With the 2011 WWE Royal Rumble right around the corner and the NCAA March Madness on the not-to-far-away horizon, I thought I would give us a look at those who have made Final Four appearances at the Royal Rumble since its inception in 1988. They may not have won it all (or they may have), but they got awfully close.
Starting in 1997 as the failed experiment of “Diesel”, Kane has made a strong showing in the January tradition, ending up in the final four in five of appearances. He has an unprecedented 13 total appearances (including as "Diesel" and as Isaac Yankem in 1996).
Kane holds the record for eliminations in a single Rumble at 11 in 2001, but also shares the record of the most final fours with five- 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2008, though sadly does not have a Rumble victory to his credit.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Stone Cold Steve Austin dominated the wrestling world, and this domination was evident at the Royal Rumble.
He won the event 3 times (the only one to do so) and additionally made it to the final four in 1999 (eliminated by McMahon!) and 2002. He only appeared in 6 rumbles, so he made it the final four 83% of the time and won 50% (any NCAA team would be quite happy with that record).
Mr. WrestleMania? Definitely. Mr. Royal Rumble? It appears so.
Shawn rounds out the final four record holders with five himself, spanning from 1994 to 2010. He’s been in the match 12 times, starting in 1989 (as a Rocker!) and has won it twice.
His final four appearances include 1994, 1995 (winner), 1996 (winner), 2007, and 2010. Had it not been for a four year departure from the ring, who knows how many rumble final fours Michaels would have to his credit today.
Batista is definitely the newest member of the WWE Universe to be high on the list of those with several final four appearances.
Winning the event in 2005, he also outlasted the unlucky 26 in 2003, 2008, and 2010.
Given that his WWE was in 2002 (as a deacon to a Dudley- honestly!), not too shabby.
Triple H started rumbling royally in 1996 and has gone on to win once (2002) and make it to three other final fours (2006, 2008, and 2009).
Much speculation as to whether he will return at this year’s event, possibly to win it all or possibly to seek revenge on a certain human jar of mayonnaise.
Despite wrestling in a pretty good WWE title match against the Miz earlier in the night (and losing), Randy Orton made it to the final four before being tossed by Del Rio in what many thought was the last elimination (Santino would prove otherwise).
This brings Randy's final four total to 4 in the past 6 years- 2006, 2007, 2009- Winner, and 2011.
Seven superstars in all have made it to just three final four appearances, all pretty big names. They include:
Davey Boy Smith (1991, 1995, 1996)
Current World Champion Edge (2005, 2007, 2010- Winner)
Hulk Hogan (1990- winner, 1991- winner, 1992)
John Cena (2005, 2008- Winner, 2010)
The Rock (1998, 2000- Winner, 2001)
Undertaker (1997, 2003, 2007- Winner)
Lots of folks here- some bigger names, some not, but they all made it the final four twice, so that’s got to count for something. Okay, so I guess it doesn’t.
Akeem/One Man Gang (1988, 1989)
Big Show (2000, 2004)
Bret Hart (1994- Co-Winner, 1997)
Kurt Angle (2002, 2004)
Lex Luger (1994- Co-Winner, 1995)
Mr. Perfect (1990, 2002)
Randy Savage (1992, 1993)
Rey Mysterio (2005, 2006- Winner)
Rick Martel (1989, 1993)
Mysterio's the only one here with a chance of moving to the next level this year.
Here is a list of the superstars who only made it to one final four. While most did not leave that much of a legacy, eight won the whole thing in that solitary year. At least they all know that when you’re watching old Rumble matches, you’ll see them there at the end. Well, not quite at the end for most, but close.
Alberto del Rio (2011- Winner)
Big Bossman (1999)
Big John Studd (1989- Winner)
Billy Gunn (2001)
Bob Backlund (1993)
Brian Knobbs (1991)
Brock Lesnar (2003- Winner)
Chris Benoit (2004- Winner)
Chris Jericho (2004)
Cody Rhodes (2009)
D-Lo Brown (1999)
Dino Bravo (1988)
Don Muraco (1988)
Dude Love (1998)
Hacksaw Jim Duggan (1988- Winner)
Ric Flair (1992- Winner)
Rick Rude (1990)
Rob Van Dam (2006)
Santino Marella (2011)
Sid Justice (1992)
Ted Dibiase (Jr.) (2009)
Ted Dibiase (Sr.) (1989)
Vince McMahon (1999- Winner)
Wade Barrett (2011)
Yokozuna (1993- Winner)
So while it may not put a banner in your auditorium, the Final Four of the Royal Rumble has been an accomplishment for many superstars, just a tad more of one for some than others.