Never one to shy away from the chance to discuss it, its no secret that my favorite wrestling event of all-time is the Royal Rumble.
For over 20 years, this unique, Battle Royal themed event was proof positive that a gimmick-based event could not only get over in the states, but also, the entire world.
Coupled with the Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble will go down as one of the greatest gimmick matches ever if not the greatest.
But the Rumble is so much more than a singular match. Some of the most memorable moments in wrestling have come from this late January staple, and it is with that in mind that this resident Rumble historian takes a retrospective look back at the Top 50 moments to ever take place during the Royal Rumble. Who's No. 1? The countdown begins now!
50. Vince McMahon wins the Royal Rumble, 1999
I could rank each and every Royal Rumble match for you with ease. But towards the bottom of the pile is the 1999 Royal Rumble match, specifically because the entire contest wasn’t about WrestleMania or the World Title chase.
No, this Rumble, which kicks us off at number 50, was all about Stone Cold and Vince McMahon. By winning the Royal Rumble match, Vince McMahon solidified his egomaniacal “Mr. McMahon” character in a most improbable fashion at the Arrowhead Pond.
The win held little water, however, as Steve Austin would find his way into the WrestleMania main event anyway.
49. Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown brawl, 1990
The 1990 Royal Rumble was easily one of the most star-studded and action-packed ever. So in the midst of the middle of the contest, Roddy Piper found a brand-new rival that would last a lifetime.
An altercation with Bad News Brown saw both men eliminated and a massive brawl ensuing moments later. While neither got the upper hand on this occasion, the hatred boiled over until WrestleMania VI, when Piper infamously painted himself half-black in an attempt to show his racial blindness towards the ever-victimized Brown. For 1990, this was a touchy, high-profile feud.
48. The Outlaws embarrass The Legion Doom, 1998
Coming into the preliminary matches of the 1998 card, it was a firm belief that the greatest tag team of all time, the Road Warriors, would steamroll the New Age Outlaws and take their WWF Tag Team Titles. Not so fast, young man.
As was the case late in 1997, the Outlaws surprised us all with their underhanded and devious tricks, handcuffing and temporarily blinding Hawk while they took it to Animal inside the ring.
The long-term effects of this match helped to prove that the L.O.D. may no longer be able to hack it in the tag team division, and a rift would follow in the years to come that never truly healed. The Outlaws became the most successful tag team of the Attitude Era.
47. The Twin Towers disassemble the Mega Powers, 1989
For the better part of 1988, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were the two biggest stars in the WWF, and also the best of friends. The Mega Powers overcame all the odds, whether it was the trickery of Ted DiBiase or the brute force of Zeus, nothing could take down the Mega Powers.
Enter 1989, however, and Hogan and Savage were about to be on the outs. A series of unfortunate miscues saw Hogan and Savage on the receiving end of a beat down courtesy of Akeem and the Big Boss Man: The Twin Towers.
Can you name the men who have eliminated Hulk Hogan from a Royal Rumble Match? Most would have said Sid, but the Twin Towers got the best of him first. This event triggered the official end of the Mega Powers, and a dynamic WrestleMania V main event.
46. Hogan and Andre sign the rematch contract, 1988
Backtrack to 1988. The first Royal Rumble may not have met pay-per-view, but its significance is often overshadowed given the events that unfolded on this evening.
Midway through the night, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant would have their epic rematch contract signing for The Main Event on Feb. 5, 1988.
Significance? It was one of the biggest and most unexpected screw jobs in the history of the business. For more information, see: Hebner, Earl or Hebner, Dave.
45. Daniel Puder is decimated, 2005
Ah, Tough Enough. While the Tough Enough crew was gracious enough to provide the wrestling world with stars like Matt Morgan and John Morrison, there has undoubtedly been a number of flops in its history.
For the $1 million Tough Enough contest, the world had a choice between mat wrestler and amateur athlete Daniel Puder, or reality television star turned wrestling junkie Mike “the Miz” Mizanin. The power that be decided that Puder would win the competition assuming he would carry a more legitimate track record into the WWE.
When he entered No. 3 in 2005, he got on the microphone and announced that everyone in the arena was “about to witness history.” He promised then and there to win the match. He didn’t.
In fact, he was the first one eliminated, but not after Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Hardcore Holly potatoed him with chops, aggressive slams, and no mercy. Puder was gone a year later.
44. Hogan’s 91 Win, 1991
The United States was in the midst of Desert Storm in 1991 and morale was at a low within the country. So the Royal Rumble of 1991, emanating from Central Florida, was going to have to be all about patriotism and Hulk Hogan.
With a huge downer in the middle of the card (Sgt. Slaughter, Iraqi-turncoat wins the WWF Title from the Ultimate Warrior), Hogan would have to come through in the Rumble match in order to take us home the right way.
He did it with style. Up against seemingly unconquerable odds in a 2-on-1 attack, Hogan eliminated Brian Knobbs and the massive Earthquake en route to his second Royal Rumble win.
He’d stand in the middle of the ring with the American flag and a promise to reclaim the title at WrestleMania VII.
43. Perfect Ousts Flair, 1993
Ric Flair’s 1992 Rumble win was legendary. Not only did he go nearly wire-to-wire, but he also became the WWF Champion for the first time with his stunning win. So when Flair’s second Rumble appearance saw the Nature Boy draw number one, it looked like he would have more of the same on his plate in order to go to WrestleMania.
Little did he know that his former manager and cohort Mr. Perfect was just itching to get revenge.
When Perfect’s draw dawned, he lit up Flair in the ring and proceeded to eliminate the 16-time world champion. Just a few weeks later, Flair was out of the WWF for nearly a decade, thanks again, to Mr. Perfect.
42. Earthquake vs. Yokozuna, 1993
The 1993 Royal Rumble was significant for being the first Rumble to officially declare that the winner of the match would go on to Main Event WrestleMania. So when Yokozuna, an upstart sumo wrestler that hadn’t even been taken off of his feet stepped into the Rumble, he was a surefire favorite.
Midway through the contest, with Yoko taking out opponents left and right, he was faced with an unlikely nemesis: Earthquake. As one half of the Natural Disasters, the Quake was hiding a secret as a former sumo star himself.
While he and Yokozuna faced off, the rest of the action stopped to watch as the Quake attempted to topple the mammoth rookie. He was unsuccessful, sadly, and was legitimately the last big threat standing in Yoko’s way from winning the match.
41. Tatanka (Buffalo), 2006
The Royal Rumble match is infamous for mystery entrants. Some of the greatest Royal Rumble moments have come when the audience literally has no idea what superstar will be next to step through the curtain.
In 2006, one of the biggest shockers came out of pure obscurity. Granted, we had a pretty big surprise hit us when The Honky Tonk Man and Haku showed up in 2001, or when Bob Backlund hit the ring in MSG in 2000.
But none of them were quite as obtuse as Tatanka, who returned late in the 2006 Royal Rumble Match. Looking a bit larger than he had upon his departure, the Native American fought valiantly for nearly 20 minutes before getting eliminated.
And unlike most surprise entries, Tatanka wasn’t a one-off. He competed through a full schedule with a few pushes towards the tag team titles.
Check back all this week for the next 10 moments, leading up to No. 1 and the 2010 Royal Rumble Match!
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