WWE Royal Rumble 2014: Former Winners with Worst WrestleMania Showings
WWE's 2014 Royal Rumble is heading our way in a few days, so speculation is at an all-time high.
Everyone is wondering who will win the match and what will happen when they go on to challenge the WWE World Heavyweight champion at WrestleMania.
Overall, there is a pretty decent track record set for the Royal Rumble winner. Almost three out of four competitors tend to have great success at the biggest show of the year.
But that's not the case for everyone.
Let's avert our eyes for a moment and, instead of trying to predict what is coming our way over the next few months, let's revisit the past.
Presented in chronological order based upon the Royal Rumble year, who were the former winners of the Royal Rumble who didn't have such great luck at WrestleMania?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: Royal Rumble 1988
Originally, the Royal Rumble did not have a built-in title shot at WrestleMania as the reward.
As such, when Hacksaw Jim Duggan won the inaugural match, he was not the No. 1 contender for the top prize.
In fact, Duggan didn't even receive a top match at WrestleMania that year in the slightest bit of the imagination.
WrestleMania IV featured a tournament to determine the WWF champion as the belt was in a vacated state at the time.
Duggan was in the second match of the pay-per-view—the first of the tournament—and he lost to Ted DiBiase in under five minutes.
Hacksaw's Royal Rumble win led to what most people would consider an embarrassing spot at WrestleMania, as he didn't even make it to the second round.
This would end up being essentially the only accolade Duggan won in his WWE career, but in the end, it didn't mean all that much at the time.
Big John Studd: Royal Rumble 1989
Just like Duggan before him, Big John Studd won the Royal Rumble at a time when it was not tied to a Wrestlemania main event.
But whereas Duggan was still technically involved in a title match in theory by participating in a tournament, Studd was in an even lower position.
Instead of wrestling a top star or anything of the sort, Studd was merely a special-guest referee for a match between Jake the Snake Roberts and Andre the Giant.
Worse off, the match ended in a disqualification, which is the cheapest of endings, particularly for what is supposed to be the most important pay-per-view of the year.
Like Duggan, Studd would never win the world title or any other belts during his run in World Wrestling Entertainment—unless you count a WWWF tag team title run as Executioner #2 with Killer Kowalski.
Lex Luger: Royal Rumble 1994
By the time the 1994 Royal Rumble came around, the title shot became an official reward for the victor.
But what would happen if two men won the Royal Rumble?
Such was the case when it was ruled that Bret Hart and Lex Luger fell at the same time, effectively meaning that they both were entitled to a championship title shot.
At WrestleMania X, Luger would face off against Yokozuna, and the winner would defend the WWF Championship against Bret Hart, who would have to fight Owen Hart earlier in the night to even the odds.
Despite being in the midst of a giant push as a top babyface and having a lot of momentum on his side, Luger would come up short.
Later on that evening, Yokozuna would drop the title to Hart, and the locker room would celebrate the new WWF champion.
For an added fun fact, Luger would follow suit with Duggan and Studd and never win any titles in the World Wrestling Federation.
Shawn Michaels: Royal Rumble 1995
The 1995 Royal Rumble became one of the most important in history, as it would establish several rules and introduce a few records.
By far the star of the night was Shawn Michaels, the winner of the match, who was the first person to go the distance from the first entrance spot.
The Heartbreak Kid's victory was a controversial decision that would eventually become known as "The Shawn Michaels Rule," stating that both feet had to touch the floor.
Michaels, having only had one foot actually on the ground, was the official winner of the match and would be granted a shot at his former friend Diesel, who was the WWF champion at the time.
By WrestleMania XI, Michaels had run out of luck.
He would come up short against Big Daddy Cool, and the two of them would not even be the actual main event of the night.
Which is the bigger disappointment: failing to win the championship or taking a backseat to Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow for the headliner of the show?
Unlike the others on this list, Michaels would go on to much more success.
Not only would he win the next Royal Rumble, but he would then also follow it up by winning his first WWF Championship at WrestleMania XII and eventually even earn the moniker "Mr. WrestleMania."
The 1996 Royal Rumble began as a great year for Shawn Michaels, unlike 1995 which was not on par.
Stone Cold Steve Austin: Royal Rumble 1997
When the 1997 Royal Rumble took place, Steve Austin was experiencing a tremendous increase in popularity.
Among a sea of low-caliber opponents, people who weren't even regular members of the roster and others who—for some reason—felt the need to eliminate themselves in this match, Austin was a true standout.
As controversial as the ending of the 1995 Royal Rumble was, the manner in which Stone Cold would be declared the winner of this year's event would outdo it.
After being eliminated by Bret Hart, the referees did not see Austin's feet hit the floor, and he was able to sneak back in, eliminate The Hitman and steal the victory from him.
However, karma would bite The Rattlesnake back.
