When it comes to the list of best WrestleMania events, WrestleMania X-Seven is always toward the top of the list. Before that great event could happen, the Road to WrestleMania started on January 21, 2001 with the fourteenth annual Royal Rumble pay per view. One of the big four events of the year, the 2001 Royal Rumble took place in New Orleans in what is now known as the Smoothie King Center.
The event had a lot of memorable matches that included Chris Jericho defeating Chris Benoit for the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match, as well as Kurt Angle defeating Triple H for the WWF Championship. Then, the main event included the 30 man Royal Rumble match, with the winner headlining what would become a memorable WrestleMania.
The match itself would be one of the most memorable in Royal Rumble history, with many calling it the best to ever take place. But what became of the 30 entrants into the match? You already know who won, but there were 29 other men that have some interesting stories. Unfortunately, two of them have passed on, but three of them are still members of the WWE as wrestlers having never left. Here is a look at the 30 wrestlers who competed in the 2001 Royal Rumble match and what they are doing now.
30 Jeff Hardy
The infamous 2001 Royal Rumble kicked off with Jeff Hardy, who would end up being eliminated by his brother after six minutes and 36 seconds. Hardy was the fourth entrant tossed out, taking three people out of the Rumble along the way. Hardy would end up leaving the WWE two years later, but would make his return in 2006 after a stint with TNA.
Once again, Hardy would leave the WWE in 2009 to begin his second stint with TNA. Since 2010, Hardy has been a member of the organization and is still one of the biggest names in the company. Hardy has been part of the biggest storyline perhaps in TNA history alongside his brother, though it’s Jeff these days that’s known as the “brother”...Brother Nero, that is.
29 Bull Buchanan
Hardy squared off at the beginning of the match with the forgettable Bull Buchanan, and he didn’t last long. After just 128 seconds, Buchanan was tossed over the ropes by both Hardy Boyz, with no eliminations to his name. Buchanan was a member of Right to Censor at the time, and was sent down to developmental for awhile. When he returned, Buchanan was actually teamed up with John Cena, if you recall that.
In early 2003, though, Buchanan was let go altogether by WWE and joined All Japan Pro Wrestling. Buchanan also made stops in Pro Wrestling Noah and other independent circuits, even making an appearance in a John Cena segment in WWE. Buchanan eventually retired from wrestling in 2014. Now, Buchanan is a deputy officer in Carroll County, Georgia.
28 Matt Hardy
Matt would join brother Jeff as the first to enter after the match had started, teaming with Jeff for three eliminations. Matt Hardy lasted for just under five minutes, and as he eliminated his brother, his brother eliminated him, ending The Hardy Boyz run early. Like Jeff, Matt would bounce in and out of the WWE for a few years, having a stint with Ring of Honor in 2005. Hardy returned to the WWE later that year and stayed until 2010.
After short stays with both TNA and Ring of Honor, Hardy would return to TNA and has since become one of the hottest names in pro wrestling once again. Hardy now goes by the “Broken” Matt Hardy gimmick that has gone over tremendously. Along with Jeff, Matt is now a Tag Team Champion in TNA and is in a good spot in his career.
The first half of the APA, Faarooq, entered fourth and did not even last for one minute. Faarooq was eliminated by the Hardy Boyz as the second to exit the match, not eliminating anybody in the process. Farooq, more commonly known as Ron Simmons these days, remained a full time wrestler with WWE until 2004. He has been seen on WWE programming many times since then, though, usually uttering his one word catchphrase of “Damn!”
Simmons also had appearances on the independent circuit, which included Maryland Championship Wrestling. Simmons is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame now, and has been enjoying a fairly quiet retirement. He has been making the rounds in the interview circuit these days, as he always seems to be up for a shoot interview.
26 Drew Carey
At the time, actor and comedian Drew Carey became a rare celebrity appearance in the Royal Rumble during the nine year run of “The Drew Carey Show”. Carey kept to himself in the ring for nearly three minutes before taking himself out of the match thanks to our next entrant. Carey would continue his show until 2004, and was also the host of the popular improv show “Whose Line is it Anyway?”
