The Definitive Ranking of Royal Rumble Matches – #20 – #11

rumblebanner1Welcome back for part two of the definitive ranking of Royal Rumble matches, according to one guy. For my thought process and the reason my picks are so brilliant/stupid please refer to part one here.

Here’s where we stand so far:

#27- 1995

#26- 1993

#25- 1999

#24- 2014

#23- 1988

#22- 1998

#21- 2000

So on with the next ten!

20.

03

2003

-No one do any suplexes please. The show can’t handle any more suplexes-

Winner: Brock Lesnar (29)

Number 1: Shawn Michaels

Number 2: Chris Jericho

Number 30: The Undertaker.

Final 4: Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, Kane, Batista

Iron Man: Chris Jericho (38:54)

Most Eliminations: Chris Jericho (6)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: “King’s Pick” Batista. He did you guys notice Kane never wins these things?

Best Moment: The Jericho attack on Shawn Michaels is the only thing that really stands out as a great moment.

Worst Moment: Test gets to be the one who finally throws out Jericho. Fuck Test.

Most Shocking Moment: Michaels going out before the number four entrant hits the ring.

Best Elimination: Lesnar F5s Matt Hardy out of the ring as though he’s made of paper.

MVP: Chris Jericho has a fantastic outing here, and probably delivers the best near eliminations seen to date in the match. He gives us someone to hate early on and our vitriol powers us through the match. A shame they didn’t give his elimination to someone who isn’t utterly useless.

Biggest Pop: Brock winning narrowly takes it over The Undertaker’s entrance and Jericho’s elimination.

Most Heat: Maybe it was the shock, but when Jericho tosses Michaels the crowd is none too pleased.

Least Interesting: I want to say Chavo, but it’s Test. It’s always Test. You can make his shorts as tight as you want but at the end of the day he’s still going to be a guy who does nothing with a scrunched up rat face. Fuck Test.

Biggest Blunder: I can’t for the life of me understand how John Cena got over with his performance poetry. Oh what’s that? It’s rap? No. Rap follows a rhythm and goes with the music. Cena just says anything that rhymes. I was watching with my wife, who likes wrestling, and she asked me to fast forward the Cena rap because she was cringing so much. There’s as much self awareness here as a David Brent/Michael Scott training session. Swollen penis. Come on crowd you’re better than that.

Who Deserved Better: Booker T. Comes in, gets a great pop, gets tossed. What. The. Hell??? Was it really important for Batista to be there at the end instead? Or Kane? Booker goes to Wrestlemania to have the honor of jobbing to HHH, you can at least put him over strong.

Who Else Could Have Won: I really dig these Rumbles where the right guy goes over, it allows me to dream up strange scenarios. Like the one where Tajiri wins this thing , goes to Wrestlemania and kicks HHH in the head a bunch of times until he’s dead. I’m just kidding I don’t want him dead. Just out of wrestling…

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: How many seizures has Edge’s lighting been responsible for?

Why It’s Number 20: It’s really solid with a lot of great workers in it. The star power is a little down being that the entire promotion was in transition, but you can’t say they didn’t use their best guys well in this one. (with a few exceptions) I think the thing that hurts this one is that there’s a major lack of interesting moments and nothing really set the crowd on fire. The Jericho/ Michaels through line was strong and there were some solid callbacks with Taker/Maven and Taker/ Lesnar, but all in all it’s a solid, forgettable, strongly worked Rumble. Fuck Test.

19.

12

2012

-Hope you like “comedy”!!!-

Winner: Sheamus (22)

Number 1: The Miz

Number 2: Alex Riley

Number 30: The Big Show

Final 4: Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, The Big Show

Iron Man: The Miz (45:39)

Most Eliminations: Cody Rhodes (6)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: The Big Sho… wait where’s Kane???

