The Royal Rumble has been a staple of wrestling since 1988. The annual match has featured nearly 400 different competitors, including WWE Hall of Famers, champions, tag teams, preliminary competitors and dozens of surprise entrants from inside and outside the promotion.
But here are 10 well-known wrestlers who, while spending time in the WWF/E since the match was created, never competed in the Royal Rumble. For the purposes of this column, we're including all Mens and Womens Royal Rumble matches on PPV, plus The Greatest Royal Rumble.
One additional note: We revised this list in 2023, after Shane McMahon and Ronda Rousey both entered the previous year's Rumble.
Tommaso Ciampa has been part of WWE since 2015 (and technically, he was part of the developmental system a decade earlier). Although he's been part of NXT for almost his entire run since then (save for a couple of appearances on Raw), he has held the NXT and NXT Tag Team Championship and headlined numerous NXT TakeOver shows.
And if your argument for Royal Rumble exclusion is that he never competed (much) on the main roster, then you're forgetting a long list of (at the time) NXT competitors who were invited to the Rumble over the years, including: Andrade, Bianca Belair, Adam Cole, Bo Dallas, Tye Dillinger, Pete Dunne, Keith Lee, Candice LeRae, Riddle, Rhea Ripley, Rusev, Mia Yim, Sami Zayn and even Ciampa's longtime frenemy Johnny Gargano.
WWE Hall of Famer D-Von Dudley should Testify that despite a lengthy career, which included a WWE run from 1999 to 2005 and again from 2015 to 2016, he never had the opportunity to get the Tables during a Royal Rumble match.
Interestingly, he and Bubba Ray Dudley appeared at the Royal Rumble PPV several times over the years, just not the match itself. And D-Von's "brother" Bubba would have been on this list save for a random one-night appearance in 2015 prior to he and D-Von returning to the promotion full-time.
Despite having at three major runs with WWF/E, Kamala never had the opportunity to compete in the Royal Rumble match. Which is a shame, because The Ugandan Giant would have excelled in this "every man for himself" format.
Most of this is likely due to timing. Kamala's first two runs in the company were in 1984 and from 1986-1987 - both of which were before the first Rumble PPV. He returned to the promotion in the spring of 1992 but could have participated in one of the Rumbles after that (even in later years when he was still healthy but on a Legends deal, it could have worked).
Interestingly, Kamala was announced to be in the 1994 Royal Rumble, but had left the company before the bout took place, and he was replaced by Wrestling Superstar Virgil.
This one is truly surprising, as Funaki was active in WWE from 1998 to about 2010. Over that time, he was part of Kai En Tai (both the faction and the tag team); was a Cruiserweight Champion; was SmackDown's "number one announcer" and briefly wrestled as the pun-tastic Kung Fu Naki. Heck, he still works for the company today off and on as a Japanese announcer. Yet Funaki doesn't have a Royal Rumble to his credit.
Now, you may remember Funaki and TAKA Michinoku in the 2000 Royal Rumble, being thrown out several times in the match. But they were never official competitors in the bout.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
WWE Hall of Famer Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat was one of the more celebrated superstars in the mid-1980s, competing in the WWF from 1985 to 1998, returning in 1991, and then becoming a backstage employee from 2005 to 2010.
As with others on this list, part of the reason Steamboat was never in a Royal Rumble was because of timing. He was on the undercard of the first event in 1988, battling Ravishing Rick Rude in a singles match, but was also on his way out of the company shortly thereafter. Steamboat's 1991 run began weeks after that year's Rumble and didn't last very long. And while mostly retired while working as an agent, The Dragon had a handful of matches against Chris Jericho in 2009, but didn't extend beyond that program.
George "The Animal" Steele
WWE Hall of Famer George "The Animal" Steele was employed by the WWWF from the late-1960s through to the late-1980s, and then became a road agent in the 1990s following his retirement. He was a huge part of the early WrestleManias and Saturday Night's Main Events and had a lengthy feud with Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
Again, this largely comes down to timing. Steele retired from active competition in the months following the first Royal Rumble in 1988 and only had a handful of in-ring appearances after that.
This is a tough one to justify because WWE Hall of Famer Sting wasn't in WWF/E for most of his career. The Stinger was with NWA/WCW from 1987 through to 2001 and in TNA (off and on) from 2003 to 2014. So largely after that time (and until his AEW debut in 2020) would have been the only era Sting could have realistically participated in a Royal Rumble.
Having said that, there was a small window between his November 2014 WWE debut and 2016 retirement due to injury where Sting could have made it work and added to his lengthy legacy in the squared circle.
WWE Hall of Famer Razor Ramon may be the biggest head-scratcher on this list. He was actively employed by the WWF from 1992 to 1996, capturing the Intercontinental Championship four times. He also returned briefly in 2002 and has been part of a Legends deal off and on since then.
Interestingly, The Bad Guy has been part of several singles matches at the Royal Rumble PPV, including bouts with Bret Hart, Goldust and IRS -- he was just never in the Rumble itself.
He's The Mountie; he's handsome; he's brave; he's strong. He was just wasn't ever in a Royal Rumble match.
Despite being in the WWF from 1986 to 1990 as part of The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and again from 1991 to 1994 as The Mountie and then as one-half of The Quebecers, Rougeau never found himself in the Rumble match. Interestingly, he had several matches at the PPV itself against the likes of Koko B. Ware, the team of Bret and Owen Hart, and the trio of Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart.
Brian Pillman is the type of competitor that would have been custom-made for a match like the Royal Rumble, between his off-kilter, borderline personality and his high-flying skills.
Unfortunately, The Loose Cannon was only in the WWF for a relatively short period of time. He signed with the company in June of 1996 and was injured the following January, which meant he couldn't compete in the 1997 version. And tragically, by October of that same year, he had passed away.