There was a lot of talk about who replace Bob Barker as the host of the game show “The Price is Right”, and it would end up being Carey that took the spot. Carey is still a big name in pop culture, and was even inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame’s celebrity wing. Of course, it was Kane that inducted him into the hall before WrestleMania XXVII.
Drew Carey tried to bribe his way into not being eliminated by the sixth participant, Kane, upon his arrival. Kane would end up having a phenomenal run during the 2001 Royal Rumble, lasting for just under 54 minutes. Kane was the final elimination in the match as Stone Cold Steve Austin claimed the victory, but Kane was able to take a then record 11 wrestlers out of the match before bowing out.
Since the 2001 Royal Rumble was 16 years ago, there aren’t many wrestlers from the match that are still wrestling with the WWE. That is not the case for Kane, though, as he has never left the company. Kane is now approaching 50 years old, but is still going, and has had more Royal Rumble success than anyone else with 44 eliminations heading into the 2017 edition of the pay-per-view.
There is a long stretch of wrestlers coming up that were eliminated by Kane, starting with Raven, the ninth entrant. Raven lasted for nearly nine minutes before Kane got to him, and he didn’t have an elimination in the process. Raven stuck around with WWE for a couple of years afterward, but never really became the top heel like some had hoped for. By early 2003, Raven was let go from WWE.
He then joined TNA while also wrestling for Ring of Honor. However, the main focus was TNA and Raven remained with the promotion until 2010. Now 52 years old, Raven is still wrestling from time to time on the independent scene. Raven is mostly retired, though, mainly giving interviews these days. Raven was also involved in the class action lawsuit that failed contesting healthcare benefits for wrestlers.
23 Al Snow
Al Snow was the next in line, and he would not even last as long as Raven did. Snow was the eighth man both to enter and exit the Rumble as Kane tossed him out after seven minutes and eight seconds. Snow also did not eliminate anybody during his brief time in the match. Al Snow stuck around until 2003 before stepping away from wrestling for a couple of years. He returned in 2006 and was down in the developmental OVW before leaving for good in 2008.
Since then, Al Snow has been wrestling on the independent circuit as well as having stays with TNA. Snow joined TNA in 2010 as an agent and has been with them ever since. Snow also runs his own training academy for professional wrestling and even participated in the Federacion Nacional de Lucha Libre where he won the Zona de Combate Championship before losing it just one day later.
22 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn found himself as the ninth entrant and was one of the many wrestlers tossed to Kane’s elimination record. Saturn lasted for just over five minutes before officially becoming the 10th wrestler eliminated, taking nobody along for the ride with him. Saturn then had his turning point when he physically attacked a jobber in the ring, and was given one of the dumbest gimmicks of all time when his love interest was a mop.
Saturn left WWE in late 2002 and then worked with independent promotions before retiring in 2004. Seven years later, Saturn returned to the ring as he went back to the independents. Saturn is now one of the wrestlers that has become a part of the class action lawsuit regarding head injuries in the WWE, as he says that he has been dealing with brain injuries since his wrestling days.
21 Steve Blackman
The Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman was officially eliminated seventh before Al Snow, Raven and Perry Saturn. Again, it was Kane that knocked out Blackman, and the wrestler turned MMA fighter lasted a total of three minutes and eight seconds with no eliminations. Blackman would not be with WWE for very long after the match, making his final appearance just five months after the Royal Rumble.
Blackman turned to MMA, where he started a self defense school in Pennsylvania. Blackman still teaches mixed martial arts from time to time, but has mainly been working as a bail bondsman. Just imagine Blackman running you down if you failed to pay back your bail. It’s certainly among the strangest career paths that we’ve seen in recent WWE history.
20 Grand Master Sexay
One member of the 2 Cool team, Grand Master Sexay had a very brief run in the 2001 Royal Rumble. Grand Master Sexay (real name Brian Christopher) lasted for just 63 seconds. You could probably guess that it was Kane that knocked him out as he went on a tear. Christopher had no eliminations and was officially the sixth man out. Christopher joined a tag team with Steve Blackman for a brief period before Blackman left and Christopher got popped for taking drugs across the United States and Canada border.
Christopher joined TNA for nearly two years before returning to WWE for just a handful of matches. Christopher was out once again, and has mainly wrestled independently while making a couple of appearances with WWE. Christopher runs some of his own shows now, but has been spending most of his time as a public speaker.
