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The 20 Wrestlers Who Competed In The First Royal Rumble: Where Are They Now?

WrestleMania season is almost upon us. It all starts with the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, which is just about a month away now, as the Royal Rumble match is the ultimate stepping stone for a wrestler to rocket into the main event of the grandest stage of them all. Royal Rumble matches might have been underwhelming in the past few years, but no one can deny that it still remains one of the most exciting and unpredictable events in the WWE, and it's something that every wrestling fan waits all year for.

The first ever Royal Rumble match took place almost 30 years ago, as the brain-child of Pat Patterson was brought together in an event in 1988. The top superstars of the time came together for a 20-man Royal Rumble match, which would become a pillar in the company's success for years to come.

Not many remember the men who competed in the first ever Royal Rumble, as a lot of them have since moved on from the industry. So we thought we'd take this opportunity to remember some of the pioneers of the wrestling world.

46 Jim Duggan (then)

via YouTube.com

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan was made into this American Patriot by the WWE who gave him a push by making him win the inaugural Royal Rumble match, as he entered at #13 and eliminated 3 superstars including the dominating One Man Gang to win the match and make the event a resounding success. This would be his only note-worthy achievement in the WWE, as he did feud with some of the top stars in the company in the future, but couldn't win anything which could turn him into a top star. He was then moved to an undercard status and left the company soon after because of his status in the roster.

45 Jim Duggan (now)

via wrestlingnews.co

Duggan headed to WCW after failing to impress in the WWE, and got royal treatment as he won the United States Championship in his debut by defeating Steve Austin in a squash match which lasted thirty-five seconds. He'd then engage in various feuds and also became World Television Champion as he stayed with WCW till the end and went back to the Indy circuit afterwards. But he was called back by WWE in 2005, as he returned as the American Patriot to team with Eugene and continued to make various appearances despite his age at the time. He left again in 2009, as he keeps on wrestling in the Independent Circuit even now as he recently at a Modern Vintage Wrestling event as "Hacksaw" is still keeping the American flag flying high and will always be known for his infamous, underdog win at the inaugural Royal Rumble match.

44 Hillbilly Jim (then)

via WWE.com

Hillbilly Jim was probably a gimmick which could've only worked in the 80s, as he was literally this Hillbilly who was a popular mid-carder back in the days and used as a filler to their shows by the WWE back in the days. He mostly wrestled in the tag team area, as he teamed up with a lot of people during his time. Jim would also be a participant of the first ever Royal Rumble, as he entered at No #16 and actually managed to eliminate Jim Neidhart, who was having a very impressive Rumble outing. Jim would be in the WWE till the early 90s, before finally leaving the company in 1992.

43 Hillbilly Jim (now)

via foxsports.com

Jim later returned to the WWE in 1995 as the manager of The Godwinns, as he'd accompany them to the ring before they turned heel. He then worked as a road agent for the WWE and even appeared in the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-Seven. Jim later went onto become the host of WWE's WrestleMania Axxess tour for various Wrestlemania's. He made an appearance in 2012 on an episode of Smackdown:Blast From The Past and now he plays a wide range of country music and Southern Rock for the Sirius Satellite Radio and even tells stories of his days with WWE between records. Jim also appeared on WWE's Legends House program on the Network, as he is one of the more recognized ones who competed in the Rumble and still has a good name within the company.

42 Junkyard Dog

via wwe.com

Junkyard Dog was one of the first African-American wrestlers to have found popularity in the WWE, as he was an amazing face in the 80s as he often interacted with the audience during his matches and brought young kids to the ring to celebrate with him in his matches. Known for feuding with some of the greats of the time, Junkyard went onto compete in the first ever Royal Rumble match as he was actually the final participant at No #20 in the Rumble match, but only lasted about 2 minutes in the match as he was eliminated by Bass quite early on. He'd feud with Bass before leaving the WWE in that year, as he left behind quite a lot of memories.

He went on to wrestle for WCW after leaving WWE, as he faced quite a lot of top stars in the WCW and was a solid tag team wrestler as well. He paved the way for more African-American Wrestlers to come and gain relevance in the field of wrestling, as he wrestled mostly tag team matches towards the end of his WCW run and left the company in 1993 to rejuvenate his Indy career once again.

Junkyard Dog would tragically pass away in 1998, as he died in a car accident after he had apparently fallen asleep on the wheel. He had competed in ECW's Wrestlepalooza event a month prior to this. He was a man who influenced many young athletes to take up wrestling and follow in his footsteps.

