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Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 22 (The Final Spot)

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. We’re officially into the top 2, so now is the time to check out the rest of the list. Onto the rankings!

1. Hulk Hogan – 1990 & 1991 Royal Rumbles

To be honest, I’m surprised Hogan didn’t win the first five or six Royal Rumbles. He was so unstoppable in the 80’s and early 90’s that it seemed like Hulkamania would never end. Ultimately it did, and Hogan reinvented himself, which is a big reason he’s #1 on this list (more on that later). The 1990 Royal Rumble was known more for the first ever meeting of Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior than for the actual ending. This stare down led to a title vs. title match at the following WrestleMania, with Hogan going in as the Heavyweight champ and Warrior as the IC champ. As far as the ’90 Royal Rumble, Hogan entered at #25, eliminated 5 participants on his way to win the match. In his repeat bid in 1991, Hogan entered one spot lower at #24, but lasted almost 20 minutes, eliminating 7 more participants on his way to become the first ever back to back Rumble winner.

The Good: similar to Flair, their really isn’t a “not so good” category for Hogan. You can bring up the backstage politics if you’d like, but that’s not what this list is for. He was so important to the wrestling industry, and really put in on the map as a mainstream entity in the 1980’s. The top spot on this list really couldn’t go to anyone else. While he and  Flair could be interchangeable, Hogan’s uber baby face character of the 80’s and early 90’s actually benefited him later in his career. While Flair was originally a cool heel early in his career, as he got older, it was impossible for fans not to cheer for him, so he never really had to change his character. Hogan, on the other hand, was the flag bearer and ultimate good guy early in his career, which made his switch to Hollywood Hulk Hogan that much more shocking. That he was able to be the top good guy and top bad guy a decade apart made it easy to put Hogan at #1 on this list. What Hulk Hogan was to “taking your vitamins an saying your prayers”, Hollywood Hulk Hogan was to cool, bad ass heels. No one wrestler is more synonymous with wrestling than Hulk Hogan, and with the help of the WWE and the WWE Network, his legacy will go on forever.

– Ryan

Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 21

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. We’re officially into the top 2, so now is the time to check out the rest of the list. Onto the rankings!

2. Ric Flair – 1992 Royal Rumble

Like I wasn’t going to include a video of Flair elbow dropping nothing.

A lot of wrestlers may claim to be crazy, or play a crazy character, but there’s crazy, and then there’s The Nature Boy Ric Flair. Ric Flair is very similar to Lex Luger in regards to this list, in that almost all of their legacy resides outside of the WWE. But whether you watched him in the NWA, WCW or WWE, when Ric Flair was on your television, you were about to be entertained.

The 1992 Royal Rumble was a little more significant than other Rumbles, because instead of the winner going on to main event WrestleMania, he would instead become the WWF Champion. Flair’s performance in the ’92 Rumble is the stuff of legends. He entered at #3, lasted over an hour and eliminated 5 participants on his way to his first (and only) WWF Championship.

The Good: in my opinion, there is no “not so good” when it comes to The Nature Boy. Flair and the #1 entrant on this list are pretty much interchangeable. What Flair did for the NWA/WCW in the late 80’s, the #1 entrant did for the WWF, but I’m more of a WWF/E guy, so Flair is going to have to hold down the number two spot. With his most recent appearance on Mondays Raw, Flair has now been involved in wrestling in some capacity for over 43 years. Officially, he is a 16 time World Champion and he is the only person to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice (once as himself and once as a member of the Four Horsemen). His durability in the ring is unmatched, as during his heyday in the 80s, he would regularly wrestle hour long matches defending his coveted NWA World Title. It seemed as if every feud Flair was in became magical, and part of that magic has to be attributed to Flair. Terry Funk, Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race, Lex Luger, Dusty Rhodes, Kerry Von Erich, Shawn Michaels, Sting; everyone who worked with Ric Flair became better off for it. He had more nicknames than you could count, and besides his prowess as an in ring wrestler, he was also tremendous on the microphone and was the centerpiece of one of the greatest factions in wrestling history, The Four Horsemen. If I may slightly change the Horsemen’s famous saying, ‘Diamonds are forever, and so is Ric Flair.’

– Ryan

Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 17

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, including last weekend, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. Now, onto the rankings!

6. John Cena – 2008 & 2013 Royal Rumbles

John Cena’s Royal Rumble wins are a perfect mirror for his career. In late 2007, Cena was sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle and there was very little chance he was going to be ready for the following WrestleMania, never mind the Royal Rumble. But ready he was, as he entered as the 30th entrant and eliminated HHH to win the 2008 Rumble. The crowd went crazy for Cena, and it was probably the most shocking return in the history of the Royal Rumble. By 2013, the crowd had officially turned on Cena. With The Rock slated to challenge and defeat CM Punk in the main event of the 2013 Royal Rumble, it was all but inevitable that Cena would win the Rumble and go on to challenge The Rock at WrestleMania. Cena still got cheers from the younger kids in the audience, but his over exposure combined with older members of the audience rooting for The Rock turned Cena into a good guy not many people wanted to cheer for. His two Rumble wins can be summed up in five words, the same five words audiences have been chanting at Cena for years: Let’s go Cena, Cena sucks.

