Land of the Lost: The Missing Royal Rumble Entrants
Throughout the past 23 years of Royal Rumbles, more than 600 superstars have attempted to achieve greatness and become the next immortal to win the battle royal. Some men have stepped up to the plate with more courage and valor than anyone could have anticipated.
But for others, the opportunity was a complete miss. No, I'm not talking about the superstars who entered the match only to be swiftly eliminated.
I'm referring to those men who didn't even appear for their Rumble prom like they were supposed to. Whether it be a booked decision or something creative had up their sleeve, the following is a composite list of those lost rumblers.
Whatever happened to Bastion Booger? Or Skull from D.O.A.? Or how did Nunzio forfeit his number?
All of these questions and more are about to be answered.
1991: Randy Savage
For the first three years of the Royal Rumble's existence, things were pretty much par for the course. Men entered and exited according to plan, and there wasn't anything too juicy to report. Everybody showed up, at least.
That all changed at the 1991 Royal Rumble, when Macho King Randy Savage no-showed the Royal Rumble match as a result of being chased out of the building by the Ultimate Warrior.
Savage played an integral part in helping Sgt. Slaughter defeat Warrior for the WWF Championship earlier in the night, and as a result, Warrior was rampaging through the locker room for Savage.
Their feud culminated in what is easily the best match of Warrior's career (yes, better than the one against Hogan) at WrestleMania VII, which Savage lost and was forced to retire. Though he returned by the fall of 1991, Savage's blatant no-show during the Rumble match did not go unnoticed.
In fact, it would be the first of three times in which the Macho Man decided to forget the rules of the Rumble altogether. In 1992, Savage eliminated himself from the match after getting rid of arch-nemesis Jake "the Snake" Roberts. Thinking quickly, Gorilla Monsoon explained that Savage had to be thrown out and could not simply jump out to be eliminated.
Then, in 1993, Savage attempted to pin Yokozuna as part of the final showdown of the match. Pinfalls and submissions in a battle royal? This isn't WCW, so no.
Back to '91, rumor has it that Savage was intended to compete in the Rumble and Warrior would chase him out at that point, but it never came to be. Speculation on whether Savage had been nursing an injury and was being protected for his blow-off match at Mania remains to this day.
1991: Andre, Honky Tonk, and the Playboy
The 1991 Royal Rumble only had one no-show, but conversely, it had three replacements. Back during a time when the only ways to get the dirt on upcoming events was through actual publications, WWF Magazine was a prime source of hype.
In an early 1991 issue of the magazine, the WWF claimed during their Royal Rumble preview that Andre the Giant, the Honky Tonk Man, and "Playboy" Buddy Rose would all be taking part in the 30-man Royal Rumble. By the time the event rolled around, none of them were present in the ring. What happened?
Andre's story was an easy tell. With his body shutting down on him and his in-ring career long past the point of finished, the Eighth Wonder of the World abstained from any further active competition.
He made occasional appearances for the company (like at SummerSlam 1991 in Madison Square Garden) but would be on crutches during these times. Only two years later, Andre succumbed to heart failure as a result of a lifetime with acromegaly.
Both the Honky Tonk Man and "Playboy" Buddy Rose were also listed as participants, yet neither man competed in the match thanks to a separation from the company. Honky Tonk, fed up with the direction of his character as a member of Rhythm and Blues with a black-haired Greg Valentine and as a heel commentator, asked for his release from the company to pursue other ventures.
Rose, meanwhile, had become a cult fan favorite thanks to the enhancement of his "Playboy" gimmick with vignettes airing for the "Playboy" Buddy Rose Blow Away Diet. The original vignettes poked fun at the massive weight Rose had gained during the mid-80's, yet were humorous enough that he was sort of likable.
While Rose had developed great success in the AWA with Doug Sommers, he was nothing more than a jobber who worked sporadically with the WWF. And one of those periods where he wasn't with the WWF happened to be January 1991.
As replacements, Tito Santana, Greg Valentine, and Shane Douglas ended up faring pretty well for themselves in the Rumble match. Douglas made his pay-per-view debut on this night, starting a tumultuous career that helped blur the lines of kayfabe for all fans across the globe.
1993: Ultimate Warrior, British Bulldog, Crush and Nailz
Early advertisements for the 1993 Royal Rumble showed that the WWF was promoting a good number of stars they had developed in 1992 for the main event match. Two stars in particular that were headed to the top of the card were Crush and Nailz, while the third and fourth men involved, the Ultimate Warrior and British Bulldog, were already there.
As things were changing in a mostly Hogan-less WWF, the company suffered a major blow when all four stars disappeared shortly before the turn of the year.
Warrior got himself fired from the company for the second time, but it wasn't over a money dispute this time around. After testing positive for human growth hormones, both Warrior and Bulldog were given their outright releases from the Federation.
Warrior was replaced by a returning Mr. Perfect who, for the first time in his career, was playing the face since the 1992 Survivor Series.
Bulldog's release, however, was met with less fanfare as he showed up in WCW not too long after. His replacement? The WWF made a call to Carlos Colon, a legend in the tropics but veritable unknown in the states.
