January is upon us and that means that The Road to WrestleMania upon is. Along with the beginning of every man and woman on the roster pointing at that damn sign for the next few months, we also get the Royal Rumble, the favorite match of the year for many wrestling fans. The winner of the match will get a shot at a World Championship in the “main event” of WrestleMania, and we will be on the Road to Biggest Show of the Year.
The Royal Rumble has a history of one being of the best, if not the best, show of the year. This year will be the thirty-first edition of the show, the thirtieth on PPV, and for the third time the show will find its way to one of the greatest wrestling cities in America — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which most fans hope will not be a repeat of what happened in 2015.
As glorious as a history that the Royal Rumble has, not all of them are created equal. Indeed the Royal Rumble has been a great barometer to tell where the company is at that point and time. If the company is doing great, the Rumble is great. If the company is down, well…
Indeed, this is where things start to get really good. Everyone one of these Rumbles are excellent, and indeed this is where we REALLY start splitting hairs. Here are some truly great ones.
11. Royal Rumble 2016 — Amway Arena — Orlando, Florida
Really, this was a super fun show. It is easy for wrestling fans would shit on anything that Roman Reigns is in, but in this Rumble, where he started out at Number One and had to defend the title, was an incredible storyline and it was a very fun match. Of course, this is the Rumble that will be remembered for the debut of AJ Styles in WWE, the return of Sami Zayn for Kevin Owens, Brock Lesnar facing off with the Wyatts, and the swerve at the end, where Triple H eliminated Roman and was almost thrown out by Dean Ambrose, was a terrific ending. This show may go up in the future…
Meanwhile, the undercard was highly underrated. Owens and Ambrose had a terrific street fight, Charlotte and Becky Lynch had a great Divas Title, with a terrific entrance by Sasha Banks. This was a good show in a time we didn’t have a lot of good shows.
10. Royal Rumble 2001 — New Orleans Arena — New Orleans, Louisiana
Like I said, tough choices have to be made. This Rumble is truly a great one. This is where Kane set the record with eleven eliminations, which would last for over a decade. Weapons get involved, Big Show makes a surprise return, Drew Carey of all people makes a fun little appearance, and goodness gracious the star power — Stone Cold, The Rock, Undertaker, Kane, Big Show, The Hardyz, goodness! But the match does a lag a little in the middle and that hurts it in the long run. The mini match with Austin and Kane at the end is terrific however.
The undercard is overlooked here for a specific reason-Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit have one of the best ladder matches in WWE history, but it’s hard to watch for obvious reasons. That kinda makes you forget the whole rest of the undercard. But this is a really fun show.
9. Royal Rumble 2003 — The Fleet Center — Boston, Massachusetts
This is a really fun Rumble match, one that I might have higher than others because it’s a bit of a personal favorite. But really, this match just has a ton of great action. It starts out with a Shawn Michaels-Chris Jericho confrontation that is really fun, The Undertaker makes a return after a break, and this is also the only Rumble where we see Brock Lesnar in his prime. This match had a ton of star power and it was just good, good match. It lacked some of the really special things needed to put a Rumble over the top — it was just really really good.
Also, the undercard…well, it features Triple H versus Scott Steiner in one of the worst main event matches in WWE history, immediately followed by Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit having a match that is one of the best matches in WWE history and what was for many years, my favorite match of all time. 2003 was a hell of a year for WWE, and one of the most confusing…
8. Royal Rumble 2010 — Phillips Arena — Atlanta, Georgia
Another sentimental favorite of mine, this Rumble is best remembered for the triumphant return of Edge to win the match, after being out six months with an Achilles injury. Along with Cena’s surprise return in ’08, this is probably one of the best returns in WWE history, one that felt like a complete surprise. This match also had one of my favorite spots ever, where Beth Phoenix used a well place kiss to eliminate the Great Khali and featured an excellent performance from vintage Straight Edge Society CM Punk. But this Rumble is punctuated by the story of Shawn Michaels desperately wanting to win the rumble to get a second shot at the Undertaker. He made us believe and then broke our hearts. It really is an example of the Rumble as wrestling at its best.
The undercard is very fun as well, including a title match between The Undertaker and Rey Mysterio and fun match between MVP and The Miz. Really, in this area, we are splitting hairs. All these shows are great!
7. Royal Rumble 2002 — Phillips Arena — Atlanta, Georgia
This Rumble, the first held in Atlanta, has a lot of similarities to the one ten years previous. The star power is again enormous —S tone Cold, a returning Triple H, first timers Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, and Booker T, Undertaker (who was famously eliminated by Maven in one of the most memorable, and hilarious, spots in Rumble history), and many others. Stone Cold and Triple H had a memorable face off, Mr. Perfect and Goldust made fun returns, and the story of Triple H returning off his quad injury to win this match made for a great storyline, the capper to a super Rumble match.
The undercard is also super fun, with Mr. McMahon and Ric Flair having a super fun street fight, The Rock and Chris Jericho a good title match, and some fun interviews along the way. Man, WWE was good in these years.
6. Royal Rumble 2011 — TD Banknorth Garden — Boston, Massachusetts
This Rumble goes down in history as being the first and so far the only Rumble, to have forty men. They had the roster for it then and it was a genius move in my book, and they used those extra guys to tell some tremendous stories. Hell, before the match you had a battle between the New Nexus and the Corre (ah good times), and then you started out with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan at Number One and Two. Read that again. Go change your shorts. Now finish the article.
This match was chalk full of good action and great stories. The returns of Booker T and Diesel were probably the best returns we have seen in the Rumble, Matt Striker makes this show with his commentary, John Morrison and Kofi Kingston have some fun spots, and the near upset finish between Alberto Del Rio and Santino Marella was amazing. This was just the Royal Rumble as its best-but Del Rio still won…
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