30 Greatest Royal Rumble Moments

In honor of the 30th anniversary, John Corrigan counts down the 30 greatest moments in Royal Rumble history.

For 29 years, the Royal Rumble has caused some of the most exciting, passionate and memorable moments in wrasslin’ history. The event generates an annual adrenaline rush as fans anxiously await the next entrant while pulling for their pick to win. You’ve read the facts and you’ll soon read the greatest matches, but now is time for the greatest moments.

30) All Aboard the Ho Train

It had been about two years since Charles Wright adopted his Hall of Fame persona as The Godfather so at the 2002 Royal Rumble, when the most popular train was back on the tracks, the pimp daddy returned in grand fashion: bringing out not four, not eight, but a dirty dozen hoes for his entrance.

29) “It’s a Kilt, not a Skirt!”

If 60 minutes constitutes a moment, then Ric Flair’s epic 1992 victory would top the list. For the purposes of this list, however, I’m going with one of Bobby Heenan’s many memorable lines during the pinnacle of his commentary career. As Roddy Piper prevented Flair from being eliminated, The Brain exhaled: “I never thought I’d say this, but thank you Piper. It’s a kilt. It’s not a skirt, it’s a kilt.”

Of course, The Rowdy One nailed Flair seconds later.

“You no good creep! You skirt-wearing freak! It’s not a kilt, it’s a skirt!”

28) A Royal Strategy

Jerry Lawler entered #4 at the 1996 Royal Rumble, punched folks for a few minutes, and then was chased through the ropes from Damien. As King recovered, he took refuge under the ring…for about a half hour! Finally, dragged out by Shawn Michaels, Lawler was quickly eliminated.

27) Hurripowers, Activate!

Before Enzo and Santino, there was the comic relief of Hurricane Helms. As Stone Cold and Triple H struggled to get to their feet, The Hurricane entered the 2002 Royal Rumble and goozled both men for a double chokeslam. Perplexed at the ridiculousness of our superhero’s delusional strength, the Two-Man Power Trip shook their heads and easily chucked him out of the ring.

26) Shake, Rattle & Rumble

He’s cool, he’s cocky, and at the 2001 Royal Rumble, he was back. Honkytonk Man brought his guitar to the ring for a special performance, but Kane prefers blue grass and smashed the instrument over poor Honky’s head.

25) The Deadman Rises

Speaking of Kane, he entered the 2004 Royal Rumble at #12 and wreaked havoc on the competition. As the clock hit zero for #13, the lights went out and the familiar gong rang. The crowd shit themselves as the Undertaker hadn’t been seen since Survivor Series, when his brother helped bury him alive. It was the first acknowledgement that the American Badass had passed, and the Deadman was to be resurrected.

24) Flashmob

Rikishi was on a roll at the 2000 Royal Rumble, and considered tossing out his Too Cool brethren Grandmaster Sexay. Luckily, Scotty 2 Hotty entered next, and brought some shades for his cheeky bud. The trio lined up, mid-Rumble, and got funky in their traditional post-match dance. Unfortunately, Rikishi valued main eventing WrestleMania more than friendship, and tossed both men out.

23) One of a Kind

Everybody loves a good surprise at the Rumble, and in 2009, Rob Van Dam delivered. Absent from WWE TV for about 18 months, Mr. Monday Night returned for one night only as #25 and lit up the ring with his flurry of educated feet.

22) Preach, Punk, Preach

The Straight Edge Superstar cut an epic rant during the 2010 Royal Rumble, eliminating jabronies in between grabbing the mic and announcing that it’s clobberin’ time. Of course, arch nemesis (in and out of the ring) Triple H silenced the Punker.

21) HBK’s Last Stand

With his sights set on facing Undertaker in a rematch at WrestleMania XXVI, and Undertaker feeling he had nothing left to prove, Shawn Michaels rationalized that the only way to get his match was to win the Royal Rumble. The Heartbreak Kid entered at #18, even eliminated Triple H, and made it to the final four before Batista knocked him off the apron. It was an emotional rollercoaster that only HBK could take us on.

20) Royal Flush

“It takes a king…” Jerry Lawler said, as he left the announce table to enter the 1997 Royal Rumble and immediately exit after a couple right hands from Bret Hart, “to know a king.”

19) Y2J Swerves HBK

In the 2003 Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels drew #1 and his rival Chris Jericho drew #2. But when Jericho did his trademark spin-around during his entrance, it was actually Christian. Y2J struck Michaels from behind, busted him open with a steel chair and casually dumped him over the ropes, stunning the crowd.

18) Kofi Pogo Sticks

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, Kofi Kingston invents a new way to avoid elimination. Knocked off the apron and landing on A-Train at Royal Rumble 2014, Kofi was then slammed onto the announce table. Afraid he wouldn’t make it with a single leap, the future New Day member used JBL’s seat as a pogo stick and hopped back to the ring.

17) 3 Faces of Foley

Cactus Jack kicked off the 1998 Royal Rumble, trading chairshots with Chainsaw Charlie. Jack was eventually eliminated, only for Mankind to enter at #16. The first Hardcore Champion lasted only a couple minutes before hitting the floor, and then at #28, Dude Love entered!

16) Back in the Garden

Turning back time, 2008 became 1984 as Jimmy Snuka entered #18 and arch rival Roddy Piper entered #19. Madison Square Garden erupted as the Superfly and HotRod battled for a few moments before the Big Red Machine ended the nostalgia trip.

