Lllllllllllet's get ready..... to Rumble!
The following list looks at Royal Rumble Moments, which can apply to pretty much ANYTHING that has ever happened at the January PPV - be it a match, a confrontation, an interview and yes.... even something that happened inside a Royal Rumble match itself.
Some of these happened in a matter of minutes, or even seconds (a couple of them are literally one second!), yet these moments will live on forever.
In counting the Top 50 Royal Rumble Moments, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories considered the following criteria:
How memorable was the moment?
Will it forever be tied to the Royal Rumble PPV? Or will it be something that just happened to occur then?
How original was the moment?
Has WWE (or anyone else) been able to replicate it since?
Ready? Here we go!
Ax versus Smash?
In 1989, it was quite unusual for tag team partners to face each other, unless there was a betrayal involved. But as it turned out, Ax and Smash were respectively # 1 and # 2 in that year's Rumble. Instead of wimping out, the Demolition members acted like men, brawling with each other until # 3 (Andre The Giant) emerged.
Heartbroken Honky Tonk
In 2001, WWE Hall of Famer The Honky Tonk Man was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble. Instead of competing, he brought his guitar and a microphone into the ring. He only got through the first verse of his iconic theme song before Kane took away his guitar and el-kabonged the former I-C Champion.
During the 2002 Rumble match, The Undertaker was in his bad-ass biker phase and was having a great time beating up younger talent. The Dead Man took a moment to jaw with Matt and Jeff Hardy, when all of a sudden Tough Enough's Maven (a decided underdog) dropkicked Taker out of the ring, eliminating him!
Three Faces Of Foley
When WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley entered the 1998 Royal Rumble, he was first in as Cactus Jack. Jack was eliminated and a halfway through the match, Foley reentered as his alter-ego Mankind. But Mankind didn't make it all the way through, and Dude Love entered at number 28, giving Foley the three-peat.
One of the most anticipated moments at the 2016 Royal Rumble was the surprise (yet long-awaited) WWE debut of AJ Styles. Entering the Rumble match at number three, The Phenomenal One went on to last nearly half an hour and eliminate two men, cementing a reputation that has continued to this very day.
The Contract Signing
As part of the undercard for the inaugural Royal Rumble in 1988, Hulk Hogan was scheduled to sign a contract for his rematch with Andre The Giant on NBC's The Main Event. After the signatures were collected, Andre's second Ted DiBiase caused a distraction, allowing Andre to dump the table on Hogan.
Cena Makes History
On the undercard of the 2017 Royal Rumble, WWE Champion AJ Styles defended his championship against frequent rival John Cena. The match lasted nearly 25 minutes and was considered one of the best bout of the year. But more importantly, Cena won to capture his record-tying 16th World Championship.
One the undercard attractions in the 1989 Royal Rumble was a "super posedown" between WWE Hall of Famers The Ultimate Warrior and Ravishing Rick Rude. The two struck a series of bodybuilding poses until Rude gave up and attacked Warrior with his metal workout bar.
For weeks leading up to the 1993 Royal Rumble, Bobby Heenan promised to unveil someone named "Narcissus". His name was later amended to "The Narcissist" and it ended up being the first WWF appearance of Lex Luger, who would go on to feud with Mr. Perfect at that year's WrestleMania.
No Chance In Hell
An unlikely Rumble competitor was Vince McMahon, who entered the 1999 Rumble match at number 2 and lasted 57 minutes, winning the bout. Of course, The Chairman had a bit of an advantage - he was out of the ring for almost the entire bout, returning only towards the end of the match.
Beth Phoenix and Great Khali. K-I-S-S-I-N-G!
In 2010, WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix became only the second female to enter a Royal Rumble. And right off the bat, she was matched with The Great Khali. Instead of fighting him, she began kissing him and pulled the giant over the top rope while still engaged in a liplock.
Get The Tables!
One of the undercard matches at the 2000 Royal Rumble was the first-ever tag team tables match, in which Matt and Jeff Hardy took on WWE Hall of Famers Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley. While this would eventually lead to TLC matches, this was a wild encounter with plenty of incredible spots, won by The Hardys.
.... which stood until 2014, when Roman Reigns eliminated Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston, Goldust, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Nash, The Great Khali, Sheamus, El Torito, Luke Harper, Antonio Cesaro and John Bradshaw Layfield for a total of 12 eliminations, which at the time was a Royal Rumble record, until...
As part of the undercard at the 2003 Royal Rumble, WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit put on an absolute clinic. For about 20 minutes, the match went back and forth until Angle managed to get Benoit to tap out to his ankle lock. The crowd gave Benoit a standing ovation afterwards for his efforts.
Muhammad Hassan came to the WWE in late-2004 claiming that Americans were prejudiced against him. That seemed to be evident in the 2005 Royal Rumble match when Chris Benoit, Edge, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Luther Reigns and Booker T teamed up to eliminate him in less than one minute.
