The Royal Rumble is a professional wrestling pay-per-view event, produced every January by professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The event was created in 1988 with the inaugural event held on January 24, 1988 at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. The event however was not a pay-per-view but was originally shown as a television special on USA Network. The following year's event was the first Royal Rumble pay-per-view event. The first Royal Rumble match was won by Jim Duggan. The event's main feature is a Battle Royal-type match, entitled the Royal Rumble. The pay-per-view is a part of WWE's "Big Four", along with WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series. The Royal Rumble has been classified as being one of WWE's most popular pay-per-view events.
The match is based on the traditional battle royal match, in which 30 participants, aim at eliminating their competitors by tossing them over the top rope, with both feet touching the floor. The winner of the event is the last participant remaining after all others have been eliminated. The inaugural match in 1988 featured 20 entrants. At the 2011 Royal Rumble, for the first time 40 entrants were scheduled to compete; the most in the history of the event.
The Royal Rumble differs from a battle royal as the contestants do not enter the ring at the same time but instead are assigned entry numbers, usually via lottery, although they can win guaranteed, desirable spots via a number of other means, the most common being winning a match. This usually takes place before the Rumble begins. The match begins with the two participants who have drawn entry numbers one and two, with the remaining competitors entering the ring at regular timed intervals, either ninety seconds or two minutes, according to their entry number. These peculiarities are credited to Pat Patterson.
The match has no stipulations or rules other than that elimination must occur by a participant being placed over the top rope and both feet touching the floor. If they have any other part of the body touching they are out as well. A wrestler who exits the ring without going over the top rope is not eliminated from the contest. For example, during the 1999 Rumble match, both Vince McMahon and Steve Austin left the ring, only to return later in the match. Elimination is also valid if brought about by an external force (such as a non-participant or a previously eliminated participant). For instance, in 2006, Shawn Michaels was eliminated from the match by Shane McMahon, who was never admitted in the match and simply was interfering to eliminate Michaels. It also happened in the 1998 match match when Triple H and Chyna worked together to eliminate Owen Hart. In the 1994 match, the last two participants Bret Hart and Lex Luger were declared co-winners when it was decided that both of their feet touched the floor at exactly the same time. A similar situation occurred in the 2005 match, however the match was restarted after Batista and John Cena eliminated each other at the same time. Batista eliminated Cena afterwards to win the match. Though various referees are charged with observing the match, some eliminations have remained unnoticed with the eliminated participant sneaking back into the ring to continue. For example, Stone Cold Steve Austin was eliminated this way during the 1997 event but re-entered and eventually won the match.
The reward for the 1992 Royal Rumble was the WWF Championship. The tradition of granting a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania started in 1993. Despite being introduced in late 2002, it was not until 2004 that a winner had the option to choose a match for the World Heavyweight Championship instead of the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. With the revival of the ECW World Championship in mid-2006, the title became a third option for the winner to choose since the 2007 event. From 2001 to 2007, the Royal Rumble match winner had gone on to win a World Championship title at WrestleMania. After winning the 2008 match, John Cena became the first winner to use his championship opportunity at an event (No Way Out 2008) other than WrestleMania. He also became the first man since 2000 to win the Royal Rumble match but fail to win the title in his championship opportunity as a result.
The Rumble winner may also put his championship opportunity on the line in a match, if he chooses. This was first done in 1999, when Stone Cold Steve Austin offered to forfeit his title opportunity to the Big Boss Man, who won third place in the Rumble (Austin was actually the runner-up in that rumble, but the winner - Vince McMahon himself - had voluntarily given up his title opportunity) if Vince McMahon could beat him in a cage match at St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House, which Austin would go on to win. The second time that this happened was in 2006, when Randy Orton goaded Rey Mysterio into putting his main event spot at WrestleMania 22 on the line at No Way Out, which Orton would go on to win. Mysterio was eventually reinserted into the main event at WrestleMania and went on to win the World Championship match.
The Royal Rumble is a pay-per-view consisting of the Royal Rumble match, championship matches, and various other matches. The first Royal Rumble took place on January 24, 1988 and was broadcast live on the USA Network. The following year, the event was rebranded as a pay-per-view. It is part of WWE's "classic four" pay-per-views, along with WrestleMania, Survivor Series, and SummerSlam. The 2008 Royal Rumble was the first WWE pay-per-view to be available in high-definition.
The first Rumble match featured only twenty men, It lasted approximately thirty-three minutes of the two-hour broadcast. The modern Rumble matches are much longer, with the longest match, at the Royal Rumble 2011, lasting over one hour and nine minutes of an approximately three-hour pay-per-view(with 40 entrants).
