The Royal Rumble has always been an event that has some interesting matches. Of all the matches, one generally stands out above the rest: the Royal Rumble match itself typically has surprise entrants, and feats performed by participants to prolong their time in the ring. Whether it was the surprise return of Diesel in 2011 or Bubby Ray Dudley’s entrance in the 2015 Royal Rumble, the names that have been a part of the match even for one night are certainly notable. Fans probably remember the various stunts that Kofi Kingston has performed over the years, or the parkour that John Morrison used to save himself from being eliminated one year.
One year saw Chyna compete in the Royal Rumble match as well. However, this match isn’t the only one that has had moments that stood out and surprised fans. In fact, while some surprises are tied to who won, when they won and how they won, there are moments from the Royal Rumble that shocked fans because of other events that took place. This coming year will be the twenty-ninth annual Royal Rumble. The odds appear to be stacked against Roman Reigns, but the question is, will events occur that amount to another must see moment? We can surely anticipate a number of surprising moments in this year’s event. Here are 15 of the Most Shocking Moments in Royal Rumble History.
15. Mankind receives 10 chairshots from The Rock at Royal Rumble 99′
One of the most shocking incidents at a Royal Rumble event occurred during an “I Quit” match between Mankind and The Rock. It was controversial for the unbelievable abuse that Mankind received. At one point in the match, The Rock had Mankind‘s hands bound, and he was unable to use his hands to protect himself against chair shots to the head. The result was an astounding ten chair shots, leaving him bloodied and beaten. Today’s PG product would never allow this type of brutality to take place. It was also controversial because the match took place with Mick Foley’s wife and children at ringside. The family’s distraught reactions to this “fake” wrestling event was documented in the film Beyond The Mat.
14. Santino Marella eliminated after one second
One of the least respectable records was the two second elimination of the Warlord in the Royal Rumble. In 2009, this longstanding, ignominious record was broken by Santino Marella. He stepped into the ring and upon standing upright was clotheslined by Kane over the top rope to the floor. The official time recorded was one second into the match. It was memorable because of the amusement of those on commentary, and the amusement value was furthered by Marella acting as though he wasn’t ready. It is a moment that stands unceremoniously among his career accomplishments, which is unfortunate because he is a former United States and Intercontinental champion, but will always have this record among his career highlights, or in this case lowlights.
13. Daniel Bryan’s elimination is virtually unmentioned by commentary, but wrestling fans jeer mercilessly in 2015
One of the most anticipated events of 2015 was the return of Daniel Bryan. When it was announced that Bryan would be competing in the Royal Rumble, fans were excited about his being a part of the match. As the match unfolded, Bryan was eliminated by Bray Wyatt. This was one of a number of competitors eliminated by Wyatt, but Bryan’s elimination was not only a disappointment, it went virtually unmentioned by those on commentary. It was stunning, considering how hyped up Bryan’s return had been. And his elimination happened at a point in the match when they were showing a replay of another elimination. There is no question that Bryan’s elimination was a resounding disappointment to fans watching. Bryan had to be considered a favorite going into the match based on fan popularity alone, but was not successful in the end.
12. Daniel Bryan NOT appearing in the Royal Rumble in 2014
One of the biggest names in the WWE in 2014 was none other than former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. Entering the event, he was in the midst of a feud with Bray Wyatt. In the opening match of the 2014 Royal Rumble show, Wyatt defeated Bryan, thus ending their feud with one another. But fans dearly wanted to see Bryan compete in the Rumble match itself. As competitors entered one after the other, a feeling of concern began to fill the fans. When number thirty was announced and Rey Mysterio came out, those in attendance were outraged. How could arguably the most popular personality in the promotion not be in the Rumble match up? The event saw Batista victorious, much to the chagrin of those in attendance.
