If you think about it, the Royal Rumble match has to be the one of the hardest and most complicated matches to execute properly. First of all, there are 30 superstars to whom you have to designate positions, a certain time for them to be eliminated, if they're going to get any offense, will there a special spot, will they eliminate anybody themselves, etc... You can see how this would be a nightmare to book. There are plenty of instances where a Royal Rumble match goes horribly wrong, to the point where the entire audience is confused or even worse, bored. In case anybody fell asleep during last year's Rumble (your night was better than mine), you would know that it was one of the worst Royal Rumbles in history. The surprise entrants sucked, the pacing was incredibly uneven and the hottest star in the company Daniel Bryan wasn't even in it! And Batista won. In the words of Chris Jericho, what a bunch of assclowns.
To wash away the awful taste of last year's Rumble, I got to thinking about the best Royal Rumble matches in history and what made them so good. The most memorable Royal Rumbles aren't the ones with a million different high spots and every legend imaginable coming back for 15 seconds of glory. No, the best Royal Rumbles are the ones that pace out the drama correctly. They're the ones that utilize shock factors well, but not to the point of over saturation. They're the ones that have significant story lines not only going into the match, but also ones that develop within the match itself. It seems the WWE has had trouble finding that formula in recent years. The 2011 Rumble's 40-man match was too overbooked, the 2012 edition was too gimmicky, the 2013 tilt was too predictable and last year's was simply just a catastrophe. With all those factors in mind, I present the top 10 greatest Royal Rumble matches of all time.
10 Royal Rumble 1994
As was the status quo in North American pro wrestling of the mid-90s, this Rumble is featured with performers straddled with horrendous gimmicks. Men On A Mission (WWE's attempt at being hip), Kwang The Ninja and a babyface, aka. boring Doink the Clown were all a part of this Rumble but through some divine will, it ended up being a good Rumble. Rising star Diesel was made to look dominant through his long appearance and seven eliminations while his "employer" Shawn Michaels lasted nearly half an hour in the match.
9 Royal Rumble 2000
8 Royal Rumble 2003
7 Royal Rumble 2004
6 Royal Rumble 2006
Before continuing on, I should note that I'm a huge Rey Mysterio mark. Growing up through Mysterio's rise to the top on SmackDown was awesome and he among my top three favourite wrestlers ever. Now on to the Rumble match. While the exploitation of Eddie Guerrero's death left a sour taste in a lot of fans' mouths, at this point it was fine as Mysterio would dedicate his performance to his fallen friend, even joking that Eddie was ribbing him due to his no.2 spot.
5 Royal Rumble 2001
4 Royal Rumble 2007
Whoever was booking the Royal Rumble matches throughout the mid 2000s needs a high six because they created some awesome memories. The greatness in this match to me is primarily predicated on two factors. The first one being how well tag teams were utilized in the match. The Hardy Boyz and Rated RKO used their tag team expertise to great effect and showcased teamwork not often seen in a Royal Rumble match.
3 Royal Rumble 2002
2 Royal Rumble 1992
Let's be honest here; nobody gave a damn about the early Royal Rumbles. Not only were they boring and unimaginative, but the winner of the match received nothing, making the whole struggle meaningless. It was only in 1992 that the WWE decided that something should be on the line in the Royal Rumble. The vacant WWE Championship would be up for grabs and it added a great amount of drama to the match. In terms of legends, this is a contender for the most star studded in history, featuring icons like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Undertaker and oouuuu yeeaaahhh, Randy Savage.
1 Royal Rumble 2010
I really don't get why this match isn't held in a higher regard. Seriously, this Rumble is full of great moments and awesome drama that I could barely contain myself while watching. This Rumble managed to distribute the spotlight among a lot of superstars yet kept the focus on HBK's struggle to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Heading into the match, everyone was fairly certain that Michaels would win but he still added layers of drama by eliminating his DX brother Triple H and channeling the HBK Royal Rumble greatness time after time with six eliminations.
I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention how CM Punk handled the first 10 minutes of the match expertly by eliminating men quickly and cutting promos in between entries like a boss. Nobody lasted very long in the Rumble like other years, but this did help the match have a quicker pace than many other ones. When Michaels was eliminated by Batista in the final four, it was genuinely one of the most heartbreaking moments in WWE history, as Michaels sold his mental struggle like only he could by snapping at referees and damn near crying.
Chris Jericho seemed to be in good shape in the match, until his former tag team partner Edge returned from a torn Achilles tendon to toss him over the top rope. Urgh, but of course they're going to have John Cena beat Edge like usual, right? NO! Edge threw Cena over the top rope to secure a World Championship match at WrestleMania. The twists and turns, the shockers (Beth Phoenix eliminates the Great Khali... yeah) and the rapid pace of this Rumble pushes it into the number one spot. And now all the older fans hate me.
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