The History of The WWE Royal Rumble
For twenty three years, the Royal Rumble is a staple of the WWE Calendar year.
Post Comment|1 Liked It
The Royal Rumble is one of the marquee events of the WWE Calendar year ever since 1988. For twenty three years, the Rumble has been looked at to be an exciting event. And now, in 2011, the biggest Royal Rumble ever with a whopping forty competitors will be something amazing to take a look or two at. Yet how did the WWE Royal Rumble event start?
In 1988, the World Wrestling Federation had two major events. Wrestlemania had always been well established and Survivor Series had made its premier the previous fall. Their other main competitor was Jim Crockett Promotions, a company that was one of the largest members of the wrestling governing body, the National Wrestling Alliance, and would go onto become World Championship Wrestling later on. The Rumble was created as a live free television special on the USA Network to compete against Crockett’s Bunkhouse Stampede show, a largely forgettable and obscure Pay Per View that many have long since forgotten. The Rumble was only twenty men this year and won by Hacksaw Jim Duggan. It would not become the star studded affair just yet. The other match of note would be a WWF Women’s Tag Team Title Match featuring the Jumping Bomb Angels and the Glamor Girls. Yes Women’s Tag Team Titles, its hard to believe such a thing would exist.
In 1989, the Rumble would hit Pay Per View, with the returning Big John Studd winning, despite the double dealing of Ted DiBiase who had purchased the number thirty spot in the Royal Rumble. There were tensions between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage in the Royal Rumble as well, which would set up things to come at Wrestlemania 5. This also saw the two second elimination of The Warlord, a record that would stand for twenty years. The undercard featured a battle of King Haku defeating the former king Harley Race to cement his status. Studd’s win in the Royal Rumble was believed to lead to some big things but it fizzled out and Studd left the company by year’s end.
1990, the traditional of the Royal Rumble being won by huge stars was established when Hulk Hogan marched into the Royal Rumble and triumphed. Mr. Perfect having the perfect number could not save him from being tossed out by the Hulkster. This also featured a staredown in the middle of the match between the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan, two men who would soon meet at Wrestlemania 6. The undercard of this Royal Rumble was nothing to write home about at all. Given a bout between the Genius and Brutus Beefcake made the cut, one might see how this Rumble was lesser.
1991, was won once again by Hulk Hogan, who took out both Brian Knobbs and the monstrous mammoth known as Earthquake to win the Rumble. Still the biggest news was the first ever WWF Championship match at the Royal Rumble. In 1991, the Gulf War against Iraq had began and former hero Sgt. Slaughter had played a controversial Iraqi Sypathasizer gimmick. He defeated the WWF Champion Ultimate Warrior, with help from Randy Savage, to set up the former hero and traitor, Sgt. Slaughter against the All American Hero Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 7. Also Ted DiBiase was attacked by his long term bodyguard Virgil, who could simply take no more and a classic tag team encounter featuring the Rockers against The Orient Express rounded out the midcard.
1992, the WWF Championship was vacated and on the line in the Royal Rumble. Ric Flair was the one who cashed in, having the most dominant Royal Rumble performance ever, entering at Number Three. It came down to Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Sid Justice for the championship. Sid jumped Hogan and Hogan, not happy about the situation, grabbed the arm of Sid and pulled on it, allowing Flair to win the championship. Many regard this to be the best Royal Rumble match ever. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper won his first and only singles championship in WWF, beating the Mountie for the Intercontinental Champion, two days after the Mountie beat Bret Hart for the belt.
1993 featured the rise of the over five hundred pound Yokozuna who won the match. It featured a tremendous performance by Bob Backlund, breaking the stamina record set by Ric Flair a year previously. In the end though, Backlund was out of the match and it came down to Yokozuna and Randy Savage. Savage had mistakenly tried to pin Yokozuna, despite the rules that eliminations could only happen by being thrown over the top rope. Yokozuna returned and savaged Savage, before tossing him over the top rope. In other matches, Bret Hart retained the World Wrestling Federation Title against Razor Ramon and the former Rockers did battle for the WWF Intercontinental Title when Shawn Michaels retained against Marty Janetty.
