One of the best ways to receive a push in the WWE is by winning the Royal Rumble match. Even better, however, is winning the Rumble after entering early in the match. Every win is important, but there is always something more impactful about a guy who lasts an hour or more and prevails.
Also, superstars can also get a considerable rub even if they don't win the Rumble match simply by playing the "iron man" role. Fans always speculate prior to the Royal Rumble about who will last the longest because it's usually a pretty good indication that the wrestler is in line for a push of some kind.
There have been several incredible performances in the Rumble over the years and fans remember many of them fondly. At the same time, there are probably a few iron-man outings that fans aren't quite as familiar with. Whatever the case, the record for most amount of time spent in a Rumble match is a prestigious one and it is a mark that superstars hope to break on a yearly basis.
Here are the 10 best showings in Royal Rumble history in terms of longevity, complete with analysis on how the performance helped each man moving forward.
*Note: All times courtesy of MondayNightWarriors.com
In 1998, The Rock was experiencing a meteoric rise to prominence, as his cocky, heel character was catching on. He had become the leader of the Nation of Domination and was also Intercontinental Champion at the time, so he was among the favorites to win the Royal Rumble match.
The Rock entered that match at No. 4 after already facing Ken Shamrock earlier in the night, meaning the odds were stacked against The Great One.
The Rock managed to persevere, though, and lasted until the closing stages of the match. In fact, he made it to the final three and pretended as if he was going to team with fellow Nation member Faarooq to eliminate "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, but he decided to turn on Faarooq instead by eliminating him.
This left just Austin and The Rock in the match, and while The Rock gave a valiant effort, Austin eliminated him after Rocky spent 51 minutes and 32 seconds in the ring.
The Rock continued to hold the IC title, but he would soon reach main-event status as he won the WWE Championship in late 1998 as Vince McMahon's protege. This led to a feud with Austin and a trio of WrestleMania matches between them.
The Rock may not have won this particular Rumble, but his strong showing was definitely a sign of great things to come as he developed into one of the biggest stars in WWE history.
The Royal Rumble was still in its infancy in 1991 and the WWE probably wasn't fully aware of how big it would eventually become. Because of that, there wasn't much special attention paid to records and things of that nature.
"Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase had become the Royal Rumble iron man a year earlier with a modest time approaching 45 minutes, but there were several men who approached that number in 1991 and one who surpassed it in the form of Rick "The Model" Martel.
Martel was a mid-card player at the time and was never really much more than that in the WWE. He entered the Rumble at No. 6 and was able to remain in contention until the waning moments. Martel even managed to gain the upper hand on the man he was feuding with at the time, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, as he eliminated him.
Martel also skinned the cat on several occasions and narrowly avoided being eliminated before Davey Boy Smith tossed him out. Martel remained in the Rumble for 52 minutes and 17 minutes, which was a record at the time, but it would be broken the following year.
Martel's performance unfortunately had little bearing on his future as he never won a singles title in the WWE. He did last until the final four in the 1993 Royal Rumble, however, and he co-won a 1993 battle royal with Razor Ramon for the right to have an Intercontinental Championship match.
Martel lost that match, but you could say that he was somewhat of a master when it came to Royal Rumble and battle-royale settings.
Easily the greatest Royal Rumble performer to never win the match itself, Kane made his biggest Rumble mark in 2001. The Big Red Monster had already established himself as a dominant force in the WWE by that point, but much of his current mystique stems from what he did in 2001.
Kane entered the 2001 Rumble at No. 6 and he went on a unprecedented rampage that still has him near the top of the record books in several categories.
Most people remember Kane's 2001 Royal Rumble showing for the amount of superstars he eliminated. That was certainly impressive as he tossed out 11 men, which is a record that still stands today. In fact, he took out everyone who entered to match from No. 7 to No. 13 and he was even able to eliminate The Rock near the end.
As great as his elimination record is, I was equally as impressed with the big man's stamina and longevity in Rumble.
