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30 What-If Moments From Royal Rumble History

James Klonowski brings up 30 what-if moments from Royal Rumble history.

Forget the Super Bowl. Forget The World Series. Hell, even forget the World Cup.

When it comes to exciting action and compelling drama, nothing comes close to the Royal Rumble. A 30 Man or Woman battle royal which lasts approximately 60 minutes with superstars entering at timed intervals. Elimination can occur when an opponent is thrown over the ropes with both feet touching the floor. The winner gets a World Championship Match at WrestleMania. They used to get the main event there too, but since the likes of The Rock, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar became available that has gone by the wayside.

The Royal Rumble is one of the greatest nights on the WWE calendar mainly due to its sheer unpredictability. Anything can, and usually does happen. Hell, one year bookies even had odds on the current President of the United States Donald Trump winning the whole thing. It was actually less odds than you’d have had on Leicester City winning the Premier League Title. Think about that for a moment.

So, with the Royal Rumble event fast approaching I thought it would be a fun idea to look back on the prestigious event and ask 30 little What If questions that could possibly have changed the landscape of WWE forever….

What If Shawn Michaels Botched The Finish To The 1995 Royal Rumble Match?

We would have had to sit through A British Bulldog and Kevin Nash bout at WrestleMania. Nobody wanted to see that. Thankfully, HBK managed to skin the cat perfectly and go on to win the whole thing. One slip up though and it could’ve been very different. 

What If Ric Flair Never Joined WWE In 1992?

He wouldn’t have won the 1992 Royal Rumble Match for a start. We also wouldn’t have got the incredible bell to bell performance from The Nature Boy or the historic significance of the WWE Championship being on the line in the bout itself. Just a shame Flair didn’t stick around longer in WWE.

What If Vince McMahon Didn’t Win The 1999 Royal Rumble Match?

He should never have won it in the first place. This was Stone Cold’s moment, but it was played out in soap opera fashion for the benefit of the Attitude Era. Vince winning didn’t really add anything to the story, and it hurt the prestige of the Rumble Match in the process. However, rumour has it, a certain Vince Russo was keen on someone else to go over at this event but more on that later.

What If Batista Just Threw John Cena Out In 2005?

Vince McMahon wouldn’t have torn both quadriceps muscles, that’s for sure. It was a complete mess and could’ve all been avoided had Batista did his job properly and thrown John Cena out of the ring as planned. Vince’s thighs would’ve thanked you, Dave.

What If Lex Luger Won The 1994 Royal Rumble?

Maybe just maybe WWE would’ve had another Hulk Hogan on their hands. By that, I don’t mean a steroid-fueled bigot. Luger did have the fans on his side but shoddy booking stopped his momentum dead. Who knows how big Lex Express could’ve gotten had he not shared the spoils with Bret Hart here.

What If Bret Hart Won The 1997 Royal Rumble Match?

Let’s be honest, Bret Hart should’ve won this one. As popular as Austin was, he had no right taking this one home. Arguably the biggest match of the year was used as filler to promote the upcoming WrestleMania bout between the pair. Hart deserved better. However, if he thought the start of 1997 was  bad, he should’ve seen what November of that year had in store for him. 

What If Vince McMahon Never Listened To Pat Patterson About The Royal Rumble?

Could you imagine a world where the Royal Rumble does not exist? That’s a big possibility because McMahon wasn’t completely sold on the idea when Patterson first brought it up. A man who thought bra & panties matches and Buried Alive bouts were good shit, a battle royal was just out of the realms of imagination for him.

What If Chyna Won The 1999 Royal Rumble Match?

The person Vince Russo reportedly petitioned to have win the 1999 Royal Rumble Match was Chyna. Yes, that’s right. It’s not as crazy as it sounds as back then Chyna was one of the biggest names in the business. If Austin wasn’t going to win it, then the shock factor of having Chyna do it would’ve created headlines and brought eyeballs to the product.

What If Eddie Guerrero Did Not Pass Away In 2005?

A tragic story this one. Eddie Guerrero, one of the greatest of all time taken in the prime of his life. Wrestling is irrelevant to most things, especially someone’s life. Eddie was scheduled to face Shawn Michaels at the following year’s WrestleMania in a dream match for the ages,which would have more than likely been set up at the Royal Rumble. Sadly fate intervened and we never got to witness it. Eddie’s legacy will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all those he touched. 

