WWE’s Royal Rumble works because of its controlled chaos. The story of the match is that anyone can win, but luck creates a massive handicap. If it wasn’t pre-determined, we’d see an awful lot more winners from the #30 spot. I mean, ever watch a CPU simulated version of a Rumble in a video game? There’s like a 2/5 chance of that last entrant winning.
If that was a normal thing in WWE, that would get old real quick. While a few people have won at #30, the spot is usually given to someone who is supposed to come off as a real threat – ESPECIALLY because of their lucky final spot – but really aren’t a viable winner. In fact, if someone earns the spot prior to the match, it’s practically a death sentence. They’re a fake favorite.
So let’s look back at all the final fighters in Royal Rumble history.
JUNKYARD DOG (1988)
The very first televised Royal Rumble was a minor one. Not only was it lacking in big names, but it only featured 20 combatants. The #20 spot went to Junkyard Dog, which was fitting. JYD wasn’t going to be getting any main events any time soon, but he still had some juice from winning the Wrestling Classic one-night tournament, which itself was the first WWF PPV.
He was going to be gone from the company within a year, making this his one and only Royal Rumble appearance. His status as a potential heavy hitter in a battle royal setting continued into WrestleMania IV’s opening battle royal, where he got third place. Bad News Brown and Bret Hart created an alliance to beat JYD with their superior numbers before turning on each other.
TED DIBIASE (1989)
The story of the ’89 Rumble was that Ted Dibiase picked a very early draw and wasn’t happy. He started spreading his money around and switched numbers so that he’d not only get #30, but Big Boss Man and Akeem would enter consecutively as his soldiers. By the time Dibiase entered, everyone from Hogan to Savage to Andre were gone. Dibiase’s run as a top title challenger were waning, but he would at least buy his way into winning this high-profile match.
The only real challenge left was Big John Studd, who proceeded to survive Akeem’s onslaught. Dibiase got his ass absolutely handed to him and lost, only able to get the runner up spot. His number switching scheme was banned in future Rumbles and he ended up at #1 in 1990.
MR. PERFECT (1990)
I’ve heard tell that Mr. Perfect was originally penciled to win this Rumble, but alas. Perfect was open about his draw and made it seem like a natural piece of fate. Of course he would draw #30. It was the PERFECT number and he was simply Perfect.
And indeed, was a perfect choice for #30. The company had just gotten rid of their top heel in Zeus (yes, really) and they were heading for a face vs. face main event for WrestleMania. Perfect was practically untouchable in the midcard and was just the kind of threat that would flirt with being something more. He didn’t make the jump to the top, but he did make runner up after being tossed to his doom by Hulk Hogan.
Ah, Tugboat. Now this was an interesting choice. In the latter half of 1990, the massive sailor was Hogan’s sidekick. He was mainly played as the heroic counterpart to Hogan’s rival Earthquake. Like many of Hogan’s best friends, it was Tugboat’s destiny to turn on him. Hogan was moving towards a feud with Sergeant Slaughter while Tugboat was being left in the dust to job to the likes of Ted Dibiase and the Undertaker.
But he was still depicted as tough, especially with the limited amount of major names in the 1991 Rumble. Tugboat lasted only a few minutes and fought Hogan as if their friendship meant nothing. Hogan eliminated Tugboat and went on to win.
A later episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event featured a battle royal where Tugboat eliminated Hogan and they got in a big fight over it. The match really seemed to be building towards some kind of feud, but that never happened. Instead, Tugboat ended up turning heel on the Bushwackers, renamed himself Typhoon, and teamed up with Earthquake as the Natural Disasters. As a tag team wrestler, he was safe from Hogan’s wrath.
When he was a member of the Powers of Pain, the Warlord became a bit of a laughingstock in Royal Rumbles due to how quickly he was out in 1989. In 1992, Warlord was at the end of his singles run, where he literally spent every 1991 PPV wrestling the British Bulldog and was the ultimate “level one endboss” of WWF. He didn’t have much left in his WWF career (he would be out in three months), but he was a great heavy for this role.
