This is part two of our list ranking all of the Royal Rumble matches.
If you missed part one, we looked at the nine worst Royal Rumbles on Wednesday. These are the next ten.
20. 2000 Royal Rumble
The main fault of this match is simply that Stone Cold Steve Austin isn’t in it. Austin had shined in the prior Rumbles. He’s probably the best guy in the history of the match. He was always booked very well in it, but his timing was perfect and he knew how to keep the crowd hot.
This gave The Rock the opportunity to be that guy. While he wasn’t Austin, he was still good. The main reason why this isn’t higher on the list is because it was pretty clear from the start that this was a two man race between Big Show and the Rock. They didn’t try and make anyone else a star in the match outside of those two guys. So for the rest of the participants, they were kind of in and then out of the match with no significance.
– Your first two entrants are D-Lo and Grandmaster Sexay.
– Too Cool plus Rikishi are left in the ring together, so of course, they dance. That was the only fun spot early on.
– The Bulldog is back and he’s in jeans! One of the alarming things you’ll see when you watch the Rumbles in order is Bulldog shrinks in size from 1992 and on. The flip side is that the Big Show gets fatter and skinnier and fatter and skinnier again.
– It’s Chris Jericho’s first Rumble and he and Edge (in his second) go at it for a bit. All you see is blonde hair flying.
– Chyna is back for her second Rumble and she eliminates Jericho. Boo.
Final four: Kane, X-Pac, Big Show, and The Rock
X-Pac kicks Kane out, which was cool because he was clearly the underdog here. But then Show presses Pac out. Show throws Rock out, but Rock holds onto the top rope and Big Show goes over.
When they took a look on replay, both of Rock’s feet touch before the Big Show is eliminated. That’s what Rock gets for being so tall. But they never reversed the decision.
MVP: The Rock
The crowd was clearly here to see him win and he delivered. I just wish the other wrestlers were booked better.
19. 2003 Royal Rumble
I’m going to have to apologize to my friend John LaRocca who considers this a memorable Royal Rumble because of how strongly Brock Lesnar and others were booked in it. I agree that Brock and the Undertaker were super strong in this match. Batista also made the final four, which made him look like the real deal. But what was missing was that super worker who made the match work in the beginning and middle.
Out of the final four, Kane came in the earliest at number 22. Batista, Brock, and Taker were the last three entrants. So anyone who was in before number 22 didn’t truly matter in the entire match. Chris Jericho was your closest thing to that super worker in that he was in the Rumble for the longest. But this match was truly about the four big guys being in there at the end and nothing else.
– The match features 15 from Raw and 15 from Smackdown. It’s the first split brand Rumble.
– For the first time since 1995, neither The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin was in the Rumble.
– Shawn Michaels is in early, but is ceremoniously dumped by Chris Jericho who gives him quite the beating.
– It’s Rey Mysterio’s first Royal Rumble.
– Edge, Jericho, Christian, and Mysterio keep it together nicely for a short time, but not nearly long enough.
– It’s Thuganomics John Cena’s first Rumble and he raps for his entire entrance. It’s also Batista’s and Brock Lesnar’s first Rumble.
– Michaels comes back into eliminate Jericho. Poor sport Shawn.
Final four: The Undertaker, Kane, Batista, and Brock Lesnar
The Undertaker makes it seem like he’s going to team with Kane, but then double crosses him and dumps him out. Undertaker also takes out Batista. But Brock then eliminates the Undertaker.
In a weird bit that seemed off-brand for Taker (though, this was biker Taker and not deadman Taker), he slaps Lesnar five and tells him that when he wins the title at WrestleMania, he wants a shot at the title.
MVP: Chris Jericho
I’m only giving it to Jericho because he and Michaels were the only other guys outside of the final four to really get over or push their beef in the match. No one else really had enough time.
18. 2015 Royal Rumble
This was the second Royal Rumble in a row in which the crowd let WWE know that they didn’t enjoy their booking. And in both cases, it was mostly related to Daniel Bryan. We’ll get more into that when the 2014 Rumble comes up on this list.
