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

15.

13

2013

-The forgone conclusion no one wanted…-

Winner: John Cena (19)

Number 1: Dolph Ziggler

Number 2: Chris Jericho

Number 30: Ryback

Final 4: John Cena, Ryback, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler

Iron Man: Dolph Ziggler (49:47)

Most Eliminations: Ryback (5)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: He may be one of the greatest Royal Rumble competitors ever, but he fails here… yet again… that’s gotta be Kane.

Best Moment: I really enjoyed Santino eliminating everyone to the apron, then everyone kicking the shit out of him. Everyone except Kofi, they just don’t respect that man.

Worst Moment: Kofi Kingston jumping up and down on a chair to stay alive. Come on now guys, it’s enough. At what point do we stretch the rules to the point where they have zero relevance? JBL can say “he’s got to see it,” a thousand times it’s still slow, and labored and totally unnecessary. Kofi Kingston is great and this is his only purpose and the announcers act as if he’s won the match every year when he “entertains”. Stop. Please.

Most Shocking Moment: Chris Jericho not only returns, but returns at number 2…and lasts right till the end!

Best Elimination: I love the whole sequence where Cody Rhodes and Goldust fight on the apron only to have Goldust clothesline Cody back in who takes the opportunity to ram his brother into the post and out of the match.

MVP: Chris Jericho all the way. Ziggler was pretty great as the iron man, but Jericho kills this match. He’s everywhere fighting everyone. He not only works his ass off but he lends his main event credibility to the entire outing. When he gets tossed the match dies a little on the inside, and I was surprised re-watching it how much I dug what he brought here.

Biggest Pop: Chris Jericho returns at number two.

Most Heat: Cena. All of it.

Least Interesting: David Otunga is useless and does nothing. His gentlemanly coat is lovely but nothing helps.

Biggest Blunder: Looking back at the beginning of 2015 it’s a terrible blunder that Ryback, Wade Barrett, Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler are not main eventers. Just stupid. If they missed chances like this in 1995 they’d be out of business.

Who Deserved Better: Daniel Bryan. Yeah don’t have the guy who consistently gets the biggest crowd reactions in for more than a handful of minutes. That’s the best possible choice for the match…

Who Else Could Have Won: Ryback. Period. Should have won and fought Punk at Mania and finally defeated him. They shouldn’t have made him fight Punk in the preceding fall and this should have been the first step in getting crowned. I didn’t like him then, but you can’t let crowd reactions like that go unrewarded. You have to try.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: WWE character development. Cody Rhodes: young “seed of a dream”- important part of third generation stable – breaks out on his own becomes dashing – weird Doctor Doomesque character obsessed with the most minor of scars – guy with a mustache… sigh.

Why It’s Number 15: This one had the potential to be truly great with the names involved. Everyone grown up from the year before means that the Rumble of midcarders in 2012 becomes a Rumble of contenders in 2013. Unfortunately there’s just too many mistakes here to lift it any higher. How do you not do a spot where Ryback is fed more and more guys like Diesel in 1994? It’s in his damn song! Ryback, Bryan and Cesaro given longer runs may have elevated this one. Jericho, Ziggler and Sheamus all have great outings, but we all knew Cena was winning and we all knew we weren’t going to be happy about it. Just put him number one then and let him do something interesting in the match. Maybe then there’d be some doubt about the outcome. As it stands it’s a solid Rumble wasted on yet another Cena win, colored with Michael Cole’s “wrestler X once said about the Royal Rumble” quotes. This one and 2011 re pretty neck and neck for me but 2013 gets the nod for not being a dick and putting 40 guys in itself. Also guys, we get it please stop looking at the sign so much.

14.

89

1989

-No one cares who wins this thing right? Right pal?-

Winner: Big John Studd (27)

Number 1: Ax

Number 2: Smash

Number 30: “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase

Final 4: Big John Studd, ” The Million Dollard Man” Ted Dibiase, Akeem, Rick Martel

Iron Man: Mr. Perfect (27:58)

Most Eliminations: Hulk Hogan (9)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: Akeem.

Best Moment: Ax and Smash teach us the true meaning of “Every man for himself.”

Worst Moment: Boss Man’s shirt rides up and his pink spotted tummy gives us nightmares.

