The 2014 WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view is just two weeks away. This year will mark the 27th annual Royal Rumble match, a gimmick match that was created by legendary WWE executive Pat Patterson in the late 1980s.
The Royal Rumble concept was created by WWE in 1988 as a spin-off of the popular Battle Royal matches that virtually every pro wrestling promotion utilized as a way to guarantee a large house.
In 1988, when the first Royal Rumble took place, it was at the time a match featuring 20 WWE Superstars, and was a USA Network television special. The match was so well-received that WWE decided to make it an annual tradition alongside WrestleMania as what would go on to be considered one of the “big four” yearly pay-per-view events.
To this day many people consider the Royal Rumble to be the most entertaining gimmick matches and one of the most highly anticipated WWE pay-per-views of the year. For me personally, the Royal Rumble is as good as it gets in the sports entertainment genre.
The Royal Rumble match concept features two WWE Superstars entering the ring to start the match. From there, an additional WWE Superstar will enter the ring at timed intervals, varying from 60 seconds to two minutes. The match features an elimination process where a Superstar must be thrown over the top rope and onto the floor, where both feet must touch the floor to confirm the elimination. This process continues until there is only one man left standing, and that person is generally rewarded by receiving a WWE Championship title shot at that year’s WrestleMania pay-per-view.
With the 2014 version of the WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view on the horizon, it seems as good a time as any to take a look back at some of the most entertaining and memorable Royal Rumble matches in history. This is not so much a countdown of the best Royal Rumble matches in history, as it is a stroll down memory lane. The Royal Rumble matches that are excluded from this list were not done by design. To explain the process here, this is simply my way of sharing some of the fond memories I have of my own personal favorite WWE event of the year. Here are my memories. I hope you enjoy. This is part one of a multi-part series called “A Look Back At WWE’s ‘Royal Rumble'”
A Look Back At WWE’s “Royal Rumble” (Part One)
1988: As noted in the intro, the WWE Royal Rumble concept was conceived in 1988 by the legendary Pat Patterson. This version of the Rumble was actually presented as a live television special on the USA Network. This match featured 20 participants, as opposed to the usual 30, and as a fan growing up, is one of my fondest memories from my young childhood as a pro wrestling mega-fan.
The winner of the 1988 Royal Rumble was the legendary WWE Hall Of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, who won by last eliminating the One Man Gang.
Click here to watch the complete 1988 WWE Royal Rumble match.
1989: The 1988 version of the WWE Royal Rumble match was such a critical and business success that WWE decided to develop the match-concept into its’ very own pay-per-view. To this day, the Royal Rumble is considered one of the infamous “big four” annual WWE pay-per-view events. The 1989 Royal Rumble was the first offered via pay-per-view, and much like the 1988 installment, is one of the few events from childhood that I remember vividly. This was the first time that the Royal Rumble match featured 30 participants, a number that is generally used to this day.
The winner of the 1989 Royal Rumble was the legendary WWE Hall Of Famer “Big” John Studd, who won by last eliminating “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase.
Click here to watch the complete 1989 WWE Royal Rumble match.
1990: The 1990 version of the WWE Royal Rumble match was the first time that the WWE Champion won the match, as Hulk Hogan, who was the WWE Heavyweight Champion at the time, won by last eliminating Mr. Perfect. For some reason this match doesn’t stand out too well in my memory, although I do specifically remember Hogan winning, as I, much like all young children during the late-1980s and early-1990s, was a total Hulk Hogan mark.
The 1990 Royal Rumble was Hogan’s first-ever Rumble-match victory, and would mark the first of his two consecutive Rumble wins, as he would go on to win the 1991 Royal Rumble match as well. Hogan became the first guy in WWE history to win back-to-back Royal Rumble matches, a feat that wouldn’t be repeated until Shawn Michaels did so by winning in 1995 and 1996.
Click here to watch the 1990 WWE Royal Rumble match.
1992: Without a shadow of a doubt, the 1992 Royal Rumble match is my all-time favorite. From start-to-finish this was one of the greatest, and best-executed Royal Rumble matches in WWE history. The 1992 Royal Rumble was the first time that the winner of the match would be crowned the new WWE Heavyweight Champion. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, competing in his very first Royal Rumble match, came into the match as the third entrant, and would go on to last nearly 60 minutes before coming out on top. There were a few magnificently-timed “Flair flops” due to exhaustion, something I felt was a nice touch from an entertainment standpoint.
The finish of the 1992 Royal Rumble match saw babyface Sid Justice eliminate Hulk Hogan, and Hogan, who felt betrayed, yanked Sid over-the-top and onto the floor from outside the ring. This was similar to the finish of the Battle Royal at WrestleMania II where NFL legend William “The Refrigerator” Perry eliminated “Big” John Studd from the floor.
“The Nature Boy” showed the WWE viewing audience why he was known as the “60-minute man” by lasting from number three until the very end. If you re-watch only one of the Royal Rumble matches, all of which I’ve provided YouTube links for, this is the one you should go out of your way to check out.
Click here to watch the 1992 WWE Royal Rumble match.
Well, you really can’t top the 1992 Royal Rumble, so I won’t even bother trying. We’ll break from the action right here, and we’ll pick up with my look back at some of the best Royal Rumble moments in history in my next installment of “A Look Back At WWE’s ‘Royal Rumble'”
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