The Royal Rumble match, wherein 30 of WWE’s best superstars compete for the opportunity to headline the biggest stage -WrestleMania- has always been one of the most illustrious and unique matches in the organization’s history. And these matches never disappoint.
Although the general consensus is that the bigger, stronger athletes have the better chances of winning the match, many of the smaller, but athletic wrestlers have won the Rumble numerous times, as it also has been the home of some phenomenal underdog stories. Those who win the Rumble normally go on to win the big prize at WrestleMania, as many legends are born by winning the Rumble itself, which is a stepping stone for success in the company.
There have been 29 Royal Rumble matches so far in the WWE, with six superstars having the honor of winning it multiple times. With 22 superstars having won the Rumble match so far, let’s take a look at where they rank.
22. Alberto Del Rio – 2011
The first ever 40-man Royal Rumble seemed to be out of place at times because of the congestion of wrestlers in it, as the WWE took a risk by letting 40 wrestlers fight it out for the chance at headlining WrestleMania but a surprise winner in Alberto Del Rio took the cake in the end. He entered after much of the match had already been over, as Del Rio came into the match in a very lucky #38 spot and didn’t have much competition to begin with. He got an important elimination by eliminating Randy Orton from the match, as he seemed to have won it but was hit by a Cobra strike from Santino Marella who wasn’t yet eliminated. But he managed to eliminate him in the end to win the match, as one can say he had it easy because of his position and lack of competition when he came into the match but didn’t let his guard down and got the job done in the end.
21. Jim Duggan – 1988
The winner of the inaugural Royal Rumble match, the American Patriot “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan gave quite the performance as he came in at the 14th spot in the 20-man Royal Rumble match and managed to survive against quite the opposing wrestlers. Duggan would eliminate “Dangerous” Danny Davis and Nikolai Volkoff, while holding his own against the mighty superstars as the One Man Gang (who eliminated 6 superstars) and Dino Bravo formed an alliance. Duggan would duck out of their double team and won the match in the end by eliminating the intimidating One Man Gang, as he cemented his place in history by winning the first ever Royal Rumble match and making it a success. Duggan’s willpower and intelligence got him to get the win in the end and made for an enjoyable match as well.
20. Big John Studd – 1989
Big John Studd was quite the intimidating man in the WWE, so when he appeared to be at a comfortable #27 in the 2nd Royal Rumble match in 1989, many could put their bets on him to win the match because of his size. Although Hulk Hogan was cleaning house in the match as he took out wrestlers left, right and centre, Studd entered at a good position and played a very smart game as he let the other wrestlers fight it out amongst themselves while helping the heels take out the babyfaces. Studd would go onto get an important elimination in eliminating the vicious Akeem in the final 3, before thumping the last remaining competition in Ted DiBiase as he thrashed him and dumped him over the top rope to be the first ever winner of the 30 man Royal Rumble. Going by his size, this was rather easy for Studd who asserted his dominance over the others in this match and played it smart to win this prestigious event.
19. Sheamus – 2012
“The Celtic Warrior” Sheamus has the honor of calling himself a winner of the Royal Rumble, working hard to win the match when he was a babyface in 2012. Entering at #22, The Celtic Warrior had to fend off much competition as he went onto eliminate Kofi Kingston at first while having to fight off many alliances formed during the match. The Irishman went onto compete in the match for over 20 minutes, as was in the final two with Chris Jericho who had an impressive showing as they fought for almost 5 minutes in trying to eliminate each other, as Sheamus brogue kicked him over the ring in the end to become the first Irishman to win the Rumble, as he would go onto win the World Heavyweight Championship from this win and re-establish himself as a top star in the company.
18. Bret Hart/Lex Luger – 1994
The first and only time the WWE has recognized the Royal Rumble as having co-winners, both Lex Luger and Bret Hart gave it their all in the 1994 Royal Rumble match and went onto win the match together in the end. Luger was the first one to arrive in the match, as he came out at #23 as he was on a roll in those days and went onto eliminate a lot of prominent superstars afterwards as Hart came out at #27. While Luger was arguably looking better as he had eliminated more wrestlers and also threw out the likes of Shawn Michaels and Bam Bam Bigelow, Hart wasn’t one to give up either as they fought till the very end and had a controversial ending where they had apparently fallen over the top rope together and WWE President Jack Tunney came out to declare both as winners. They’d both get title opportunities because of it at WrestleMania as Hart came out with the WWE title as Luger lost his opportunity earlier in the night.
