WWE: The Top 100 Royal Rumble Moments

After three decades, the Royal Rumble match has given us plenty of awesome moments. Here's a whole bunch of 'em!

WWE Royal Rumble is upon us and I’m pumped. You pumped? I’m pumped. Totally pumped. This is the wrestling equivalent of Christmas.

The brainchild of Pat Patterson, the Royal Rumble match was originally a gimmick used for a house show that did terribly. Less than 2,000 people showed up for it, there were no TV cameras and they actually gave away the winner during intermission. No, really. They said that the winner would get a title shot against Hogan the next time they were in town and when hyping up the next card, they announced Hogan vs. One Man Gang for the title. Then One Man Gang won!

The first mainstream Royal Rumble, showcased in 1988, came from an attempt to screw over Jim Crocket Promotions, as the Rumble was a free TV special aired against a PPV. That year, the Rumble match featured nothing but midcard acts. The next few years included main eventers like Hogan and only acted as a vehicle for bragging rights and a large winner’s purse. The WWF Championship was vacated at the end of 1991, meaning that the 1992 Royal Rumble winner would be champion. After that, the Rumble has been a path to a WrestleMania title shot against whoever the champion may be.

While they’ve been doing it annually, there have been some extra Rumbles.

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In the mid-90s, they had a couple take place at house shows with Owen Hart and the Undertaker winning. Members of D-Generation X and the Corporation fought it out in a Corporate Royal Rumble for the right to be #30 in the 1999 match. When Chris Benoit won the 2004 Rumble and snuck off to Raw, Paul Heyman declared, “SCREW CHRIS BENOIT!” and held his own Royal Rumble with 15 SmackDown wrestlers (It’s on the WWE Network under SmackDown episode 232 from January 29, 2004). And who could forget Hornswoggle being forced into a Royal Rumble against vertically-challenged clones of famous superstars? I wish I could!

Having watched every Rumble all over again, here’s my take on the 100 best moments. Keep in mind, I’m only counting the Rumble matches, not the PPV, so Undertaker dying and flying into Heaven doesn’t count because that was from a separate match.

ROYAL RUMBLE - JOHN CENA'S RAPPING ENTRANCE

100. JOHN CENA’S RAPPING ENTRANCE

Royal Rumble 2003

In his Rumble debut, “The Doctor of Thugganomics” John Cena came to the ring with a mic in hand, rapping about how he was going to win. He spent the next minute and a half, slowly walking, taking his sweet time. By the time he finished and got in, the clock was ready to start ticking for the next entrant. I have to rank it just for style alone, but I can’t rank it high. Why? Because the rapping was terrible. Usually Cena could bring out some witty stuff, but he was completely off his game.

“Yo, it doesn’t matter, kid, ’cause I’ll rip your nose off.I can battle you naked with no clothes on!”

He also claimed that one of the reasons he’d win was because he cuts you up like cucumbers…only he didn’t rhyme it with anything and just moved onto the second reason. Man, I don’t even…

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ROYAL RUMBLE 2019 - NO WAY OUT FOR JOSE

99. NO WAY OUT FOR JOSE

Royal Rumble 2019

Once he hit the main roster, No Way Jose was dead in the water. It was no surprise that after a big entrance with his conga line, he’d be eliminated from the Royal Rumble immediately. It’s a simple gag helped out by the idea that he’d just shrug it off and dance his way back up the ramp.

Little did he realize that he’d be taking more damage leaving the match than being in the match itself.

It’s my opinion that Drew McIntyre really should have won the 2019 Rumble so they could have done McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman at WrestleMania and go somewhere with the feud they built up months earlier, then completely dropped. Despite not winning, McIntyre got to look like a killer from his entrance, where he not only smashed his skull into Jose’s, but he also violently cut through various members of the conga line for kicks.

ROYAL RUMBLE - DREW CAREY

98. DREW CAREY

Royal Rumble 2001

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Eh, this one was harmless fun. TV personality Drew Carey rubbed Triple H the wrong way backstage and was given a spot in the Royal Rumble. He came out to see Jeff and Matt Hardy duking it out and proceeded to stay out of the way. The Hardy Boyz appeared to be too evenly matched and eliminated each other. Yes, for one shining moment, Drew Carey was the last man standing. He seemed pretty high on himself and didn’t quite get a grasp on the idea that he was meant to fight a bunch of dudes.

read more: The Wrestlers Who Started the Royal Rumble Match

Then the explosions kicked in and Kane walked out. The two briefly rubbed elbows backstage and Kane was a bit offended by Drew’s inclusion. Cornered, Drew tried bribing Kane, but that didn’t work. Kane grabbed the improvisational host by the throat and prepared to do some Pete Rose-style thrashing, but then Raven entered the match and made the save. Finally realizing how much danger he was in, Drew Carey ran over the top rope and eliminated himself.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SANTINO CLEARS THE RING

97. SANTINO CLEARS THE RING…ALMOST!

Royal Rumble 2013

Santino came back from a lengthy vacation due to injury and made a beeline to the ring, where four opponents were busy fighting each other. Santino didn’t even want to waste his energy on softening them up. No, instead, Santino grabbed each wrestler and flung them over the top rope. Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, and Chris Jericho: all tossed over the top. Santino stood in the middle of the ring, overjoyed and totally pumped.

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read more: Every WWE Royal Rumble Winner Ranked

Unfortunately, his throwing arm needed some work. Everyone landed on the apron and nobody was gone from the match. Rather, the four all surrounded Santino and even donning the Cobra wasn’t enough to save him from a Dolph Ziggler superkick and easy elimination.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SID JUSTICE VS. SGT. SLAUGHTER

96. SID JUSTICE VS. SGT. SLAUGHTER

Royal Rumble 1992

During the early 90’s, Sergeant Slaughter wasn’t exactly known for his mobility. He was pretty over-the-hill and lumpy and his main advantage was his methodical style. Sid didn’t seem to be aware of that or possibly just didn’t care. Late into the Rumble, he grabbed Slaughter and launched him across the ring with an Irish whip at about 80 miles per hour. Slaughter broke the sound barrier hitting the ring post and skipped over it like a rock in a lake. Seeing Slaughter fly like someone was losing a round of Smash Bros. was one of the most rewindable moments in Royal Rumble history.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BIG SHOW

95. BIG SHOW’S BACK!

Royal Rumble 2001

Big Show left WWF for over half a year due to both his weight problem and notable lack of endurance. It was such a big punishment that they removed him from the video game WWF No Mercy and replaced his spot in recreating the Royal Rumble 2000/WrestleMania 2000 storyline with Steven Richards. He was a surprise entrant in the already-stacked 2001 Rumble, where he came out at #23.

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read more: A History of Women in the Royal Rumble

He cleaned house immediately. Test and K-Kwik were dealt with. Then he delivered chokeslam after chokeslam on Albert, Val Venis, Bradshaw, Crash Holly and finally Kane. He then grabbed the last man left, the Rock, and held him by the throat, but Rock was able to break free thanks to a swift kick in the Little Big Show. Rock clotheslined Show out of the ring and remained in the match. Unfortunately for him, Show wasn’t so pleased and dragged him out of the ring. Big Show chokeslammed the Rock through an announce table and left in a huff.

ROYAL RUMBLE - THE MAN OF TEN

94. THE MAN OF TEN

Royal Rumble 2017

Sometimes you just have to be contrived as hell. Tye Dillinger was a popular act on NXT who was over with the fans, but was long overdue to escape and move to the main roster. His gimmick of overly digging the number ten was up there with “guy who says his name twice” as one of those personas carried by the zest of the wrestler himself.

Because of this, so many fans had the same thought: what if Dillinger was a mystery entrant in the Royal Rumble and came out as #10?

WWE decided that that was a great idea and went with it. Dillinger, who still had a few months before hitting SmackDown, showed up at #10 and lasted a little over five minutes. He didn’t eliminate anyone, but he took on Braun Strowman without looking like a total joke, so good for him.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BRAY WYATT & BOOGEYMAN

93. CATCHING WORMS IN HIS MOUTH

Royal Rumble 2015

WWE tends to bungle things when it comes to Bray Wyatt, but for a few minutes, they seemed to have a good grasp on him in the 2015 Rumble. He had some drama with his (at the time) former followers, he eliminated a handful of guys, and he even lasted for a long time. He looked like a beast for a bit and the commentators even tried using that fact to soothe fans over Daniel Bryan’s elimination.

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Anyway, the lone entry on this list for the 2015 Rumble comes from an appearance from the Boogeyman. Seeing the mid-00s creep shuffle to the ring to face Wyatt was like seeing two counterparts meet up in a crossover. Like Thanos vs. Darkseid or Ryu vs. Terry Bogard or Homer Simpson vs. Peter Griffin. The two faced off and did all their usual creepy taunts until Wyatt easily removed Boogeyman from the ring.

You could almost consider this a stepping stone towards his attempt to usurp the Undertaker’s crown, but that feud (and the second attempt) was dumb and forgettable.

ROYAL RUMBLE - JERRY LAWLER

92. JERRY LAWLER MEETS REVELATIONS

Royal Rumble 1996

As Jake Roberts entered the Royal Rumble, he carried a bag over his shoulder with his trusty python Revelations inside. He tossed the snake into the ring and good God was it gigantic. Everyone in there cheesed it like there was no tomorrow, including Mabel launching himself through the ropes. The only one who wasn’t paying attention was Jerry “The King” Lawler, who was too busy strangling Henry Godwin in the corner. Jake dragged Lawler into the center of the ring, where he covered him in Revelations to a massive pop. Lawler acted like he just saw his entire life flash before his eyes and crawled around the ring before escaping as well.

ROYAL RUMBLE - CRACKS IN THE SHIELD

91. CRACKS IN THE SHIELD

Royal Rumble 2014

The rise and destruction of the Shield is probably the best storyline WWE’s had in years and one of the many reasons is how, for a time, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns almost killed the team while Seth Rollins helplessly flailed and tried to keep it afloat. We got to see that friction the 2014 Rumble as part of Roman’s wrecking ball run where he took out a total of twelve opponents.

With the contenders whittling down, Roman threw out Luke Harper. Ambrose saw an opportunity and threw his teammate over the top rope. While Roman landed on the apron and staved off elimination, Rollins screamed at Ambrose for his actions. Cesaro then sprung at them and tried to take advantage of the confusion. As those three grappled in the ropes, Roman – thinking that both of his partners tried to oust him – had no issue with eliminating Ambrose, Rollins, and Cesaro in one gesture.

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ROYAL RUMBLE - JOHN CENA AND HORNSWOGGLE

90. JOHN CENA AND HORNSWOGGLE

Royal Rumble 2011

As Cena and CM Punk battled alone, Hornswoggle entered the Rumble to test his mettle and perhaps earn a WrestleMania title shot. Once Cena disposed of Punk, that left just him and the leprechaun. Instead of attacking or at least trying to politely remove Hornswoggle from the ring, Cena instead allowed him to be his sidekick for the time being. The next couple entries were Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater and Cena had a ball, letting Hornswoggle in on the action. Not only did they do a Ten-Knuckle Shuffle on Slater, but Hornswoggle was able to get Kidd on his shoulders for the world’s smallest Attitude Adjustment.

Later on, Horswoggle was Brogue Kicked out of the ring by Sheamus, but I have to admit that it was fun while it lasted.

