To begin the story of the Royal Rumble, we need really to go back to late 1987 and the continuing rise of the Vince McMahon empire at the expense of anyone who got in his way. Standing between Vince and further success was Jim Crockett and the NWA. Starrcade had been their biggest show and not just in arenas but on closed circuit too. The 1987 event was due to be their biggest ever with the show being held in Chicago and a main event between Harley Race and Ric Flair for the NWA Heavyweight Title with over 200 cable companies agreeing to put the show on PPV. However, Vince wasn’t going to let them have a big PPV success and announced that on Thanksgiving he would be holding the first ever .Survivor Series. No titles on the line just a series of tag team elimination matches featuring his biggest stars. However, Vince really played dirty telling cable companies that if they wanted to screen the Survivor Series and future WWF PPV events they must not carry Starrcade. Just 5 companies stayed with the NWA product and another nail was put in their coffin with McMahon definitely holding the hammer with that horrible grin on his face.
With cash flow problems aplenty and Dusty Rhodes as booker, Crockett was in deep trouble. Rhodes came up with the idea of the Bunkhouse Stampede which had two dozen wrestlers in a ring in a Battle Royal format dressed in stetsons and spurs. Eight successful events were held and it was decided to hold a PPV in January with the 8 winners meeting in a cage match.
However, Crockett made the mistake of moving the card to Long Island which definitely wasn’t NWA territory. Again McMahon played dirty and decided that the Royal Rumble would be held the same night on the USA network completely free. 8m households tuned in, a record for the USA Network and again Crockett saw his product suffer enormously. Jim Cornette said: .We wanted to be there like we wanted to have our mothers hooked up to a machine. The crowd was dead, they hated everything because they’d never seen it.
That first event wasn’t just special for the company as it was the beginning of another crown jewel for Vince McMahon but it was also held in Canada on January 24th, 1988 at the Copps Coliseum at Hamilton, Ontario. You can tell it was the 1980s as the card included a match for the Women’s tag titles in the days when the company actually had 4 women who could put on a decent wrestling match. It was a best of three falls match that saw the team of The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) defeat The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin and Leilani Kai) to win the titles. Ricky Steamboat beat Rick Rude by DQ and in another best of three falls match, The Islanders beat The Young Stallions. So onto the Rumble and the winner was someone still wrestling in WWE today, yes it was Hacksaw Jim Duggan who was the winner with One Man Gang being the final man eliminated. There were only 20 competitors and the whole Rumble took just 33 minutes. Other entrants included The Hart Foundation, Hillbilly Jim, Harley Race, Tito Santana and The Ultimate Warrior. So where was Hogan I hear you ask? Well he was there and signed the contract for the Wrestlemania III match against Andre the Giant.
1989 saw the Rumble held in Houston and on PPV. Jim Duggan tagged with the Hart Foundation to beat Dino Bravo and the Fabulous Rougeaus, Rockin. Robin beat Judy Martin to retain the women’s title, Haku beat Harley Race in 9 minutes and The Ultimate Warrior beat Rick Rude in a posedown. This time around the Rumble lasted just over the hour mark but again it had a surprise winner who didn’t really get the kind of push winners of the Rumble get nowadays. The late Big John Studd was the winner with the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase (who fiddled it so he was the 30th man in) the last to be eliminated. Hogan took part this time around and was the 18th man in. He lasted 11 minutes before being eliminated by Akeem and the Big Boss Man. Just about all the big guns were on show but despite the presence of Savage, Warrior, Andre and Mr Perfect (who survived for just short of 28 minutes), it was Studd who won the Rumble, he came in 27th and had to wrestle just 11 minutes for the victory. First two in? None other than Ax and Smash from Demolition but the biggest nightmare was for The Warlord who lasted just three seconds before being eliminated by Hogan
Onto the 90s now and things were back to normal as it was Hogan winning for the first time. Other matches on the card included Duggan continuing his unbeaten record at the Rumble with a DQ win over The Big Boss Man, The Bushwackers beating the Fabulous Rougeaus, Brutus Beefcake having a double DQ with The Genius and Ronnie Garvin beating Greg Valentine in an .I Quit. match. Onto the Rumble itself and Hogan’s win with Mr Perfect (who’d earlier interfered in the Beefcake v Genius match) being the last man eliminated After being the last man in last year, Dibiase was number one this time but lasted just short of 45 minutes before being eliminated by The Ultimate Warrior. Hogan came in 25th and only competed for 12 minutes but that did give him the chance to be in the ring with The Ultimate Warrior. Who lasted just 12 seconds before being eliminated by The Ultimate Warrior? None other than Shawn Michaels.
