With this years Royal Rumble on the horizon, the PCU crew is looking back on some of their favorite moments in Royal Rumble history. The Royal Rumble is without a doubt one of WWE’s flagship shows, second only to Wrestlemania, and is one of the best concepts of all time. Readers, please share your favorite moments with us as well, as these are just some of our many favorites, onto the picks.
The 95 Rumble stands out for a lot of people for 2 reasons. First was the “Shove heard round the world” as Bam Bam laid his hands on Lawrence Taylor and set up LT’s wrestlemania appearance. The second reason is the remarkable story told during the rumble match itself by ol’ HBK Shawn Michaels and Davey Boy Smith aka The British Bulldog.
Michaels was the Number 1 Entrant and The Bulldog was the second entrant. which, for those of you unfamiliar with the Royal Rumble, means they started the match, and had to survive 28 other superstars entering the ring at 2 minute intervals if they had a hope of victory. This had never been accomplished before. The closest being in 1992 when Ric Flair survived from number 3.
The commentary team (who for this match was Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler) did a fantastic job of putting over how hard it was, Pretty much the first thing that vince says after HBK’s Music hits is “Well you can bet Shawn Michaels won’t be going to Wrestlemania as #1 contender” then following with “It’s the luck of the draw and Shawn Michaels very unlucky here at the Royal Rumble”. Even Davey Boy when he came to the ring, didn’t look happy.
Now a little bit of context here.. not only were these both former intercontinental champions and part of an IC division that might have been one of the best of all time, they were my 2 favorite performers in the then WWF now WWE. I am English and as such Davey was a natural for me to want to root for, and there was something about Shawn that just shone through and made me love his matches.
So here I am, both of my favorites in the ring as the starting pair. I was heartbroken (if you will pardon the pun.) Shawn even jumped Davey before the bell and the rumble began.. and so down the aisle came names like Lex Luger, Owen Hart, Rick Martel and Crush. the smoke cleared 28 entrants later and there stood, as the final 2 men in the ring. Shawn Michaels and the Bulldog.
I was going insane, and bear in mind that the Rumble match had started just after midnight in England, so at this point it was gone 1am in the morning. I’m doing my best to be quiet with the others in the house being asleep but I was going NUTS. Then after a series of spots I saw Davey score a solid clothesline on Shawn, sending Shawn over the top rope. Davey’s music played and The crowd went insane.. Davey boy was declared the winner of the Royal Rumble… and then out of no-where, as Davey was stood on the second turnbuckle Shawn came out of nowhere, and tossed Davey over the top rope solidly to the floor.
I had no idea what was happening.until we saw the replay, Shawn had clung to the ropes and only ONE of his feet had touched the floor. he had swung himself back in and thrown Davey out. Together they had survived the rumble, but now Shawn stood alone in the ring as his music played, and the official announcement took place. Shawn Michaels was going to wrestlemania with Pamela Anderson on his arm. I’d never gone from happy to sad, to happy again so quickly when watching wrestling before.
It was the ultimate fake out ending. and it worked so brilliantly, even now when I watch The 95 rumble on the WWE Network it still works. Such a memorable finish.
Bret Hart and Luger CO-Winners? (Royal Rumble 1994)
It’s down to Shawn Micheals, Headshrinker Fatu, Bret Hart and Lex Luger. Shawn and Fatu set Lugar and Bret in opposite corners to attempt a double team move. There move was reversed leading to a simultaneous elimination of Shawn and Fatu leaving Bret and Luger alone to start fighting. Luger and Bret whaled on each other for 30 seconds until Bret forces Luger over the top rope. But the momentum was so great that Bret also carried himself in the process. Now for an elimination to happen both feet of the competitor must hit the floor. Well both of the wrestlers feet hit the floor at the same time which technically meant a double elimination. So the fan, announcers and even the referees were momentarily confused about what happened.
There were two referees on the scene, but each had opposing views on who won. One ref said Bret won the other Luger leading to the refs having a heated argument with each other, and the fans and both competitors still confused. Finally the WWF President Jack Tunney comes to the ring. At this point he had to make an executive decision. So Tunney decided that both Luger and Bret were co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble! This decision was visibly unpopular with the wrestlers because of how confusing a situation going into Wrestlemania has now
become. We would later find that this lead to a double Championship main event with Luger facing the Champion, and Bret would later that night face the winner. Something like this had never happened before in the Rumbles’ History yet would not be the last time either.
The late 2000s is a fairly dark period in terms of the product of WWE wrestling. There was a malaise of very similar main events, and some really non compelling storylines to go along with it. That said, it did produce some great feuds, namely ones like Michaels v. Taker and Edge v. Cena. When looking back on the Royal Rumbles of this time, there’s not a huge amount to be said, as it was always between about 2 or 3 guys that could likely win, and the only real surprises were if legends would show up. In 2008, however, Madison Square Garden witnessed one of the biggest surprises in Rumble history, a moment which still brings me chills to this day.
Before the moment itself, let us take a look at this match. We open with The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at numbers 1 and 2 respectively. You can’t get much better than this, and the giant lule in majority of the rest of the match showed this. Looking back on this now, it’s cool to see where the Michaels/Taker historic rivalry began, which would lead to arguably the best matches in Wrestlemania history. Other than that, the two more or less eliminated everyone that came out up until around entrant 7 or 8 seemingly quickly, or render them ineffective.
For the entire match, you knew the winner was either going to be Batista or Triple H. It didn’t seem to make logical sense to go to someone like CM Punk (God I miss that man in wrestling) or Kane, but it made sense why they were in the match, being strong or just big guys. As time went on, the outcome seem more and more telegraphed. With Triple H coming out at 29, and only having 1 number 30 entrant win, Triple H was the odds on favorite. Then the countdown starts for number 30, and 10 seconds later all hell breaks loose.
When the clock hits zero, there’s a beat of total silence; only broken by the roll and DO-DO-DODOOO we know as John Cena’s entrance. The crowd absolutely loses it, and it’s one of those moments that professional wrestling is all about. The previous October, Cena’s Pectoral Muscle was torn, which is an injury that has a recovery time of roughly 7 months. With that in mind, Cena wasn’t suppose to be back until well after Mania, let alone the Rumble, so this is a jaw hitting the floor moment. Also, this is one of the first instances we see of John Cena’s borderline superhuman recovery times when it comes to injuries. It goes without saying that he goes on to win the match, and how I wish we could live in a time where Cena is taken at face value like, rather than being hated for absolutely no reason.
And there you have it, some of our favorites, but there’s a whole mess more. Hopefully, this year adds to the list, and the Rumble continues to be one of the most exciting matches yet again.