19 The Honky Tonk Man
The longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in WWE history, The Honky Tonk Man was one of those surprise entrants during the 2001 Royal Rumble. The Honky Tonk Man lasted a little bit longer than Grand Master Sexay, remaining in the match for 76 seconds. Officially, Honky Tonk was the 11th wrestler knocked out (again thanks to Kane) and didn’t eliminate anybody.
The Honky Tonk Man is one of those guys that will probably never fully retire from wrestling. He has made many appearances with WWE (though brief) since 2001 when he left, and is still active on the independent scene. His most recent notable matches came in New Zealand when he was a part of Impact Pro Wrestling. He is also enjoying some of his time off by hitting the golf links.
18 The Rock
The string of entrants that lasted for just a couple of minutes came to an end thanks to The Rock. The Rock would end up lasting for nearly 39 minutes, staying until the final three. The Rock eliminated three wrestlers before being knocked out of the match. Like all of the wrestlers before him, though, The Rock was eliminated by Kane, it just took a lot longer.
So whatever happened to The Rock? Well, he only became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood as he transitioned from wrestler to actor. More commonly known as Dwayne Johnson (his real name, of course) these days, he has helped bring in a total of nearly $2.5 billion in box office gross. Johnson’s most recent film is the animated Disney film “Moana”, while his most successful so far has been “Furious 7.”
17 The Godfather
The Godfather sadly did not last very long at all during the 2001 Royal Rumble, as he was eliminated after just 13 seconds. The Godfather had the pleasure of being the first entrant after The Rock, and it was indeed the most electrifying man in sports entertainment that knocked him out of the match. Naturally, The Godfather did not have any eliminations.
At the time, The Godfather was known as “The Goodfather” and a member of Right to Censor. He would later return to the pimp gimmick and left the WWE in 2002. The Godfather has made several appearances with WWE since retiring, and was a member of the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame class. He also recently got back into wrestling independently and even worked as a strip club manager in Las Vegas.
While 13 seconds would likely be the quickest elimination in most years, that wasn’t the case thanks to Tazz. Just 10 seconds after Tazz entered, he was one of the many eliminations by Kane. Like The Godfather, Tazz wasn’t able to knock anybody out of the match in his brief time. A little more than a year after the match, Tazz would end up going into broadcasting due to several injuries that shortened his career.
Tazz was an announcer for WWE for several years before joining TNA for the same job. Tazz would end up leaving TNA in 2015 and took it easy for a while. Tazz is now hosting his own internet show that covers both wrestling and sports, and recently made an appearance on the WWE Network in a documentary about ECW, showing that he’s still on good terms with the company (hopefully).
After his tag team partner Faarooq was already long gone, the other half of the APA entered 16th overall and lasted much longer. Bradshaw would remain in the match for 17 minutes and 40 seconds before becoming the 18th wrestler knocked out. It wasn’t Kane or The Rock that got him, as the Undertaker would eliminate Bradshaw, who surprisingly had no eliminations himself.
Bradshaw would become more famous as a solo wrestler when he became known as JBL. It was then that he would end up winning the WWE Championship, holding the title for nearly a full year. After his career, JBL would become an announcer for the WWE, a position that he still holds today. After doing multiple shows, JBL is now on the Smackdown Live announce team with Mauro Ranallo and David Otunga.
Just like Bradshaw, Albert was in the Royal Rumble match for a significant amount of time, but did not eliminate a single wrestler. Albert would be the 20th person eliminated from the match, lasting just under 16 minutes. Albert was also one of those wrestlers that got knocked out by Kane.
Albert had several runs with WWE, including the failed monster heel gimmick that was Lord Tensai. Albert (real name Matt Bloom) eventually retired from wrestling in 2014, but has found a lot of success since then. After the firing of Bill DeMott as the head trainer in at the WWE Performance Center, Bloom got the promotion to the top job and has been receiving solid reviews since then. The all around good guy finally found a good landing spot that a lot of people are thankful for after the disaster that was DeMott.
13 Hardcore Holly
Hardcore Holly was one of those guys you knew wasn’t going to win, but he did stick around for quite some time. Holly would end up being the 21st wrestler eliminated after The Undertaker knocked him out. Holly remained in the match for more than 14 minutes, but did not have any eliminations.
