10) Eleventh Heaven - Kane In 2001
He may have been called the Big Red Machine for most of his WWE tenure (bar when he was pretending to Jerry Lawler’s dentist), but in 2001 Kane became the Royal Rumble machine, with a record number of eliminations. After entering the match at number six, Undertaker’s little bro went on to eliminate ELEVEN superstars during show’s main event, including the returning Honky Tonk Man and one of the favourites, The Rock. Unfortunately it wasn’t good enough for Kane, who was later eliminated by eventual winner ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, but his double-digit eliminations remains a Rumble record.
9) Helping Hands - Kofi Kingston In 2012
Having held twenty-five annual Royal Rumble matches, it’s understandable that it becomes harder and harder to make each one unique. One way they’ve done it over the years is varying the ways competitors avoid being eliminated. We’ve all had to put up with Jim Ross, Michael Cole or Vince McMahon telling us ‘both feet have to touch the floor’ to actually be eliminated, and superstars have gone to great lengths to do just that. From the high-flying theatrics of Rey Mysterio and John Morrison, to the desperation of Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair. But in 2012, Kofi Kingston took the initiative one step further by first landing on his hands, and then hand-standing his way back into the ring. Ridiculous, yes, but fun to watch all the same. Not sure it deserved a Slammy award though.
8) Now You See Me, Now You Don’t - Santino Marella In 2009
For years the Warlord was the butt of all Royal Rumble jokes. The big bald member of the Powers of Pain held the record for the shortest Rumble appearance of two seconds since 1989, and it looked like it could never be beaten – not even by a Bushwhaker entering one side and exiting the other. But two decades on, WWE’s comedy relief that is Santino Marella broke the big man’s record by a tenth of a second, when Kane threw him out of 2009’s match in 1.9 seconds. Now, that might not ever be beaten…
7) Bound to Hell - Triple H vs. Catcus Jack In 2000
Although the Royal Rumble is traditionally all about the battle royale, there have been some classic on-on-one bouts at the event too – with this match between Triple H and Cactus Jack being one of them. The build to this match had been all about Mick Foley’s return to the sadistic hardcore character Cactus Jack (who could forget Triple H’s brilliant reaction to the Jack t-shirt reveal on RAW), and the Hell in the Cell match didn’t disappoint. The pair fought inside the cage, outside the cage and on top of it, using everything from handcuffs to Foley’s favourite barbed wire two-by-four. It was Triple H that prevailed though, thanks to a Pedigree on to a canvas full of thumbtacks to retain his title.
6) Going Dutch - Brett Hart vs. Lex Lugar In 1994
The only time there’s been two winners of the Rumble came in 1994, although 2000’s Rock/Big Show confrontation ran it close. In a colourful Rumble that saw names such as Doink The Clown, Adam Bomb and Kwang, the final two came down to Bret Hart and Lex Lugar, Lex express and all. The pair traded blows, then locked-up, but their momentum took them both over the top rope at the same time making it impossible to judge a winner. Refs argued, fans were spilt and even Jack Tunney appeared, but in the end both were declared victors.
5) Foley Quits - Mankind vs. The Rock In 1999
Another match away from the actual Rumble, and another brutal bout involving Mick Foley. This time around, a year before be battled Triple H as Catus Jack, he took on The Rock in the role of Mankind in an ‘I Quit’ match. The pair put it all on the line in an all-out brawl for the WWE title, with The Corporate champ using everything in his locker to defeat the hardcore legend. In the end it took multiple chair shots to the head, and a false recording of Foley’s voice for Rock to rack-up the victory.
4) Surprise, Surprise - John Cena In 2008
Nowadays you’d expect John Cena to be booed out of Madison Square Garden thanks to character and gimmick that has long gone stale, but back in 2008 he was responsible to one of the event’s biggest ever pops. Having suffered a torn pectoral injury the previous year, Cena wasn’t expected to return to a WWE ring until WrestleMania. However, when the clock run down for the 30th entrant the Boston native music hit to a tremendous roar, and to the surprise to even the roster who didn’t know he was in the building. Not surprisingly he went on record his first and only Rumble win.
3) Mac Daddy - Vince McMahon In 1999
At the height of the Attitude era’s Austin-McMahon feud, this Rumble ended with one of its more controversial (if slightly predictable in hindsight) endings in Royal Rumble history. The Rattlesnake and WWE chairman entered the contest at numbers one and two, and eventually battled the way through the crowd and into the public toilets where Austin was given a beat down by McMahon cronies The Corporation. Austin later reappeared driving an ambulance into the arena and proceeded to be the last man standing alongside Vinnie Mac. One distraction from WWF champ the Rock later, and McMahon had thrown Stone Cold over the top rope to win the 1999 event. It was all about them grapefruits, that.
2) I’m Number One - Shawn Michaels In 1995
The Heartbreak Kid, The Showstopper, Mr WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels has had a number of monikers over the years, but in 1995 he truly was number one. Entering the Rumble as the first competitor, Michaels became the first superstar to ever outlast all thirty competitors to win the coveted event – disposing of seven stars himself in the process. The feat was later repeated by Chris Benoit in 2004, but less said about the Wolverine, the better really.
1) Wooooo! - Ric Flair In 1992
For anyone who grew-up in the early nineties, this will remain as one their favourite memories of WWE, or WWF as it was then. With a who’s who of legendry names, this Rumble had more star power inside its squared circle then any other in its twenty-five year history. Hogan, Piper, DiBiase, Michaels, Roberts, Taker, Savage are just a few of the names who entered the match, which for the first and only time had the WWF title on the line. But the name missing from that list was the match’s eventual winner, the nature boy himself Ric Flair. Entering at number 3, Flair bested all comers in what was a textbook piece of wrestling storytelling, to nab his first WWE gong. His post-match promo alongside Bobby Heenan and Mr. Perfect remains one of the Nature Boy’s best too.