Nailz was fired when he infamously got into a heated argument with Vince McMahon that ended when he attempted to choke out the boss. Despite having a ridiculous gimmick headed in, he would be replaced by an even worse gimmick: the debut of Damien Demento.
The final man, Crush, just vanished from the face of the earth when the Rumble came around. It would sadly be a trend with the Hawaiian-born grappler, who didn't have much of a replacement in this Royal Rumble either (Max Moon).
The 1993 Royal Rumble suffered greatly from a lack of star power and an abundance of mid-carders and jobbers stinking up the joint. Imagine what it could have been if these four had still been there to compete.
1994: Bastion Booger, Kamala, and Ludvig Borga
The 1994 Royal Rumble was really one of the most noticeable for substitutions and no-shows. It was at this particular Rumble that we saw a double substitution plus a bait and switch of another no-show.
Beginning with the biggest headline, Bastion Booger was slated to be in the Rumble match from the get-go. He even received his own pre-match vignette where, in drawing his number, he revealed he would be number 28.
This was seen as a direct violation of the rules (though this rule had never really been documented or enforced), and so he was forced to re-draw.
Come event time, the biggest story of the evening was the condition of Bret Hart, who had suffered a treacherous attack at the hands of his brother Owen earlier in the evening. When the 25th entrant had his time to shine, nobody came to the ring, and the announcers automatically assumed it was Bret missing out.
But Hart emerged just a few picks later, leaving one to wonder just where the Boogerman's motives were. Truth be told, he was benched from the battle just to create the allusion that Hart wouldn't make it out, a storyline that would be repeated a few years later with Stone Cold Steve Austin. On screen, Booger was said to have "food poisoning," which went along with his fat slob gimmick.
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon wasted no time alerting folks that there were "alternates" in this year's Rumble to replace competitors who couldn't make it. To the 12 fans who showed up to see Kamala that evening, they would be disappointed to know that another bald, black man took his place.
Virgil came in, met Diesel, and was quickly out. Kamala was on his way out of the company and wouldn't appear again on WWF pay-per-view for years.
The third piece of the puzzle, Ludvig Borga, was a terribly missed opportunity. Borga was, at some point, scheduled to achieve great success as a main eventer in the WWF and he would face Lex Luger for the WWF Championship. But Borga suffered a serious ankle injury just before the Rumble, leaving the company to search for a viable replacement.
Bam Bam Bigelow, who had been tinkering with Doink for months before, was thrown into Borga's feud with Tatanka as well as the Royal Rumble match. Ironically, Bigelow would produce one of the best performances for a big man in Rumble history.
Borga never wrestled in the WWF spotlight again.
1995: Pretty Much the Whole Match
Rather than go into detail, just know that the majority of participants in the 1995 Royal Rumble match were scabs.
And the match itself was one of the worst Royal Rumbles, if not the worst, in WWF history. This despite providing one of the most epic finishes and easily the most memorable moment in Rumble history. Never forget the words: "Only One Foot."
1996: Bam Bam Bigelow
After appearing as a scab not once, but twice in the past three years, Bam Bam Bigelow understood how to fill in at the last second during the Royal Rumble match.
But in 1996, Bigelow, who was billed as being one of the 30 participants in the match, was mysteriously replaced by Hakushi, and no mention was made of him of WWF programming again. In reality, Bigelow was fighting an uphill battle against backstage politics.
Amidst rumors that Shawn Michaels and the Kliq were taking over creatively, Bigelow sparred with them on numerous occasions before deciding to pack his bags and leave for more fun and more chances to take the spotlight in ECW.
There, he thrived as a World Champion and participated in an epic feud with Taz.
The 1998 Royal Rumble match was all about Stone Cold Steve Austin. In fact, the 1997 and 1999 Rumbles were the same way, but in 1998, Austin made so many enemies heading in that it seemed everybody wanted a piece of him.
Before the match started, the gang known as Los Boricuas thought they had cornered Austin in his locker room and were planning a surprise attack. What followed was a beat down on a bald-headed biker named Skull, who was, in actuality, twin brother to 8-Ball and a member of the Disciples of Apocalypse.
Skull was scheduled to be in the Rumble, as was Austin, and when the buzzer went of for the 22nd entrant, nobody showed.
Skeptical commentators hinted that it may have been Austin's number and that somebody had finally taken him out before he ever had the chance to enter.
But two numbers later, Austin hit the ring, and we learned that Skull was the odd man out from the start. His partner 8-Ball had a great, lengthy run in the match, too, making matters slightly worse for the twin left out.
1999: Headbanger Mosh
What was the deal with the Headbangers in the Royal Rumble, anyway? In 1999, one would assume that both Mosh and Thrasher were slated to appear in the Royal Rumble match. Instead, only Mosh made an appearance, and it was, well, not in the ring.
Mosh was attacked backstage by the massive Mabel, who had just returned to the WWF on Sunday Night Heat that evening. The attack led to Mabel stealing the spot in the Rumble and quickly clearing the ring before an unscheduled appearance from the Undertaker.