The ’92 Rumble was when the WWF Championship was vacant and up for grabs, so everyone was deemed a contender. One of the bigger stories of the match was that Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice were friends who would become enemies in the final moments. In what would be their final act of true partnership, Hogan and Sid teamed up to eliminate the threat of the Warlord.
RANDY SAVAGE (1993)
The ’93 Rumble was all about unstoppable monster heel Yokozuna showing up and showing off his power against everyone in the ring and everyone left to come into the ring. At one point, everyone left tried to team up, work him over, and lift him up. Yokozuna fought them off, eliminated a couple, and it was apparent that any chance they had was in the toilet.
Then Savage appeared at #30. Savage was semi-retired, but still treated like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of this era of WWF. A main-eventer, but no longer in the main event. He was a viable winner for this Rumble (Randy Savage vs. Bret Hart would have been money), but this wasn’t his to win. Instead, he was the final challenge against Yokozuna; good enough to get a hope spot in there and even hit his finisher, but just another victim in the end.
Savage had a year and a half left with the company. Coincidentally, his final reach at the title was him almost beating Yokozuna for it in the lead-up to WrestleMania X.
ADAM BOMB (1994)
Adam Bomb was never going to reach the top, but for a time, WWF was trying to build him up as the latest monster of the week. He was huge and had a cool and crazy look. He was just a bit too cartoony to really go anywhere.
The ’94 Rumble was about having Lex Luger and Bret Hart end the show as co-winners. The only heel who actually mattered was Diesel, who got over huge during the first half of the match by absolutely dominating. Any and all heels left were just there to put over Luger and Bret. That included Adam Bomb, who fell victim to Luger in under five minutes.
Crush was a bit of an anomaly. A year earlier, he was a rising heel who feuded with Randy Savage and Lex Luger. After the Luger feud, he left for a while and made his return at the 1995 Royal Rumble. At #30, he was far more dominant than any #30 wrestler who came before him and made third place. It was very likely that they had some kind of big push in mind for him, even if it was for the sake of losing a high-profile feud.
Instead, he got arrested shortly after the event. Whoops!
DUKE “THE DUMPSTER” DROESE (1996)
Duke Droese never really got anywhere and I don’t even recall him having any storylines. His appearance as #30, where he only lasted a minute and ten seconds, wasn’t even about him. It was about Hunter Hearst Helmsley and the importance of Royal Rumble 1996’s pre-show.
See, the idea was that Duke Droese and Triple H each drew a blank number as there was no #1 or #30. Instead, the two would face off during the Free For All pre-show with the winner earning the #30 spot and the loser getting stuck with #1. Triple H cheated to win, but the decision was reversed, meaning that he had to start the Rumble. Between his time as the iron man of the Rumble and the preliminary match, the show had over 54 minutes of Triple H in-ring goodness.
So while Droese was quick to fall into obscurity, this was a showcase for Triple H’s never-say-die heel tendencies.
Earlier in the night, the Undertaker took on Vader in a singles match and lost. The two were entered into the Rumble match, where the ending was all about merging their rivalry with the rivalry of Bret Hart and Steve Austin. Undertaker appeared at #30 and helped empty the ring a bit by taking out Mankind and Henry O. Godwinn. Towards the end, he went back to fighting his enemy Vader.
During that time, Bret Hart threw out Steve Austin, but all the refs were distracted, so it wasn’t counted. Austin returned to the ring, eliminated Bret, Undertaker, and Vader, and was crowned Royal Rumble winner.
Due to the controversy, the four men had a Final Four match at the following PPV where the last man standing would be deemed the true winner. Also, it was for the title because Shawn Michaels was scummy about how he was booked and vacated the title.
