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The 15 Best WWE Royal Rumble Matches

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Hey everyone! It's The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm.

The Royal Rumble is just around the corner and it has always been a favorite of mine. I always look forward to the Royal Rumble event, because it really is the kick-off for the Road to Wrestlemania. The first-ever Royal Rumble took place in 1988. In 1993, the winners of the annual battle royal would be granted the main event spot at Wrestlemania for the World Championship which added more stakes to the match and set the tone for Wrestlemania.

The match is normally a 30 man battle-royal, although the original match had 20 participants, and in 2011 they had 40 men in the rumble due to an overly stacked roster. The Rumble usually features returns or surprise appearances and sometimes even wrestlers from other promotions. In 2018, they introduced a second battle royal for the women at the height of the women's revolution. There have been 34 Royal Rumbles in total and they are all fun to watch. However, I narrowed it down to my favorite 15 Royal Rumble matches. Let me know if you agree.

Be sure to share this article and debate with your friends. Also, be sure to let me know how you feel about this list on Instagram or Twitter.

15. Royal Rumble 1990

Final Four - Hercules, Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, & Hulk Hogan

Winner - Hulk Hogan

This was the third Royal Rumble match and it was stacked with top stars from the 80s to kick off a new decade. This match featured the WWE Champion Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Ravishing Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Andre the Giant, Jimmy Snuka, Dusty Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, Jake Roberts, and even the Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior. There were even some young stars that would define the 90s, like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.

Many feuds that progressed throughout this match, such as Dibiase/Roberts and Savage/Rhodes. Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude looked tremendous in this match, making it to the final three with Hulk Hogan. The most memorable moment in the match was when time stood still as the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan had a brief staredown in the middle of the ring. It really made fans realize they would be divided if the two were ever to face off as they would in the following Wrestlemania.

14. Royal Rumble 2019

Final Four - Andrade Cien Almas, Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman & Seth Rollins

Winner - Seth Rollins

I went back to watch a lot of Rumble matches when compiling this list. I think a lot of people would have rather put 2018 on this list rather than 2019 because the end half of that Rumble was fun. The past and present stare-down between Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, and Shinsuke against Rey Mysterio, John Cena, and Randy Orton was sweet. Nakamura winning felt fresh and new. However, the whole first half of that rumble was decent at best.

When I went back to watch 2019, the match in its entirety was enjoyable. It kicked off with a surprise appearance from Jeff Jarrett who had a brief encounter with Elias. There were running gags and mini entertaining spots throughout the match. This would be Kurt Angle's final appearance in the Rumble. Instead of a ton of legends appearing, NXT stars like Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, and Pete Dunne made appearances. Nia Jax stealing number 30 from R-Truth and entering the match was an awesome surprise. Nia Jax taking bumps from the men especially in this era was a sight to see. Seth Rollins would have to overcome the nearly unstoppable Strowman to win. It was just a more entertaining Rumble overall.

13. Royal Rumble 1997

Final Four - Undertaker, Fake Diesel, Bret Hart & Steve Austin

Winner - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

This took place during what I consider to be the greatest year in professional wrestling across the board. For the WWE, it was the transition year from the New Generation Era into the Attitude Era. All the superstars that would define the era were in this match. Steve Austin, Rocky Maivia, The Undertaker, Mankind, Farooq, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and of course Fake Diesel who later the year would become Kane. It's a long story for another time.

This would also be the last Royal Rumble for Bret "The Hitman" Hart who took part in five previous Rumbles, including the one he won in 1994 and had been a staple for the New Generation Era. This match was all about Stone Cold which would become a trend for the next few years. Austin would screw Bret Hart out of the victory in the end when he got back into the ring after being eliminated by The Hitman. This Rumble was just easy to watch and the controversial finish is memorable.

12. Royal Rumble 2005

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Final Four - Rey Mysterio, Edge, John Cena & Batista

Winner - Batista

The 2005 Royal Rumble is the one everyone remembers for Vince McMahon making major decisions from the mat because he tore both of his quads sliding into the ring. The match ended with both Batista and John Cena claiming victory of the battle royal as they both went over the top rope at the same time. Instead of having the same outcome as 1994 where Lex Luger and Bret Hart became co-winners, they restarted the match for the final two. Batista would ultimately win the match, but both men would go on to win the championships for their respective brands at Wrestlemania.