Holly unfortunately broke his neck in a match against Brock Lesnar after the match and was sidelined for more than a year. After making a return and wrestling in the ECW brand, Holly ended up leaving the company in 2009. Since then, Holly has been wrestling independently all over the world and had a stop with TNA in 2013. Holly has also written a pair of books about his pro wrestling career, which hasn’t ended for the 53 year old.
It’s interesting to look back at older Royal Rumbles to remember some wrestlers, especially if they have changed gimmicks. K-Kwik is one of those wrestlers, and he would last just under eight minutes in the 2001 Royal Rumble. K-Kwik was knocked out by the Big Show, and did not have an elimination.
K-Kwik’s real name is Ron Killings, but you probably know him more commonly as R-Truth. The name changed after Killings returned to the WWE from his several years in TNA, and he has been with WWE ever since 2008. These days, Killings is teamed up with Goldust as part of “The Golden Truth” that has had moderate success. Mostly a comedy babyface these days, R-Truth has had a long and successful pro wrestling career that keeps on going.
11 Val Venis
One of those midcard wrestlers that pops to mind when thinking about the Attitude Era, Val Venis looked like a dark horse in the Royal Rumble. He would end up staying in the ring for more than 10 minutes before being the 22nd wrestler eliminated. Val Venis did not knock any wrestlers out, and it was The Undertaker that got to him.
Val Venis surprisingly stuck around the WWE for several more years after the Royal Rumble, eventually leaving in 2009. He would join TNA for a brief time and still wrestles independently. Venis, who goes by his real name of Sean Morley now, and has spent a lot of his time advocating for the legalization of marijuana. A lot of that stems from the head injuries that he and his fellow wrestlers suffered during their careers.
10 William Regal
There were some very short runs in the ring as we got toward the end, as William Regal was the 14th eliminated despite being the 21st entrant. Regal lasted for two minutes until he was knocked out by the 22nd entrant. Regal did not eliminate anybody himself. Regal is one of those guys that’s still around with the company, although he is not currently wrestling, which puts him in the same boat as Matt Bloom.
Regal bounced around between the main roster and with NXT for quite some time, and would eventually become the General Manager of NXT in 2014. Regal has been in that role ever since then, and is also a trainer with the company after Dusty Rhodes passed away in 2015. With nearly two decades with the WWE, it seems that he will be there for good.
Test would come to the ring and make quick work of William Regal, though Test didn’t last long himself. Test was knocked out of the match by The Big Show after he had lasted for just two minutes and eight seconds. Thankfully, Test was able to have at least one elimination before his quick exit.
Test would exit the WWE in 2004 and wrestle independently for a brief time. He then returned to the WWE for a year, spending his final two years with TNA. Test ended up retiring in February 2009, and then tragedy struck the next month. Test was found dead in his home on March 13, 2009. It turned out that Test had sadly died from an oxycodone overdose and suffered from severe brain trauma during his wrestling career.
8 The Big Show
It was the Big Show that knocked out Test, and he did it almost immediately. The Big Show would finish with two eliminations, which is pretty impressive when you consider that he was in the match for just one minute and 23 seconds. The Big Show was taken out by The Rock, making him the 17th wrestler eliminated.
The Big Show joins Kane as one of just three wrestlers on the list that never left the WWE as a wrestler. The Big Show originally joined the WWE in 1999 after spending four years with WCW, and has been a big part of the company ever since. Though his appearances have become more sporadic in the past couple of years, The Big Show figures to have a role in the next WrestleMania event as he gets closer to retirement at 44 years old.
7 Crash Holly
Crash Holly would enter after Hardcore Holly did, but he was eliminated much earlier. Crash was the 19th wrestler knocked out, and was one of the many casualties of Kane. Holly did not have an elimination, and lasted for just two minutes and 31 seconds. Crash never really made it big in the WWE and was part of the failed Mattitude Followers stable before being released in 2003.