ROYAL RUMBLE - ROMAN

89. R, THE LAST MAN

Royal Rumble 2017

Roman had a fruitful few years in the Royal Rumble, but the crowds weren’t too into him. In 2014, they cheered him by default because he was a better choice than Sheamus and Batista. In 2015, they hated his guts for winning the match. In 2016, the match revolved around him and the fans were still annoyed. At least in 2017, he had a title match on the undercard that he lost, so that meant a Rumble WITHOUT Roman for once, right?

Nope! Roman appeared at #30, only for once, the bookers knew what they were doing with him. Despite being the top face, they knew that the fans would hate on him and went all-in. Between the double-dipping (while fellow title match loser AJ Styles didn’t get the same treatment), the showing up at #30, eliminating the Undertaker, and eliminating should-be winner Chris Jericho, the fans would have accepted nearly anyone as the winner over him.

As it turned out, that was the best way to have Randy Orton win the match and have the crowd care.

Royal Rumble 2000

88. THE ENDLESS RUN-INS

Royal Rumble 2000

It was decided before the show that wrestlers from the undercard would be allowed entry into the 2000 Royal Rumble. This meant that Kaientai and the Mean Street Posse would lose their spots. The five were outraged, claiming that they were being persecuted for being Japanese and rich. While the decision remained, they wouldn’t let it go.

During the match, the two teams tried running in several times. Each time, they were all taken out immediately, meaning their outrage was moot. The Posse at least became instrumental in eliminating both members of the Acolytes, but Kaientai was the more memorable faction. Taka flew over the ropes and landed face-first onto the ground, causing a great need for medical attention. Funaki would run in on his own later on while Lawler kept asking for more replays of Taka falling on his face.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SHAWN MICHAELS VS. SHELTON BENJAMIN

87. SHAWN MICHAELS VS. SHELTON BENJAMIN

Royal Rumble 2008

For some reason throughout Shelton Benjamin’s WWE career, he was the paper to Shawn Michaels’ scissors, especially in the Royal Rumble. The best example came in 2008, where Shelton entered the ring like a house of fire. He immediately hopped up to the top rope in the corner, grabbed both Miz and John Morrison and draped their necks down across the top rope. CM Punk got in his way and ate the Paydirt. Shelton popped up and before he could even look for his next victim, Michaels appeared out of nowhere with Sweet Chin Music and launched him several blocks away. Tough break, but it certainly looked cool.

ROYAL RUMBLE - LEGION OF DOOM VS. THE UNDERTAKER

86. LEGION OF DOOM VS. THE UNDERTAKER

Royal Rumble 1991

Undertaker was still new in the ’91 Rumble and they obviously wanted to make him a big deal. They just didn’t want to push him straight to the top just yet. Understandably, they wanted to keep him away from Hogan and that meant they needed to get him out of the Rumble without ruining any of his credibility. What better way than having him take on the most dominant tag team of the time?

Undertaker strangled Hawk in the corner, but soon enough, Animal came rushing in to aid his partner. The two had Undertaker against the ropes, pounding him in the breadbasket in tandem when Undertaker suddenly sprung to life and strangled both of them, pushing them back with each hand. They broke free thanks to two well-timed kicks and then sent Undertaker over the top rope with a double-clothesline. Undertaker landed on his feet and the crowd went nuts for it. It was a moot point for Hawk, who was clotheslined out from behind thanks to Hercules and Rick Martel. The visual of LOD vs. Undertaker is still one of the things I remember most fondly about the early Rumbles.

Royal Rumble - Triple H, Austin, and Hurricane

85. THE HURRICANE REVENGE SQUAD

Royal Rumble 2002

Speaking of double-chokes that go completely wrong…

Triple H and Austin were the only ones in the ring and proceeded to knock the wind out of each other. They were both down and easy pickings for the next guy out. That turned out to be the Hurricane, who appeared just a little too high on his so-called super strength. As the two stumbled to their feet, Hurricane grabbed them by the throats in preparation for a double-chokeslam. Rather than budge, Triple H and Austin slowly came to their senses and shared a look at each other as if to ask, “Is this guy for real?” Then they grabbed him by the head and sent him sailing over the top.

SmackDown Rumble - Stinkface

84. SHELTON BENJAMIN: STINKFACE VICTIM

SmackDown Rumble

The Stinkface is one of those things about the Attitude Era that I kind of hate myself for once enjoying. Whenever I see it in old clips, I kind of have to sigh because, really! Come on!

Still, I laugh at the spot when used in the SmackDown Rumble match. Rikishi performed the move onto several victims and the one that really stood out was Shelton Benjamin. Shelton sold the move better than anyone in the business by letting out an over-the-top, horrified shriek with the ass right about to hit his face. After Rikishi moved on to his next victim, Charlie Haas ran over and tried to help his partner by frantically wiping the butt sweat off of his face.

Royal Rumble - Matt Hardy

83. MATT GETS MOORE HELP

Royal Rumble 2003

Shannon Moore never got to be part of the Royal Rumble in any form, but he at least got the next best thing by serving the Sensei of Mattitude, Matt Hardy Version 1.0. For whatever reason, the referees allowed Moore to hang around during the proceedings, where he did a fantastic job of assisting his mentor. If Matt was being pushed out of the ring, Moore would push him back in. When Jeff went for the Swanton on his evil brother, Moore would drape himself over Matt’s carcass to take the punishment. He did an A+ job as both a human shield and Lakitu from Mario Kart. Unfortunately for Moore, there’s only so much one man can do and when Brock Lesnar F5’d Matt out of the ring, that dude was gone.

Royal Rumble 2011

82. WRATH OF THE NEW NEXUS

Royal Rumble 2011

2011 was the biggest Royal Rumble at the time (at least in WWE. I once saw a Japanese Royal Rumble with well over 100 participants). The extra ten guys were really for the sake of giving the New Nexus their time to shine without outright breaking the show. Punk was #1 in the Rumble and waited it out until Husky Harris came in at #9, Michael McGillicutty came in at #13, and David Otunga came in at #15. From there, they seemed unstoppable. It was the four of them against anyone with the misfortune of coming into the ring. Tyler Reks, Vladimir Kozlov, and R-Truth exited just as quickly as they entered. Jerry Lawler proceeded to whine about how this wasn’t in the spirit of the Royal Rumble.

The Great Khali arrived and broke the line, even succeeding in getting rid of Husky Harris. His headway was short-lived, as the final New Nexus member Mason Ryan was next and took care of Khali singlehandedly. After getting rid of a returning Booker T, the group met their end at the hands of John Cena. Normally the idea of Cena singlehandedly defeating the entire New Nexus would have me rolling my eyes, but they did it really well here. Cena didn’t simply overpower them all with pure brute strength, but was able to maneuver around and outwit them before clearing the ring of everyone but himself and Punk. Punk didn’t last much longer anyway.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BRET HART

81. BRET HART’S REVENGE

Royal Rumble 1995

Bret Hart had a right to be angry. He had a chance to become champion in an undercard match against fellow face Diesel, but his enemies Owen Hart and Bob Backlund got involved and caused the match to end in disqualification. Well, two could play at this game. When Owen came out for the Royal Rumble, Bret was there to greet him with a whole lot of angry punches to the face. Officials pulled Bret away and a hurt and frightened Owen ran into the ring for asylum. You know, where all the other guys were busy attacking anything that moved. Owen ran right into a backdrop courtesy of the British Bulldog and was gone in three seconds.

Backlund had the same problem and took a moment to recuperate. After sixteen seconds of standing there, watching Bret get led away, he was wide open for Lex Luger to clothesline him from behind and send him to the floor.

Royal Rumble - Doink the Clown

80. WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?

Royal Rumble 1994

Diesel and Crush found themselves to be the only ones in the ring and went at it. Doink the Clown came out and chose to play it smart…almost. He stayed in the corner and let the two big men clobber each other. He may have gotten away with it longer had he not laughed about it and gotten their attention. He played it cool by using a squirting flower and stomps to the feet to keep himself standing tall, but it wouldn’t last and the two took turns smashing his head in.

Doink’s nemesis Bam Bam Bigelow came out next, noticing that Doink was left in a heap in the center of the ring. Diesel and Crush took a break from the beating in order to sit down on the middle rope and hold up the top rope to offer Bam Bam an easier entry. Bam Bam easily disposed of Doink, which led to a unique moment in Rumble history where there were three heels forced to fight each other and nobody else.

Royal Rumble 2007

79. CHEKOV’S TABLE

Royal Rumble 2007

Sabu had yet to burn his bridge with WWE, so he got a spot in the Rumble match. When he came out, he made sure to set up a table near the apron facing the entranceway. It became a looming threat for the next few minutes, where he tried throwing Gregory Helms into it to no avail. Kane stepped in to wreak havoc and got into it with Sabu. Sabu tried his hardest, but found himself standing on the apron with Kane preventing him from reentering the ring. Kane made the elimination count by clutching the throat and chokeslamming Sabu through the table. What a way to go.

SANTINO MARELLA VS. ALBERTO DEL RIO (2011)

78. SANTINO MARELLA VS. ALBERTO DEL RIO

Royal Rumble 2011

Santino entered the Royal Rumble at #37 and ran directly into a Brogue Kick via Sheamus. Santino crumbled and slipped under the bottom rope, where he wasn’t heard from for another twelve minutes. During that time, Alberto Del Rio was able to endure and throw out Randy Orton, seemingly making him the winner. While his music played and he smiled in victory, Del Rio didn’t notice a half-conscious Santino slowly getting up behind him. Santino was never eliminated! The ref tried to warn Del Rio, but before he knew it, Santino was there to blindside him with the Cobra!

Santino is a guy who made his debut winning a big match that he had no right winning. Could he be the one going to WrestleMania? The crowd was pumped for it as he grabbed Del Rio and led him towards the ropes to throw him over. Instead, Del Rio twisted around and used Santino’s momentum against him, once again solidifying himself as the winner. Stomping dreams: what a great heel tactic.

ROYAL RUMBLE - UNDERTAKER VS. THE TEXAS TORNADO

77. UNDERTAKER VS. THE TEXAS TORNADO

Royal Rumble 1991

“Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich had a discus punch as a finisher and while it may have won him some matches, it was definitely one of the weaker finishers of the early 90’s and it didn’t help his credibility when he’d hit that move on everyone in the ’91 Rumble. Sure, they’d all fall over and flip around, but he wasn’t going to really knock anyone out with it.

On the other hand, the Undertaker was being built as a major dude, but they had yet to really show how powerful he was. So far all he had done was squash Koko B. Ware, blaze through jobbers (well, other jobbers), and brawl with Dusty Rhodes. Just how unstoppable was this guy supposed to be?

They let us measure that by having Von Erich spin around and punch Undertaker right in the face…only for Undertaker to completely no-sell it. The same move that won him the Intercontinental Championship against Mr. Perfect didn’t make so much as a dent on this guy. That’s one of the first moments you could tell they meant for Undertaker to be something special.

ROYAL RUMBLE 2019 - HORNSWOGGLE'S REAL ESTATE

76. HORNSWOGGLE’S REAL ESTATE

Royal Rumble 2019

Hiding under the ring is a regular trope in battle royals, but when Zelina Vega tried it, it hit another level. Vega – dressed as Street Fighter’s Vega – decided to escape the ring and spend much of the match beneath the ring. Every now and then, we’d be reminded that she was still legal via her peaking out from beneath the apron and smiling as if she was the smartest wrestler ever.

