The Royal Rumble has been a part of WWE tradition for over three decades now. It started off as a battle royal with the winner having prestige, but in 1993, WWE changed the stipulation and added the rule that stands today: The winner gets a championship opportunity at WrestleMania.
Since then, the stakes increased and it’s become one of the most important and defining matches in the WWE calendar year. We’ve seen many incredible career-making moments. Moments that have made our hearts beat in anxiety and excitement. Moments that have brought out anger and all kinds of emotions. The Rumble PPV is iconic in every sense of the word and we take a look back at most iconic moments in the Rumble.
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan wins the first-ever Royal Rumble match
The first Royal Rumble in 1988 was not a quality match by any means. It was also a relatively short match, going at just 33 minutes. Bret Hart was the first person to enter the Royal Rumble match. Jim Duggan entered at #13 and lasted just less than 15 minutes. In the end, he was faced with a 2-on-1 situation, as One Man Gang and Dino Bravo teamed up against him.
The hot crowd in Canada was rooting for Duggan, who fought back and ended up winning the first Rumble. The crowd went unglued and it was a historic moment, with not a single person standing. WWE was testing the waters with the Rumble, and it worked wonders.
Stone Cold wins Rumble #1
‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin holds the sole distinction of winning three Royal Rumble matches. The first of the three happened to be in 1997, where he had an extremely dominating performance. He entered at #5 and lasted 45 minutes, not only becoming the iron man but tying Hulk Hogan’s record of 10 eliminations in one Rumble match (a record that would be broken four years later).
The match was not without controversy, however. Austin was technically eliminated by Bret Hart, but he quickly slid back in the ring when nobody was looking and ended up winning the Rumble. Though it was marred by controversy, Austin was still in the early stages of receiving a push of a lifetime. He would usher in the Attitude Era and become the face of WWE just over a year later.
Ric Flair wins the Royal Rumble 1992
You’re not going to find a Royal Rumble match better than the 1992 edition. It was by far the most star-studded Rumble in history, and it even had the biggest implications up to that point, as the winner of the Rumble would become WWE Champion. Ric Flair entered at #3 and lasted an hour by using all sorts of underhanded dirty tactics. He was the dirtiest player in the game after all, and according to the Rumble rules, pretty much anything goes.
Flair overcame all the obstacles and even the commentary was an absolute masterclass, particularly from Bobby Heenan. It was his finest hour on the commentary booth and it’s still a performance that’s honestly hard to top. Flair would overcome a lot of superstars to win the Rumble and become WWE Champion.
John Cena wins #16
After John Cena moved into part-time status, fans wondered when he would enter the WWE title picture again. He had an incredible two-match series with AJ Styles, that saw Styles pick up two victories (one of which was clean). Both matches were absolute classics, and soon enough, Styles found himself as WWE Champion within 9 months of his debut.
They were set for a collision course at the 2017 Royal Rumble and fans knew that they were in for a treat. Not only did they equal their Summerslam classic, but they exceeded it in what was a display of masterclass storytelling. Their chemistry was off the charts, as neither competitor exited the ring once throughout the match. Cena would finally triumph and equal Ric Flair’s 16-world title record.
3 Faces of Foley in one Rumble
How often do we see superstars entering the same Royal Rumble match more than once? Well, on one occasion in 1998, Mick Foley came out in three different personas – Cactus Jack, Mankind and Dude Love. Cactus Jack entered at #1, Mankind entered at #16 and Dude Love entered at #28.
Nothing like that had ever been seen in the Royal Rumble before and it was one of the most creative things they’ve ever done. In the last few years, creativity in the Rumble has been with regards to Kofi Kingston using various methods to avoid elimination. To his credit, they’re always fun to watch!
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