WWE Royal Rumble Winners Countdown: Who Will Win in 2011?

John BetschelCorrespondent IINovember 7, 2010

WWE Royal Rumble Winners Countdown: Who Will Win in 2011?

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    It's getting close to that time again. After the Survivor Series, there is only one more PPV (TLC) before the Royal Rumble.

    The Royal Rumble is known as one of the Big Four, the other three being Wrestlemania, Summerslam, and Survivor Series. The very first Royal Rumble was held on January 24, 1988, at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

    Some may not know this, but the Royal Rumble was not originally a PPV event.  Rather, it was shown as a television special on USA. In its second year, the Royal Rumble became a PPV event.

    The Royal Rumble consists of 30 superstars.  Two start in the ring, then every couple minutes another superstar enters. The only way a superstar can be eliminated is by being thrown over the top rope and having both feet touch the floor.

    The winner is the last person standing in the ring. It wasn't until 1993, however, that the WWE started giving the winner a chance to compete at Wrestlemania for the WWE title. It wasn't until 2004 that superstars were given' the choice to fight for the World Heavyweight Title.

    When the ECW World Title was revived in mid-2006, it became a third option for Rumble winners to choose, though I don't know why, as there is no way the main event at Wrestlemania would be for the ECW title.

    In this article, I will review the Royal Rumble winners from the very first Rumble in 1988 to the most recent in 2010, giving a little info on each superstar and their win.

    At the end, I will also be giving my prediction for the winner of the 2011 Royal Rumble. Hope you enjoy!

1988 Royal Rumble, Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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    The very first Royal Rumble took place in 1988. The idea had been posed by Pat Patterson just weeks before. This Royal Rumble consisted of only twenty men. It wasn't until the following Royal Rumble that the WWF included thirty men.

    The first two superstars to enter the Royal Rumble were Bret Hart and Tito Santana. The winner, Jim Duggan, was number 13.

    Duggan eliminated three people in the Rumble, including Nikolai Volkoff, Bret Hart, and finally the One Man Gang to win.

    And even though Hart did not win, he set the first record for longevity, being in the rumble for a total of 25:42.

    The One Man Gang also set the first record for most eliminations with six.

    This may have not been the most exciting Royal Rumble, but Duggan will go down in history as the first man to ever win the event.

1989 Royal Rumble, Big John Stud

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    This Royal Rumble was the first to consist of thirty men, and was the very first Royal Rumble to be broadcast on PPV.

    This Rumble consisted of greats like Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect, Randy Savage, and Ted Dibiase. This was also Shawn Michaels's first Royal Rumble.

    Stud entered the rumble at number 27. He eliminated Akeem and finally Ted Dibiase to win.

    The number 27 entry has produced four winners, more than any other number.

    Here are some records set in this Royal Rumble:

    Mr. Perfect broke Bret Harts record for longevity, lasting 27:58.

    The Warlord was in the Rumble for only two seconds before being eliminated by Hulk Hogan--a record that would stand for 20 years before being broken.

    Hogan also set the record for most eliminations with 10.

    This Royal Rumble also became an important part of the break up of the Mega Powers, because Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage from the match.

1990 & 1991 Royal Rumble, Hulk Hogan

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    Since Hogan won both the 1990 and 1991 Royal Rumble, I decided there is no point in making two separate slides. I will also do this with any other superstar who won back to back Royal Rumbles.

    In the 1990 Royal Rumble, Ted Dibiase broke Mr. Perfect's longevity record by staying in the rumble for a total of 44:47. And, coincidently, Hulk Hogan eliminated Mr. Perfect to win the 1990 Royal Rumble.

    Hulk Hogan is also the only superstar to be WWE Champion and win the Royal Rumble at the same time.

    The 1991 Royal Rumble marked The Undertaker's first ever Rumble.

    Hulk Hogan eliminated Brian Knobbs, Tug Boat, The Warlord, Crush, Smash, Greg Valentine, and lastly Earthquake to win his second Rumble in a row.

