The Royal Rumble is one of WWE’s oldest events and one of the most anticipated of the company’s pay-per-view calendar.
This feature runs down every wrestler who has entered the bout as the number one entrant; the unluckiest draw of all in the Royal Rumble.
1988 – Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart
Bret Hart holds the distinction of being the first ever man to enter the Royal Rumble match. He drew number one in the inaugural ‘Rumble. ‘The Hitman’ lasted an impressive 26 minutes before he was ejected from the bout by Don Muraco.
1989 – Ax
Demolition Ax entered the 1990 Royal Rumble match-up as the first entrant. His tag team partner, Demolition, Smash entered the bout as the second entrant which set the scene for a fascinating battle between the two partners.
Ax lasted 14 minutes before he was eliminated by Mr Perfect.
1990 – ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase
‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase entered the 1990 Royal Rumble in the number one position. DiBiase was the first Ironman in ‘Rumble history. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ eliminated three participants and lasted an impressive 45 minutes before he was ejected from the contest by The Ultimate Warrior.
1991 – Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart
Bret Hart rued his bad fortune when he became the first man to draw number one in the Royal Rumble twice.
Much like his performance in the 1988 Royal Rumble match-up, ‘The Hitman’ entered a creditable effort. Hart lasted 20 minutes before he was eliminated by The Undertaker.
1992 – The British Bulldog
The British Bulldog drew the short straw in the 1992 Royal Rumble bout. Bulldog entered number one but entered a strong performance. He ejected the 1990 Ironman, Ted DiBiase, Jerry Sags and Haku, before he was eliminated by the eventual winner, ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair after 23 minutes.
1993 – Ric Flair
Ric Flair famously won the 1992 Royal Rumble match, after drawing number three. One year later and ‘The Nature Boy’s’ luck was even worse.
Flair couldn’t replicate his heroics from the previous year and was the fourth man eliminated from the bout.
He was ejected from the match by Mr Perfect whom he fought in a Loser Leaves The WWF bout the next night on Raw. Flair lost that match too and returned to WCW shortly afterwards.
1994 – Scott Steiner
The 1994 Royal Rumble match kicked off in similar fashion to the 1989 match-up. Scott Steiner entered number one and his brother and tag team partner marched down the aisle as the number three entrant.
Steiner eliminated Samu, but only survived for nine minutes before he was eliminated by Diesel.
1995 – Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels drew the short straw in the 1995 Royal Rumble. However, against the odds, ‘The Showstopper’ and number two entrant, The British Bulldog were the final two combatants in the Royal Rumble match-up.
Bulldog thought he had won when he threw Michaels over the top rope. ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ was resourceful however and clung onto the top rope and only one of his feet touched the floor. That allowed him to return to the ring and dump Bulldog over the top strand.
Michaels won the bout and earned a WWF Championship match with Diesel at WrestleMania. On this occasion however, Michaels would come up short. He would finally win the big one at WrestleMania XII the following year.
1996 – Hunter Hearst Helmsley
On the Royal Rumble pre-show, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Duke ‘The Dumpster’ Droese fought it out for the right to be named the number 30 entrant. The loser would be forced to enter the ‘Rumble as the number one participant.
Helmsley dropped the bout to Droese via disqualification, which meant he had to enter the ‘Rumble first. Despite the odds, Helmsley lasted over 48 minutes in the match before he was ejected by the runner up, Diesel.
1997 – Crush
Crush wasn’t the most exciting number one entrant in Royal Rumble history. Thankfully for the 60,000 fans packing out the Alamodome, Crush’s stay in the 1997 Royal Rumble match was a brief one.
He lasted just six minutes before he was eliminated by Phineas Godwinn of all people.
1998 – Cactus Jack
Cactus Jack made sure the 1998 Royal Rumble match began with a bang! ‘The Hardcore Legend’ kicked off the match with fellow Hardcore icon, Terry Funk. The pair blasted each other with weapons in one of the nuttiest ‘Rumble openings ever.
He was eliminated by Funk after just nine minutes, but returned to the match under his Mankind persona in the number 16 slot. He avenged his earlier elimination by ejecting Funk from the match. Mankind would be dumped out of the bout by Goldust before returning once more as Dude Love as entrant number 28. In his third slot at glory, Mick Foley reached the final four before being dumped out by Faarooq.
1999 – Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin was ‘randomly’ drawn as the number one entrant for the 1999 Royal Rumble match-up by the McMahon family. Commissioner Shawn Michaels responded by naming WWF Chairman, Vince McMahon as the second ‘Rumble participant.
A year into their intense feud, Stone Cold finally got his hands on McMahon and battered him senseless. However, it was the Chairman who ultimately got the last laugh when he eliminated ‘The Rattlesnake’ to win the ‘Rumble match.
