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The 411 Wrestling Top 5: Top 5 Royal Rumble Matches

January 19, 2015 | Posted by Larry Csonka

Week 295 – Top 5 Royal Rumble Matches

The 411 staff shares their top 5 Royal Rumble Matches.

Kevin P
5. Royal Rumble (2002): I had a very tough time choosing my fifth selection. The other four were clear favorites but it was hard to narrow this down. In the end, I went with 2002. Now, it was a fairly long Rumble clocking in at just under 70 minutes. It was a ton of fun with plenty of memorable moments. I enjoyed seeing Godfather and Val Venis return but I loved Goldust and Mr. Perfect returning. Another memorable moment came when Maven eliminated the Undertaker and then got beat down around the entire arena. My only issue with this Rumble was that the winner was pretty obvious, but it is still an enjoyable watch to this day.

4. Royal Rumble (2004): The single best performance by a guy who entered at number one or two in Royal Rumble history happened on this night. Chris Benoit, or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, put on an outstanding performance in this year. He entered at number one, followed by the Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton, which was great foreshadowing to their SummerSlam match later that year. They would end up alone in the ring around the midway point where we got some comic relief from Ernest “The Cat” Miller. The talent level in this Rumble is high with Benoit, Orton, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam and more. Benoit would be in at the end against Big Show and he eliminated him by himself, in a great moment that would be remembered more if he hadn’t done what he did.

3. Royal Rumble (2010): I remember watching the 2010 Royal Rumble with a group of friends and I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun. When Edge made his surprise return at #29, my friend Elvis and I completely lost it. Seeing him eliminate John Cena last was incredibly satisfying and we loved every minute of it. But back to the beginning, we start with two very talented guys in Dolph Ziggler and Evan Bourne. CM Punk, during his great run with the Straight Edge Society came out next and dominated the early stages, even cutting promos in the middle of elimination. Beth Phoenix became the second woman to ever enter the Rumble and eliminated Great Khali. DX exploded a bit as Shawn Michaels, desperate to earn a rematch with the Undertaker at WrestleMania, superkicked Triple H out of the ring. He was eventually eliminated by Batista and his panic stricken grasps for the ropes as he fell told a story. All in all, one hell of an underrated Rumble.

2. Royal Rumble (2001): The start of 2001 was a fantastic time as the WWE produced three phenomenal Pay-Per-Views in a row. It all started with the Royal Rumble, which was capped by an awesome Rumble match itself. This has everything you could want. The Hardy Boyz teamed up, Drew Carey made a comedic appearance, we had a section devoted to the Hardcore division, top stars like the Rock, Undertaker, Kane, Big Show and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Kane and Undertaker formed an alliance in the middle that dominated. Austin was attacked by Triple H and was bloodied before even entering the match. He overcame the odds though and eliminated Kane to win his third Rumble leading to Austin/Rock at WrestleMania X-Seven. Kane was the MVP here by lasting 56 minutes and eliminating a then record 11 Superstars.

1. Royal Rumble (1992): There could be no other top choice. The 1992 Royal Rumble is the perfect Royal Rumble. First of all, it remains the only Rumble to ever be contested for the WWF Championship. Not only that, but it was booked fantastically. You start hot with British Bulldog and Ted Dibiase before Ric Flair enters at number three. What follows is not only the best Rumble performance in history, but the greatest commentary job I’ve ever heard as Bobby Heenan goes from worried, to excited, to panic, to nearly having a stroke and everything in between as his emotions are high and take center stage. Flair wins from number 3, the earliest someone had won from at that point and takes home the gold, leading to his infamous “with a tear in my eye” promo. Perfection.

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Alex Crowder
5. Royal Rumble (2004) – I must admit the memory of this match for me has been tainted somewhat. Still, I cannot deny it was one the best. Chris Benoit had maybe the single best rumble performance. I liked the comic relief with Ernest Miller. This rumble was stacked with talent. It was probably the best told ironman rumble performance and Big Show was treated logically for once in a rumble. Often times, Show is eliminated quickly which never makes sense to me. Show was the perfect foil for Benoit’s quest especially in a rumble match.

