15 Best Royal Rumble Competitors in History
I've been compiling all sorts of lists over the past week, but this was without a doubt the hardest to order.
When you're trying to narrow down a list of nearly 600 Superstars to just 15 it's hard enough. But then sorting that final section into a set order is a proverbial nightmare (especially when you consider there has been 22 individual winners of the Rumble).
As such, this list is obviously not going to please everyone. I wholeheartedly expect controversy from the get-go.
Of the 15 men on our list, 13 of them have at one stage or another been the last man standing in the squared-circle come the end of their particular Rumble year (or years).
Also, before we start: To avoid even more unnecessary controversy (and to prevent a war in the comments section between those for and against the man), I will not be including Chris Benoit in this article.
So, let's see who made the grade and where those who did place on our list.
11-15. Honorable Mentions
The Celtic Warrior is still a relative newbie in the WWE Universe, and it wouldn't shock me in the slightest to see him elevated much higher on lists of this variety in the future.
Still, with that in mind, for the time being at least, Sheamus' solitary victory back in 2012 is not enough to earn him anywhere higher than the last place on this elite selection of Superstars. Not exactly the greatest insult in the world given some of the names that are to follow.
14. Bret Hart
The Hit Man also finds himself lower than some might have perhaps imagined. In truth, with only a shared victory at the 1994 Rumble to his name, Bret Hart has never truly been the "last" man standing in a Rumble match.
That being said, being the first man to ever enter a Royal Rumble earns him some kudos in the record books at least. Plus, the way he dealt with The King back in 1997 always brings a smile to everyone's face.
13. The Rock
Now, here's what I imagine will be a really unpopular call. As much as The Rock is an absolute legend of the business, he has remarkably only ever entered into four of the 27 Rumble matches ever held.
Winning one of those (2000) and finishing third (2001) and second (1998) in two others is the only thing that earns Rocky a spot on this list ahead of other notable wrestlers at all. Amazingly, The Rock has made less than 11 eliminations in Rumble history.
The Animal has entered and won just as many Rumbles as Rocky, but has notably eliminated a lot more opponents in the process. Thirteen men tossed out in just four appearances works out at an average of over three per match (my maths skills are clearly second to none). Nothing too special, but with his win in 2005 Batista, who may soon be set for a comeback, well and truly earns his spot here.
11. The Big Show
Here's one of the two men on this list who haven't ever won a Rumble. Show has made more final-six appearances than nearly any other Superstar in history, and boasting 25 cumulative eliminations to his name, it would be a crime not to acknowledge the effort and spectacle that The Big Show has brought to this most exciting of pay-per-views.
When you're over seven feet tall, it is unlikely that you will ever be gifted a Rumble victory. WWE likes to play on the fantastical and unimaginable. The biggest guy in the match practically never wins.
Unfortunately for Show, that "biggest guy" is usually him. A loyal servant to the WWE since his arrival, he more than rightfully earns a spot on the list higher than a handful of men who have won the big one. I mean, he is "the big one" after all.
10. Rey Mysterio
Victories: 1 (2006)
Longest time spent in the ring: 1:02:12* (2006, Won)
Total Eliminations: 11
Total appearances: 6
Rey Mysterio isn't the greatest Royal Rumble competitor of all time for two reasons: He's small, and he rarely eliminates many people when he's in the match.
In terms of stamina and durability, Mysterio may well be one of the best that the match has ever seen. Unfortunately, that is only half the criteria needed to top this list.
In 2006, Rey pulled off the unthinkable, winning it all from the No. 2 slot.
While he has put in some incredible showings in other Rumbles, this was, in truth, the one and only time that it ever looked like Rey might even have a sniff of a chance of winning.
This inconsistency hurts the man famous for the 619's chances of being higher up our list.
Still, that one outing will live long in the memory of anyone who saw it, as Rey paid fitting tribute to his fallen friend and ally, Eddie Guerrero.
That victory transformed Mysterio into a WWE immortal and—in much more humble circumstances—is also what secured him a top-10 spot here.
*Record: Mysterio officially beat Chris Benoit's spell in the 2004 Rumble with this time.
Victories: 1 (2010)
Longest time spent in the ring: 44:02 (2007)
Total Eliminations: 17
Total appearances: 6
The Rated-R Superstar was another top performer who never really got a decent run in Rumble matches.
In fairness to Edge, that was more than likely because of how often he would be either defending or challenging for the WWE or World Heavyweight title at the PPV on the undercard.
As a result, Edge only ever entered six matches, despite being with the company from 1997 to 2012 (and two of those came in 1999 and 2000 as a member of the tag-team division!).
In his later years, when he was an entrant in the match, Edge would always pose a threat to any of the Superstars in the ring.