Best Moment: I would go with everything from Ricardo Rodriguez’s entrance until Foley and Santino are eliminated. Sure it’s a dumb comedy spot, but it’s maybe the best dumb comedy spot they’ve done. How do you not match up the two guys who fight with socks? This may be a huge indictment of this Rumble…

Worst Moment: So Ricardo is having a great moment with a large section of the crowd chanting his name. We’ve never really seen him wrestle before and it’s lots of fun, and I’m sure a special memory for him. Until Ricardo listens back and hears Michael Cole going on about how fat he is and how he should hit a treadmill. What a lack of class for Cole and the whole company. Why shit on that moment?

Most Shocking Moment: I certainly wasn’t expecting Road Dogg to show up.

Best Elimination: I really enjoyed Kharma press slamming Hunico out,

MVP: I thought Cody Rhodes had a tremendous outing. He was consistently interesting and added a crispness to everything that fellow ironman Miz sorely lacks. Plus he far and away generated some of the best heat of the match throwing out Foley, Booker and Duggan. He looked like an up and coming star here. I can’t believe he’s actually lower in the card now as where he was then. Oh wait I can believe it, it’s standard operating procedure.

Biggest Pop: Randy Orton gets the pop he deserves from his home town.

Most Heat: Chris Jericho eliminates Randy Orton. They’re not sure how to react at first a we’re unsure if Jericho is a heel (he has not spoken since his return) but soon enough the boos come down.

Least Interesting: David Otunga. God damn. From the stupid music, to the generic walk with his hands behind his back it all sucks. Michael Cole screaming “he’s a lawyer” doesn’t help no matter how many pro-bono cases he takes. He does nothing and gets tossed by Orton.

Biggest Blunder: Poor Khali can’t walk, move or especially bend over. Don’t make him bend over to get you Jinder. Damn you.

Who Deserved Better: Call me crazy but I always thought there could have been money in a Santino “miracle” run for the big title. During this period he was one of the most consistently over guys in the promotion and a longer Rumble appearance may have given him some credibility. He’s maybe one of the most over guys who never got a push. It’s kind of a shame.

Who Else Could Have Won: The field was wide open this year, and I remember being surprised by Sheamus. It could have easily been Jericho or Orton. What I actually wish would be if Sheamus had fought Punk and Jericho Bryan. No eighteen second nonsense, and potentially two great matches.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: Michael Cole: “Mick Foley should have bang banged himself.” One: what does that mean? Two: Eww.

Why It’s Number 19: I’ve heard this one described as the “Comedy” Rumble, which I think is a little unfair. There is the aforementioned comedy segment, but to call the announcers entering the rumble (which sucked) “comedy” is a joke (a horribly unfunny one). This is very much a mid card Rumble and while that’s not necessarily the worst thing as it gives the feeling that anyone can win, it does make the event feel… uneventful. That and the middle portion of the match is brutal. We get a sequence where Jerry Lawler, Ezekiel Jackson, Jinder Mahal, The Great Khali, Hunico (who I like) and Booker T enter in a row. It’s brutal and nearly kills the match. Add to that that Hacksaw Jim Duggan is the second most over face in the match after Orton and we get a Rumble that’s remembered for Ricardo’s car. Sheamus and Jericho tried at the end, but they were way too shaded by the enormous shadow of Michaels/Undertaker from 07, the near eliminations were good, the heat was gone though. It’s a middle of the road rumble with slow action and a lot of pointing at the Wrestlemania sign. Where 03 is fun but forgettable, 2012 is fun and somewhat memorable for good/dubious reasons…

18.

91-1

1991

-Let’s fuck with Valentine-

Winner: Hulk Hogan (24)

Number 1: Bret “Hitman” Hart

Number 2: Dino Bravo (my wife played a trick on me and wrote “poop” in this space when I wasn’t looking. Amazingly she wasn’t far off.)

Number 30: Tugboat

Final 4: Hulk Hogan, Earthquake, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, Brian Knobbs???

Iron Man: Rick Martel (52:17)

Most Eliminations: Hulk Hogan (7)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: Earthquake. I suppose Tugboat too. I guess they bonded over a trough of pizza and decided to team up.

