WWE Royal Rumble: The 25 Superstars to Last the Longest and Not Win

Rob Manisero@robmaniCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2012

WWE Royal Rumble: The 25 Superstars to Last the Longest and Not Win

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    Around this time of year, we focus on the most impressive winners of the Royal Rumble match, analyzing their performances based on time and eliminations.

    Winning the Royal Rumble is an impressive feat, and our in-depth analysis of the victors shows just how important it can be to building or solidifying a star.

    But what about the guys who fall short? Who put their bodies on the line for an extended period of time and have nothing to show for it?

    The aches and pains of wrestling hurt much more when there is no victory involved.

    It is time for these men to be recognized. I have compiled a list of the 25 superstars who lasted the longest in the Royal Rumble match, yet could not take home the win.

    Let's get started.

25. Cody Rhodes (2009)

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    Entry Number: 15

    Time Lasted: 37:01

    Eliminated By: Triple H

    Although Cody Rhodes lasted a long time in this match, he was never intended to win. His sole purpose was to protect Randy Orton from being eliminated.

    Nonetheless, it was still an impressive outing from a man who looks to have a very bright future.

24. Chris Jericho (2009)

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    Entry Number: 11

    Time Lasted: 37:17

    Eliminated By: The Undertaker

    The 2009 Royal Rumble match was crowded to say the least.

    For most of the contest, there were more than 10 men in the ring, making it difficult to follow and get into all the action.

    This allowed for a number of superstars to make this list and not win. Chris Jericho entered the match at No. 11 and hung around until he decided to get into it with The Undertaker.

    That's never a good idea.

23. Hercules (1991)

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    Entry Number: 10

    Time Lasted: 37:36

    Eliminated By: Brian Knobbs

    Hercules was not exactly a successful superstar in the WWE.

    He did face Hulk Hogan for the title in 1986, but that was the high point of his career, and he never received another shot like that again.

    So, it was probably a bit of a surprise that Hercules lasted so long in the 1991 Royal Rumble match. This was another contest that could be described as crowded, with eight wrestlers lasting over 20 minutes.

    After showing impressive stamina in 1991, he entered the Rumble again in '92. He was out within a minute.

22. Batista (2008)

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    Entry Number: 8

    Time Lasted: 37:42

    Eliminated By: Triple H

    The Royal Rumble match in 2008 is one of the best in history, standing alongside contests from 1992, 2001 and 2004.

    While it will be remembered for the surprise return of John Cena, it was Batista that lasted the longest that year.

    The Animal was determined to make it into the main event of WrestleMania, lasting until the final three with the No. 29 and 30 entrants, Triple H and Cena.

    Eventually, he was eliminated by The Game and went on to face Umaga for brand supremacy when brand battles still mattered.

21. Rey Mysterio (2005)

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    Entry Number: 8

    Time Lasted: 38:25

    Eliminated By: Edge

    Rey Mysterio has spent a lot of time in Royal Rumble matches. In his victory in 2006, he was in the ring for over 62 minutes.

    The year before that, however, Rey was trying to get into the main event from entry No. 8. He put up a valiant effort but was taken out by Edge, who also lasted in the Rumble for a long time.

    While it was a tough loss, Mysterio redeemed himself the following year.

20. Carlito (2006)

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    Entry Number: 11

    Time Lasted: 38:29

    Eliminated By: Rob Van Dam

    Carlito was at his highest in the company from late 2005 to early 2006.

    He was winning matches left and right, and he even participated in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE title, lasting to the final three.

    In the Royal Rumble match, Carlito entered at No. 11 and hit a flurry of exciting offensive moves, showing his potential as a wrestler.

    Unfortunately, he was eliminated 38 minutes later from the Rumble and four years later from the WWE.

19. British Bulldog (1995)

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    Entry Number: 2

    Time Lasted: 38:41

    Eliminated By: Shawn Michaels

    The British Bulldog is the first of two men on the list to last the entire match, only to lose at the very end.

    Now that is a tough loss to swallow.

    Even tougher is the fact that when you think of the 1995 Royal Rumble match, Shawn Michaels immediately comes to mind, not the Bulldog. The Heart Break Kid went coast-to-coast in that contest, beating the Bulldog after only one of his feet touched the floor.

    Although he had a successful career, this was Bulldog's best chance at making it to the main event of WrestleMania.

    May he rest in peace.

18. The Rock (2001)

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    Entry Number: 13

    Time Lasted: 38:42

    Eliminated By: Kane

    The Rock would be in the main event that year, but he entered as the champion, defeating Kurt Angle at No Way Out.

    Before that, he made a more-than-solid showing in the Royal Rumble contest.

    That year, however, almost no one could stop Kane, who had a performance for the ages. The Rock would fall to the Big Red Monster in the late stages of the match.