Remember how in the previous entry, Vader was an actual title contender and got a win over the Undertaker? Well, that was the last time Vader seemed like a major threat in any way. By 1998, he was a tough guy who lost all the time. He was just a shadow of his former self, but it was going to get a lot worse. Here, he at least felt like he could do some damage, even if the only damage was eliminating the Honky Tonk Man during just over two minutes of in-ring action before being thrown out by the Artist Formerly Known as Goldust.
Months later, Vader would lose to Kane in such a way that he’d openly mope on the air about being “a fat piece of shit.” Months after that, he’d have his final aired match on Sunday Night Heat before leaving the company.
Vince McMahon decided that if Steve Austin was going to be in the Royal Rumble, then he was going to enter at #1. Commissioner Shawn Michaels decided to mess with him by entering Vince into the Rumble as #2. Desperate to scheme his way out of that, Vince held a Corporate Royal Rumble featuring the likes of everyone in the Corporation and D-Generation X. The winner would be #30 at the ’99 Rumble match.
Towards the end of it, Vince thought he had it won, but DX revealed that Chyna was also part of the match. With a little distraction help from Steve Austin, Chyna tossed out Vince and crushed his dreams.
In a Royal Rumble filled with novelty ideas, having the first female wrestler at #30 was a worthy addition. Chyna entered, eliminated her rival Mark Henry, and then got clotheslined over the top by Steve Austin. A mere 35 seconds for the Ninth Wonder of the World.
2000 was when it seemed WWF could do no wrong. Their midcard was so strong, but unfortunately, their main event scene was lacking. With Austin and Undertaker off due to injury and Triple H and Cactus Jack busy with the night’s title match, there weren’t many big names in the Royal Rumble itself. Granted, the match did make a star out of Rikishi, but the only guys who seemed like a big enough deal were the Rock, Big Show, and Kane.
If you really had to stretch to find someone who was a worthy to stand with that group, there was X-Pac. Especially since he was feuding with Kane. Despite his size, he fit as the final piece of the final four and even did enough damage by unfairly eliminating Kane and screwing him out of the match.
Like I said, the previous Royal Rumble was Rikishi’s coming out party and turned him into a major player. It’s just that there was only so far they could go with his “dancing sumo/felching enthusiast” gimmick. Eventually, they tried to turn him heel by having him run over Steve Austin for the sake of Samoan wrestlers everywhere. That heel turn did not do him any favors, but they at least tried to make him seem fearsome.
Going into what I believe to be the best Royal Rumble match ever, Rikishi won a Fatal 4-Way match against the Rock, Undertaker, and Kane to earn his spot as #30. Like many people on this list, he wasn’t in there for too long and got some comeuppance at the hands of Austin and the Rock. Rikishi’s showing still bore some fruit as he got to cleanly eliminate the Undertaker.
#29 was a re-debuting Haku, who they tried to make a teammate for Rikishi after the fact, but that duo never went anywhere and they eventually had to rethink Rikishi’s heel persona.
BOOKER T (2002)
For nearly a year, Booker T was treated as both one of the top heels and one of the biggest fools due to how badly the bookers handled the WWF vs. WCW storyline. He was one of the bigger names to come in from WCW at the time, but spent the storyline getting his ass kicked by practically every top name on the WWF roster. All he had keeping him afloat were his charisma and the silliness of the Spinaroonie.
Royal Rumble 2002 took place several months after the WCW feud was finished off and Booker T was still considered a threat, but no way was he winning this one. As the ring filled up with major names, Booker was the last to enter. Rob Van Dam had just landed a Five Star Frog Splash, which always took nearly as much out of him as it did his opponent, so Booker simply picked him up and removed him from the ring.
Not learning RVD’s lesson, Booker then did a Spinaroonie, which allowed Steve Austin to easily catch him with a Stunner for the elimination. A mere 33 seconds. Yikes.