Best Moment: After doing everything humanly possible to avoid Jake, Martel throws him out and proceeds to gloat like a champ. His dismissive gestures would make me want to punch him if I could wipe the smile off my face.

Worst Moment: Dino Bravo is just terrible. His bumping and his fat face make me sick.

Most Shocking Moment: That black people still work for WWE after Saba Simba.

Best Elimination: Rick Martel sneaks around on the outside and pulls out Jake Roberts.

MVP: Rick “The Model” Martel. And not just for being the iron man. The body language, the facial expressions, the crawling underneath guys to avoid Jake, everything clicks here. He’s active the entire match: he fights everyone (Including, shockingly Tito Santana), he rips off Hogan’s shirt, Christ he even eliminates Neidhart after being in there for 50 minutes. There wasn’t a moment in the match that he wasn’t entertaining.

Biggest Pop: Hogan winning.

Most Heat: Jake is eliminated by Martel. The crowd really didn’t like that.

Least Interesting: Greg Valentine is the polar opposite of Martel. He’s in there for forty – five minutes and you barely notice him. Outside of chopping the shit out of Paul Roma, which I appreciate, it was three quarters of an hour of nothing. Martel stole every minute, Valentine waddled around.

Biggest Blunder: Jim Niedhart ran so fast to the ring that I don’t think he had any control over his body. It looked like he smashed his knees on the way in. I hope he did.

Who Deserved Better: Tony Atlas deserved a better gimmick, but I guess that’s not the point. Hacksaw definitely could have been used more. He’s like the second or third most over guy in the match and he’s dumped almost right away. They totally could have used his star power. I can’t believe I typed that.

Who Else Could Have Won: Just give it to Martel. He’s in the middle of the highest profile feud of his WWF career. Give him that little bit more heat and see if it propels him to the main event. In my dream scenario though, Savage comes in at 18, wins the thing and ruins everyone’s night.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: What does Earthquake smell like?

Why It’s Number 18: Why are there so many people in the ring the whole match??? I feel like the lessons of the year before are completely lost in this match, as there are way too many moments when you just don’t care about anyone in the ring. That’s partially the booking, but it’s also interesting to note that everyone seems devalued from the year before. Where in 1990 everyone in the match was over, here guys have cooled off and the people brought in to replace the Pipers, Savages etc. are lukewarm at best. I think the biggest indictment of the match is that it’s just not memorable in any way. Nothing happens, great moments are nonexistent (I gave my best moment to a blind guy getting thrown out) and outside of Martel no one looks inspired. The lack of any compelling storylines in the match (again aside from Martel) hurts this one a little too. Martel carries this one on his beautiful back but I couldn’t in good conscience rate it any higher. I feel it slides nicely over 2012 because while there was nothing memorable there was also nothing horrible offensive like three commentators taking spots. It makes sense here.

17.

06

2006

-Sure, everyone’s sad he’s dead, but Rey is the SADDEST-

Winner: Rey Mysterio (2)

Number 1: Triple H

Number 2: Rey Mysterio

Number 30: Randy Orton

Final 4: Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Triple H, Rob Van Dam

Iron Man: Rey Mysterio (62:12)

Most Eliminations: Rey Mysterio (6)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: “Who’s gonna throw him over the top rope” Viscera. Also the “man who’ eliminated the most…blah blah blah.” Kane. Kane never wins

Best Moment: I really enjoyed the Rey Mysterio/Rob Van Dam team up that led to some sweet double team moves on Orton and HHH. They were just so smooth.

Worst Moment: Viscera rapes Matt Hardy in the middle of the ring.

“We put smiles on people’s faces.” Vince McMahon- Always.

Most Shocking Moment: Tatanka. What the actual hell??? Of all the guys to bring back from the 90’s??? No one knew who he was either…

Best Elimination: Nothing really stands out so here’s my favorite elimination attempt. (Come on, I haven’t copped out and overused this option). Shelton Benjamin and Carlito are standing on the apron, Benjamin is hanging on with two hands and then one as Carlito climbs between him and the ropes and tries to push him out with his feet.