17. Mr. McMahon – 1999
Mr. McMahon might have been an annoying heel character during the Attitude Era which propelled everyone to cheer on Stone Cold Steve Austin as he made life a living hell for the boss, but McMahon also wrestled at times to help with the ratings of his product. McMahon declared that he would be a part of the 1999 Royal Rumble match, as he was in a hot feud with Austin at the time and stated that there was “no chance in hell” of letting him win the match. McMahon would try to get the #30 spot for himself, but was forced to be the 2nd entrant to the match as he started out with Austin who beat the crap out of him. They brawled all the way to the back, as Austin was taken out by the Corporation members as McMahon went back to commentate. As Austin would dramatically return later, McMahon was forced to fight it out in the ring and was the final man remaining along with Austin who got cheap-shot by the Rock, as the chairman took the advantage and eliminated a distracted Austin. Although he wouldn’t really compete for the WWE title at WrestleMania, this was still quite the shocking moment at the time watching the owner of the company win the Rumble and even if he didn’t do zilch to actually earn it, it was quite the amazing Rumble match because of his participation and how much he provided to it.
16. Edge – 2010
Edge’s Royal Rumble victory is one of the most memorable in recent history, as the Rated-R Superstar was previously injured and was in the sidelined from WWE before he made a surprise return in the Royal Rumble. He came in at a lavish #29 position, as he would shock many including his former tag team partner Chris Jericho who he went onto eliminate soon after entering the Rumble. Although the likes of Shawn Michaels(his last Wrestlemania) and John Cena were cleaning house in the Rumble, Edge used his position really well as he somehow managed to survive the onslaught from the last remaining superstar and eliminated John Cena in the end to win the Rumble, making for a massive pop from the audience who were delighted at watching him return and win. Edge wouldn’t win any title in his opportunity at Wrestlemania, but his remarkable return and performance in the Rumble is one for the ages.
15. The Rock – 2000
The Royal Rumble match of 2000 was probably one which didn’t really have that many stars in it because of a sort of a crisis in the WWE at the time, as there were only a handful of top stars in the match. But the Brahma Bull in The Rock capitalized his chance at winning a Rumble in this match, as he appeared at #24 and cruised to victory after that. He came in at a right position as he went onto eliminate some lower card wrestlers while keeping everyone else from trying to eliminate him, as he was one of the main targets when he entered the ring. He somehow managed to survive the onslaught and had quite the challenge when he found The Big Show as his final opponent in the match. But he managed to throw him over and eliminated the giant by somehow managing to survive his onslaught and throw him over the rope to win the match which helped him main event Wrestlemania 2000 where he failed to win the WWE title in a fatal four-way match as The Rock might have miraculously won this match, but this is still one of the weaker Rumble matches of all time where he didn’t really need to put in that kind of an effort.
14. The Undertaker – 2007
The Undertaker became the first man to win the Royal Rumble from the #30 spot in 2007, as this presumed “easy” spot was one from which no-one had been able to win from before the Deadman achieved the feat. Taker was one of the most dominating wrestlers in the WWE at the time as he brought chills to his opponents when he entered at the position as he lasted almost 15 minutes in the match. He came on and eliminated the monstrous The Great Khali who was dominating throughout the match, before going onto eliminate MVP as he held his own while being the target of many in the match. In the end, it was between him and Shawn Michaels as they fought from tooth and nail in the match as the Phenom managed to oust him in the end to win the match, making it his first win in spite of being in the WWE for over 15 years at the time, as he added yet another trophy to his list of achievements by making for this superb win.
13. Brock Lesnar – 2003
Brock Lesnar has always been paraded as a big thing in the WWE, as he was labeled as the “Next Big Thing” when he arrived in the WWE, going onto win the WWE Title months after making his debut and quickly establishing into one of its top stars. Lesnar also entered the Royal Rumble match in 2003, as he entered at an illustrious #29 position and immediately asserted his dominance by eliminating Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. He’d also eliminate Matt Hardy quickly afterwards, as he was in the match for under 10 minutes and dominated throughout the match, as he also managed to fend off the threat of the Undertaker who was himself on a roll in the Rumble after being the last entrant and eliminated him to win the Rumble, as he’d go onto win the WWE Title from Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania and elevate his status in the company even more as his impressive performance in that Rumble went onto show how good he can be in such sort of matches.