The Undertaker’s second time as #30 came from his big return from a hand injury. It worked out great in the timing sense, as before his injury, Undertaker put over heel Brock Lesnar in a series of title matches that helped get the crowd behind Brock as a face. At Royal Rumble 2003, Brock was fully a face and had to earn his way into the Rumble match by beating the Big Show on the undercard. When Brock defeated Undertaker to win the whole thing at the end, it brought things full circle, as Undertaker and Brock were able to show mutual respect this time around.
It was also a piece of character development for Undertaker. A year earlier, he got eliminated from behind by Maven and handled it violently. This time, he admitted that the young guy simply had his number and shook his hand over it.
Even though it was Chris Benoit’s match to win, it was also the one year where Goldberg was on the main roster (not counting his return as a part-timer years later). He was coming off a brief run as World Heavyweight Champion and he was an easy favorite going into the Rumble. In fact, he was too much of a favorite, considering they had him win a Six Pack Challenge match to become #30.
The seeds of his loss came earlier in the night, when he had a passive-aggressive confrontation with WWF Champion Brock Lesnar. When Goldberg finally showed up in the match, he spent a mere two minutes spearing fools and eliminating three midcarders before Brock ran in to hit him with an F5. Kurt Angle finished the job and that was that.
HARDCORE HOLLY (2004, SMACKDOWN)
After SmackDown’s Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble, despite SmackDown GM Paul Heyman’s best efforts, Benoit chose to challenge Raw’s champion Triple H at WrestleMania. That in turn made Heyman look like a total idiot. With his job on the line, Heyman decided to save face by holding a SmackDown-exclusive Rumble match featuring 15 guys. The winner would face WWE Champion Brock Lesnar at No Way Out.
Hardcore Holly wasn’t in the regular 2004 Rumble as he was too busy facing Brock Lesnar on the undercard. Yes, hard as it is to believe, Holly was at this brief point a title contender. Mainly because he ended up injuring his neck in an earlier match against Brock and they were able to make a story out of that. Once he lost that title match, that was it for his push.
Still, it made him the perfect candidate to get the final entry in this half-Rumble. He helped eliminate the Big Show, but didn’t do much else.
RIC FLAIR (2005)
Flair’s spot was given away during a sketch earlier in the show where he and Eddie Guerrero compared their numbers and Eddie slyly switched the two. Then after being caught, he gave Flair back his number…and his wallet.
As #30, Flair was part of driving forward Batista’s story. Evolution recently betrayed Randy Orton and won the feud that followed. Orton warned Batista that he was next to get screwed over by Triple H and it fell on deaf ears. Batista was really getting popular at the time and seemed to be at peace with his Evolution comrades. He and Flair worked together for a couple minutes, eliminating opponents together. Then Flair attempted to backstab Batista and it didn’t work.
Edge was the one to remove Flair from the ring, but the situation did add to Batista’s win and eventual WrestleMania match with Evolution leader Triple H.
RANDY ORTON (2006)
Once again, the show set up the starter and ender with an early segment. Namely an overconfident Orton looking over Triple H’s shoulder and laughing about the number he drew. True to the foreshadowing, Triple H was #1 and Randy Orton was #30. Rey Mysterio was #2 and they ended up being the final three.
Mysterio eliminated Orton, who in turn roughed up Mysterio a bit before leaving to the back. Mysterio won regardless and the two continued the feud into WrestleMania, where they both challenged World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle. Mysterio won and Angle and Orton moved on to feuding with each other.
For those keeping track, the Undertaker picked #30 THREE times. How lucky. This time around, the company realized that having so many Rumbles where the very last guy never wins is kind of spitting in the face of suspension of disbelief. The Undertaker, ironically enough, was just the guy to end that streak.
Undertaker showed up to immediately take down the Great Khali, who had completely dominated the entire ring and seemed to have victory within his grasp. It was like the wrestling version of seeing Thor if he actually went for the head against Thanos. It ruled.
