From HBK to HHH, Who’s The Best WWE Rumble Winner?
The WWE Royal Rumble has been an important part of the ‘Road To Wrestlemania’ for decades now. Starting in 1988, The Rumble allowed many wrestlers on the card the chance to shine but it wasn’t until Hulk Hogan’s win in 1990 that the event became important to the Wrestlemania main event. Since Hogan’s back to back wins in 90/91, the winner of the Rumble has gone on to main event the biggest WWE show of the year. With the 2016 Royal Rumble only a few days away, which previous Royal Rumble winner has made the biggest splash following their win?
28 winners to choose from, here is who’s made the most out of their Rumble win!
10. Chris Benoit (2004)
-Let’s get the controversial Chris Benoit out of the way. While the events that happened in 2007 will never be forgiven, the legacy of Benoit as a wrestler can never be forgotten. His win of the 2004 Rumble launched such an amazing leg of his career; he headlined Wrestlemania XX against HHH and Shawn Michaels, he put over Randy Orton as a main eventer, and finally got rewarded for the years of playing his dues. While WWE may not accept this win anymore, this was a big deal at the time.
9. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin (1998)
-The only three time winner of The Royal Rumble, Stone Cold’s second win led to what many believe to be the kickoff of The Attitude Era. The night after this win was the introduction of Mike Tyson in WWE and led to Austin facing an injured Shawn Michaels in the main event of WrestleMania XIV; those moments are as important to WWE’s history as anything else. The landscape of WWE could have been very different if Austin never won this Rumble match. While his first Rumble win led to a memorable Submission match with Bret at Wrestlemania 13, this 1998 win was what I felt launched us into the Era of Austin.
8. The Undertaker (2007)
-A Royal Rumble win that came many years too late, The Undertaker’s 2007 Royal Rumble is just another milestone in his historic career. The real reason this win even ranks is because of the amazing sequence between Taker & Shawn Michaels as the final two! That little mini-match planted the seeds that would led to two amazing matches at Wrestlemania in 2009 & 2010. But that doesn’t mean Undertaker didn’t use his won properly. Following winning the Rumble, The Deadman went on to face Batista at Wrestlemania 23 in what I think is the best match of Batista’s entire career. Undertaker is also the first and only to win as the person to come out as Number 30 in the match.
7. Alberto Del Rio (2011)
-Alberto Del Rio had one of the best rookie careers in the history of WWE. Winning the only 40-Man Royal Rumble match, Del Rio had one hell of a 2011. He won the Rumble and faced off against Edge (in his last WWE match) at Mania of that year and then went on to win Money In The Back of July that year. As one of the best heels in the industry, Del Rio’s only Rumble win was unexpected at the time and was very refreshing in an otherwise stale time in the company’s history. Also, the storytelling as Del Rio faced off against Santino Marella as the final men in the match is still exciting to watch to this day.
6. Brock Lesnar (2003)
-Just like Del Rio’s Royal Rumble win help solidify his impressive rookie career, Brock’s 2003 Rumble win was part of an amazing first year in WWE. The youngest winner in the history of the event, Lesnar used this win to main event in an absolute classic against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XIX and kept the title until he lost it to Kurt Angle in July of that year. While Brock didn’t need the win to prove how much of a monster he was, it surely helped remind everyone that Lesnar was a forced to be reckoned with. How will he fair as he enters this years Rumble for the first time since winning in 2003?
5. Rey Mysterio (2006)
-Coming in at Number 2, no one thought Rey was going to win the 2006 Royal Rumble. The ‘Ultimate Underdog’ proved everyone wrong when he lastly eliminated Randy Orton to secure the win. He dedicated this win to the late Eddie Guerrero and there is no doubt that Eddie would have been proud of his friend’s win. Not only did Rey go on to main event against Kurt Angle & Randy Orton at Wrestlemania 22, he would keep the title until The Great American Bash of that year! Rey survived the longest Rumble in history and secured his spot as one of the best Rumble winners ever.
4. HHH (2002)
-Don’t call it a comeback! Triple H returned in January of 2002 after an 8 month recovery and has never looked back since. The Game walked in the 15th annual Rumble with a mission and he succeeded at that mission. Eliminating Kurt Angle to win the match, HHH would go to Wrestlemania 18 looking to reclaim the gold he needed. While his win was soiled after by the usual McMahon family drama, it doesn’t change how HHH used the Rumble win to get right back into the swing of things; cementing himself as the backbone of the entire company for many years to come.
3. Shawn Michaels (1996)
-The Rumble that led to one of the best Mania main events in history. It’s the Rumble that led to the “boyhood dream” being achieved. It’s the Royal Rumble that made sure you knew Shawn Michaels was going to be a star. Following Michaels win at the 1996 Royal Rumble, the Show-Stopper would main even against Bret Hart in a jaw-dropping 60-minute Iron-Man match at Wrestlemania XII. The second straight Rumble win for Michaels, this win is without a doubt far superior to his first win; he used this Royal Rumble win to earn the title of ‘The Show Stopper”.
2. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin (2001)
-If his 1998 win was the kickoff of ‘The Attitude Era’, this was the beginning of the end for the beloved era. I personally feel the 2001 Royal Rumble is one of the most entertaining in the event’s history. From Kane setting a record of 11 eliminates (Roman ended up breaking that) to the inclusion of a little hardcore wrestling, the 2001 Rumble is a thrill to watch. But one of the best parts of this Rumble is Steve Austin at the peak of his popularity. The crowd is on fire for him the entire match & that made the whole win feel like such a big deal. Austin would go on to main event against The Rock at universally loved Wrestlemania 17, in which he would turn heel. No other Rumble win seems as important to history as this; well maybe expect one…
1. Ric Flair (1992)
-Until this year, the 1992 Royal Rumble was the only time the WWE Championship was on the line during the actual match. That match was won by the iconic Ric Flair who went on have an impressive run as the champion and co-main event at Wrestlemania VIII against the equally iconic ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. This Rumble win allowed Ric Flair to have an amazing first run in WWE and help give Flair a much needed second wind of his career. While he didn’t stay too long after, the importance of this Rumble win made up for his short stay. Ric Flair would return 10 years later to WWE & The Royal Rumble to face Vince McMahon in a Street Fight in which he won.
Did your favorite Royal Rumble winner make the list? Which WWE Superstar did the most with their Rumble win?
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