There’s no other event in the wrestling industry that can generate excitement and anticipation quite like the Royal Rumble. 30 Superstars enter but only one can win by throwing their opponents over the top rope and to the floor. A mainstay on the WWE calendar since 1988, when Hacksaw Jim Duggan emerged victorious, the Rumble grants the winner a Championship match at WrestleMania.
Here, our King of the Ring, Andy Spoors shares the good, the bad and the ugly in Royal Rumble history.
Ric Shows His Flair – 1992 Royal Rumble
1992’s match was the year that really put the Rumble on the map. Sure, there had been four previous events but, in the midst of WWF’s Golden Era, some of the biggest names in the company’s history made appearances. In a change from the norm, the winner received the WWF Championship rather than a shot at the title.
Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, British Bulldog, Roddy Piper, The Undertaker and Macho Man Randy Savage were just a few of the Superstars to enter the ring. But the night would belong to one man in particular. The kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ son of a gun. Ric Flair.
Entering at number three, the deck was stacked against The Nature Boy from the very beginning. Dishing out chest chops galore, Flair low-blowed, eye scratched and lasted exactly one hour in the ring before eliminating Sid Justice for the win. Almost as famous as the match itself, Ric Flair went on to cut one of the most famous wrestling promos of all time, delivering the iconic line, ‘With a tear in my eye!’.
A Phenom-enal Victory – 2007 Royal Rumble
Although many fans would place the Rumble from 2000 — or even last year’s perfectly paced match high on their lists — the 2007 event constantly flies under the radar. A perfect example of just how underrated the Ruthless Aggression era was, this Rumble was a twisty-turny affair.
The match itself provided plenty of opportunities to up and coming talents that are still popular today and featured a star making turn from Edge —who lasted 44 minutes. With no clear favourite, it was one of the hardest results to call in the Rumble’s history, compounded by the final two men standing going by the names of Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.
Sowing the seeds for their infamous match two years later, at WrestleMania 25, the two legends went toe to toe, delivering a kind of impromptu mini-match for the vocal Texan crowd. After a couple of close calls, The Deadman managed to break the Heartbreak Kid’s…well…heart.
A Royal Mess – 1997 Royal Rumble
Where to start? With 30 men entering the match, Royal Rumbles are bound to have storylines spill into them. Tag-teams have gone their separate ways and unlikely friendships have been formed. But the 1997 event took this to a whole new level.
In the middle of the ever-popular Attitude Era, the biggest rivalry saw the nefarious boss Vince McMahon and fan favourite Stone Cold Steve Austin clash. The former vowed to make Austin pay for his insubordination and not only placed himself in the match but also a $100,000 bounty to whoever eliminated Austin from the match too.
When the match spilled to the women’s public toilets and Austin was subsequently carted to hospital it looked like Vince had gotten his way, only for the Texas Rattlesnake to arrive back at the arena later. In the meantime, Undertaker kidnapped Mabel, Kane eliminated himself chasing away orderlies attempting to take him to a mental hospital and multiple men stood around waiting for the next entrant.
Disjointed, the night only became more bizarre, as a ripped Mr McMahon dumped Stone Cold over the top rope to claim the victory himself…
Boos Reign Down In Philly – 2015 Royal Rumble
When the supposed city of brotherly love shows nothing but hate, something has gone wrong somewhere. The vocal crowd of Philadelphia weren’t buying what WWE were selling back in 2015. Awkwardly paced and with little to remember, the event is best known for what happened outside the ring rather than in it.
From the moment crowd favourite Daniel Bryan was eliminated, those in attendance took such a massive dump on the rest of the match, #CancelWWENetwork trended worldwide. The match itself wasn’t even horrific but it marked the beginning of Roman Reigns’ tempestuous relationship with the WWE Universe.
Not even Reigns’ real-life cousin and wrestling fan darling, The Rock, could save Roman from a shower of boos when the final bell rang. The Rock looked awkward and embarrassed, Roman abashed.