With the brand extension introduced in mid-2002, the 30 entrants from 2003 to 2006 consisted of 15 wrestlers from both the Raw and SmackDown brands. At first, the winner of the match received a shot at their brand's champion. Starting in 2004, the Rumble winner had the option of challenging any brand's champion. For instance, Chris Benoit switched brands in 2004 and won the World Heavyweight Championship. From 2007 to 2010, participants from the ECW brand competed along with the Raw and SmackDown brands, while the ECW World Championship became available for the winner to challenge for regardless of their designated brand. During ECW's participation, the entries for each brand were not evenly divided.
Royal Rumble match
The first Royal Rumble took place on January 24, 1988 in Hamilton, Ontario. Jim Duggan won, and the first pay-per-view Rumble occurred a year later. Pat Patterson has been credited with "inventing" the match.
The Royal Rumble is comprised of 30 men; beginning with two men in the ring, and at regular timed intervals (usually, but not always, every 90 seconds), one of the remaining 28 wrestlers enters the ring. Participants must eliminate all other opponents and the winner of the event is the last wrestler remaining after all others have been eliminated. Referees are situated at each side of the ring to validate eliminations.
A wrestler is eliminated when leaving the ring over the top rope, and then having both feet touch the floor (although this latter specification was not specified until the 1995 Royal Rumble, where the "both feet" stipulation played a crucial role in the final moments of the match). Going out between the second and third rope or under the bottom rope is not a valid elimination. A referee must witness an elimination in order for it to be valid (in 2000, X-Pac was eliminated by The Rock but since it was not seen by any of the referees, X-Pac re-entered the ring and continued the match until he was officially eliminated by The Big Show).
An elimination can also occur when a wrestler is thrown off the top rope by a non-competing opponent, or by one who had already been eliminated, or when the participant deliberately jumps over the top rope, outside the ring. In other words, if a wrestler goes over the top rope, regardless how it happened, that wrestler is out. Other wrestlers can be de facto eliminated due to interference preventing the wrestler from entering the ring (examples being Spike Dudley in 2004 and Scotty 2 Hotty in 2005).
Rewards for winning
Since the 1993 event, the winner has officially been given the chance to challenge the WWE Champion at WrestleMania. The stipulation stemmed from 1992, when the Royal Rumble decided who would win the then-vacant WWF Championship (Ric Flair won the match).
With the introduction of the brand extension and separate brand championships in 2002, the possibility of a World Heavyweight Championship shot instead of the WWE Championship was added to the reward in 2003's match. Due to the revival of the ECW World Championship as a brand championship in mid-2006, the 2007 event added this championship to the winning stipulation.
This championship match is often the last event on the WrestleMania card according to principles in the WWE that states that "the Royal Rumble winner gets a first-class ticket to WrestleMania", which means that the Royal Rumble winner gets to be in the 'first class' top spot in the main event at WrestleMania. In some cases, this can be part of a stipulation for a match between the Rumble and WrestleMania, where the winner may lose his WrestleMania spot by losing another match.
In the 2016 Rumble, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was defended, when then-champion Roman Reigns, as the #1 entrant, put his title on the line against 29 other competitors. Triple H won the match and thus the championship after entering the match at the coveted #30 spot. It was Triple H's second Rumble victory of his career.
With the brand extension introduced in mid-2002, the 30 entrants from 2003 to 2006 consisted of 15 wrestlers from the RAW brand and 15 from the SmackDown! brand. This makes it therefore, one of the few pay-per-view events (and certain combined non-televised shows held around WrestleMania time) with inter-brand competition on a regular basis. The official declaration for the first post-brand extension event in 2003, was that the Rumble winner faced their brand's champion at WrestleMania, but starting in 2004, due to a supposed "loophole" in the Rumble's stipulations, the Rumble winner has the option of challenging either brand's champion (Chris Benoit switched brands in 2004 and won the World Heavyweight Championship, which was the basis for a storyline the following year when Batista won the Rumble, but ultimately remained on RAW).
The 2007 Royal Rumble marked the first year participants from the 2006-established ECW brand competed along with the RAW and SmackDown! brands. Unlike previous years where each brand got an even split of wrestlers, the 2007 Rumble featured 13 wrestlers from RAW, 10 from SmackDown! and 7 from ECW. The winner of the Royal Rumble now also has the option to challenge for the ECW World Championship.
Royal Rumble dates and venues
Royal Rumble Winners
Royal Rumble to WrestleMania Story
1 Immediately after Yokozuna's match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX, Hulk Hogan defeated Yokozuna, marking the second shortest WWF/E Championship reign in history.
2 The match was originally Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXXI but Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract while the match was still in progress and it turned into a Triple Threat Match.
Records, statistics and trivia
- Steve Austin has won the most Royal Rumble matches, with three victories (the 1997, 1998 and 2001 Rumbles).
- Rey Mysterio has spent the longest time in a Royal Rumble when in 2006 he lasted a time of 1:02:12. Conversely, Santino Marella has spent the shortest time in a Royal Rumble when in 2009 he lasted a time of 1.7 seconds, after being eliminated by Kane.
