22nd Jan2020

Opinionated: Which is the Best Royal Rumble Ever?

by Chris Cummings


As we fast approach the WWE annual event known as Royal Rumble, it’s a good time to look back on all the previous shows. I’ve been doing just that. I’ve seen each event countless times, but I always enjoy going back in time to re-watch Royal Rumble shows, good or bad, from the past. Beginning in 1988, it was Pat Patterson who came up with the concept of the Royal Rumble match, and it’s been a hugely popular match and Pay-per View ever since. Fans love the idea of not knowing who is coming out next in the big thirty-man (and now thirty-woman) match. Surprises often occur, returns happen and the good guys and bad guys of the company all hit the ring for a big brawl to determine who will go to WrestleMania to face the Champ. The stipulation of winning a shot at the World Title wasn’t a thing to begin with, but it’s become the selling point of Royal Rumble now.

Having sat down and refreshed my memories with thirty-one events, I’ve come up with a list of what I feel are the FIVE best Royal Rumble shows in WWE history.

Now, Royal Rumble is sold on the big battle royale that most of the time main event’s the show, but there are often other good reasons to get excited for the shows. Be it a World Title match, a cool tag encounter or some nice grudge matches. So, here goes… which five Rumble’s are the best?


An easy choice, right? This was the year that I began watching pro-wrestling and haven’t stopped. This event features an “okay” undercard featuring a few tag matches and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s only championship victory over The Mountie, winning the Intercontinental Title. The Rumble match itself though is an absolute classic and a perfect example of how good the Royal Rumble match can be. Hell, even the announcing is great, with Bobby Heenan shouting his throat raw with his heel commentary. Brilliant. The match see’s “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair fighting for an hour to claim the victory and become the WWF Champion in the process. This was one of only two Rumble’s to date that saw the winner pick up a Championship with their victory. The match also features a wide array of absolutely legendary talent. “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, Ted DiBiase and The Berserker. Classic.


The Attitude Era was coming to a close and The Ruthless Aggression Era was looming on the horizon, but 2001 was a bloody great time to be a fan, with a fantastic roster, improved in-ring work from the previous years, and mega-stars from the top of the card to the bottom. This event is a blast and features an undercard of high-quality too. Jericho against Benoit for the I-C title is a classic ladder match, The Dudley Boys and Edge & Christian have a nice tag scrap and Kurt Angle and Triple H have a delightful bout for the WWF Championship. The Rumble is a ton of fun too, featuring an army of great superstars who were mostly all very over with the fans back then. From Kane (who went on to make history with the amount of eliminations he managed here), The Undertaker, The Rock, The Hardy Boyz, Big Show and eventual winner “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It’s a hugely enjoyable match that capped off one of my favourite WWF shows of this era. Great stuff.


Let’s shoot back a year and look at a show that is utterly fantastic with an undercard that features a great Tables match between The Hardys and The Dudleys and a blistering street-fight between Cactus Jack and WWF Champion Triple H. The Rumble itself is great fun too, with guys like Too Cool and Rikishi (who were mighty over here), Edge & Christian, Chris Jericho, Chyna, Kane, Big Show and the guy who would go on to win the damn thing, The Rock. The Rumble isn’t as great as the year that followed, but it’s still excellent and really highlights just how over the roster was back here. Guys who were opening house shows on the low part of the card still had a gimmick, a storyline and a feud going on. Just a different time, and it’s nice to go back and see this kind of booking.


This show was the first time we saw the women’s Royal Rumble added to the event, and I thought they did a great job at showing the woman of the past, present and future here. The undercard had a solid handicap match between AJ Styles and the team of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. An enjoyable two-out-of-three-falls match for the SmackDown Tag Titles between The Uso’s and Gable & Roode and some other matches that aren’t spectacular. The Rumble’s are really good though. The Men’s Rumble features a who’s-who of 2018 talent, from Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, The New Day, Seth Rollins, John Cena, Randy Orton, Adam Cole, The Miz and Roman Reigns to the eventual winner, Shinsuke Nakamura. Great winner, but a real shame how the booking of Nakamura went following this event. The Women’s Rumble featured current talent like Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Kairi Sane, Natalya, Nia Jax and Bayley, as well as talent of the past such as Lita, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Beth Phoenix and The Bella’s. Asuka would go on to win the match, and we’d also see the debut of Ronda Rousey who came out at the end of the show to stare down Charlotte, Alexa Bliss and Asuka, before pointing at the WrestleMania sign a few times. Top notch pay-per-view though, overall.


This is a Rumble that simply doesn’t get spoken about by WWE because of who would eventually win the Rumble match and the tragic nature in which his name is now associated with WWE. The undercard saw a terrific World Title Last Man Standing Match between Shawn Michaels and Triple H and a way-too-short but very good match between Eddie Guerrero and his nephew Chavo. The Rumble was a great one, though. One that sadly is buried in time. The match featured names like Randy Orton, Booker T, Kane, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Rob Van Dam and Goldberg, and saw Chris Benoit, who was the first man to enter the match, pick up the victory and go on to WrestleMania XX to fight for the World Title. The terrible occurrences of the last hours of Benoit’s life have been much-publicised, but he was an incredible wrestler, and seeing him fight his way to victory for over an hour was brilliant. It’s a show well worth going back to watch, that’s for sure.

So there you have it. I love so many Rumble events, but these are my personal picks for five of the best. I’d recommend 1997, 2002 and 2016 too, all of which stood out to me as very enjoyable events with strong Rumble matches at their hearts. Anyway, what is YOUR favourite Royal Rumble? Let us know in the comments below!

 Thanks for reading, and enjoy Royal Rumble 2020 when it airs on January 26th!


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