It came as a shock to some (who hadn't been on the WWE website much in the buildup the 2010 Rumble—they had a game where you could vote for the Mattel toy figure you wanted to win the Rumble. Edge's doll was the only one there who wasn't listed as an active member of the roster...I thought it ruined the surprise a bit) that Edge returned in fine fashion to pick up his one and only victory in the PPV's main event before retirement.
A shame really, that early retirement. It would not have been at all out of the question to see the Hall of Famer pick up a second victory before his time with the WWE had come to a more natural climax.
8. Randy Orton
Victories: 1 (2009)
Longest time spent in the ring: 48:27 (2009, Won)
Total Eliminations: 19
Total appearances: 7
The Viper, Randy Orton, is another guy that will more than likely win a couple of Rumbles before his time with the WWE is over and done with—should injuries stave off.
The current undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion (that really is a mouthful at times) probably won't be in this year's Rumble match, but back in 2009 with the help of his lackeys Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. (also know collectively as Legacy), Orton was able to storm his way to victory.
I have to be honest, in the history of the show, this was (in my opinion) one of the most obvious outcomes to a Rumble match ever.
The whole buildup to the event revolved around Orton punting people in the head (what a lovely fellow) and his continued push for the title.
That being said, his performance in the match was pretty ballsy—lasting nearly 50 minutes on his way to glory.
With 19 eliminations to his name already and a whole heap more Rumbles for him to take part in in the future, Randy will probably end his career closer to the top echelon of this elite brotherhood.
7. John Cena
Victories: 2 (2008, 2013)
Longest time spent in the ring: 34:17 (2011)
Total Eliminations: 20
Total appearances: 7
Love him or hate him, John Cena has won two Royal Rumbles. There's no getting around that fact.
Admittedly, John probably finds himself this high up the list on that factor alone. With only 20 eliminations in his seven appearances, Cena is averaging less than three eliminations per match—startling when you consider he has won the thing twice.
That said, Cena's return at the 2008 Rumble is arguably one of the best shocks in recent years in WWE.
Nobody expected to see The Doctor of Thuganomics come out as the 13th entrant that year, let alone pick up the victory.
Thinking about it, that was probably one of the last times that Cena wasn't met with constant boos wherever he went. It was, unquestionably, a great return and an impressive (albeit brief) showing.
His victory last year was pretty much the complete reverse of that. A five-year-old could have guessed that John would pick up the Rumble victory as early as October of 2012 (sadly, I don't think I am even stretching that far into hyperbole here...at all).
Still, Cena is one of only four men to have ever won the Rumble more than once, and deserves respect for that.
6. Triple H
Victories: 1 (2002)
Longest time spent in the ring: 1:00:09 (2006)
Total Eliminations: 26
Total appearances: 8
The Game may only have one Rumble victory to his name, but consecutive runner-up slots in 2008 and 2009, as well as a third-place finish in 2006 (having entered at the No.1 position) mean that he has only narrowly missed out on that elusive second glory.
What Triple H has lacked in victories, he has more than made up for in his overall eliminations.
Twenty-six men have fallen prey to the former leader of DX over the years, and with his career still not over just yet, that number could be rounded up to 30 by the time he is done.
Sometimes Rumbles aren't defined by who wins them as much as who gives the best performance.
In both 2009 and 2006, The Game may not have outshone Mysterio or Orton, but he sure as heck made the match what it was both from a storyline point of view as well as in terms of pure spectacle and entertainment.
On top of that, The Game has spent more time in Rumble matches collectively than anyone else ever, clocking in at three hours, 51 minutes, 32 seconds. Incredible stuff.
Let's hope he still has something left in him for the coming years.
5. The Undertaker
Victories: 1 (2007)
Longest time spent in the ring: 32:33 (2008)
Total Eliminations: 35
Total appearances: 10
The Undertaker is the last man on our list to have won just a single Rumble.
Again, when you consider how long The Phenom has been around, it is a surprise he hasn't won at least two of these—and that becomes even more of a shock when you consider that Taker is probably the only Superstar in history to have top billing (and retained it) from pretty much day one.
What he lacks in overall victories he certainly makes up for in eliminations though, with a grand total of 35, meaning he is the fourth-highest chucker-outer (that's an official term, I'll have you know) in history.
Injuries have meant that the Dead Man has missed a lot of Rumbles that he probably had a very good shot of winning, perhaps most notably in 2000.
Now confined to his solitary annual WrestleMania slot, Undertaker is unlikely to add to his Rumble record (he hasn't appeared in the match since 2009).
That said, the Rumble was built to harbor surprises—could a premature Phenom return be one of them come Jan. 26?
4. Hulk Hogan
Victories: 2 (1990, 1991)
Longest time spent in the ring: 19:55 (1991)
Total Eliminations: 27
Total appearances: 4
The Hulkster was probably the hardest person to place on this list.
