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.
#17: Alberto Del Rio (2011)
Alberto Del Rio won the largest Royal Rumble in the history of the WWE, as the total number of wrestlers in the match was 40. Del Rio would eliminate Santino Marella to win the match, which earned him a shot against Edge for the WWE Championship at WWE Wrestlemania 27. Edge would win the match and retain his title, which was both the opening match of the Wrestlemania 27 and ironically, the final match of Edge’s professional wrestling career. Interesting side note: the Rumble Match was so long that there were only 3 other matches on the card for the event, an all time low.
#16: Roman Reigns (2015)
Roman Reigns had one of the better Rumble performances, but it was overshadowed by a repeat of the fan revolt that occurred a year earlier. The fans wanted Daniel Bryan to win the match, but Bryan was eliminated early on, which led to loud jeering and chants from the crowd, even after a surprise appearance by The Rock. Reigns defeated Bryan at Fast Lane with the title shot on the line, then went on to face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31, only to have Seth Rollins cash in his Money In The Bank contract, restarting the match as a Triple Threat and pinning Reigns to become Champion.
#15: “The Viper” Randy Orton (2009 & 2017)
Randy Orton was the leader of Legacy at this point in his career, the other members of the faction were Ted Dibiase, Manu and Cody Rhodes. Orton would parlay the title shot into a match with Triple H at WWE Wrestlemania 25, which may go down as one of the worst ‘Mania main events of all time. This Rumble also featured a lot of wrestlers lasting a long time in the match, with at least 10 wrestlers lasting 20 minutes or longer in the match. Almost a decade later, Orton would become a two time Rumble winner when he won the 2017 edition, last eliminating Roman Reigns.
#14: “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan (1990 & 1991)
Hulk Hogan would accomplish two feats never seen before in the Rumble Match until this point, he became the first wrestler to win two Rumble Matches and the first wrestler to win two Rumble Matches in a row. At this point in time, title shots weren’t given to the winners of the Rumble, but Hogan would capture the WWE Championship a few months after the ‘91 Rumble win, he would defeat Sgt. Slaughter to win the gold at WWE Wrestlemania 7.
#13: “The Rated R Superstar” Edge (2010)
Edge returned from an Achilles tendon injury suffered 6 months earlier to win the Royal Rumble Match. In the process, Edge eliminated Chris Jericho, but Jericho would get his revenge a few months later at WWE Wrestlemania 26, defeating Edge to retain the WWE Championship. Edge also stands with Chris Benoit and Bret Hart as the only Canadian born athletes to win the Royal Rumble Match--Benoit won his Rumble Match in 2004.
#12: John Cena (2008 & 2013)
John Cena won his first Rumble in 2008 as an unannounced surprise, returning from injury, and eliminating Triple H to get the victory. In winning the 2008 Royal Rumble, Cena became the first wrestler since the guaranteed title shot stipulation was instituted in 1993 to not take his shot at a Wrestlemania, as he instead took it at No Way Out ‘08, winning by DQ over Randy Orton. Cena's 2013 victory also became the first superstar to win the Royal Rumble twice, but not in consecutive years.
#11: “The Hitman” Bret Hart (1994 Co-Winner)
Bret Hart and the previously mentioned Lex Luger are the only co-winners in the history of the WWE Royal Rumble Match. Unlike Luger though, Hart would go on to win the WWE Championship, defeating Yokozuna at WWE Wrestlemania X. Hart also became the first Canadian-born wrestler to win the Rumble Match, a feat later accomplished by Chris Benoit and Edge. Hart also became the first wrestler to "pull double duty"--wrestling a match before the Rumble and then going on to win a Rumble Match on the same night.
Join us tomorrow (Tuesday, January 23) for our next installment of the Countdown To The 2018 WWE Royal Rumble, Ranking The Royal Rumble Winners (10-1).