To 1991 and Miami and another Hogan win! The card saw The Rockers beat The Orient Express, The Big Boss Man defeat The Barbarian, The Mountie beat Koko B Ware, Dibiase and Virgil defeat Dusty and Dustin Rhodes but finally Virgil turned on his master setting up their Wrestlemania VII match and for the first time ever the WWF Title was defended on the show. Nightmare time again though as cashing in on the problems with Iraq, Sgt Slaughter took the title from The Ulitmate Warrior after interference by Randy Savage. The Rumble saw further continuation of the Hogan v Earthquake feud with the pair being the final two left before Hogan became the first man to win the Rumble two years in a row. The Undertaker made his debut in the Rumble lasting 14 minutes before being eliminated by the Legion of Doom. Two veterans had really long stays this year with Greg Valentine lasting 44 minutes but it was Rick Martel who broke the record lasting 52 minutes before being eliminated by the British Bulldog. Hogan came in 24th and this year had to wrestle a massive 19 minutes.
Now onto Albany and perhaps the most famous Royal Rumble of all. In 1992 the winner of the Rumble would also become the WWF Champion after it had been declared vacant after the problems being Hogan and The Undertaker at Tuesday in Texas. The undercard saw all the other major WWF titles being defended for the first time. The New Foundation (Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart) beat The Orient Express, Roddy Piper beat The Mountie to win the IC Title (little did we guess he’d have to wait 14 years to win his second title in the company) The Natural Disasters beat The Legion of Doom by count out but Hawk and Animal kept their belts and The Beverly Brothers beat The Bushwackers. Now how the hell did they get nearly 15 minutes which was longer than the IC and Tag titles matches put together! Onto the Rumble and the best commentary Bobby Heenan ever gave as he nearly died of a heart attack when Flair came in third and had to wrestle for just less than an hour to win the title after Hogan was eliminated by Sid Justice and then grabbed Sid’s arm getting him eliminated and handing the belt to Flair. Logic would have created a situation where Hogan (who was in the ring for just 11 minutes) and Flair would meet for the belt at Wrestlemania VIII but Hulk was about to leave the company so met Sid instead. The Dibiase push was definitely over, again he was one of the first two men in the ring but only lasted a minute being eliminated by the British Bulldog.
1993 saw the event held in Sacramento and for the first time ever, the winner of the Rumble was guaranteed a title shot at Wrestlemania. The undercard saw The Steiners beat The Beverley Brothers, Shawn Michaels beat Marty Jannetty to retain his IC Title, Bam Bam Bigelow beat The Big Boss Man and Bret Hart successfully defended his WWF Title beating Razor Ramon in 17 minutes. Another ‘highlight’. saw Bobby Heenan introduce us to .The Narcissist. yes Lex Luger was finally in the WWF. So onto the Rumble and that chance to get a title shot at Wrestlemania IX. Ric Flair did even worse in the draw this time coming in first and surviving just 18 minutes before being eliminated by Mr Perfect who’d defeat Flair on Raw to force the former champ out of the WWF. Who was second in? Well it was Bob Backlund who was the 28th man out lasting a record 61 minutes. That’s slightly longer than the third man in, Papa Shango who was there for just 28 seconds before Flair eliminated him. Not the quickest exit though, that was Terry Taylor who was eliminated by The Million Dollar Man in just 24 seconds. The moment we’d love to forget? The Undertaker found himself eliminated by the Giant Gonzalez who wasn’t even entered for the Rumble. So who got the title shot? It was the late Yokozuna who guaranteed himself a match against Bret Hart finally eliminating Randy Savage who bizarrely tried to pin Yokozuna!