What If Hogan And Warrior Joined Forces In 1990?

Savage and Hogan were the Mega Powers which led to one of the greatest WrestleMania main events of all time. Imagine if WWE had done the same thing with Warrior and Hogan in 1990? Hogan could’ve even turned heel if his ego allowed him to. Would’ve made excellent business for both men.

What If John Cena Didn’t Return In 2008?

The pop Cena got when he made his improbable return at the 2008 Royal Rumble event in Madison Square Garden was epic. However, if he wasn’t superman and didn’t recover in record time, then what would’ve happened? Rumour has it, Triple H was to win his 2nd Rumble on the night and go on to dethrone Randy Orton at WrestleMania. I haven’t said this often, but thank God for John Cena. 

What If Mick Foley Won The 1998 Royal Rumble Match?

In 1998, Mick Foley competed in the Royal Rumble Match three times under three different personas. Sadly for Mick, neither Cactus Jack, Mankind or Dude Love were successful. But what if one of them did succeed? This was Austin’s year for sure, but it would’ve made things interesting had Foley snuck the win and set up some intrigue leading into WrestleMania. 

What If Hulk Hogan Returned To WWE In 1996?

Hogan’s contract was fast approaching in WCW and he wasn’t too eager about renewing. He made some calls to Vince McMahon, who wasn’t interested in doing business with him at that time. Then came NWO in WCW and the rest is history. If only Hogan had returned to WWE in 1996. No Boyhood Dream coming true for Shawn Michaels. No rise of Stone Cold. Arguably no Attitude Era. McMahon wouldn’t have been under any pressure to do so with the biggest wrestling star on the planet back home.

What If Andre The Giant Won The First Royal Rumble Match?

He deserved it. Especially over Jim Duggan which was just so random on so many fronts. Battle Royals are made for large athletes, and who larger than Andre the freaking Giant? This could’ve helped elevate the Rumble immediately and create an aura around the Giant once more.

What If Kane Won The 2001 Royal Rumble Match?

I’m not advocating for Kane to have headlined a WrestleMania, no one wants to see that, but he was booked very strongly in the 2001 Royal Rumble Match, so much so that many people believed he was going to win the whole thing. It came down to him and Austin, thankfully cooler heads prevailed and Stone Cold won. Imagine if Kane had faced The Rock at WrestleMania 17. It would have been absolutely awful.

What If Maven Eliminating The Undertaker in 2002 Was A Shoot?

I do believe this to be true. Either that or Undertaker deserves an Oscar for his reaction. The brutal beatdown of the first Tough Enough afterwards was hard to watch, and I can imagine Vince McMahon with a sick grin on his face ordering the cameramen to keep filming. Two rules in WWE. 1, you never sneeze in front of Vince McMahon. 2, don’t ever cross The Undertaker. Poor, poor Maven.

What If Kofi Kingston Actually Won A Royal Rumble Match?

No denying he has made the Rumble Match a lot of fun to watch in recent years, but sadly for Kofi he’s never actually managed to win one. Last year could’ve been his time especially as he went onto become WWE Champion at WrestleMania anyway. His time looks to have passed now, which is a shame but one can still look forward to how he avoids elimination again this year.

What If Big Show Won The 2004 Royal Rumble Match?

For one, they’d be able to show it on the WWE Network. Big Show was dominant in this Rumble Match, taking out almost everyone before finally succumbing in the closing moments to a man I’d rather not mention. The World’s Largest Athlete was actually red hot at this point, and was the favourite to win, but McMahon had other ideas. Boy, how he ended up regretting that one.

What If WWE Couldn’t Hide That Both Rock’s Feet Touched The Floor In 2000?

Unfortunately for Rock there’s only one take in WWE. He was meant to win the 2000 Royal Rumble Match, but his feet touched the floor first before Big Show went over. Fortunately for Rocky, no one noticed it on the night and he came out on top. These days, I’d be surprised if he could get away with it. Everyone has a phone with a camera, and someone would’ve caught him out. He’d have been red faced, but not as much as Vince McMahon who would’ve been forced into giving The Big Show a WrestleMania main event.

What If Hulk Hogan Turned Heel On Randy Savage In 1989?

