Features

10 Surprising WWE Royal Rumble Records

Stone Cold Royal Rumble 1999

It’s Royal Rumble season yet again, the one time of year numbers, facts, and statistics are a cause of concern for WWE.

The video production team in Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment giant can’t go a minute without telling you that Santino Marella spent less than two seconds in the ring during the 2009 Royal Rumble match, or that, in 2001, Kane eliminated eleven other competitors, a record that remained until Roman Reigns achieved twelve eliminations in the 2014 Rumble. Stone Cold Steve Austin is the only winner of three Royal Rumble matches. Rey Mysterio lasted one hour, two minutes, and twelve seconds to win the 2006 match, and so on and so forth.

But what about some of the lesser-known Royal Rumble records? The ones that WWE never touts about, for good reason or bad. For example, it took eight men to eliminate Viscera from the 2007 match. Why is this never discussed? Nia Jax entered two separate Rumbles in 2019 when she partook in both the men’s and women’s outings, but WWE won’t have you remembering this, especially now that she’s been released.

The list goes on, but as you’re about to find out, perhaps there is a reason not all of these records are mentioned…

A Staggering Amount Of Self-Eliminations

Drew Carey Royal Rumble

Oddly enough, you actually have a higher chance of eliminating yourself from the Royal Rumble match than you do from winning via entering from the lucrative number 27 position, given that nine separate wrestlers have done so compared to the four winners from said position.

It all started with Andre The Giant in 1989, who fled the ring upon being chased by Jake Roberts and his snake, Damien. From there, Ahmed Johnson, Mil Mascaras, Kane, Drew Carey, Mick Foley, MVP, Matt Hardy, and Santina Marella have all followed suit in dumping themselves over the top rope. Perhaps most memorable of these is, of course, the Drew Carey instance; the famed comedian entered the 2001 Royal Rumble at number five, lasted just shy of three minutes, and then fearfully stepped over the ropes.

On a completely different scale, Mil Mascaras’ self-elimination in the 1997 outing was simply because he didn’t want to do the job to anyone else, hence why he dove off the turnbuckles onto both Pierroth and Cibernetico stationed at ringside. Elsewhere, both Mick Foley in 2004, and MVP in 2010 cared not about the Royal Rumble match, but about their rivals. They tackled Randy Orton and The Miz, respectively, over the ropes, therefore eliminating themselves, too.

Still, a self-elimination is less embarrassing than Fandango’s elimination at the hands of, ahem, El Torito in 2014.

Going Once, Going Twice, Gone!

Randy Orton Thumb

The runner-up in the Royal Rumble match plays just as important a role as the winner itself. They’re the last obstacle between the ultimate winner and that lucrative WrestleMania championship match. Roman Reigns, the reigning WWE Universal Champion and a former winner himself, currently holds this record with four runner-up appearances (2014, 2017, 2018, and 2020), but there are five individuals who’ve found themselves in that position twice.

The Big Show, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena, and Randy Orton all played second fiddle to the Royal Rumble winner across two separate Rumbles. The Big Show was dumped out last by The Rock and Chris Benoit in 2000 and 2004, respectively. Shawn Michaels joined the club after being last eliminated by The Undertaker in 2007, having been runner-up to Bret Hart and Lex Luger’s joint win in 1994.

Triple H was next, being ousted last by John Cena in 2008 and then Randy Orton in 2009, with Cena being the fourth to do so, matching his runner-up spot in 2005 vs. Batista with his 2010 elimination via Edge. Most recently, Randy Orton earned his place on this unfortunate list. “The Viper” was thrust out of the ring by Rey Mysterio in 2006, with Edge then doing the same in 2021.

As it currently stands, the only potential candidates to join the list this year are the four runners-up from the previous four women’s Royal Rumbles; Nikki Bella, Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler, and Rhea Ripley, who were ousted last from 2018-2021, respectively. Randy Orton does, however, have the chance to make it for a third time, should he be eliminated last in the men’s Rumble.

So Close…

Randy Orton

Not only has Randy Orton been a Royal Rumble runner-up twice, as well as being a two-time winner of the thing himself, but the former multi-time World Champion has made an outstanding eight appearances in the match’s final four.

Of course, he was in the final quartet of competitors in both 2006 and 2021 as the match’s runner-up. His victories came in 2009, where he entered from number eight, and 2017, entering from the number twenty-three position. The other four came via his outings in the 2007, 2011, 2012, and 2020 bouts.