    This also marked the first ever no-show in a Royal Rumble, when number 18 was called no one came out. Once all the participants were involved, the announcers realized that Savage was the missing man.

    They speculated he had fled the arena in order to get away from the Ultimate Warrior, as Savage interfered in his match against Sgt. Slaughter, costing Warrior the match.

    Once again, the longevity record was broken by Rick Martel; he lasted 52:17.

1992 Royal Rumble, Ric Flair

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    The 1992 Royal Rumble was the first and only time that the then-WWF Championship was on the line.

    Ric Flair entered the rumble at No. 3, and eliminated the British Bulldog, the Texas Tornado, the Big Boss Man, and Randy Savage.

    Flair, the dirtiest player in the game, won that match by lastly eliminating Sid Vicious, with a little help from Hulk Hogan.

    Hogan had been eliminated by Vicious but was still at ringside. He grabbed Sid’s arm and distracted him long enough for Flair to eliminate him.

    At the time, Flair was the lowest entry to win the Royal Rumble.

    No other records were set that I know of. If I missed something, please let me know.

1993 Royal Rumble, Yokozuna

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    This would mark the first Royal Rumble that the winner would receive a WWE title shot at Wrestlemania.

    Yokozuna was entry number 27 in the Royal Rumble, being the second of four to win at that spot.

    At one point, pretty much every wrestler tried to eliminate him at once, but they were unable to lift him.

    Yokozuna eliminated seven men, including Bob Backland, Tatanka, Carlos Colón, Tito Santana, Earthquake, and Owen Hart. The last person he eliminated was Randy Savage.

    Savage had gotten the upper hand on Yokozuna and knocked him down, allowing him to perform his finishing move, the elbow drop off the top rope.

    He then pinned Yokozuna, but as we all know there are no pinfalls. He ended up pushing Savage off so hard that he flew over the top rope and onto the arena floor.

    Bob Backland broke the previous record for longevity, being in the match for 1:01:10.

    Yokozuna would go on to Wrestlemania to beat Bret Hart for the WWE Title, pinning Hart after his manager Mr. Fuji threw salt in his eyes while he had Yokozuna in the sharpshooter.

    However, Yokozuna's title reign lasted only a few minutes as he dropped the belt to Hogan in an impromptu match.

1994 Royal Rumble, Bret Hart & Lex Lugar

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    This would mark the first and only Royal Rumble where there were dual winners, due to the fact that both superstars' feet hit the ground at the same time.

    It also would mark the debut of "Thurman Sparky" Plugg, which would later be renamed to Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly and even later, as we all know, "Hardcore" Holly.

    He was the replacement for the 1-2-3 Kid, one of many replacements that night. Kamala was supposed to compete, but was replaced by Virgil. Ludvig Borga could not compete due to an ankle injury, and was replaced by Kwang. Bastion Booger was supposed to be No. 25, but did not appear because he didn't "feel good," according to McMahon.

    Lugar would enter the rumble at No. 23 and Hart would enter at No. 27. The two were the last remaining participants in the rumble, and ended up simultaneously eliminating each other. Two referees argued over who landed first, while several different camera angles were used to try and conclude a winner.

    Eventually, Jack Tunney, then-President, came out and had Howard Finkle announce that both men would be considered winners.

    The debate over who should get a title shot at Wrestlemania X was not resolved until the next week on Raw.

1995 & 1996 Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels

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    Shawn Michaels entered the 1995 Royal Rumble at No. 1 and became the first-ever superstar to win the match as the No. 1 entry.

    In my humble opinion, this is probably the most exciting Royal Rumble so far in the history of the WWE.

    It started with Michaels and Davey Boy Smith, and it ended with same two. Smith tossed Michaels over the top rope and started celebrating, not realizing that Michaels was still holding onto the rope with only one foot touched the floor.

    Michaels pulled himself back up over the rope and back into the ring, and while Smith was standing on the second rope in the corner celebrating, Michaels came up from behind and knocked him out of the ring, winning the match.

    This would also be the first Royal Rumble in which the first two entrants would be remain in the match till the very end.

