The road to WWE Wrestlemania 34 begins this Sunday Night with the 2018 WWE Royal Rumble event.
Over the next week here on Fightful, I will be bringing you a “Countdown To The 2018 WWE Royal Rumble.” During these columns, we will be looking at the past history of the Royal Rumble event and while also previewing this years event as well.
So, without any further ado, here is Day One of our countdown, as we rank the past winners of the WWE Royal Rumble Match, with us taking a look at #23-#11 in this edition.
Please keep in mind that we will be ranking the winners from the first ever Royal Rumble Match (won by Jim Duggan) to the winner’s of all the Royal Rumble matches that were includes on pay-per-view, so the winners of house show and Raw/Smackdown rumbles will not be included on this list.
#23: Lex Luger (1994 Co-Winner)
Lex Luger was the co-winner of the 1994 WWE Royal Rumble Match with Bret Hart, as both men went over the top rope and their feet hit the floor at the exact same time. Luger would get a title shot against Yokozuna at WWE Wrestlemania X, but would lose via disqualification. Luger was feuding with Mr. Fuji’s stable as we entered the 1994 Royal Rumble, he would eliminate all of Fuji’s stable members in the match (The Great Kabuki, Crush & Tenru). Luger would also be the first wrestler to lose his title match at Wrestlemania after the Rumble winners were given title shots for winning the match.
#22: The Rock (2000)
The Rock, outside of the 1994 Rumble with Bret Hart and Lex Luger, would have one of the more controversial endings to a Rumble Match. The Rock was tossed out by Big Show, but held onto the ropes as Show tumbled to the ground below; it would later be revealed that The Rock’s feet hit the ground as well. The Rock would lose his pending title shot to Triple H at WWE Wrestlemania 2000, which was a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match, also featuring Big Show and Mick Foley.
#21: “Big” John Studd (1989)
John Studd won this Rumble match by eliminating the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase and Virgil (the unofficial #31 in the match). Studd was supposed to parlay this win into another feud with Andre The Giant, which would culminate with a match at WWE Wrestemania 5. However, Studd and the WWE would come to odds over financial matters, Studd’s feud with Andre never restarted and he left the WWE a short time later. Studd did make WWE history with this win though, as he won the first Royal Rumble Match to be broadcast on pay-per-view, which was also the first Rumble to feature 30 entrants.
#20: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (1988)
Jim Duggan won the first ever Royal Rumble Match in WWE history, last eliminating the One Man Gang to get the win. This Rumble only featured 20 wrestlers in it and Duggan would parlay this win into virtual nothingness, outside of becoming “King” of the WWE for a short time after defeating King Haku a little over a year later. The Rumble that Duggan won featured such luminaries as The Hart Foundation, Ultimate Warrior, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Nikolai Volkoff and Don Muraco.
#19: Vince McMahon (1999)
Vince McMahon is not only a former WWE Heavyweight Champion, but he is also the only non-full time wrestler to win the Royal Rumble Match, eliminating “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to win it. McMahon would also become the first winner to give up his future WWE Title shot, which would go to runner up Steve Austin after a ruling from then Raw GM Shawn Michaels. McMahon also has the dubious honor of being the Royal Rumble winner with the least amount of eliminations, as he only eliminated one man in the aforementioned Steve Austin to win the match.
#18: “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar (2003)
Brock Lesnar was about a little over a year away from leaving the WWE to play professional football when he won the Royal Rumble. At the time, Lesnar, who entered the match at #29, was the latest draw to ever win the Rumble (The Undertaker & John Cena would win at #30 years later). Lesnar also became the first wrestler to win a Rumble during the initial brand split; he was a part of the Smackdown brand at that time. Lesnar got his title shot against WWE Champion Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 19, winning the title, but not before nearly killing or paralyzing himself on a failed Shooting Star Press attempt.