It's not easy for anyone to stay in the ring for nearly an hour, let alone a seven-foot monster like Kane. He was able to survive for 53 minutes and 46 seconds, though, before "Stone Cold" Steve Austin hit him with a steel chair three times and clotheslined him over the top rope.
Kane acquitted himself so well that many wrestling fans look back at the 2001 Rumble and feel as though it's a crime Kane didn't win. Even without the victory, Kane did just fine for himself as he is one of the most decorated and successful superstars the company has ever seen.
One of the most bizarre Royal Rumbles in WWE history was certainly the 1999 edition of the match. The "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon feud was in full force and it just so happened that they started the match at No. 1 and No. 2.
This was the opportunity that Austin had been waiting for and he seemed poised to eliminate McMahon early, but Vince was able to escape under the ropes, which resulted in a brawl throughout the arena. Eventually they ended up in an arena bathroom where The Corporation jumped Austin and seemingly eliminated him from contention.
When McMahon returned to ringside, he opted to join the commentary team rather than reenter the match. His goal of stopping Austin from winning the Rumble appeared to be accomplished, so he was content with the work he had done.
Austin surprisingly returned later in the match, however, as he drove an ambulance back to the arena. Vince managed to escape Austin's clutches yet again, but Austin eventually tossed out everyone to the point where it was only him and McMahon remaining.
Austin brought him back to the ring and was giving him the beating of his life, but the new WWE Champion, The Rock, distracted Austin, which allowed McMahon to eliminate him and win the 1999 Royal Rumble. When it was all said and done, both Austin and McMahon had lasted for a total of 56 minutes and 38 seconds.
Vince intended to forfeit the guaranteed title shot that he earned, but since it would then go to Austin, he instead had a match against Austin for the opportunity. Austin won and ultimately got the last laugh as he beat The Rock for the strap at WrestleMania XV.
Although four men have lasted longer in a Royal Rumble match than Ric Flair, I still consider his performance in 1992 to be the greatest in Rumble history. The 1992 Royal Rumble was notable for the fact that it was, and still is, the only Rumble in history with the WWE Championship on the line.
The title had been vacated prior to the event, which meant that the winner would become the new champion rather than challenging for it at WrestleMania, as has become customary.
Flair had recently jumped ship from WCW and was among the favorites, but it seemed unlikely that he would win when he entered the match at No. 3.
Nobody had ever come close to winning from such a disadvantageous entry position and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan made it seem like an impossibility thanks to his superb announcing. Flair narrowly escaped disaster on a number of occasions throughout the match and was able to make it down to the nitty gritty.
Things came to a head when Sid Justice eliminated Hulk Hogan. The Hulkster was none too pleased about this and he grabbed onto Sid's arm from outside the ring. Flair took advantage by dumping Sid over the top rope to become WWE Champion after spending 59 minutes and 26 minutes in the match.
Flair shattered the previous longevity record set by Rick Martel in 1991 and his triumph in 1992 is still viewed by many as the greatest Rumble showing ever. Flair's WWE tenure came to an end sooner than expected as he went back to WCW in 1993, but he left an indelible mark on the company.
Triple H is most definitely one of the best all-around Royal Rumble performers ever. He won the match in 2002, has been the final man eliminated twice and has spent more accumulated time in the Rumble match than anyone in the event's history.
One particular showing that certainly bolstered Triple H's Royal Rumble reputation took place in 2006. Triple H entered the match first and wasn't eliminated until he was one of only three men remaining in the match.
Interestingly, Triple H's Royal Rumble 2006 performance is often overshadowed because of the man who entered No. 2. Rey Mysterio won the match, so there is rarely much talk about what Triple H was able to accomplish.
He was a force throughout the match and actually managed to do much of the heavy lifting as he eliminated stars such as Ric Flair, Big Show and Kane. Triple H has never shied away from entering a Rumble early and carrying the load, and that much was evident in 2006.
Triple H was already an established star in 2006, so his Rumble showing didn't really do much to help him. It was essentially meant to make Mysterio look even better since he was able to go step for step with The Game and ultimately beat him by eliminating him.