Providence staged the Rumble in 1994 and if The Undertaker thought the previous year had been a nightmare, worse was to come as he lost a WWF Title match fought under casket match rules and then, like you do, ascended to heaven. Other matches on the undercard saw Tatanka beat Bam Bam Bigelow, The Quebecers successfully defended their tag titles against the team of Bret and Owen Hart (the rows between them were far more important than the title belts) and Razor Ramon beat IRS to successfully defend the IC Title. The 1994 Rumble was one of the most controversial as Bret Hart and Lex Luger were joint winners as both men’s feet touched the floor at the same time thus giving both of them title shots at Wrestlemania X. The Rumble lasted just 55 minutes as this time there were only 90 seconds between entrants. Just like they did with Demolition a few years back, Scott Steiner found himself in the ring with his brother Rick but nothing of note really happened. Star of the evening was Diesel who eliminated six wrestlers, Bam Bam Bigelow lasted half an hour and there were appearances by the Great Kabuki and Genichiro Tenryu while Jeff Jarrett lasted just over a minute!
Tampa hosted the Rumble in 1995 and it was even shorter this year, just 39 minutes with a new wrestler coming in every minute. After his disastrous Rumble in 1994, Jeff Jarrett won the IC title beating Razor Ramon, The Undertaker beat IRS as the saga of the urn continued, Bob Holly had his one night of glory in the company as he tagged with The 1-2-3 Kid to win the vacant tag titles against Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka and Diesel retained his WWF Title drawing against Bret Hart in a match ruined by interference by Owen Hart, Bob Backlund, Shawn Michaels and Jeff Jarrett. So onto the Rumble and a victory for Shawn Michaels eliminating the British Bulldog who’d been convinced he’d got rid of the Heartbreak Kid. Amazingly both men were the first two in the ring and Michaels was the first man to come in at Number one and win the Rumble. Not a classic year for Rumble entrants, just look at this lot: Eli Blu, Duke Droese, Timothy Well, Doink the Clown, Kwang, The Mantaur, The Bushwackers and Mo (who lasted just 9 seconds). No wonder it only lasted 39 minutes.
Onto 1996, Fresno and a record-equaling Rumble as Shawn Michaels became only the second man to win the Rumble two years in a row and thank heavens it was back to its usual time-span. In a ‘Free For All’ before the main card, there was embarrassment for a future winner as Hunter Hearst Helmsley lost a Free for All match against Duke Droese meaning the Dumpster would enter the Rumble at Number 30 and Helmsley at Number 1. The card itself began with Ahmed Johnson beating Jeff Jarrett by DQ (yep the guitar was responsible), The Smoking. Gunns beat The Bodydonnas to retain the tag title, Goldust beat Razor Ramon to win the IC Title in a match that saw Terri Runnels make her debut as the cigar smoking Marlena and The Undertaker beat Bret Hart by DQ due to interference by Diesel but that meant Hart kept the WWF Title. It wasn’t Diesel’s night as he was also the last man eliminated in the Rumble as Michaels won again, this time in 58 minutes. Big push of the night was for Vader who despite being eliminated by Michaels came back in the ring to throw Michaels, Bob Holly and Hunter Hearst Helmsley over the top rope (none of which counted for a change) before being ordered by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon to get out and stay out. Helmsley lasted 48 minutes, Jerry Lawler 36 minutes and the huge Squat team (better known as the Headhunters) lasted less than two minutes between them.
1997 saw the Rumble come to San Antonio Texas and another night of glory for Shawn Michaels who pinned Sid to regain his WWF Title. Also on the card, Hunter Hearst Helmsley beat Goldust to retain the IC Title, Ahmed Johnson beat Farooq by DQ, Vader beat The Undertaker who by now must have been sick of this PPV and Héctor Garza, Perro Aguayo and El Canek defeated Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal and Fuerza As for the Rumble itself, we’d entered the Stone Cold era as Austin won his first Royal Rumble with Bret Hart as the last man eliminated. Austin came in 4th and wrestled for 45 minutes but should he have done that? The Hitman had earlier eliminated Austin but the referees didn’t see this so Austin just got back in the ring to the disgust of Bret. Little did he know 1997 just wasn’t going to be his year! The fake Razor Ramon lasted just 17 seconds while Jerry Lawler nearly broke the record for shortest time in the Rumble lasting 4 seconds before being thrown out by Bret Hart. The AAA connection continued with the legendary Mil Mascaras competing alongside Pierroth, Cybernetico and Latin Lover. A certain Rocky Maivia competed and lasted 13 minutes before being eliminated by Mankind.