Most Shocking Moment: Jake gone in two minutes.

Best Elimination: Andre dives over the top rope, fleeing from Damien.

MVP: Andre The Giant really carried the first third of the match. It’s so important to have a heel in the ring that the fans want to see get thrown out, Andre fit that perfectly all the while working with everyone and making them look great in the process.

Biggest Pop: Randy Savage beating the shit out of Bad News Brown.

Most Heat: Andre tosses Jake out with the greatest of ease.

Least Interesting: In the match Ronnie Garvin. In life: Ronnie Garvin.

Biggest Blunder: The bookers thinking anyone would care after Hogan and Savage were gone.

Who Deserved Better: Hogan and Savage should have been in there longer. They were both tossed way too early, and would have added greatly to the end of the match.

Who Else Could Have Won: How ’bout Hercules? No title shots were on the line so why not have the recently freed from bondage demi-god last eliminate DiBiase.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: Just die already Ron.

Why It’s Number 14: When ranking all of these, “Is the story of the match better than the Mega Powers?” became an important barometer for where Rumbles ended up. If you take everything that happened before Savage and Hogan leave it’s a pretty solid Rumble. Unfortunately they’re both eliminated two thirds of the way through the match and the guys we’re left with don’t exactly set the world on fire. Studd winning was a weird anti-climatic choice that can only be explained by him having dirty pictures of Vince and Toots Mondt. This was the first Rumble where so many story lines were woven into the match and it worked very well. You had the Jake/Andre stuff early, the Mega Powers tension in the middle and well… nothing at the end. Big John Studd did have a thick back though, perhaps that’s what they saw in him.

13.

96

1996

-He’s got the jock on the wrong part of his body…-

Winner: Shawn Michaels (18)

Number 1: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Number 2: Henry O. Godwinn

Number 30: Duke ” The Dumpster” Droese

Final 4: Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Kama, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith

Iron Man: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (48:01)

Most Eliminations: Shawn Michaels (8)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: Kane. I’m not calling him a doctor.

Best Moment: I love the last 4-5 minutes of Vader’s tenure in the ring. He punches a Squat team member’s face in, has an epic throw down with Yokozuna, and once he’s eliminated he comes back in and throws everyone out (Owen twice!). His standoff with Monsoon is the perfect capper.

Worst Moment: Doug Gilbert’s dance as he enters. Followed by Omari’s dance as he enters.

Most Shocking Moment: I’m shocked, SHOCKED they gave Omari the Orient Express music. Shocked.

Best Elimination: Owen catches Hakushi on his shoulders and in one smooth motion throws him clear to the floor.

MVP: Shawn Michaels. He’s far and away the most over guy in the match and while he’s not in there for all that long he fills ever minute with near eliminations and frenetic battles with everyone from Marty Jannetty to Steve Austin.

Biggest Pop: Michaels tosses Vader and Yokozuna out together. People go crazy.

Most Heat: Jerry “The King” Lawler’s entrance. You’d think the heat would be gone by now but no, he’s still that good.

Least Interesting: Start your engines! Bob Holly is in there for an eternity and contributes absolutely nothing to the match. No one knows who Omari is but at least he’s throwing dropkicks. Holly wanders around, chokes people with his foot, and then is casually dumped to no fanfare. Also if you have the WWF logo anywhere on our wrestling gear, you’re a jobber.

Biggest Blunder: When “putting over” Dory Funk, Vince lets slip that Terry was also invited to participate in the match. This leads me to believe that Dory is there because a: he’s the consolation Funk, or b: he answered the phone when they called for Terry.

Who Deserved Better: The Ringmaster. He was awesome in his short run, showing fantastic ring work and great charisma mocking Michaels and Diesel. His running clothesline on Michaels is a thing of beauty. He gets thrown out by Fatu? Come on! Fatu can’t even get kids off drugs and he gets to throw out the future rattlesnake. You mean to tell me Austin couldn’t have been given Bob Holly’s time and Bob Holly couldn’t have been given some popcorn to sell?

Who Else Could Have Won: No one really. I guess if you forced me I’d say Vader.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: Dory Funk looks like an old goat.

