the title shot. Earlier, the Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness had captured Mabel and cameras backstage showed Undertaker loading the big man into his hearse. They drove off and passed an ambulance, which was driving erratically.
To McMahon's horror, Austin was driving the ambulance and stepped out so he could make his way back to the ring.
56. CACTUS JACK VS. CHAINSAW CHARLIE
Royal Rumble 1998
Tag partners and longtime friends Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie drew #1 and #2 respectively. Their loyalty towards one another was more than a little twisted. When somebody else was in the ring, they'd team up against them, like when they placed a trashcan over the Rock's head and beat him with chairs. But the moment it was just the two of them? Not only did they murder each other with weapons, but they did it respectfully. If Cactus nailed Chainsaw with a chair to the head, he'd let his buddy take a free shot.
Chairshots to the head are harder to watch when the guy is bracing for impact, but it was pretty fun at the time, I guess.
55. A FISTFUL OF SOCKS
Royal Rumble 2012
This one's a little more upbeat. Santino eliminated Ricardo Rodriguez and while Miz and Cody Rhodes were taking a breather, Santino and Foley were the only ones standing. The two stared at each other and the tension began to build. Like wild west gunslingers, the two started holding their hands over their hips while making wiggling finger gestures as if ready to draw. Draw what, though?
That's when the connection became obvious. At the same time, Santino reached in his tights for the Cobra and Foley pulled out Mr. Socko. We would never get to see the winner of this goofball duel, as Epico came out next and fell victim to both the Cobra and Socko.
54. TEAM HELL NO EXPLODES
Royal Rumble 2013
Despite being effective, Daniel Bryan and Kane were always bickering as a tag team and it was obvious that they'd turn on each other at the drop of a hat at the '13 Rumble. True to form, Bryan snuck up on the Big Red Machine and threw him over the top. Bryan paid for this karma when Antonio Cesaro caught him from behind and sent him to the outside. Luckily, Bryan was caught by Kane, who held him in almost a Scooby-Doo fashion. Kane was confused for a second and Bryan – the man who just stabbed him in the back – pleaded with him to put him back in the ring. With a back and forth argument of, "YES!" and, "NO!" Kane finally dumped Bryan on the floor to teach him a lesson.
53. YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE WINNER
Royal Rumble 2010
The direction was perfect here. Chris Jericho was the only man on his feet when it was time for #29 to come out. Edge came out, which was a shocker, since he was on the injured list and wasn't expected back. He also left as a heel, but Jericho's badmouthing of his former partner allowed him to return as a good guy and he went on to eliminate Jericho and outlast everyone else to be the winner that nobody saw coming. Jericho happens to be in Pittsburgh this weekend "for a car show." How convenient.
52. UNDERTAKER AND SHAWN MICHAELS START THINGS OFF
Royal Rumble 2008
It was about time when WWE thought of hiring old WCW mainstay Michael Buffer to do the opening announcements for the 2008 Royal Rumble match. Rumbles are his thing, man! Except, if you were going to have Buffer start up your match, you needed some big players to start it out. Were you going to waste his million dollar voice on Carlito and Jamie Noble? No, you needed something a bit more memorable.
And so, #1 was the Undertaker and #2 was Shawn Michaels, the same men who ended the previous year's match. It was certainly a treat to watch them go at it for the next several minutes, occasionally interrupted by the likes of Santino and Khali (who received thunderous "YOU CAN'T WRESTLE!" chants). The ring did fill up and they did both get eliminated, but it did add more groundwork to one of the all-time best rivalries.
51. AUSTIN KILLS TIME
Royal Rumble 2002
When Steve Austin entered the '02 Rumble, he made short work of all the midcarders in the ring. Perry Saturn, Christian and Chuck Palumbo were all dealt with in a swift fashion. That meant having to wait for the next competitor to show up and there was still plenty of time left. Austin stared at the black tape on the back of his wrist as if it was a watch and got immediately bored. He slid to the outside, got his hands on a dazed Christian and threw him back in. Stunner! Then he sent him flying back out.
Chuck Palumbo suffered the same fate, though his was better because it had Jim Ross saying, "No, Chuck, don't leave. You have something in your future. IT'S A STUNNER!"