15) Save Us Y2J

Months after Dolph Ziggler defeated him in a Loser Leaves Town match, Chris Jericho returned to a thunderous ovation at Royal Rumble 2013 as the second entrant. The first was Ziggler, of course.

14) Demolition Implodes

At the 1989 Royal Rumble, the WWF Tag Team Champions Ax and Smash drew #1 and #2 respectively. Would the brothers in paint wage war or would they wait out the two minutes for the third entrant? The answer came quickly as the bruisers pummeled each other, reinforcing the mentality that it’s truly every man for himself.

13) Kofi’s Hand Stand

The first of his spectacular Royal Rumble moments came in 2012 as Miz pushed Kofi Kingston to the floor, but the Jamaican sensation landed on his hands. Then he did a walking hand stand to the ring steps, before re-entering the ring. Genius.

12) Austin Faces Bret

After tossing out several WWE Superstars, the Texas Rattlesnake breathed a sigh of relief as he had the ring to himself. Then the familiar chords of The Hitman echoed throughout the Alamodome and Stone Cold shit himself as rival (soon to be arch) Bret Hart marched to the ring.

11) Kissing Your Sister

The unfathomable happened in 1994: the Royal Rumble ended in a…tie. That’s right, Lex Luger and Bret Hart fell over the top rope at seemingly the same time, leaving the audience split on which fan favorite deserved to headline WrestleMania X. These days, it would set up a triple threat for the title, but back in the 90s, it left fans in suspense until an interesting combo of matches was announced on Raw.

10) Damien Unleashed

How do you get a 500-pound giant over the top rope? Only Jake Roberts had the solution: tossing his massive python Damien into the 1989 Rumble, and watching Andre the Giant flee the ring, eliminating himself in the process.

9) Foley Hunts The Legend Killer

In June of 2003, Mick Foley was honored at Madison Square Garden for his achievements in the ring and influence on the sport. While he was signing one of his books for Mr. McMahon backstage, Ric Flair and Randy Orton attacked the Hardcore Legend, kicking him down a stairwell. Almost six months later, Foley returned to Raw as co-GM. Orton offered him a chance for revenge, issuing a challenge to meet in the ring. Foley decided to bail, prompting Orton to chase him backstage, call him a coward and spit in his face.

Nobody spits in the face of Cactus Jack and gets away with it. During the 2004 Royal Rumble, Test was supposed to be the next entrant, but he was found unconscious backstage. Then the sound of a car crash blared throughout the Wachovia Center as Mick Foley headed down the ramp and into the ring, hitting Orton with fists of fury to the delight of the Philly crowd.

8) Diesel Power

Big Daddy Cool made a name for himself in the 1994 Royal Rumble, eliminating Scott Steiner, Kwang, Owen Hart, and Bart Gunn as soon as he entered the ring. Then he tossed out Bob Backlund, Billy Gunn, and Virgil all within seconds of each man entering. It was a career-defining moment for Diesel who would go on to win the WWF Championship that November.

7) Edge Returns

The Rated-R Superstar surprised fans as the #29 entrant in the 2010 Royal Rumble, returning to action after six months on the disabled list. He immediately targeted his ex-partner Chris Jericho, and went on to win the match for the first time.

6) Dropkick Heard Round the World

The Undertaker was referred to as Big Evil at the 2002 Royal Rumble, having ditched the Deadman persona for a disgruntled veteran demanding respect from the young punks of the Federation. While he focused his attention on beating up and discarding the Hardy Boyz, Tough Enough winner Maven dropkicked Undertaker out of the ring in the most memorable elimination ever.

5) Kofi Jumps from Railing to Ring

In 2014, Kofi Kingston continued his Rumble tradition by developing yet another innovative way to avoid elimination. This time he was slammed on the barricade and left to die; however, even cats don’t have as many lives as one-third of the longest-reigning Tag Team Champions. Kingston stood on the barricade, charged to the end and leapt onto the ring apron, wowing the fans one more time.

4) The Phenomenal One Arrives

No name change. No seasoning in NXT. No banning the Styles Clash.

AJ Styles arrived in WWE just as the fans wanted. Although there were some close calls where we didn’t think he’d make it (losing his WrestleMania debut, being fed to Roman Reigns), AJ Styles has made one helluva impact in McMahonland. As Evan “The Boss” Cross suggested back in the summer, Styles could arguably have had the best rookie year in company history. And it all started at No. 3 in the 2016 Royal Rumble…

3) And then there were two…

It came down to two Texans at the 2007 Royal Rumble: San Antonio’s own Shawn Michaels and the Phenom of WWE, the Undertaker. After almost 40 minutes of battle royal action, HBK and the Deadman went head-to-head in their own match for another 10 minutes. Sweet Chin Musics, Chokeslams, a kip up and a sit up. It whet the fans’ appetite for their classic encounter just two years later at WrestleMania XXV.

2) Hulkamania Meets Destructicity

Batman vs. Superman came to life in 1990 as Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior faced off for the first time. It was pandemonium as fans realized the battle lines were drawn, they’d have to choose which hero to support. The stage for WrestleMania VI had clearly been set.

1) John Cena Returns

You know how much it pains me to rank Cena #1 for anything, so that speaks volumes as to how awesome this moment is. Supposedly injured for months and months, the former WWE Champion shocked the world with an early return as #30 at the 2008 Royal Rumble. The fans couldn’t believe he was healthy enough to compete, much less win the damn thing.

John Corrigan
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John Corrigan

Columnist / Assistant Editor at Wrestledelphia.com
John Corrigan
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