4. Royal Rumble (2002) – This Royal Rumble is one of my favorites. I was still a mark and I cheered for Austin to win at the time. I would say looking back maybe Triple H wasn’t the best choice for the winner. Nonetheless, this match was the epitome of fun. I don’t take this match too serious. There are surprise returns in Mr. Perfect, Goldust, Godfather, and Val Venis. Maven eliminating The Undertaker is the best moment in Royal Rumble history. The Undertaker and Maven had a memorable segment and it came at a time when Undertaker was booked very strongly. Mr. Perfect stole the show with his performance. I remember this being my first time ever seeing Mr. Perfect in a WWE Ring. Mr. Perfect got a contract out of this performance. There is a lot of star power in DDP, Christian, Kurt Angle, RVD, among others. This was the first rumble to have a WCW flavor to it. I think this is one of the best.

3. Royal Rumble (1992) – I know many will hate this opinion and that is okay. I do enjoy this match a lot and Heenan is a blast on commentary. My only issue is how obvious the winner becomes as you watch the match. I feel like Heenan despite doing a phenomenal job on commentary spoils the ending. I feel like it is easy to see that Ric Flair is going to win. Nonetheless, that does not take away completely from Ric Flair’s performance. I still think it is one of if not the best ironman performances in the Royal Rumble. Ric Flair is known for being in incredible shape and this match shows that off. Ric Flair winning the WWF Championship is just an awesome moment even if I did feel it was an obvious moment. Hulk Hogan being a jerk to Sid Justice was interesting. This match had loads of talent too. There was The Undertaker, Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, and Sgt. Slaughter among others.

2. Royal Rumble (1997) – This is the most overlooked great rumble match. I’m unsure why, but no one ever remembers this match when mentioning great royal rumbles. This match had an unpredictable feel and the screwy ending was the only well done screwy ending to a rumble match. Stone Cold was at his best eliminating nobodies and tapping his wrist. The look on his face when Bret Hart came out was fantastic. There are a few duds in the match, yet they are gone quickly for the most part. Stone Cold was the Royal Rumble MVP and this match proves it. Royal Rumble is Steve Austin’s PPV because every Royal Rumble he enters is fun even 99. Austin single-handedly made this match great. His mannerisms, wrestling ability, and improvisation made this my favorite rumble match. If it wasn’t for a few of duds I would probably say this is the best. Austin had probably the most entertaining rumble performance ever in this match. I don’t think anything will top Austin in this one.

1. Royal Rumble (2001) – This match is Kane’s match. Austin may have won the match, but Kane was the star. I thought Austin was going to win, and Kane made me doubt that throughout the match. This match will always be the definite dominating Royal Rumble performance. I also think it is a travesty that Reigns broke Kane’s record in a mediocre Rumble match. This was probably the highlight of Kane’s career. Drew Carrey was a fun celebrity use. Austin and Triple H fighting on the outside was awesome. Kane and Undertaker making an alliance was a good moment. The hardcore section of the match was a lot of fun. Austin having to resort to a chair to eliminate Kane was great. This match had star power and a simple ending. I prefer the simplistic Royal Rumble ending to the mini match at the end of the rumble. I think this match is better than any other Royal Rumble match. I don’t think any other Rumble is put together as well as this one.

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5. Royal Rumble 2001 The swan song of the Attitude Era but it went out with a bang. You had the Hardyz actually fighting for a bit before Drew Carey made a fun comedy appearance. Kane then appeared with Drew smartly eliminating himself. This led to the dominating performance of Kane setting a record with eliminations with a long stretch of hardcore guys using various weapons and Kane giving it hard, including smashing Honky Tonk Man with his own guitar and then the Rock coming out to a massive pop to fight Kane. Big Show came out to dump guys, was eliminated by Rock and thus dragged Rock under the ropes to choke-slam him through a table. You then had the genius spot of Undertaker and Kane cleaning out the ring, facing each other and Scotty 2 Hotty the unfortunate soul who had to face them together. Things really tore up as Austin and HHH went at it and Rock returned to brawl with Kane. It was finally Austin using a chair to knock Kane out and win a fantastic wild Rumble that ended a terrific era for the company in grand style.