In ’07, Orton was the match’s sixteenth entrant, ultimately being dumped out twenty-seventh by Shawn Michaels. Four years later, in 2011, “The Apex Predator” drew a lucky number, entering at number thirty-nine in the – at the time – largest Royal Rumble match in history. Lasting just eight minutes, Orton dumped out Kofi Kingston, King Sheamus, and Wade Barrett, before being the penultimate man eliminated by Alberto Del Rio.

Then, in 2012, Orton would both enter and be eliminated in the number twenty-eight position. Lasting just under six minutes, the ex-Evolution man tossed out The Big Show, Jey Uso, and, once more, Wade Barrett. Finally, in 2020, Orton would be the twenty-fifth man to enter. That year, his eliminator would also be his 2021 eliminator, the returning Edge.

Twenty-First Time Lucky?

Kane 2011 Royal Rumble

Shawn Michaels is Mr. WrestleMania. Randy Orton is often cited as Mr. Survivor Series, given his impeccable performances in the annual Survivor Series elimination matches. As far as Mr. Royal Rumble is concerned, though, that honour should go to Kane.

The 2021 WWE Hall of Fame inductee is synonymous with the annual thirty-man scrap, and that’s for good reason. As of this writing, “The Big Red Machine” holds numerous Royal Rumble records, most notably having the most Rumble appearances with twenty outings between 1996 and 2021. Elsewhere, the former World Heavyweight Champion is responsible for forty-six total eliminations in those twenty appearances, with an average of 2.3 per match. Of course, eleven of those came in the 2001 Royal Rumble.

Other records include having six of those eleven eliminations coming consecutively, lasting fifty-three minutes, forty-six seconds in that Rumble, and spending over three hours in combined Rumble matches. He features plenty in the annual By The Numbers video, to say the least.

Note what’s missing; Kane has never actually won a Royal Rumble match, and he almost certainly never will. This is a fascinating fact, given everything else that he’s accomplished in the match’s history. The closest he came was his 2001 runner-up place, before being dumped over the ropes by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

The Stuff Of Legend

Trish Stratus & Sasha Banks

When WWE announced the inaugural women’s Royal Rumble match in December 2017 for the following January, it was met with a largely positive response. The only issue was that they didn’t have enough active competitors on the main roster to fill out the thirty spots, resulting in them relying heavily on WWE Hall of Famers and various legends.

In total, eleven HOFers and legends would return to compete in the bout, meaning that over a third of the match was covered by these entrants. Needless to say, this is the most in Rumble history, as it currently stands. In order, Lita, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, Kelly Kelly, Jacqueline, Beth Phoenix, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, and Trish Stratus all entered the contest.

They would be responsible for a large chunk of the eliminations, too. Those eleven names would toss out Sasha Banks, Sarah Logan, Mandy Rose, Tamina, Dana Brooke, Sonya Deville, Liv Morgan, Lana, Carmella, Natalya, Nia Jax, and Mickie James. Michelle would also aid with the elimination of Vickie, as Brie, Nikki, and Trish did with Nia Jax, while McCool would also dump out one of their own in Molly Holly.

This has been a common factor in the women’s Rumbles since, with a number of Hall of Famers, legends, and NXT/NXT UK stars joining the match each year. In 2022, seven of the announced entrants have been confirmed as ex-WWE Superstars; The Bella Twins, Lita, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Summer Rae, and the IMPACT Knockouts World Champion, Mickie James, with PWInsider also reporting that Melina and Cameron are scheduled for the bout, too.

Who’s NeXT?

Shayna Baszler Charlotte Flair

Speaking of records in the women’s Royal Rumble match, the 2020 instalment is noteworthy for hosting the highest number of NXT-branded Superstars in a single Rumble match, with twelve of the match’s thirty stars coming from the then-black-and-gold brand. It was rather appropriate in hindsight, given that the match’s eventual winner, Charlotte Flair, opted to challenge Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 36.

Bianca Belair, Mercedes Martinez, Candice LeRae, Mia Yim, Dakota Kai, Chelsea Green, Beth Phoenix (recognised as an NXT talent through her commentary work), Toni Storm, Xia Li, Shotzi Blackheart, Tegan Nox, and Shayna Baszler all participated in the bout to mixed success. It’s almost bittersweet upon reflection, given that Martinez, Yim, Green, Storm, and Nox are no longer with WWE, and the company is continuously failing to make proper use of Baszler.