1994 was perhaps one of the most controversial rumbles, given the double finish with both Lex Luger and Bret Hart tying, by going over the top rope. Eagle eye viewers would see that Luger did in fact hit the floor first but a tie was at the Rumble. It should be noted that Big Daddy Cool Diesel would featur heavily in the Rumble, eliminating seven competitors, a record that would stand for some time. Also, Yokozuna and the Undertaker had a strange Casket Match, with Yokozuna retaining his World Wrestling Federation Title and then the Undertaker ascending to the heavens. The mid 90s WWF was quite the land of oddittes. Bret Hart and Owen Hart failed to win the World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Titles against the Quebecers. Then Owen turned on his brother and in the immortal words of Owen, “kicked his leg out from underneath his…leg.”
1995 featured Shawn Michaels entering the Royal Rumble at number one and lasting the entire way through to get a World Wrestling Federation Title shot against former bodyguard Diesel. The WWF was into the New Generation era by this point and the roster was not what it was, giving it the quickest Rumble ever, with sixty seconds in between entrants. The World Wrestling Federation Title was on the line in a match between Diesel and Bret Hart occurred but went to a no contest, with several heels interfering. Also a huge confrontation between Bam Bam Bigelow and football great Lawrence Taylor set the stage for a huge match for Wrestlemania. Jeff Jarrett won his first of six Intercontinental Titles beating Razor Ramon on the undercard.
1996 was the second year in a row with Shawn Michaels winning the Royal Rumble, last eliminating Diesel, being the second man to win two Royal Rumble Matches. Bret Hart and the Undertaker had their first Pay Per View encounter for the World Wrestling Federation Title, with Diesel interfering for the Disqualification finish. Also the bizarre Goldust won his first WWF Intercontinental Title against Razor Ramon.
1997 was perhaps an event where the Royal Rumble took second stage, to Shawn Michaels regaining the World Wrestling Federation Title in his hometown of San Antonio Texas, putting down Psycho Sid Vicious with some Sweet Chin Music. Stone Cold Steve Austin would win his first Royal Rumble by nefarious means, illegally interfering The Undertaker, Big Van Vader, and Bret Hart, after getting thrown out. Several stars from south of the border and also the legendary Hardcore legend Terry Funk showed up. Austin would later be stripped of his Wrestlemania title opportunity. Elsewhere Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Goldust to retain the WWF Intercontinental Title and Ahmed Johnson returned from injury to defeat Faarooq.
1998 for the second year in the Royal Rumble that was one by Stone Cold Steve Austin. It came down to Austin and the Rock. Little did people know that Austin and the Rock would cross paths later on on a grander stage numerous times. Mick Foley competed three times in the Rumble under all three faces of Foley, with Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack. Shawn Michaels defeated the Undertaker to retain the World Wrestling Federation Title in a Casket Match, when Kane interfered against his brother and then set the casket on fire with the Undertaker inside. The Undertaker just does not have good luck with Casket Matches at the Royal Rumble. And neither does Shawn Michaels, as he suffered a back injury in this Casket Match that would allow him to retire for four years after losing to Stone Cold Steve Austin for the World Wrestling Federation Title at Wrestlemania 14.
1999 the Royal Rumble was won by Vince McMahon, who managed to take out Stone Cold Steve Austin after a distraction from the Rock. Austin would later get his title shot at Mania 15, by beating Vince McMahon in a cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre three weeks later. This would also feature the first female performer in the Royal Rumble, in the ninth wonder of the world, Chyna. The I Quit Match between the Rock and Mankind may have been one of the more infamous matches of the Attitude era, with the Rock’s brutal chairing of Mankind’s head leading to Mankind getting knocked out and a pre-recorded message of Mankind saying I Quit won the match.
2000 was the Rumble won by the most Electrifying Man in Sport’s Entertainment, the Rock, who took the Big Show over the top rope. It would lead to some controversy as the Big Show claims he eliminated the Rock first. Also Triple H retained his World Wrestling Federation Title against the demented Cactus Jack, in a battle that many feel made Triple H as a major player for years to come. This was a Streetfight. Also, the first tag team tables match in WWF featured Matt and Jeff Hardy defeating the Dudley Boyz, Bubba Ray and D-Von in a wild battle that was among the most entertaining matches in Rumble history.
2001 was won by Stone Cold Steve Austin, being the first and only person to win three Royal Rumbles. Yet the star of the Royal Rumble might have been Kane, who eliminated eleven people, setting a record that has yet of the writing of this article be broke. Also several guest stars showed up, including Drew Carey, the Honky Tonk Man, and Haku, who was in WCW all of a week ago as Meng. Kurt Angle retained the World Wrestling Federation Title in a match against Triple H on the undercard and Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had a spectacular Ladder Match, then ended with Jericho winning the WWF Intercontinental Title.