11. Maven eliminates The Undertaker in 2002
The Phenom was always considered the measuring stick for everyone. But while The Undertaker has always been known for his accomplishments at WrestleMania, he hasn’t always had the most positive of experiences at the Royal Rumble. In 2002, during the Rumble the Dead Man had his back turned and was facing the ring ropes. What happened next stunned the wrestling world. Maven, who had recently won the Tough Enough competition, dropkicked an unsuspecting Undertaker causing him to be eliminated. The stunned reaction by not only The Undertaker, but Maven as well, was something to behold. While the moment resulted in an absolute decimation of Maven and didn’t result in a longstanding push, it certainly caught everyone off guard. So while The Undertaker is a multi-time World Champion and Royal Rumble winner he will always have the distinction of having been defeated by Maven.
10. Beth Phoenix eliminates The Giant Khali in 2012
It had been years since a female was a part of the Royal Rumble match. While Chyna had blazed the trail, eliminating Mark Henry in the match years before, another female would follow suit. Former WWE Divas Champion and three-time WWE Women’s champion Beth Phoenix appeared in the Royal Rumble in 2012, much to the surprise of many. But her surprise entry pales in comparison to her actions in the match itself. At one point during the match, Phoenix eliminated the over seven-foot-tall former World Heavyweight Champion, The Great Khali. Even though many may scoff that the elimination of Khali was not something to be taken seriously, this was intended to show her impact on the company regardless of her gender. Phoenix was released by the company the same year and has since retired from competition.
9. Bret Hart and Lex Luger both winning in 1994
During the 1994 Royal Rumble the match had a finish that suggested two different winners. At the time, two of the biggest faces of the company were Bret “Hitman” Hart and Lex Luger. Both men were successful throughout their career, and on this occasion they were booked to share the spotlight. As the two men battled toward the end of the match, they tussled while falling over the top rope, with the feet of both men hitting the floor simultaneously. It was quite the sight, as one man had his hand raised by one referee while a different referee swore that it was the other man who was victorious. The stipulation for the match had been that the winner of the Rumble would compete against the champion at WrestleMania. This held true as both men competed for the WWE Heavyweight Championship later that year.
8. Kane eliminates 11 men in 2001 and Roman Reigns eliminated 12 men in 2014
Two men alone have eliminated a total of twenty-three men over two separate Rumble matches. In 2001, the big red machine Kane eliminated an astounding eleven men. It was a record that stood for fourteen Royal Rumbles, before being broken in 2014. Current WWE World Heavyweight champion Roman Reigns eliminated twelve men during that year’s match. But eliminating all those men doesn’t guarantee victory, as the 2001 match was won by Stone Cold Steve Austin, while Reigns was the last man eliminated by the victorious Batista. Will the record ever be broken? It’s likely to happen, but perhaps not for a few years after the new record was established.
7. Vince McMahon winning the Royal Rumble 99′
During the height of the Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin feud, the chairman of the board got in a WWE ring and put his money where his mouth is. Vince’s didn’t absorb punishment from any other man on the roster except for Austin. Throughout the majority of the match, McMahon hid, and it wasn’t until Austin made a move for him that he seemed to be in for a massive beating. In the end, Vince McMahon stood atop of his entire roster in the match up. This move certainly showed how times had changed between when Vince’s father ran the business and now. If you would have said beforehand that the owner would win the WWE Royal Rumble, no one would have believed you. McMahon’s win certainly caught a number of fans by surprise, as it couldn’t have been predicted by even the wisest of wrestling analysts.
6. John Cena returns 2008
One of the biggest surprises in a Royal Rumble was the entrance of John Cena to the match back in 2008. He had suffered a legitimate injury previously, which limited his in ring contributions. His timeline to return to action was thought to still be a number of months away. When the buzzer went for the #30 entrant, Cena’s music hit and the reaction by those in attendance was huge. Cena has been called one of the most polarizing personalities in wrestling because of the love/hate relationship fans tend to have with him. However, when he returned in 2008 it couldn’t have been more heralded. The surprise was so unexpected that fans cheered in unison. Fans that had grown tired of Cena were cheering and grateful for his return. It was this event that saw Cena stand alone, eliminating the last competitor, Triple H, and going on to main event WrestleMania.