Apparently, being under the ring all this time, she was unaware that Hornswoggle was living there. On one hand, it was a while since he made a WWE appearance, but on the other hand, he canonically lives under every WWE ring. Upon seeing the leprechaun making eyes right next to her, Vega made a break for it, got chased back into the ring, and was quickly eliminated. She then raced up the ramp with Hornswoggle still making the chase.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SHAWN MICHAELS & KURT ANGLE

75. THE START OF THE MICHAELS/ANGLE FEUD

Royal Rumble 2005

Earlier in the night, Kurt Angle lost a Triple Threat for the WWE Championship, but his dreams of glory weren’t over. He stole Nunzio’s Rumble entry through bullying tactics and showed up at #20. He started out on fire, delivering various suplexes and Angle Slams to everyone in the vicinity. Shawn Michaels was able to counter both the Angle Slam and the Angle Lock, culminating in Sweet Chin Music sending Angle over the top rope.

Moments later, Angle came to his senses and was furious. He dove back into the ring, grabbed Michaels and dumped him to the outside. He slammed ring steps into his skull and beat on him some more until officials pulled him away from the bloodied Michaels. This was WWE’s way of advertising a drool-worthy WrestleMania feud and it was certainly a great start.

ROYAL RUMBLE - EMBER MOON VS. ASUKA

74. EMBER MOON VS. ASUKA

Royal Rumble 2018

Before losing to Charlotte, there was a dynamic charisma that came with Asuka. As the Goldberg of the women’s division, she was more than just a wrecking ball. Against different opponents, she would act in different ways. For some, she would hold back out of respect. When disrespected, she would tear her opponent to pieces. Sometimes, she recognized that she had to be on her A-game against certain threats.

Then there was Ember Moon, the only one good enough to be considered Asuka’s rival. Although Ember never got a win over Asuka in NXT, she was different from the rest. She made Asuka sweat enough that Asuka had to cut corners and exploit every weakness to get by. Unfortunately, there was no payoff to this in NXT, since Asuka got injured and had to relinquish the title. Over time, Ember was able to win it herself.

At the Royal Rumble, Ember showed up. Unfortunately for her, it was the day after NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia. Ember retained against Shayna Baszler, but just barely and she had an injured arm to show for it. When she and Asuka were the only ones standing, Asuka lit up like a Christmas tree, excited to not only see her greatest challenge, but to see her with an obvious weak point.

Their battle ended the only way it could have, with Asuka taking the easy way out by attacking the arm and sending Ember down to the floor.

read more: The History of Women at the Royal Rumble

ROYAL RUMBLE - SHAWN MICHAELS & LAWLER

73. WHERE’S LAWLER?

Royal Rumble 1996

After that earlier situation with Jake Roberts and Revelations, Lawler took advantage of the confusion by not reentering the ring. He just hung out under it, biding his time and occasionally sticking his head out for a peek. He spent about a half hour under there, but Shawn Michaels ended up on the outside – though only through the ropes, so he was still active – and got wind that Lawler was hiding. He crawled under the ring, grabbed Lawler by the ankles, and dragged him kicking and screaming back into the ring, where he was able to send him back out over the top rope. This spot would constantly be brought up in Lawler’s commentary for years to come.

ROYAL RUMBLE - KURRGAN (1998)

72. EVERYTHING KURRGAN

Royal Rumble 1998

Kurrgan’s Hollywood career has been taking off in the last few years with roles in 300Sherlock Holmes, and Pacific Rim, but for a short while, they were pretty serious about making a big deal in the WWF. Before inexplicably turning him into a goofy face, Kurrgan was an unstoppable monster figure and his time in this match was truly something to watch. It wasn’t even really on him, but the reactions of everyone around him.

First off, as he marched to the ring, Chainsaw Charlie reached over the ropes with his hand out as if to make friends. When Kurrgan ignored it, Charlie did a hilarious, slow jog across the ring, as if to say, “Annnnd, we’re walking!” Mosh tried pounding on him in the corner while standing on the second rope, but Kurrgan just picked him up and dropped him to the floor. Mosh landed perfectly on his feet, transitioning immediately into a look of disappointment. Steve Blackman did a sweet jumping roundhouse kick that was like an inch away from Kurrgan’s face. Kurrgan responded with his yelling, sounding much like Tom Waits speaking in tongues, and shortly after threw Blackman out.

It wasn’t until Ken Shamrock was able to stun the big man that everyone ganged up on him and threw him out. Kurrgan landed on his feet, keeping the idea going that nobody had been able to knock him over yet in his career. He angrily yelled his scratchy-voiced nonsense, causing a nearby fan to respond with his best Kurrgan impression.

ROYAL RUMBLE - AUSTIN WINS THROUGH LOSING (1997)

71. AUSTIN WINS THROUGH LOSING

Royal Rumble 1997

Austin lasted a long, long time in the ’97 Rumble, but it seemingly came to an end when Bret Hart threw him to the outside. Austin was luckier than anyone realized, as the referees were all too busy splitting up the fight between Mankind and Terry Funk, so nobody even knew that Austin was out of the running. He slipped back into the ring and in a burst of energy, eliminated Vader, Undertaker and Bret to become the Rumble winner.

Bret had a fit, natch, and it was decided that Austin would put that title shot on the line at the next PPV against the three men he illegally removed from the ring. Then due to Shawn Michaels “losing his smile” (ugh), it became a title match.

ROYAL RUMBLE DANCE PARTY (2000)

70. SUDDEN DANCE PARTY

Royal Rumble 2000

Grand Master Sexay and Rikishi both endured the early parts of the 2000 match, but it became awkward when they were the only ones left in the ring. That meant that they had to fight, right? More specifically, that meant Grand Master was going to get flattened. The next entrant turned out to be the third member of their trio, Scotty 2 Hotty, and he wanted to diffuse the situation. He did it via applying sunglasses to Rikishi.

The lights dimmed and their theme music started playing as the three friends danced in the ring, delighting the Madison Square Garden crowd. Then in the middle of it, Rikishi turned on his partners and flung them out of there. Grand Master and Scotty understood and fist-bumped their bro before leaving and allowing him to dominate the match for the next several minutes.

ROYAL RUMBLE - YOKOZUNA (1993)

69. YOKOZUNA: IMMOVABLE OBJECT

Royal Rumble 1993

Yokozuna is the only monster heel to ever win the Rumble and they did a wonderful job making it seem completely hopeless. This wasn’t like when guys like Michaels, Flair, or Orton won because they all looked like there was some kind of window of opportunity to get them out of there. Yokozuna simply could not be beaten. A handful of wrestlers thought it would be best to team up on him and try to hoist him over the top rope together. Yokozuna put the kibosh on that by knocking them all off of him, dissuading them from trying to work in conjunction. But if they couldn’t stop him together, how were they going to stop him divided?

They simply didn’t. Even when guys like Bob Backlund and Randy Savage were able to get a brief advantage, there was nothing even suggesting that they could have gotten him over the top rope. Yokozuna pretty handily won that match.

ROYAL RUMBLE - KOFI KINGSTON'S CHAIR

68. KOFI’S GOT THE CHAIR!

ROYAL RUMBLE 2012

Not all chair uses in wrestling are based on offense. Kofi Kingston got knocked out of the ring, but was able to latch onto Tensai’s back. Kofi ended up on the announce table, which was a good news/bad news situation. Good news was that he was still in the match, since he hadn’t touched the floor. The bad news was that he didn’t have a chance to ever make the jump to the apron. Instead, he asked JBL for his roller chair and the commentator happily obliged, curious to see where this was going.

Kofi crouched onto the chair and used it as a pogo stick of sorts, slowly inching his way to the ring. He made it to the apron, but his stunt was all for naught. Cody Rhodes met him with a Disaster Kick and sent him back to the floor.

ROYAL RUMBLE - MR. PERFECT VS. RIC FLAIR

67. MR. PERFECT VS. RIC FLAIR

Royal Rumble 1993

The inclusion of Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair into the ’93 Rumble added an incredibly interesting wrinkle. Mr. Perfect had recently turned face on Flair and their feud reached the point where there was only room in the company for one of them. On the following night on Raw, they’d have a Loser Leaves Town Match. That had me hoping that whoever lost that match would win the Rumble, just to see where they would go with such a storyline. They didn’t go that route and in retrospect, it was pretty obvious that Flair was going to lose the next night since they used the Rumble to create a Perfect/Lawler feud and they had Bob Backlund break Flair’s record for longest time in the match.

Anyway, when Perfect showed up with Flair already in the ring, the place went nuts. More importantly, Bobby Heenan on commentary went nuts, watching these two guys tear into each other. Though I guess more specifically, it was Perfect tearing into Flair with Flair occasionally saving himself with a thumb to the eye. In a preview of the next night’s Raw, Perfect decisively beat Flair to a huge ovation.

ROYAL RUMBLE - AUSTIN'S HEARSE (1999)

66. AUSTIN’S NEW RIDE

Royal Rumble 1999

There was a lot of ridiculous stuff going on outside the ring in this Rumble, but one thing that was pretty slick was how one angle transitioned into another. Vince McMahon was on commentary, happy over the fact that Austin was taken care of and would in no way be competing for the title shot. Earlier, the Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness had captured Mabel and cameras backstage showed Undertaker loading the big man into his hearse. They drove off and passed an ambulance, which was driving erratically.

To McMahon’s horror, Austin was driving the ambulance and stepped out so he could make his way back to the ring.

ROYAL RUMBLE - CACTUS JACK VS. CHAINSAW CHARLIE

65. CACTUS JACK VS. CHAINSAW CHARLIE

Royal Rumble 1998

Tag partners and longtime friends Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie drew #1 and #2 respectively. Their loyalty towards one another was more than a little twisted. When somebody else was in the ring, they’d team up against them, like when they placed a trashcan over the Rock’s head and beat him with chairs. But the moment it was just the two of them? Not only did they murder each other with weapons, but they did it respectfully. If Cactus nailed Chainsaw with a chair to the head, he’d let his buddy take a free shot.

read more: Complete List of Upcoming Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Movies

Chairshots to the head are harder to watch when the guy is bracing for impact, but it was pretty fun at the time, I guess.

Santino and Foley Sock Duel

64. A FISTFUL OF SOCKS

Royal Rumble 2012

This one’s a little more upbeat. Santino eliminated Ricardo Rodriguez and while Miz and Cody Rhodes were taking a breather, Santino and Foley were the only ones standing. The two stared at each other and the tension began to build. Like wild west gunslingers, the two started holding their hands over their hips while making wiggling finger gestures as if ready to draw. Draw what, though?

That’s when the connection became obvious. At the same time, Santino reached in his tights for the Cobra and Foley pulled out Mr. Socko. We would never get to see the winner of this goofball duel, as Epico came out next and fell victim to both the Cobra and Socko.

ROYAL RUMBLE - Daniel Bryan and Kane

63. TEAM HELL NO EXPLODES

Royal Rumble 2013

Despite being effective, Daniel Bryan and Kane were always bickering as a tag team and it was obvious that they’d turn on each other at the drop of a hat at the ’13 Rumble. True to form, Bryan snuck up on the Big Red Machine and threw him over the top. Bryan paid for this karma when Cesaro caught him from behind and sent him to the outside. Luckily, Bryan was caught by Kane, who held him in almost a Scooby-Doo fashion. Kane was confused for a second and Bryan – the man who just stabbed him in the back – pleaded with him to put him back in the ring. With a back and forth argument of, “YES!” and, “NO!” Kane finally dumped Bryan on the floor to teach him a lesson.