4. Royal Rumble 2010 Another fun one where the Rumble was well planned out with good set-ups for storylines and clashes. After Dolph Ziggler started, CM Punk came in for a great bit, throwing guys out and cutting a promo during the Rumble on his Straight Edge Society and such. That led to fun of Great Khali coming in to beat Punk down, then the priceless bit of Beth Phoenix kissing Khali to pull him over the top rope. Some fun bits included Carlito hitting everyone with the Backstabber and R-Truth having the surprise of eliminating Big Show and Mark Henry at once. The good story was Shawn Michaels wanting to win to face the Undertaker at Mania, going out of his way, including eliminating HHH. Thus, when he was dumped by Batista, Shawn went wild, kicking refs and such. It was still a good mix with Cena, Jericho and others battling when Edge made his big return at #29 to a massive pop. The battles were great, tension rising more and more before Edge finally eliminated Cena for his first (and only) Rumble win. A great battle all around with some pretty fun spots to boost a good year for WWE’s fortunes.

3. Royal Rumble 2008 Coming out of Madison Square Garden, this was a pretty fun Rumble with some good stuff worked in. Kicking off with Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, the last two the year before, was fun and stuff like Santino coming in at #3 and lasting ten seconds before being dumped. We had surprise stuff like Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka battling like it was 1985 all over again and Mick Foley getting a good pop brawling it out. It was a good flow with Taker and Michaels fighting it out with various folks and HHH coming in late to set up a probable win. Everything else pales to one of the biggest shocks in Rumble history as John Cena, who everyone thought was still out for months due to injury, came out at number 30 to one of the biggest reactions you’ll ever see. It came down to Cena, Batista and HHH for a fun battle with HHH and Cena doing one of the best “last two” bits in a Rumble, each teasing the crowd dumping the other out until finally Cena won. It really is the ending that makes this so stunning, a surprise WWE actually managed to pull off and sold this well as a Rumble to remember.

2. Royal Rumble 1990 This might be an offbeat choice to some but still high on the list of best Rumbles for me. You have the great story bit of Ted DiBiase, having bribed his way to #30 the year before, now coming out at #1, dumping Koko B Ware and Marty Jannetty fast only to face rival Jake Roberts. Demolition got a big pop dumping out Andre the Giant and loved how everyone in the ring put their differences aside to gang up on Earthquake to get him out. Great conflicts like Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown and Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage. Of course, what makes this memorable is the moment where Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior are facing off against each other. This was sheer awesomeness, the entire arena literally on their feet as they clashed and going nuts as they shoved against each other. Twenty-five years later and it still gives me chills watching it all unfold in a huge clash. In the end, Hogan dumped Perfect to win, a capper that made the crowd happy and helped set up the epic Mania showdown. A highlight of a stacked period for WWF and really helped put the Rumble on the map as a highlight of the year.

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1. Royal Rumble 1992 It’s so very tempting to pull a Watry here and go “no explanation needed.” Yes, it’s Ric Flair stealing the show by coming in at #3 and lasting the entire match to win the WWF title. But it’s also one of the most brilliantly laid out Rumbles ever. How Flair takes on every guy, including old foes like Greg Valentine, Roddy Piper and Kerry von Erich and how he battles just about everyone else, taking shots and hits all over. It’s Jake Roberts sliding in and just lounging to let Piper work on Flair. The way it gels and flows is sheer genius but of course, the icing on the cake is Bobby Heenan’s absolutely brilliant commentary as he goes from confident to worried to pessimistic to outright suicidal as Flair goes on. “This is not fair to Flair!” It’s absolutely beautiful how it all works together, the crowd into it totally and the joy of Flair finally dumping Sid to win the belt comes loose in a terrific pop. All these years later, still a Rumble that clicked beautifully and made the show so terrific to watch.

