Ok, Vince McMahon I'm not. Clearly. But, if you're a wrestling fan, January means one thing and one thing only: The Royal Rumble. Which, for those who aren't into wrestling, is a match where 30 men enter the ring and have to throw each other out for a chance to headline Wrestlemania. It's that simple. You get thrown out and both feet touch the floor, then it's thanks for coming, try again next year. Or in other words, a 60 minute game of "Hot Lava" while grown men touch each other. And as weird as it sounds, fans look forward to it. Every year since 1988, it's been a big lead in to Wrestlemania and definitely gets fans pumped. Whether WWF/WWE was hot at the time or not, you can usually rely on Royal Rumble to make you excited to watch the product. And with a tagline like "No friends. All Enemies. Every Man For Himself" you know something is gonna go down.
And since 1988, we've gotten some extraordinary moments that left a huge impression on fans that are still being talked about to this day. This years edition takes place this coming Sunday the 26th. There's always a lot of talk and rumors flying about the Rumble. Who will enter, who is already penciled in for winning, who will be a surprise entrant. It's all part of being a fan. And if the last few years were any indication, this year will be pretty darn memorable.
Speaking of memorable, let's take a look at the greatest Royal Rumble moments in the history of this illustrious event. Some may shock you, some may make you cry. But either way, it's time for THE RUMMMMMMBLE!
1989: Demolition Face Off
While Flair's entry at number 3 was brutal, it's not as brutal as picking number 1. That's what happened to Demolition member Ax in 1989. The most unenviable spot in the Rumble possible. Ax's chances of surviving were absolutely miniscule. In fact most would say impossible. Most would be correct. Because when there are no friends, teams and alliances split up and turn on each other. And that's what happened when Ax's tag team partner Smash came out at number 2. Delivering a memorable and entertaining 2 minutes in which the, at the time, tag champions absolutely held nothing back in hopes that either man would be the last man standing. As entertaining as it was to see two face tag team partners go at it, they wouldn't last longer than 2 minutes when Andre The Giant made his way down to the ring to try his hand at the Rumble. But alas, it wasn't meant to be for any of the combatants as the returning Big John Studd was the winner at the end of the night.
1992: Ric Flair Is Once Again the 60 Minute Man.
The late, great Gorilla Monsoon said as Flair entered as the dreadful number 3 entry of the 1992 Rumble that "No has entered the Rumble at number 3 and lasted til the end". Well, Gorilla would soon eat his words a good hour or so later when Ric Flair bested 29 other men and became the vacant WWF champion. In what was my all time favorite Royal Rumble match(and considered by some the best to this day), the legendary Nature Boy took a hearty beating from the best the WWF had to offer at the time including Macho Man Randy Savage, Jake the Snake Roberts, Roddy Piper, British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels,Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Big Bossman and so many more. Flair himself has said that he felt it was one of the greatest events ever with some of the greatest talent amassed in one ring in one night. And with the who's who of pro wrestling that took a chance at a chance to become the one and only WWF Champion, it's hard to disagree with that statement.
BONUS: Bobby Heenan's Commentary.
Touted by many as the greatest color commentator, Bobby Heenan gave the performance of a lifetime. Bordering on the line of panic and hysterical, Bobby played the biased heel who only wanted to see his charge Ric Flair win. And while the Rumble match itself was amazing to watch, it wouldn't be the same without the legendary announcing skills of the Brain. In describing the events, you actually believe the Brain would've had a heart attack had Flair lost. And of course, on the babyface side, Gorilla couldn't help but poke the bear by telling him how there's no chance for Flair to win. But Bobby AND Flair had the last laugh as we closed the show with both men and Mr. Perfect celebrating the amazing win.
1994: Bret Hart/Lex Luger Win The Rumble...At The Same Time?!?!?!