41 Jake "The Snake" Roberts (then)

via wwe.com

Jake "The Snake" Roberts is perhaps one of the most chilling heels in WWE history, as he was on top of his game when he was a heel but really fell down the order when turned into a face. Roberts went onto compete in the inaugural Royal Rumble match as a face, as he came out at no #5 and managed to survive an amazing 21 minutes in the match, eliminating 2 people in the process as well. Many thought that he should've won the Rumble but to no avail, as his run as a face really hampered his reputation in the company as he left the company in 1992.

40 Jake "The Snake" Roberts (now)

via ProWrestling.com

Roberts went to wrestle for WCW for a year in 1992, but that didn't work out so well as he went to wrestle in the Independent Circuit before returning to the WWE where he helped to kick-start the Attitude Era by putting over Stone Cold Steve Austin. Roberts would continue wrestling after this, but his condition got worse after the turn of the century as he got heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol, as he parted with his family and lived alone. In 2012, he moved in with Diamond Dallas Page to help him get rid of his addictions, as he is now a much healthier man who often appears in many wrestling events and despite of his bad health is trying his best to promote wrestling. Roberts might not have won anything, but his amazing performance in the 1st Royal Rumble should have been him winning the match and be pushed as a top star.

39 Butch Reed (then)

via WWE.com

A charismatic mid-carder back in the days, Butch Reed was quite the heel during his days in the WWE as he only survived in the company for a couple of years, but did have his moments(for the better or worse) as he competed for the Intercontinental Championship at the time and also had a feud with former WWE Champion, "Superstar" Billy Graham. Reed would enter the Rumble at No #3 and became the first ever wrestler to get eliminated in the match when he was eliminated by Jake "The Snake" Roberts. He'd stick around in the WWE for a few more months, but then was let go.

38 Butch Reed (now)

via kennycasanova.com

After the WWE, Reed went onto wrestle for their rivals in WCW where he became more of a prominent tag team guy, teaming up with Ron Simmons to form "Doom" as they won the NWA Tag Team Championships together. They feuded with the best tag teams in WCW at the time, going onto defeat the Steiner Brothers as well as various other tag teams as they were quite the force to be reckoned with in the tag team division. Reed would eventually leave WCW, going to wrestle for the Independent Circuit before retiring in 2002. He'd return from retirement in 2005, going onto wrestle for some more Indy promotions as his last match to date was in 2011. Reed was part of the class action lawsuit filed against the WWE by former wrestlers for incurring brain damages, as he doesn't seem to be in their good books and will probably not be recognized by them despite being in their first ever Rumble match.

37 Harley Race (then)

via WWE.com

Harley Race was a bonified legend in the territories before he made his leap to the WWE, as he came to the company with almost 2 decades of experience in 1986 and quickly won the King of the Ring tournament, helping him become "King Harley Race". Race would be helped by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan as he entered the first ever Royal Rumble match at No #6 and even though he couldn't eliminate anyone, he was in it for 10 minutes. This might come off as a disappointment to some, but Race was probably working the event hurt and managed to go through with it in the end, as he'd leave the company a year later.

36 Harley Race (now)

via YouTube.com

After leaving the WWE, Race went back to the independent circuit before going back to WCW, where he spent the next few years featuring in some big matches before he had to leave wrestling altogether after a car accident in 1995. After leaving the wrestling industry, Race kept out of wrestling for some years before he started his own wrestling promotion in World League Wrestling in 1999 as well as starting his own wrestling academy a year later. Race has made sporadic appearances to many high-profile wrestling promotions after retirement, as he's now training other wrestlers to reach their full potential as he never did reach his best in WWE, even though he has the accolade of being "King" and participating in the inaugural Rumble match under his belt.

35 The Ultimate Warrior

via WWE.com

The Ultimate Warrior was one of THE Icons of the WWE in the 80s, as he was pushed and built really well by the company who first made him Intercontinental Champion before giving him the WWE Belt. But before all this, Warrior would also be receiving his early push in his first years in the company and appeared in the inaugural Royal Rumble match as well, coming in at No #18 but he wasn't that strong in this one as he was quickly eliminated by One Man Gang and Dino Bravo. He'd obviously go onto do great things in the future, as he also found much popularity in the early 90s and had a back and forth relationship with the WWE.