Not too long after, Crash would sign a deal with TNA and had just a handful of matches. Sadly, like Test, Crash Holly would die too young. Holly was found dead at Stevie Richards’ house in November 2003 with empty bottles of prescription drugs and alcohol found near his body. It turned out that he had choked on his own vomit and was in the midst of getting a divorce when that tragic night happened. Holly was only 32 years old when he passed away.
6 The Undertaker
The legendary Undertaker was the 25th man in, as well as the 25th man out. Lasting for more than 10 minutes, The Undertaker was able to eliminate four wrestlers before being eliminated by the final entrant in the Royal Rumble. The Undertaker, of course, is the final of the three wrestlers on our list that never left WWE as a wrestler. Although how much he wrestles these days is a mysterious topic.
The Undertaker has had several matches that we thought would mark his retirement, but he has never come out and said that he was done. In fact, he has announced recently that he’s “back” but we have not seen any matches since the announcement. The Undertaker is a company man, and will always have a spot with the WWE whether he wrestles another match or not, but you can expect him at the next WrestleMania.
5 Scotty 2 Hotty
The second of three 2 Cool members in the match, Scotty 2 Hotty (real name Scott Garland) did not even last for a minute. Garland was taken out by the Brothers of Destruction (Kane and The Undertaker) after 47 seconds. He did not have an elimination, and was the 23rd man out. Garland teamed up with random wrestlers in his career after Grand Master Sexay departed, including Albert and would end up getting injured.
Garland spent a lot of time in the lower card before leaving WWE in 2007, and has made some sporadic returns since then. Most of Garland’s work since then has been on the independent circuit, though that has come to an end. That’s because Garland is now back with the WWE as he was hired as a trainer with the Performance Center in September 2016.
4 Stone Cold Steve Austin
The man that we all figured was going to win did just that. Stone Cold Steve Austin entered 27th in the Royal Rumble and was able to win after nearly 10 minutes. Along the way, Stone Cold eliminated three wrestlers to take on The Rock at WrestleMania X-Seven. Stone Cold, of course, is one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE history, if not the most popular.
Austin would retire from full time wrestling in 2003 and has been involved with the company in some forms here and there ever since then. Though his acting career didn’t take off like The Rock’s, he still had plenty of roles. Austin has also been on television as a host and now has the popular Stone Cold Podcast program, which has aired on WWE Network with some of the hardest hitting shoot interviews in pro wrestling.
3 Billy Gunn
Before Stone Cold could knock out Kane to win, he took care of two other wrestlers, starting with Billy Gunn. Gunn lasted for seven minutes and 22 seconds without eliminating anybody. Surprisingly, Gunn was one of the final four wrestlers left in the match, though it was not to be in the end. The Rumble match came after his time with D-Generation X, and Gunn would remain with WWE until 2004.
It was then that Gunn joined TNA for four years before leaving and spending a few years on the independent circuit. Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James teamed up once again in 2012 before retiring once more as Gunn became a trainer at the Performance Center. Unfortunately, Gunn was let go after testing positive for PEDs and has been wrestling independently ever since then, including stops with Chikara and NJPW.
Most fans don’t even remember Haku, but he can say that he was eliminated by Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Royal Rumble. Haku was the 24th man out, lasting for under three minutes and didn’t eliminate anybody. Haku was a surprise appearance at the time of the Rumble match, and it was supposed to be his full time return. However, he lasted for less than a year before injuries mounted and he left WWE once again.
Haku would bounce around a lot of different smaller promotions in the years since then, including World Xtreme Wrestling, World League Wrestling and Chikara. In early 2016, Haku showed up to NJPW. Not many casual fans know that Haku is actually the father of former WWE wrestler Camacho, who is also in NJPW.
The final entrant in the 2001 Royal Rumble was the final member of 2 Cool, Rikishi. Rikishi had a short run despite the late entry, getting knocked out in about two and a half minutes by The Rock. Rikishi eliminated The Undertaker before leaving, and was overall the 26th man to be eliminated. Rikishi stayed with the WWE before being released in the middle of 2004.
Rikishi went right to the independent scene and has had stops with All Japan Pro Wrestling, AAA, Revolucion Lucha Libre and many more. Rikishi is still wrestling these days under what seems to be an ever changing name (mostly Junior Fatu) and has popped up on WWE broadcasts one in a blue moon. Rikishi was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class with The Usos (his sons) inducting him.