For all the talk of Triple H putting himself over and burying others, he should be given credit for what he has done in the Rumble. He has come close to winning on several occasions, but has only won once and was content with making others look good, particularly in 2006.
The least-appreciated iron-man performance in WWE Royal Rumble history is easily the feat that Bob Backlund accomplished in 1993. After eight years away from the WWE, the former WWE Champion returned in 1992 as a mid-card wrestler. He didn't do much of note, but he made a major splash in the 1993 Rumble.
Backlund entered the match at No. 2 after Ric Flair came in at No. 1 and he proceeded to last for one hour, one minute and 10 seconds, which was a longevity record that wouldn't be broken until 2004.
Although Backlund was one of the most accomplished superstars in the '93 Rumble, he wasn't considered a true threat to contend. Despite that, he avoided many pitfalls and nearly pulled off a huge upset.
Backlund was outside the ring for a period of time as The Berzerker attacked him and slammed him on the concrete floor, but he was in the middle of the action for much of the match and showed an incredible amount of stamina for a 43-year-old man.
Backlund eliminated Rick Martel late in the match to become one of the final three men remaining along with Yokozuna and Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Rather than sitting back, Backlund went after Yokozuna and he paid as the eventual winner tossed him over the top rope and to the floor.
Backlund would remain in relative obscurity for the next year, but he received a major push in 1994 as he turned heel and defeated Bret Hart for the WWE Championship, although he dropped it to Diesel just three days later at a house show.
Considered by many to be the best showing in Royal Rumble history, Chris Benoit truly outlasted 29 other men to win the match from the No. 1 spot in 2004. Benoit had always been a mid-carder in WWE and during his previous stops in WCW and ECW despite his obvious in-ring skill.
He was never really given a chance to rise to the pinnacle of the business because of a perceived lack of charisma, but the WWE decided to give him perhaps the biggest push a wrestler can be given in a single night.
The 2004 Rumble field was wide open, and while Benoit was considered a contender, it seemed unlikely that he would win from No. 1. It had only been done once before as Shawn Michaels turned the trick in 1995, but that was the second-shortest Rumble ever with just one minute between entrants.
The Crippler was in an extremely tough situation, especially with stars such as Randy Orton, Kane, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Goldberg and so many others to contend with.
Benoit dispatched several lesser superstars before coming face to face with Big Show in the final two. The giant was the runner up in 2000 and didn't intend to be again, but Benoit used a front face lock to pull him over the top rope and win in improbable fashion.
The victory led to Benoit winning the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania and fulfilling a life-long dream. The circumstances surrounding the death of Benoit and his family has caused many to denounce his accomplishment, but it was definitely something to behold from a wrestling perspective.
After Chris Benoit's showing in the 2004 Royal Rumble, many probably figured that someone surpassing his record wouldn't happen for many years, if at all.
Just two years later, however, Rey Mysterio equaled and ultimately bettered his time of 61 minutes and 30 seconds by lasting one hour, two minutes and 12 seconds to win the 2006 Rumble.
Mysterio entered that match at No. 2 and overcame the odds to win as he had a disadvantage both in entry number and size.
Like Benoit prior to 2004, Mysterio was never given an opportunity to be a top guy. WCW and ECW utilized him almost exclusively as a cruiserweight and very few looked at him as a potential main-eventer. Mysterio has pretty much always been the smallest guy in the ring and there was a bias against diminutive wrestlers for a very long time.
The fans loved Mysterio, though, and there was obviously a contingent that wanted to see him reach the next level. Vince McMahon realize that and he gave Mysterio a push in spectacular fashion in 2006.
Not only did Mysterio win from No. 2, but he was able to take out both Triple H and Randy Orton who double teamed him in the closing stages of the match. Had Mysterio entered the match at No. 30 and won it would have still been a huge deal since few ever expected Mysterio to be a top guy, but doing it from No. 2 made it even more special.
Mysterio made the most of his opportunity as well by winning the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania and establishing himself as much more than a cruiserweight guy in the process.