This Sunday the countdown to Wrestlemania XXX officially kicks off with the Royal Rumble PPV.
The Rumble match itself will see 30 superstars competing for the chance to face the WWE undisputed champion, whoever that may be, on the night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 6.
Since the Rumble was first broadcast in 1988 – as a television special – the event has featured many memorable moments. Ranging from multiple wins for Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin through to incredible individual performances and heart stopping eliminations, it has remained one of the most popular events of the WWE calendar.
Here, I’ll list my favourite ten moments from Royal Rumble history.
By Craig Wilson – @CraigW4584
10. Ax & Smash go at it in 1989
One of the catchphrases uttered by commentators throughout the Rumble is that it is every man for themselves. Never has this been more obvious than in the second Rumble – the first time it was broadcast on PPV – when reigning tag team Champions Ax and Smash of Demolition drew number 1 and 2 and went at it until Andre the Giant entered as number 3.
9. Kofi Kingston’s methods of avoiding elimination
Kingston has built up quite the reputation as a result of his attempts to avoid elimination. In 2012, when The Miz threw him out of the ring, he stood on his hands at ringside and hand-walked to the ring steps to avoid elimination. The following year when he was about to be eliminated, he jumped onto the back of recently eliminated Tensai, who put him on the Spanish announce table. Kingston made it back onto the apron using a chair like a pogo stick, but was quickly eliminated by Rhodes.
8. The three faces of Foley
The 1998 Royal Rumble saw Mick Foley make history by appearing under all three of his alter-egos. He entered number 1 as Cactus Jack and lasted 9 plus minutes before being eliminated by Chainsaw Charlie. His second came when he entered as Mankind as number 16 but entered less than three minutes. By far his most successful appearance came as Dude Love, entering as number 28, and being one of the last four men in the match alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and Farooq.
7. Mr Perfect’s 2002 Rumble return
Growing up as a huge Mr. Perfect fan it was cool to see him make his return in 2002. It was great to see him return to the WWE fold and he had a solid 15-minute showing in the Rumble and was the second last superstar eliminated. Sadly, just over 12 months later Perfect was found dead as a result of acute cocaine intoxication aged just 44.
6. Edge returns in 2010 and wins
The last thing anyone expected to happen at the 2010 Rumble was for ‘The Rated R Superstar’ Edge to make an appearance. After all, in July 2009 he suffered a torn Achilles tendon and it was expected that he would be out of action for up to a year yet returned to the ring less than six months later. To cap it off with the elimination of his former tag partner Chris Jericho before finally tossing John Cena over the top rope to be crowned the victor.
5. Austin wins 1997 Rumble
With the referee distracted, Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart tossed Stone Cold Steve Austin over the top rope and looked set to be crowned the victor. With the referee oblivious to the elimination, Austin returned to the ring and threw out Hart and was crowned victor. The two, who began their feud at Survivor Series 1996, would battle at Wrestlemania 13 in a submission match that would see a double turn with Hart becoming a heel and Austin being cheered by the WWE faithful.
4. The botched finish in 2005
In 2005, Batista, who is making his in-ring return at this Sunday’s Rumble, was booked to win the match last eliminating John Cena. Simple, right? On paper only… As Batista attempted a Batista Bomb on Cena, it was countered with a head scissors sending both men to the outside. Following the match WWE Chairman Vince McMahon came to the ring to restore order but when entering the ring he pulled his quadriceps muscle and had to order the match to be restarted from a seated position in the corner of the ring. Batista would eventually win after he tossed Cena over the top rope following a Spinebuster to win the match and would successfully challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania 21.
3. Kane’s 2001 performance
Big men have always played a significant part in Royal Rumble history with their eliminations often coming as a result of multiple other wrestlers teaming up to eliminate them. In 2001, we saw one big man dominate proceedings and setting up a record for eliminations. Kane entered number 6 and eliminated 11 superstars – a record that stands to this date – before being eliminated last by eventual winner Stone Cold Steve Austin.
2. Joint winners
The 1994 annual Royal Rumble was the first and, to date, only one where there were joint winners. After Hogan left the WWE in summer 1993 the company had tried to push Lex Luger as a new American hero all while Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart continued to be the one receiving better crowd reactions. Since 93’s Rumble, the victor earned a title shot and, with the WWE unsure as to who they wanted to have face Yokozuna at Wrestlemania X, Luger and Hart went over the top rope at the same time and were declared joint champions. In the end, Luger would be disqualified in his title match at Wrestlemania X and Hart would defeat Yokozuna for the title in the main event.
1. Ric Flair wins 1992 Rumble
The 1992 Royal Rumble was historic for the fact the it was the only time when the last man standing in the middle of the ring would be crowned the WWE Champion. The title had been vacated in December 1991 after two controversial title changes. In the end, Ric Flair, who had come out third, lasted over 59 minutes to be crowned the champion.