The Royal Rumble is without a doubt my favourite WWE pay-per-view event.
In truth, the 2000 Royal Rumble—which I sat gleefully watching on channel 4 at the tender age of seven—was my first ever real foray into the world of professional wrestling.
I didn't really know most of the competitors in the match, but the atmosphere and concept of the Rumble itself gripped me from the get-go.
Now, nearly 14 years later, I look back on that turn-of-the-century PPV with nostalgic warmth.
One thing that makes the Rumble what it is, is the unique organisation of the contest (no need, I'm sure, to lay that out to the masses of wrestling fans reading this).
The allocation of random numbers giving the Superstars who draw a later entry the advantage over those who come into the contest earlier seems a tad unfair on paper, but in reality, this is probably the driving factor that has kept the Rumble fresh for so many years.
The unknown tension of wondering who will be gliding down to the ring next keeps fans on the very edges of their seats.
In this slideshow, I will pay homage to my favourite event of the year by trying to piece together a few facts and statistics that are less trotted out every year than others.
For example: We all know Shawn Michaels won the Rumble at the No. 1 entrant. We all know the most "lucky" number is 27 (with Yokozuna, Bret Hart, Big John Studd and Stone Cold Steve Austin all winning with this slot). Everyone is aware that in 2001 Kane eliminated 11 guys, and that three women (Kharma, Beth Phoenix and Chyna) have competed in the big one itself.
No, this article will look to show off a few quirky facts and stats that aren't such common knowledge as the landmark PPV approaches at the end of the month.
So, sit back and (hopefully) enjoy a trip across Rumble history.
Most people know that Hacksaw Jim Duggan won the first ever Rumble match—but how about a lot of other Rumble firsts that occurred in the brawl?
First Ever Entrants
Amazingly, Bret "The Hit Man" Hart will officially go down as the first ever entrant into a Royal Rumble match. He and Tito Santana (who drew No. 2) were the first pairing to ever get the match underway.
Interestingly, neither man was given a real entrance (at least not on TV). When the camera panned away from Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura at ringside, the two men were already in the ring and announced to the world by Howard Finkel as the "The men who drew numbers one and two."
First Ever Elimination
Butch Reed was the first man to ever be thrown over the top ropes, and it was carried out by Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Reed had entered at the No. 3 spot in the match and lasted just three minutes and 18 seconds before being tossed out of the ring.
Good vs. Bad
Another thing that makes the Rumble what it is, is the whole "every man for himself" tagline. In 1988, that same line was applied in theory but never carried out.
In fact, what the spectacle eventually culminated into was a 10 heels vs. 10 face elimination match.
At no point (with the very brief exception of Harley Race—who I'm fairly certain botched it—attacking Boris Zhukov) did a heel go toe-to-toe with a fellow "baddy" or vice versa with the babyfaces in the match.
In fact, it even got to the point where one faction would literally save one of the men on "their side" from being eliminated.
Clearly, at this point the WWE was not comfortable enough having faces attack other faces. Thankfully, the promotion soon got over this hang-up.
Again, most people are aware that Rey Mysterio holds the record for the longest time ever spent in one individual match itself (clocking in at 1:02:16 back in his winning 2006 outing).
But who has spent the most time in the Rumble on a collective scale?
The answer isn't too much of a surprise. 2002 winner and now all-round meanie, Triple H.
The Game has spent a whopping three hours, fifty-one minutes and thirty-two seconds in the Royal Rumble over the years—nine minutes more than his close friend and nearest rival, Shawn Michaels.
Unfortunately for Triple H, all that time has resulted in just one overall victory.
That being said, the Game has also come agonizingly close on several occasions: finishing third in 2006 and second in both 2008 and 2009.
Amazingly, from 2000 all the way through to 2012, only one of the major titles (the World Heavyweight and WWE Championships) changed hands at the Rumble—that being John Cena defeating Edge at the 2006 event.
In truth, it makes sense that titles don't often change hands at an event where the main spectacle is really meant to be the Rumble match itself.
Having a title being won in another match tends to take the spotlight away from the main event somewhat—as was the case last year with Rock's victory.
Even funner fact: it was the Rock who last won the WWF Championship at the Rumble back in 1999, when he beat Mick Foley (Mankind) in an "I quit match".
Symmetry like that makes my inner nerd squirm with delight.
Personally, I've always been a little intrigued by guessing who the first man to be eliminated from the match will be before it has even begun.
Normally, this will be a lower-tier wrestler, being used as cannon fodder for someone of a higher caliber.
Here is a list of all the men who were eliminated first in every Rumble to date:
|1990||Koko B. Ware|
|1995||Jimmy Del Ray|
|2002||The Big Boss Man|
|2009||The Great Khali|
Santino Marella holds the dubious honor of being eliminated first from the Rumble more than anyone else.
As I mentioned in the introduction, it is commonly considered that the No. 27 slot is the "luckiest" entry into the match, having produced the most winners.
However, if you were to take the first and second entries as the same number (not an unreasonable thing to do seeing as one gives no advantage over the other—they are both effectively the No. 1 entry in the match), then we would shockingly see that this particular draw is equal with the 27th spot.
Shawn Michaels (1995) and Chris Benoit (2004) both entered the Rumble at No. 1 and went on to win the match. The same can be said of Vince McMahon (1999) and Rey Mysterio (2006), both of whom entered at No. 2.
If these two entries are combined together, then, amazingly, they and No. 27 are in theory the equal-best positions to draw going into the match.
In fact, before the Undertaker's victory in 2007, no man had ever won at the No. 30 entry, whereas four Superstars had by starting off the match.
I guess the "all-important" luck of the draw maybe isn't as much of a factor as we might have thought.
I thought I'd conclude my slideshow with a little tribute to one of the most legendary Rumble competitors of all time: The Big Red Machine, Kane.
These days, Kane isn't so much of a hell-spawn demon so much as he is a corporate suck-up. But hey, that's wrestling.
Kane, or rather Glenn Jacobs, has entered into more Royal Rumble matches than anyone else in the history of the event, having made 16 appearances from 1996-2013.
Despite missing the 2012 main event, due to a feud with John Cena, Kane also has the record for most consecutive appearances: 13 from 1999-2011.
In that time, he has carried out a staggering 38 eliminations, currently leaving him just one behind HBK on the all-time list.
In 2001, Kane cleaned house to dump out 11 of his 29 rivals single-handedly before eventually finishing as runner-up to Stone Cold.
In the first and only ever 40-man Royal Rumble, Kane was the Superstar who drew the No. 40 slot. As such, it is likely that he will be the only wrestler in history (assuming WWE doesn't repeat this idea again) to enter the Rumble at a slot that is higher in numerical value than the 30s.
In 2002, Kane was able to lift the Big Show up and toss him over the top rope on his own (see above video).
Despite all of these impressive stats, Kane has never won the Rumble match itself. Now aged 46 and taking a back-bench approach to the company right now in his new Authority position, Jacobs is unlikely to ever be the last man standing at the end of the Rumble.
A shame, but this unique and legendary Royal Rumble figure will always be remembered as one of the greatest.