Why It’s Number 13: This is a weird one. There are virtually no over faces in the ring until Michaels shows up. I’m not sure if it’s poor booking or just a sign that they had no one at that point. The most over face in the first half is Razor Ramon and he’s not even in the match. That being said, there’s still a lot of good stuff here. Once Vader comes in and actually gets going the match rolls on fine to the end. I could have done with a less predictable winner and all the botched camera work (they missed like five eliminations) but there’s nothing uber offensive here. That’s just it with this one, there’s nothing super bad but also nothing earth shattering or memorable. It screams middle of the pack. It goes above 1989 because we get the 90’s version of the Mega Powers, but instead of having a hot beginning and so-so ending, here we have a slow start but great finish. I’ll always choose the great finish. And yes I understand that Michaels and Diesel are no Savage and Hogan.

12.

04

2004

-Wait. When did this happen???-

Winner: Chris Benoit (1)

Number 1: Chris Benoit

Number 2: Randy Orton

Number 30: Goldberg

Final 4: Chris Benoit, The Big Show, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho

Iron Man: Chris Benoit (61:30)

Most Eliminations: Chris Benoit (6)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: “Odds on Favorite” Goldberg, Andre the Big Show. And of course…Kane.

Best Moment: The Foley and Orton brawl when Foley hits the ring is electrifying. The whole segment, with the elimination, the chair shots and the final kick to the balls should be studied by wrestlers trying to have a blood feud.

Worst Moment: Kane’s atrocious acting when he has to react to Undertaker’s gong. It’s absurd.

Most Shocking Moment: The whole Foley entrance was a great surprise and super well done with the way they blocked the segment backstage. Extra points for saving me from watching another Test Rumble appearance.

Best Elimination: It’s Benoit slowly choking Show out of the ring. The slow motion way in which Show finally fell made it all the greater.

MVP: It’s got to be Benoit I suppose doesn’t it? He is really good throughout the match, but he does have a rather quiet second half. All the same he carried the emotion and I love how they made him eliminate almost all the big guys. Bradshaw, Mark Henry, Matt Morgan, A-Train and Big Show all go down at his hands. It’s a great legitimizing victory after years of being booked in the midcard.

Biggest Pop: Philadelphia loved them some Mick Foley on this night.

Most Heat: The Big Show tossing out Angle collected slightly more boos than when The Big Show eliminated John Cena.

Least Interesting: Who is A-Train for? He’s not good enough for the fans of pure wrestling, he doesn’t move fast enough to hang with the best brawlers, he has no charisma and he’s ugly as sin. He’s just this slab of meat (without mittens unfortunately) that comes in and bores me every god damn Royal Rumble.

Biggest Blunder: Why can’t Matt Morgan sell a chop block?

Who Deserved Better: This has got to be the only time this will ever be said, but they probably should have brought John Cena into the match earlier and had him do a little more. He was insanely over (probably because he didn’t rap) and could have added much more to the latter half of the match.

Who Else Could Have Won: You may be thinking Kurt Angle, and you’d be one thousand percent justified. It always baffled me though that Goldberg didn’t win everything in his only year in the promotion. Egos got in the way of a legendary run. In hindsight he probably would have been a poor choice, but in hindsight I’d bet the WWE would rather that ANYONE else had won the match.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: The whole match all I could think about was “how do I rate this?” Do I try and remember watching it live, or do you factor in the context. I want to separate the man from his actions, but it’s so fucking hard. He chokes Big Show out of the ring. Chokes. They talk openly about him “eliminating” people. Every bump he takes you find yourself thinking “did this one lead to his dementia?” That’s the problem with watching Benoit matches, you want to think you’re big enough to get passed it, but in the end you find yourself upset that this guy is getting everything he ever wanted out of his career and in three years time he’ll murder his family.

Why It’s Number 12: I think this Rumble tells a very good story, and it tells an amazing story if you’re a fan of Chris Benoit. I say without a word of a lie, that even at the time I was never Benoit’s biggest fan. I liked him, but not more than that. That’s not some revisionist history to look cool or anything; I loved the Cat dancing with Lamarr, I’m not cool. I felt the announcers did a pretty piss poor job of selling Benoit’s accomplishments at the time. I felt like they forgot he was in the ring at some points. Think about how much Bobby worried about Flair and you’ll see that that’s pretty inexcusable considering what they were trying to accomplish. I don’t think it’s a perfect story in any way though as Benoit does kind of vanish after the first half. That being said this is one of the more intelligently booked Rumbles in history. Benoit getting over by eliminating the big guys, Jericho keeps holding on; so Show throws him far from the apron and the symmetry of Angle and Benoit fighting for the title the year before then ending up together here are all wonderful pieces. They also do a wonderful job of making Big Show look unbeatable before finally feeding him to Benoit. You know who else gets no credit for this match but is awesome: Randy Orton. All his business with Foley are my favorite parts of the match and he gives a great little forgotten performance here. I’m not gonna lie, this wasn’t the most fun one to watch, but it’s easy to see the positives.