The Drew Carey Show
Vince McMahon had a novel entry for the 2001 Royal Rumble match - future WWE Hall of Famer Drew Carey, who was at the arena to plug a comedy show. Dressed in a jumpsuit, Carey attempted to pay off Kane from hurting him, but ended up eliminating himself over the top rope some three minutes into his appearance.
WWE Hall of Famers Mick Foley and Triple H engaged in some brutal matches, but none quite as brutal as their Streetfight at the 2000 Royal Rumble. They battled all over Madison Square Garden using chairs, trash cans, ring steps, handcuffs, thumbtacks and even a barbed wire baseball bat.
Two Winners; One Injury
The finish of the 2005 Royal Rumble was one to behold. Raw's Batista and SmackDown's John Cena were the final two and eliminated each other at the same time. Vince McMahon then power-walked to the ring to order a re-start (which Batista won), but the Chairman tore both his quads sliding into the ring!
The "Diesel Push"
During the 1994 Royal Rumble match, WWE Hall of Famer Diesel eliminated Shawn Michaels, Sparky Plugg, Bam Bam Bigelow, Crush and Mabel over an impressive 18 minute period. While others since surpassed his record, a record number of eliminations in the Rumble is known as a "Diesel Push."
The opening match of the 2000 Royal Rumble undercard featured Kurt Angle going up against an unannounced opponent. While many in the NYC crowd already assumed it would be former ECW star Taz (now Tazz), the building still exploded when Tazz debuted and ended Angle's undefeated streak.
In 2014, Batista returned to the WWE and was immediately entered into the Royal Rumble match. Even though he was positioned as a fan favorite, he didn't really have their support because Daniel Bryan wasn't in the match at all. When Batista won the Rumble match, he was practically booed out of the building.
The Champ... Is... BACK!
Who's the least likely person to win a Royal Rumble match? Probably someone who isn't supposed to even be in the match, which is exactly what happened in 2008. John Cena, who was supposedly going to be on the shelf for at least a few more months, entered at number 30 and tossed out Triple H to win the match.
WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage were riding heading into the 1989 Rumble, which both MegaPowers entered. Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage, leading the Macho Man to charge back in and accuse The Hulkster - a confrontation that required Miss Elizabeth to peacekeep.
Winning It For Eddie
Rey Mysterio's goal in the 2006 Royal Rumble match was to win it for his recently-fallen friend Eddie Guerrero. Mysterio entered the match second and lasted an incredible 62:12, eliminating Randy Orton to win the bout for his "hermanno" Eddie and going on to win the WWE Championship at that year's WrestleMania.
Stone Cold Threepeat
WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin had already won two Royal Rumbles (1997 and 1998), but in 2001, The Texas Rattlesnake became the first person to "threepeat" in Royal Rumble history after tossing out the likes of Billy Gunn, Haku and Kane en route to earning a title match at WrestleMania.
In the 2009 Royal Rumble, Santino Marella (a heel at the time) was scheduled to be entrant # 28. He charged down to the ring, entered between the ropes and was promptly clotheslined out by Kane. Despite Marella claiming he wasn't ready, it stands as the fastest elimination in Royal Rumble history at just one second.
Mae shows her puppies
Part of the Royal Rumble 2000 was a swimsuit contest to determine the prestigious title of Miss Royal Rumble. Five legendary wrestlers were judges, as was Andy Richter (?). WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young emerged as a late entrant and, for some reason, removed her top to show her (very) fake puppies.
The 2016 Royal Rumble was the only one in history where the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was defended in the Rumble match itself. Champion Roman Reigns entered first and lasted nearly the entire match, but surprise #30 entrant Triple H then showed up, and won the match and the championship.
London's 180° Bridge
The Royal Rumble match has had a history of crazy bumps, but perhaps none more sick than Paul London in the 2005 Rumble. The SmackDown competitor was on the ring apron, avoiding elimination. Eventually, ECW's Snitsky caught up with him and delivered a clothesline that flipped London a full 180 degrees.
Dead Man Dying (Pt. 1)
In 1994, The Undertaker was in a Casket Match for the WWF World Title. Near the end of the match, half a dozen heel wrestlers filled the ring and forced The Phenom into his own casket. Smoke filled the arena and soon, The Undertaker was seen descending into heaven, giving a message on the TitanTron. Seriously.
Although Santino Marella's sub-second elimination was faster, The Warlord's elimination in 1989 was definitely more shocking as he was a star on the rise and not a comedy character. As soon as The Power of Pain member entered the ring, Hulk Hogan clotheslined the 300-pounder out of the match.
Although Ric Flair is synonymous with Royal Rumble Moments, his daughter has one as well. In 2020, Charlotte Flair entered the Womens Royal Rumble 17th, lasting nearly half an hour and eliminating four competitors before winning the match, making the Flairs the first father-daughter team to win Royal Rumbles.
Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?
While CM Punk's final Royal Rumble match appearance wasn't much to speak of.... his 2011 match was much more interesting. Surrounded by his cronies in The New Nexus, Punk entered at number 1 and lasted until 21 - more than 35 minutes in all, eventually being eliminated by future arch-rival John Cena.