Nonetheless, their time to shine was indeed the 2020 women’s Royal Rumble match. Together, Belair and Baszler eliminated sixteen wrestlers, eight apiece, meaning they were responsible for eliminating over half of the field. This is the current record for most eliminations in a single women’s Royal Rumble match; keep in mind, the men’s record is currently Braun Strowman, with thirteen. Bianca would also last thirty-three minutes, twenty seconds in the bout from the number two position, currently the tenth-longest in history for the women’s Rumble.

At the time of writing, no NXT stars have been confirmed for either the men’s or women’s Royal Rumbles, though there are still eight and nine open spots, respectively. Expect to see an NXT face or two come Saturday.

Putting In A Graft

Rick Martel

One of the most important Royal Rumble records relates to the length of time spent within a single Rumble match. As of this writing, the record is currently held by Daniel Bryan for the men’s Rumble, with one hour, sixteen minutes, five seconds spent in the Greatest Royal Rumble, and Bianca Belair for the women’s, with “The EST of WWE” lasting for fifty-six minutes, fifty-two seconds in her victorious 2021 performance. Going back in history, however, you’d be lucky to last at least twenty minutes, given that the inaugural Royal Rumble in 1988 only lasted thirty-three minutes.

Nevertheless, the bout did feature its first Iron Man, as future winner Bret Hart became the first Rumble entrant to last over twenty minutes in a single Royal Rumble. He went twenty-five minutes, forty-two seconds in this from the number one position, and would aid Hart Foundation teammate Jim Neidhart in eliminating Tito Santana. This match also featured Jake Roberts going over the twenty-minute threshold, as “The Snake” went twenty-one minutes, fifty-two seconds.

A step up, the first man to reach the thirty-minute mark would be Ted DiBiase, though he actually lasted past the forty-minute threshold. In the 1990 bout, “The Million Dollar Man” went forty-four minutes, forty-seven seconds to be recognised as the first true Iron Man of the Royal Rumble. He would eliminate Koko B. Ware, Marty Jannetty, and The Canadian Earthquake en-route to this milestone.

In 1991, Rick Martel would last fifty minutes, setting a Royal Rumble record with his fifty-two second, seventeen second performance. “The Model” would also eliminate Saba Simba, Jake Roberts, Road Warrior Hawk, and Jim Neidhart before his time in the bout expired. Martel’s record puts him in the fifteenth spot for longest time spent in a single Rumble match; he’s currently sandwiched between The Rock, who lasted fifty-one minutes, thirty-two seconds in 1998, and Kane, with “The Big Red Machine” going fifty-three minutes, forty-six seconds in his impeccable 2001 performance.

The last of these Royal Rumble milestones is, of course, the one hour mark. This would be first achieved by 1992 match winner, Ric Flair, who would enter at number three to last an impressive one hour, two seconds, capturing the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship in the process. With this, “The Nature Boy” is a step ahead of Rick Martel on the leaderboard, sitting in seventh place between Chris Jericho‘s one hour, thirteen second performance of 2017, and Roman Reigns’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship defence in 2016 that saw him last fifty-nine minutes, forty-eight seconds.

Royal Rumble’s One Hit Wonders

Vince McMahon Royal Rumble

In 2015, Curtis Axel became an instant hit, as he was never officially eliminated from the Royal Rumble match after being assaulted by Erick Rowan mid-entrance. Neither Hornswoggle nor Finlay were eliminated from the 2008 match either, with “The King of Small Style” being saved by Finlay before “The Belfast Bruiser” was scheduled to enter. They left together, neither man ever returning.

These are instances of wrestlers who weren’t technically eliminated from the Rumble they officially entered in that particular year, but there are three wrestlers who can genuinely say they’ve never been eliminated from the Royal Rumble match. These three have only ever entered one Rumble to date, and they just so happened to come out victorious. There was never another chance for them to be eliminated.

Big John Studd, the match’s second winner, only entered the 1989 outing. Being the first man to win from the lucrative number twenty-seven position, Studd eliminated Akeem and Ted DiBiase to win his sole appearance in a Royal Rumble. More recently, Asuka was victorious in the inaugural women’s Royal Rumble in 2018, having entered from the number twenty-five spot, with eliminations over Nia Jax, Ember Moon, and lastly Nikki Bella.

In 1999, however, perhaps the most infamous Rumble victory occurred, as Vince McMahon won the Rumble from the number two position, his only Rumble appearance to date (excluding the Corporate Royal Rumble match on the 11 January 1999 Raw broadcast). He only eliminated Stone Cold Steve Austin along the way, having spent the majority of the bout outside of the ring, and that sole elimination would be aided by The Rock. Spending over fifty-six minutes, in the ring, the WWE Chairman holds the record for the twelfth longest time spent in a single Rumble.