17. Chris Jericho (2003)

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    Entry Number: 2

    Time Lasted: 38:54

    Eliminated By: Test

    Although Test technically gets credit for the elimination, he owes a huge assist to Shawn Michaels, who provided plenty of distraction. 

    The 2003 Royal Rumble was the start of one of the best feuds of the decade between Y2J and Michaels.

    Chris Jericho had Christian start off the match in his place, and after a big chair shot, Shawn was gone within three minutes.

    HBK would have his due, and it led to a fantastic WrestleMania match.

16. Bob Holly (1996)

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    Entry Number: 5

    Time Lasted: 39:35

    Eliminated By: The Ringmaster

    Before he was Hardcore, Bob Holly lasted almost 40 minutes in the 1996 Royal Rumble match.

    And before he was Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Ringmaster eliminated him.

15. Edge (2005)

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    Entry Number: 7

    Time Lasted: 40:19

    Eliminated By: John Cena and Batista

    Not only did Edge last over 40 minutes, but he also competed in the opening contest of the night, beating Shawn Michaels.

    Edge was on the cusp of superstardom in 2005.

    He started off the year with an impressive night at the Royal Rumble, finishing third in the match. He would then win the Money in the Bank match and cash it in at the very beginning of 2006.

    The 2005 Rumble match was a great showcase of the future, with Cena, Batista and Edge being the final three.

    Over the next five years, those men would become a huge part of the foundation of the company.

14. Edge (2007)

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    Entry Number: 5

    Time Lasted: 44:02

    Eliminated By: Shawn Michaels

    The Rated-R Superstar turned in another great performance two years later, but his shot at the main event was turned away yet again.

    This was the year of HBK and The Undertaker, as they had one of the best ending sequences in Royal Rumble history. Edge and Randy Orton, however, made their impact, making it to the final four before being ousted by the two veterans.

    After two tough losses, Edge would achieve what he could not in 2010, returning from injury to claim the spotlight.

13. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (1991)

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    Entry Number: 3

    Time Lasted: 44:03

    Eliminated By: Hulk Hogan

    The crowded Royal Rumble match makes it return, with The Hammer turning in a performance of over 44 minutes.

    Put it this way: Valentine entered at No. 3, lasted 44 minutes and was eliminated by Hogan.

    He was only the 14th man eliminated in the match. That means there were still 15 eliminations to go, even after Valentine survived almost three-quarters of an hour.

    Spoiler alert: Hogan won. I know, shocker.

12. Ted DiBiase, Sr. (1990)

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    Entry Number: 1

    Time Lasted: 44:47

    Eliminated By: Ultimate Warrior

    The Million Dollar Man is one of the best superstars to never officially hold the WWE Championship. Sure, he tried to buy it from Andre the Giant, but that decision was nullified, and he never got to the top again.

    In the third annual Royal Rumble match, Ted DiBiase was the No. 1 entrant, lasting almost 45 minutes before being taken out by the Ultimate Warrior.

    This was the year in which Warrior and Hogan would have their huge match at WrestleMania.

    DiBiase, on the other hand, would go on to face Jake the Snake for his Million Dollar title.

11. Ted DiBiase, Jr. (2009)

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    Entry Number: 10

    Time Lasted: 45:11

    Eliminated By: Triple H

    The other half of the support unit, Ted DiBiase the Younger lasted an impressive 45 minutes in 2009.

    Often times, he could be seen getting the crap kicked out of him by almost every entrant after him.

    Similar to Cody Rhodes, although he was never a serious threat to win, to be out there for close to an hour is still an achievement.

10. Chris Benoit (2005)

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    Entry Number: 2

    Time Lasted: 47:26

    Eliminated By: Batista

    At least Chris Benoit drew a better number than the previous year. Too bad No. 2 is not much different than No. 1.

    A year after lasting the entire Royal Rumble match, Benoit would have to do it again in order to main event WrestleMania for the second year in a row.

    He did not achieve that goal, but he still lasted an amazing 47 minutes before being eliminated by the eventual winner, Batista.

    In a span of two years, Benoit lasted almost two hours in the contest. Conditioning be damned.

9. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (1996)

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    Entry Number: 1

    Time Lasted: 48:01

    Eliminated By: Diesel

    Before it was time to play the game, it was time to learn proper etiquette. The elegant days of Hunter Hearst Helmsley were beginning to flourish in 1996, and he was given the task of going coast-to-coast.

    He did not win the match, and he was not expected to, but 48 minutes is a hell of a long time to wrestle.

    His eventual DX partner and fierce rival Shawn Michaels won for the second straight year, this time going on to the classic Iron Man match against Bret Hart.

    Hunter would eventually make his change into The Game, and the rest is history.

8. Rey Mysterio (2009)

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    Entry Number: 1

    Time Lasted: 49:21

    Eliminated By: Big Show

    Another long performance from 2009 comes in the form of Rey Mysterio, who has developed a track record of being an above-average Royal Rumble wrestler.