Another year and another history equaling Royal Rumble as in 1998, Steve Austin joined Michaels and Hogan as wrestlers who won the Rumble two years in a row. The rest of the card saw Vader beat The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust, Max Mini, Mosaic and Nova defeated Battalion, El Torito and Tarantula, The Rock beat Ken Shamrock by DQ to retain his IC title and in another unsatisfactory finish, the Legion of Doom beat The New Age Outlaws by DQ but didn’t get the belt. Shawn Michaels nearly had another hugely successful Royal Rumble as he beat the luckless Undertaker in a casket match to retain his WWF Title. However the back injury Michaels sustained in the match were to mean this would be his last Rumble for a while. He herniated two discs and crushed one thanks to that casket. Meanwhile, The Undertaker had the casket set on fire by Kane, that guy just hates January. So onto the Rumble and a win for Austin in 55 minutes (back to a wrestler every 90 seconds), coming in at 24 and wrestling for a quarter of an hour. This was a weird Rumble if your name was Mick Foley. He was first in as Cactus Jack lasting 9 minutes before being eliminated by Chainsaw Charlie (aka Terry Funk) but then Mankind came in at Number 16 lasting just a couple of minutes before being thrown over the top ropes by The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust. That wasn’t the last of Foley though as lo and behold, Dude Love came in at Number 28, only to be eliminated after 7 minutes by Farooq. Quickest exit was Tom Brandi in 12 seconds, 8-Ball, D-Lo Brown and Blackjack Bradshaw both lasted over half an hour
Could Austin make it three in a row in 1999? No way, this was the year that Mr McMahon himself was the winner (well he does own the company). Elsewhere on the card, The Big Boss Man beat Road Dogg, Ken Shamrock beat Billy Gunn to retain the IC Title, X-Pac beat Gangrel to keep his European title, Sable beat Luna Vachon in a strap match to retain her women’s title (not a great night for challengers eh) and The Rock beat Mankind in a savage I Quit match to win the WWF Title (oops I spoke too soon)). So just how did Vince win the Royal Rumble? Easy, you get your Corporation to attack Austin and then spend ages hiding under the ring. McMahon and Austin were the last two left but Vince got the win after interference by The Rock. Just like the Michaels and Bulldog Rumble, Vince and Austin were first in and last out. Quickest exits were by Gillberg in 7 seconds, Golga (Earthquake) in 15 seconds and Gangrel in 26 seconds. Chyna became the first woman to compete in the Rumble but was eliminated in 35 seconds by Austin. Vince didn’t get his title chance at Wrestlemania, losing the right to fight for the title at the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. Austin eliminated seven people in the Rumble.
So we enter the 21st century and not just the first Royal Rumble to be held at Madison Square Garden but one that Channel 4 would never forget. The Rock won the Royal Rumble for the first time and elsewhere on the card, Tazz ended the unbeaten run of Kurt Angle in just three minutes, so why is Tazz now a crap commentator and Angle one of the best wrestlers in the world? The Hardy Boyz beat The Dudley Boyz in a great Tables match, Mae Young won the Miss Rumble 2000 swimsuit contest and gave Channel 4 bosses their first unwanted call at that time of the night, Chris Jericho beat Chyna and Hardcore Holly to become undisputed IC Champ (Chyna co-held the title beforehand), The New Age Outlaws beat The Acolytes to retain the tag titles and Triple H beat Cactus Jack in a streetfight that probably ended Channel 4.s relationship with the WWF forever. The Rumble itself proved to be a controversial one with The Rock winning after eliminating The Big Show but it was later proved that Big Show’s feet hit the floor first, come on they’re big enough to spot that in the first place aren’t they? Again it was 90 seconds between entrants so the Rumble only lasted 51 minutes. The Mean Street Posse and Kai En Tai continually entered the ring despite not being entered. The Rock came in 24th only wrestling for 14 minutes. Quick exits were Farooq in 18 seconds and Steve Blackman in 44 seconds, Chyna was in there again but only lasted 37 seconds this time. Bradshaw only lasted 25 seconds, no future for him in the company then!