12. Batista – 2005 & 2014
The Animal Batista has the privilege of being 0n the list of superstars to have won the Royal Rumble match twice, as he’d win his first Royal Rumble match as he was starting to gain popularity in 2005. He entered at #28 and cleaned house, taking out a lot of superstars as he asserted his dominance soon into the match and also tried to look after his Evolution members in spite of it being every man for himself. Batista worked with John Cena to eliminate some superstars, as it was left for the two of them as the final participants in the Rumble which had a controversial ending when they both landed on the floor together. This propelled Mr. McMahon to come out and restart the match, as Batista won soon after and went onto win the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H to assert himself as a top star in the company. He’d also return to the WWE in 2014 after a hiatus, as he entered again in the lucky #28 position and quickly took out 3 prominent wrestlers in Ryback, Alberto Del Rio and Erick Rowan as Roman Reigns was on a rampage in that Rumble. Batista would eliminate Reigns in the end to much boos from the audience, as his return wasn’t that favorable met and made the end for his push which was scheduled, as the Animal might have had it rather easy for his size in both the Rumbles, but managed to come out with two very good Royal Rumble victories which gets his name etched into the history books.
11. Roman Reigns – 2015
Roman Reigns has been an amazing wrestler in the Royal Rumble in the past few years, as he’s hit with a shade of bad luck which reached a boiling point in 2015, the year where Reigns was widely expected to win the Rumble which was something that didn’t sound well with the fans. Entering at the No #19 position, Reigns would arrive in a chorus of boos as he started to thump everyone in the ring and clean house, much to the displeasure of the audience. Reigns would topple the biggest of superstars on his own, as he eliminated some mid-carders before moving onto the business end of the match, as he was in a difficult position when he was in the final three with Kane and Big Show as his opponents. Both the Authority guys tried their best to get him over, but he somehow managed to overpower them and eliminate them both together, as the fans showed their displeasure by calling for Rusev who was on the outside. But Reigns would eliminate him as well, as The Rock had to come in to try to lift the atmosphere but failed to do so as Reigns’ win was shadowed with loud boos echoing throughout the arena, but Roman hadn’t deserved it as he had given a superb performance as he eliminated the big guys on his own and dominated the match until winning as this match might be booed by other fans, but no one can deny that Reigns was amazing in it and is definitely one of the best wrestlers to have performed in the Rumble match in its history.
10. Yokozuna – 1993
One of the most dominating big guys in the WWE, Yokozuna is actually the only “giant” of sorts to have won the Royal Rumble in spite of the general consensus being that the big guys hold the advantage, as the monster won the 1993 Royal Rumble where he gave one of the most crushing Royal Rumble performances in its history. Yokozuna entered at #27 as he’d go onto eliminate a big guy like him in Earthquake as he would dominate over everyone and eliminate some of the biggest stars at the time like Owen Hart, Bob Backlund as well as the likes of Tatanka, Tito Santana and Carlos Colon. He’d go onto eliminate Randy Savage in the end to make for a dominant victory in the Rumble match, as nothing seemed to be able to stop him on the day as he tore through his opposition and stormed his way to his win, getting a remarkable 7 eliminations in the 15 minutes he was in the match. He’d go onto win the WWE title for some-time in the next Wrestlemania, but this victory will be memorable because of how he’d dominated right from when he entered the ring till he eliminated Savage and showed the potential the big guys have to plow their way to victory in this kind of a match.
9. Randy Orton – 2009
One of the smartest wins of any Royal Rumble match, Randy Orton used his resources superbly in the 2009 Royal Rumble match as he entered at a dangerous #8 position but managed to survive till the very end and win the match in the end, as he whized his way past any danger through his stable Legacy. Orton might have entered at #8 but his “apprentices” in Ted DiBiase Jr and Cody Rhodes followed suit soon as they protected their leader throughout the match and Legacy was in the match till the very end. As the likes of Big Show and Triple H dominated the match, they just kept on surviving in the match as DiBiase and Rhodes would be eliminated by Triple H, but Orton hit him from behind to send him packing and win the Rumble as Orton conniving persona was at a high at the time as he took a calculated, cunning manner of winning the Rumble and booking his ticket to headline Wrestlemania and showcased that you always don’t have to go onto eliminate everyone else in the match to win it.
