Sure, HBK has had some lackluster moments at the Rumble as well (for example, lasting only 12 seconds in the 1990 Royal Rumble and wearing perhaps the worst button shirt ever seen at a Rumble event in 2002), but the memories he has left behind at this event will certainly last. HBK holds numerous Rumble records, including being a two-time winner (also back to back), and might unofficially hold the record for the fastest elimination of another superstar upon entering a Rumble match (eliminating Carlito in 2010). If you look back at only certain Rumble memories, I would suggest those of HBK from this list.
2.) THE 2011 EVENT MAY BE THE MOST COMPLETE AND ENTERTAINING RUMBLE IN HISTORY
3.) THE ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH DIDN’T MATTER MUCH FROM 1988-1991 (ESPECIALLY 1988)
Honestly. The Rumble match itself was an afterthought in these years. In fact, in 1988 the Rumble match was the second-last match on the card, and the main event was ... wait for it ... The Islanders vs. The Young Stallions in a 2-out-of-3 falls match. This match was so important, that after the first fall, the match was paused so that Mean Gene could interview Ted DiBiase in front of the live crowd (you can even see Haku and Tama pacing back and forth in the ring as this is happening). In the event recap done by Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura, the Rumble match winner (Jim Duggan) isn’t mentioned once, focusing rather on Dino Bravo unofficially breaking the world bench press record and the “Main Event” contract signing between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.
Looking at the next three years, Big John Studd’s career didn’t benefit greatly from his 1989 Royal Rumble victory, and Hulk Hogan was already champion when he won the 1990 and 1991 Rumbles, so it was more of an afterthought in his illustrious career. As mentioned before, it wasn’t until 1992 that the Rumble match began to have a meaning, and that’s when it became prestigious.
4.) 2003: THE WORST TITLE MATCH IN HISTORY? (TRIPLE H VS. SCOTT STEINER)
When I sat to watch the 2003 Royal Rumble I had completely forgotten the championship match between Triple H and Scott Steiner for the World Heavyweight championship. After enduring the 20-minute affair, I remembered why. Even Triple H, one of the best performers of all time, couldn't salvage this match. The crowd, so bored midway through the match (particularly as Steiner repeatedly suplexed Triple H), started to boo the supposed hero in this match loudly. As much as you’d want to watch Triple H’s other great performances at the Rumble against the likes of Cactus Jack in 2000 and HBK in 2004, skip this one ... unless you enjoy something so bad you can’t turn away from it, like car wrecks and The Jersey Shore.
5.) THE MAN WHO BENEFITTED FROM A ROYAL RUMBLE VICTORY THE MOST
Yokozuna emerged in the WWF in late 1992, and prior to the Rumble he was steamrolling through the likes of Virgil (at the 1992 Survivor Series). Impressive in stature and in agility for such a large man, he dominated the 1993 Royal Rumble and won convincingly. It might have been his performance combined with the fact that this was the first Rumble where the winner would receive a WWE title shot at WrestleMania, but Yokozuna was instantly elevated to a main-event-caliber superstar without too much thought of him in that conversation prior to this (perhaps because there wasn’t much time to even begin the conversation based on the timing of his debut).
6.) THE ORIENT EXPRESS ARE ONE HALF OF MY FAVORITE NON-RUMBLE MATCH OF ALL TIME
There are many other matches that could be considered in the conversation for your favorite non-Rumble match in Royal Rumble event history – HBK vs. Edge (2006), HBK vs. Triple H (2004), Dudleys vs. Edge and Christian (2001), Triple vs. Cactus Jack (2000), Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon (2002), John Cena vs. Umaga (2007), Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon (1993), Mankind vs. The Rock (1999) – but for me, my absolute favorite non-Rumble match is the Rockers vs. the Orient Express opening the Royal Rumble in 1991. This was a master class of tag team competition, with both teams moving so gracefully in the ring. Talk about chemistry in the ring, these two had “it.” It’s an often underappreciated position to be in the opening match of an event – in this position you set the tone for the remainder of the event. But The Rockers and Orient Express certainly did that.
7.) I MISS THE PRE-RUMBLE 30-SECOND VIGNETTES FROM MOST OF THE PARTICIPANTS
I hope WWE.com does a “Bring It Back” article with this as the topic: 30-second hits back to back with many participants in the Rumble, some screaming, others whispering, some bouncing side to side, others standing like statues, some raising good points, others making no sense at all. All of them saying they will “throw 29 other superstars over the top rope” (note – one superstar eliminating every competitor).
8.) YOU DON’T HAVE TO WIN THE RUMBLE TO HAVE YOUR STOCK ELEVATED FROM THE RUMBLE MATCH
Perhaps one off the best aspects of the Royal Rumble match itself is that it’s so unique and garners so much attention that sub-stories in the traditionally long matchup also gets special attention. This lends itself to subplots being almost equally as important as a victory itself.
In 1994, Diesel emerged as an absolute killer, eliminating seven from the match. He was the first to be in the ring alone in dominant fashion, waiting for another competitor to enter the Rumble. You can directly trace the genesis of his ascension in singles competition to this moment.
A year earlier in 1993, 43-year-old former WWE champion Bob Backlund lasted over an hour, eventually being eliminated by the winner, Yokozuna. Backlund would compete at WrestleMania that year and more than a year later win the WWE championship at the 1994 Survivor Series.
Unexpected eliminations are also memorable moments that can elevate a superstar’s (or diva’s) stock. Perhaps the most shocking and lopsided elimination of all time happened in 2002, when Maven drop-kicked the Undertaker out of the Royal Rumble. The reaction was priceless, and it gave instant credibility to the Tough Enough winner (the elimination was so famous that a year later, Maven would drop-kick 'Taker again in the Rumble, this time unsuccessfully). Other shocking eliminations included Beth Phoenix “kissing” the Great Khali over the ropes in 2010, HBK eliminating 1,000 pounds at once by disposing of Yokozuna and Vader in 1996, R Truth matching that effort in 2010 eliminating Big Show and Mark Henry at the same time, and Yokozuna pressing Randy Savage over the top rope from a pinfall position to win the 1993 Royal Rumble.
9.) THE ROYAL RUMBLE HAS HAD PHASES OF “INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR”
10 things I learned from watching every Royal Rumble
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