ROYAL RUMBLE - CHRIS JERICHO (2010)

62. YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE WINNER

Royal Rumble 2010

The direction was perfect here. Chris Jericho was the only man on his feet when it was time for #29 to come out. Edge came out, which was a shocker, since he was on the injured list and wasn’t expected back. He also left as a heel, but Jericho’s badmouthing of his former partner allowed him to return as a good guy and he went on to eliminate Jericho and outlast everyone else to be the winner that nobody saw coming.

Greatest Royal Rumble 2018

61. TITUS WORLDSLIDE

Greatest Royal Rumble

The Greatest Royal Rumble had a couple cool moments that aren’t cool enough to make this list. Stuff like the brief battle between Daniel Bryan and Kurt Angle, the way Elias cut himself off so he could dash into the ring and make a triple elimination, the ridiculous battle between Breezango and Mojo Rawley, etc. For the most part, the would-be epic match was kind of there.

The main reason it will be remembered for years to come is for Titus O’Neil’s run to the ring. At #39, he dashed to the ring and Cole started talking up Titus’ week in Saudi Arabia. With the camera on the ring, Cole and Graves suddenly lost their minds. A replay quickly let the fans in on what happened. Titus’ run ended with him tripping, slipping, and sliding under the ring.

The next several minutes made it hard for the commentators to call the action because they were too taken aback by Titus’ fall and kept asking for replays. Saxton was amused and Cole was laughing over his calls, but Corey Graves was straight-up cackling and I don’t blame him.

read more: The Worst Royal Rumble Moments in WWE History

ROYAL RUMBLE - UNDERTAKER AND SHAWN MICHAELS

60. UNDERTAKER AND SHAWN MICHAELS START THINGS OFF

Royal Rumble 2008

It was about time when WWE thought of hiring old WCW mainstay Michael Buffer to do the opening announcements for the 2008 Royal Rumble match. Rumbles are his thing, man! Except, if you were going to have Buffer start up your match, you needed some big players to start it out. Were you going to waste his million dollar voice on Carlito and Jamie Noble? No, you needed something a bit more memorable.

And so, #1 was the Undertaker and #2 was Shawn Michaels, the same men who ended the previous year’s match. It was certainly a treat to watch them go at it for the next several minutes, occasionally interrupted by the likes of Santino and Khali (who received thunderous “YOU CAN’T WRESTLE!” chants). The ring did fill up and they did both get eliminated, but it did add more groundwork to one of the all-time best rivalries.

ROYAL RUMBLE - STEVE AUSTIN

59. AUSTIN KILLS TIME

Royal Rumble 2002

When Steve Austin entered the ’02 Rumble, he made short work of all the midcarders in the ring. Perry Saturn, Christian, and Chuck Palumbo were all dealt with in a swift fashion. That meant having to wait for the next competitor to show up and there was still plenty of time left. Austin stared at the black tape on the back of his wrist as if it was a watch and got immediately bored. He slid to the outside, got his hands on a dazed Christian and threw him back in. Stunner! Then he sent him flying back out.

Chuck Palumbo suffered the same fate, though his was better because it had Jim Ross saying, “No, Chuck, don’t leave. You have something in your future. IT’S A STUNNER!

ROYAL RUMBLE - ANDRE SEES HIMSELF OUT

58. ANDRE SEES HIMSELF OUT

Royal Rumble 1989

Andre was in the midst of a feud with Jake Roberts, which was a very David and Goliath situation. Not surprisingly, Andre was able to take out Jake during the Rumble match, despite Andre having a much earlier entry. Annoyed and seeking revenge, Jake came back several minutes later with his bag over his shoulder. He poured Damien into the ring and everyone scrambled. Most slid out of the ring, but Andre was so frightened that he stepped over the top rope and ran off, thereby eliminating himself in the heat of the moment. That’s one way to do it, I guess.

ROYAL RUMBLE 2004

57. WHO’S NEXT? WHO’S LAST?

Royal Rumble 2004

Bill Goldberg was the obvious red herring of the Royal Rumble in 2004. Not only was he the favorite to win based on being dominant throughout the year, but he won a match that granted him the #30 spot. Goldberg came in and started delivering spears to anyone in his line of sight. This included him spearing Nunzio so hard that Nunzio’s ribs folded and flipped around like an unlocked pair of handcuffs. He got rid of Charlie Haas, Billy Gunn, and Nunzio before Brock Lesnar showed up and delivered an F5 out of revenge for making him look bad in an earlier interview segment. Goldberg got back up, yelled at Lesnar, and Kurt Angle snuck up to throw him out.

ROYAL RUMBLE - THE SQUAT TEAM

56. THE SQUAT TEAM’S TWIN MAGIC

Royal Rumble 1996

In one of the stranger moments, #15 was a man known only for being part of the Squat Team, a tag team that was debuting at the Rumble. The large Samoan man picked a fight with Vader, which turned out to be a big mistake, and Vader got rid of him rather swiftly. As Squat Team #1 walked up the ramp, #16 turned out to be his twin brother, Squat Team #2. Squat #1 turned around and reentered the ring with his brother, referees presumably too confused to pick out who’s legal. Vader had his stablemate Yokozuna backing him up and the two fought off the brothers with little effort.

I think those guys made one more appearance before fading into obscurity. Oh, well. At least they made for a cool spot.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BOBBY LASHLEY VS. BIG SHOW AND KANE

55. BOBBY LASHLEY VS. BIG SHOW AND KANE

Royal Rumble 2006

WWE tried so, so hard to make us care about Bobby Lashley and the way he carried himself in the ’06 Rumble was a good argument for it. At the time, the only ones in the ring were Big Show, Triple H, and Mysterio. The latter two were down for the count. Lashley took on Big Show and let his power speak for itself. He did this rather sweet running tackle/backdrop move that was sort of botchy, but worked out well. Big Show fell under the bottom rope and next in was Kane. Lashley was also able to overwhelm the Big Red Machine, putting him down with the world’s worst Dominator.

Sylvan came out next and tried to start up an alliance with Lashley. Sylvan turned on him and immediately paid for his betrayal. Lashley, meanwhile, paid for not finishing what he started. He turned around to find Big Show and Kane waiting. They knocked him out with a double-chokeslam, threw him out and fought with each other.

ROYAL RUMBLE - DEMOLITION VS. THE COLOSSAL CONNECTION

54. DEMOLITION VS. THE COLOSSAL CONNECTION

Royal Rumble 1990

The last great feud in Andre’s in-ring career was alongside Haku as tag champs, fighting off challengers Demolition. As fate would have it, all four ended up in the ring together in this Rumble. Their rivalry continued to heat up, amidst all the other competitors who wanted their blood. During all of this, Ax and Smash succeeded in knocking the mighty Andre over the top rope with a double-clothesline to the back. This was a pretty big deal, at least in my eyes, due to how Andre was deemed as unbeatable in a battle royal environment and only lost the previous year due to his own volition. Haku avenged Andre by taking Ax out and the feud finally came to a head at WrestleMania VI.

53. LEGACY VS. GOLDUST

Royal Rumble 2009

Before they really ran the stable into the ground, Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr. were very loyal to Randy Orton and with good reason. He treated them well and mentored them. Goldust made a surprise appearance in the ’09 Rumble and went after his brother Cody. While the two brothers were very different, the main thing that set them apart was that Goldust had no backup. Orton caught him with an RKO and then gave him to Cody. Orton had every right to get rid of Goldust, but he allowed Cody the honor. Afterwards, they shook hands and continued working towards Orton’s goal.

ROYAL RUMBLE - GENE SNITSKY VS. PAUL LONDON

52. GENE SNITSKY VS. PAUL LONDON

Royal Rumble 2005

Paul London and Gene Snitsky had it out and as you can probably guess from the size difference and WWE’s indifference to London, Snitsky won. Despite London’s best efforts, he ended up on the apron. He ducked a clothesline from Snitsky and tried a counter attack. Snitsky instead caught him with another clothesline and London sold it like a thing of beauty. He back flipped forward, as if doing a Shooting Star Press to the ground.

Apparently, he was told later that he made the move look a little too good and needed to settle down on the overselling.

ROYAL RUMBLE - Ted Dibiase

51. DIBIASE’S COMEUPPANCE

Royal Rumble 1989

While most get the #30 spot through the luck of the draw or winning a special match, Ted Dibiase was more than a little bit corrupt. While the details weren’t fully laid out, it was insinuated that Dibiase used his money to not only buy the #30 spot, but to make it so that Big Boss Man and Akeem would be consecutive entries. That made it all the much sweeter at the end of the match when Big John Studd got rid of Akeem and was alone with a very frantic Dibiase. “The Million Dollar Man” offered to pay him off, but Studd wouldn’t have it. He spent the next couple minutes performing a completely one-sided and cathartic beatdown, including a couple suplex variations for good measure. Once he set Dibiase sailing, Virgil ran in to attack from behind, seconds before realizing what a bad idea that was. Studd gave him the same business that he gave Virgil’s boss and even Ventura on commentary couldn’t blame him.

read more: The 30 Best Wrestlers to Never Win the Royal Rumble

ROYAL RUMBLE CO-WINNERS (1994)

50. ROYAL RUMBLE CO-WINNERS

Royal Rumble 1994

Lex Luger and Bret Hart were both underdogs in 1994. Bret lost a tag match earlier in the night and afterwards, Owen turned on him and viciously attacked his injured leg. Luger was ambushed backstage by Mr. Fuji’s mercenaries, trying to make sure he’d never have a chance to gain another title shot. Those two ended up being the finalists and their battle was very short-lived. They both went over the ropes and landed in a spot with no cameras to prove who hit the ground first. The refs argued, the wrestlers argued, and President Jack Tunney had to come out to declare them both co-winners.

It was an interesting experiment, mainly because they were able to measure the crowd reaction. Bret was intensely more popular and ended up winning the title at WrestleMania X, while Luger proceeded to lose every feud he was in for the next year and a half.

ROYAL RUMBLE - THE GREAT KHALI VS. BETH PHOENIX

49. THE GREAT KHALI VS. BETH PHOENIX

Royal Rumble 2010

The Great Khali shut up cult leader CM Punk and was likely about to throw him from the ring. Then Beth Phoenix, only the second woman to enter the Royal Rumble, came out. Khali refused to do her any harm, being a gentleman. He picked her up, set her down on the apron and commanded her to go. She had other ideas. She grabbed “The Punjabi Playboy,” uncharacteristically gave him a big kiss, and dragged him down as she leaned back. The torque pulled Khali out of the ring while Phoenix remained in play. Khali got up and left, feeling that there was victory in his defeat. Phoenix just wiped her mouth in disgust and went after Punk.

read more: Royal Rumble: Battles From Outside of WWE

Royal Rumble 1998

48. THE THREE FACES OF FOLEY

Royal Rumble 1998

Cactus Jack entered at #1 and fought with his good buddy Chainsaw Charlie. Almost ten minutes later, Chainsaw sent him packing. Mick Foley would have his revenge when Mankind showed up at #16 and eliminated Chainsaw. Mankind wasn’t long for the Rumble and was gone in two minutes thanks to Goldust. Then he came out a third time at #28 as none other than Dude Love.

It’s a silly and fun turn of events that gets really confusing once you spend even a couple seconds thinking about it. What if Mankind lasted a half hour? Which official okay’d this idea? How many spots can Ed Leslie fill in a Rumble, hypothetically?