Roman Reigns, who was clearly looked at by the fans the year prior as a top guy, was booed mercilessly throughout this match. The fans felt like Reigns was being forced down their throats.
What’s funny about this is that it was booking designed to get Reigns over as a killer, just as much or more as the previous year. Had the fans not been so disenfranchised with him, it would’ve worked.
– The first two entrants were The Miz and R-Truth.
– Bubba Ray Dudley is number 3 in his return to WWE after a long and successful stint in TNA as Bully Ray.
– Bray Wyatt is in the Diesel spot with six eliminations and lasts for nearly 50 minutes.
– Daniel Bryan comes in at number 10 and the crowd goes ape. They don’t let him last very long, giving him just over 10 minutes so that he’s far away from Reigns toward the end of the match. When Wyatt finally eliminated him, the crowd went silent.
– Diamond Dallas Page comes in at number 14.
– Kofi Kingston’s stint this year was to be eliminated, but caught by the Rose Buds and returned to the ring. Adam Rose was eliminated shortly thereafter and they weren’t there to catch him. Poor Adam Rose.
– Big Show knocks out both Dolph Ziggler and Wyatt into unconsciousness and he and Kane dump their dead bodies outside the ring. They do the same to Dean Ambrose.
Final four: Kane, Big Show, Roman Reigns, and Rusev
Show tries dumping out Kane. Reigns dumps them both. The crowd boos hard. Show and Kane double team him after the match and The Rock comes out, which is a great surprise. However, fans are still pissed that Roman won. He has to save Rock and he gets booed even harder.
Rusev, who had a strong match with six eliminations was actually still in the match, but outside the ring. Reigns then dumped him. It was kind of goofy. The Authority comes out at the end to stare down Rock and Reigns.
MVP: Bray Wyatt
Wyatt was excellent in the match, tying Reigns and Rusev for the most eliminations with six.
17. 1998 Royal Rumble
My memories of this match were much better than what I saw in rewatching the match. But it’s clear on the second rewatching that it was designed for Stone Cold Steve Austin to look super strong and no one else. It made it kind of boring.
But there’s no question that Austin was white hot and the crowd was definitely into it.
– The first two entrants are Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk). Charlie eliminates Jack and then Jack’s alter ego Mankind comes in and eliminates Charlie. Mick Foley’s other alter ego, Dude Love also joins the match near the end.
– The Rock comes in at number four and lasts all the way until the end.
– Austin is a marked man and comes in through the crowd.
– These guys were in the match longer than 20 minutes – Rock, Funk, Phineas I. Godwin, 8-Ball, JBL as Blackjack Bradshaw, D’Lo Brown, Thrasher, and Goldust. After Rock and Funk, it wasn’t necessarily Murderer’s Row.
Final four: The Rock, Farooq, Dude Love, and Stone Cold Steve Austin
Farooq dumps out Dude. Rock waits as Farooq tries to get out Austin, but sneaks behind him and tosses him. Then Rock and Austin go toe-to-toe and Austin stuns him and eliminates him as well.
MVP: Stone Cold Steve Austin
There wasn’t a lot of great work in this match. Lots of lumbering around. But when Austin came in, he was a house on fire.
16. 1991 Royal Rumble
There was a nice talent infusion from the previous year and the star power is high. It’s not quite 1992, but then again, nothing really was. This was also the last Royal Rumble to not have a stipulation attached to winning.
– How’s this for another wacky announcing team? Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper did the play-by-play and color commentary.
– The first two entrants were Bret Hart and Dino Brave. Poor Bret had to be first again.
– It’s the first Royal Rumble for Kerry Von Erich, the Undertaker, the British Bulldog, the Road Warriors, and that tremendous youngster, Shane Douglas.
– Everyone is absolutely jacked to the gills in this match.
– Mr. Perfect slowly walks in, tosses his towel behind him, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan doesn’t even see it, but still catches it before it hits the ground. How great were they together?
– The infamous spot with Bushwhacker Luke walking in, getting tossed, and walking out is during this match.