After initially leaving the WWE in 1992, Warrior would spend some time wrestling in the Independent Circuit and even opened his own wrestling school in the meanwhile. He returned again in 1996, but for a rather short stint which didn't lead up to anything. Warrior went onto wrestle for WCW in 1998, before announcing his retirement as he did some motivational speaking and writing after his retirement, but some controversies and drug issues didn't help his health at all. He was called back to the WWE in 2013 as he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 and gave a speech to the fans in the Raw after that WrestleMania XXX which turned out to be his final public appearance after he tragically died 3 days later. Warrior left quite the legacy with his amazing work in his career, as he has another milestone added to his name with the participation in the first ever Rumble match.

34 B. Brian Blair (then)

via wwe.com

B. Brian Blair was another prominent tag team guy in the 80s, as he had several stints in the WWE during that decade, the end one helping him turn up in the Royal Rumble match. Blair was part of the "Killer Bees" in the WWE with Jim Brunzell in his third stint in the WWE, as they mostly dominated jobbers but they also had a big feud with The Hart Foundation during the time as well. Blair would enter the Royal Rumble match at #15 but didn't manage to do that good, as he failed to eliminate anyone and got eliminated after 5 minutes into the match. He'd then leave WWE after a few years because of problems with management.

33 B. Brian Blair (now)

via wikimedia.com

After leaving the WWE, Blair began to wrestle in the Indy circuit as he went onto wrestle for American Wrestling Association and Universal Wrestling Federation for a couple of years before wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling in the 90s as well. He'd take some-time off wrestling afterwards, but returned in 2012 and wrestled sporadically after that. Blair is now the President and CEO of the Cauliflower Alley Club(CAC) which gives financial assistance to people from the wrestling industry who have fallen into difficult times. The CAC has around 1000 members right now and had their 51st anniversary this year, as he seems to have his life sorted outside wrestling right now but is doing his bit to help his fellow wrestlers.

32 Tito Santana (then)

via WWE.com

One of the earliest Hispanic wrestlers to gain mainstream popularity in the WWE, Tito Santana was quite the exciting wrestler back in the day as he was part of the amazing Intercontinental Championship scene in his years in the WWE, even winning the title twice in the fray. He'd then move onto the tag team scene, winning the tag titles with Rick Martel as part of "Strike Force" as he competed in the Royal Rumble match during his time with Martel, entering at No #2 but was eliminated after 10 minutes by the Hart Foundation. But as the new decade rolled in, Santana lost his place in the roster as he had to leave the WWE in 1993.

31 Tito Santana (now)

via rodolforoman.com

Santana went back to the Indy circuit after leaving the WWE, as he wrestled for various Independent promotions like International World Class Championship Wrestling, Regional Championship Wrestling and even a one time appearance in WCW as he has also sporadically returned for appearances in WWE. He currently teaches wrestling classes at the New Jersey based Independent Wrestling Federation and also used to be a Physical Education teacher in a New Jersey school. Santana is still wrestling at least a dozen matches per year at the age of 63, as he's a real inspiration for hispanic wrestlers and also became the first one to participate in the Rumble in 1988 and pave the way for more to come.

30 Nikolai Volkoff (then)

via wwe.com

Nikolai Volkoff was one of the first and best foreign heels in the WWE, as he started his amazing heel work in the 70s when he often went for Bruno Sammartino's WWE Championship various times but failed to win it. He took a hiatus from WWE after that, returning again in 1984 to create a tag team with the Iron Sheikh as both these foreign heels got a lot of heat for their work. Volkoff went onto win the WWE Tag Team Championships from the US Express in the first ever WrestleMania, as he would be a strong team with Sheik and then create the "Bolsheviks" with another Russian in Boris Zhukov. It was during this time that he participated in the inaugural Royal Rumble match, as he'd be in the match for about 11 minutes before being eliminated by Jim Duggan. Volkoff became a face after the Bolsheviks disbanded, and slowly was phased out of the WWE by the mid 90s.

29 Nikolai Volkoff (now)

via wikiwand.com

After his last run with the WWE ended, Volkoff entered into semi-retirement as he would appear in some Independent events to work sporadically. Volkoff would also sporadically return to the WWE, with his most recent one being in 2014 where he sang the Soviet Union national anthem with Rusev and Lana in a Raw Fallout video. He wrestled his last match over a year ago, as he now works in the Baltimore County Police Athletic League kids program and previously worked as a code enforcement officer in Baltimore County. Volkoff is now living a peaceful life, as he appears in wrestling events on a sporadic basis and has had the honor of competing in the first ever Royal Rumble match etched into his accolades as well.