11.

07

2007

-Have they ever had a bad match???-

Winner: The Undertaker (30)

Number 1: Ric Flair

Number 2: Finlay

Number 30: The Undertaker

Final 4: The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Randy Orton

Iron Man: Edge (44:02)

Most Eliminations: The Great Khali (7)

“Big” “Favorite” Who Didn’t Win: The road to Wrestlemania clearly passed by “Literally the biggest threat in the Rumble” The Great Khali. And Kane didn’t win. Again.

Best Moment: It’s got to be Undertaker’s sit up immediately followed by Michaels’ kip up. The sequence the two of them have may be the best segment in Rumble history.

Worst Moment: Chavo Guerrero coming through the curtain and acting like a big deal in the face of deafening silence. His run as the greatest afterthought in wrestling may as well have started here.

Most Shocking Moment: Maybe I missed something on-line at the time, but I was legit surprised to see Undertaker win. It was a weak Rumble for surprises.

Best Elimination: Kane tosses Sabu’s useless ass through a table. It affected me on a visceral level, and when I say that I don’t mean I put on a huge shiny suit, I mean I cheered in my heart when that table exploded.

MVP: There’s a few iron men, but I can’t in good conscience go with them. (more on that later) So I think Shawn Michaels. He comes in during the final third of the match but immediately adds legitimacy and heart to the whole affair. The crowd is in to his eliminations (and near eliminations) and his bit with Undertaker is fantastic. Not to slag Taker off in any way but I just felt Shawn added more to the overall match. The people are always just with him.

Biggest Pop: The Undertaker getting rid of The Great Khali. (imagine the pop when Vince eliminates him from the promotion)

Most Heat: Edge tossing Ric Flair. What a douche.

Least Interesting: Tommy Dreamer. He innovated nothing on this night.(Hahahahahahahahahahahaha) Seriously though he laid on the ground and got kicked before quietly being disposed of.

Biggest Blunder: Star of the popular internet show Botchamania Sabu messed up a flying DDT on Tommy Dreamer within ten seconds of being in the match.

Who Deserved Better: MVP could (should) have been in there longer. I’s also like to point out CM Punk. Sure he was in there forever but he suffers from the same thing as guys like Edge and Orton in that the ring is always so full of people that it’s impossible to highlight anyone. To truly build someone up in the Rumble you need them to almost get eliminated or do cool spots but you can’t do that when you can’t see them. So in trying to highlight everyone, they end up highlighting no one. That actually seems like a pretty clear diagnosis of the whole promotion.

Who Else Could Have Won: I honestly don’t know. At the time I was pulling for Michaels, but that seems like an obvious choice especially since he negated the whole point of the Rumble by being in the main event of Wrestlemania anyways. I think it’s a shame we never got an Edge/ Cena Mania match or a Batista/Orton one┬áthat everyone was clearly clamoring for in 2014.

Worst Thought I Had During the Match: What’s wrong with Matt Hardy’s legs? It’s like they’re on two immovable tracks. He can’t walk, punch or most definitely run.

Why It’s Number 11: They have a lot of balls calling this one “the most star-studded” Royal Rumble in history. (over and over again) All I can think about here is a glut of guys in the ring with no one doing anything especially memorable. It’s solid but lackluster. That is until you finally get all the gravitas the WWE ever wants in the Rumble by letting two legends do their stuff. Michaels and Taker carry this one this far but come just shy of the top ten. Their sequence was that good. Had the rest of the match been filled with more interesting action and moments (and maybe a few more stars) this one would be an all-timer. As is, it sits here coasting comfortably on the memory of that final ten minutes.

That concludes part two! Thanks for reading and check us out next time for the Top Ten!!!