    Michaels entered the 1996 Royal Rumble at No. 18, and he eliminated Jerry Lawler, the 1-2-3 Kid, surprisingly Yokozuna, Vader, Owen Hart, Issac Yankem, once again the British Bulldog, and then finally Diesel, superkicking him over the top rope for the win.

    Michaels became the second superstar ever to win back-to-back Royal Rumbles.

    This would also mark the first Royal Rumble that the superstars entrance music would be played as they entered the ring.

1997 & 1998 Royal Rumble, Steve Austin

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    This Royal Rumble would be a lucky one for Stone Cold. He was actually eliminated by Bret Hart, but thanks to a brawl on the outside between Terry Funk and Mankind the officials were distracted, thus allowing Austin to sneak back in the ring without the elimination being seen.

    Austin also tied Hulk Hogans elimination record, eliminating ten people.

    After Hart tossed him out of the ring, he got back in, eliminating Vader and the Undertaker, then as Hart was eliminating Diesel Austin came up from behind and tossed Hart out for the win.

    The 1998 Royal Rumble was a little more hardcore than the others. It started with No.1-entry Cactus Jack bringing trash cans to the ring, then Chainsaw Charlie aka Terry Funk came into the ring wielding his trademark chainsaw before Foley cracked him over the head with a steel chair.

    When the clock counted down to entry No. 22, no one entered. Lawler on commentary attributed the number to Stone Cold, and said that he had reportedly been taken out backstage by Ken Shamrock.

    At entry No. 24, Austin's music hit, and all fighting in the ring ceased. Austin appeared from behind and eliminated Marc Mero, 8-Ball, and Savio Vega.

    After Dude Love and Faarooq were eliminated, it was down to the Rock and Austin.

    They scuffled for a while, and Austin threw the Rock over the top rope, but the Rock managed to get back in the ring without being eliminated, only to receive a Stone Cold Stunner and be thrown over the top again and eliminated.

1999 Royal Rumble, Vince McMahon

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    Mr. McMahon and Steve Austin started the match, and they would tussle for a while until Austin got distracted by other wrestlers, which allowed McMahon to flee.

    They chased each other all over the arena. McMahon, however, would spend most of the match doing commentary.

    Once all other wrestlers were eliminated, however, Austin would go to the announce table and attack McMahon. After hitting McMahon with a steel chair, he threw him back in the ring.

    Austin stood over McMahon as he clambered to his feet, then McMahon hit Austin with a low blow. Once they both got back to their feet, Austin hit McMahon with a Stunner.

    The Rock then came to the ring and started taunting Austin with the WWF Championship. The Rock climbed up on the apron, and as Austin ran to try and hit The Rock, McMahon came up from behind Austin and threw him over the top rope, winning the match.

    This also marked the very first Royal Rumble in which there was a woman entry. Chyna entered at No. 30, only to eventually be eliminated by Austin.

2000 Royal Rumble, The Rock

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    The Rock entered the rumble at No. 24. He eliminated Al Snow, The Big Boss Man, and Crash Holly.

    He and The Big Show were the final two in the ring, The Rock hit a spinebuster and The People's Elbow, but Big Show came back and hit The Rock with the Chokeslam.

    Big Show had The Rock on his shoulders and attempted to dump him over the top rope, but The Rock hung on to the top rope, pulling The Big Show over and eliminating him.

2001 Royal Rumble, Steve Austin

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    Austin entered the rumble at lucky number 27. I've mentioned before that entry number has won more Rumbles than any other.

    But Austin didn't make it into the match until the No. 30 entrance, as when he was making his way down the ramp, he was attacked by HHH and bloodied for costing HHH his match against Kurt Angle earlier for the WWF title.

    Austin and Kane were the last two superstars in the match, after Kane had eliminated The Rock. Kane and Austin fought for a little while, then Kane went outside the ring and grabbed a steel chair to hit Austin.

    Austin, however, avoided the chair shot and hit Kane with the Stunner. When Kane got back up, Austin hit him in the head three times with the chair, then he clotheslined him over the top rope, winning the rumble for the third time, more than any other superstar.