28 Jim Brunzell (then)

via wwe.com

The tag team partner of Blair in Jim Brunzell didn't really have that much of a successful wrestling career, but will be remembered for competing in the 1st ever Royal Rumble match . Brunzell was also a part of the "Killer Bees" with Blair, as they would be quite the successful team in the WWE, competing against the best even though they ended up losing. Brunzell came into the match at no #7 and had a much better outing than Blair, as he ended up surviving for 12 minutes and even eliminated one man in the meantime. He was eliminated by the great Nikolai Volkoff, as he had an impressive outing for a tag team guy and he kept being in the WWE for a few years more as a singles wrestler.

27 Jim Brunzell (now)

via youtube.com

Brunzell would leave the WWE in 1993, as he went onto wrestle for the Independent Circuit this time around and wrestled for various promotions, mainly in the Chicago area for a couple of years before bowing out from wrestling. He wrestled his final match in 1999, and went onto working on a more management role as he now works in sales after retiring. He is also involved in his local church and does charity for children with diabetes. Brunzell was also named in the list of wrestlers who sued WWE for incurring brain damages, as he might be a forgotten figure in the wrestling world but his name will be in the history books for competing in the first ever Rumble.

26 Jim Neidhart (then)

via WWE.com

Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart was probably as good as Bret or Owen Hart in the ring but never managed to get the singles success they did in the WWE, as he was known for being part of the Hart Foundation and doing much of their dirty-work. One of the toughest men in the business, Neidhart went onto compete in the 1988 Royal Rumble match where he came on at No #4 and managed to survive for an amazing 19 minutes in the match, dominating the fray with Bret Hart before he was eliminated by Hillbilly Jim. Neidhart would continue to be a part of the Hart Foundation, and after returning for his second stint in the WWE he teamed up with Owen Hart and was part of a Hart Foundation reunion before he followed Bret to WCW after the Montreal Screwjob incident.

25 Jim Neidhart (now)

via dailywrestlingnews.com

Neidhart followed Bret to WCW where he got a big money deal and was paired up with the British Bulldog, but they weren't utilized properly and failed to do anything substantial in the company, forcing Neidhart to leave soon and go to the Independent circuit. He continued wrestling all over the world before making sporadic appearances for WWE as well as making a one-time only appearance for TNA. But things got bad for him recently, as he was arrested in 2010 for possessing and smuggling illegal drugs and was sentenced to a prison term in 2012. He has since recovered from that nightmare and continues to wrestle in the Indy circuit, as well as pursuing a career in "mico-asset clases" and real estate as his daughter Natalya is now a renowned WWE Superstar and Neidhart if not anything has the accolade of competing in the inaugural Royal Rumble match under his belt.

24 One Man Gang (then)

via wrestlingprospectus.com

One Man Gang was one of the most dominating big men in the WWE when he debuted in 1987, as his push was extended to the inaugural Royal Rumble match where he cleaned house of a lot of people after arriving at No #19. He might have only been in the match for 6 minutes, but he made an amazing 6 eliminations in it as he eliminated a lot of top stars in the fray and even went to the very last, before he was eliminated by eventual winner Jim Duggan. He'd be repackaged as Akeem soon after, creating a team with The Big Bossman called "The Twin Towers" as they dominated over many and even feuded with the Mega Powers back in the days. But after the Twin Towers disbanded, Akeem lost his place in the pecking order and left the company.

23 One Man Gang (now)

via YouTube.com

One Man Gang had a two short terms with WCW after leaving the WWE, as he had one in 1991 and another in 1995 with the latter proving more successful, where he came back to win the United States Championship. After losing his belt and leaving WCW, Gang went back to wrestling in the Independent scene as he even appeared in ECW's 1998 "November to Remember" event, as well as returning to WWE for their "Gimmick Battle Royal" at Wrestlemania X-Seven. He wrestled a few more matches in the next decade or so, before he worked as a prison guard for Louisiana State Penitentiary until a back problem forced him to quit the job. He was part of the class-action lawsuit lodged against the WWE for incurring brain injuries, as One Man Gang might not have many fond memories of his WWE days but his demolition of wrestlers in the inaugural Royal Rumble will definitely be memorable.

