The Definitive Ranking of Royal Rumble Matches – #10- #1

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So here we are! The Top Ten! The Top third…plus one. If you only joining us now please check out part 1 here and part two here. Without further ado here’s the Top Ten Royal Rumble matches according to one guy. Actually I lied there’s a bit more ado, here’s where we’re at so far:

#27- 1995

#26- 1993

#25- 1999

#24- 2014

#23- 1988

#22- 1998

#21- 2000

#20- 2003

#19- 2012

#18- 1991

#17- 2006

#16- 2011

#15- 2013

#14- 1989

#13- 1996

#12- 2004

#11- 2007

10.

94

1994

-Look at what they’re doing to Bret Hart…-

Winner: Bret “Hitman” Hart (27) + Lex Luger (23) = LOVE

Number 1: Scott Steiner

Number 2: Samu

Number 30: Adam Bomb

Final 4: Bret “Hitman” Hart, Lex Luger, Shawn Michaels, Fatu

Iron Man: Shawn Michaels (29:17)

Most Eliminations: Diesel (7)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: Adam Bomb. Vince was convinced, but sadly it didn’t happen.

Best Moment: Diesel’s entire reign of terror was great, culminating with him eliminating Virgil while the crowd goes nuts and DiBiase quietly snickers.

Worst Moment: I don’t think anyone explained to Tenryu what the concept of a bounty was. There was at least three times where he watched Luger almost get eliminated and didn’t bother to help. On top of that he looked completely lost out there. He wandered aimlessly around the ring with a look of confusion and sadness as if longing for his love Kitao. Easily the most confused participant in a Royal Rumble

Most Shocking Moment: Easily the co-winners. While I’ve heard it shit on quite a bit it’s at least an interesting and different choice. Better than Hogan entering at 30 and winning.

Best Elimination: Bam Bam press slams Doink basically to the entrance way. There’s also a certain beauty in Diesel and Crush inviting their fellow heel to finish off the fucking clown.

MVP: To my surprise I think I have to go with Diesel here. Sure he went out fairly early, but up until he went on his tossing spree the crowd was dead dead dead. He woke them up and really turned around, what was until that point, a pretty lackluster start. You take him out and I’m not sure the match recovers.

Biggest Pop: The tease that he was injured and not coming out made Bret Hart’s entry huge.

Most Heat: Owen Hart’s entrance.

Least Interesting: Hmm let’s see: the country star who’s in for a minute and does nothing, the race car driver who’s in forever and does nothing or the cigar store Indian who’s in a while and does nothing? I hate Jarrett so it’s him. What a stupid looking headband.

Biggest Blunder: As he’s thrown out by Diesel, Scott Steiner delivers a spin kick to Bart Gunn’s head. Steiner probably beat him and Billy up back stage for being in his way.

Who Deserved Better: Owen could have used a bit more time in there. He’d just had a pretty hot heel turn and to be in there for a few measly minutes seems like a waste.

Who Else Could Have Won: Ok let’s still go with the dual winners. Your winners could have been, Bret Hart and Bob Backlund. Hear me out here. It plays on Backlund’s iron man run from the year before and could set up his turn later in the year. Where is Lex Luger in this scenario you ask? Well “Narcissist” Lex Luger has been your heel champion since SummerSlam. So at WrestleMania 10 you get : Bret/Owen, Backlund/Luger (which would have been way better than Luger/Yoko) and finally Bret/Luger. I’ve put way too much thought into re-booking 1993/1994.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: A Mabel groupie must be the saddest woman on earth. A Mo groupie must like pears.

Why It’s Number 10: I really expected to not like this one as much as I did. I put it above something like 1989 because I’d always rather have a hot finish and a slow start than the opposite. There’s a lot of good stuff here and for the most part the guys are credible and interesting throughout. You had the three right guys in the final four (and Fatu???) and the finish was hot and new. On top of that you get the iconic Diesel moment and Doink the Clown potentially being injured. Just a lot going on in a fun, fast paced Rumble.

9.

05

2005

-AHHHHHHHHHHHH MY QUADS!!!!!!-

Winner: Batista (28)

Number 1: Eddie Guerrero

Number 2: Chris Benoit

Number 30: Ric Flair

Final 4:  Batista, John Cena, Edge, Rey Mysterio

Iron Man: Chris Benoit (47:26)

Most Eliminations: Edge + Batista (5)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: “As close to a 500 pound man you’re gonna get” Viscera. (are there no 500 pound men?) Too bad he wasn’t in there long. If only there was another big guy who never won. A big red guy…

Best Moment: Batista and John Cena eliminate Edge together and the place comes unglued as the two most over guys go at it and it truly could go either way.