ROYAL RUMBLE - R-TRUTH

47. WHAT’S UP? NOTHING, ACTUALLY

Royal Rumble 2016

From midway 2015 into the beginning of 2016, R-Truth started a habit of turning WWE tropes on their head. He would talk up how he was going to win a Money in the Bank match in one segment only to have Kane explain that he wasn’t even in the match to begin with. Bray Wyatt’s teleportation edit would kick in and a confused R-Truth would appear instead. Goofy stuff like that.

This came to a wonderful conclusion at the 2016 Rumble, where R-Truth raced to the ring, pulled out a large ladder, set it up, climbed up, and wondered where the Money in the Bank briefcase was. Annoyed, Kane pulled him off the ladder and eliminated him.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BROCK LESNAR VS. UNDERTAKER

46. BROCK LESNAR VS. UNDERTAKER

Royal Rumble 2003

Lesnar and Undertaker were the final two entries in ’03 and after the ring started to clear a bit, they stared each other down for a moment. This showdown would be interrupted by Batista and Kane. Once those two were dealt with (albeit not eliminated), they went back to rekindling their old rivalry. It was a really sweet exchange, ending with Lesnar’s F5 being reversed into a Tombstone. Undertaker chose not to follow up, instead clotheslining Batista out and then tricking Kane into an alliance, only to stab him in the back and throw him out. Batista came back with a chair, proceeded to eat said chair, and Lesnar popped back up to grab Undertaker and fling him out.

Undertaker took his loss comparatively well, smirking at his own mistake. He came in and shook Lesnar’s hand out of respect.

ROYAL RUMBLE - TITO MARTEL

45. THE NEVER-ENDING STRIKE FORCE FEUD

Royal Rumble 1990-1993

One of the first truly memorable tag-team splits in WWF was Strike Force, the generic good guys team of Tito Santana and Rick Martel. At Wrestlemania V, Martel turned on Santana and ended their partnership. He became “The Model” and their feud was barely existent. Except in the Royal Rumble.

Over the next four years, there would be various times when Martel would be in the ring and Santana would be the next entrant. Every single time, he’d go straight for Martel and the two would remember their history and how much they absolutely hated each other. It helped that Santana never went heel and Martel never turned face. Strike Force being pissed at each other was the one thing you could always count on.

ROYAL RUMBLE - Ricardo Rodriguez

44. THAT’S NOT DEL RIO AT ALL!

Royal Rumble 2012

Del Rio had to take a break from action due to an unfortunate groin injury (wait, is there such thing as a fortunate groin injury?). John Cena, Edge, and Santino were famous for returning to the Royal Rumble before being fully healed, so people were accepting when Del Rio’s music started playing at #8. Then we saw his terrible car like something out of an Adam Sandler song and realized this couldn’t be right. Del Rio’s personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez stepped out of the lemon and attempted to make his boss proud, wearing his tights and aping his style. Considering the quality of his car and scarf, he was literally a poor man’s Del Rio.

ROYAL RUMBLE - HEATH SLATER (2018)

43. HEATH SLATER’S LONG NIGHT

Royal Rumble 2018

Baron Corbin was a proven winner in battle royal situations, but he didn’t fare so well in 2018, lasting just over a minute. Furious, he proceeded to brutalize the two men still in the match before storming off. As he walked to the back, Heath Slater arrived at #5, raring to go. Although Slater didn’t have much of a chance, it was a question of whether or not he was even going to make it to the ring as Corbin angrily beat him down.

As other heels showed up, they would take casual delight in putting the boots to the hurt and crawling Slater. While Elias and Bray Wyatt continued the abuse, Big E decided to pick up the half-dead Slater and force-feed him pancakes that were kept in Big E’s singlet. Whether this was supposed to help or hinder him is anyone’s guess.

Finally, Sheamus walked out at #11 and saw Slater as easy prey. He threw Slater into the ring and followed, only Slater sprung to his feet and met Sheamus with a surprise clothesline. Just like that, Sheamus was eliminated!

Bray Wyatt took out Slater half a minute later, so that celebration was short-lived. Still, Slater took out a former Rumble winner in near-record timing.

JOHN CENA VS. BATISTA VS. VINCE'S QUADS

42. JOHN CENA VS. BATISTA VS. VINCE’S QUADS

Royal Rumble 2005

John Cena and Batista were both on the same path to becoming the top guys in the company. If anyone was going to win in 2005, it was going to be one of them, so it was no surprise that they opposed each other in the finals. The question was, who would win? It was supposed to be Batista’s victory from the beginning, but they screwed up the finish and they both went out at the same time. This was like that incident with Luger and Bret in 1994, only unintentional! The refs improvised an argument and the two finalists kept throwing each other out of the ring to make a point. Finally, Vince stormed out, extremely pissed, and slid into the ring. He tore his quad doing so and immediately collapsed.

With time running out on the PPV, he demanded a sudden death. Then trying to leave the ring, he tore his other quad. Wonderful. Batista and Cena restarted the fight and this time Batista got the decisive win. While it wasn’t supposed to happen, it was at least well-handled and gave us a more interesting ending than what they were originally going for.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SANTINO (2009)

41. SANTINO BREAKS THE RECORD

Royal Rumble 2009

In 1989, WWF jobbed out the Warlord pretty bad for the sake of having someone lose the Rumble match immediately. Considering he was meant to be kind of a threat, they tried to recreate the same gag with Bushwacker Luke in 1991 to wipe the slate clean. His was far sillier (Earthquake threw him out, Luke landed on his feet, and happily marched towards the back as if nothing had happened), but it didn’t break that record. Despite that, he was the go-to wrestler to mention when it came to quick losses.

Luckily, WWE had Santino to shatter Warlord’s record and I don’t think it’ll ever be broken again. Power walking to the ring with wild determination, Santino got in and upon standing up, ate a clothesline from Kane. Santino fell out of the ring, rolled to his knees, and swore he wasn’t ready and wanted a mulligan.

ROYAL RUMBLE - MYSTERIO

40. MYSTERIO’S LILY PADS

Royal Rumble 2009

Randy Orton went on a tear, delivering RKO’s to anyone who got in his grill. That is, until he tried it on Triple H and received a Pedigree instead. Triple H picked up the prone bodies of John Morrison and the Miz and flung them out with no problem. Mysterio took the fight to Triple H, but ended up falling out of the ring. Luckily, he was able to jump on the backs of Miz and Morrison like an 8-bit platform hero and make his way back to the steps without ever having to touch the floor once.

The floor is lava, but Mysterio is hot fire.

ROYAL RUMBLE - GIANT GONZALEZ

39. GIANT GONZALEZ

Royal Rumble 1993

I know, I know. The guy was perhaps the all-time worst worker in WWE history and made Great Khali look like Ricky Steamboat, but the debut of the late Giant Gonzalez sure was one hell of a moment. The Undertaker came into the ring, his first year as a face, and proceeded to dominate. Anyone in his way was thrown out, excluding Bob Backlund, who was hurt on the floor, yet still in-play. After taking out the Berzerker, Undertaker saw an enormous dude in the weirdest tights ever walk to the ring. He wasn’t part of the match, but the near-8-foot Giant Gonzalez didn’t care. He was sent by Harvey Whippleman to get revenge and that he did.

It was just such a surreal situation. This guy was dressed as a naked man with the most untamed pubes in human history and he towered over the Undertaker. Then he proceeded to throw him around like a ragdoll, the first time anyone had ever done something like that. The beating included Undertaker flying out of the ring from one of Gonzalez’s strikes and even when Undertaker got up later on, he was noticeably limping.

ROYAL RUMBLE - EDDIE GUERRERO VS. KURT ANGLE

38. EDDIE GUERRERO VS. KURT ANGLE

SmackDown Rumble

The SmackDown Royal Rumble from 2004 was a blast and its ending was top notch. The finalists, Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero, were both underdogs. Angle came in at #1 and Eddie was hospitalized prior to the match and came back just in time to compete. After disposing of Rikishi (as talked about earlier on the list), the two started it out friendly and respectful, as they were allies at the time. It started with some mat wrestling and escalated when Eddie elbowed Angle in the face, upsetting him.

Before the epic battle between Michaels and Undertaker, Eddie and Angle gave us the first lengthy one-on-one battle that could have gone either way. If you haven’t seen this match, check it out, because they pulled off some great spots and repeatedly came so close to going out. By the end, Angle was standing on the apron, trying to suplex Eddie out to the floor. Eddie reversed the suplex, stopped in mid-air, rushed forward, and threw Angle to the floor instead.

Royal Rumble 2004/SmackDown Rumble

37. FUNK IS ON A ROLL

Royal Rumble 2004/SmackDown Rumble

After clearing the ring of everyone else, Chris Benoit and Randy Orton proved a little too evenly matched when they collided into each other and were momentarily knocked out. Surely, whoever was next could easily take advantage of the situation and gain at least one elimination. Instead, we got Ernest “The Cat” Miller, who came out to the theme song that would later be used for Brodus Clay (and Xavier Woods, I suppose). With his personal announcer Lamont, he entered the ring and proceeded to dance to the funk. Nothing else. That’s it. This didn’t sit too well with Benoit and Orton, who started to regain consciousness. Orton grabbed Miller and threw him out while Benoit tried to do the same to Lamont, but accidentally tore off his fake afro instead.

At the SmackDown Rumble a few nights after, Miller got a second chance. This time, he came into the ring and went to town on everyone, chopping and punching every single person in a packed ring. No one could touch him! With everyone laid out, he started dancing again and took far too long in doing so. Kurt Angle got back up and threw him out. This all happened during the commercial break too. When it came back from the commercial, we were shown Miller kneeling on the ramp with a cape around him like James Brown as latest entrant Tajiri stopped by and kicked his head off.

ROYAL RUMBLE - DIESEL (1994)

36. DIESEL DOMINATES

Royal Rumble 1994

Diesel was always considered a bit of a big deal since joining the WWF, but he was mainly seen as an accessory to Shawn Michaels. He was the loyal goon. The overgrown sidekick. 1994 was when that started to change. Entering at #7, he cleared the ring of Bart Gunn, Scott Steiner, Owen Hart, and Kwang, leaving him all alone. Then Bob Backlund came out and tried to leverage him out. Diesel put the kibosh on that and defeated him handily. Billy Gunn showed up to avenge his brother and failed. Then Virgil entered the fray and…well, that goes without saying. Diesel stood tall and alone and the crowd started to get behind this dominant bruiser who controlled the very match on his own terms.

Then Randy Savage came out and Diesel looked like he saw a ghost. Savage didn’t get rid of Diesel or even outlast him, but he did slow him down. More guys entered the ring and soon there was enough of an alliance to hoist Diesel over the top. Shawn Michaels rushed over during this and it was up in the air whether he was trying to save him or he was giving the final push. Either way, the crowd chanted in appreciation for the giant heel who was the first man to really hold down the fort in the Royal Rumble match.

JAKE ROBERTS AND RODDY PIPER VS. TED DIBIASE AND RANDY SAVAGE

35. JAKE ROBERTS AND RODDY PIPER VS. TED DIBIASE AND RANDY SAVAGE

Royal Rumble 1990

In terms of roster, I can’t think of a Rumble that’s better than the one in 1990. Other than Koko B. Ware and the Red Rooster, there wasn’t really any weak link. Early on, Dibiase kept clearing the ring until his rival Jake Roberts showed up. Randy Savage was next and helped Dibiase as the two beat on Jake for the next two minutes uninterrupted. Finally, Jake got some help when Roddy Piper arrived and evened up the odds. It may not be spoken about often, but it was such a perfect little moment for this kind of match. You had arguably the four best workers in the company and they were fated into a fantastic two-on-two battle based entirely on the random draw.

