Ranking the Greatest WWE Superstars to Never Win the Royal Rumble

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterDecember 19, 2013

Ranking the Greatest WWE Superstars to Never Win the Royal Rumble

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    WWE.com

    Hall of Famers present and future occupy the list of WWE Superstars who never managed to be the last man standing at the Royal Rumble.

    Winning the Rumble is a triumph 27 men have experienced. The best wrestlers to never do so includes a giant, an Olympian and a collection of madmen.

    Only Superstars who competed in a Royal Rumble are considered. So Buddy Rogers isn't part of the discussion.

    The wrestlers are ranked here based on their connection with fans, impact on the WWE, the number of WrestleManias they headlined, how long they remained a top star and how often they won the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Wrestler of the Year award.

    Points are also awarded for entry in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame as well as the WWE Hall of Fame. Should someone be generally considered worthy of induction into the latter, but hasn't been only because of politics, that is taken into account, too.

    Let's begin the difficult task of quantifying wrestling greatness, starting with the Superstars who just landed outside the top 10.

Honorable Mention

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    • Ultimate Warrior
    • Kane
    • Big Show
    • CM Punk

    It's surprising that neither Kane nor Big Show have ever won the Rumble.

    Kane has been as good at eliminating people as anybody. Big Show's size would seemingly make him a lock for a win eventually. Those big men earn their spots here partly because they are both expected to be in the WWE Hall of Fame when they retire.

    Big Show was a part of the WrestleMania 2000 main event.

    He, like Kane, has often been just below WWE's top tier. They have both been world champs but were never as big of stars as opponents like Undertaker, John Cena or Steve Austin.

    Ultimate Warrior's time on top was short. He took over Hulk Hogan's spot briefly in the early '90s.

    Punk's last two years have been red-hot, but it's hard to place him among the all-time greats just yet. Even as WWE champ, he wasn't asked to headline WrestleMania.

    None of these wrestlers are in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, either, though Punk, Big Show and Kane are likely to have that honor in the future.

10. Sgt. Slaughter

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    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)
    • Main Evented WrestleMania VII

    In 1992, Sgt. Slaughter was among the many men unable to stop Ric Flair from winning the Rumble. Slaughter's first peak as a top contender occurred before the first Royal Rumble. The early '80s saw him challenge WWE champ Bob Backlund several times.

    He later rose to the top again a decade later as Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior's rival.

    His run as a turncoat remains one of the most controversial and most compelling periods in WWE history. Being such an unforgettable character is a big part of why he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

    Other Superstars who failed to win the Rumble have the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame on their side and/or have had an even bigger impact on the company.

9. Eddie Guerrero

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    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 2006)
    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2006)

    Eddie Guerrero was never the final Superstar in the ring during a Rumble match nor was he a true headliner.

    However, Latino Heat connected with fans more deeply than many before and after him. As a tag team competitor, rule-hating babyface, world champ and compelling mic worker, he elevated WWE's entertainment value during the early 2000s.

    Both Wrestling Observer and WWE's Hall of Fame welcomed him right after he passed. That's a credit to those who watched him charm from between the ropes.

8. Chris Jericho

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    Chris Jericho
    Chris JerichoWWE.com
    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame
    • Main Evented WrestleMania X8

    Chris Jericho remains one of the most all-around entertaining Superstars in WWE history.

    He provided exciting matches and hilarious segments in surplus. He thrived at the top, clashing with The Rock, and at the bottom, being asked to feud with Chyna. Were one to add in his accomplishments from Mexico, Japan and WCW, Jericho would rank even higher.

    Speaking strictly of his WWE work, he couldn't find his way to the very top rung that often, thanks largely to stiff competition from The Rock, Steve Austin and Undertaker.

    Wrestling Observer has already deemed him worthy of the Hall of Fame. One has to assume that Jericho will be in the WWE Hall of Fame as well as soon as he stops wrestling for good.

7. Ted DiBiase

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    Ted DiBiase grabs hold of Ultimate Warrior.
    Ted DiBiase grabs hold of Ultimate Warrior.WWE.com
    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2010)
    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
    • Headlined WrestleMania IV

    Ted DiBiase's money nearly bought him the WWE Championship, but it never led to him winning the Royal Rumble. In 1989, he paid his way into the No. 30 spot in the Rumble but eventually lost to Big John Studd.

    The Million Dollar Man was one of Hulk Hogan's greatest enemies, Lex Luthor to Hogan's Superman. His other high-profile feuds included Jake Roberts and Dusty Rhodes.

    Few heels have been as memorable as DiBiase. His mad cackling, arrogance and cruelty made it impossible not to want to see him crushed.

    The men above him earn that spot by way of being a headliner more often.