Worst Moment: I don’t want to be that guy but there’s an awful lot of bullying in the match. Did we really need to see Daniel Purder get initiated/punished by Benoit, Guerrero and Holly? They chopped the shit out of him, and there was waaaaaaaay too much joy in Holly’s eyes as he made his way to the ring. Add to that the xenophobic beat down and elimination of Mohamed Hassan. He’s MUSLIM??? Boy do we hate him, let’s beat him ten on one. Honestly both moments made me a little uncomfortable to watch. So much bullying… if only they had some sort of program to educate people about it…

Most Shocking Moment: There’s two shocking things about Gene Snitsky. One: how he was ever pushed and how he managed to still have a job. Two: the sheer amount of zits on hit back per square inch.

Best Elimination: Paul London gets dumped but stays on the apron. Snitsky misses his first clothesline but the second connects and destroys London.

MVP: Rey Mysterio was far and away the most interesting one to watch out there for me, he was involved and in perpetual motion for the entire match. While he may have not been the actual iron man, he was able to play the underdog (without the announcers screaming UNDERDOG!!!) and had some of the best spots in the match.

Biggest Pop: When Batista enters he gets a pop that rivals any entrance in Rumble history. No Joke.

Most Heat: Mohamed Hassan. It’s not just the wrestlers who hate someone for being different.

Least Interesting: Two guys come in who have no personality and do nothing in the match. One makes faces and the other lies on the ground in his yellow tights and gets kicked. The yellow tights is Orlando Jordan and he would finally enhance his character by enhancing his feelings for men. The other idiot is Luther Reigns and there was never any hope for him. If only he had a better first name.

Biggest Blunder: Nothing can top the double quad tear. He looks like some sort of tomato man, sitting in the ring, not knowing what to do but stubbornly refusing to feel pain.

Who Deserved Better: I could have used a healthy dose of more Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels. I get what they were doing with the story, but that could have been accomplished with them in the ring a little longer.

Who Else Could Have Won: I never thought I’d say this considering I’d be livid the next year (and livid every time it’s brought up) but why not Rey Mysterio? In 2006 it feels so forced and cheap with all the Eddie stuff, but here I think he may have been more legit over. Pull the trigger, see what happens, he probably would have had a great match with either champ at the time.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: Is Simon Dean Rick Moranis’ son?

Why It’s Number 9: So I think it’s fair to say that the field here is probably the greatest in-ring field in Rumble History to this point. The start of the match is an embarrassment of riches with Benoit, Guerrero, Edge, Mysterio, Benjamin, Booker T and Chris Jericho all in there at the same time. However as good as they are the match itself is a little bit of a disappointment. There’s a definite lack of near eliminations and big spots. There is also a severe lack of in ring storytelling which hurts the match on a fundamental level. It’s well wrestled and extremely well booked but it never reaches and excitement level that would make it an all time great Rumble. It’s still really, really good but is the worst of the top third in my opinion. The Raw versus SmackDown stuff was a fun little addition that they kind of dropped halfway through. In the end though the two right guys were in there and the crowd ate it up. Their double elimination was pretty sweet as they both hot the ground at the same time. (and give Scott Taylor the victory…)Batista was a HUGE star. The only way they could have possibly dropped the ball with him is if they would have put him in a feud with HHH for the next six months. Ohh…. Cena wasn’t much further behind him but it wasn’t meant to be that night. If only someone would give that man a chance to main event some pay per views…

8.

01-1

2001

-Heart attack??? Naw Glenn you’ll be fine.-

Winner: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (27)

Number 1: Jeff Hardy

Number 2: Bull Buchanan

Number 30: Rikishi

Final 4: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Kane, The Rock, “The One” Billy Gunn

Iron Man: Kane (53:46)

Most Eliminations: Kane (11)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: “Odds on favorite” Rikishi. Also as usual: Kane.

Best Moment: The Austin/Rock showdown was awesome on its own, but it becomes legendary with the inclusion of the crazed bloody Austin shots.

Worst Moment: Al Snow throws the actual garbage can in the ring. The ring stays dirty for about ten minutes after.

Most Shocking Moment: Haku man. Haku.

Best Elimination: Austin (blood and all) unleashes three vicious chair shots on Kane and finally clotheslines him out to a hellacious pop.

MVP: That’s gotta be Kane!!!! Amazing impressive feat for a man his size to stay in there for an hour. He absolutely carries the beginning of the match, and his eleven eliminations are fantastic. I especially like the moment when he gets fed up and eliminates the hardcore division. It’s like he REALLY deserves to win one of these…

Biggest Pop: Austin winning, hands down.