Another interesting happening at the 1993 event was in the Royal Rumble match itself, when WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund returned to the WWF and entered the match at number two. Shocking just about everyone, Backlund lasted over an hour and was the third-last person in the ring at match's end.
Dead Man Dying (pt. 2)
In 1998, The Undertaker was in a Casket Match for the WWF World Title. Near the end of the match, half a dozen heel wrestlers filled the ring and forced The Phenom into his own casket. And although this seems a LOT like # 41, this time Kane came to ringside, only to light The Undertaker's casket on fire. Seriously.
Perhaps the most unpredictable finish to a Royal Rumble was in 1993, when the final four were the aforementioned Bob Backlund, Rick "The Model" Martel, Randy "Macho Man" Savage and WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna. It seems like a layup now that Yokozuna would win, but it was an absolute shock at the time.
Kane On Fire
In 2001, Kane went on an absolute rampage, eliminating Raven, Grandmaster Sexay, Steve Blackman, Al Snow, Saturn, the aforementioned Honky Tonk Man, Tazz, A-Train, Scotty 2 Hotty, The Rock and Crash Holly for a total of 11 eliminations, which for many years was a Royal Rumble record....
Brock's The Best
... in 2020, Brock Lesnar entered the Royal Rumble (even though he was already WWE Champion). Lesnar entered the match first and lasted more than 26 minutes, eliminating 13 competitors. Lesnar holds the current elimination record (tied with Braun Strowman for his Greatest Royal Rumble performance in 2018).
On the undercard of the first Royal Rumble in 1988, Dino Bravo attempted to break the world benchpress record (held by former WWF competitor Ted Arcidi) by pressing 715 pounds in front of the Hamilton, Ontario crowd. Bravo succeeded, but only because spotter Jesse "The Body" Ventura helped the lift.
Kofi Kingston has become known for his unusual methods for avoiding elimination in the Royal Rumble, such as doing handstands and scaling the barrier. In 2013, when Kofi ended up on the announce table, he took JBL's commentary chair and pogo-jumped on it until he made it safely to the ring.
Women Make History
The very first Womens Royal Rumble was held in 2018 from Philadelphia. Among a slew of current and former WWE competitors, the then-undefeated Asuka entered at number 25 and won the match. Following the contest, UFC's Ronda Rousey came to the ring, signaling that she had finally joined the WWE.
DiBiase Buys A Number
Everyone has a price for WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase. In 1989, The Million Dollar Man was unhappy with the number he drew and allegedly paid off Slick so that he could switch the number of one of the manager's charges. DiBiase entered at number 27, bypassing Slick charges The Big Bossman (# 22) and Akeem (# 23).
Benoit's Big One
It's tough to imagine Chris Benoit doing something heroic, but that's what happened in 2004. Placed as the first entrant in that year's Royal Rumble match, Benoit lasted almost 62 minutes, eliminating The Big Show to win the bout and go on to successfully challenge for the World Championship at WrestleMania.
A Giant Surprise
In 1993's Royal Rumble match, favorite The Undertaker was eliminated a few minutes later by someone who wasn't even technically in the match! Accompanied by Harvey Wippleman, the 7"7 Giant Gonzales (formerly El Gigante in WCW) made his WWF debut and declared war on The Dead Man.
The 1994 Royal Rumble had a novel finish. Fan favorites Lex Luger and WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hitman" Hart were the last two competitors in the ring and managed to eliminate each other at the same time. But unlike in 2005, Bret and Lex were declared "co-winners" for the first and only time in Rumble history.
Back To Back, Brother
When WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan won the Royal Rumble match in 1990, he was already the WWF World Champion. But by 1991, he was no longer champ and won the bout, setting his sights on current WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter and becoming the first back-to-back Royal Rumble winner.
Bret and Owen Hart had seemingly settled their differences, teaming up at the 1994 Royal Rumble to take on WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers. The match was stopped when Bret's leg had been injured and The Quebecers won a decision, leading Owen to turn on his own brother and begin an epic rivalry.
One of the most violent matches in Royal Rumble history took place at the 1999 undercard. WWF World Champion Mankind was being challenged by The Rock in an "I quit" match. Foley received 10 unprotected chair shots to the head en route to losing (despite the fact that never said "I quit".)
Winning By A Foot
In the 1995 Royal Rumble, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels and The British Bulldog (no relation) remained in the ring for the entire match. At the end, The Bulldog thought he had tossed Michaels out of the ring, but The Heartbreak Kid managed to stave elimination, ensuring that both feet didn't touch the ground, and going on to win.
Flair For The Gold
No Royal Rumble moment is as memorable as the 1992 effort of WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair. Entering at number three, The Nature Boy survived challenges from Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Sid Justice and other rivals over an hour, at which point The Real World's Champion won and captured his first WWF World Heavyweight Championship.