By: Corey Saunders (@MyKicksAreMyFix)
On the brink of the upcoming 30th Annual Royal Rumble, I sat back and thought about some of the great moments that this “Big Four” pay-per-view as it is affectionately called, has given us over the years. From matches to Royal Rumble wins to moments that stand the test of time, it’s all here! Now granted, this is MY list and I am sure you will disagree, but I am always up for a friendly debate. Anyhow, onto the Top Ten Royal Rumble Moments!
10. Fast (and HILARIOUS) Eliminations
Over the years, hundreds of competitors have fallen short of winning the Royal Rumble, meeting their fate by being dumped over the top rope and onto the floor. There are however some that will go down as some of the funniest things you will ever see in the WWE. They include:
1989: The Warlord being eliminated by Hulk Hogan in two Seconds
1991: Bushwhacker Luke being eliminated by Earthquake in four seconds
1997: Jerry Lawler being eliminated by Bret Hart in four seconds and giving us this wonderful moment:
Lawler (leaving the commentary table): “It takes a King……”
(Enters the ring and is eliminated by Bret Hart)
Lawler (putting his headset back on after the quick exit): “TO KNOW A KING…..McMAHON!!!”
2009: Santino Marella eliminated by Kane in 1.5 seconds
9. The Undertaker’s post-match promo after losing a Casket Match to WWF Champion, Yokozuna, at the 1994 Royal Rumble
There are few times that something other than a match stands out as one of the biggest talking points of a pay-per-view. This is one of those times. The Undertaker was a HEAVY favorite to come out of his WWF Championship match with Yokozuna as Champion at the 1994 Royal Rumble. After all, the match was a Casket Match, The Undertaker’s specialty! However, after outside interference from numerous WWF Superstars, The Undertaker was placed inside of the casket and Yokozuna was declared the victor. However, the post-match promo was one that would live in the memories of fans for years to come.
The Undertaker would appear on the video screen from inside the casket declaring that “Soon all mankind will witness the rebirth of The Undertaker.” and that he “…would not rest in peace.” Then lightning would strike the casket and The Undertaker would ascend into the sky and would not be seen again until Summer Slam later that year. For 1995, the theatrics of the moment and the presence it commanded, this was a true sight to behold.
8. Randy Savage costs the Ultimate Warrior the WWF Championship at the 1991 Royal Rumble
In a strange twist, the changing of a WWF Championship was used to further develop a storyline that would not even remotely feature the Championship or the Champion. At the 1991 Royal Rumble, The Ultimate Warrior would defend the WWF Championship against Sgt. Slaughter. Earlier in the night, Sensational Queen Sherri would ask for a title match on behalf of Macho King Randy Savage, to which the Ultimate Warrior declined. Randy Savage would, later on, appear during the Championship match and blast the Ultimate Warrior with his scepter, helping Sgt. Slaughter become the new WWF Champion. This would be the genesis of a program that culminated in one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history.
7. Royal Rumble 2000
The entire event and not necessarily the Royal Rumble match itself is one of the best ones the WWE has ever had. From the debut of Tazz against Kurt Angle to the Hardys vs the Dudleys Tables Match to the Street Fight for the WWF Championship between Cactus Jack and Triple H, this pay-per-view had it all! The event as a whole from start to finish is a great watch. If you ever have the time to spare, especially on a rainy or snowy day, throw this on. You will not be disappointed.
6. Shawn Michaels vs Triple H in a Last Man Standing match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the 2004 Royal Rumble
Guys that are close friends off cameras often have some of the best rivalries/matches against each other. This is no exception. Following a controversial ending to a championship match between HBK and HHH on the Final Monday Night Raw of 2003, the two were on a collision course for the Royal Rumble in a Last Man Standing match. This match was back and forth and kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Even with another controversial ending of both men not being able to stand after a count of 10, this match was one of the best championship matches ever at the Royal Rumble.
5. The Rock vs Mankind for the WWF Championship in an I Quit match at the 1999 Royal Rumble
This match was a continuation of one of the most interesting WWF Championship sagas in the “Attitude Era”. Mankind was in his first run as WWF Champion. He had an ongoing feud with The Rock that would culminate in one of the most brutal matches in WWF history. This match was NOT for the faint at heart but is one of the signature matches during that time period.
4. Surprise Rumble Entries/Returns
One of the things that have added to the mystique of the Royal Rumble over the last few years is the surprise entries/returns. Fans always speculate who will be in the Royal Rumble and year after year WWE throws a wrench in your predictions. From Diamond Dallas Page to Bubba Ray Dudley to even Drew Carey, WWE always finds a way to shake things up in the Royal Rumble with surprise entries/returns. Other notable entries/returns include:
2008: John Cena Returns after a pectoral injury to win the Royal Rumble
2010: Edge Returns after an Achilles injury to win the Royal Rumble
2011: Booker T and Diesel return to the WWE as Royal Rumble participants.
3. Brock Lesnar vs John Cena vs Seth Rollins Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship at the 2015 Royal Rumble.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fine me a greater WWE Championship match at a Royal Rumble than this one? The pure strength of Brock Lesnar, the undying will of John Cena and the unparalleled skill set of Seth Rollins was the recipe for arguably the greatest WWE Championship at a Royal Rumble. This match had drama, memorable highlights, great wrestling and an unbelievable effort and performance by all three participants. The match was an instant classic and was a worthy contender for the Match of the Year in 2015.
2. Shawn Michaels becomes the first superstar to win the Royal Rumble match from the number 1 entry in 1995.
Now Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler, but all bias aside, the performance he put on in this match doesn’t nearly get enough credit. Winning from the number 1 entry (even though it was with 1 minute entry intervals, which conveniently get left out) is truly a feat. The psychology was brilliant in this match. The focus was on HBK the whole match without over exaggerating it. They really need a strong performance in this Royal Rumble match and HBK delivered. Really, if you have never watched this match from start to finish, I implore you to do so. As a wrestling fan, you will not be disappointed with the effort.
1. Ric Flair wins the WWF Championship in the 1992 Royal Rumble match.
Remember in moment number 3 when I asked you to find me a better WWE Championship match at a Royal Rumble than Brock vs Seth vs Cena? Don’t worry, I already found it (technically this match was for the WWF Championship, so it counts).“WITH A TEAR IN MY EYE……!” This was the memorable line was uttered by Ric Flair moments after lasting just under 1 hour from the number 3 entry to win the Royal Rumble and the WWF Championship. This match featured the very best of the best at the time and was also a precursor to the “Non-WWE” guy getting the spotlight in WWE like we see today with Flair being the quintessential NWA/WCW guy in the WWF world.
This match was extremely unpredictable, especially with names like Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Sid Justice and Randy Savage all viewed as heavy favorites as well. Flair outlasted everyone in what was up to that time arguably the most star-studded Royal Rumble. The performance put on by Flair in that win cemented this as the greatest Royal Rumble moment in the event’s history.