The Good/Not so good: if you’ve watched wrestling from 2004 on, the most popular thing in the world to do is complain about John Cena. “He can’t wrestle”, “he’s boring”, “he does the same moves all the time”. The fact is that John Cena is the literal face of the corporation that is the WWE. He is their guy, and I can’t honestly say I’ve ever seen a wrestler work harder and go through more shit than John Cena. Maybe Hulk Hogan was boring and felt the wrath of the fans before his turn with the NWO, but Hulk Hogan did not have to go through all of that with social media. The facts are that John Cena is going to be the most decorated World Champion in the history of wrestling by the time he retires. Is he overexposed? Absolutely. Is he partially to blame? Absolutely. But the WWE has been stuck in a rut for years now and have refused to build new stars. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are probably the closest thing to a John Cena, but they were not “WWE built”. They were thrust to cult status because of the fans. Punk is probably gone forever and Bryan is finally back, but who knows what his future holds. John Cena is the corporate machine that does and says the right things all the time. But he is also a fantastic professional wrestler. sports entertainer or any other name you want to give him. More importantly, he makes the WWE a lot of money, and the main goal of any wrestler is to make his company money, because when you make them money, you’ll always be towards the top of the card. Some people like Cena, and some people don’t, but as long as he’s in the WWE, he will be their guy.

– Ryan

 

Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 16

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. Now, onto the rankings!

7. Shawn Michaels – 1995 & 1996 Royal Rumbles

Mid 90’s Shawn Michaels is arguably the greatest performer of all time. He was unmatched in the ring, solid on the microphone and his overall attitude and personality ushered in a new and exciting era for WWE fans. Michaels is the second multi time winner on this list (Batista) and the first wrestler we’ve featured who won back to back Royal Rumbles. In ’95, Michaels entered 1st overall and lasted the entire match, eliminating The British Bulldog, who entered second, to win the match. HBK had a more modest showing in ’96 entering at #18, but he still lasted 26 minutes and eliminated 8 other superstars.

The Good: healthy HBK was the best in the business. During his first run, from 1992 to early 1998, he did it all. He won every major championship in the WWE and participated in the first great ladder match and the first overall Hell in a Cell match. Along with HHH, he created Degeneration X, a major factor in the birth of the Attitude Era. Michaels retired in 1998 and wouldn’t return until to in ring competition until 2002. While four years away from the ring would affect most people, HBK came back better than ever. He would go on to wrestle consistently until his retirement in 2010. During his hall of fame career, Michaels earned the nickname ‘Mr. WrestleMania’, and it’s easy to see why. Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 10, Bret Hart at WrestleMania 12,  Jericho at WrestleMania 19, Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21, Ric Flair at WrestleMania 24, The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25 & 26; pick any Shawn Michaels match from any WrestleMania and I guarantee you it was one of it not the best match of the night.

The Not So Good: chronic back injuries forced Michaels to semi retire in 1998, and he missed four years of his prime. While he might have been a handful to deal with backstage early in his career, Michaels always performed in front of the camera. That he is only at #7 on this list goes to show you how many top tier talents have won the Royal Rumble.

– Ryan

Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 15

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. Now, onto the rankings!

8. HHH – 2002 Royal Rumble

Although he no longer regularly competes in the ring, HHH is still one of the driving forces behind the corporate machine that is the WWE. While he was once one of the company’s greatest champions, he now serves as on air authority figure and backstage decision maker. He also runs NXT, creating and molding the next generation of WWE superstars. At the 2002 Royal Rumble, HHH entered at number 22 and eliminated Mr. Perfect and Kurt Angle to win.

The Good: whether you love him or you hate him, there’s no denying HHH’s importance to the Attitude Era and beyond in the WWE. He’s as decorated a champion as any other wrestler in history: 13 time World Champion, 5 time Intercontinental Champion, 3 time Tag Team Champion, King of the Ring and Royal Rumble winner. He was an original member of one of the greatest factions in wrestling history, Degeneration X. He had memorable feuds with a who’s who of professional wrestlers, including Mick Foley, The Undertaker, The Rock, HBK, Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, Randy Orton & Henry Godwinn (just kidding).

The Not So Good: internet wrestling fans have varying opinions on HHH, but almost all of the dirt they think they have on HHH is second hand information. If he did in fact “bury” certain wrestlers, add him to the long list of guys who have done so over the years. The facts are that he was an excellent in ring performer, and a very important part of the WWE during their ‘war’ with WCW and the years following it. He has changed NXT from a pseudo reality show competition to the best wrestling show WWE offers, and the future looks very bright.

– Ryan

Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 14

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. Now, onto the rankings!

9. Bret Hart – 1994 Royal Rumble

As I mentioned in my write up for Lex Luger, Bret Hart’s co winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble, this Rumble will always be special to me because it’s the first live pay per view I ever attended. 6 year old Ryan may not have understood what the hell happened when Luger and Hart were both eliminated at the same time, but it’s easy to understand how great Bret Hart the wrestler really was.