8. John Cena – 2008 & 2013
John Cena winning the Royal Rumble isn’t really that surprising considering his list of achievements in the WWE, as the golden boy of WWE won the Rumble for the first time in 2008 when he made a shocking return from injury at Madison Square Garden and at #30 entered the Rumble. He went onto make instant impact as he eliminated some mid-carders and survived until the very end, as he eliminated Triple H via an Attitude Adjustment to win the Rumble in a really surprising manner. He’d win it again in 2013, as he entered the match at the #19 position and survived for almost 30 minutes as he played it smart in this match and didn’t allow himself to get eliminated despite being the target of many. He got 4 eliminations as he defended himself very well and threw out Ryback in the end to come out victorious, as Cena’s best Rumble performances may not have come in the ones he has won, but he has won twice and such in rather spectacular manners which makes him one of the better performers in the Rumble’s history.
7. Triple H – 2002 & 2016
The Cerebral Assassin Triple H has seen it all and done it all in his two-decade long career in the WWE, as he is also in the list of superstars having won the Royal Rumble match twice in their careers for obvious reasons, as he has been incredibly consistent for them in his years in the company. He won his First Rumble in 2002 which was dangerously stacked against him as he entered at #22 and managed to survive almost 25 minutes in the Rumble which saw a long list of top stars compete in the Rumble. He eliminated Kurt Angle in the end to win the match and went onto win the Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania from Chris Jericho, as he repeated his feat almost 14 years later in 2016 when he was least expected to. The Cerebral Assassin who is barely a wrestler nowadays made a surprise return to WWE in the Royal Rumble match, entering at #30 and won Roman Reign’s WWE Championship by winning the match and eliminated all the prominent top stars in the Rumble match to win his 14th World Championship as the Cerebral Assassin has had a great history in Rumble’s so far and deserves to be held in high light when comparing Rumble winners.
6. Ric Flair – 1992
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair might not have been in the WWE for that long during his peak years, but he did join the company in the early 90s and was instantly pushed as their top star. Flair went onto compete in the 1992 Royal Rumble match after debuting months before it, as the match was actually for the Vacant WWE Championship and used his resilience and conniving mind to actually survive the whole of it after appearing at #3. Flair would use his expertise and let the other wrestlers eliminate them, as he helped some wrestlers get rid of others while eliminating some top guys himself, as he survived for almost 1 Hour to win the match after eliminating Sid Justice who was being held by Hulk Hogan who was angry at him eliminating him unfairly. The Dirtiest Player in the Game played the cleverest of game in this match as he showed incredible survival instincts to be in the till the very end and win it in the end, as the Nature Boy’s performance is hailed as one of the smartest ever and his incredible ability to stay in the Rumble for an hour goes onto show why he’s regarded as one of the best of all time as he’s definitely one of the best winners of a Rumble match.
5. Chris Benoit – 2004
Chris Benoit might now be remembered for all the wrong reasons, but there’s no doubting that he was one of the best wrestlers of his time as the Rabid Wolverine was not only technically amazing, but also had quite the heart when it came to wrestling. Benoit’s performance in the 2004 Royal Rumble is memorable for how amazing it was, as Benoit was one of the first two participants in the match and survived the whole of the match by the hook. Benoit was not one to play the sly game, as he was always in the thick of things and managed to keep himself safe everytime someone tried to eliminate him as he pulled of an amazing effort by eliminating wrestlers much bigger than him in the likes of A-Train, Mark Henry and Rhyno. But the biggest one came when he managed to eliminate Big Show by applying a front headlock on him and eventually dragging him down over the top rope to eliminate and pull of one of the greatest Rumble stories of all time, as no-one really expected him to win once the likes of Goldberg, Show, Angle and Chris Jericho were in it as he defied everyone’s expectations and earned himself the opportunity to headline WrestleMania, where he had the fairy-tale ending by winning the World Heavyweight Championship and assert himself in the top of the chain in the WWE as his Rumble victory is inspirational for many middle-weights who don’t think they stand a chance at winning.
