Drew McIntyre, Kurt Angle On What It's Like To Win (And Lose) WWE Royal Rumbles

The following is an excerpt from our new feature, Inside The Royal Rumble 2. Please check it out in its entirety, and see our video feature at the top of the page


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There Can Only Be One....Usually

Ultimately, it all comes down to two people. There's a winner who stands out from the pack, and a loser, who is in the same boat as (usually) 29 others. In both 2002, and the 2004 Smackdown Rumble, that was Kurt Angle. With all the accolades that Angle posseses, the Royal Rumble is still the big one that eludes him.

Angle said "I distinctly remember the Royal Rumble where it ended up with Triple H and myself at the end of the match. That was a very special Royal Rumble. I think Triple H just came back from injury, I believe. So, it was a good time and Triple H picked me to be the final one to throw over the top rope. I thought that was a great compliment. It was his night to shine. It wasn’t mine, unfortunately. I never won a Royal Rumble. I wish I did. It’s the one thing that I wanted to do to put a feather in my cap in my career, but it just never happened."

The winner of the Royal Rumble match lives in history. Unfortunately, some burn less bright in others. There aren't many people these days talking about Alberto Del Rio's historic win (for various reasons). Despite the massive push he received heading into the match, he didn't believe it would end in a victory for him.

Del Rio told us in 2016, "There's probably people who know where the company was going to take them, but I wasn't one of them. I didn't know anything about the Royal Rumble. I got there and they said 'you're winning the Rumble.' What?! That changed my life. I didn't have a clue of anything. That's the way that company works sometimes. To hear the reaction from the crowd when I was celebrating, and thinking Santino was going to win, that was special. That company is the number one in sports entertainment for a reason. Moments like that are fun."

Everyone under the sun knew that Del Rio was headed for a top spot going into that Rumble, as did fans with Drew McIntyre in 2020. That didn't solidify it in Drew's mind, however. For a good reason, too. Even though Drew was set to eliminate a massive star in Brock Lesnar to end his dominant stretch, McIntyre feared the audience would reject him in favor of the legendary returning Edge.

"I was just hoping for a big moment that day," McIntyre told us. "When I got the idea that I might eliminate Brock, considering what I heard the story was going to be and how dominant he was going to be in the Rumble as WWE Champion, I thought, 'Man, that's pretty cool and the thing that can make somebody.' Then, the idea of winning as well, that blew my mind. I didn't really believe it was going to happen until I was the last person standing in the ring. There are always these checks where the referee is close by and I half expected them to whisper to me that things had changed. I've had things changed on me in the past many times in my career, nothing is official until it's official. It wasn't until that very end moment when I eliminated Roman, half expecting the crowd to boo because Edge had returned after a nine-year absence, and that reaction was unbelievable. We've seen the fans turn on winners in the past if they don't get what they want and if I was in the crowd, I'd be hard-pressed to turn on me too, seeing Edge eliminated, but it was so cool when Edge was eliminated, Roman and I getting into it and I eliminated Roman and I heard the reaction I heard that was equal to when I eliminated Brock, which was such an incredible moment itself. That night was the night when Drew McIntyre finally arrived after being the future and everyone talking about my potential since I was 15 years old."

We've yet to hear of a Royal Rumble match that changed the winner on the fly, though it did happen in IMPACT Wrestling at Bound For Glory in 2020 in their gauntlet. Still, Drew McIntyre thought it was a real possibility considering the circumstances.

McIntyre said he spoke to Edge, "We definitely chatted, but it didn't change the fact that I was thinking, 'Hmm, nine years, career was over, he was never coming back. There he is. Coming back.' If I'm in that crowd, I'm going, 'Drew is kinda cool right now, THERE IS EDGE! I want to see him win the big one.' It was definitely weighing on my mind. After I got the Brock elimination, I told myself, 'Whatever happens, happens. People are going to react however they react.' I had that amazing moment right there, I'm winning the thing, hopefully they like it and don't crap all over it. if they do, I still won and got my title match at WrestleMania. I was so fortunate. I don't take it for granted they reacted the way they did. 'Oh my goodness, I can't believe they are behind me this much right now and all I've done the past few months is be myself.'"

Drew would go on to win at the Royal Rumble and at WrestleMania. The man who a decade prior was dubbed "The Chosen One," only to be pushed down the card and fired, worked his way back and captured a couple of the biggest spots you possibly can in wrestling.

How can you not be romantic about the Royal Rumble?

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