The finish of the match really showcased the direction for the future of the company. The match started with Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit who both were champions the year prior. The unforgettable feud between Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels began in this match too. It's also the only Rumble to feature the infamous Muhammed Hassan character.

11. Royal Rumble 2003

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Final Four - Batista, Kane, Undertaker & Brock Lesnar

Winner - Brock Lesnar

The 2003 Royal Rumble was the first Rumble after the brand extension. This meant there would be 15 stars from Raw and 15 stars from Smackdown in this match. It was one of those rare occasions early in the brand extension that both brands would clash. It kicked off with the Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho feud being escalated. Michaels was busted open early. 

Then some of the best wrestlers would come in one after another which reminded me just how stacked the company was at this time. Rey Mysterio, Edge, Christian, Tajiri, RVD, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, John Cena, Batista, Jeff Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, and Booker T to name a few. It would be a battle of three big men in the end with the Brothers of Destruction and young Brock Lesnar. The Next Big Thing would be able to come over the odds at the end.

10. Royal Rumble 2010

Final Four - Shawn Michaels, Batista, John Cena & Edge

Winner - Edge

Shawn Michaels was obsessed with getting a rematch against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26 after he came so close to ending the streak in their all-time classic the year before. That story alone added a ton of drama to this Royal Rumble match.  The match was also stacked with talent and it was difficult to predict who would win this particular match.

However, this match had other fun spots such as CM Punk cutting promos between eliminations until being stopped by Triple H, Beth Phoenix entering the Royal Rumble to eliminate Great Khali, the Miz/MVP drama, and Shawn Michaels eliminating his DX partner showing just how adamant he was to win. The biggest surprise of this match was the return of Edge who had been out for six months with an injury. Shawn Michaels would be eliminated by Batista and would unsuccessfully try to get back into the match. In the end, it was the Rated R Superstar standing tall securing himself a championship match at Wrestlemania. This drama and surprise made this Rumble a great one.

9. Royal Rumble 2007

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WWE

Final Four - Randy Orton, Edge, Shawn Michaels & The Undertaker

Winner - The Undertaker

The 2007 Royal Rumble was action-packed and it flew by watching it back. It was also the first Royal Rumble to feature ECW stars such as Sabu and the Sandman who both had memorable spots. Sabu took a nasty chokeslam through a table. There were also weapons introduced in this match from guys like Tommy Dreamer and Ric Flair. This was also shortly after Rated RKO got together and feuded with DX, so they worked together a ton during this match.

The final four ended up being Rated RKO, Michaels, and Undertaker which was seemingly favorable for Orton and Edge. Undertaker and Michaels would still manage to be the final two in the match. This allowed the two legends who didn't cross paths since Michaels returned to wrestling in 2002 to give us an unforgettable back and forth matchup for the finish. Undertaker was also the first person to win the Royal Rumble from the number 30 spot which was always portrayed as the best number to enter.

8. Royal Rumble 2017

Final Four - Chris Jericho, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns & Randy Orton

Winner - Randy Orton

The 2017 Royal Rumble match had a big match feel as the anticipation was at large with names such as Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and The Undertaker declaring to enter the Royal Rumble. The match was entertaining from start to finish. The pace of this Rumble just flowed well and the spots were fun. The drama of the Wyatt Family played out in this match with Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper still at odds on if they could trust Randy Orton. Business really picked up for the end half when the Brock Lesnar and Goldberg feud was revisited and Goldberg eliminated Lesnar in shocking fashion.

There was a staredown between Undertaker and Goldberg which was something we thought we'd never see. Roman Reigns was a surprise 30th entrant as no one expected him to enter since he had a championship match earlier in the night. Roman would eliminate Undertaker, planting seeds for their feud. In the end, Randy Orton would eliminate Roman Reigns to win, sending the fans home happy because at this point in his career it wouldn't have shocked anyone if Reigns won.