    Kane also set a record which has yet to be broken, for most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble: 11.

2002 Royal Rumble, ''The Game'' HHH

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    HHH was making his in ring return from being out eight months from his first quad tear. He entered the Rumble at No. 22.

    After some eliminations, it was down to four people: HHH, Kurt Angle, Stone Cold, and Mr. Perfect.

    Angle eliminated Austin as he was trying to eliminate Mr. Perfect, in which Austin grabbed a steel chair and came back in the ring and hit Perfect, Angle, and HHH, before leaving.

    Angle accidentally hit Mr. Perfect with a clothesline and received a Perfect-Plex in return. HHH then clotheslined Mr. Perfect, eliminating him from the match.

    It was down to Angle and HHH. They went back and forth for a while, before Angle back body dropped HHH over the top rope. Angle then started celebrating, thinking he had won.

    What Angle didn't realize though is that HHH had held on to the top rope, HHH then hit Angle with his trademark facebuster knee smash, followed by a clothesline over the top rope eliminating Angle from the match.

    That left HHH the 2002 Royal Rumble winner!

    This was the longest Royal Rumble match in history.

    Stone Cold would eliminate seven people in the match, making 36 career eliminations, a record that would last for eight years, until broken by Shawn Michaels in the 2010 Royal Rumble.

    After Undertaker was eliminated, he went back in the ring, chased Maven through the concession stands, and assaulted him throughout the arena. Maven was never officially eliminated.

2003 Royal Rumble, Brock Lesnar

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    This marked the first Royal Rumble in which the brands were separated by Raw and Smackdown.

    It was also the first rumble to feature both WWE and World Heavyweight Championship match-ups on the same card.

    Lesnar entered the match at entry No. 29, and as soon as he got in the ring he started cleaning house. Haas and Benjamin, then known as Team Angle, looked like they were going to eliminate Lesnar, but he threw them both out at the same time.

    He then eliminated Matt Hardy by giving him an F-5 over the top rope out of the ring onto Team Angle.

    After a while, it was down to just Lesnar, Undertaker, Kane, and Batista (who was making his Royal Rumble debut).

    Lesnar went for an F-5 on Undertaker, but Undertaker reversed it and hit Lesnar with a Tombstone. Undertaker then went and clotheslined Batista over the top rope, eliminating him.

    Undertaker and Kane then looked like they were going to team up against Lesnar, but 'Taker threw Kane over the top rope to the floor.

    Batista came back in with a steel chair to try and hit Undertaker for eliminating him, but 'Taker got the upper hand, grabbing the chair and hitting Batista in the head.

    Batista went flying through the ropes to the floor, and The Undertaker went over to talk some smack to him while he was down. Lesnar came from behind and eliminated him for the win.

2004 Royal Rumble, Chris Benoit

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    Benoit would enter the Rumble first. He eliminated six people.

    The final four in the ring were Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Benoit, and The Big Show. Big Show would eliminate Jericho and Angle, leaving just him and Benoit.

    Big Show went for a chokeslam, but Benoit countered it into the crippler crossface. After a while, Big Show finally got up and countered that into a sideslam.

    When Benoit finally got up, Big Show grabbed him by the throat and gorilla pressed him above his head.  Just as Big Show was ready to throw him out of the ring, Benoit maneuvered himself off and put Big Show in a front choke.

    Big Show walked over to the top rope to try and push Benoit off of him, but Benoit held on and ended up dragging Big Show over the top rope onto the floor while he was able to roll back into the ring, winning the rumble.

    Benoit was the only the second person to ever win the Royal Rumble at entry No. 1.

    He also beat Bob Backland's longevity record, lasting 1:01:30.

2005 Royal Rumble, Batista

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    This would be another one of those matches where the final two superstars would be eliminated simultaneously and a winner could not determined.

    Unlike the last time this happened, they restarted the match so a winner could be declared.

    John Cena entered the rumble at No. 25, and Batista at No. 28.

    The final four in the ring were Cena, Batista, Edge, and Rey Mysterio.