New Orleans was the venue for 2001 and history was made as Stone Cold Steve Austin became the first man to win the Royal Rumble three times. The tag team titles changed hands as The Dudleys beat Edge and Christian and Chris Jericho beat Chris Benoit in a ladder match to win the IC Title. Ivory beat Chyna (another one fed up with the Rumble PPV) in just three minutes with Chyna collapsing after a back handspring elbow and being stretchered out the ring. He lost in three minutes the year before but 2001 proved to be a much better year for Kurt Angle as he beat Triple H to retain his WWF Title. What about the man who beat him in 2000? Well, Tazz was in the Royal Rumble and lasted ten seconds before being eliminated by Kane! Austin won that Rumble which lasted 61 minutes and earned himself another Wrestlemania title shot. He worked really hard to win this Rumble, well he was in the ring for 9 minutes! Surprise entrants were Haku who was actually WCW Hardcore champ at the time and Drew Carey who eliminated himself! Farooq had another nightmare Rumble lasting just 58 seconds, you can imagine a cosy chat between him, Chyna and The Undertaker reminiscing about their great Royal Rumbles. Other quick exits were by The Godfather in 14 seconds and of course that great effort by Tazz (I love him really). Jeff Hardy was eliminated by his brother Matt, Kane lasted 53 minutes, eliminating a record 11 wrestlers and The Rock 38 minutes but this was Austin’s night, well 9 minutes anyway.
Atlanta staged the 2002 Royal Rumble and it was the first win for Triple H. I take back what I’ve said about Tazz, he had a great 2002 as tagging with Spike Dudley he beat the Dudley Boyz to retain the tag titles. William Regal beat Edge to win the IC Title, Trish beat Jazz to retain her women’s title and Chris Jericho beat The Rock to retain the Undisputed Title. Ric Flair was back for his first Rumble since 1992 and beat Vince McMahon in a street fight that lasted longer than the IC, Women’s and tag title matches. Triple H secured his Wrestlemania title shot in a Rumble that lasted over an hour. He entered at 22 and wrestled for 23 minutes with Kurt Angle last eliminated. The Undertaker disposed of 7 wrestlers but it was still another nightmare for him as he was eliminated by Maven after just seven minutes. Other quick exits were by Farooq in 36 minutes (just don’t enter it mate). Albert in 48 seconds, Booker T in 33 seconds and The Hurricane in 39 seconds. Mr Perfect competed in a Rumble for the first time in 9 years and survived 15 minutes and was the 28th wrestler eliminated.
To Boston for the 2003 Royal Rumble and a triumphant night for Brock Lesnar. He had to win an elimination match against The Big Show to even get in the Rumble but then his first victory seemed almost inevitable as Rumble’s have tended to become since the .winner gets a Wrestlemania title shot. rule came in. Not such a good year for William Regal this time as with Lance Storm he lost the Raw tag titles to the Dudley Boyz. Torrie defeated Dawn Marie, and in the two main title matches, Scott Steiner beat Triple H by DQ in a lousy match which saw Triple H keep his World Heavyweight Title and in a classic, Kurt Angle beat Chris Benoit to retain the WWE Title. Onto Lennar’s victory in the Rumble and two records. At 29 he was the latest entry to win the Rumble and at 8 minutes and 59 seconds spent the least time in the ring. A nightmare nearly turned into glory as The Undertaker was the last man eliminated. In fact the last two men in were the last two survivors with Undi lasting just six minutes before seeing his long-awaited win denied him. Shawn Michaels made his return and again drew the number one spot but lasted just two minutes before being eliminated by Chris Jericho who went on to last 38 minutes. RVD lasted 32 minutes but not lasting quite so long were Tommy Dreamer (48 seconds) and Goldust (47 seconds).
Philadelphia staged the 2004 Rumble and it was the start of a great year for Chris Benoit as he finally won a big one, taking the Royal Rumble, not that the company want to remember the fact these days. Elsewhere on the card, Ric Flair and Batista beat the Dudleys to retain their Raw Tag titles, a match that lasted just 4 minutes. That’s longer than the cruiserweight title match as Mysterio beat Noble in three minutes while Eddie beat Chavo. Some may hate the Rumble PPV but Hardcore Holly must love it, he got a crack at the WWE Title but thankfully lost to Brock Lesnar in six minutes. The World Heavyweight title match was much better but a dodgy finish as Triple H kept his belt in a double count out in a Last Man Standing match against Shawn Michaels.