4. Hulk Hogan – 1990 & 1991
“The Immortal” Hulk Hogan was the wrestler who put wrestling on the map in the 80s, so it comes off no surprise when one discovers that he had won two Royal Rumble matches back to back in 1990 and 1991. His first victory came when he was WWE Champion and entered the Rumble at #25 as he and he survived till the very end of the Rumble as he came on and wrecked havoc, eliminating 6 men in 12 minutes to win the Rumble after failing to do so in the previous years. Hogan would repeat the feat the next year, entering this time at #24 as he dominated even more in this one as he eliminated a massive 7 men after coming on and whizzed his way into victory in the end, making him the first wrestler to have won the Rumble match twice in a row as the Immortal was crucial in upping the reputation of the Royal Rumble match and event in these two years and helped it gain main-stream popularity by him dominating in it and making it more and more enticing for his millions of fans.
3. Rey Mysterio – 2006
Probably the greatest underdog story in the history of the Royal Rumble, Rey Mysterio defied all odds in 2006 when he won the Royal Rumble match after initially starting out as one of the starting two participants in the match. Mysterio started the match against Triple H but was not o be ousted on the night, as he found many trying to nonchalantly eliminate him because of his size and weight, but he used his athleticism to hold onto the ropes and survived throughout the course of the match as he eliminated a lot of superstars with his trickery and high-flying ability. Mysterio had 6 eliminations in the end as he ended up being in the match for over an hour, showing the daredevil in him and producing an amazing underdog’s story when he eliminated Randy Orton in the end as he was performing for his good friend Eddie Guerrero on the night and would not disappoint him as he won the match and went onto win the World Title in an unbelievable manner at Wrestlemania as well, as this incredible resiliency and heart established him as one of the fan-favorites in the company and one of their most exciting wrestlers as well.
2. Shawn Michaels – 1995 & 1996
One of the best performers in the Royal Rumble matches’ history, Shawn Michaels was at home in that particular match as he was amazing in almost all his Royal Rumble appearances and won twice quite early in his career. Michaels first won the Rumble in 1995 as the match was one of the shortest Rumble matches in history, as HBK entered at #1 but survived throughout the course of the match along with The British Bulldog as he would eliminate an amazing 8 superstars in the match as well as he used his cocky, conniving manner to sneak his way into winning the match after eliminating Bulldog in the end. He would repeat the feat the next year, as he entered at #18 this time and continued his domination as he eliminated another 8 superstars in this match, eliminating Diesel in the end to win the match twice in a row as Michaels is undoubtedly one of THE best wrestlers in the history of the Royal Rumble as he previously held the record for most eliminations ever and it was almost as if the match was his hunting ground, as he loved to perform in it and Superkick everyone out of the ring.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin – 1997, 1998 & 2001
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is the best wrestler to have performed in the Royal Rumble match, as his record of being the only man to have won it thrice in his career goes onto show exactly how good he was in the match. Austin won his first Rumble in 1997 when he was more off a heel, as he came in at #5 and went onto survive 45 minutes on his journey to winning the damn thing. Austin was actually eliminated by Bret Hart but because of the referees not noticing it, he came back and he eliminated an amazing 10 wrestlers in the match as he kicked ass on his quest to win the match. But because of his antics, he wasn’t given the WWE Championship opportunity in Wrestlemania that year, as he redeemed that when he won the Rumble the next year. This time entering at a more comfortable #24, he eliminated another 7 superstars to give yet another impressive performance as he didn’t let anyone even come close to eliminate him this time as he punched his ticket to the main event of Wrestlemania this time for good. Austin would again win the Rumble 3 years later in 2001, as he entered at #27 and eliminated only 3 superstars and even though he wasn’t in the best shape(mostly because of injuries), he still kicked ass and managed to come out on top in the end as Austin’s amazing ability to keep everyone at bay and constantly kick ass in the Rumble matches makes him a legend of that match as he’s arguably the best ever performer in the Rumble’s history and its rather doubtful whether anyone can ever achieve the feat he did of winning the match 3 times in his career, whereas most struggle to win it even a single time.
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