2002 was the return of Triple H, winning the Royal Rumble, after being on the shelf for several months with a torn quadriceps muscle, throwing out Kurt Angle to win. Chris Jericho had unified the WCW and WWF Titles a month previously and had a huge match against the Rock, where he kept the title around his waist, by winning an epic encounter with the Rock.
Brock Lesnar was the winner of the 2003 Royal Rumble match, with the Undertaker being the final man in the match. This was the first Rumble since WWF was forced to change its name to WWE, so Kurt Angle retained the WWE Championship against Chris Benoit in perhaps one of the best championship matches in the history of the Royal Rumble. Angle made Benoit submit to a heel hook version of his ankle lock, using that move for the first time. On the other end of the spectrum, Triple H defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Scott Steiner, which was considered a dream match, but dreams turned to nightmares as the match fell apart, ending in an unsatisfying disqualification
The 2004 Royal Rumble was won by Chris Benoit who entered the Rumble at Number one and lasted all the way to the end, beating the endurance record set by Bob Backlund in 1993, last eliminating the Big Show. Also the storied feud between Shawn Michaels and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship had another chapter in a Last Man Standing Match, when both men could not answer a ten count. Also WWE Champion Brock Lesnar defeated Hardcore Holly.
Batista broke through the top of the mountain in 2005, to win the Royal Rumble, last eliminating John Cena. A call back to the Bret Hart-Lex Luger double elimination finish occurred but Vince McMahon restarted the match(and tore both of his quadricept muslces in the process). Batista and Cena would both get championship matches. Also, Triple H kept the World Heavyweight Title against Randy Orton and John Bradshaw Layfield continued his reign as World Heavyweight Champion triumphing against two top competitors in Kurt Angle and the Big Show.
The smallest man won in 2006, in Rey Mysterio, who dedicated his victory to the late Eddie Guerrero, last eliminating Randy Orton for the victory. Mark Henry tried to capture the World Heavyweight Title from Kurt Angle but fell short to the Olympic Hero. Edge after cashing in on the Money in the Bank was WWE Champion but not for long, as John Cena regained his WWE Champion belt a mere three weeks later.
History was made at the 2007 Royal Rumble, where the Undertaker became the first man to enter at number thirty and win the Royal Rumble, last eliminating Shawn Michaels, in just a preview for things to come. Also John Cena defeated Umaga to retain the WWE Championship in an epic Last Man Standing Match. Plus Batista kept the World Heavyweight Championship against Mr. Kennedy and the first ever ECW Championship Match in the Royal Rumble took place with Bobby Lashley defeating Test.
2008 was the surprising return of John Cena after months off of the shelf, last eliminating Triple H to win his first Royal Rumble. Also Jeff Hardy had his first ever major championship bout on Pay Per View, but Orton took him down for the pin with the RKO. Edge retained the World Heavyweight Title against Rey Mysterio as well as part of the Royal Rumble.
2009 was won by Randy Orton. Triple H fought off all three members of Legacy at the end, taking out Rhodes and DiBiase, but Orton put the Game over the top rope. Last year he went in as the challenger, this year he is the champion, but Jeff Hardy lost the WWE Championship to Edge, after his brother Matt turned on him. John Cena kept the World Heavyweight Championship firmly around his waist with a victory over John Bradshaw Layfield and Jack Swagger kept the ECW Championship against Matt Hardy.
2010 Edge pulled a John Cena, returning from injury to win the Royal Rumble, eliminating John Cena himself to punch his ticket into the main event of Wrestlemania. Sheamus and Randy Orton had a WWE Championship match that ended in a disqualification when Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase wins. Also the Undertaker kept the World Heavyweight Title beating Rey Mysterio and in the final ECW Championship Match on Pay Per View, Christian retained the belt against the monstrous Ezekiel Jackson.
With the Royal Rumble on January 30th 2011, another historic chapter will be written. The biggest Royal Rumble match in history with forty superstars and also The Miz defending his WWE Championship against Randy Orton and Edge putting the World Heavyweight Title on the line against Dolph Ziggler.
More Wrestling Content at the Wrestling Enterprise Blog.