Despite his late entry, Undertaker got messed up hard by Rated RKO, but they were eventually taken out and we got a memorable finale of Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. After an extended sudden death, Undertaker won and had the longest run of a #30 entrant at thirteen and a half minutes.
Someone had to legitimize the spot and it might as well had been him.
JOHN CENA (2008)
Nobody expected John Cena to enter and win the Royal Rumble. He was on the injured list and wasn’t supposed to return for months. Not only that, but no way were they going to have two #30 spots win in a row! That would be ridiculous!
Well, Royal Rumble 2008 was ridiculous. Cena appeared to the shock of everyone in attendance and proceeded to eliminate the likes of Carlito, Chavo Guerrero, and Mark Henry. The final three had him alongside top faces Triple H and Batista. Cena outlasted them and the crowd didn’t know whether to boo or cheer.
BIG SHOW (2009)
Big Show is the epitome of a #30 guy. The manufactured fear about how someone like him would lose with such a late draw goes well with how the commentators continually forget that Big Show has been eliminated from battle royals and lifted off the ground in general.
Since 2009 was the year when the ring kept getting way too full, Big Show had a big showcase where he got to let loose and eliminate a whole lot of dead weight. Had he not focused his efforts on Undertaker, he could have dedicated himself to helping get rid of Legacy and heavily altered the final results. Instead, he faced Undertaker, got eliminated, and pulled Undertaker out of the ring out of revenge.
The two went on to have a brief rivalry which gave us some of Big Show’s best matches in his career.
Batista was fresh off a much-needed heel turn and didn’t have much going on after turning former friend Rey Mysterio into a fine paste. Normally, his appearance in the ’10 Rumble would have been forgotten due to Edge’s shocking reappearance at #29, but Batista succeeded in pulling off the most hated elimination of the night by getting rid of match favorite Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels who HAD to win in order to get his WrestleMania rematch against the Undertaker.
Otherwise, Batista lasted just a few minutes until falling to John Cena and ending up in third place. Batista would go on to start up a major title feud with Cena at the next WrestleMania anyway with Batista as the champ going in, so no harm done.
Kane got the be #40 in the year where they overdid the Royal Rumble match itself. Kane had long become the monster who would destroy the entire midcard, but would fall to anyone in the main event. At least he’d be feuding with Cena by Royal Rumble 2012.
Kane didn’t really do much here, merely getting one elimination to his name. The real story, as relayed by Kane’s alter ego Glenn Jacobs years later, was that he was almost going to enter the match in his old Fake Diesel gimmick. It all relied on whether or not Kevin Nash agreed to do the match and it was so last-minute that Jacobs was sitting backstage, holding onto his black wig, wondering about his job prospects.
BIG SHOW (2012)
Big Show got another go as the final guy in the Rumble, this time in the Rumble where they let pretty much anyone in as a lark. This was the same night when he failed to beat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship, so they just let him into this match for the hell of it. He got only two minutes in the ring, but took that time to kill off practically the entire heel midcard roster.
Cody Rhodes? Miz? Swagger? Ziggler? All gone like that. Then he lost to important guy Randy Orton.
Ryback was a potential star who would have been a top guy in WWE had he not gotten over during a time when the company was locked in for a Rock vs. John Cena title match at WrestleMania. “Big Hungry” merely had to lose all of his title shots and get screwed over and over again so their long-planned main event could happen. Winning the 2013 Royal Rumble match was his last chance at relevancy.
He got that final spot and demolished many of his enemies. Sheamus, Damien Sandow, Miz, Sin Cara, and even Randy Orton fell victim to his Goldberg-esque momentum. He was doing great until it was just him and John Cena.
Same old story. Someone got built up, John Cena showed up, and John Cena tore them down. Ryback lost and his career never recovered.