The Good: If you look up Mr. Constitency in the dictionary, there will be a picture of Bret Hart. He started in his father’s Canadian promotion, Stampede Wrestling, and eventually caught the eye of Vince McMahon and the WWF. He started off his run in the WWF as a member of the Hart Foundation, he won the Tag Team Championship twice along with his partner Jim Neidhart. He would eventually branch off as a singles competitor, and this is where he really flourished, winning the Intercontinental Championship twice and the WWF Championship five times. His nickname was the ‘excellence of execution’, and whoever he was in the ring was better off for it, as he had great feuds with Mr. Perfect, Diesel, Stone Cold & most famously Shawn Michaels. His iron man match at WrestleMania 12 with HBK has stood the test of time, as has his infamous ‘double turn’ match with Austin at WrestleMania 13.

The Not So Good: Bret was involved in the ‘Montreal Screw Job’, where he famously wouldn’t do the honors of dropping his Championship belt to his on and off screen rival Shawn Michaels, so Vince McMahon pulled the rug out from under him on live pay per view. His subsequent run in WCW was not great, and a concussion suffered at the feet of Goldberg eventually forced him to retire for good.

Hart is a Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest technical wrestlers in the history of the WWE. He still makes appearances for WWE after they buried the hatchet over the Montreal Screw Job in late 2009. He was also apart of the worst match I’ve ever seen, against Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 26.

– Ryan

Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 13

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. Now, onto the rankings!

10. Brock Lesnar – 2003 Royal Rumble

While not the most impressive Rumble victory (Lesnar entered at #29) by a WWE superstar, the 2003 Royal Rumble win by Brock Lesnar was just another notch on the belt for one of the most dominant wrestlers in the history of the WWE. The phrase “there is no one else like him” is most definitely over used, but it describes Lesnar perfectly: an agile, impossibly strong athlete who has dominated in every ring he’s ever been in.

The Good: when Lesnar is ‘on’, there is absolutely nobody like him (see what I did there). His combination of strength, quickness and athleticism allowed him to have memorable feuds and great matches with big guys such as The Undertaker and smaller guys such as Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle. From the beginning, he was paired up with one of the greatest mouth pieces and managers in history, Paul Heyman, which only helped his legend grow. There’s something scarier about a monster who let’s someone else do the talking, because you never truly know what that monster is thinking, and that’s exactly what Heyman did for Lesnar. In 2002, he defeated The Rock to become the youngest WWE Champion at time at the age of 25. After a run in UFC that saw him win their Heavyweight title, Lesnar returned to the WWE and brought with him legitimate fighting credentials. 2014 may have been Lesnar’s greatest in ring year, as he defeated and broke The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30 and then dismantled John Cena at last year’s Summerslam to win the WWE title. He is the current WWE Champion, and whether you love or hate the fact that the champ has not been consistently on TV, there is no doubting the importance of Brock Lesnar to the current WWE product.

The Not So Good: the only thing working against Lesnar is the amount of time he’s actually been in the WWE. His first run only lasted from 2002-2005, and his current run, which started in 2012, will most likely be over after WrestleMania 31. In his brief stints with the WWE, Lesnar has been an immensely important star, but the lack of time in the ring, especially during his latest run, kept him from being lower on this list.

– Ryan

 

 

Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners – Part 11

It’s Royal Rumble season, which means it’s almost WrestleMania season. Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and watch all the old Royal Rumble pay per views and matches, and in that spirit, I decided to rank the winners. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1, and if you’re interested in checking out who’s already on the list, use the tricky magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search ‘Royal Rumble winners’ or scroll through the blog. Now, onto the rankings!

12. Edge – 2010 Royal Rumble

The 2010 Royal Rumble was an example of the most exciting Rumble match: when a wrestler makes a surprise return as an entrant in the Rumble and ends winning the whole thing. That’s exactly what happened with Edge, who returned from a lengthy absence to not only get revenge on Chris Jericho, but win the Rumble match and earn a title shot at the following WrestleMania. Unfortunately for Edge, his final match would come only a year later.

The Good: Edge was pretty much the modern day Bret Hart: a tag team specialist turned multiple time World Champion. Where he differed from Hart was his personality. The ‘Rated R Superstar’ was a perfect foil for the squeaky clean John Cena, and with the exception of CM Punk, I think Edge was Cena’s greatest rival. Edge accomplished pretty much everything you could accomplish in the WWE: he was a 14 time World/WWE Tag Team Champion, 5 time Intercontinental Champion, 11 time World/WWE Champion, King of the Ring winner, Royal Rumble winner, MITB briefcase winner and participant in the first and only live sex show on Raw. He was a vital part of the revitalization of the tag team division along with the Hardy’s and Dudley’s, and brought the TLC match into the WWE.

The Not So Good: Unless you count ‘retiring so you won’t be paralyzed forever’ as not so good, there’s really nothing to put here. Edge had about as great a career as you can have in the WWE, but unfortunately for Edge fans, the rest of this list is incredibly stacked.

– Ryan

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