It is considered one of the big events on the WWE calendar and paves the way towards Wrestlemania. The first major show of the year is the Royal Rumble, headlined by the 30-man Royal Rumble Match. It is every man for himself. The only way to be eliminated is to be thrown over the top rope, with both feet touching the floor. Since 1993, the prize for the winner has been a WWE Title match at Wrestlemania. The 30th edition of the Royal Rumble will take place at the Alamodome, in San Antonio, Texas, on January 29th. With that in mind, I thought I would look back at some memorable moments in its history.

The first Rumble in 1988, took place at the Copps Coliseum, in Hamilton, Ontario, but only involved 20 wrestlers. The match was won by Hacksaw Jim Duggan when he eliminated the One Man Gang. The following year’s Rumble began with two tag team partners drawing numbers 1 and 2. When the fans saw that Ax and Smash of Demolition were going to begin the 1989 Rumble, in Houston, Texas they were stunned – that alone proved it really was every man for himself. That Rumble match was won by Big John Studd, who eliminated Ted Dibiase. The first two-time winner occurred in the years 1990 and 1991 when Hulk Hogan outlasted 29 other wrestlers on both occasions. However, the following Rumble in 1992 proved to be really significant.

Albany, New York, hosted the event that year. The WWE Championship was vacant, so the wrestlers had more incentive to win the match. Involved in the 1992 Rumble were legends such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sid Justice (most will remember him as Sid Vicious), Roddy Piper, Ric Flair and Jake the Snake Roberts, among others. Fans were excited about this, knowing what was at stake.

Flair drew number 3, so there was a good chance that he would not make it to the end. There were different points in the match where Flair could have been eliminated, but he was either saved by another wrestler or landed on the ring apron. The final four were Flair, Savage, Hogan and Sid. I am sure fans assumed that Hogan was going to become the new WWE Champion and win his third consecutive Rumble match, but fans were proven wrong on that night.

Once Savage was eliminated, it came down to Flair, Hogan and Sid. Sid eliminated Hogan, and the fans were stunned. It was very evident that Hulk was displeased, so much so, that he reached up from the arena floor, grabbed Sid’s hand and tried to pull him over. Flair snuck up behind Sid, and dumped him over the top rope. Ric Flair emerged from the Rumble to become the new WWE Champion. The crowd was stunned. Not only because the number three entrant won, but because nobody had lasted that long in the Rumble match, to that point.

In his post-match interview with Gene Okerlund, Flair made a statement, that I am sure could be perceived as a shot at his early years in WCW – “With a tear in my eye……this is the greatest moment of my life.” He earned the WWE title that night, and earned the right to say whatever he wanted. What a great accomplishment for one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

The Royal Rumble Match is also a place where miracles can occur. One such surprise happened in 2006. Rey Mysterio was the second entrant in the match, and made it to the final three. It came down to him, Triple H and Randy Orton. Mysterio eliminated Triple H, and in a fit of rage, he attacked Rey outside the ring before tossing him back in. It seemed like Orton’s path to victory was made easier. But as Randy was about to throw out his smaller adversary, Rey countered and eliminated Orton to win the 2006 Royal Rumble Match. The fans went crazy when this happened – they were extremely happy for Rey.

After his victory, Rey pointed to the sky, and dedicated his victory to his friend, the late Eddie Guerrero, who had passed away two months prior to the event. Rey deserved the victory. He showed that regardless of your size, if you persevere and believe in yourself, you can achieve your dreams.

Over the past few years, the Rumble match has seen its share of surprise entrants. Usually, it is a legend of the WWE, who just comes in for the match alone, or the return of a wrestler from injury. The crowd goes crazy when this happens. One such return occurred during the 2010 Royal Rumble Match. Entry number 29 was a returning Edge. He was injured and not supposed to return until after Wrestlemania that year. His appearance stunned everyone.

Edge eliminated Jericho first. Surprisingly, Edge made it to the final four, along with Batista, John Cena and Shawn Michaels. Shawn was thrown out by Batista, and became extremely irate, as he saw his dream of main eventing Wrestlemania come to an end. He was so upset that he attacked referees as well as officials. Batista was eliminated shortly thereafter, leaving Cena and Edge as the final two. They wrestled a very intense match, using all their signature moves. After a few minutes, Edge threw Cena over the top rope to win the Rumble, to earn a Wrestlemania championship match. This was a very pleasant surprise, since no one expected Edge to return when he did, let alone win the prestigious Royal Rumble Match in 2010.

Winning the Royal Rumble Match is always a challenge. Being victorious on numerous occasions is a huge accomplishment. Together with Hulk Hogan, multiple time winners include Triple H, John Cena, Shawn Michaels and Batista. Stone Cold Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble Match a historic three times. So, what will happen in the match this year? Who, if anyone, will make a surprise appearance, return or debut? I know the Rumble match will be entertaining to watch, and will hopefully have a few twists. It is my favourite event of the year because of its unpredictability. May the best wrestler win and realize their dream of a main event championship match at Wrestlemania.

Azeem Kayum

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