Of these three, only Asuka has a reasonable chance of removing herself from this exclusive list. “The Empress of Tomorrow” is rumoured to be a surprise entrant in this year’s Rumble. It’s highly unlikely Mr. McMahon ever enters another Royal Rumble, and sadly, Big John Studd is no longer with us for a second crack in the biggest match of the year.

A Rumble Regular

Shawn Michaels Royal Rumble

Even with WWE’s mass releases over the past two years, it’s a common occurrence for a wrestler to enter the Royal Rumble match each year round, but Shawn Michaels went a step further than this. He’s so far the only wrestler to have entered a Rumble across four separate decades.

For “The Showstopper”, it all began with the 1989 Royal Rumble match, where he would enter from the number nine position to last a little under fifteen minutes in the match. He’d ultimately be dumped out by The Brainbusters, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, though he did manage to score one elimination; he and Rockers pal Marty Jannetty were responsible for the elimination of Ron Bass. Michaels didn’t have as much success in the following year’s encounter, however, lasting just twelve seconds before succumbing to The Ultimate Warrior.

Competing in both the 1992 and 1994 instalments, the future WrestleMania headliner would last fifteen minutes, and twenty-nine minutes, respectively. His eliminations would come via Tito Santana and then co-winner, Lex Luger. 1995 and 1996 would cement Michaels as just the second two-time Rumble winner in history. The former saw he and The British Bulldog, the first and second entrants, become the dual Iron Men of the bout, lasting the match’s duration before Bulldog was dumped out. The following year, it would be Diesel who felt the wrath of a Sweet Chin Music, “Big Daddy Cool” falling out of the ring in the process to crown Michaels the victor.

Shawn wouldn’t enter again until the 2003 Royal Rumble. Here, he again entered from the number one position, but lasted just two minutes, being tossed out by eventual WrestleMania XIX opponent, Chris Jericho. Across the next few years, Michaels would partake in every Royal Rumble match, with the exception of the 2004 and 2009 bouts. Arguably the best of these showings came in the 2007 bout, where he was the final man eliminated by The Undertaker after a twenty-four minute stint in the ring.

Finally, in his retirement year, Michaels would enter the 2010 Royal Rumble match, marking his fourth decade as an active Rumble competitor. This saw him enter from number eighteen, and last twenty-five minute, eliminating Carlito, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, John Morrison, Drew McIntyre, and Triple H along the way. He was ultimately removed from the bout by Batista in what would be HBK’s penultimate pay-per-view outing (excluding Crown Jewel 2018) before retiring in March of that year.

Luck Of The Draw

Batista Royal Rumble

Winning the Royal Rumble match more than once has only happened on eight occasions. Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Batista, Triple H, and most recently, Edge have all won the thirty-man scrap twice, while Stone Cold Steve Austin, rather famously, is a three-time winner of the bout. The entry numbers for these men to win twice varied each year, however. For instance, when Edge won the contest in 2010, he was the twenty-ninth entrant, but he won the match from the number one spot when winning in 2021.

When it comes to Batista, though, this isn’t an issue. “The Animal” won from the same number in both 2005 and 2014, number twenty-eight to be exact. The future Guardians of the Galaxy star would need just ten minutes upon entering the ring in 2005 to be crowned the winner, garnering six eliminations along the way (Chris Benoit, Edge, Chris Jericho, Gene Snitsky, Christian, and lastly John Cena), while he required fourteen minutes in 2014 to bag his WrestleMania XXX main event spot, with just four eliminations this time (Erick Rowan, Ryback, Alberto Del Rio, and finally Roman Reigns).

For what it’s worth, aside from the aforementioned Edge, the other wrestlers to be multi-time Royal Rumble winners entered at the following; Stone Cold at numbers five (1997), twenty-four (1998), and twenty-seven (2001), Randy Orton at numbers eight (2009) and twenty-three (2017), Hulk Hogan at numbers twenty-five (1990) and twenty-four (1991), Shawn Michaels at numbers one (1995) and eighteen (1996), John Cena at numbers thirty (2008) and nineteen (2013), and Triple H at numbers twenty-two (2002) and thirty (2016).

Only Austin and Hogan were close enough, really, with three spots between Stone Cold’s 1998 and 2001 victories, and just one spot between Hogan’s two wins.

You can find out the full card for WWE Royal Rumble 2022 and how you can watch it here.