REY MYSTERIO (2014)
Ah, the most infamous #30 of them all. So WWE did their usual thing where they give a smaller wrestler a world title win, kind of treat them like trash in the aftermath, then quickly move the belt to a more high-profile feud involving guys they want to push. This time their victim was Daniel Bryan and it backfired hilariously. One, because they turned, “We don’t think he’s the right guy to be on top,” into the storyline, so EVERYONE in the arena noticed that it was bullshit. Two, because Bryan’s run to WrestleMania seemed pretty self-explanatory in a sane world. It was basic storytelling that he’d win the Royal Rumble and make his way to WrestleMania to get his one true reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
WWE never outright said that Bryan was in the match, nor did they outright say he wasn’t. He was put in a match against Bray Wyatt on the undercard (which he lost), but there were other undercard wrestlers who got to be in the Rumble match. Bryan showing up was at least expected.
Yet Bryan never showed up. The fans got more and more antsy as the match got closer to #30 and started chanting for him. When Rey Mysterio stepped out instead, the boos started and never stopped. Poor luchador. He was so hated during these two minutes that heel Seth Rollins got cheered for eliminating him. And this was for a guy who was otherwise universally loved, even if his Rumble-winning days were long gone.
Between the backlash and the sudden shock of CM Punk leaving the company out of anger, they ended up rewriting their plans so that WrestleMania XXX centered around Bryan’s big title win.
DOLPH ZIGGLER (2015)
When planning out Roman Reigns’ push to the main event, he was penciled in to take part of John Cena’s team against the Authority at Survivor Series 2014. Roman was off the table due to his appendix, so they had Dolph Ziggler fulfill his role of the never-say-die guy who took out nearly the entire heel team by himself to put an end to the Authority’s reign of terror (for the short time that lasted).
Rather than play that up in any way for Ziggler’s benefit, the commentators instead gave all the credit to team captain John Cena and the interference of “The Vigilante” Sting. Ziggler was discarded, more so when Roman came back.
Ziggler appeared at the Rumble at #30 for the sake of one of the lamer moments in the match’s history. Much like fan-favorites and potential top guys Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, and Ryback, Ziggler was fated to be double-teamed by Big Show and Kane, then dumped out of the ring. The logic was that by removing the wrestlers the fans DID like, Big Show and Kane would be so hated that Roman would be loved by everyone for smiting them.
It absolutely did not work and led to years of a confused WWE pushing Roman Reigns and then getting cold feet.
TRIPLE H (2016)
Roman Reigns started catching on as a top guy and got his big championship win in a storyline that involved him brutalizing Triple H into a hospital and even sneaking a punch onto Vince McMahon’s face. Rather than let him move forward into his own Royal Rumble singles defense, they doubled down on the “top face vs. evil authority” trope by putting Roman in the Royal Rumble at #1 and forcing him to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Everyone knew exactly where this was going. Triple H was going to make his return at #30, he was going to win, and Roman would get the title back at WrestleMania 32. The predictability of it all turned people off Roman’s push once again. Funny enough, Lucha Underground filmed a very similar storyline a month earlier, though it wouldn’t air until March of that year.
Triple H indeed appeared at #30 to win, but while it was indeed a predictable story turn, the match itself had enough surprises and great moments to keep it from being a dud.
ROMAN REIGNS (2017)
Okay, okay. So remember when they thought they could get people to cheer Roman Reigns if they had him fight the guys who eliminated all the more popular wrestlers? They did that again…but with Roman as the guy everyone’s supposed to hate.
Roman was in the undercard, losing to Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship. Many were happy about that, as it meant he wasn’t going to be in the Rumble itself. And so, he was in the Rumble itself as the final entrant, gaining a chorus of boos. It was one of the biggest Rumbles in terms of star power and heavy-hitters, but it was also a match that many expected Chris Jericho to win.
Roman eliminated Jericho and, just as major, eliminated the Undertaker. That meant that by the time Randy Orton threw him out in the end, fans shrugged because, hey, it could have been worse.
This led to the Roman Reigns vs. Undertaker main event of WrestleMania 33 and that hurt Roman’s brand even worse. Did great for Braun Strowman’s career, though!