The best part was when Jake wailed on Dibiase from the center of the ring while Piper did the same to Savage. The two were back-to-back and took a second to turn around, lift their fists, hesitate, and then go back to fighting the heels. It helped that that show had one of the better crowds, who made any moment seem electric.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SHAWN MICHAELS (1996)

34. MICHAELS’ SECOND WIN

Royal Rumble 1996

From fall of 1995 to WrestleMania in 1996, WWF was focused on making a huge underdog story out of Shawn Michaels’ quest for the title. He was unquestionably going to win it, but they kept building it up with concussions putting him out of action, a false finish in the Rumble, and later an In Your House PPV where he put the title shot on the line against Owen Hart. I was a Michaels fan at the time and while I feel they may have gone a little overboard on trying to make it seem like the odds were against him, I can’t argue against the final moments of this Rumble match being super smooth.

On one side, you had Diesel fighting Kama. On the other side, you had Michaels fighting the British Bulldog. Bulldog had Michaels on the apron and Michaels got out of the jam by sliding between Bulldog’s legs, getting up and clotheslining him out. Kama broke away from Diesel to throw Michaels over the top, but he caught the ropes and skinned the cat to get back in. Diesel threw Kama out and turned around into Sweet Chin Music, sending him flying back with a sweet bump to the floor. Michaels won again and Diesel angrily said that the only reason he lived was because Diesel allowed it. He calmed down for a bit and showed that they were still friends, but the beginning of their split had manifested and Diesel acted out during the Bret Hart/Undertaker main event moments later.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SCOTTY 2 HOTTY

33. SCOTTY 2 HOTTY VS. THE BROTHERS OF DESTRUCTION

Royal Rumble 2001

One of the looming threats of the ’01 Rumble was the idea that Undertaker and Kane were going to team up and rain fire on everyone else. With Rock half-dead on the outside due to Big Show’s tantrum, Undertaker and Kane were able to easily clear the ring, working as a unit. Rather than fight each other, they simply stood side-by-side and waited for the next entry. That was Scotty 2 Hotty, who looked none too confident. With a wide-eyed stare, he slowly, slowly made his way to the ring while removing his jacket. Jim Ross described Undertaker and Kane as two big men fighting over the last chicken wing.

Not only did the Brothers of Destruction tear him limb from limb, but they did it at the most casual pace possible. Scotty didn’t get even a lick of offense in. Eventually, they double-chokeslammed him and dropped the carcass off onto the mat.

read more: Ranking Every Royal Rumble

ROYAL RUMBLE - EVERYONE VS. EARTHQUAKE

32. EVERYONE VS. EARTHQUAKE

Royal Rumble 1990

The Canadian Earthquake was the new hotness when he showed up in the 1990 Royal Rumble. He made his debut crushing the Ultimate Warrior and he’d later go on to injuring Hulk Hogan and acting as a major threat to Hulkamania. That meant that if he was going to lose this match, it would have to take an army. And that’s exactly what happened. It was an army of Jimmy Snuka, Smash, Haku, Ted Dibiase, and Jim Neidhart. Yes, Smash and Haku were willing to work together just to get Earthquake out of there. Meanwhile, Dino Bravo was completely helpless in saving his buddy and got an earful for it.

This was the first time they ever did that kind of spot and it came off really well.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BIG SHOW

31. HERE COMES THE BIG SHOW!

Royal Rumble 2010

People argue about John Cena’s inability to sell damage and threats, but as far as I’m concerned, John Cena’s greatest sell came in Royal Rumble 2010, where he was one of several in the ring, but the only one standing, albeit barely. He was exhausted and hurt and to make matters worse, Big Show’s theme started playing.

Big Show didn’t just come out from the back. He RAN OUT like the goddamned Juggernaut. It was terrifying. John Cena let out the biggest, most beautiful, exasperated sigh because even he couldn’t laugh off a fresh, running Big Show no matter how many times he’s beaten him. Then shortly after, Mark Henry entered. He ran for about five steps before he decided, “Screw it,” and walked the rest of the way.

ROYAL RUMBLE - MICK FOLEY (2004)

30. THE RETURN OF FOLEY

Royal Rumble 2004

Mick Foley did a pretty cool storyline against Randy Orton where he challenged him to a match on Raw, but then turned away at the last second and forfeited based on the realization that he was in over his head. Orton kept making fun of him afterwards, even though he had already won the war. He just couldn’t let it go.

Then at the ’04 Rumble, when Test was supposed to come out at #21, the entrance was empty. A look backstage showed Test laid out. Officials swore that he wouldn’t be able to compete and Austin, the guy in charge, was livid. He looked at someone off-screen and blamed him for this, yelling at him to compete as #21 instead. The mystery man reluctantly went to the ring.

That turned out to be Foley, who went right after Orton and delivered some just desserts. With a clothesline, he sent Orton to the outside at the cost of his own momentum carrying himself out of the ring. The two brawled up the ramp for a bit and while Orton was able to escape, it was apparent that Foley was back and he wanted revenge.

ROYAL RUMBLE - RODDY PIPER VS. JIMMY SNUKA

29. RODDY PIPER VS. JIMMY SNUKA

Royal Rumble 2008

“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka surprised many when he showed up in the middle of the Rumble and proceeded to hold his own. Even his old WrestleMania opponent the Undertaker was knocked silly when he tried headbutting Snuka and it backfired. Snuka stuck around for the next entry, his sworn enemy (not counting that time they teamed up at Survivor Series) “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. The two went right for each other in the center of the ring and all the other guys stopped what they were doing. Everyone was in awe at seeing these two legends brawl.

CM Punk sat in the corner and pointed out how exciting it was to John Morrison. Morrison showed the same enthusiasm, then kicked Punk in the face. Everyone went back to fighting and soon Kane came out. He didn’t share the nostalgia and got rid of Snuka and Piper in one fell swoop, allowing business to continue as normal.

ROYAL RUMBLE - YOKOZUNA VS. EARTHQUAKE

28. BATTLE OF THE BEHEMOTHS

Royal Rumble 1993

Tag partners Earthquake and Typhoon could have ruled the ring, but instead they fought each other. In the battle of the Natural Disasters, Earthquake won and rid the ring of his overweight pal. Typhoon took it in stride and moved on.

Later, Yokozuna showed up. This did not go unnoticed by Earthquake and we got a really, really awesome showdown between the two. On the left, Yokozuna did his sumo squat positioning. On the right, Earthquake angrily jumped up and down. The big men did battle and Earthquake was able to squash Yokozuna into the corner. Then he missed an Avalanche, stunning himself. Yokozuna suplexed him over the ropes and proved himself king of the monsters.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BRAUN STROWMAN

27. STROWMANIA RUNNING WILD

Royal Rumble 2017

Braun Strowman spent a good thirteen minutes or so tearing apart the competition and while having a big guy eliminate seven opponents before being eliminated has been a trope since the mid-90s, Braun’s reign of terror certainly tied the first half of the 2017 Rumble together. Earlier in the night, he cost Roman Reigns the Universal Championship and that could have led to an easy spot where Roman would cost Braun the Rumble. Instead, they let that rest for the night and went with a run that played into continuity, relationships, and callback.

The Monster Among Men not only took out a big chunk of the match’s roster, but some of his victims were fellow giants Mark Henry, Big Cass, and Big Show. Even when he was crushing the lesser fodder like James Ellsworth, it was done in a way that played on their history while touching on Ellsworth’s history with Dean Ambrose. All the while, Braun’s personal pest Sami Zayn showed up and got his ass kicked while still holding on and remaining in the match.

When the time came to dump him out, Braun lost due to a triple-teaming of Ambrose, Zayn, and Baron Corbin. Corbin was arguably the SmackDown counterpart to Braun at the time, so this was especially good for his resume. Meanwhile, Zayn remained in the ring for nearly fifty minutes.

ROYAL RUMBLE - AUSTIN DESTROYS MCMAHON

26. AUSTIN DESTROYS MCMAHON

Royal Rumble 1999

Sure, Austin got the occasional Stunner on McMahon, but Royal Rumble 1999 was special for the promise of getting a minute and a half of Austin vs. McMahon alone in the ring. McMahon, jacked as he was, thought he’d have a chance with enough training but once that bell rang, Austin went to town and it was glorious. Even though McMahon won in the end, it was worth it just to watch Austin unleash months upon months of pent up frustration to a crowd that ate up every second of it. Heck, if Austin won, there wouldn’t have been any more reason to keep it going. McMahon’s victory only fueled the need for Austin to murder him twice over. But this was a good start.

ROYAL RUMBLE - PUNK (2010)

25. THE WORDS OF PUNK

Royal Rumble 2010

Guys like Diesel, Austin, and Rikishi have done the thing where they stand virtually unopposed in the ring for several entries in a row, but none of them ever used that time to cut promos. Back when he was the “Straight Edge Savior” and was rocking the Jesus Christ look, Punk was entered into the 2010 Royal Rumble at #3, where he was able to quickly get rid of Evan Bourne and Dolph Ziggler. Rather than simply egg on whoever would be #4, he had Serena hand him the mic and started speaking out about the magical life of being straight edge and how the WWE Universe lacked the courage to follow in his ways. Once the clock appeared on the screen, he stopped himself and said, “Excuse me, it’s clobbering time.”

He got through JTG, Great Khali, Beth Phoenix, and Zack Ryder. With Ryder, Punk told him that he had potential and then abruptly smashed him in the head with the microphone, beat him down, and discarded him, which is the best metaphor for Ryder’s career I can think of. Punk’s words kept increasing in level of deranged and his face kept looking more and more insane until Triple H entered at #8 to shut him up.

Royal Rumble- Kofi Kingston on His Hands

24. TWO HANDS HIT THE FLOOR

Royal Rumble 2012

Kofi Kingston showed off his endless creativity in gimmick matches when the Miz dropkicked him out of an attempt to skin the cat. Kofi fell to the outside, but was able to land on his hands. He walked on his hands towards the steps and recovered enough to climb back into the ring. His feet never touched the floor, so it was all well and good.

Royal Rumble 1992

23. THE TITLE IS UP FOR GRABS

Royal Rumble 1992

Not really a moment, per se, but I feel like it needs mention. For the first couple years, the Royal Rumble was just a really cool match that ultimately didn’t get you anything. For Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Big John Studd, it didn’t mean all that much. Hogan was already the champion the first time he won and the second time it at least gave him the momentum to challenge Sergeant Slaughter at WrestleMania for the title. The Rumble was already treated as a big deal, but it needed an extra push to really legitimize it and make it a must-win affair. That’s why 1992 was such a major part in its history.

The Undertaker cheated to win the belt off Hogan and Hogan cheated to get it back. Jack Tunney stripped Hogan of the WWF Championship and decided that the Royal Rumble would be one big 30-man title match. Once Flair won it, where could you go with it? Keep it meaningless? A year passed and they added the stipulation that whoever won the match would automatically get a title shot against the champion – whomever he may be – at WrestleMania and a real tradition was born.

They did another Rumble for the title in 2016, but it lacked the same magic due to how predictable it was. 1992 really felt like anyone’s ballgame.

read more: Every Royal Rumble Winner in WWE History Ranked

Royal Rumble 2003

22. Y2CHRISTIAN?!

Royal Rumble 2003

Chris Jericho felt jealous of Shawn Michaels and wanted to prove himself better. He thought the perfect way to do this was to copy his rise and win the Royal Rumble at the #1 spot. Although he volunteered for such a suicidal role, Michaels came to tell him that he had already taken that spot and Jericho would be relegated to #2, which was the exact same thing, but sounded slightly less impressive.

