Now in its 23rd year, the Royal Rumble was created by Canadian WWE Hall of Famer, and former Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson. It was no surprise that the first event was held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This pay-per-view event, airs live in January. While there are tag team, and singles matches, the main attraction of this event is the actual Rumble match itself. There is an enormous amount of excitement, the thrill is real, and the match is action packed.
Today, the Rumble consists of 30 wrestlers and they draw spots for their entry. Those who select numbers 1 and 2 begin this event, and every 90 seconds, another superstar joins the contest. It is an elimination event, and the winner is the one who remains standing in the ring.
There are three criteria for elimination:
1. Each wrestler must be thrown over the top rope.
2. Both feet have to touch the ground.
3. The referee has to witness the two above rules.
The winner advances to face the Heavyweight Champion of his choice at Wrestlemania. It is quite rare for the wrestlers who choose number 1-5 to emerge victorious. But, it has happened, and this article deals with events in 1992, 2004, and 2006, where this unusual occurrence took place.
The 1992 Royal Rumble Match, held in Albany, New York, was the only time the WWE Championship went to the victor. Because the WWE Championship was at stake, this was probably the most star-studded Rumble Match in WWE history. The final four included: Ric Flair (who drew number 1), “Macho Man” Randy Savage (entered at number 21), Hulk Hogan (number 26) and Sid Justice (entrant number 29).
The first of the final three eliminations was Randy Savage, also referred to as Macho Man. Ric Flair and Sid Justice double-teamed him, and threw Savage over the top rope, eliminating the former WWE champion. Hulk Hogan was the next one eliminated, and this had everyone awe struck. After nearly eliminating Flair, Sid Justice came from behind, and tossed Hogan out of the match. With Hulk on the arena floor, getting into a war-of-words with Sid, Flair reached down, grabbed his larger opponent’s legs, lifted him up and eliminated Sid. Ric Flair won the WWE Championship, lasting just under an hour, and left spectators with their jaw dropping.
In the 2004 Royal Rumble Match, all the wrestlers knew that winner would advance to Wrestlemania 20, to face a champion of his choosing. The final four included: Chris Benoit (entrant number 1), Kurt Angle (entry number 19), The Big Show (24th entrant) and Chris Jericho (entered at 25). The first one to be eliminated was Chris Jericho. The Big Show followed that elimination by throwing Kurt Angle over the top rope. Unfortunately for the giant, Chris Benoit somehow found the strength, as the Show was near the ropes, to lift him, and toss him, single-handedly, over the top rope, to the arena floor. That miraculous feat of strength enabled Benoit to last a little over an hour to win the 2004 Royal Rumble Match. The fans in Philadelphia were ecstatic with the result, and the noise in the arena was unbelievable. Because of his small stature, nobody expected Benoit to win, and fight for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 20.
Miami, Florida, hosted the 2006 Royal Rumble Event. The final four in the Rumble Match were: Triple H (number 1), Rey Mysterio (entered at number 2), Rob Van Dam (20th entrant) and Randy Orton (number 30). With Orton on the mat, RVD ascended to the top rope to perform a “frog splash” on his fallen opponent. With Van Dam perched, Triple H and Mysterio were battling. Rey was pushed into RVD, eliminating Van Dam from the competition. Triple H and Randy Orton combined forces to try to eliminate Rey, but that plan did not come to fruition. Mysterio performed his ‘6-1-9′ finisher on his adversaries. With Triple H on his feet, dazed and confused, Rey eliminated him. An enraged Triple H attacked Mysterio on the outside, and rolled him back in the ring for Orton to eliminate. Unfortunately for Randy, in trying to eliminate the agile superstar, Mysterio performed one of his big moves to eliminate Orton. As a result, Rey Mysterio, the swift, and agile superstar, who entered at number 2, won the 2006 Royal Rumble Match to the elation of the 15,000 fans in attendance.
The Rumble itself, is a great event, but when the chances of wrestlers who select the early numbers are slim, it leaves fans wondering how fixed the match is. Mr. McMahon should have his top notch wrestlers in this event. The more junior ones, or the lesser known ones, have a higher chance of early elimination, and that does not do much for their self-esteem. If, on the other hand, the big guns alone enter this thriller of an event, I think the extent and shrill screams will echo for a mighty long time, and the memory of the action-packed match will be etched in the minds of the viewers.
By: Azeem Kayum