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 Two of our countdown, as we rank the past winners of the WWE Royal Rumble Match, with us taking a look at #10-#1 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.
#10: Yokozuna (1993)
Yokozuna has a few distinct reasons why he is on the list, the first being that he won the first Royal Rumble Match where the winner was given a shot at the WWE Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania. Yokozuna would go onto defeat Bret Hart at WWE Wrestlemania 9 to win the belt. Yokozuna tipped the scale at just over 500 pounds when he competed in this match, which also makes him the heaviest competitor to win a Rumble Match. Also in an interesting side note, while Yokozuna was the first man to win a Rumble Match to get a title shot at ‘Mania, he would lose the title back to the man he defeated at ‘Mania 9, Bret Hart, at ‘Mania 10 after Hart co-won the 1994 Rumble Match.
#9: “The Animal” Batista (2005 & 2014)
Batista’s two wins in the Royal Rumble Match are a tale in great booking that would later turn to awful booking, to say the least. Batista first won the 2005 Rumble, would leave Evolution and then go onto defeat Triple H to win the WWE Title at WWE Wrestlemania 21, becoming one of the biggest stars in the business. Batista would then return to the WWE and win the 2014 Rumble Match, getting hounded by fans, mainly because they wanted Daniel Bryan in the main event picture instead of Batista. Batista would go onto compete at WWE Wrestlemania 30 but would be tapped out by Daniel Bryan, in a Triple Threat match that also included Randy Orton. Bryan walked away with the gold and Batista walked away with fan hatred still boiling.
#8: “The Great White” Sheamus (2012)
Sheamus was probably on the best run of his career when 2012 began and he had a great showing in the Rumble, eliminating Chris Jericho last to win the match. Sheamus would go onto WWE Wrestlemania 28, where he would defeat Daniel Bryan in last than 20 seconds to win the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Sheamus’ win at ‘Mania would be the fastest WWE World Heavyweight Title Match in WWE history. Sheamus is also the lone Irish-born wrestler to ever win the Rumble Match, he also had the third longest time in the Rumble that year, with only The Miz and Cody Rhodes having a longer time in the ring.
#7: The Undertaker (2007)
The Undertaker has done just about everything a wrestler could do in professional wrestling, including winning the Rumble Match. The Undertaker also made Rumble history in this match, as he was the first wrestler to enter #30 and win the match, a feat John Cena would accomplish a year later. The Undertaker would move onto WWE Wrestlemania 23 with this Rumble win, where he would defeat Batista to win the WWE World Heavyweight Title. The Undertaker has announced that he will be entering the 2017 Royal Rumble, returning to the match for the first time since that 2007 win 10 years ago.
#6: Rey Mysterio (2006)
This was probably the most emotional Rumble victory of all time, as Rey Mysterio entered the match a mere couple of months after the passing of longtime friend Eddie Guerrero. Mysterio was the first wrestler to enter the match at #2 and win the match, but he also, to this day, has spent the longest time in the ring for any individual Rumble Match, clocking in at 1:02:12. Mysterio would go onto WWE Wrestlemania 22, where he would defeat Randy Orton and Kurt Angle to win the WWE World Heavyweight Title. It capped off a memorable weekend for Mysterio, as he would induct his late friend, Eddie Guerrero, into the WWE Hall Of Fame.
#5: “The Crippler” Chris Benoit (2004)
There have only been two men in the history of the Rumble to enter the match at #1 and win it, Shawn Michaels was the first and Chris Benoit was the second. Benoit, a year earlier, had one of the greatest matches in WWE history against Kurt Angle at the 2003 WWE Royal Rumble event. Benoit put on one of the best efforts in the history of the match, eliminating the Big Show to win the whole thing. Benoit would go onto WWE Wrestlemania 20, where he would defeat Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win the WWE Heavyweight Title.
#4: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (1995 & 1996)
Shawn Michaels was the first man to ever enter the Rumble Match at #1 and win the whole thing, which he did in 1995. The one caveat to his accomplishment was the the 1995 Rumble was the shortest Rumble in WWE history, with each wrestler coming in at one minute intervals, instead of the tradition 2 minute or 90 second intervals of past Rumbles. Michaels would lose his first WWE Title shot to Diesel at WWE Wrestlemania 11, but would go onto defeat Bret Hart at WWE Wrestlemania 12 to win the gold.
#3: “The Game” Triple H (2002 & 2016)
Triple H’s two Rumble wins have made WWE history in an odd way, as he has the record for the longest gap between Rumble victories, with fourteen years passing between the first time he won it in 2002 and the second time he won it in 2016. Triple H also joins the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair as the only two wrestlers to win the WWE Heavyweight Title by winning a Rumble Match. Also, Triple H is the only other wrestler with an ownership stake in the WWE, other than Vince McMahon (1999), to win the Rumble Match. Triple H would defeat Chris Jericho at WWE Wrestlemania 18 to win the WWE World Heavyweight Title, but he lost to Roman Reigns at WWE Wrestlemania 32.
#2: “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair (1992)
Ric Flair became the first person to ever win the WWE Title by virtue of winning the Rumble Match, something he accomplished in 1992. Oddly enough, a year later, Flair would leave the WWE the night after competing in the 1993 Rumble Match, where he was eliminated by the late “Mr. Perfect.” Flair has also spent the 5th longest amount of time in a single Rumble Match, coming in at just over an hour during the 1992 Rumble. Flair is also the only wrestler to previously hold the NWA Championship and also win the Rumble Match.
#1: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (1997, 1998 & 2001)
Austin is the only wrestler to win three Rumble Matches and he is only the third wrestler to win two straight Rumble Matches. Austin would lose the opportunity to fight for the WWE Title in 1997, because he was eliminated, but the referee never saw him go out, which allowed him to eliminate Bret Hart and win the match. Austin would win the WWE Title after his next two Rumble wins, defeating Shawn Michaels at WWE Wrestlemania 14 and then defeating The Rock at WWE Wrestlemania 17. Austin is also the first wrestler in WWE history to win the Rumble in two separate decades, the 90’s and the 00’s.
Join us tomorrow (Wednesday, January 23) for our next installment of the Countdown To The 2018 WWE Royal Rumble, where we will look at the Top 10 Non-Royal Rumble Matches to happen at the yearly event.