    Mysterio found himself in a familiar position when he was forced to start off the match. While he did not take home the win this time, he did last almost 50 minutes until the Big Show got hungry.

    Rey would go on to defeat JBL in 20 seconds at the 25th anniversary of WrestleMania.

7. Triple H (2009)

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    Entry Number: 7

    Time Lasted: 49:55

    Eliminated By: Randy Orton

    He's back.

    Not all is lost for Triple H, as he would win the title in the Elimination Chamber three weeks later. At the time, however, this loss really stung.

    HHH thought he had the match won by taking care of Legacy, but Orton held on and stayed on the apron, picking his spot to catch The Game off guard.

    This turned into an excellent feud and, surprisingly, a pretty horrible main event match.

    If the contest has along the lines of a no-disqualification contest, it may have been better, but the buildup on its own was excellent.

6. The Rock (1998)

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    Entry Number: 4

    Time Lasted: 51:32

    Eliminated By: Stone Cold Steve Austin

    Similar to Edge in 2005, The Rock was on the cusp of becoming the next big thing in the company. His performance in 1998 showed his limitless ability.

    Unfortunately for The Rock, it was Stone Cold's time. Although the Great One made it to the final two, he was not great enough, as the Rattlesnake moved on to face HBK at WrestleMania.

    Fortunately for the Brahma Bull, he would only have to wait two years to find success in the Royal Rumble match.

5. Rick Martel (1991)

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    Entry Number: 6

    Time Lasted: 52:17

    Eliminated By: The British Bulldog

    Besides winning the tag team titles in the WWE (then F) three times, this was probably Rick Martel's shining moment. In a Royal Rumble known for its longevity, Martel topped them all and lasted 52 minutes.

    At the time of this match, he was embroiled in a feud with Jake "the Snake" Roberts. The feud started in October 1990 and lasted almost a full year. On this night, Martel got the upper hand by eliminating his nemesis.

    After that feud, he is only notable in the business for fighting Razor Ramon for the vacant Intercontinental Championship. In case you were wondering, he did not win.

4. Kane (2001)

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    Entry Number: 6

    Time Lasted: 53:46

    Eliminated By: Stone Cold Steve Austin

    For as many years as the Royal Rumble match lasts, Kane's performance in 2001 will always go down as one of the best ever.

    It will be very difficult to top the record 11 eliminations set by the Big Red Monster in this contest. At one point, he threw four superstars over the top rope in a matter of 20 seconds.

    After over 50 minutes of destruction, it was Stone Cold who finally took the big man down. It only took a stunner and three chair shots to the head to get it done.

3. Stone Cold Steve Austin (1999)

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    Entry Number: 1

    Time Lasted: 56:38

    Eliminated By: Vince McMahon

    Here is the other man that lasted the entire match, only to lose at the end. Although, this contest went down a little differently.

    After Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon started No. 1 and 2, he was attacked in a women's bathroom and taken to the hospital, which accounts for about 25 minutes of time. So, while he technically lasted 56 minutes, almost half of it was a "break."

    Nonetheless, Stone Cold could have easily eliminated McMahon early on, but he wanted to punish the boss.

    The Rock provided the distraction for McMahon to win, but Austin would earn his way into the title match at WrestleMania anyway.

2. Triple H (2006)

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    Entry Number: 1

    Time Lasted: 1:00:09

    Eliminated By: Rey Mysterio

    To last over an hour in a match and not win is demoralizing. Ask Bret Hart how he feels about that topic.

    Actually don't do that, you might get hurt.

    Triple H was the No. 1 entrant in 2006, with Mysterio at No. 2. Hunter got the crap kicked out of him for the entire match, but he was able to hang in there until the final three, when Rey would eliminate him and go on to win an emotional contest.

    No worries for Triple H, however.

    Like most men that make it late into the Royal Rumble match, Trips got a world title shot at John Cena anyway.

    In a sense, it makes coming in second or third not so bad anymore, but there is still nothing quite like winning a Royal Rumble match.

1. Bob Backlund (1993)

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    Entry Number: 2

    Time Lasted: 1:01:10

    Eliminated By: Yokozuna

    No one ever mentions Bob Backlund when talking about impressive Royal Rumble performances. Backlund is the superstar to last the longest, but fell just short in the end.

    Similar to Triple H, he started in the top two and was eliminated second to last by the eventual Royal Rumble winner, Yokozuna. That is just about as coast-to-coast as it gets.

    Put it this way: We talk about Shawn Michaels being the first man to start No. 1 and last the entire match and win.

    HBK, however, only spent 38 minutes in the ring, which pales in comparison to Backlund and his 61-minute outing.

    Since Backlund will never get the credit he deserves for this match, it can be deemed one of the most underrated performances in Royal Rumble history. 

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