So how did Benoit win that Rumble? Well he had to do it the hard way, equaling the record of Shawn Michaels as the only man to draw Number one and win the Rumble surviving 61 minutes, an all-time record and all on his Rumble debut. Just as at Madison Square Garden, The Big Show was the last man eliminated Goldberg made his debut, he came in last but was eliminated after two minutes by Kurt Angle. Randy Orton was drawn at 2 and lasted 33 minutes before being eliminated by Mick Foley. Quick exits were made by Bradshaw in 38 seconds (and look what he did later in the year), The Hurricane in 19 seconds and WWE wasted Shelton Benjamin again giving him just 37 seconds.
It was back to Fresno in 2005 and again a first-time winner with Batista victorious in the Royal Rumble, though it’ll be most remembered for what happened to the guy who won the Rumble back in 1999. On the undercard, Edge beat Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker beat Heidenreich in a casket match, JBL beat The Big Show and Kurt Angle in a triple threat match to retain his WWE Title after pinning Angle and Triple H beat Randy Orton to retain the World Heavyweight Title.
So onto the Batista victory that would destroy Evolution forever. Just 51 minutes this year and John Cena was the last man eliminated though both would go on to win titles at Wrestlemania 21. Slightly controversial though as both wrestlers went over the top rope which wasn’t the scheduled finish. Out comes Vince who promptly injures himself and while lying on the floor restarts the match and Batista got the win. McMahon tore his quadracep muscles putting him out of action for a fair while. Batista came in at 28 and wrestled for just under 11 minutes, Chris Benoit came in at 2 and lasted 47 minutes, Rey Mysterio lasted 38 minutes (but even he couldn’t have dreamed what would happen a year later) and both Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero survived 28 minutes. Quick exits were made by Simon Dean in 20 seconds and Kurt Angle by Michaels in 37 seconds setting up that classic Wrestlemania 21 match In 2006, Miami and a sentimental win for Rey Mysterio as the Eddie tributes carried on and on. Elsewhere on the card, Gregory Helms defected from Raw to win the cruiserweight title in a 6-way match that lasted a marathon 7 minutes! Mickie James beat Ashley in a match that lasted 4 seconds longer than that cruiserweight title match, The Boogeyman beat JBL in 114 seconds (long enough for Boogeyman to use all the holds he knows), John Cena beat Edge to regain his WWE Title and Kurt Angle beat Mark Henry to retain his World Heavyweight Title in just 9 minutes with The Undertaker appearing at the end to challenge Angle for the belt.
Rey Mysterio won the Rumble which lasted 62 minutes, coming in at Number 2 and beating Beloit’s record for the longest time survived in the Rumble. Triple H was drawn at Number one and was 28th eliminated after 1 hour. Last man eliminated was Randy Orton who drew Number 30. Quick Exits were by Simon Dean in 45 seconds, Jonathan Coachman in 30 seconds while both Sylvan and Booker T lasted just 18 seconds! Carlito and Benoit both made it past the half hour mark.
The 2007 Royal Rumble was held at the AT&T Centre in San Antonio There’s barely anything that The Undertaker hasn’t achieved in WWE but until 2007 he’d never won the Royal Rumble. His victory gave a double edge to WrestleMania 23 as it meant it wouldn’t just be his unbeaten streak on the line but there’d be a world title at stake too. It wasn’t too hard a match for Undi though, he was the last man in and 13 minutes later he was the winner with Shawn Michaels the last eliminated. It was the first time the number 30 entrant won the Rumble.
Ric Flair again drew the number one slot but no sixty minute heroics this time around lasting just over five minutes before being the first wrestler eliminated courtesy of Edge. It was the Canadian who lasted longest in the match coming in at number five and being the 28th man eliminated lasting just over 44 minutes before Shawn Michaels put him over the top rope. CM Punk and Shawn Michaels both lasted 27 minutes Briefest stays were by The Miz who lasted just seven seconds and The Sandman who survived for just six seconds longer. It took a record eight men to get Viscera over the top rope. Kane made a record 11th appearance in the Rumble lasting 13 minutes. The Great Khali came in at number 28, wrestled for just less than four minutes and eliminated seven wrestlers.