MVP: This pains me. It’s Triple H. It seems that every few minutes or so Hunter was teasing the crowd with a near elimination, or going toe to toe with someone. He certainly appeared more involved in the match than Rey Mysterio. The most important part of his match though is how he adds legitimacy to the whole thing. He makes Mysterio’s win matter, and his presence constantly made me doubt who was going to win the match. A solid, awesome performance from The Game. I hate myself now.

Biggest Pop: Eddie Guerrero was the most over guy in the match. The place really did go nuts when Mysterio won though.

Most Heat: Shane McMahon interferes and throws Shawn Michaels out.

Least Interesting: Animal. I’ve watched all the Royal Rumbles and I have never seen a man who had less chance of winning than Animal in 2006.

Biggest Blunder: So imagine this: RVD tried to kick Animal over, Animal is too fat to get over the ropes. RVD goes away to do other stuff, Animal stands in the same place looking confused. RVD returns moments later and tries to clothesline Animal out. Again Animal can’t get over the ropes. RVD again leaves to do other stuff. Animal looks even more confused, sort of stumbles around but stays in the same place. Then he runs at RVD and gets tossed.

Who Deserved Better: Seeing as this is the Eddie Guerrero memorial battle royale is it so crazy to suggest that Chavo Guerrero should have been in the final four? You had more than enough star power with Orton, HHH and Mysterio that you could have had him in there. The two men closest to Guerrero versus the two biggest assholes in the promotion. Throw him out first, but let the crowd get invested in him a bit. Instead he’s in there for less than two minutes. Silly Chavo, only one guy can love Eddie at a time.

Who Else Could Have Won: If you look past the obvious (HHH, Orton, RVD) I think Carlito would have made an interesting choice. He was getting more and more over and really could have been a bigger deal if he’d been given a chance. Plus I LOVE his music.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: Trevor Murdoch is a pale walking rectangle with arms.

Why It’s Number 17: I know most people hate that Mysterio won here, but the more I thought about it, the more I respect and admire the decision. We always bust the WWE’s balls because they don’t take risks, and having the tiny Mysterio win a huge battle royal was a huge risk. And a legit surprise for me too. Now HOW he won it and why, are they issues I have. I don’t like that he lasted from number two and is still the longevity holder, and I haaaaaaate that they only did it because Eddie Guerrero died. It cheapens the whole thing for me and it totally feels like pandering. Mysterio is one of the greatest workers of all time, let him win it on his own merits. This Rumble itself was interesting, albeit not particularly exciting. I really had trouble picking things like “best moment” and “best elimination” as everything just seemed to be a bit bland. Part of the problem is that there’s just too many guys in the ring for most of this thing and it’s impossible to highlight someone when the ring is full. Never mind trying to get two ironmen over. It was just a solid mish mash of stuff going on. Which is a shame considering how talented the field was this year. The ending is much hotter than say 1991 and had more going on throughout than 2012 and 2003 so this is where it lands. It also can’t be understated how bad Michael Cole is on commentary. He was terrible in 1999 as well but it just seems much more pronounced here. He lacks any subtlety screaming things like “That’s what Eddie Guerrero used to do!!!” He makes the product worse. Every time.

16.

11

2011

-Bigger is always better right? RIGHT?-

Winner: Albertoooooooooooooooooo Del Rrrrrrrrrrrrio (38)

Number 1: CM Punk

Number 2: Daniel Bryan

Number 40: Kane

Final 4: Alberto Del Rio, Santino Marella, Randy Orton, Wade Barrett

Iron Man: CM Punk (35:21)

Most Eliminations: CM Punk + John Cena (7)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: It’s Kane ok. It’s always Kane. I would like to point out the idiocy of the commentators when they say things like, “How is anyone going to get him over the top rope?” referring to Mark Henry. If he hadn’t been thrown out of the last ten Rumbles or so that comment might not be as god damned asinine.

