With this year’s Royal Rumble right around the corner, I’ve been thinking of some of my favourite moments from rumble matches of years past.
My first ever WWE (then WWF) PPV experience was all the way back in 2000 and it was indeed the Royal Rumble. Nearly 18 years later, it’s hard to believe I’m still watching – but here we are.
Now I could pick my favourite Rumble match winners, which obviously sets the tone for that year’s Wrestlemania, but it is the moments within the match itself that makes it so entertaining. Between surprise returns and some crazy ways of staying in the ring, this list could quite easily be a top 25 Rumble moments – though sadly, time eludes us.
Before we get into our more condensed list, here is one that almost made it.
The 2001 Royal Rumble may be one of my favourites of all time. The match itself has a bit of everything, but this moment in particular has its comedy value yet remains serious at the same time.
At the time, Mr McMahon was apparently cheating on his wife with Trish Stratus (kayfabe). But during the show, Drew Carey was hitting on Trish which Vince didn’t take to kindly to and so convinced him into the rumble match in order to impress Trish.
What happened next is one of those rumble moments that you just can’t forget, and JR and King sold it perfectly on commentary.
3. Nice knowing you, kid
The 2002 rumble match is remembered mainly for Triple H returning after an eight month absence. The Game – before his injury – was one of the most hated men in WWE at that time, but returned as a hero and briefly had a run as a face for about nine months.
The other moment that most will remember is when the rookie from Tough Enough, Maven, eliminated The Undertaker. The Deadman was on a heel run at the time so the crowd ate it up when Maven eliminated him.
Unfortunately – much like his WWE career – it didn’t end well for Maven, and just a few months later The Undertaker became the WWE Champion.
2. We can see him…
At the end of 2007 John Cena got injured and was due to be out of action for 12 to 14 months. Luckily the surgery he underwent had gone better than expected and the healing time was down to three months.
I’m sure many fans probably knew that Cena was due to return at the rumble, but based on the reaction at Madison Square Garden it seemed like a shock return.
John Cena was also the second man ever to win the rumble from the 30th position.
Now there are so many Rumble moments that are unforgettable Kofi Kingston’s ingenious ways of getting back in the ring, Kane hitting the Honkey Tonk Man with his own guitar to mention a few.
1. We know who he is!
Now with NXT exploding in popularity over the last few years, and WWE finally acknowledging the indy scene, ladies and gents in the wrestling community are getting opportunities in WWE that simply would not have been there 10-15 years ago.
Still, the management at WWE were worried – or so some say – about this next guy debuting. Apparently they were concerned that most WWE fans wouldn’t know who he was.
But like WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble attracts a different kind of crowd.
Based on the reaction I would say we all knew exactly who AJ Styles was.
For me, seeing AJ come to WWE was a sign that things are changing on the main roster. With the likes of Finn Balor and many other Superstars who made names for themselves on the indies over the last 10 years making their way into important roles on the roster, this could quite easily carry the WWE in to the future.