7. Royal Rumble 2018

Final Four - Sasha Banks, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella & Asuka

Winner - Asuka

Women's wrestling in WWE has evolved a ton in the past five years. There was a string of first-time-ever matches for the division during the revolution that it was inevitable that the women would potentially get their own Royal Rumble match. 30 years after the first Royal Rumble event, the women would get their first-ever Royal Rumble match. It was a historic and significant battle royal. To celebrate this amazing moment, many legends who paved the way for today's superstars and lived through the hard times for the division made appearances in this match.

The list of returning names included Trish Stratus, Lita, Kelly Kelly, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Beth Phoenix, and the Bella Twins. The champions Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss watched from ringside. Stephanie McMahon was on commentary. Sasha Banks played the first-ever ironwoman lasting nearly 55 minutes in this match while entering as number one. There were a ton of memorable spots in this match including the Sasha Banks and Trish Stratus moment. Asuka would overcome the short-lived alliance of Sasha and The Bella Twins to be crowned the first-ever women's Royal Rumble winner. Ronda Rousey would debut after this match too. 

6. Royal Rumble 2020

Final Four - Randy Orton, Edge, Roman Reigns & Drew McIntyre

Winner - Drew McIntyre

The Royal Rumble 2020 was the tale of two acts. The first act was about "The Beast" Brock Lesnar. Lesnar decided that he would enter the 2020 Royal Rumble at number one even though he was the current WWE Champion. Heyman and Lesnar believed nobody on either brand deserved the opportunity to face Lesnar and they were going to prove it. Lesnar would eliminate the first 13 participants of the Rumble. Although we saw some fan favorites get eliminated by Lesnar early on, it was all really entertaining.

This meant whoever eliminated Lesnar would be a made man, and that honor went to Drew McIntyre. The second act of the match was everything after Lesnar. This is where we saw the surprising in-ring return of Edge after ten years of retirement due to neck injuries. It was an amazing moment for wrestling and we got to see Edge go toe-to-toe with some wrestlers we thought he'd never get to wrestle. Rated RKO also got to reunite in the match. Once again, the company teased us with the idea that Roman Reigns could win but it was Drew McIntyre's night. A fun watch for sure.

5. Royal Rumble 2008

Final Four - Kane, Batista, Triple H & John Cena

Winner - John Cena

The 2008 Royal Rumble took place in front of a rowdy New York crowd at the unofficial home of the WWE, Madison Square Garden. Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker would start off this match, which was cool because they were the final two the year prior. They both stayed in this match for around 30 minutes. There was a running spot with Hornswoggle entering and hiding under the ring. There were loud pops for "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka who also entered this match to reignite their classic feud in the Garden. Mick Foley was also a surprise entrant in this match.

The biggest moment of this match was John Cena making an early surprise return at number 30. Nobody saw it coming as Cena was supposed to be sidelined until later in the year with a torn pectoral muscle, but miraculously recovered enough to return early. I remember thinking prior to Cena's return that Batista or Triple H could win so it wasn't surprising that they were the final three. Although, I'm not as big of a John Cena fan as others, I can't deny how electric that moment was. This entire Rumble is a blast to watch and the live crowd has a lot to do with it.

4. Royal Rumble 2002

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Final Four - Steve Austin, Mr. Perfect, Kurt Angle & Triple H

Winner - Triple H

The key to a successful Royal Rumble is making fans believe that there are a handful of top talents that could potentially win the match. In 2002, the strong prediction was that the returning Triple H would win the Royal Rumble. Although that was the prediction you would potentially bet on, it wasn't easy to just disregard big names such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Undertaker, Kurt Angle, and Kane as guys who could win the match. This was also one of the first times I recall the WWE hyping up major returns to the company for the Royal Rumble. Mr. Perfect, Goldust, Val Venis, and The Godfather were all set to return in this match.