- The longest Royal Rumble match was held in 2011 with a time of 1:10:10, the longest with 30 entrants was the 2002 Royal Rumble at 1:09:22. The shortest Royal Rumble match was held in 1988 with a time of 33:00. It should be noted that that match only had 20 entrants. The shortest Royal Rumble with 30 entrants was the 1995 Royal Rumble at 38:39, where entrants entered at 60 second intervals.
- Kane currently has the most consecutive appearances in the Rumble with 17 appearances from 1999 to 2016.
- In 1998, Mick Foley made the most appearances in a single Rumble, when he entered as Cactus Jack, Mankind and Dude Love.
- Kane has the record for the most overall eliminations with 44. Kane passed Shawn Michaels for most eliminations in the 2016 Royal Rumble.
- Brock Lesnar has the record for the most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble, eliminating 13 superstars in the 2020 event. Roman Reigns had previously held the record, eliminating 12 superstars in the 2014 event.
- Viscera holds the record for most opponents necessary to eliminate him, with eight other wrestlers directly involved with lifting him over the top rope in the 2007 Royal Rumble. He also holds the record for second most as Mabel, who was eliminated by seven wrestlers in the 1994 Royal Rumble. Earthquake (1990), Rikishi (2000), and Muhammad Hassan (2005) share the third most, each having been eliminated by six men.
- 48% of all Royal Rumble Winners went on to win a World title at WrestleMania.
- Seven wrestlers have won two Royal Rumble matches. They are Hulk Hogan (1990 & 1991), Shawn Michaels (1995 & 1996), Steve Austin (1997 & 1998), Triple H (2002 & 2016), Batista (2005 & 2014), John Cena (2008 & 2013) and Randy Orton (2009 & 2017)
- Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit have both won the Royal Rumble at #1, and Rey Mysterio and Vince McMahon have won it at #2, the two entry numbers theoretically least likely to allow someone to win the Rumble (since the Rumble does not begin until the first two slots are in the ring, both #1 and #2 start the match at the same time).
- Kane holds the quickest elimination of another competitor at 1.7 seconds, eliminating Santino Marella.
- Despite #30 being the best possible number to draw before the 2011 Royal Rumble, only The Undertaker (2007), John Cena (2008) and Triple H (2016) have won the Rumble from that entry number.
- The #27 slot has given more wins than any other slot, with Big John Studd, Yokozuna, Bret Hart and Steve Austin each winning a Rumble from that entry number.
- Rey Mysterio is not only the shortest winner of the Royal Rumble, but he is also the only masked wrestler to win.
- Chyna, Kharma, Beth Phoenix and Nia Jax are the only women who have ever participated in the Men's Royal Rumble and all have managed to successfully eliminate at least one superstar in the matches they competed in.
- The only competiters to win the Royal Rumble on their debut Rumbles are Jim Duggan, Big John Studd, Ric Flair, Yokozuna, Lex Luger, Vince McMahon, Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, Alberto Del Rio, Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka.
- John Cena spent the shortest time in a Rumble to win in 2008; entering at #30, he spent 8 minutes and 27 seconds in the match.
- The record for most consecutive eliminations is seven, set by Diesel (1994), Rikishi (2000) and The Great Khali (2007).
- Shawn Michaels currently has the longest combined time in the Royal Rumble match with a total time of 2:49:03, close runners up include Chris Benoit with 2:37:19, Steve Austin with 2:34:12, and Triple H with 2:32:25.
- Every winner of the Royal Rumble has won at least one title in the company except for Jim Duggan.
- Every winner of the Royal Rumble except for three (Jim Duggan, Lex Luger and Big John Studd) has won at least one World title in WWE.
- The record for the most consecutive wins of an entry number is the #30 slot in 2007 (The Undertaker) and 2008 (John Cena).
- Alberto Del Rio is the quickest newcomer to become the Royal Rumble winner after debuting at 163 days.
- Yoshi Tatsu was the last ECW entrant in the Royal Rumble match.
- No ECW superstar has won the Royal Rumble match.
- Hornswoggle is the smallest wrestler to compete in the Royal Rumble match at 4 ft 4 in tall.
- Yokozuna is the heaviest superstar to win the Royal Rumble, at over 500 pounds and The Great Khali being the tallest, at 7 ft 3 in tall.
Video box set
WWE released a complete DVD box set of every Royal Rumble event in its entirety (in similar fashion to the WrestleMania Anthology released in 2005). Note that the 1988-1999 events had never been released on DVD in North America (All except the 1999 event were released as Tagged Classics in UK). Royal Rumble: The Complete Anthology was released on March 13, 2007.
Royal Rumble Banners
Video & DVD Gallery
Event Cap Gallery
- Royal Rumble Official Website
- Official Twitter
- WWE.com: Royal Rumble match description
- Royal Rumble on WWE Network
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