In the match, as Michaels waited for his opponent, he saw Jericho on the ramp, doing the arms-out pose. He spun around to face Michaels and it was immediately apparent that this was just Christian wearing Jericho’s clothes. But…where was Jericho? He slid into the ring from behind and low-blowed Michaels. He busted him up with a chair and mercilessly beat him down for several minutes until dumping what was left out of the ring. Michaels would later return to help eliminate Jericho, but it wouldn’t compare to how Y2J had his number.

Royal Rumble 1989

21. HERE COMES THE AX AND HERE COMES THE SMASHER

Royal Rumble 1989

It was only the second year where they realized that they could have a lot of fun booking a Royal Rumble match and the company got pretty creative. Footage was shown of the different wrestlers getting their numbers earlier in the day, including Demolition. Both guys seemed a bit annoyed at their draws, with Ax groaning, “It looks like I’m gonna have a long night,” and Smash agreeing.

The rocking Demolition theme played as Ax walked out for #1, looking none too pleased. As everyone waited to find out who was #2, the same theme repeated and Smash came out. The tag champs of the time had no choice but to duke it out and they showed absolutely zero reluctance. They just went right at each other, no holding back. This lasted until Andre appeared as #3 and they went back to teaming up.

I seem to recall at the following Survivor Series, Demolition were thankful that they didn’t have to fight each other this time around.

read more: The Wrestlers Who Started the Royal Rumble Match

ROYAL RUMBLE - SHAWN MICHAELS (2007)

20. MICHAELS TURNS THE TIDE WITH STYLE

Royal Rumble 2007

During the ’07 Rumble, everyone decided to gang up on Viscera due to his overwhelming size. Despite nine guys trying to push Viscera out, he wasn’t budging. Shawn Michaels was the next competitor out and Finlay broke apart from the pack to fight him head-on. The two had an exciting mix-up with the crowd completely into it and thanks to the Viscera situation, they practically had the ring to themselves. Michaels sent Finlay out of there with a clothesline and at the same time, Viscera was able to power out of the mass effort against him.

He stumbled directly into Sweet Chin Music, which caused him to spit a loogie into the air big enough to fill a water bottle. Dazed, Viscera couldn’t defend himself when everyone went after him once again. This time with Michaels added in, they were able to get Viscera out of the match.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BILL GOLDBERG VS. BROCK LESNAR

19. BILL GOLDBERG VS. BROCK LESNAR

Royal Rumble 2017

While we may have gotten cheated out of a Chris Jericho title run, Goldberg vs. Lesnar was an instance where WWE really redeemed one of their biggest creative follies from the past. WrestleMania XX led to this dream match and its scale of disaster became infamous. Well over a decade later, the two had a rematch at Survivor Series and Goldberg destroyed Lesnar in a minute and a half. It was a shocking first step.

Lesnar intended to meet up with Goldberg in the Royal Rumble and get his revenge. Lesnar appeared at #26, where he absolutely dominated the match and eliminated Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and Enzo Amore. Everyone else got suplexed into oblivion.

Finally, Goldberg arrived at #27. Even though Lesnar thought he was ready, he still ate an immediate spear and got clotheslined to the outside. Once again, shocking.

This led to a Goldberg vs. Undertaker showdown, but this wasn’t nearly as cool as it should have been. Both of them being well past their primes had a lot to do with it.

ROYAL RUMBLE 2019 - BECKY LYNCH

18. LET BECKY PLAY

Royal Rumble 2019

The women’s Royal Rumble in 2019 was like a self-aware version of Royal Rumble 2014. While the latter was Daniel Bryan missing out on a match that was his to win, the former was the same for Becky Lynch. She failed to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Asuka on the undercard, which explained why she wasn’t entered in the Rumble match itself (not that it’s stopped people before), but due to how red hot she was as the top face of the company, having anyone but her win seemed like a total waste.

Lana appeared at #28, albeit with a messed up ankle due to an angle from an earlier match involving Rusev and Nakamura. Due to the tremendous pain and eventual attack from Nia Jax at #29, Lana was in no condition to compete. Becky stormed out, pointing out to nearby official Fit Finlay that everyone wanted her in the match and someone should take Lana’s spot. Finlay agreed and let her fight.

Not only did Becky win, but in the final moments, her situation mirrored Lana’s to an extent. Her knee was busted and Nia Jax destroyed her outside of the ring. Unlike Lana, she had the fortitude and skill to see it through and come out of it the winner.

ROYAL RUMBLE - MAVEN VS. THE UNDERTAKER

17. MAVEN VS. THE UNDERTAKER

Royal Rumble 2002-2003

During his “Big Evil” biker phase, Undertaker cleared the ring of all challengers, then had to contend with both Hardy brothers, who had it in for him. Despite the double-teaming, Undertaker was able to eliminate both of the Hardy Boyz. Tough Enough winner Maven came out next and, as expected, got his ass handed to him. Then Matt and Jeff reentered the ring to attack Undertaker one more time. Undertaker forced them off and officials got them to leave. As Undertaker yelled at them to get out of his yard, Maven hit the sweet spot with one of his picture-perfect dropkicks and Undertaker went right over the top rope and hit the floor. The crowd lost it and Maven jumped around in joy, but after the shock wore off, Undertaker reentered the ring and beat Maven within an inch of his life.

For the next couple minutes, Undertaker dragged Maven around the arena, banging him up more and more until smashing his skull through a popcorn machine’s glass. Maven was never eliminated, but he was in no condition to compete.

A year later, Maven had the same opening and once again nailed Undertaker from behind with a dropkick. This time, Undertaker remained within the ring and Maven was too busy celebrating to realize until it was far too late.

ROYAL RUMBLE - YOKOZUNA VS. VADER

16. MICHAELS CUTS OUT THE FAT

Royal Rumble 1996

Two of the biggest threats going into Royal Rumble 1996 were former winner Yokozuna and the feared newcomer Vader. A group of wrestlers couldn’t get Yokozuna out the first time around, so how screwed was everyone when Yokozuna was back with a supposed ally who was just as dangerous, perhaps even more so? After all, they were both managed by Jim Cornette and that would presumably prevent them from exploding against each other. They even showed some teamwork when they worked over Savio Vega and left him a motionless husk of a WWF superstar.

Eventually, toughness and ego won out and the two turned on each other. Much like Alien vs. Predator, it was a, “Whoever wins, we lose,” situation. Shawn Michaels saw opportunity in this. When Yokozuna had Vader up against the ropes, Michaels ran over, pushed them up against the ropes, pulled up their legs and sent both crashing down in front of Cornette on the floor. That was unheard of! Michaels taking out Vader or Yokozuna on his own was barely within the realm of believability, but the fact that he was able to get both of them out in one motion and make it look good was some kind of Herculean task.

ROYAL RUMBLE 2008

15. THE NEW GENERATION VS. THE OLD GUARD/THE SMARK CHAMPIONS VS. THE CORPORATE HEROES

Royal Rumble 2018

The final six combatants in the 2018 Rumble ended up splitting into two teams of three. On one side, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, and Shinsuke Nakamura represented the new crop of top names. Across from them was John Cena, Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio as three names who weren’t over-the-hill, but represented what WWE was since the mid-00s. Even if the fans weren’t wild about Roman, the line in the sand was obvious and people were pumped about this showdown.

Roman’s trio came out of that skirmish as the winners, considering they took out both Orton and Mysterio. Suddenly, the narrative of the finals changed. It was no longer the old vs. the new, but the top faces overpushed by the company up against the smaller and under-appreciated. Cena and Roman now took on Nakamura and Balor in something that resonated a lot stronger with the past several years of Royal Rumble. This was the rage against Batista, Roman, Triple H, and Randy Orton winning the Rumble represented by having their top two Superman types trying to discard their smark-loved counterparts.

Balor took the next loss, leaving it to Nakamura to shatter the odds by taking out both John Cena and Roman Reigns over the course of several minutes.

ROYAL RUMBLE - KOFI'S LEAP OF FAITH

14. KOFI’S LEAP OF FAITH

Royal Rumble 2014

Thank God for the New Day because before that was a thing, Kofi’s only memorable aspect keeping him afloat was being the guy with the rad Royal Rumble saves and he was never, ever going to outdo 2014. After being knocked off the apron, Kofi landed in the arms of the recently-eliminated Rusev. Rusev placed Kofi on a nearby barricade and proceeded to knee him a few times out of frustration.

Once Rusev left, Kofi stood up and assessed how far away he was from the ring. Despite logic and physics, Kofi then ran across the barricade and leapt right back onto the apron, saving himself yet again.

His saves in 2015 and 2016 pale in comparison.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BIG SHOW VS. EVERYONE

13. BIG SHOW VS. EVERYONE

Royal Rumble 2004

Once Goldberg was gone from the ring, the Rumble match featured Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, and John Cena left in there with one Big Show. They tried forcing him out all together, but he instead threw them all off like they were nothing. Then they decided to soften him up by hitting all of their trademarks and finishers like the Five Knuckle Shuffle, diving headbutt, Lionsault, and so on. That was a bust too because that made Big Show dead weight and hard to deal with. He woke up from it and sprung to life. On an angry rampage, he got rid of Jericho, RVD, and Cena, increasing his own chances of winning.

Angle fought with Big Show for a while and had his ankle locked in hand. Big Show rolled forward and propelled Angle to the outside. That meant it was the ever-dominant Big Show vs. a beaten and exhausted Chris Benoit, who had been in there for about an hour. Big Show held him up over his head and Benoit slipped out and turned it into a guillotine choke. He pulled himself down to the apron and slowly but surely teetered Big Show over the top rope and dropped him down to the floor, winning that one Rumble that the WWE would rather we forget.

ROYAL RUMBLE - UNDERTAKER VS. GREAT KHALI

12. UNDERTAKER VS. GREAT KHALI

Royal Rumble 2007

Giving high rankings to a Great Khali spot is shifty, I know, but I loved how completely over-the-top this whole situation was. Khali entered at #28 with a ring filled with wrestlers. This was back when Khali was treated as the harbinger of death and he proceeded to take out anyone who got in his way. That’s pretty literal too, because he had to wait for people to wander into him before delivering headbutts and brain chops. Once he had nothing to accompany him but a pile of bodies, Khali went to work with picking people up and throwing them out. Miz entered at #29 and he was gone in an instant. Michaels tried to fight him, but fell victim to Khali’s two-handed chokeslam instead.

See, I love this bit because it’s probably the most comic book moment I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match…not counting Lucha Underground. Khali laid waste to everyone and as #30 was preparing to arrive, Michael Cole’s commentary was like some kind of 1960’s Stan Lee* narration box. “WHO CAN STOP- WHO CAN STOP THE GREAT KHALI?!” The lights went out and a gong played. “MAYBE THERE IS SOMEONE! MAYBE – THERE IS – SOMEONE! THE LEGENDARY PHENOM! THE UNDERTAKER!”

Undertaker had never been able to stand up to Khali before, so that added another layer to this. Undertaker carried Khali into a really exciting brawl, powered out of the two-handed chokeslam, and pummeled him some more until clotheslining him out of the ring.

*I was going to say Jack Kirby, but then realized how cross the internet would be with me for comparing Cole to Kirby in any way.