Hogan makes a great heel. Maybe that’s because he’s not the nicest of guys in real life. He should’ve been the one to turn on Savage in 1989, and move on as the most hated villain in wrestling. He could’ve had Elizabeth as his valet, cheated to win matches, and run amok over WWE. His eventual heel turn in WCW wouldn’t have come as such a big shock either, and maybe WWE would’ve won the war quicker.

What If Rikishi Won The 2000 Royal Rumble?

He was certainly one of the most over superstars at the time, and also had a lengthy stay in the Rumble Match. It wouldn’t have been the worst received result if he had come out on top. Did he have the chops to headline WrestleMania? Probably not, although that didn’t stop The Miz.

What If Triple H Re Injured Himself In 2002?

Triple H was so big in 2002 upon his return. He was literally twice the size from the last time we saw him. All that extra muscle mass can’t have been good for his surgically repaired legs. Imagine, if he had injured himself in the Rumble Match that he eventually won. Austin or Angle would’ve most probably gone over in that instance, throwing the WrestleMania plans in the trash and The Game’s career in the process.

What If Edge Never Returned In 2010?

Edge is rumoured to be coming back in this year’s Royal Rumble Match after retiring due to severe neck injuries almost a decade ago. It’s a huge risk, but the same can be said for his last return from injury in 2010. He tore his Achilles, was still reeling from unresolved neck and back injuries, but still managed to return in time for the big event, win the bout and clash with Chris Jericho at WrestleMania. If he hadn’t had been able to return so quickly, who would’ve won the thing? Cena or Batista seem the logical options that WWE would’ve gone for.

What If Kurt Angle Won The 2002 Royal Rumble Match?

Apparently, Kurt Angle was pencilled in to become the first-ever Undisputed Champion in 2001. When that plan went by the wayside, McMahon looked to make it up to him by winning the 2002 Rumble. That also failed to materialise when Triple H announced himself fit to return. I can’t imagine who Angle would’ve faced at WrestleMania had he won. It surely wouldn’t have been Jericho unless it was to be a multi-man bout of some sort.

What If The Undertaker Returned As The Deadman In 2003?

There were so many rumours at the time of Undertaker returning as The Deadman, but alas he stayed true to character and remained The American Badass. He would do so until the following WrestleMania. It would’ve made for a great moment had the reaper of souls returned here. He didn’t have to win the thing, but coming back as the biker just prolonged the inevitable. 

What If Ronda Rousey Won The 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble Match?

Rather than just showing up and pointing at the WrestleMania sign, she should’ve entered as a surprise entrant and won the whole thing. WWE missed a trick here. Maybe they’ll rectify their mistake this year by having the Baddest Woman on the Planet win the Rumble bout.

What If Roman Reigns Won The 2019 Royal Rumble Match?

Seth Rollins winning was a complete bore. People were already tired of him. Rather than have Roman Reigns return from his life-threatening illness on an episode of Raw, WWE should’ve had him return in the Rumble Match as a huge surprise and win the whole things. Fans would’ve come unglued for The Big Dog in his quest to dethrone The Beast at WrestleMania. McMahon would’ve gotten everything he had ever wished for, but instead opted for The Architect instead.

What If The Rules For The Royal Rumble Match Were Changed?

The Royal Rumble Match is pretty perfect in its concept, but over the years McMahon has toyed with playing around with the rules. Some of those have included pinfalls, submissions and disqualifications becoming ways of elimination as opposed to being thrown out of the ring. It would never have worked, and thankfully Vince has never touched the rules apart from to add a different amount of Superstars to the bout and change the length of time of the contest.

What If Randy Orton Didn’t Win The 2017 Royal Rumble Match?

Did he really need to win it? Of course he didn’t. It was just set up to face Bray Wyatt, but that story was already being played out and didn’t need a Rumble winner involved. Goldberg should’ve won this one, lastly eliminating Brock Lesnar. Failing that, Chris Jericho could’ve done with it to set up his clash with Kevin Owens. 

What If Dean Ambrose Won The 2016 Royal Rumble Match?

He was so close to winning it, but in the end Triple H obviously took home the gold. There was never another outcome suggested, but maybe an audible should have been called when they heard the reaction The Lunatic Fringe was getting in the match. The fans were desperate for him to win, but The Game had other ideas. If Ambrose had won it, we could’ve had a Triple Threat at WrestleMania involving Reigns. The King Of Kings was never going to sign off on that one though.

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3Thanks for reading!

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