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Welcome to In Your Head! Wrestling podcast, news and community!
By Tim Miller
Over the Top: The History and Preview of the Royal Rumble
By Timothy Miller
Since 1988, World Wrestling Entertainment has graced their fans with the most creative, action packed, entertaining match in wrestling history. This match is the thirty- man over the top rope Royal Rumble. This match has launched in the careers of many superstars throughout the years including "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and "The Animal" Batista. The Royal Rumble was just another match until 1992 when the winner of the match was granted the World Wrestling Fed? eh, Entertainment championship, and then enhanced the next year as the winner of the Royal Rumble would launch himself into number one contender ship for the title in the main event at the Super Bowl of professional wrestling, Wrestlemania. Here is a year-by-year look at the Royal Rumble match since it's inception in 1988:
-1988: The debut of the match that was inspired by Pat Patterson marked the only time that only twenty men were entered instead of the annual thirty that stands today. Tito Santana and Bret "the Hitman" Hart were the two men entered into the match. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan eventually eliminated the One Man Gang to earn the title of the winner of the very first Royal Rumble match.
-1989: Tag team partners drew first blood as members of Demolition, Ax and Smash, drew numbers one and two. The gentle giant, "Big" John Studd, eventually won the event eliminating 'The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase who bought himself a late number in the match but could not defeat the massive giant.
-1990: The immortal Hulk Hogan eliminates Mr. Perfect (Curt Henning) to win his first Royal Rumble match.
-1991: The Hulkster repeats by eliminating the 400 pound Earthquake to conclude the 1991 Royal Rumble match.
-1992: This was the first and only time that the World Wrestling Entertainment championship was on the line in the Royal Rumble match. With a cast that included Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, Ted Dibiase, Sid Justice, The Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, and many more names, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair became the world's champ by eliminating Sid Justice thanks to help from Hulk Hogan. Flair entered at number three and lasted over an hour to win the event.
-1993: This was the first time that the number on contender ship was on the line, as Yokozuna would go on to win the Royal Rumble and defeat Bret "the Hitman" Hart for the title at Wrestlemania. Yokozuna lost it minutes later to Hulk Hogan somehow.
-1994: In very controversial fashion, two superstars won the event by falling over the top rope at the exact same time. Bret "the Hitman" Hart and "The Man Made in the USA" Lex Luger both went on to Wrestlemania to challenge Yokozuna for the title. Luger lost, but Bret won the WWE Championship for the second time in his career.
-1995: Another first time here, as a wrestler went from being the number one entrant, to surviving all thirty men and winning the entire match. Shawn Michaels drew number one and went all the way to eliminate "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, who entered at number two. Shawn went on to Wrestlemania 11 to lose to WWE Champion "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel.
-1996: The 1996 match saw the debut of "The Man they Call" Vader, as well as the returns of Jake "The Snake" Roberts and "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels who was returning from injury. For the second year in a row, HBK won the Royal Rumble by eliminating his best friend "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel. The difference this year was that HBK went on to defeat then Champion, Bret "the Hitman" Hart, for the title in a sixty-minute Iron Man Match that went into overtime.
-1997: Glass Shattered as the number five entrant "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was eliminated by his nemesis Bret "the Hitman" Hart, but was not witnessed by referees. Austin snuck back in, eliminated The Undertaker, Vader, and tossed Bret Hart out to be declared the winner. President Gorilla Monsoon eventually revoked the outcome, and entered Austin, Hart, Vader, and The Undertaker into a Final Four match to determine who really the number one contender was. The Undertaker won that match, and went on to return to the dark side to defeat "Psycho" to win his second WWE Championship.
-1998: "Stone Cold" repeated as Royal Rumble, this time legally as he eliminated Nation of the Domination member The Rock. Austin went on to Wrestlemania 14 to defeat "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels to win his first WWE championship.
-1999: The chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, Mr. Vince McMahon, entered his first Royal Rumble at entrant number one. His opening opponent, "The Texas Rattlesnake" Stone Cold Steve Austin entered at number two. After a planned blindside, and a hefty bail on his head, Austin returned to face McMahon at the conclusion of the match. Interference by the WWE Champion, The Rock, McMahon fooled Austin and threw him over the top rope to be declared the winner of the rumble. Austin earned his title shot back at the next month's pay per view, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, by defeating McMahon in a brutal steel cage match. The other highlight in the 1999 match was that Chyna became the first woman to enter a Royal Rumble match.
-2000: The seven- foot, five- hundred pound Big Show made it to the end to face, The Rock. After a back and forth battle, The Rock controversially eliminated the big man.
-2001: 2001 found various surprise entrants such as The Honky Tonk Man, Haku, and even Drew Carey. Carey eventually eliminated both Matt and Jeff Hardy. After interference by Triple H, a bloody Steve Austin eliminated Kane, who had dominated over half of the match.
-2002: Four superstars returned to a WWE ring during this match including The Godfather, Val Venis, Goldust, and Mr. Perfect. Perfect made it into the final four and actually helped eliminate Steve Austin who was very impressive. Triple H returned to the ring after repairing his torn up knee, and won by clothes lining Kurt Angle over the top for the win. The other highlight of the match was when "Tough Enough" winner Maven eliminated The Undertaker.
-2003: Earlier in the evening, the last spot in the Royal Rumble match would be determined as Brock Lesnar defeated The Big Show to enter the annual battle royal. Brock eventually would eliminate The Undertaker to earn his second victory of the night.
-2004: For the second time in Royal Rumble history, the number one entrant won the entire match. "The Canadian Crippler" Chris Benoit eliminated The Big Show to earn his shot and eventually win the World Heavyweight Championship.
-2005: In a controversial ending, "The Animal" Batista came up strong by eliminating John Cena to earn his shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Batista would win that title by defeating Triple H at Wrestlemania 21.
-2006: The first and second entrant survived till the end again, as this time the number two entrant prevailed as the light heavyweight Rey Mysterio eliminated Triple H to earn his title shot. He would defeat Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 22.
This year's version of the Royal Rumble should be filled with many surprises and a fantastic ending to live up to the reputation of January's annual event. Keep track at www.wwe.com to see what superstars throw their names into this year's match. The road to Wrestlemania 22 begins at the 2007 Royal Rumble.
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