ROYAL RUMBLE - AJ STYLES (2016)

11. I AM PHENOMENAL

Royal Rumble 2016

WWE becomes so mechanical at times that seeing something deviate from the norm comes off as almost revolutionary in how cool it is. Between WWE’s years of relative disinterest in TNA names, the structure of making guys toil in NXT until they’re ready, and the infamous habit of changing names, it was mind-blowing to see AJ Styles 1) show up in WWE, 2) debut on the main roster, 3) still be AJ Styles, and 4) start things off with a one-on-one confrontation with Roman Reigns.

The whole thing felt a lot like Chris Jericho’s WWF debut in 1999, the best interpromotional debut ever. You have the countdown and the new guy that we’ve heard of being treated like a big deal by being put up against the top-ranked Samoan. The only problem with the whole thing is that the production team spends too much time focusing on Roman’s confused face than the reveal of who’s showing up.

Even then, it’s a wonderful surprise in a Rumble where Triple H being the “surprise winner” is the most obvious of reveals.

ROYAL RUMBLE - MR. PERFECT (2002)

10. PERFECT HANGS WITH THE BEST

Royal Rumble 2002

Mr. Perfect was one of the four big returns in the 2002 Royal Rumble match along with Goldust, Val Venis, and the Godfather. The other three had already come and gone by the time Perfect showed up at #25 and nobody proved to be anything special. Mr. Perfect was entering a ring that only had Austin and Triple H and logic would dictate that Perfect should have lasted an entire ten seconds at best.

Not so much. Mr. Perfect held his own more than anyone could have predicted. When two of the biggest stars of the company tried to get him over the top rope, Perfect wouldn’t fall. Instead, he took a second to spit out his gum and flick it away before deciding to get himself free and fight them off. That’s like the coolest thing ever right there. Perfect lasted to the end, making third place and even getting further than Austin himself.

ROYAL RUMBLE - JOHN CENA (2008)

9. YOU CAN’T SEE ME AGAIN

Royal Rumble 2008

The most viable contender in 2008 appeared to be Triple H, who became the top face in the company due to the absence of John Cena. Cena had a pretty bad pectoral tear and was supposed to be out until around WrestleMania time, if then. That made it all that much surprising when Triple H was the only one standing in the ring when it was time for #30 and John Cena’s theme song was blaring. Nobody saw it coming. There were no leaks or spoilers that Cena was in the building and was going to show up. The place became unglued for a few seconds, everyone cheering the surprise until remembering that they hated John Cena and booed him.

The final three would end up being Cena vs. Batista vs. Triple H with Cena coming out the winner. It was a perfect storm of what couldn’t have been. Cena couldn’t have been there. A mystery wrestler couldn’t win the Rumble. #30 couldn’t have won except for the previous year and even then, having the same number win twice in a row was too unlikely. They always say that anything can happen in the WWE and this is one of those times where that’s both true and a good thing.

ROYAL RUMBLE - JERRY LAWLER (1997)

8. IT TAKES A KING…

Royal Rumble 1997

In the ring, you had Bret Hart fighting it tooth and nail with Steve Austin. Bret was able to get Austin in the Sharpshooter and held him there as the clock counted down. Jerry Lawler’s theme music played and the King stood up from the announce booth. To Vince McMahon’s surprise, Lawler revealed that he was in the match. Taking off his headset, he told Vince, “It takes a king…” and trailed off to enter the fray.

Immediately, Bret punched him over the top rope and a disheveled Lawler stumbled back to the announce table. He put his headset back on and finished, “…to know a king.” For the rest of the night, he played it off that he didn’t even remember being in there.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SPIDER-MORRISON

7. SPIDER-MORRISON

Royal Rumble 2011

Even though it’s Kofi’s bread and butter, I’ve always loved Morrison’s loss-defying stunt just a little bit more. Morrison stood on the apron, facing the crowd. Regal knocked him off and that should have been an elimination. Instead, Morrison latched onto the barricade with both feet pressed against it. He climbed up and walked on the railing, showcasing his parkour talents, culminating in him leaping over onto the steel steps. Regal was eliminated by that point, so Morrison kicked him in the head, then turned back into the ring.

After that, thousands of people hit rewind because Jesus Christ.

ROYAL RUMBLE - BOBBY HEENAN'S COMMENTARY (1992)

6. BOBBY HEENAN’S COMMENTARY

Royal Rumble 1992

Despite lasting an hour and winning the WWF Championship, Ric Flair would later claim the reason his Royal Rumble win was so magical was because of Bobby Heenan’s amazing commentary. Working with Gorilla Monsoon, Heenan had a stake in that Rumble, as he was Flair’s financial advisor. When Heenan saw Flair come out at #3, he lost his flipping mind. The whole hour was a window into a man’s mental breakdown as at the time, winning with such an early draw was completely unheard of. Heenan’s confidence was paper thin at best as he proceeded to snap at everyone. He’d snap at Monsoon for egging him on about Flair’s chances. He’d snap at the wrestlers for attacking Flair. He’d snap at Flair for chopping at the Undertaker’s chest. He’d pray to God to let Flair win.

Speaking of Undertaker, there was a funny moment where Flair delivered a nutshot uppercut to Undertaker, which barely registered. Heenan calmly acted like Flair was trying to lift him up.

An excited mess by the time this was over, Heenan was completely overjoyed when Flair won the match and came out of the rollercoaster of a show feeling ecstatic. That was some damn good heel commentary, certainly better than anything WWE’s been able to muster up in the past twenty years.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SHAWN MICHAELS' IN 2010

5. SHAWN MICHAELS’ MENTAL BREAKDOWN

Royal Rumble 2010

Losing the Royal Rumble isn’t the biggest deal. Wrestlers might get disappointed or angry, but when 29 guys are fated to lose a year, it’s hardly a unique thing to throw a pity party over. That is, unless you’re Shawn Michaels in 2010.

Having lost to the Undertaker in one hell of a WrestleMania match, Michaels wanted another shot at him. Undertaker refused, so Michaels decided to earn it via the Rumble. Undertaker was the World Heavyweight Champion at the time, so Michaels could just win the 30-man match and get that rematch he was so desperate for. He didn’t hold back and even blindsided Triple H with Sweet Chin Music to knock him out of contention relatively early on. He was doing great for himself and seemed most likely to win, especially since we didn’t know about Edge’s surprise return.

Towards the end, Batista got Michaels out of the ring and Michaels lost it. Not in the sense of going on a super angry tear, but in that he just acted like he watched his dog get run over. He reentered the ring, acting like it would be totally okay. When a ref got in his face about it, he laid the ref out with a superkick and then collapsed to the mat, unable to process that his dreams were up in smoke. Other officials forced him to leave and he walked away, catatonic.

Speaking of Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels…

ROYAL RUMBLE - UNDERTAKER VS. SHAWN MICHAELS

4. UNDERTAKER VS. SHAWN MICHAELS

Royal Rumble 2007

Good God. There are no shocking twists or gimmicks going with this finale. It’s a straight-up one-on-one battle between the last two men that just keeps going. Rated RKO had smashed Undertaker’s head with a chair and Shawn Michaels was half-conscious from a variety of things. The heels were planning on hitting Undertaker with a Conchairto (remember when that was a thing?), but Michaels was able to distract and eliminate the two before collapsing. For a full thirty seconds, it was nothing but these two guys laying down with no movement whatsoever and the crowd was on the edge of their seats for it.

Finally, Undertaker sat up and Michaels kipped up. They went at it for a full seven minutes, keeping everyone guessing with so many false finishes. So many ways it could have ended and the two refused to lose. Soon they found themselves collapsed once again, just as when they started. Michaels set Undertaker up for Sweet Chin Music, but the Dead Man sidestepped it, picked him up, held him over the apron, and dropped him down. What a finish.

ROYAL RUMBLE - SHAWN MICHAELS' ONE FOOT

3. ONLY ONE FOOT

Royal Rumble 1995

Shawn Michaels drew #1 and lasted for the entire Rumble. His fellow finalist was the British Bulldog, who started at #2. Michaels couldn’t fight Bulldog head-on and got clotheslined over the top rope. The Bulldog’s theme played and he stood on the second rope, fists in the air, celebrating his victory. Then Shawn Michaels hit him from behind and knocked him out of the ring. The announcer suddenly declared that Michaels was the winner after all.

Footage showed that as Michaels held onto the top rope, only one of his feet hit the floor before he was able to pull himself back into the ring. The rules stated that both feet needed to hit for an elimination to occur, but nobody ever tested it so literally. This turn of events became a major game changer to the Royal Rumble and stretched the limits of what’s possible within its confines.

ROYAL RUMBLE - STONE COLD

2. STONE COLD’S DOMINATION

Royal Rumble 1997

Of all the guys to own the Rumble one entrant at a time, nobody did it better than Austin. Nobody. He showed up at #5 and soon after was the only one left. Bart Gunn was #6 and didn’t even last half a minute before Austin got him out of there. Austin laid on the mat, catching his breath, and Jake Roberts’ music played. Austin had a history with Jake and initially responded by praying. At first glance, it looked like he was seriously afraid of what was about to happen, only to stand up and yell at Jake to get in the damn ring. One minute later, Austin was once again alone.

The ring filled up soon after. Eleven men came and went and when the smoke cleared, Austin had outlasted them all. The crowd was really starting to get behind him, seeing him endure and make it seem easy. Another former rival Savio Vega went after him and got snuffed out. Jessie James didn’t do much better. Austin sat up on the top turnbuckle and waited for #21. Bret Hart’s music started playing and Austin looked absolutely horrified.

But that was just a façade too. Austin stepped forward and demanded Bret get in there. Tired or not, Austin wanted just as much a piece of Bret as Bret wanted of Austin and the two went at it, swinging fists nonstop. People say that the “Austin 3:16” speech is what made Austin break out, but this match is pretty instrumental in getting people behind him.

ROYAL RUMBLE - HULK HOGAN VS. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR

1. HULK HOGAN VS. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR

Royal Rumble 1990

The idea of the Royal Rumble being every man for himself was at odds with a very golden rule in 1980’s WWF: faces needed to fight heels at all times. These days we can get John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose and not bat an eye, but back in the day, that was unheard of. There was a reason why so many of Hogan’s title feuds were with guys who were his friends until they weren’t. He couldn’t just challenge his good buddy Randy Savage for the belt and have a face vs. face battle with the crowd choosing who to cheer for. No, Savage had to go insane and evil so they could explicitly cheer for Hogan and boo Savage.

At first, WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and Intercontinental Champion Warrior didn’t have to worry about each other because the ring was filled with many opponents. Both being invincible supermen wrestle guys, they whittled the number of competitors down to two. Once Warrior threw away Rick Martel, the entire crowd realized all at once that the only guys left were Hogan and the Warrior and they were going to fight. There was no way out of this. They had to fight. Ventura on commentary was incredibly excited, not because he hated the guys and wanted them mutually obliterated, but because it was such a cool and unexpected matchup.

They did battle it out, if briefly. A series of shoulder blocks to measure each other led to a double-clothesline that knocked them both out. The entire time, the place remained unglued and if Vince McMahon had any second thoughts of putting up Hogan vs. Warrior at the following WrestleMania, his confidence had to be through the roof. I can watch this segment a million times and it never gets old.

Enjoy the Rumble, folks. Enjoy every Rumble.

Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and keeps expecting to see Brock Lesnar eliminate everyone by suplexing the ring itself. Read more of Gavin’s articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L