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!
13. Lex Luger – 1994 Royal Rumble
This Royal Rumble will always be special to me, as it was the first live pay per view I ever went to. 6 year old Ryan was there to root on the Steiner Brothers and almost shit his pants during The Undertaker’s entrance. Now that I’m older, The Undertaker’s entrance has more of a cool vibe, but when I was a kid, he was the scariest person in the entire world. This Rumble was also special because it would mark the first and only time that the WWE would end this event with more than one winner. Luger and Bret Hart would both end up getting title shots at the following WrestleMania, but Luger lost the title match via DQ, a pretty accurate summation of his time with the then WWF. Luger is an anomaly on this list, because almost all of his success would happen outside of the WWE.
The Good: In the 80s and early 90s, Luger was one of the most popular wrestlers in the NWA/WCW. He was consistently in the main event scene, winning both the United States and World Heavyweight Championships. He was a member of two historically important factions, The Four Horsemen and the NWO, as well as a main foil to both groups. He had legendary feuds with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Barry Windham and was a huge part of the NWA/WCW’s success going against Hulk Hogan and the WWF.
The Not So Good: His time in the WWF was less than stellar. He debuted as The Narcissus, a self absorbed wrestler who posed in front of a variety of mirrors but did little else in the ring. He was repackaged with an ‘All American’ gimmick, and besides his win at the 1994 Royal Rumble, his other major moment came when he body slammed Yokozuna aboard the USS Intrepid. His second run in WCW started with major promise after he debuted on the first episode of Monday Nitro, but he was soon overshadowed by Hulk Hogan and the NWO.
His early success secured his spot on this list, and he’s sure to be a future hall of famer.
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 this weekend, so make sure you come back to the blog Saturday and Sunday and check it out. 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!
16. Batista – 2005 & 2014 Royal Rumbles
Batista marks our first multiple time winner on this prestigious list, as he won Royal Rumbles almost a decade apart. While both of his wins were shrouded in some kind of controversy, there’s no denying that Batista was one of the most important wrestlers in the WWE for the better part of the 2000s.
The Good: Batista was a 4 time World Heavyweight champ & 2 time WWE champion; he won two Royal Rumbles, something only four other wrestlers have done. When he was on, he was very good. He had memorable feuds with HHH, Undertaker and John Cena, a major reason he was a 6 times combined World or WWE champion. He was an integral member of one of the better post Attitude era factions, Evolution.
The Not So Good: As mentioned above, both of his Royal Rumble wins involved a bit of controversy. In 2005, he and John Cena were eliminated at the same time, causing a restart of the Rumble with the final two, Batista and Cena, back in the ring. Batista did win the match fair and square after the restart, but as far as Rumble wins go, it was pretty controversial a la Bret and Luge in ’94 except with a decisive winner. Then there was last year. Poor Batista was brought back and thrust into the main event scene just as the legitimate best wrestler in the world was becoming the most popular wrestler in the world. WWE made the mistake of trying to bring him back as a good guy, and the crowd shit (feces were literally flying everywhere) all over it. When Rey Mysterio entered at #30 and the crowd realized Daniel Bryan wasn’t going to be in the Rumble, they turned on Batista, booing him out of the building when he finally eliminated Roman Reigns. He was officially the least popular Rumble winner of the modern era. During his first run with the company, Batista ‘quit’ the WWE just as he was getting good to pursue his Hollywood dreams, which always left a bad taste in my mouth. The funny thing is Batista’s initial push reminds me of what the WWE is trying to do with Roman Reigns right now: a guy with the right look and the right attitude backstage getting thrust into the spotlight before he’s ready. It worked out for Batista, so hopefully the same can be said for Reigns a decade from now.
Make sure to check the blog over the weekend, as I’ll be featuring #15 and #14, including one of the most controversial wrestlers in WWE history.
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 already ranked the bottom four, and I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the we reach #1. If you’re interested in checking out the bottom four spots on our 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!
18. Yokozuna – Royal Rumble 1993
I think Yokozuna is a case of hindsight being 20/20, especially in regards to him ranking higher on this list than Sheamus. When it’s all said and done, Sheamus’s career might rank higher than Yokozuna’s, but looking back over his complete body of work, Yokozuna was truly a game changer. When he wrestled in the WWF, he was anywhere between 500-600 pounds, and was as agile as big men half his weight. 1993 was peak Yokozuna, and this Royal Rumble win put him in line to face Bret Hart at the following WrestleMania for the WWF Title, a match he won, then for some reason he had to fight Hulk Hogan immediately after and lost the title. When Hogan left the WWF, Yoko regained the title, and his second title reign produced numerous memorable moments for WWF fans, including Lex Luger body slamming him aboard the USS Intrepid and his casket match with the Undertaker at the 1994 Royal Rumble. He went on to win the Tag Team Titles with Owen Hart a few years later, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012. His career was short but memorable, and he also gave us the weirdest ending in Royal Rumble history: when Macho Man, the most dangerously insane wrestler ever, went to pin Yoko, which, if you know the rules of the Royal Rumble, makes no sense because you can only win by tossing your opponent over the top rope. Yoko proceeded to push Savage up off him and over the top rope, securing the Rumble victory. I remember this happening and yelling at my TV that Macho Man was an idiot. I was 5.