    Edge eliminated Mysterio after throwing him over the top rope then spearing him off the apron. Then as Edge went to attack Cena and Batista, they threw him over the top rope, eliminating him.

    Cena then tried F-U'ing Batista to the outside, but Batista fought him off. Then Batista tried giving Cena a Batista Bomb, but seemed to lose his balance, which ended up with him and Cena both falling over the top rope and hitting the floor.

    The referee from Raw declared Batista the winner while the ref from Smackdown declared Cena the winner.

    After this, Mr. McMahon stormed to the ring and ordered the match to be restarted. Batista once again went for a Batista Bomb but Cena blocked it, then Cena tried to give an F-U to Batista but he fought out.

    Batista then gave Cena a spinebuster, picked him up, and tossed him out of the ring to the floor, winning the Rumble.

    When Mr. McMahon slid in the ring and tried to stand up, he legitimately tore both his quadriceps muscles.

2006 Royal Rumble, Rey Mysterio

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    Mysterio entered the Rumble at number two, going against entry number one, HHH. With Eddie Guerrero's recent passing, Mysterio dedicated the match to him and promised to win.

    The final four in the ring were HHH, Mysterio, Randy Orton, and RVD. RVD and Mysterio formed an alliance to work together against former Evolution members Orton and HHH.

    Things were going good until RVD went to the top to try and hit Orton with the 5 Star Frog Splash. HHH ran and knocked RVD off-balance, causing him to land in a not-so-comfortable position on the top rope.

    Mysterio then ran to try and hit HHH, but The Game used Mysterio's own momentum against him, throwing him up over his shoulders thus resulting in Mysterio hitting RVD knocking him off the top rope to the outside, eliminating him from the rumble.

    The three went back and forth for a while, until HHH went for what looked like a spinebuster on Mysterio but instead tried and throw him over the top rope, Mysterio, however, held on and dragged The Game over the top rope, eliminating him.

    It was now down to Mysterio and Orton. HHH was furious, though, at being eliminated, and dragged Mysterio under the bottom rope out of the ring and threw him into the steel steps, before throwing him right back into the ring.

    Orton then picked Mysterio up and tried to give him a running powerslam out of the ring, but Mysterio held on to the top rope.

    Mysterio then reversed it into a hurricanrana eliminating Orton and winning the match.

    Mysterio still holds the record for longevity in the Rumble, at 1:02:12.

2007 Royal Rumble, The Undertaker

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    The Undertaker entered the Royal Rumble at number 30, and was the first person to ever win the Rumble in that spot.

    As soon as The Undertaker entered, he quickly got rid of The Great Khali, who just moments before had eliminated six people in under a minute which has to be some kind of record.

    Taker then eliminated MVP, leaving just him, Shawn Michaels (who was laying on the floor after an RKO), Edge, and Randy Orton.

    Undertaker then tried eliminating Edge, when he turned around and got smacked in the head with a chair by Orton. Undertaker would start to come back after getting back up from the chair shot, but then Edge hit him with a spear, followed by another chair shot to the head.

    Edge then left the ring to get another chair, planning to hit The Undertaker with a conchairto. After Edge re-entered the ring, he was all ready to deliver the conchairto when Michaels climbed back in the ring.

    Orton ran to try and attack Michaels but got back body dropped over the top rope out of the ring. Then Edge tried to hit Michaels with the chair, but Michaels ducked, then Sweet Chin Music'd Edge right over the top rope, eliminating him.

    It was now down to just Michaels and The Undertaker. The two exchanged attacks for a while, until 'Taker hit Michaels with a chokeslam. He then picked him up for the Tombstone, but Michaels wiggled off 'Taker's shoulders and hit him with Sweet Chin Music.

    Michaels then went for another superkick, but Undertaker ducked, grabbed Michaels and tossed him over the top rope to the floor.

2008 Royal Rumble, John Cena

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    John Cena would enter The Royal Rumble at number 30, becoming only the second man to ever win the Rumble at that position.