5. Rey Mysterio wins 2006 Royal Rumble, Enters the match at #2
At well under six feet tall, Rey Mysterio has often been considered the man that walks among the giants. But in 2006, he was the giant slayer. During the Rumble match, Mysterio faced foes that all exceeded him in size and strength. What he has always had working for him is his speed, and it was his speed and ability to use it to his advantage that allowed him to succeed. What was incredible about Mysterio’s achievement was that he entered the ring at #2 in the Rumble match up. He and Randy Orton were the last two men, and as Orton attempted to throw him over the top rope he was able to reverse, it causing Orton to be eliminated. If there was ever a time when fans wanted to see a performer overcome the odds, they don’t have to look any farther than this accomplishment.
4. Batista and Roman Reigns booed after winning the Royal Rumble in 2014 and then 2015
The last two Royal Rumbles have had a less than favorable response for the winners. The Royal Rumble is the beginning of the “Road to WrestleMania,” and the winner is granted a chance to fight the champion at WrestleMania. Because of this stipulation, the last two winners have been jeered mercilessly by fans in attendance. In 2014, the return of Batista to the roster saw him participate in the Rumble and win by eliminating Roman Reigns, who at the time was becoming more and more popular while a member of The Shield. In a back and forth affair, Batista got the better of Reigns and eliminated him. The following year saw Reigns in the same position as the previous year, only he stood before a very partisan Philadelphia crowd that booed his win after eliminating Rusev. Most believe that this had to do with the fact that, in both years, Daniel Bryan was the fans’ choice.
3. Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker were the last two men to face each other in the Royal Rumble 07′
What do you get when you have Mr. WrestleMania and The Phenom as the last two men in the Royal Rumble match? It is absolute magic. In 2007, two of the greatest champions in the history of the WWE faced off against one another as the last two competitors in the Rumble. It was an incredible opportunity to pit two men who have faced each other a number of times in a unique environment. As the match was approaching its closing moments, Undertaker hit a chokeslam. But then Michaels was able to hit sweet chin music. Sensing it was the end, Michaels attempted sweet chin music a second time, only to have The Undertaker avoids it and eliminate Michaels. This was an amazing exchange between two competitors who had each been with the company almost twenty years, and that point cannot be understated.
2. Ric Flair winning the WWF title while entering at #3 in 1992
The Nature Boy Ric Flair captured sixteen world championships throughout his career. While most of these reigns were in the NWA and WCW, the WWE Hall of Famer earned his first WWF Championship while competing as part of the Royal Rumble. After eliminating Sid Justice, with assistance from Hulk Hogan who was pulling from outside the ring, Flair captured the vacant WWF title. What was even more impressive was how the Nature Boy competed for more than an hour, and outlasted twenty-nine other competitors after entering the ring at number three. So while this year’s event features the title being defended for the first time, it isn’t the first time the championship was an incentive for competitors in the match itself. The “dirtiest player in the game” deserves all the credit in the world for winning after having his endurance tested in such an event.
1. Shawn Michaels wins the 1995 Royal Rumble after being the #1 entrant
“The Heartbreak Kid” has been known for defying the odds. One of Shawn Michaels‘ greatest accomplishments was that he won the Royal Rumble in back-to-back years. In 1995, he outlasted twenty-nine other men and won the match. What was remarkable about the win was that he was able to take virtual defeat and turn it into a victory. Michaels and The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith were the last two men remaining. Smith threw Michaels over the top rope, and believed he had won. But Michaels was able to save himself by only placing one foot on the floor, not both. When he returned in the ring, Smith was celebrating while standing on the second rope. Michaels pushed him over the top rope causing him to land on the floor, with the result being in a win by Michaels, a first by someone who was the number one entrant.