6. Mick Foley

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    Mick Foley hoists the WWE Championship.
    Mick Foley hoists the WWE Championship.WWE.com
    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2013)
    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)
    • Main Evented WrestleMania 2000

    Mick Foley was too busy engaging in wrestling wars during the Royal Rumble to win the signature match.

    In 1999, he and The Rock battled in an I Quit match. A year later, his Street Fight with Triple H resulted in thumbtacks piercing flesh and Foley warping steel chairs with his head.

    Rating him on skill alone doesn't do him justice. His fearlessness and charm helped him become one of the most beloved Superstars in WWE history.

    Two Hall of Fames have recognized that impact on the WWE world. More time as a headliner would have him land an even higher spot on this list.

     

5. Roddy Piper

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    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2005)
    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
    • Main Evented WrestleMania I

    Influence, innovation and insanity are among the many things Roddy Piper brought to WWE.

    It's hard to imagine what the first WrestleMania would have been like without his manic energy buzzing on the other side of the ring from Hulk Hogan. Piper was one of the most compelling villains in company history, cutting promos that are still watched today.

    Whether he was duking it out with Bruno Sammartino in a cage, trying to fend off Bret Hart or breaking a coconut over Jimmy Snuka's head, Piper created lasting images time and time again.

    Had it not been for his Piper's Pit segment, The Highlight Reel, Miz TV and The Cutting Edge wouldn't have come to pass.

    Time away from WWE spent brawling with foes in WCW takes away from his resume just slightly. The next man spent a longer stretch atop the company long before the Rumble was born.

4. Bob Backlund

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    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2013)
    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)
    • PWI Wrestler of the Year 1980, 1982

    Bob Backlund was WWE's top star from the late '70s until the early '80s. He was WWE champ for nearly half a decade, a bridge between the Bruno Sammartino era and the Hulk Hogan era.

    Fans today may look back at Backlund and scoff at his mat-based, meat-and-potatoes ring style, but Backlund was a believable hero that drew packed houses for huge matches against other promotion's top stars like Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel and Billy Robinson.

    He gets bonus points for resurrecting his career in the '90s and thriving in a whole new era as Bret Hart's crazed foe. Two PWI Wrestler of the Year awards cement his spot in the top four of this list.

     

3. Andre the Giant

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    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 1993)
    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
    • Main Evented WrestleMania III

    Andre the Giant's impact on WWE, like the man himself, was immense.

    Beginning in the '70s, Andre was a major attraction for the company, a must-see figure. His career stretched into the early '90s as Hulk Hogan's rival, one-half of a dominant tag team and ever so briefly as WWE champ.

    He remains the benchmark for all big men.

    Charisma, magnetism and whatever makes fans care deeply for who is competing in the ring belonged to Andre in surplus.

    He was the first man inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and part of the first Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame class. Even as respected and popular as he was, Andre was never truly the top guy. Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan all filled that role during the big man's acclaimed career.

2. Randy Savage

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    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
    • PWI Wrestler of the Year 1988
    • Main Evented WrestleMania IV, V

    Counting up his championships and impact on attendance won't measure the mark Randy Savage left on the WWE.

    How many wrestling moves today inspire a chant of a wrestler of yesteryear? The chop has fans remembering Ric Flair and the diving elbow drop often gets the audience to chant Savage's name.

    As both an in-ring performer and as a master of the mic, Savage excelled.

    His headlining matches with Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior remain among the company's most memorable. Even when he worked the midcard, though, "Macho Man" made every moment unforgettable. Rivalries with Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat and others furthered his deep connection with fans.

    Savage is a member of the first-ever Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame class. Only politics and infighting have kept him out of WWE's version.

    Winning King of the Ring is a part of his impressive resume, but the Royal Rumble is not. Hogan eliminated him in the 1989 Rumble, and Dusty Rhodes knocked him out of that match the following year.

    His consolation prize is being the second-greatest Superstar to never win the Rumble.

1. Kurt Angle

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    • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)
    • PWI Wrestler of the Year 2003
    • Main Evented WrestleMania XIX

    Kurt Angle spent the majority of his WWE run on top, suplexing and slamming his way to consistent in-ring magnificence. 

    Were it not for his ties to TNA, Angle would already be in the WWE Hall of Fame. If it weren't for the fact that he was usually busy composing classics during the Royal Rumble, he likely would have been pegged to win the Rumble match at least once.

    Angle was one of WWE's biggest stars during perhaps its greatest period of quality wrestling.

    His bouts with Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Chris Benoit and Brock Lesnar will remain near the top of WWE's collection of greatest hits. Superb grappling ability combined with a surprising sense of humor and a electric magnetism puts Angle above his non-Rumble winning peers.