22 Sam Houston (then)

via ringthedamnbell.wordpress.com

Sam Houston had this cowboy gimmick in the WWE, as he was quite the entertaining wrestler during his time in the company and because of his entertaining skills lasted for a few years in the company. The half-brother of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Houston would compete in the 1st ever Royal Rumble match as well as he entered at no #8 and put up quite the fight in the match as well. He survived in the match for almost 15 minutes and even though he couldn't eliminate anybody, he was pretty impressive. He'd remain in the company as a singles wrestler for a few more years, before going out in 1991.

21 Sam Houston (now)

via youtube.com

Houston would go onto wrestle for WCW after the WWE, as he faced quite a lot of relevant wrestlers in the WCW in his years there, even though he was used mostly as a jobber to the stars. He couldn't really impress in WCW, as he was let go off and would disappear from the wrestling scene afterwards. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for repeated DUI arrests, and in 2009 he resurfaced in wrestling. He also tried to open his own wrestling promotion but failed to kick-start it, as he is still wrestling and trying to make ends meet, as he might be a long-forgotten figure in wrestling, but has his name etched in the history books for competing in the first ever Rumble match.

20 Boris Zhukov (then)

via wwe.com

One of the Anti-American heels of the 1980s, Boris Zhukov played his gimmick really well in spite of himself being an American as he formed a team with Nikolai Volkoff in the WWE called as the "Bolsheviks". He was mostly used as a jobber in his singles career, even though he'd later on feud with Volkoff when he was turned into a face. Zhukov was also a part of the first ever Rumble match, appearing at no #10 but was eliminate 2 minutes after entering the match, as he had quite the forgettable appearance in the Rumble. He was often ridiculed by Vince McMahon and the other commentators for his big head, as he was released in 1991.

19 Boris Zhukov (now)

via midatlanticwrestling.net

After leaving the WWE, Zhukov went under the radar in wrestling as he wrestled for some really low-key wrestling promotions and retired from wrestling in 2001. He resurfaced in wrestling again 6 years later, as he wrestled a few events after that where he played his heel role superbly and now helps some of his friends organize small-time wrestling shows. Zhukov was also named as part of the class-action lawsuit against the WWE for incurring brain damages, as he has a right to be angry at them after their misbehavior towards him back in the day and even though he won't be recognized by the WWE anymore, he does have the distinction of competing in the 1st ever Royal Rumble match.

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17 "Dangerous" Danny Davis (then)

via Bookprowrestlers.com

Danny Davis was actually a referee for the WWE before becoming the "Dangerous" Danny Davis character, as he went onto be the first recognized "crooked" official in the company which made for his heel "Dangerous" character who accompanied the Hart Foundation to the ring. Davis slowly transitioned into a wrestler, but mostly played out a more non-wrestling role in his feuds. He was actually a participant for the first ever Royal Rumble, as he used his conniving manners to survive for 17 minutes in the match before he was finally eliminated and even though he couldn't eliminate anybody, he was in it for a long time. His gimmick would soon wear out though, forcing him to transition back into an official.

16 "Dangerous" Danny Davis (now)

via youtube.com

Davis went back into becoming a match official after his "Dangerous" gimmick wore off, as he became a "probationary" referee and his crooked nature was dropped completely. He'd continue his officiating duties in the WWE till 1995, after which he was released and somewhat faded out from wrestling. Davis spoke to WWE.com in an interview in 2010, where he spoke on how he works as a truck driver who hauls supplies around the New England area. He still wrestles sometimes and appears in conventions and autograph signings, as his last TV appearance in WWE was in a backstage segment at Wrestlemania XXX with other WWE legends. Davis is recognized as one of the pioneer "crooked men" in wrestling, as his legacy will only be enhanced by the fact that he was also a participant in the first ever Royal Rumble.

15 Ron Bass (then)

via wrestlingmedia.org

"The Outlaw" Ron Bass was another out-spoken Southern character in the WWE in the 80s, as he came to the WWE after having much success in his time at the NWA and was a prominent mid-carder for the WWE. He was involved in feuds with the best of the talent in the WWE at the time, as he also got to the final of the 1988 King of the Ring, but was paid by Ted DiBiase to fake an injury. He competed in the first ever Royal Rumble match, as he entered at #14 and actually managed to eliminate two men in Sam Houston and Junkyard Dog as he gave quite the impressive performance in his 10 minute stint. Bass would wrestle for the company for about a year more before leaving.