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. We’ve already ranked the bottom three, so if you’re interested, go back and check them out here, here and here. I’ll be ranking the winners every day until the 2015 Royal Rumble on January 25th. Now, in the words of Goldberg, let’s see who’s next!
19. Sheamus – 2012 Royal Rumble
I don’t really have a set formula that I’m using to judge the winners of the Royal Rumble. The main reason for that is because winning the Royal Rumble has meant many different things over the years. It has ranged from Big John Studd winning and being a special guest referee at the following WrestleMania to Ric Flair winning and actually winning the World Title. Since the victories themselves have signified such vastly different things, I decided to rank the winners based mostly on how much I like the character, and how important that character was/is to the wrestling industry. So if you’re a huge Hacksaw Jim Duggan fan and feel like he shouldn’t be 21st on this list, you’re not wrong, but just know that a mentally handicapped patriot should’ve been a character that lasted one night.
Now onto Sheamus. There are two reasons Sheamus ranked so low for me: 1. the rest of this last is insanely stacked and 2. his match with Daniel Bryan at the following WrestleMania is one of the biggest FU’s to fans I’ve ever witnessed. If you don’t remember their match for the World Heavyweight Championship, here it is, IN IT’S ENTIERITY.
I still can’t watch that video without getting incredibly angry. The only silver lining is that this injustice gave the YES movement a huge jolt, and two years later Daniel Bryan would be standing tall as the champion at WrestleMania XXX (not a porno). As for our buddy Sheamus, if he’s not a bad guy, I’m not interested. He stars in the Be A Star anti bullying campaigns but then bullies everyone else on TV, except its OK because he’s a good guy. He doesn’t have one identifiable trait, unless you’re someone who never leaves the house because you’re afraid of the sun. His Royal Rumble win was impressive, but so was everyone else’s on the list. His character just doesn’t stack up to the other big names who have won it. He came in at #22, which isn’t too bad considering other wrestlers have won entering later, and the only man he eliminated was the final guy in his way, Chris Jericho. In time, Sheamus might move up on this list, but for now, he’s right where he belongs at #19.
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. Vince McMahon came in at #22 on the list, and now it’s time to see who’s next!
21. Hacksaw Jim Duggan – 1988 (Inaugural) Royal Rumble
The hardest part about ranking the Royal Rumble winners is figuring out who belongs towards the bottom of the list. Vince was an easy choice for last place because he’s not an actual wrestler, and he spent most of the match outside the ring. Other than Vince, every Rumble winner is a legit superstar or hall of famer, which makes sense, since the Rumble winner usually either won the WWE Championship or won the right to main event WrestleMania. With that said, Hacksaw was an easy pick here. Yes he won the inaugural Rumble, and yes he took the ball and ran with his “kind of mentally incompetent patriot” gimmick, but overall he was basically a goofball. He followed up his Rumble win by losing to Ted DiBiase in the first round of the WWF Championship tournament and basically remained a mid carder for life. There’s no doubt he was popular with the fans, but compared to the rest of the wrestlers who won the Rumble match, he’s right where he belongs at #21.
The 2015 Royal Rumble is a little over three weeks away, and with the first Raw of 2015 only a few days away, WrestleMania season is closer than ever. The Rumble match itself is one of the most exciting matches in WWE, and the Royal Rumble pay per view has long been a member of the ‘Big Four’ pay per view club, and is consistently one of the most action packed shows of the year. This year’s show will be no different, as it’s already been announced that John Cena will challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and Daniel Bryan will be making his long awaited return as an entrant in the Royal Rumble match. In the tradition of this wonderful event, I decided to rank the winners of the Royal Rumble match, all 22 of them, from worst to first. While a few wrestlers have won this match multiple times, I’m going to lump their spot on the list into one position. Who is the greatest Royal Rumble in wrestling history? Let’s find out.
22. Vince McMahon – 1999
The Mr. McMahon character was one of the greatest villains in WWE history, and his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin propelled the industry back into the mainstream pop culture scene. Vince McMahon the wrestler was not the most gifted athlete in the world, but the rivalry between him and Austin was built up so well that the actual physicality aspect of it didn’t really matter. McMahon spent most of the match outside of the ring, but since he was never thrown over the top rope, he was never officially eliminated. After The Rock provided a timely distraction, McMahon seized the opportunity and dumped Austin over the top rope, winning the Rumble and robbing Austin of his three peat. Vince takes our worst spot on the list for many reasons, but mainly because his master plan didn’t end up working: Stone Cold defeated The Rock for the WWE Championship a few months later at WrestleMania XV.