With two Rumble victories to his name, you would assume that he instantly gets a relatively lofty spot...but then you have to consider he has only made four appearances and never even lasted 20 minutes...but then you have to factor in his ridiculously good elimination quota.
In the end, I decided that with two wins and an average 6.75 (so, six regular guys and Crash Holly (RIP)) men thrown out every time he enters, Hogan is actually one of the most dangerous competitors out there.
If he had been placed in a few more matches, he would undoubtedly be on top of this list right now with the most wins and the most eliminations.
As it is, Hogan's decision to leave the company in the summer of 1993 meant that he never got the chance to really do something special at this event (that's if you don't call winning it twice special).
Alas, what might have been.
Victories: 0 (Best Place: Runner-up 2001)
Longest time spent in the ring: 54:49 (2001)
Total Eliminations: 38
Total appearances: 16*
I said that The Undertaker was the last man to only have a single Rumble victory to his name, but I never said that everyone else on the list had won at least two.
It's a massive testament to Kane that a man who has never won the match gets placed in the third position of our rankings—and trust me, for a while I was considering putting The Big Red Machine even higher.
Kane may never have won a Rumble, but his dominance in the 2001 event has never—and probably will never—be matched.
People go on about the 11 eliminations (a record, of course), but what really impressed me most about that PPV was how Kane totally stole the limelight.
From the moment his music kicked in, with a hapless Drew Carey (yes, Drew Carey) standing in the ring, that match was centered around the masked menace.
To this day people still talk about that event like it was a mythical tale of yesteryear—something sent to us by the wrestling Gods.
On top of that, Kane has made 16 appearances between 1996 and 2013. That alone would be enough to earn him special notoriety.
As if that wasn't enough, he is also just a solitary elimination away from equalling the No. 2 slot on our lists' all-time record.
A true Rumble legend, Kane well and truly deserves his placing here.
*Record: Kane (Glenn Jacobs) has appeared in four more Rumbles than any other WWE Superstar in history.
2. Shawn Michaels
Victories: 2 (1995, 1996)
Longest time spent in the ring: 38:41 (1995 - won)
Total Eliminations: 39*
Total appearances: 12
I was tossing and turning over who deserved the top billing on our list and eventually decided that The Heart Break Kid was a (very) narrow second to our No. 1—but more about him later.
Shawn Michaels was the first man in history to win the Rumble while having started the match.
That achievement instantly propelled Shawn into being one of the most recognizable Superstars of recent years—and his repeat effort the next year, where he would join the Hulkster as the (then) only two men to have had won more than one Rumble, cemented that place forever.
On top of his two victories, Shawn has also carried out the main principle of Royal-Rumbling (a new adverb I just made up) more so than anyone else, having eliminated 39 men over the course of 12 (second only to Kane in that respect) matches.
In 2007, he was bitterly close to equaling Hogan's record, as he faced off against the Undertaker in the final two. It would have been something. Imagine it: Shawn picking up his third Rumble victory 11 years after his last one.
As it turned out, Taker would (perhaps rightfully, from a creative standpoint) be credited his first-ever win.
Will Shawn appear in 2014? I have this weird feeling in my gut that he might...
*Record: With just one more elimination than The Big Red Machine, Shawn holds the record for most men ever dumped out over the top rope.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Victories: 3* (1997, 1998, 2001)
Longest time spent in the ring: 56:38 (1999; Austin did spend a vast amount of time in an ambulance)
Total Eliminations: 36
Total appearances: 6
The Texas Rattlensnake. My word, that man was a legend.
Well, "is" a legend I should say, but you know what I mean. I think anyone who had the privilege of seeing Austin wrestle misses those days a lot.
There probably aren't many people who can argue that Stone Cold doesn't deserve the No. 1 spot here. Making on average six eliminations for every Rumble he entered and having a staggering 50 percent win rate of three out of six, Austin is the ultimate Rumble competitor.
If you consider how close he came to winning the 1999 Rumble match, it really puts into perspective how skilled Steve was at this kind of mass brawl.
I mean, could you imagine if Stone Cold had been in just one more main event? We would undoubtedly be talking about 40-plus eliminations, and who knows, maybe even a fourth victory?
The Attitude Era Royal Rumbles were some of the absolute best, and this man was the epitome of both that time in the WWE and the Rumbles that took place during them.
It's hardly a surprise that the one event that some (although not myself, for personal reasons) consider to be the worst Rumble of the 1997-2002 period was the only event that The Rattlesnake missed through injury—the 2000 edition of the PPV.
Thank you, Mr. Austin, for many great memories in Royal Rumble history
*Record: Stone Cold is the only man to have ever won three Royal Rumble matches.