The first of the WWE’s big four PPVs in the calendar year, Royal Rumble, takes place in the month of January. The 30-man battle royal (with the exception of 2011, when there were 40 people) awards the victor of the match an opportunity at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Depending on the belts implemented by WWE, this has sometimes meant the victor has a choice at the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship. In 2017, the victor will have his choice at the WWE World Championship or the WWE Universal Championship.
Throughout the event’s 28-year history, fans have seen many talented wrestlers win the event. There have been those who have one on multiple occasions, and those who have won back-to-back years. There have been winners from multiple slot positions. While it is sometimes easy to determine who the winner of the match will be before it even begins due to WWE’s storylines, it isn’t easy to determine the surprises WWE will hit its fans with.
Here, we take a look at the eight best and seven worst Royal Rumble winners.
15. BEST: Rey Mysterio (2006)
The number two entry in the 2006 Royal Rumble, Mysterio lasted a record long 1:02:12 as he eliminated Triple H and Randy Orton who were the first and last entrants respectively of the match to become the 2006 Rumble winner. Mysterio also eliminated the likes of Psicosis, Rob Van Dam and Super Crazy. Mysterio who stood a minuscule 5’6″ and weighed in at 175 pounds was an outside of the box choice to win the Rumble. When the innovator of the 619 claimed victory, many were surprised. This made for a feel good moment as Mysterio’s good friend, Eddie Guerrero, had passed away two months prior. Mysterio seized the opportunity and became World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania as he defeated Kurt Angle (champion) and Randy Orton in a triple threat by way of pinning Orton.
14. WORST: Roman Reigns (2015)
The Philadelphia faithful were firmly behind Daniel Bryan to win the 2015 Royal Rumble. Bryan, the number eleven entry, was eliminated after lasting 10:36. The Wells Fargo Center attendees vehemently vocalized their anger once the crowd favorite was eliminated. It had become clear to them at that moment that Roman Reigns would be headlining against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. It became so bad that the crowd was firmly behind a foreign heel that degrades America nightly, Rusev when he was the last competitor asides from Reigns remaining. To make matters worse, The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment, The Rock, came out and raised Reigns’ hand after his victory. The onslaught of boos continued. When The Rock can’t get you over, you know something is wrong.
13. BEST: Randy Orton (2009)
Entering the Rumble at the eight slot in 2009, Orton lasted 48:27 en route to his first and only (as of now), Royal Rumble victory. Along with fellow Legacy members Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes, the trio joined forces ensuring Orton would claim victory. The plan worked to perfection as the final six competitors were the three forenamed Legacy members, the Big Show, Triple H and the Undertaker. Big Show and Undertaker were the next two out which left Triple H at a three on one disadvantage. However, the King of Kings proved he was up to the task as he took out Orton’s minions, DiBiase and Rhodes. But, the Game was unable to take out the last Legacy member, Orton, as Orton hit his former Evolution brother with a clothesline to lay claim to being the 2009 Royal Rumble winner. Orton and his Legacy partners were booked strong here and by eliminating Triple H (who is one of the strongest booked wrestlers ever) without having DiBiase and Rhodes around, the WWE solidified Orton as an upper echelon force in the company.
12. WORST: Batista (2014)
The Animal, Batista returned to WWE in 2014 one week before the Royal Rumble PPV and declared that he would be entering the thirty man battle royal. The company strapped a rocket to the former Deacon’s back and had him come out victorious at the Rumble. Batista, who is best remembered as “Bluetista” from this run, was originally pushed as a face that the fans had no interest in getting behind. WWE had to call an audible and turn Batista face. The WrestleMania XXX main event of Batista vs Randy Orton was failing miserably at generating any hype. As a result, the WWE had to call another audible and insert lovable baby face, Daniel Bryan into the main event where he eventually end up becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion by way of making Batista tap out to his finisher, the No! Lock.