Final four: The British Bulldog, Earthquake, Brian Knobbs, and Hulk Hogan.
Even though Hogan and Earthquake had a feud the prior year, there was no question who was winning this one.
MVP: Hulk Hogan
Hogan’s selling alone late in this match makes him the MVP. That guy could be so good at times.
15. 1994 Royal Rumble
This was only the second PPV version of the Royal Rumble and it’s best remembered for being the only Royal Rumble in which there was a tie, creating an interesting dynamic for WrestleMania X. It was a pretty cool idea and hasn’t been repeated since.
There’s still a major drop off in talent from 1992 that was clear in 1993 and might even be slightly worse here.
– The wacky tandem of Vince McMahon and Ted DiBiase are the announce team. This Rumble features 90 second increments rather than 120 seconds.
– Scott Steiner and Samu are the first entrants in the match. Surprisingly or not, Rick Steiner is number three.
– This is Diesel’s first Rumble and he clears the ring. This would be known as the Diesel spot for future Rumbles.
– Diesel is number 7. And Bret Hart is number 27. Absolutely nothing happens in between. Hart comes out limping after taking a beating from Owen Hart. But Owen was already out of the match.
Final four: Bret Hart, Lex Luger, Fatu, and Shawn Michaels
Michaels and Fatu were quickly out so that it was down to Hart and Luger. Hart and Luger are both eliminated at the same time, which was made somewhat cheesy by Vince McMahon claiming there were better angles to see what happened and each time, the specific angle was blocked. But I think it worked. Had the match, in between the Diesel spot and the finish been better, it would’ve been higher on this list.
MVP: Bret Hart
Shawn Michaels was able to stand out and was in the ring for the second longest time, but it was Bret’s match. Bret made everything work, the finish included.
14. 2010 Royal Rumble
There’s a great Shawn Michaels storyline throughout this match. And there’s a nice surprise at the end of the match, but it wasn’t as special because it was a repeat from two years prior.
– Dolph Ziggler and Evan Bourne open the match.
– CM Punk tosses them both out pretty quickly.
– Beth Phoenix is only the second woman to be a competitor in the Rumble and she eliminates the Great Khali by kissing him out. CM Punk gives her the GTS and tosses her dead body out.
– Just when it looked like Punk was set up for a long run in the match, Triple H tosses him out. Figures.
– The story was that HBK had to win the Rumble to get his rematch with the Undertaker. There’s a great spot where HBK and Triple H eliminate Drew McIntyre and are about to go nose to nose, but John Cena’s music plays and the decide to go after Cena, who is starting to get booed loudly.
– Edge comes in at 29 as a surprise entrant to attack Chris Jericho in a surprise, which is a copy of John Cena coming back early in 2008. Edge was previously injured.
Final four: Batista, Edge, John Cena, and Shawn Michaels
Michaels and Edge nearly go out together, but then Batista dumps Shawn out. Michaels is heartbroken because it means he won’t get his rematch. It was a bit overdone, but Michaels showed true heartbreak. Cena eliminates Batista, getting him back for five years earlier. But Edge reverses Cena and tosses him out for the win.
MVP: Shawn Michaels
The match was simply about him all the way through. Edge won, but he was second banana to good old HBK.
13. 1990 Royal Rumble
This entire match was built around Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior meeting in the ring for the first time. It’s not the best one-on-one wrestling match between two guys in the Royal Rumble. That would go to Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker in 2007.
But it was the best build up to two guys simply locking up with each other for the first time. The crowd was going crazy for it.
– Tony Schiavone and Jesse “The Body” Ventura were the announce team.
– Ted DiBiase and Koko B. Ware were the first two in the ring. DiBiase was number 30 the year prior.
– DiBiase, Randy Savage, and Jake Roberts are in all at the same time, then Roddy Piper joins the fray. Talk about guys who understood what they were supposed to do. The crowd is white hot for every new entrant.
– Bret Hart and Piper are doing double team spots in the match.
– This is Dusty Rhodes’ one and only Royal Rumble match.