Mosh would appear again in the 2000 Rumble match, leaving us with another interesting story about this guy come 2001.
2000: Kaientai and the Mean Street Posse
Perhaps the most memorable and notable Royal Rumble vacancy was filled in the year 2000. Along with a huge Rumble match, an underlying story about several upset superstars who couldn't get into the match was presented.
In fact, if ever there were a year to expand to 40 entrants, this would have been it. Remember, the Hardy Boys, Dudleys, Kurt Angle, and Tazz were all absent from this Rumble.
But so too were the likes of the Mean Street Posse and Kaientai. While the Posse still made their presence felt by attacking each member of the Acolytes, it would be Kaientai that would become much more important.
Taka Michinoku and Sho Funaki showed up a number of times, but when Taka sailed over the top rope midway through the match, he wouldn't be coming back.
He suffered a substantial concussion when his face bounced off the floor, a highlight they would make sure to show us again and again for hilarious reasons as the match went on.
2001: Lo Down
Tiger Ali Singh had a really, really tough choice in 2001. Given just one spot in the 2001 Royal Rumble match, Singh had to choose which member of Lo Down, Chaz or D-Lo Brown, he would send into battle. Both were Rumble veterans and former champions. Both had serviceable skills.
But Vince McMahon had to break the news to Tiger and the bunch that they just weren't going to be able to fit them in. The reason? Vince had given the spot to Drew Carey. Yes, Drew Carey. That said, he was more entertaining than either one of them would have been during the Rumble. Seriously.
2004: Test and Spike Dudley
Another in the line of the attack-guy-so-I-get-guy's-spot lore (or the Highlander Effect), Test was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He appeared flat out with Stone Cold Steve Austin screaming at the perpetrator to get out there and be the entrant.
Since Test couldn't compete, it was the perfect time for Mick Foley to appear and exact revenge on Randy Orton, who had been taunting him for weeks prior to the event. Foley hit haymaker after haymaker before taking both himself and Orton out of the Rumble.
The feud culminated over the next few months in a match that showed Orton could be hardcore and Foley could still go a few rounds.
Earlier in the match, the eerie Undertaker's gong went off, sending a paranoid Kane into a frenzy before he was disposed of by Booker T.
Kane took his wrath out on the man who eventually made his way to the ring, Spike Dudley. Spike was blindsided so badly that he never even entered the ring.
The 2005 Royal Rumble match had a lot of star power heading in, but little did anyone know that a bitter Kurt Angle was headed there as well. Angle had lost triumphantly earlier in the evening to JBL in a triple threat match that also included the Big Show.
Unhappy with his defeat, Angle set out to settle the score by winning the Royal Rumble. As Nunzio was gearing up for the Rumble, Angle abruptly stole his number and basically threatened Nunzio to take it back.
When he came into the ring, Angle was a house on fire until he tasted Sweet Chin Music and was eliminated by Shawn Michaels.
Angle ran back in and tossed Michaels from the ring, leading to one of the best feuds and series of matches all year. All that said, we have to thank Nunzio for sheepishly bowing out and not challenging Angle for his number back.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first and only man to get himself DISQUALIFIED in the Royal Rumble match. Fit Finlay was scheduled to appear as the 28th entrant in Madison Square Garden at the 2008 Royal Rumble match, but he jumped the gun in more ways than one.
Seeing that his "son" Hornswoggle was in dire need of help trapped in between Big Daddy V and Mark Henry, Finlay ran out and used his shillelagh repeatedly on the two men until he fled with the miniature man.
Scrambling as they have been known to do before, announcers clarified that the officials disqualified Finlay for using a foreign object in the match.
Never mind the fact that weapons had been used in Rumbles for more than a decade previous. And never mind the fact that this match was supposed to have no discernible rules other than battle royal ones. Finlay still got disqualified.
2009: Chavo Guerrero
Entering the 2009 Royal Rumble match, about 25 of the 30 entrants had been announced via WWE.com. One entrant, Chavo Guerrero, was already pulling double duty on the night, having to watch out for La Familia and Edge in his main event encounter with Jeff Hardy.
And while, on this night, the biggest surprise came from Matt Hardy betraying his brother, Jeff Hardy, was still fuming and looking to take out his rage.
He did so on the very Chavo Guerrero who was simply there for extra support. Jeff plummeted 15 feet off a ladder and through Chavo, who was presented rather nicely on a table.
Almost needless to say, Chavo didn't appear in the 30-man Rumble that followed, instead being replaced by the original Royal Rumble Winner, Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
USA! USA! USA! HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
What Have We Learned?
Well, it takes all shapes and sizes to miss the Royal Rumble match and, honestly, way too many men have missed it before.
In fact, this list encompasses more than 25 different superstars missing their chance to headline at WrestleMania. That alone is utterly impressive.
We almost have enough men to start our own forgotten Royal Rumble Match. If I had to pick a winner, I'll stick with Savage, provided he remembers the rules this time around.