2000 – D’lo Brown
Former Euro-Continental Champion D’lo Brown entered the 2000 Royal Rumble as the first entrant. However, Brown made little impression on the match.
He failed to eliminate any of the other participants and was ejected by Rikishi after just six minutes.
2001 – Jeff Hardy
The 2001 Royal Rumble was reminiscent of the 1989 and 1994 events. In the opening minutes, fans went wild when number one entrant Jeff Hardy and number three entrant, his brother, Matt squared off for the first time in a WWF ring.
The Hardy Boyz dumped out Bull Buchanan and Faarooq before they eliminated each other.
2002 – Rikishi
Rikishi kicked off the 2002 Royal Rumble match, one year after entering the bout at number 30. Unfortunately, he did not make much of an impression on the contest on this occasion.
‘The Phat Man’ lasted all of 13 minutes before he was ejected by The Undertaker.
2003 – Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels voluntarily entered the 2003 Royal Rumble bout as the number one entrant. ‘The Showstopper’ hoped to replicate his 1995 performance and win the contest from the number one position.
Unfortunately for Michaels, his dream turned into a nightmare, when he was the first wrestler eliminated from the ‘Rumble. Number two entrant, Chris Jericho jumped him from behind, whilst Christian masqueraded as Jericho during ‘Y2J’s’ entrance. That allowed ‘Y2J’ to dump out ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ bringing his 2003 Royal Rumble appearance to a premature end.
2004 – Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit became the second wrestler to go coast to coast in the Royal Rumble match. Benoit entered the bout number one and eliminated six participants on his way to victory.
In a gripping finale, ‘The Crippler’ tried repeatedly to eliminate the 7 foot, 500Ib giant in vain. However, as ‘Show attempted to eject Benoit, ‘The Crippler’ grabbed the top rope and locked his opponent in a chokehold. After wearing down the giant in the choke, he managed to lift him over the top rope.
2005 – Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero’s Royal Rumble could have been very different. The devious, Guerrero stole Ric Flair’s number, which turned out to be the number 30 slot and swopped it out with his; number one.
However, Smackdown General Manager, Teddy Long forced ‘Latino Heat’ to surrender Flair’s number, which meant he had to enter the ‘Rumble first.
Guerrero first faced off with Chris Benoit, who drew number two, the year after entering the ‘Rumble as number one.
‘Latino Heat’ lasted 28 minutes before he was eliminated to loud boos from the California crowd.
2006 – Triple H
Triple H entered the 2006 Royal Rumble as the number one entrant, ten years after he had previously done so in the 1996 ‘Rumble.
‘The Game’ entered a sterling performance, throwing out six competitors and surviving for an hour, before he was ousting from the ring, over the top strand, by eventual winner, Rey Mysterio.
2007 – Ric Flair
Two years after entering the Royal Rumble as the number 30 entrant, Ric Flair found himself in the number one slot. It also marked the second time he had drawn the number, having done so previously in 1993.
‘The Nature Boy’ was the first man eliminated from the bout after just six minutes. Flair was ejected by Edge and Kenny Dykstra.
2008 – The Undertaker
The Undertaker won the 2007 Royal Rumble match-up from the number 30 position; becoming the first man to do so.
One year later, he entered the contest in the number one position. As fate would have it, Shawn Michaels who was the 2007 ‘Rumble runner up, entered the match as the number two entrant, ensuring the opening minutes of the contest was a straight rematch of the previous ‘Rumble.
‘The Phenom’ lasted for 32 minutes until Michaels earned a measure of revenge for 2007 by eliminating ‘The Deadman’ from the contest.
2009 – Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio won the Royal Rumble match in 2006 from the number two position. In 2009, he drew the short straw again, drawing the number one slot.
Much like in 2006, Mysterio entered another phenomenal performance. ‘The Biggest Little Man’ survived for 50 minutes before he was eliminated by The Big Show.
2010 – Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler failed to make his mark on the 2010 Royal Rumble match. Ziggler entered the bout first but lasted less than three minutes as he was quickly dispatched by the third entrant, CM Punk.
2011 – CM Punk
The 2011 Royal Rumble match was at that point in time the largest in history as it had 40 participants, instead of the usual 30.
As such, the bout was longer than usual, clocking in at just under 70 minutes. CM Punk, the number one entrant survived for 35 of those. ‘The Straight Edge Superstar’ eliminated seven wrestlers, before he was ejected himself by John Cena.
2012 – The Miz
Former WWE Champion, The Miz drew number one in the 2012 Royal Rumble match. However, despite his rotten luck, The Miz entered a creditable performance by eliminating two wrestlers and surviving for an epic 45 minutes, before he was dumped over the top rope by The Big Show.