Best Moment: CM Punk kicks Hornswoggle in the face. No wait it’s when Sheamus slams Hornswoggle to the mat. No wait it’s Santino’s last stand. In all seriousness I love, and now long for, a Daniel Bryan vs CM Punk vs William Regal triple threat as their segment was dynamite.

Worst Moment: John Cena has a hat trick of awful moments here. First he has to destroy the New Nexus four on one. Then it’s the Cena/Hornswoggle comedy hour which feels like it goes on for days. (and I’m a fan of comedy in wrestling) and then we get the deafening silence when Cena and Orton square off, twice I might add you, and we’re supposed to think it’s a big deal. No one cares guys. Good thing the WWE listened and never gave us any more Cena/Orton matches…

Most Shocking Moment: Diesel. Not Kevin Nash. Diesel.

Best Elimination: I love the simple things, like John Morrison trying to hang on to the ropes as the new Nexus punches, kicks, shoves and beats him until he falls. Also, Brogue kick to the leprechaun’s face.

MVP: Gotta go CM Punk here. He carries the entire first half of the match and has great sequences with everyone. He gets the New Nexus over, imagine how hard that was. They try so hard to heel him up yet the crowd chants his name and he sells everything as though he’s the best in the world. How can we not cheer him, he mocked the hell out of R-Truth before tossing him.

Biggest Pop: Diesel.

Most Heat : Mason Ryan tosses Booker T out.

Least Interesting: Chavo Guerrero is just done. He gets zero reaction when he comes out, and doesn’t even get the “Eddie” chant on the three amigos. Stealing his uncle’s dance is pandering to the highest degree and makes me ashamed to be a wrestling fan.

Biggest Blunder: So Alex Riley falls out of the ring early. Which on its own should take this, but Miz can’t go off script and says on commentary that he’s being smart.

Who Deserved Better: The entire New Nexus. Come on, why does Cena have to put them ALL out in less than 90 seconds? Come on. Not that they have to throw him out (they should have) but at least have him get his ass kicked and maybe they can’t quite throw him out, then someone comes in…anything other than jobbing them out so quickly. The work Punk had done to get them over was erased in seconds.

Who Else Could Have Won: John Morrison. Maybe it’s hindsight speaking but Cena did not need to main event, and Del Rio wasn’t ready.( coming in at 38 and doing nothing didn’t help) They should have gone with someone new against Miz at Mania. No one better than his former partner who’s insanely over and great and all.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: How many conferences does Cena have to have with the ref to figure out what to do when Riley fell out? I felt like he was lying around talking to him forever. Isn’t fixing the problem as easy as someone just tossing Cena from the match? What’s that? Oh Cena can’t be tossed out? Why? He wouldn’t look invincible? He just won a four on one match. What? I’ll clear out my desk Mr. McMahon.

Why It’s Number 16: There is absolutely no reason why you needed to have 40 guys in this thing. (besides novelty)You could have easily cut Gabriel, Chavo, DiBiase, Tatsu, JTG, Hornswoggle, Tyson Kidd, Slater, Riley and Ezekiel Jackson and you’d be left with a tight Rumble without a completely dead and uninterested crowd at the end. Another side effect is the New Nexus gets more over by throwing out guys people actually care about. Listen to the heat when they eliminate Booker T. The crowd is invested. You feed them guys like Kofi Kingston and Mysterio instead of the job squad and watch the heat build. It’s a shame, if this one is shorter and tighter it had a shot of being very, very good. It’s also a weird ending as I want to say the right guys are there, but the crowd isn’t having any of it. This should have been the new guys fighting to take on Miz. A Punk/ Bryan/ Kingston/Morrison final four would have been fantastic. Then again it’s so hard for new guys to get over when the lead announcer is making fun of everyone and shouting “WHO CARES!!!!” when the color guy is telling us about someone. Also it’s no surprise this was Striker’s last Rumble. Just awful. Go mark out somewhere else. The booth hurts this one as much as anything else and there are just too many negatives to get this one any higher. The surprises were great though.

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.