So… I’m drawing a blank today. I’m back in school, 2015 is over, I haven’t had a chance to go see any movies, an apparent blizzard is sweeping through the northeast, bread stock is at an all time high, and I am left with absolutely nothing to review today… Son of a bitch. Well… The Royal Rumble in WWE is this Sunday… And I do enjoy making a list… Let’s rank the best Royal Rumble matches for the pure sake of fucking doing it. Try to keep in mind while I am making this list that I am reviewing the matches, not the events themselves.
5. 2008 Royal Rumble
We start off this list with what would soon be a very successful and excellent string of Royal Rumbles. What started in 2004 would create a solid run of Royal Rumbles and memorable moments that would conclude in 2011 (more on that in just a second). But out of that selection, I am about to talk about three of them which have found their way into the top 5. The reason that 2008 more than the others has found their spot is because of two reasons: The first of which is the continued Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker feud that was one of the best Wrestlemania match series of all time. The second and most important was the surprise that came from it.
You see, in the wrestling community today it is hard to keep things secret. Even for this Royal Rumble, the word on the grape vine is that the Bullet Club, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura can make an appearance at the Rumble. The Internet Wrestling Community loves nothing more than to gossip and insider information spreads like wildfire. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to keep something out of the hands of persistent smarks. So when John Cena, who was out of action with a bad injury, makes and expedient recovery, and arrives at number 30 to the surprise of the MSG crowd… Well let’s just say that even the most stalwart of Cena naysayers rise up and cheer with gusto. It was a great surprise, well executed, and made for one of the best Royal Rumble moments.
4. 2011 Royal Rumble
So what do you do when you have one of the largest and most talented rosters that you have had in some year? How do you decide who to cut from the Rumble and who to keep? Well the answer to that is you make the Rumble bigger. It was an interesting prospect and one that they have since reverted back from over the years. But to this day, the 2011 40-man Royal Rumble is remembered as one of the best Rumbles to exist. While the winner, Alberto del Rio, was a debatable choice at best but with the returns of various legends, the extra 10 wrestlers, the excellent comedy chops of Santino Marella, and one of the most talented rosters in quite a long time, the 2011 Royal Rumble will always be remembered as one of the best in WWE history.
3. 2006 Royal Rumble
The 2006 Royal Rumble was all about two people. The first of which was the late Eddie Guerrero who passed away a few months prior and Eddie’s friend, Rey Mysterio. Funny things happen when active superstars die in the WWE. In a way, it becomes almost a foregone conclusion that that wrestler’s death will be exploited for the sake of television ratings with Owen Hart being the only true exception to the rule. Over the past couple of years, WWE and later Vicki Guerrero found themselves in some serious hot water for the exploitation of Eddie’s death as a means of promoting their industry. However… The implications and the respect for the dead is a subject for another day. The fact of the matter is that Rey Mysterio has a lot of his WWE pushes to thank for Eddie passing away. It all started with this.
Rey Mysterio went into the match at number 2 and lasted longer than any wrestler in Royal Rumble history. The man absolutely battled the odds and as one of the smallest wrestlers in the WWE, would ride Eddie’s death and his underdog status to make one hell of a Wrestlemania moment. Rey’s reign as champion would be marred with some poor booking, but the road leading to the belt being put around his waste was certainly one of the best stories to come out of the mid 2000’s.
2. 1992 Royal Rumble
When it comes to classic Royal Rumbles, there is few who would argue that the 1992 Royal Rumble is one of the greatest Royal Rumbles in the matches run. Unlike other years where the victor either received bragging rights or a shot at the title at Wrestlemania, the winner of the Royal Rumble won the vacant WWE Championship. Needless to say the stakes were as high as ever for this match as all of the WWE’s wrestlers wanted to be the best in the business.
This also included NWA legend Ric Flair who would win the WWE Championship on that night entering at number 3. This was a brilliant match, introduced Flair to the WWE audience and had some of the biggest names in Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, The Undertaker, and Sgt. Slaughter in the match.
1 1998 Royal Rumble
I am not going to be one to argue that the Montreal Screwjob was the birth of the Attitude Era. That is pretty well set in stone. The old guard leaving in a slew of controversy and the birth of Mr. McMahon the character spelled the rise of the WWE. However… If there was an event that would usher in the face of the Attitude Era, Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was Royal Rumble 1998. Austin was a rising star with a bullet in the past year. He won the 97 Royal Rumble, King of the Ring, he had an intense war with Bret Hart, and was soon to be one of the most over men in the history of wrestling. 1998 Royal Rumble was the Stone Cold coming out party. The man came in with a target painted on his back and took the brass ring. This was the start of the Mike Tyson involvement with the Rumble and would soon lead to Steve Austin’s first WWE Championship after defeating Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XIV
The 1998 Royal Rumble, like many of the others before it is one of the crowning moments in the Attitude Era. It saw an end to the cartoonish characters of the mid 1990’s in WWE and the birth of a new and grittier type of WWE. By that time next year, WWE would be completely different in image, defeating WCW, and Austin was the head of all of it. All of this traces back to 1998’s Royal Rumble which was the best in the history of WWE.
Thank you for reading! Fear not, soon we will be back on the same reviewing schedule and I’ll get to working on 2016 reviews!