2013 – Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler had the misfortune of drawing number one in the Royal Rumble for a second time in three years. Whilst Ziggler’s night ended early in 2011, he entered a far more assured performance in 2013.
Ziggler was the ‘Ironman’ of the bout, surviving for 50 minutes, before he was finally ejected by Sheamus.
2014 – CM Punk
January 26, 2014 was the date of the 27th annual Royal Rumble match. It also marked the final WWE in-ring performance of CM Punk.
Punk would not wrestle for a further seven years and when he did, it would be for WWE’s rival, AEW.
‘The Best in the World’ entered the contest as the number one entrant and survived until the final four. After 49 minutes, The Authority’s Director of Operations, Kane appeared at ringside and pulled Punk over the top rope, eliminating him.
This was despite Punk earlier eliminating Kane from the match.
2015 – The Miz
The Miz entered the Royal Rumble match as the number one entrant for the second time. However, unlike his impressive performance in 2012, The Miz survived for a paltry four minutes before he made an early exit courtesy of Bubba Ray Dudley.
2016 – Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns entered the 2016 Royal Rumble match as the defending WWE Champion. Atypically, his title was on the line in the bout. Reigns had a target on his back and was forced to enter the match-up as the number one entrant, courtesy of The Authority.
‘The Big Dog’ turned in an impressive performance, lasting a whole hour before he was eliminated by the number 30 entrant, Triple H.
2017 – Big Cass
Big Cass drew number one in the 2017 Royal Rumble match-up. The big man did not last long in the bout however.
He survived for less than 10 minutes before he was dumped over the top strand by Braun Strowman.
2018 – Rusev
Rusev opened the 2018 Royal Rumble match as the first entrant. ‘The Bulgarian Brute’ lasted 30 minutes before he was eliminated from the contest by Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy.
2018 – Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks holds the distinction of being the first woman ever to enter an all female Royal Rumble match.
‘The Boss’ entered a sterling performance from the number one position too. She was the ‘Ironwoman’ of the bout, making the final four and surviving for an impressive 55 minutes, eliminating three participants.
Banks was finally ejected by The Bella Twins.
2018 – Greatest Royal Rumble – Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan set a new record in the first ever 50-Man Royal Rumble match, which took place in Saudi Arabia at The Greatest Royal Rumble event. Bryan entered as the number one entrant and survived for an epic 76 minutes; smashing the previous longevity record by 14 minutes, set by Rey Mysterio in the 2006 Royal Rumble match.
2019 – Elias
Elias opened the 2019 Royal Rumble match. His musical performance was brought to an abrupt end by Jeff Jarrett’s first WWE appearance in almost 20 years.
Although he soon disposed of ‘Double J’, Elias’s night was not a long one. Elias survived for only 15 minutes before he was ejected from the bout by the eventual winner, Seth Rollins.
2019 – Lacey Evans
Lacey Evans kicked off the 2019 Royal Rumble match-up. She dumped out both IIconics and lasted an impressive 30 minutes before she was ejected by Charlotte Flair.
2020 – Brock Lesnar
WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar put his hat in the ring for the Royal Rumble match, despite already holding the gold. Lesnar’s justification was that no-one was worthy of winning the ‘Rumble and challenging him at WrestleMania. To emphasise his point, Lesnar entered the contest as the number one entrant and vowed to eliminate the entire field.
For 26 minutes, ‘The Beast’ appeared to be right on the money. He eliminated a record 13 participants before he came face to face with ‘The Scottish Psychopath’ Drew McIntyre.
McIntyre Brogue Kicked Lesnar over the top rope and went on to win the match and book a date with the champion at WrestleMania.
2020 – Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss entered the 2020 Royal Rumble match as the number one entrant. She dumped out four participants and survived for 26 minutes. However, her night was ended by Bianca Belair, who ejected her from the match-up.
2021 – Edge
WWE Hall of Famer, Edge memorably returned to action at the 2020 Royal Rumble. After a decade long hiatus, ‘The Rated-R Superstar’ entered an impressive performance, lasting until the final three before he was eliminated.
The following year, Edge entered the ‘Rumble at a distinct disadvantage, with the number one slot. However, ‘The Ultimate Opportunist’ survived for 59 minutes before he last eliminated Randy Orton to win his second ‘Rumble bout. However, just like in 2010, Edge ultimately failed to win the World crown at WrestleMania. He and Daniel Bryan were both simultaneously pinned by Roman Reigns in the Universal Title headliner.
2021 – Bayley
Former Raw and SmackDown Women’s Champion kicked off the 2021 Royal Rumble match-up as the number one entrant.
She eliminated Ruby Riott and lasted for half an hour, before she was thrown over the top rope by the eventual winner, Bianca Belair.
You can watch every Royal Rumble event exclusively on the WWE Network.