– There’s a bit of a dead spot in the match, but it’s only there to set up Hogan and Warrior. Shawn Michaels was in only for a few seconds and is clotheslined out by Warrior.
– Then this happened:
– Warrior saves Hogan, but Hogan helps eliminate Warrior. What a guy.
Final four: Hulk Hogan, Hercules, Rick Rude, and Mr. Perfect
In the end, it’s Rude and Perfect double teaming Hogan. The bad guys are bad at teamwork, so Rude goes out. Perfect hits the Perfect-plex on Hogan, but Hogan “hulks” up and Perfect bumps for him like a ping pong ball and is eliminated.
MVP: Ted DiBiase
The MVP was really the build to the Hogan and Warrior spot, but DiBiase was in the ring for nearly 45 minutes right up until they cleared the ring for Warrior and Hogan.
12. 2009 Royal Rumble
Because of how poorly WrestleMania 25 is remembered, I think people forget how hot the build was for Randy Orton vs Triple H. Orton may have had more steam at some time before, but I’m not sure if he was ever a bigger star than right around this time. He’s now more of a legendary figure and at the same time, probably the single most underrated worker in the company, but in 2009, there was mileage in Randy. Unfortunately, WWE booking kind of screwed up his momentum.
This Royal Rumble is focused predominantly on this feud.
– Rey Mysterio and John Morrison start the match.
– Who gets the big Diesel moment here? It’s Kozlov! He throws out the Great Khali, MVP, and Carlito. Of course, Triple H quickly dumps him out.
– Triple H is a killer in this match and his intensity is high.
– You can tell the best Rumble workers from the spot that’s given to them to get over and clean house. Triple H and Shawn Michaels are great at it. John Cena and CM Punk are so clunky at it.
– All of Legacy (Orton, Ted DiBiase Jr., and Cody Rhodes) are in the match together by halfway through and stay in until the final four. (By the way, how did Ted Jr. not make it in wrestling?)
– It’s Dolph Ziggler’s first Rumble and he gets treated like a jabroni as Kane eliminates him quickly.
– Santino is eliminated even more quickly in the famous spot. He wasn’t ready. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, it’s still funny.
– Hacksaw Duggan, who won the very first Royal Rumble, comes in at 29.
– Rey was in there for nearly 50 minutes, before being tossed out by the Big Show.
– Big Show goes out and the Undertaker is on the apron ready to throw out DiBiase and Rhodes. Big Show just pulls Taker out of the ring and he’s eliminated. Taker didn’t look happy.
Final four: Legacy and Triple H
This was fun. It’s three against one. Triple H tosses out DiBiase and then Rhodes. Right as he throws out Rhodes, Orton pushes Triple H over the top rope to win it.
MVP: Triple H
Even if I disagree with how this feud was resolved, Triple H worked his ass off in the build. He, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Benoit are on my Mt. Rushmore of Royal Rumble workers.
11. 1996 Royal Rumble
It’s time for Shawn Michaels to get back to WrestleMania so he can win his first WWF Heavyweight title. And this time, it’s not with some weak 60 second increments. He doesn’t enter at number one, though it’s all the same. It’s the HBK show.
– Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect (who would be in the 2002 Rumble) are your announce team.
– Triple H as Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Henry O’Godwinn are your first two entrants.
– Jake The Snake comes in and dumps the snake in the ring for the second time in Rumble history to go after Jerry “The King” Lawler.
– Why was Dory Funk in this?
– Yokozuna’s back after winning the 1993 Rumble.
– Big Van Vader doesn’t actually get the Diesel spot from 1994, but he’s definitely the big villain in this match.
– HBK throws out Vader and Yokozuna and he starts killing everyone.
– The star power is higher than it’s been the last couple years. And that’s without Bret and Taker. It’s also Steve Austin’s first Rumble as the Ringmaster.
Final four: British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, Kama, and Diesel
For the second year in a row, HBK eliminates the Bulldog. Diesel eliminates Kama. And HBK immediately super kicks Diesel.
MVP: Shawn Michaels
Couldn’t really be anyone else.
We’ll be back with the final part before Sunday’s Royal Rumble.