Derrick Cannon
5. Royal Rumble 2009 – Similar to the 2011 Royal Rumble(minus the 40 men), this match was built on team dynamics. This match should have been as significant to the careers of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr, as it was to the career of Randy Orton. Legacy ran roughshod over the course of this particular Rumble. For people that say Legacy was just about Orton, watch this particular match and you can see a solid team that played on the strengths on one another. Triple H was also solidly built and his time against Legacy in this match was pivotal and furthered his match with Orton at that year’s WrestleMania. This match was also highlighted by the two rapidly quick eliminations of The Brian Kendrick and Santino. Santino’s elimination in this match is one of the most memorable quick eliminations, the only quick eliminations I would put above Santino’s in this match are the eliminations of Luke and or Butch, especially when the song Aint Nothing Going to Break My Stride is played in the background when they are eliminated.

4. Royal Rumble 2001– This was a great ode to the rapidly closing rope opera that was the attitude era. Austin gained his third and final Royal Rumble win, in what was arguably the best match of those three. Steve Austin won this match, but he was surrounded by an incredible cast of attitude era mainstays such as the Big Show, the Rock, Kane, and the Hardys. Kane would dominate the 2001 Royal Rumble in a way that would not be seen again until this past year’s performance by Roman Reigns. Drew Carrey would actually play a key role in the success of the 2001 Royal Rumble, as he dodged the dominating and fierce Kane and wisely chose to eliminate himself. The 2001 Royal Rumble showed everything that was right about that eras WWE, and is to this day one of the most talked about Rumbles that the WWE has produced.

3. Royal Rumble 2007 -Royal Rumble 2007 opened with two respected veterans in Finlay and Flair and closed with an epic encounter that would set the tone for several WrestleManias to come. This match was the first of several Rumbles to be split between Raw, Smackdown, and ECW, and had quite a few hardcore moments. Kane’s elimination of Sabu is under appreciated, but it played to the strengths of the extreme brand, Kane’s choke slam, and Sabu’s penchant for breaking or breaking through tables. Randy Orton and Edge showed the team chemistry that Orton would utilize to win two years later. The encounter at the end between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker solidified the 2007 Royal Rumble as a significant show, as the two wrestling greats literally stole it. The face-off between Michaels and the Undertaker laid the foundation of a story arch that along with Triple H, John Cena, and Ric Flair, would run from WrestleMania 23 to WrestleMania 28.

2. Royal Rumble 2002 – The 2002 Royal Rumble, is easily one of my favorite matches of all time. It provided an excellent cast, several mark out moments, and one of the best returns in the events history. While many will point to Maven eliminating the Undertaker as a noteworthy elimination, the elimination of the Hurricane by Steve Austin and Triple H after a double chokeslam attempt might be one of my personal favorite Rumble moments. Kurt Angle put in his best Rumble performance and nearly came away with the win. Mr. Perfect put in an outstanding and memorable performance and return to the company after his stint in WCW and later the XWF. His performance would lead to a full time return as a veteran presence. Triple H emerging the victor was a great choice given everything that he had gone through prior to the event and his battle with Kurt Angle at the end gave the 2002 Rumble a thrilling ending.

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1. Royal Rumble 1992 – The 1992 Rumble was built on the story that the Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair had built at the 1991 Survivor Series, and This Tuesday in Texas. Due to Flair’s interference in both matches the title was declared vacant as neither match had a decisive winner. Hulk Hogan and Undertaker, might have laid the ground work and the back story, but Ric Flair became the plot, the theme, and the culmination. Ric Flair started the match at number three and was expected to be eliminated early, instead he survived attacks by Jake Roberts, Piper, Hogan, and Sid Justice, and his epic struggle would be solidly built by the incredible commentary of Bobby Heenan.