No titles changed hands on the show with Batista defeating Mr. Kennedy to keep his World Heavyweight title and John Cena beat Umaga in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WWE title while Bobby Lashley beat Test by count out to retain the ECW title. Second longest match on the card (outside of the Rumble) was the tag team opener as The Hardys beat MNM.
The Rumble returned to Madison Square Garden in 2008 but thankfully with no sign of Mae Young getting anything out though she probably would have if asked.
Rumble matches can be a bit predictable especially since the WrestleMania title shot was introduced. This Rumble though surprised everyone with the supposedly injured John Cena coming in at number 30 and winning the match just eight minutes later with Triple H the last eliminated. We all thought that meant Cena would get the title shot at WrestleMania 24 but instead he cashed in his title shot and beat Orton for the title at ‘No Way Out.’
John Cena won the Rumble to secure a title shot at WrestleMania 24. Well that’s what we thought but he cashed in his title shot and beat Orton for the belt at ‘No Way Out’.
Again no titles changed hands on the card as Randy Orton beat Jeff Hardy to keep his WWE title while Edge beat Rey Mysterio to retain his World Heavyweight title. Ric Flair kept his career alive with a win over MVP and JBL got a DQ win over Chris Jericho.
After his success the previous year entering at number 30 The Undertaker drew the number one spot swiftly followed by Shawn Michaels at number two. Undi lasted 32 minutes this time around before becoming the 11th wrestler eliminated with Michaels doing the job. Seconds later though HBK was out of the match after being thrown over the top rope by Mr. Kennedy.
Batista lasted longest in the match surviving 37 minutes, John Morrison was in for 29 minutes and although he spent most of his time under the ring Hornswoggle technically survived for 27 minutes with Umaga lasting just a minute less.
Briefest stays were by Shelton Benjamin who found himself eliminated by Shawn Michaels for the third year in a row, Finlay managed to get himself disqualified after 15 seconds for entering the match before he was due to and attacking Big Daddy V with his shillelagh. Santino Marella lasted just 25 seconds before being eliminated by The Undertaker, Jamie Noble was in the match for only 28 seconds, Roddy Piper was in for a minute before Kane threw him over the top rope and The Great Khali lasted just 69 seconds.
And so to 2009 with the Rumble being held at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. After two years in which the number 30 entrant had won the Rumble match and wrestled just over 20 minutes between them, 2009 saw a return to a much longer stay being required to earn a title shot. Randy Orton came in at number eight just ahead of Triple H and they were the last two remaining with Orton getting the win after 48 minutes in the ring. Triple H lasted longest, just five seconds short of the 50 minute mark and Rey Mysterio, who was first in, lasted just over 49 minutes. Ted DiBiase lasted 45 minutes and Cody Rhodes just over a half hour as Legacy did their best to help Orton win the match but both were eliminated by Triple H. Chris Jericho, Mike Knox and The Undertaker both lasted over 30 minutes and after his DQ last year Finlay survived one second short of the half hour mark.
Shortest stays were by Santino Marella who lasted just a second before being eliminated by Kane who also got rid of The Brian Kendrick 15 seconds after he got in the ring and Dolph Ziggler who lasted just 21 seconds.
Rob Van Dam made a surprise entry lasting 13 minutes before being eliminated by Chris Jericho Two titles changed hands on the undercard with Edge taking the WWE title from Jeff Hardy thanks to interference by Matt Hardy who laid out his brother with a chair shot. Melina beat Beth Phoenix to win the Women’s title. John Cena kept his World Heavyweight title with a win over JBL with most of the interest, ok all of the interest, being on the relationship between the challenger and his reluctant employee Shawn Michaels. Jack Swagger beat Matt Hardy to retain his ECW title.
So to 2010 and a Rumble that could well be dominated by DX. Triple H wants that main event spot at WrestleMania and Shawn Michaels sees it as his way of getting a return match with The Undertaker. Throw in the possible return of Edge and of course John Cena and this could be a far less predictable Rumble than is often the case.