Most Heat: Not a ton of big “boos” in this one, but when Kane tosses the Rock the crowd is rightfully pissed.

Least Interesting: I don’t know if there’s a less interesting wrestler on the planet than Albert. (or planet Stasiak) I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve never been happy to see him in any match. (or this one) He adds nothing here and is in for far too long. (him just being in the match is too long for me)

Biggest Blunder: Whoever designed Big Show’s look for the night either measured wrong or felt that the world needed to see the “world’s largest midriff.”

Who Deserved Better: Watching live I remember thinking that Tazz and his ten seconds was a complete waste of him. Watching now though I feel they missed the boat with William Regal here. We get a pretty solid reaction and yet is gone within two minutes. The shame of it is he’s fantastic at those little character moments that add charm to any rumble. I wish they would have given him Albert’s time and given Albert the night off.

Who Else Could Have Won: If it’s not going to be Austin, it’s going to be the Rock. You could have also had Taker win I suppose; it would have been really great to have another HHH title match at mania…

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: I started thinking about the number of women that Drew Carey has probably slept with and it made me really sad. Then I started thinking about Drew Carey having sex and I couldn’t sleep.

Why It’s Number 8: This is pretty solid start to finish. There’s quite a bit of dead weight, but the match is anchored so well by Kane and the Rock that you hardly notice. The final three is maybe the best final three of all time (I wish I could say final four) and Kane’s historic run I think are why most people remember this one so fondly. Plus we get the shock of Haku, the musical stylings of the Honky Tonk Man, scared Scotty Too Hotty and the hall of fame worthy performance of Drew Carey. My favorite part though is a bloody Austin winning his record setting third rumble. He makes this Rumble feel like a war. A war which ends with him conquering a monster.

7.

02

2002

-Maven Huffman 1976-2002-

Winner: Triple H (22)

Number 1: Rikishi

Number 2: Goldust

Number 30: Booker T

Final 4: Triple H, Kurt Angle, Mr. Perfect, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Iron Man: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (26:46)

Most Eliminations: The Undertaker + “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (7)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: King Kong Big Show. And of course, as per his contract, Kane.

Best Moment: Maven surprising elimination of The Undertaker and subsequent homicide.

Worst Moment: After getting arguably the second biggest pop of the night, RVD is immediately pedigreed, lays around for a minute then gets tossed. Just a waste.

Most Shocking Moment: Maven eliminating the Undertaker is huge. If they hadn’t announced it in advance I’d probably go with Mr. Perfect’s inclusion, but they never, NEVER let someone like Maven put out someone like Undertaker. It’s stupid they don’t too, it’s not like you have to pin someone to eliminate them, tossing someone over the ropes doesn’t hurt anyone, but if they did it more often you’d have more great moments like this.

Best Elimination: Not to keep repeating myself, but nothing can top Maven dropkicking Taker.

MVP: The Undertaker. The early stages of the Rumble are the hardest ones to make interesting and Taker nails it here. I absolutely love all his business with the Hardy Boyz. The pop the three of them get when they stomp Taker down is deafening, and I love the dynamic of this asshole bully picking on Team extreme. Obviously the elimination by Maven is a wonderful surprise, but it’s Undertaker’s old man reaction and beat down that follows that makes it legendary. He pummels the poor kid, stops to punch Scotty Too Hotty in the face, bloodies him, and even finds the time to have a handful of popcorn. He’s so good at this character.

Biggest Pop: RVD and Triple H get good pops when they come out but the building shakes for Austin.

Most Heat: Lots of boos when “Chucky” and Christian threw out the Godfather.

Least Interesting: Test is just a black hole of charisma and fun. I’m so glad he wasn’t in there long.

Biggest Blunder: No really obvious mistakes so let’s go with a kayfabe one. What was Hurricane thinking trying to choke slam Austin and Hunter????

Who Deserved Better: Like for his whole WWF career? DDP? Like for this match? DDP. This guy used to be a legit main eventer in WCW and here he’s relegated to being on the same level as Christian and Chuck (y). This could have been the first step to rebuilding Page, he could have stayed around a lot time, been the iron man, eliminated a few guys… instead he’s tossed during a dance number.

