There have been many memorable moments since the Royal Rumble made its debut back in 1988. As we await the 2015 edition to unfold in Philadelphia, PA this Sunday, it seemed like a great opportunity to go back and re-live some of the great moments in Royal Rumble history.
Flair made is WWE debut in 1991 after parting ways with WCW. His legendary status was further validated as he entered the 1992 Royal Rumble as the third entrant and went on to win the whole thing. The WWE Championship was up for grabs in this particular and Flair won his first WWE Title after surviving late onslaughts by the likes of Psycho Sid and Hulk Hogan to emerge victorious in the Rumble.
2. Shawn Michaels Goes the Distance (1995)
Michaels was the dreaded first entrant in the 1995 Royal Rumble and wound up battling the event’s second participant, The Brittish Bulldog for the duration of the match. Michaels and Bulldog were the last men standing and it appeared that Davey Boy Smith had eliminated Michaels, however, only one of the Heartbreak Kid’s feet touched the floor. Michaels re-entered the ring and sent the Brittish Bulldog over the top rope to win the 1995 Royal Rumble.
3. Two Winners? (1994)
Controversy arose as two of the company’s top babyfaces: Lex Luger and Bret Hart, sailed over the top rope and onto the floor to end the 1994 Rumble. After several minutes of deliberating, it was decided that it was a tie and BOTH men were declared winners. This led to each wrestler getting a shot at the WWE Title at Wrestlemania X with Hart eventually emerging as champion.
4. Hogan and Warrior Squre Off (1990)
Before these two had their unforgettable WWE Title match at Wrestlemania VI, the company wanted to tease the reaction of the fans to see how they would react to the top good guys in the WWF if they were to face off. The result was a huge hit as Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior found themselves toe-to-toe during the 1990 Royal Rumble. The crowd went absolutely insane as they squared off momentarily which led to their eventual clash at Wrestlemania that year.
5. Vince McMahon Wins! (1999)
Vince McMahon had been feuding with the company’s top star, Stone Cold Steve Austin, for the better part of a year when their paths once again crossed at the ’99 Royal Rumble. McMahon wound up eliminating Austin after the Rock interfered to shock the sold-out crowd in Anaheim. This would prove to only be the beginning of the always-entertaining Austin/McMahon feud.
6. A Street Fight in New York City (2000)
WWE Champion HHH and Cactus Jack absolutely bludgeoned each other in a street fight at the 2000 edition of the Rumble. Thumb tacks, barbed wire and chairs were only a few of the weapons used in this epic battle that saw HHH retain his championship following a pedigree on thousands of thumbtacks that produced an almost unheard of “OHHHH!” from the fans at Madison Square Garden.
7. Hacksaw Wins First Ever Rumble (1988)
There is always something to be said about the guy who did it first, and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan emerged victorious at the inaugural Royal Rumble event in 1988. The success of Wrestlemania and The Survivor Series gave way to the Royal Rumble concept which became a staple of the WWE for the next 27 years.
8. HBK Wins 2nd Championship (1997)
In front of his hometown crowd of San Antonio, TX, Shawn Michaels defeated Psycho Sid to win his second WWE Title as over 60,000 fans in the Alamo dome came unglued. The win cemented Michaels as the top face in the company although he would have to forfeit the title soon after due to injury.
9. “I Quit” (1999)
It was a match so brutal that Mick Foley’s own family were hysterically crying in the audience as they watched the Rock pummel the fan-favorite Mankind all over the Anaheim Pond. Vicious chair shots and death-defying falls highlighted the confrontation which ended with a taped recording of Mankind’s voice shouting “I quit!” even though, of course, he never did.
10. Big Daddy Cool is Back! (2011)
Although Kevin Nash’s “Diesel” character had not been seen on WWE television since 1996, his shocking return at the 2011 Royal Rumble produced a giant pop from the crowd. Diesel went on to wreak some havoc before being eliminated but his comeback showed just how powerful nostalgia can be in the mind of wrestling fans.