January 24, 2013
This Sunday CM Punk will defend the WWE Championship against The Rock and Alberto Del Rio defends the World Heavyweight Championship against the Big Show but the most talked about match will be the 30-man, over-the-top-rope, Royal Rumble. Here are my top 7 all-time Royal Rumble matches.
This year was unique because the WWE Championship was up for grabs. And when the title is on the line, one man has come up big more than anybody else…”Nature Boy” Ric Flair was third to enter the ring and last to leave it, winning in his first appearance in the Rumble. And thanks to some hilarious commentary from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, this was one of the most entertaining matches of all time.
One of the greatest rivalry’s in WWE history was the story in 1997. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the fifth entrant and tore through the competition until Bret “Hitman” Hart came out at No. 21. Austin was eventually tossed out by Hart, but the referees missed it and “Stone Cold” made it back in the ring and returned the favor on the “Hitman” to win the match. It could have been the best final four of all time with Diesel and the Undertaker joining Hart and Austin.
The first two men in the ring were also the last two as the “Heart Break Kid” Shawn Michaels and the British Bulldog battled through 28 other superstars for a chance to go to Wrestlemania. In one of the greatest Rumble finishes, the Bulldog threw HBK out of the ring and thought he had won, but Michaels dangled on the ropes with just one foot hitting the floor before climbing back in the ring and eliminating an unsuspecting Bulldog.
This edition of the Royal Rumble was super-sized with 40 participants, making it the longest one ever at 70 minutes. It also featured one of the most surprising results with newcomer Alberto Del Rio eliminating Santino Marella for the win.
The Big Red Monster, Kane, wreaked havoc in the ring and eliminated a record 11 superstars. He needed to get 12 though, and finished as the runner-up to “Stone Cold Steve Austin.” The Rattlesnake eliminated Kane and claimed the record for most Royal Rumble victories with three.
The third time was not the charm for Mick Foley. After entering first as Cactus Jack and then again sixteenth as Mankind, Foley returned in the form of Dude Love at No. 28. He was eliminated for the third time in the match and when it was down to two, two of the greatest superstars of all time were left in the ring. In the end, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin outlasted The Rock to win his second straight Royal Rumble.
This was the first-ever Royal Rumble match and could have been the last if things did not go well. Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Tito Santana were the first-ever Rumble entrants in a 20-man match that was dominated by One Man Gang and ultimately won by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. It may not have been the best Royal Rumble, but it was probably the most important even though there was no prize for the winner.