14 Ron Bass (now)

via youtube.com

Bass went onto wrestle in the Independent circuit for some years before retiring from wrestling in 1991 because of persisting injuries, as he turned to his home in Tampa, Florida and earned his bachelor's degree in the Arkansas State University. He worked as a salesman in Florida's construction market and also became successful Amway salesman in the Tampa area. In 2005, he made an appearance at WrestleReunion and teamed up with Larry Zbyszko to defeat Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham. He was also a part of the class-action lawsuit lodged against the WWE earlier this year for incurring brain damages, as Bass had quite the unlucky ending to his career, and even though he didn't have many achievements in the WWE, competing in the first ever Royal Rumble match definitely adds as an accolade.

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12 Dino Bravo

via wwe.com

Dino Bravo is another forgotten superstar from the 80s, as he debuted in the WWE as mainly as a tag team specialist as he won the WWE Tag Team Championship soon after arriving. He'd then team with the likes of Haku and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine as he was a great heel during the time who loved to show off his impressive figure. Bravo went onto compete in the 1st ever Royal Rumble with the dominating One Man Gang on his side, as he went onto be eliminated by Gang after they dominated the Rumble as Bravo had an impressive Rumble outing, even though he came up short. He'd continue to wrestle for WWE for a few more years, before he left in 1992.

After leaving WWE, Bravo went onto help train wrestlers in Montreal as he went back to his home town and was living a peaceful life. That is before he was shockingly murdered, as Bravo was found dead in his apartment with 17 bullets in his body with 7 to the head and 10 to the torso. Bravo was allegedly into illegal cigarette smuggling and had crossed the local mafia in the area which caused his demise. This extremely talented wrestler made some wrong decisions in his life, which led to his disturbing murder but he will always be remembered for playing a key role in the first ever Rumble match and making it a resounding success.

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9 Don Muraco (then)

via WWE.com

Don Muraco was one of the more under-appreciated wrestlers of the 80s, as he had much qualities in him but wasn't utilized to his full potential as he went onto become Intercontinental Champion soon after debuting in the WWE. He'd then be managed by Mr. Fuji, who helped him win the inaugural King of the Ring tournament after which he became a fan favorite with "The Rock" gimmick. In this gimmick, he'd also appear in the first ever Royal Rumble match as he came in at no #11 and eliminated three crucial superstars in Bret Hart, Harley Race and Ron Bass as he made quite the impact with his performance. But he would leave the company after a few more feuds in late 1988, looking for opportunities elsewhere.

8 Don Muraco (now)

via Spokeo.com

Muraco went on to wrestle for various wrestling promotions after leaving the WWE, before he officially retired from his in-ring career in 1995. He returned to his home in Hawaii and co-founded the Hawai'i Championship Wrestling with local TV producer Linda Bade, as he was there until it folded up in 2008 in the role of a commissioner. Muraco kept on working after that as a longshoreman until his age got the better of him, as he now lives a peaceful retired life as he has the achievement of competing in the first ever Rumble match and being one of the dominating stars in it as he helped it become the big thing it is right now.

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2 Bret Hart (then)

via maxim.com

Bret "The Hitman" Hart has always termed himself to be "The Best There Is, The Best There Was, And The Best There Ever Will Be" and you can't really argue with him after knowing his achievements in the industry. He debuted as part of the Hart Foundation and it was during his time at the stable when he was the no #1 entrant to the Royal Rumble Match in 1988, as he survived 25 minutes in the match which was a record at the time. Hart would go onto do greater things like becoming the face of the company in the early/mid 90s, before he left the WWE for the infamous Montreal Screwjob which left a deep hatred in him towards the WWE and Vince McMahon.

1 Bret Hart (now)

via cagesideseats.com

Hart went onto join WCW after leaving WWE and was among the top stars for the promotion there as well, joining the nWo and winning various titles before his in-ring career was ruined by a botch by Bill Goldberg and he had to retire from wrestling because of the injury. Hart returned to WWE in 2010 when he came back to make things right with Shawn Michaels and got into a feud with Vince McMahon. He also had a US title run in between and was the Raw General Manager in the year as well, as he made various sporadic appearances for the WWE ever since then, with the most recent one coming in WWE Payback earlier this year when he was in the corner of Natalya. Hart might be a bitter critic of the product now and mostly appears in fan conventions and events, but he was an amazing athlete in his days as his amazing work in the inaugural Royal Rumble paved the way for many others to replicate his brilliant work in the future.

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The 20 Wrestlers Who Competed In The First Royal Rumble: Where Are They Now?