DOLPH ZIGGLER (2018)
Sometimes you get those wrestling storylines that end so questionably that you find yourself realizing that it was all this tremendous waste of time. Dolph Ziggler’s Royal Rumble appearance in 2018 was definitely one of those times.
Months earlier, he was inserted into a United States Championship match between Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode for no explained reason. Ziggler won the match. On the next SmackDown, he cut a promo about his win and acted disgusted about his history of holding various titles. He threw down the US title, walked off, and the belt was vacated. That had people wondering what the payoff was going to be. What was Ziggler so mad about and where would they go with this?
There was no follow-up at all. Ziggler appeared at the Rumble, eliminated Goldust, lost in two minutes, and went back to being the guy on the roster who complained about being an entertaining loser.
TRISH STRATUS (2018)
Considering the kind of match the first women’s Royal Rumble was, this was the perfect choice for last. The match not only featured the current crop of women in WWE, but also plenty of names from the past. While that meant those who had a negative effect on the women’s division like Kelly Kelly, there was also someone like Trish Stratus, who was able to stand out as a good worker in a time when the division wasn’t known for workrate.
She wasn’t going to win and she shouldn’t have won regardless. It was about giving her enough of a showcase where she could do a couple eliminations, rekindle her rivalry with Mickie James, and lose to modern star Sasha Banks.
CHRIS JERICHO (2018, GREATEST ROYAL RUMBLE)
Greatest Royal Rumble was a bit of nonsense. Put together by the Saudi Arabian government as an international PR tactic, it was a mostly meaningless show with some major names involved and a 50-man Royal Rumble. Hell, WWE was even asked to include guys who were long dead!
One of the matches was supposed to be Undertaker vs. Rusev in a casket match. For reasons never fully explained, the match was changed to Undertaker vs. Chris Jericho. Then it went back to being Undertaker vs. Rusev.
Jericho had his status as a legend in WWE, but he was making more and more sporadic appearances. It was a lot of things, really. He started appearing at NJPW shows and the way WWE treated his last run put a bad taste in his mouth. Him showing up in the Greatest Royal Rumble was one of his final appearances in the company and they didn’t really do much with him. He showed up, got a big pop, eliminated Shelton Benjamin, lost to Braun Strowman, and got his big payout.
CARMELLA/BECKY LYNCH (2019)
For several months, WWE held a round robin tournament on Facebook called Mixed-Match Challenge. It involved various teams of one man and one woman each facing off against each other. Whichever team came out of it with the most wins by the end would get a free trip to wherever they wanted and dual #30 spots in the upcoming Royal Rumble. The winning team ended up being R-Truth and Carmella.
Carmella needed the Mixed-Match Challenge victory to keep her afloat, for what it was worth. Within the last year, she had been SmackDown Women’s Champion with part of the story being that she really wasn’t all that deserving of it. She turned face and got to be the last threat for the women’s Rumble, getting the better of Alexa Bliss before peacing out.
Thing is, while Carmella walked out at the #30 spot, she wasn’t exactly the last person in the match. Becky Lynch took Lana’s place, but Lana was #27. Becky was the actual final contestant, making it kind of a gray area.
R-TRUTH/NIA JAX (2019)
Like I said, Truth earned his spot at #30. It just felt…off. Despite being a popular act, R-Truth hadn’t been even close to the main event scene since 2011. He seemed like the weakest wrestler to ever get that spot.
So when he walked out for his entrance, he was ambushed by Nia Jax, herself angry about how the women’s match ended up. If Becky Lynch could take Lana’s spot, then she could take R-Truth’s. She came off as a pretty big threat, eliminating Mustafa Ali before the team of Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio dealt with her.
It seemed like the idea was to do an intergender match with her and the departing Dean Ambrose, but such an idea fizzled out. So Nia’s time as #30 in the men’s Rumble was just a fun diversion that didn’t go anywhere.