The Undertaker who was a strong favorite entered the match early and although successfully eliminating a handful of wrestlers, he was shockingly eliminated by a young rookie Maven. This was a memorable spot in this match as the Undertaker continued to beat up Maven to the backstage area. The final four included Mr. Perfect, which was cool because I didn't expect him to be in that spot on his first night back. Triple H would ultimately win by eliminating Kurt Angle but the fans were here for this match.

3. Royal Rumble 2016

Final Four - Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Triple H

Winner - Triple H

There have been men and women who have won the Royal Rumble, but were unsuccessful in winning the championship at Wrestlemania. Therefore, when the championship is actually on the line in the Royal Rumble, it always raises the significance of winning the match. It gives all 30 competitors the opportunity to walk into Wrestlemania as the champion.

In 2016, Vince McMahon declared that Roman Reigns would defend the WWE Championship in the Rumble due to his rivalry with the Authority and his son-in-law Triple H. This was the first time the championship was being defended in the Royal Rumble. Roman Reigns would also have to start from the number one spot. This match was stacked with talent that could have walked out with that championship including Brock Lesnar, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho, and Bray Wyatt.

This was also the match where AJ Styles made his unforgettable debut in the WWE. They teased a feud between Bray Wyatt and Brock Lesnar as the Wyatt Family helped eliminate Lesnar but it led to nothing. They ran an angle where the League of Nations took out Roman, which led you to believe he would return later in the match to win but it would be Triple H making a surprise return at number 30 to steal the victory and the WWE Championship. This match was just filled with drama and memorable moments having you on the edge of your seat.

2. Royal Rumble 2001

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Final Four - Billy Gunn, The Rock, Kane & Steve Austin

Winner - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

The 2001 Royal Rumble was the last one of the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars. Three months into 2001, WCW would go out of business when the WWE would purchase the assets of the company. By Royal Rumble 2002, the company would have gone through an entire Invasion angle and started moving into a new direction slowly ushering in the Ruthless Aggression era. A lot of WWE's popular personalities and characters from 97-01 were featured in this match and they went out with the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin winning his third Royal Rumble. This is a record that he holds alone to this day.

There was even a moment in this match between Austin and The Rock who happened to both babyfaces competing for the top spot that got fans around the world excited. At the time, I wasn't aware it was foreshadowing our Wrestlemania main event. Raven introduced weapons in the match since he was the Hardcore Champion. Comedian and actor Drew Carey would also enter this match as the first celebrity to enter a Royal Rumble match and the Honkey Tonk Man made his first Rumble appearance since 1996. Big Show and Haku made their returns in this match. It's just a fun Royal Rumble to go back and watch with a bunch of top legends of the business and a satisfying ending.

1. Royal Rumble 1992

Final Four - Randy Savage, Sid, Hulk Hogan & Ric Flair

Winner - Ric Flair

WITH A TEAR IN MY EYE... the 1992 Royal Rumble is my favorite Royal Rumble match of all time. It's held in high regard by many because it featured so many top stars for the company at the time and talent who would become top stars in the business later in their career. This also happened in the early years of the Royal Rumble where there was no actual reward for winning the battle royal outside of bragging rights. Therefore when it was announced that the vacated WWE Championship would be on the line for the 1992 Royal Rumble, the stakes got a lot higher and the anticipation for the annual event went up.

Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sid, Roddy Piper, Undertaker, Jake Roberts, and Ted Dibiase were just a few names who were involved in this match that would have been believable winners. However, Ric Flair who was known as NWA/WCW guy for most of his career went the distance coming in at number three and staying in the match for an hour to become the WWE Champion for the first-ever time.

The fact that Bobby "The Brain" Heenan was on commentary not hiding his bias for Ric Flair just added to the match as well. It is also shocking that the company didn't simply go with Hogan winning the championship or the Royal Rumble, which felt customary at this point. This was a star-studded Royal Rumble match. Everything from the larger-than-life talent, the commentary, the drama, and the opportunity to walk out as the WWE Champion made this Royal Rumble perfect.

I hope you all enjoyed this list of the best Royal Rumble matches in my opinion. Tell me if you disagree and let me know what you think over social media. Ya dig? Oooh Yeah!

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