The Royal Rumble has to be one of the most unique events ever conceived by the WWE. Thirty combatants competing in one match, every person for themselves, no friends, no family.
All participants sharing the same goal, throw opponents over the top rope to the outside of the ring while trying not to have the same done to themselves. The hope of all involved ultimately being to outlast all other competitors, therefore winning the opportunity to take part in the main event of Wrestlemania. The Royal Rumble is considered by many to be one of WWE’s “Big Four” events, recurring annually since it’s initial inception in 1988. With over thirty years worth of Rumbles in the history books, it’s safe to say there have been a plethora of unique and surprising eliminations. So, with this year’s edition of the Royal Rumble mere days away, it is my task once again to give you fine readers a top five list! This time we’re going to be looking at my top five Royal Rumble eliminations. Let’s jump right into it!
5. Macho Man Randy Savage – Royal Rumble 1993
Never did Macho Man’s “Madness” catchphrase make more sense than in the ’93 Rumble. How else can you describe the idea of attempting a pinfall in a Royal Rumble?! You can’t even use the excuse that it was his first Rumble. With that said, Yokozuna’s subsequent bench press of Savage, sending Macho over the top rope, definitely stands out in the memories of many fans. Of course the pin attempt made zero sense, but the level of strength it took on the part of Yoko certainly makes this one list worthy.
4. Bret Hart & Lex Luger – Royal Rumble 1994
This one simply drips with historical significance. The first ever occurrence of a double final elimination. Sure, with the Royal Rumble happening yearly, it was bound to happen eventually, but I personally don’t think you could’ve asked for a better stage to unveil this brilliant piece of storytelling. 1994’s Rumble winner would earn a WWE Title shot at Wrestlemania 10 against the massive heel Yokozuna. After Luger and Hart eliminated each other, the final decision was that both men had won the Rumble. This would lead to another first in WWE history as Yokozuna would be forced to defend his WWE Championship twice in the same night at Wrestlemania. The finale of Rumble ’94 earns the number four spot solely for being a shining example of when WWE still thought outside of the box.
3. Cactus Jack/Mankind/Dude Love – Royal Rumble 1998
Mick Foley has the astute distinction of being the only person to be eliminated from a Royal Rumble match three times. In what may be the best utilization of Foley’s multiple personality gimmick, 1998’s Rumble would see Mick enter at number one as Cactus Jack, eventually being eliminated by Chainsaw Charlie. Then Foley would enter again at number sixteen under the masked persona of Mankind, eliminated this time by Goldust. Finally, Mick would enter one more time at number twenty eight as Dude Love, with his last elimination coming at the hands of Farooq. Mick earns the number three spot for simply being the subject of such a memorable series of events. Ten years removed from the very first Rumble and originality was still one of the main focuses of the match.
2. The Undertaker – Royal Rumble 2002
The Undertaker is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the WWE, so it goes without saying that he’s contributed many memorable Rumble moments. This is probably one of the darker ones. After entering the 2002 Rumble, Taker preceded to clear the ring. Effortlessly earning four eliminations, the American Badass seemed poised to dominate the rest of the match. However, the next entrants would turn out to be Matt and Jeff Hardy, two men that had recently felt the wrath of the Dead Man first hand. Aided by the fearless Lita, the Hardys would put up a valiant effort before both falling victim to elimination by Taker. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The next man to enter the Royal Rumble would be Tough Enough Season One Winner, Maven. The greener than green rookie was assumed to be another easy out for the Undertaker as the Phenom lifted Maven on one shoulder and made his way towards the ring ropes. Suddenly, Lita and the Hardys return to distract Undertaker, leading to Maven blindsiding the Dead Man with a drop kick, sending him over the ropes! What follows is most likely the best example of why you didn’t cross Taker in his heel persona.
1. John Cena & Batista – Royal Rumble 2005
Oh, you just knew this had to be number one! The double elimination in ’94 being number four was a dead giveaway. Eleven years after Hart and Luger tumbled over the top rope, WWE did it again…or did they? The fact that there is still speculation surrounding this finale alone earns it the number one spot on my list. I’m still not convinced that the double elimination that takes place in 2005 was completely intentional. The spot itself seems overly stiff for a planned moment, and the reactions of Cena, Batista, and Vince all seem rather legitimate. This would also explain the decision for the Rumble to continue into overtime instead of declaring two winners as they did in ’94. However, all this would be ultimately overshadowed by the fact that Vince McMahon would end up tearing both of his quadriceps as he entered the ring to resolve the confusion. And in truth, that’s probably my real reason for making this number one. I’ll just never get over the image of Vince sitting flat in the ring still trying to seem intimidating.