Rather than getting his title shot at WrestleMania, Austin would participate in a Fatal 4-Way for the vacated championship along with three of his fellow Royal Rumble finalists.
Sycho Sid would win the WWF Championship and unsuccessfully defend the title against Undertaker at WrestleMania 13.
Austin, on the other hand, would lose a Submission Match against Bret Hart.
This match would be an incredibly important one in WWE history, and it was a turning point in Austin's career.
However, when you boil it down to pure statistics, not getting a title shot and then losing the match you did get was not the best way for "Austin's Road to WrestleMania" to end.
Vince McMahon: Royal Rumble 1999
For all intents and purposes, Steve Austin was essentially the winner of the 1999 Royal Rumble.
The record books say different, though, as the actual last man standing was indeed Vince McMahon, so he is under the microscope here.
Because of that, McMahon really does go down as one of the worst Royal Rumble winners ever, considering the events that followed.
McMahon would relinquish his title shot at WrestleMania to Austin at St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Although he didn't wrestle in the match, McMahon effectively lost the WWF Championship to his sworn enemy at the event, since the champion at the time (The Rock) was a representative of his.
The owner of the company may go down in the books as the person who won the Royal Rumble in 1999, but by the end of WrestleMania XV, the term "winner" could only be used loosely for Mr. McMahon.
The Rock: Royal Rumble 2000
For the second year in a row, The Rock would be victorious at the Royal Rumble but lose at WrestleMania.
This time around, instead of retaining his WWF Championship, he would win the Royal Rumble itself.
Normally, when a babyface wins the Royal Rumble and challenges a heel champion at WrestleMania, the babyface walks out with the championship.
WrestleMania 2000 changed the game, and instead of following the normal routine, Triple H retained the title, marking the first time a heel left WrestleMania with the belt.
The Rock wasn't even the only person in this match, as he shared the spotlight with Mick Foley and Big Show.
Fans of The People's Champion who expected him to go all the way and defeat The Cerebral Assassin at WrestleMania were naturally disappointed to see that things did not pan out quite so well in the end.
John Cena: Royal Rumble 2008
For the next few years, the Royal Rumble winner had great success, but that came to an end with John Cena's victory in 2008.
His Royal Rumble win itself was miraculous, having come back from injury months ahead of his perceived schedule.
This would result in one of the biggest pops and shocks in Royal Rumble history when he was the 30th entrant.
He would last eliminate Triple H to win the title shot at WrestleMania XXIV, but this did not follow the typical outline.
One would have assumed that Cena would face Randy Orton at WrestleMania, but they had a match at No Way Out instead, which Cena won by disqualification, meaning he was not the new champion.
On the same night, Triple H won the Elimination Chamber to earn a title shot at WrestleMania.
Because of this wacky set of circumstances, a Triple Threat match took place at WrestleMania XXIV.
After everything had settled, Cena had a pretty awful Road to WrestleMania.
Despite his triumphant comeback, Cena failed to gain the championship at the next two pay-per-views, shared the spotlight with Triple H although he had bested him in Madison Square Garden, did not participate in the actual main event of the evening and was even the person to take the pin.
All in all, this Royal Rumble win did not lead to anything but disaster for Cena.
Edge: Royal Rumble 2010
Cena's quick recovery and subsequent Royal Rumble victory would be replicated once more as Edge returned from surgery to win his rightful title shot in 2010.
Unfortunately for the Rated R Superstar, he could not get the job done at WrestleMania either.
Challenging his former tag team partner, Chris Jericho, for his World Heavyweight Championship, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Edge would leave with the belt.
However, Jericho was able to prevent this from happening and retain the title.
It was easy to assume Edge would get a second chance at the championship at the following pay-per-view, Extreme Rules, and that would be when the title would change hands.
Then, everything changed, as someone else who had a much better showing at WrestleMania came into the fray.
Jack Swagger had won the Money in the Bank briefcase, and on the next episode of SmackDown following WrestleMania XXVI, he cashed in his title shot to defeat Jericho.
Edge and Jericho were removed from the title picture entirely to continue to feud with each other in personal grudge matches, while Randy Orton became the next challenger for Swagger's championship.
Alberto Del Rio: Royal Rumble 2011
It's an impressive feat to be the winner of the first and only 40-man Royal Rumble to this date, but the end result for Alberto Del Rio didn't pan out the same way.
Whereas his victory at the Royal Rumble was triumphant, his luck would not carry him into WrestleMania.
Not only did Del Rio wrestle the opening match rather than the legitimate main event, but he also lost his title match against Edge.
Worse off, after the match was over, Del Rio's car suffered a beating as well from the Rated R Superstar.
Since then, our past two Royal Rumble winners went on to win their title matches at WrestleMania.
Is that going to continue this year, or will we see another failure like the 10 men on this list?
What do you think is going to happen? Are there any names you feel should be added to this group?
Sound off in the comments below!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.
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