Royal Rumble: The Complete History

Royal Rumble 2003

The buildup to the Royal Rumble began on December 23, when the Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff announced that 15 wrestlers would represent Raw and 15 wrestlers would represent SmackDown in the match, because it was the first Royal Rumble match to take place after WWE’s Brand Extension.

Date: 19th January, 2003
Venue: Fleet Center
City: Boston, MA
Attendance: 15,338
Commentators (RAW): Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler
Commentators: (SmackDown!): Michael Cole & Tazz
Theme Song: Falling Apart by Trust Company

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Background

Royal Rumble 2003 promotional poster

Royal Rumble 2003 promotional poster

The buildup to the Royal Rumble match began on December 23 edition of Raw, when the Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff discussed about the upcoming Royal Rumble match that 15 wrestlers would represent Raw brand and 15 wrestlers would represent SmackDown brand in the match, because it was going to be the first Royal Rumble match to take place after WWE’s Brand Extension. The buildup continued on January 2 edition of SmackDown, a vignette aired hyping the return of The Undertaker in the Royal Rumble match. Later that night, Paul Heyman announced that Brock Lesnar and Big Show would wrestle in a Royal Rumble qualification match at Royal Rumble. On January 6 edition of Raw, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels argued over who would be drawing #1 entry in the Royal Rumble match. On January 13 edition of Raw, a Royal Rumble qualification match took place in which Jeff Hardy defeated Raven. Later that night, Jericho defeated Batista, Kane and Rob Van Dam in an Over the Top Rope Challenge to earn the right choose an entry number of his choice. Jericho chose #2 because #1 was already given to Michaels.

The main rivalry heading into the event from the SmackDown brand was between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit over the WWE Championship. At Armageddon, Angle defeated Big Show via interference from Brock Lesnar, to win the WWE title. Prior to the event, Angle had promised Lesnar to get his suspension lifted if he helped Angle in defeating Big Show for the title. Angle had also promised Lesnar to give him the first title shot after winning the title. However, despite helping Angle in winning the title, Lesnar was not given his title shot as on December 19 edition of SmackDown Angle and Big Show’s manager Paul Heyman cancelled Lesnar’s title shot and Big Show was given his title rematch. Later that night, Angle lost to Chris Benoit in a non-title match by disqualification when Big Show interfered in the match and attacked Benoit. However, Lesnar rescued Benoit from the post-match assault by Angle and Big Show and brutally assaulted Angle, injuring him. As a result of Angle’s injury, the SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon cancelled Angle’s title match against Big Show and decided that Big Show would wrestle Benoit to determine the #1 contender for the WWE title. Benoit defeated Big Show to become the #1 contender for the title at Royal Rumble.

The main rivalry heading into the event from the Raw brand was between Triple H and Scott Steiner over the World Heavyweight Championship. On October 24, 2002, WWE had announced on its official website that Scott Steiner had signed a three-year contract with WWE. After eight years away, Steiner returned to WWE as a free agent at Survivor Series and attacked Matt Hardy and Christopher Nowinski for insulting New York City. Steiner was approached by the Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff and the SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon for their respective brands. He initially decided to join the SmackDown brand but after McMahon rejected Steiner’s advances, he moved to the Raw brand. At Armageddon, Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels in a Three Stages of Hell to win the World Heavyweight Championship. On December 16 edition of Raw, Triple H held an Appreciation Ceremony on winning the title but the ceremony was interrupted by Steiner, who announced that his contract said that he would earn a world title shot. As a result, Steiner and Triple H’s match for the World Heavyweight Championship was made official at Royal Rumble.

The secondary rivalry heading into the event from the Raw brand was between Lance Storm and William Regal and Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) over the World Tag Team Championship. On December 23 edition of Raw, the Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff forced Raw commentators Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler to wrestle in a tag team match against Storm and Regal for making bad comments against Bischoff. Ross and Lawler defeated Storm and Regal after interference by Dudley Boyz. As a result, on January 6 edition of Raw, Bischoff forced Dudley Boyz to wrestle 3-Minute Warning (Rosey and Jamal), Rico and Batista in a Handicap match. Storm and Regal avenged their loss by costing Dudley Boyz, the match. Later that night, Storm and Regal defeatedBooker T and Goldust for the World Tag Team Championship. This led to a title match between Storm and Regal and Dudley Boyz at Royal Rumble.