The 1994 Rumble was plagued by the humiliating "Death of the Undertaker" storyline earlier in the night. With the silliness of The Undertaker floating up to Heaven via the video wall out of our minds, we sat and watched as Diesel threw out 7 wrestlers in a row. Diesel's popularity would take off after this and the rest is history. But the ending of the match is what everyone remembers the most. For the first time since it's inception and the only occurrence since, TWO men won the Royal Rumble. WWF's two biggest names at the time were Lex Luger and Bret "Hitman" Hart. At the end of the match, both men were the last two standing and after a rather short brawl, Bret and Lex both tackled each other over the top rope and hit the floor at the same time. And after much back and forth and bickering, it was decided by WWF President Jack Tunney and officials that BOTH men had just won the Rumble. Shocking stuff indeed. And a total game changer. Both men would then go on to Wrestlemania to face off against then champ Yokozuna to challenge him for the strap. While Luger was unsuccessful and floundered in the WWF, Bret won the strap and his place in wrestling history as one of the greatest champions and performers ever. And maybe, in hindsight, Bret won that night after all.
1995: Shawn Michaels Sets A Record
1995 was a horrible year for wrestling in general. Bad gimmicks, embarrassing PPV events, horrible wrestlers in the top position. Yup. How anyone survived that year and still remained a fan is way beyond me. But as awful as it was, one man was the shining light and made the entire year watchable. Shawn Michaels. Yup. HBK was able to shine through and put on great matches regardless of his opponent or mindset. And it all started at the 1995 Royal Rumble. While the match was an abbreviated 45 minute version of the normal hour match, Shawn did the impossible and pulled number 1 and lasted until the end. Putting on a great spectacle has always been Shawn's specialty and this night was no different. After what we believed to be his elimination by the British Bulldog, Shawn mustered the strength to make sure only one feet landed on the ground. Able to find the strength back into the ring, he knocked out his old rival and became the man to head to Wrestlemania 11. After a great show of strength and agility, Shawn was on his way to become not only a the face of the company but the greatest WWE superstar ever.
1998: 3 Faces of Foley
2002: HHH is the King of Kings.
After a lethal injury in Summer of 2001, HHH returned 6 months later to the surprise of everyone to win the 2002 Royal Rumble. But he wasn't going to have an easy time doing it. Goldust, Mr. Perfect, the Godfather were amongst the popular superstars of the past returning to stop him. Arch rival Kurt Angle would be the one that the King of Kings would last eliminate to become the number one contender for Chris Jericho's Unified Title at Wrestlemania. While I'm not a fan of HHH in the least, this may be one of the most inspiring moments in Rumble history.
2008: Cena Wins LOL
Whether you like him or not, you gotta admit, John Cena can garner a fan reaction like none other. And when he had a sidelining injury in late 2007, it was time for new superstars to step forward. Fans thought this would be the night that we see a new face of the company be crowned. But, when it came time to reveal number 30, fans were absolutely floored to discover that Cena came back early from recovering his pectoral muscle to win the Rumble and go on to a memorable Wrestlemania main event with HHH and Randy Orton.
2011: Boston Is Run On Diesel Power
In the first ever 40 entrant Royal Rumble, we saw Kevin Nash don his Diesel persona for the first time in almost 15 years. Rumors had been running rampant that Kevin Nash would be arriving in Boston to partake in the yearly event. But no one would suspect that he'd show up as Diesel. Photos hit the internet that Nash had dyed his hair, so rumors started flying that, yes, Diesel was back. And once his music hit every fan who sat through his matches of the 90s immediately became unglued from their seats as they watched Diesel return to the ring to the ovation of the night. And you could see the fan coming out in modern day WWE superstars who grew up loving Big D. While unsuccessful of winning the Rumble, his impression was felt and he stuck around for a feud with HHH and CM Punk. Not bad for someone who's already made a huge impact on the business.
2012/2013: Kofi Kingston Auditions for Spider-Man
Kofi Kingston is an amazing talent that never seems to get his break in the WWE. His high flying abilities and his jaw dropping stunts make him one of the most exciting Superstars today. And whether he was doing a handstand on the outside or even using a a commentators chair as a pogo stick, Kofi has found a way to make the Royal Rumble his moment to shine and steal the audiences attention. Instead of continuing this description, I have to share the video with you. You really will have to see it to believe it. You can view these amazing feats below:
There are so many moments in Royal Rumble that were memorable. But these are the moments I remember when I talk about this amazing event. Even at my age, I can still suspend disbelief and enjoy being a fan for an hour. I'm looking forward to experiencing more moments this coming Sunday. Besides, rumor has it Jake The Snake Roberts is a shoo-in to be an entrant. And that will be a sight to see. Don't forget to tune in!