Scott Rutherford
5. Royal Rumble (1998) – This isn’t supposed to be one of those “I’m so cool, I’ll make an obscure pick” type deals. The ’98 version of the RR was important on many levels. Firstly the PPV itself was a clear signal that Titan was fighting back hard. The product was fresh, Attitude had kicked into high gear and there was a general feeling of excitement around the company thanks to Steve Austin. While he had won the previous year, his victory in ‘98 was the line in the sand the company needed to make the competition notice that they were coming. This was a declaration of the future. As for the match itself, it had several good things about it chiefly being the Cactus Jack/Chainsaw Charlie shenanigans, the ongoing storyline that everyone in the rumble was looking to take out Austin, Mick Foley appearing as the Three Faces of Foley, Ken Shamrock dismantling Kurrgan, the clear sign that The Rock was on the fast track and a general sense of purpose in everyones work. While it’s not earth-shatteringly great, it is an enjoyable hour of wrestling.

4. Royal Rumble (1992) – Sometimes an average match can be made great through booking smarts and EXCELLENT commentary. As I will say later, this rumble match as a whole is fairly routine but thanks to the match-long storyline of whether Ric Flair could last the distance and really prove himself to be world champion it is a notch above most others. I don’t know if the booking of others was deliberately toned down to focus on the Flair storyline but outside of the Hulk Hogan/Sid Justice stuff, this was Flair all the way. What really makes this match special is the Bobby Heenan commentary. He rides every bump and near elimination as if his life depended on it. He drops all pretenses that he cares about other entrants as Heenan calculates what each new guy means to Flair’s chances. Of course you have Gorilla Monsoon continually rubbing Heenan up the wrong way just because. If you know your wrestling history you may find this match as the greatest easter egg match ever as they seemingly book the entrants as guys that Flair has had massive beefs with while in the NWA. Truly great insider stuff that doesn’t effect the match one iota.

3. Royal Rumble (2000) – The rumble match on the greatest overall rumble PPV ever. Objectively it’s just another rumble where everything happens pretty much the way you think it will. What makes it a notch above is the way it was worked out. You had moments of comedy, violence, clashes of heavyweights, the continual storyline of Kaientai trying to crash the rumble and keep getting thrown out. It also had an ending that cast doubt over The Rock being the winner help create intrigue for the upcoming WrestleMania. Everything went like clockwork and just enough intrigue in the booking to keep you on the edge of your seat.

2. Royal Rumble (1994) – This is the famous Bret & Luger Co-Winners match which everyone remembers for the finish but most forget that the whole match is greatly entertaining. Firstly this is the debut of the “big man that runs through xx guys” concept as Diesel decimated 7 opponents in a matter of minutes to a HUGE reaction. He got over so big it sewed the seeds for his eventual face turn and Heavyweight Title run. You also had the storyline of Bret Hart being injured by his brother Owen earlier in the card and working the match on one leg. We also had Lex Luger fighting for his life as this would be the only way he could earn another title shot at Yokozuna. These two stories ran parallel until they were the last two remaining and then we get Bret Hart timing the double elimination so perfectly that we really couldn’t tell who the winner was. Thanks to this ending and Lugers completely lack of positive reaction from fans, we had Bret Hart as champion at WrestleMania 10.

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1. Royal Rumble (2001) – People before me have talked about the rumble match itself. So I won’t rehash everything that happened. What I will say is that most people historically talk about the 1992 match as the high watermark for this event but I beg to differ. While ’92 does have the great story of Ric Flair wining the WWF Title, the actual match itself is fairly average. The 2001 version is a booking masterpiece managing to weave and thread a multitude of storylines, feuds, phases and light hearted moments. This should be the template used to book the rumble each year.


List your Top Five for this week’s topic in the comment section using the following format:

5. CHOICE: Explanation
4. CHOICE: Explanation
3. CHOICE: Explanation
2. CHOICE: Explanation
1. CHOICE: Explanation