The secondary rivalry heading into the event from the SmackDown brand was between Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie. At Armageddon, Torrie and Dawn did a lesbian segment in a hotel room. On December 19 edition of SmackDown, Torrie gave bad remarks about her storyline father Al Wilson on getting married with Dawn. On January 2 edition of SmackDown, Dawn and Al had their storyline wedding in their undergarments. On January 9 edition of SmackDown, Josh Mathews announced that Dawn and Torrie would wrestle in a match at Royal Rumble billed as a “Stepmother” vs “Stepdaughter” match.

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Match Results

Royal Rumble Qualifying Match:
Brock Lesnar defeated The Big Show (with Paul Heyman) (6:29)

World Tag Team Championship:
The Dudley Boyz defeated William Regal & Lance Storm (c) (7:24)

Singles Match:
Torrie Wilson defeated Dawn Marie (3:36)

World Heavyweight Championship:
Scott Steiner defeated Triple H (with Ric Flair) (c) via disqualification (18:14)

WWE Championship
Kurt Angle (with Team Angle) (c) defeated Chris Benoit (19:50)

Royal Rumble Match:
Brock Lesnar won by last eliminating The Undertaker (53:41)

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Aftermath

Due to winning the Royal Rumble match, Brock Lesnar earned a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania. As a result, he began a rivalry with the WWE Champion Kurt Angle. Chris Benoit also continued his rivalry with Angle after losing to him at Royal Rumble. At No Way Out, Lesnar, Benoit and Edge were scheduled to take on Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) in a six-man tag team match, but Edge was injured before the event. As a result, the match became a handicap match but Lesnar and Benoit managed to defeat Team Angle. At WrestleMania XIX, Lesnar defeated Angle to win the WWE Championship.

After retaining the World Heavyweight Championship against Scott Steiner by getting disqualified, Triple H continued his rivalry with Steiner over the title. On February 3 edition of Raw, Steiner became the #1 contender for the title by defeating Chris Jericho. At No Way Out, Triple H defeated Steiner to retain the title.

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Royal Rumble Stats

 

Draw Entrant Brand Order Eliminated by Time
1 Shawn Michaels Raw 1 Jericho 2:29
2 Chris Jericho Raw 14 Test 38:58
3 Christopher Nowinski Raw 2 Mysterio 4:39
4 Rey Mysterio SD! 3 Jericho 5:55
5 Edge SD! 10 Jericho 11:03
6 Christian Raw 9 Jericho 9:03
7 Chavo Guerrero SD! 8 Edge 7:10
8 Tajiri SD! 6 Jericho 5:41
9 Bill DeMott SD! 4 Edge 2:13
10 Tommy Dreamer Raw 5 Jericho & Christian 0:48
11 B-2 SD! 7 Edge 0:24
12 Rob Van Dam Raw 26 Kane 33:56
13 Matt Hardy SD! 21 Lesnar 27:17
14 Eddie Guerrero SD! 13 Booker 16:29
15 Jeff Hardy Raw 11 Van Dam 7:29
16 Rosey Raw 12 Kane 10:16
17 Test Raw 17 Batista 18:45
18 John Cena SD! 22 Undertaker 19:38
19 Charlie Haas SD! 20 Lesnar 17:17
20 Rikishi SD! 18 Batista 14:10
21 Jamal Raw 23 Undertaker 16:07
22 Kane Raw 28 Undertaker 20:24
23 Shelton Benjamin SD! 19 Lesnar 10:55
24 Booker T Raw 16 Haas & Benjamin 6:20
25 A-Train SD! 25 Kane & Van Dam 11:33
26 Maven Raw 24 Undertaker 8:19
27 Goldust Raw 15 Haas & Benjamin 0:47
28 Batista Raw 27 Undertaker 9:55
29 Brock Lesnar SD! WINNER 8:59
30 The Undertaker SD! 29 Lesnar 6:45

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