Who Else Could Have Won: RVD should have won. Hands down. This should have been his night and he should have gone on to WrestleMania and been made into a huge star. Instead: pedigree. Triple H didn’t need this win and could have easily been slotted to fight the NWO at mania. If you’re not going to have RVD win fine (I guess) but at least have him do something interesting in the match.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: I’m going to have to say something nice about HHH’s win. (spoiler: I don’t)

Why It’s Number 7: I can’t believe I liked this one as much as I did. It’s just a really well booked Rumble, and it’s pacing a fluidity sneak it ahead of 2001. It’s weird because you get a bit of a glut of midcarders at the very start, but they’re all established enough, and do enough interesting things to make you not lose interest. From the moment Undertaker gets in till the end the match flies by; the serious stuff is done well, the comedy is kept short and effective and all the guys who come in with no hope in hell of winning are quickly dispatched by Austin and HHH. The last eight guys in the ring are Booker T, RVD, Kane, The Big Bundy , Kurt Angle, Mr. Perfect, Steve Austin and HHH. What a great final. Sure the world would be a better place if any of them had won instead of The Game, but that doesn’t take away that this was a great Rumble full of fun and fantastic moments.

6.

08

2008

-Yaaaaaay!!! Ummm… I Mean… Boooo-

Winner: John Cena (30)

Number 1: The Undertaker

Number 2: Shawn Michaels

Number 30: John Cena

Final 4: John Cena, HHH, Batista, Kane

Iron Man: Batista (37:40)

Most Eliminations: Triple H (6)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: They’re all there at the end: Viscera, Mark Henry, Umaga and of course “What a Royal Rumble history this man has,” Kane.

Best Moment: Obviously the surprise return. Two others worth mentioning are the moment the crowd realizes who the final three are and the epic elderly standoff between Piper and Snuka which the whole ring stops to watch.

Worst Moment: As cool as that final three moment was I cringed when they all had to do their pose at one another. Ugh. Like reverse goose bumps…

Most Shocking Moment: Cena.

Best Elimination: Michaels kicks Shelton Benjamin in the face and his face propels him over the top.

MVP: I really, really really like Umaga here but I think I have to give it to Michaels. His participation ensures the crowd is into the match right from the start and I love the storyline of him trying to put out The Undertaker (and eventually succeeding). Throw in a couple of great near eliminations, a couple of good brawls with different opponents and he’s an easy MVP.

Biggest Pop: The moment Cena comes out until he tosses Mark Henry is a crazy sustained pop. A sneaky little runner up is Mick Foley’s entrance.

Most Heat: Immediately after giving him a hero’s welcome, the New York faithful promptly turn on Cena and boo his every move.

Least Interesting: Hornswoggle. I don’t know why he’s in the match. I feel like it’s to annoy everyone. It works. It was waaaaaay better to have him in this thing than say JBL, or Jericho, or Flair or MVP or me or…Did they really have to re hash the Jerry Lawler under the ring spot? I don’t pray, but I won’t lie, I was praying for a world’s strongest slam on the little guy. That would have made my life.

Biggest Blunder: There’s a fat guy in a suit constantly running in front of the entrance. Like a slimmer Paul Bearer. I imagine he was just always on the wrong side.

Who Deserved Better: I get why they threw him out but Shelton Benjamin earns this one here the same way he’s earned it for his whole career. What a wasted opportunity with that guy.

Who Else Could Have Won: I’m a big mark for Umaga, so I wouldn’t have minded him gutting this one out. How’s this for outside the box: put Flair in (at the end) and have his retirement match for a title. One last run for the old guy.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: Why doesn’t Finlay wash his son?

Why It’s Number 6: Because it’s great. It has absolutely no slow parts and there is never a moment when you don’t have a legitimate contender in there. The symmetry of starting with Taker and Michaels from the year before is fantastic and they both do a tremendous job of carrying the match. There’s a few minutes at the end where there are a few too many guys in the ring, but for the most part it’s manageable and gives a few guys a chance to shine. Punk, Morrison, Carlito (and they have a great three way sequence) and Umaga are all allowed to showcase their skills. You also have the awesome feel good nostalgia moment with Piper and Snuka which plays perfectly in New York. Another MVP candidate we didn’t talk about was the crowd who popped for everything, they were phenomenal and added to big time feel that the Rumble had been lacking for a few years. The cherry on top of this Rumble sundae though is the biggest surprise in Rumble history: John Cena returns, what… like three months early… and wins the damn thing. I couldn’t tell you how sick I was of Cena watching this live, but the moment is magic. For a moment, he made us forget we hate him.

Author: Aaron George

Aaron is a classically trained Shakespearean actor by day who fulfils his culture quotient by watching wrestling by night. He has two sons a great wife and once explored the sewers in his hometown.