    Cena's entrance was a shock to everyone, as he was supposed to be out of action till later that year due to a torn pectoral muscle.

    He squared off with HHH, who was the 29th entry, as the two would be the final ones left in the match.

    HHH would go for a Pedigree on Cena, but Cena would counter and F-U HHH over the top rope out of the ring.

    Cena broke the record for shortest time the eventual winner would spend in a Rumble match. He was only in the ring for 8:28, beating Brock Lesnar's record of 8:59.

2009 Royal Rumble, Randy Orton

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    Randy Orton was the eighth entry in the Rumble, only eliminating two people altogether, which I think is a record for least eliminations for a Rumble winner.

    The final six in the ring were Legacy (Orton, Rhodes, and Dibiase), HHH, Undertaker, and The Big Show.

    Undertaker and Big Show were fighting on the outside apron, as both had been thrown over the top but not eliminated, when Orton hit Big Show with an RKO eliminating him.

    Big Show then grabbed The Undertaker by his leg, pulling him off the apron and eliminating him, even though the Big Show himself had just been eliminated.

    The odds looked to be against HHH, as it was three against one. The Game, however, was able to eliminate both Rhodes and Dibiase.

    With HHH by the ropes, though, Orton was able to clothesline him from behind, sending him over the top rope to the floor, leaving Orton the 2009 Royal Rumble winner.

    HHH has to hold the record for most near-Royal Rumble wins. Writing this article, I've noticed a trend with the past few Royal Rumbles that HHH is always in the final four or is the last person to get eliminated.

2010 Royal Rumble, Edge

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    Edge entered the rumble at number 29. He was making his return after being out for six months due to tearing his Achilles heel.

    Edge entered the ring spearing everybody and eliminating Jericho, who had taunted Edge when he first got the injury, saying that Edge was injury prone and that he was the weak link in their tag team.

    Edge and Michaels were going at it on the apron when Michaels hit Edge with the superkick, sending him back into the ring. Then Batista ran and knocked Michaels off the apron, eliminating him.

    It was down to Edge, Cena, and Batista. Batista and Cena went at it for a while, each trying to give the other person his finishing maneuver. Cena eventually eliminated Batista.

    Edge then tried spearing Cena, but Cena saw it coming and kicked Edge. Cena then went to try and eliminate Edge, but Edge reversed it, eliminating Cena. 

    This was the second time ever a woman had entered the Royal Rumble. Beth Phoenix entered the Rumble at number six, eliminating The Great Khali, of all people, before CM Punk hit her with the GTS, eliminating her from the rumble.

    This would be the first Royal Rumble which a superstar would grab a Mic an preach every chance he got, I don't even have to say who that was as I'm sure you already know.

And The Winner Is....

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    My pic for the 2011 Royal Rumble is.....

2011 Royal Rumble, ''The Game'' HHH

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    That's right people. My favorite wrestler for over 10 years and the only man that I see breaking or at least tying Ric Flair's 16 world championship reigns, HHH.

    And I'm not just picking him because he's my favorite. All the pieces are in place, and it just makes sense.

    First off, I don't see HHH making his return until the Royal Rumble. Second, the WWE has a habit of taking superstars returning from injury and making them Royal Rumble winners.

    Three prime examples of this come from 2002.

    Coincidently, HHH was making his in ring return after being out for eight months with his first quad tear and won the Rumble.

    In 2008, John Cena made his return after being out for six months with a torn pectoral muscle and won the Rumble.

    And just last year, Edge made his return after being out for six months due to tearing his Achilles heel and won the Rumble.

    Similarly, in 2006, Rey Mysterio, instead of coming back from injury suffered the death of his friend Eddie Guerrero just a couple months before. The WWE incorporated that into the storyline, saying that Rey Mysterio dedicated the Rumble to Eddie and promised to win.

    If it weren't for Eddie Guerrero's passing, Mysterio would have never won that Royal Rumble, and he would have never won the world title at Wrestlemania.

    History speaks for itself.

    Let me know what you think of my pick for the 2011 Royal Rumble if you agree, or, if not, who you think will win the Rumble.