I’ll admit it, I didn’t do my wrestling fandom justice last night. Instead of watching WWE Monday Night Raw, I finished watching the british airing of Series 3 of Sherlock. If you’ve seen the first two series of the BBC instant classic, then you are going to love Series 3. It begins airing on PBS on Sunday at 10:00 PM, after Downton Abbey, so be sure to check that out. Also, catch up on Netflix between now and then (only six episodes). However, that’s not why we’re here today. We’re here to take a look back at the final set of Royal Rumble matches. The Royal Rumble, which is the greatest pro-wrestling event of the year, is coming up on January 26th. Over the upcoming weeks, leading to the 27th Annual Royal Rumble, I’ll take a look at some of the top moments, years, wrestlers, interesting statistics and we’ll have a contest for this year’s event (details on that in the coming weeks). Today, we take a look at Royal Rumbles 19-26.
The 2006 Royal Rumble was the first Rumble match since the passing of Eddie Guerrero. It also, for some strange reason had a Roman Gladiator theme to it, with Roman guards opening the gates for each competitor entering the match. Rey Mysterio made it his mission to win the 2006 competition in memory of his friend, Guerrero. Mysterio entered the Rumble at #2, with Triple H as the #1 entrant. Mysterio lasted 62:12, finally eliminating Randy Orton in the end, and setting a new record for lasting longest in a Royal Rumble match (1:02.12). Mysterio went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 22 in a triple threat match with Kurt Angle and Randy Orton.
The 2007 Royal Rumble might be one of the most forgettable events. Not because the Royal Rumble wasn’t awesome, there weren’t many storylines running through the match to bring this specific match to mind. The Undertaker won the match as the #30 entrant. While #30 usually makes you the odds-on favorite, The Undertaker was the first superstar to ever win from that position. The match came down to The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, which would be the nice start to a feud that would close out Michaels, and in many aspects, the Undertaker’s.
The 2008 Royal Rumble had a lot going for it. First, it was set in Madison Square Garden, a building with a rich professional wrestling history with the WWWF/WWF/WWE. The New York City crowd was hot that night, leading a lot of great chants that night. Second, special corespondent for the Pay-Per-View was Mike Adamle. Yes, Mike Adamle from American Gladiators. The WWE was trying him out as a commentator, which he would join shortly thereafter. He introduced the Jeff Hardy/Randy Orton match, notably calling Hardy “Jeff Harvey,” not knowing any differently. Michael Buffer was the special ring announcer for the Rumble match, introducing Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker as the #1 and #2 entrants. The two special guest entrants to the Rumble this year were Jimmy Snuka and Roddy Piper. John Cena won the Rumble as a surprise entrant as well, as he was not yet to return from an injury. He also became the second consecutive wrestler to win from the #30 position.
Randy Orton entered the 2009 Royal Rumble as the #8 entrant, and lasted 48:27 to win the Rumble match. This was during the prime of the “Legacy” storyline, where Randy Orton was mentor to other second/third generation superstars Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, Jr. The final four came down to Triple H, Orton, Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, Jr. HHH eliminated the latter two, but Orton got the best of “The Game” to win the annual event. The most memorable moment from this event is Santino Marella, WWE’s goofball, breaking The Warlord’s record for shortest time in the Rumble, lasting just one second.
In the 2010 Royal Rumble, we saw a page from what happened in the 2008 Rumble match, as Edge returned after a six month injury hiatus to win the competition. He entered at #29 and only had to last 7:29 before eliminating John Cena to win the match. This match was also part of the height of CM Punk’s “Straight Edge Society” storyline, as he entered the match third, and continued to eliminate people one by one after trying to recruit them to his straight edge ways. This match also saw Beth Phoenix, just the second woman to ever compete in the Rumble, eliminating The Great Khali.
The 2011 Royal Rumble was the first time, since the 1986 Rumble match that it did not have 30 participants. Being billed as the Biggest Royal Rumble in History, the match featured 40 entrants. The first half of the match was highlighted by the Nexus/Corre feud, where the very hot Nexus group, led by CM Punk ran roughshod through the competition. That was all broken up when John Cena came in, and he and Hornswoggle started to eliminate the competition one by one. The match was won by Mexican aristocrat Alberto Del Rio entering at #38. His win was almost spoiled by Santino Marella who, re-entered the ring after rolling under the bottom rope earlier in the match. Santino, king of Royal Rumble moments…
Sheamus entered the 2012 Royal Rumble at #22 to win this year’s competition. This year’s Rumble tried to be a little too clever in the comedy department, with a cobra vs. Mr. Socko faceoff between Santino and Mick Foley, every commentator as an entrant in the Rumble, as well as bringing in Del Rio’s ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez as an entrant. Sheamus went on to the Wrestlemania to defeat Daniel Bryan in the opening match of the night, in less that 10 seconds.
In one of the few years that the Royal Rumble match wasn’t the main event, the annual competition played second fiddle to the CM Punk/Rock match, which ended the reign of Punk as the longest WWE Champion in the modern era. In the Rumble match itself, Chris Jericho made his near-annual return to the WWE as entrant #2 lasting over 47 minutes in the match. This Rumble was graced by surprise entrant “The Godfather” who spent five seconds in the ring, then walked to the back with his escorts after being eliminated. John Cena won his second Royal Rumble match after eliminating #30 entrant Ryback. Cena fought the Rock at Wrestlemania to win the WWE Championship
Well, there you have it. We have made it through the first 26 Royal Rumble matches, leading up to the 27th Royal Rumble on January 26th. Next week, I’ll be back with statistics, facts and figures of the Royal Rumble. For your viewing pleasure, check out WWE’s video of Top 10 Royal Rumble Fails.