This Sunday marks the start of the road to WrestleMania and the 29th Annual Royal Rumble will hopefully be one for the ages as for the first time in WWE History the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be defended in the Royal Rumble match, but the second time the title has been on the line .With 29 other superstars gunning for “sports entertainments” biggest prize Roman Reigns will have the proverbial target on his back. This could make for a hugely entertaining match and with this match always throwing up some surprise entrants it is now time to take a look at the top 10 Royal Rumble matches.
10. 1988 Royal Rumble
We start our countdown with the inaugural Royal Rumble match which took place in 1988. The whole idea of the Royal Rumble came from the mind of WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson. The Royal Rumble would feature some of the biggest and best superstars that WWE had to offer. For example, Bret Hart, Harley Race and eventual winner “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. This match would kick off a tradition which still stands strong 28 years later.
9. 1992 Royal Rumble
This match took an increased significance when it was announced prior to the event that the WWE Championship would be up for grabs in the Royal Rumble. Following two shady title matches involving The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan the title was vacated. It was all up for grabs and as with every year the Royal Rumble it just kept getting more and more star studded with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, Jimmy Snuka, The Undertaker and Ric Flair all participating in the match. In the end many feel that it was apt that the “60 Minute Man” Ric Flair outlasted 29 other superstars to win the WWE championship. Flair lasted an astonishing 1:00:02 in the match.
8. 1994 Royal Rumble
This particular Royal Rumble match is considered to be one of the more controversial of the Royal Rumble matches. We came down to the final two, Lex Luger and Bret Hart, and they proceeded to eliminate each other from the Royal Rumble and two officials at ringside argued about who had won the match . Then WWE President Jack Tunney came out to ringside and declared both men winners of the Royal Rumble and it was later decided that both men would get a WWE title match at Wrestlemania X.
7. 1995 Royal Rumble
This Royal Rumble was a very special Royal Rumble for the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels as he would outlast 29 other WWE superstars. This feat was special because he was made to do it the hard way from number 1. This match was full of first’s as it was the first time the two competitors who drew 1 and 2 were the final two. It also marked the first time number 1 entrant went all the way and like the 1994 Rumble this match was also marred in controversy. British Bulldog tossed Michaels over the top and proceeded to celebrate but Michaels ended up winning as only one of his feet hit the floor. Michaels would go onto to be the first man to win the Rumble multiple times as he would go onto win in 1996 as well.
6. 1999 Royal Rumble
This Royal Rumble will be remembered as one of the craziest Royal Rumble matches. It all started the January 11th edition of Raw is War as they had a mini “Corporate” Rumble that involved members of “The Corporation” and D-Generation-X to determine the number 30 spot. The match was eventually won by Chyna after some interference from Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin did this so that he would be joined by Mr Mcmahon at number 1 & 2. These two would take the Royal Rumble all over the Arrowhead Pond arena in Anaheim until the Corporation ambushed Austin in the bathroom. The Chairman of WWE would go onto to win the Rumble with help from then WWE Champion The Rock. The following night on Raw Mr Mcmahon would give up the Wrestlemania opportunity only to be informed by Commissioner Shawn Michaels that if the winner was incapable of wrestling in the WrestleMania main event then the runner-up would take their place. As the runner-up was Steve Austin, this enraged McMahon and Austin used this to goad him into a match. Austin only wanted one thing more than a match for the WWE title and that was a match with Mr McMahon
5. 2001 Royal Rumble
The 2001 edition will be remembered for the dominance that was shown by The Big Red Monster Kane as he eliminated 11 men. This was a record that would stand for 13 years until Roman Reigns eliminated 12 in 2014. This was not the only record set at this Royal Rumble as Stone Cold Steve Austin won this match which was his third Royal Rumble win which a record which is standing tall to this day. The 2001 Royal Rumble is also remembered for the appearance of Drew Carey who eliminated himself after Kane entered the match.
4. 2002 Royal Rumble
This Royal Rumble was all about one man and that man was Triple H who returned from major quadricep surgery on the January 7th Raw. It seemed like everyone was out to make a point in the build up however with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Kurt Angle all trying to prove that they were worthy of winning the Rumble Match it was "The Cerebral Assassin” who would prove to rule the roost as he last eliminated Kurt Angle. Steve Austin made history after he eliminated his 36th Royal rumble entrant which was a record held for eight years until Shawn Michaels broke it in the 2010 Royal Rumble.
3. 2004 Royal Rumble
This was a match of huge proportions as it saw the beginning of a number of rivalries for Wrestlemania XX began in this match. Kane was eliminated in the match by Booker T following the Undertaker’s gong sounding which caused Kane to panic seeing as he thought he had buried Undertaker. Another feud started in the 2004 Royal Rumble was Brock Lesnar and Goldberg. This feud began after Goldberg was eliminated by Lesnar who was not even in the match. The match was won by number 1 entrant Chris Benoit who instead of fighting his brand’s champion Brock Lesnar decided to switch brands and go on the hunt for Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship. That act was a first in Royal Rumble history.
2. 2006 Royal Rumble
This was the story of the underdog coming up trumps as Rey Mysterio went all the way from number 2 to win the Royal Rumble and set a record time of 1:02:12. The previous record was 1:01:30, set by Chris Benoit at the 2004 Royal Rumble. Finally, Mysterio was the second person to win from the #2 slot, the first being Vince McMahon in the 1999 Royal Rumble. Kane made his 9th consecutive appearance in Royal Rumble matches and as always gave a good outing in the Royal Rumble.
1.2008 Royal Rumble
2008 was a year for shocks but none bigger than a triumphant return at number 30 for John Cena who was originally scheduled to be sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle until later in the year. cDNA entered the match and he eliminated people fairly rapidly and he would go on to become the holder of the shortest time spent in a Royal Rumble. He spent 8:28 in the ring, passing Brock Lesnar's record of 8:59 in 2003.