The Royal Rumble is one of the most important events on the WWE calendar. In essence, it’s an altered version of the classic battle royale setup; thirty wrestlers enter the ring, but only one can eventually emerge victorious, with each wrestler being eliminated as the match progresses. Unlike classic battle royale setups, though, the wrestlers in the WWE’s Royal Rumble don’t all enter at the same time; they’re introduced one by one. Here are 10 fascinating WWE Royal Rumble facts to mull over.
1. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan was its first winner
Way back in 1988, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan was the first person to win the inaugural Royal Rumble competition. Duggan is deservedly a legend, but he shared some surprising tips with Betway casino regarding how to win the competition: just stay away from people. According to Duggan, the less time you spend making contact with other wrestlers, the more time you’re able to stay in the ring. It makes a lot of sense, right? Next time you’re in a Royal Rumble, remember that!
2. The Royal Rumble used to have a shorter card than other major events
Unlike other major WWE events, like SummerSlam or Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble card was usually pretty short. This is because the main event – the 30-man Royal Rumble itself – takes up a lot more time, which doesn’t leave much room for other matches. However, as of 2018, the Royal Rumble card was extended to five hours, which allowed for between nine and twelve matches. The days of the Royal Rumble revolving around a single event are over, it seems.
3. The most wrestlers in the ring at once is fifteen
In 2009, the Royal Rumble reached the point where there were fifteen wrestlers in the ring at once. Fourteen wrestlers duked it out until the hulking Big Show appeared, proceeding to clean house in the way you’d expect the Big Show to do. Other wrestlers included Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, and the Undertaker. Naturally, another wrestler fighting alongside these legends was Randy Orton, who went on to claim the victory at the 2009 Royal Rumble competition.
4. Vince McMahon never wanted the Royal Rumble to go ahead
During the planning meeting for the first ever Royal Rumble, NBC bigwig Dick Ebersol was out of ideas. Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson, as major figures behind the scenes in the WWE, were duking it out over whether Patterson’s idea – to have wrestlers streaming into the ring, with one eventually emerging victorious as others are eliminated – was worth pitching. Despite McMahon describing the idea as “stupid”, Patteron emerged the winner, and the rest is history.
5. Bret Hart was the first Royal Rumble wrestler to enter the ring…
In 1988’s first ever Royal Rumble competition, the first wrestler to enter the ring was the legendary Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Of course, he wasn’t a legend then, still wrestling as part of a stable called the Hart Foundation. Nevertheless, he managed to impress fans and wrestling execs alike, lasting 25 minutes after entering the ring before finally being eliminated by The Rock. Not that Rock, of course, but the first wrestler to bear the name, Don Muraco.
6. …and the first to be eliminated was Butch Reed
Butch Reed was the third to enter the ring in the 1988 Royal Rumble, but he was, unfortunately, the first man to ever be eliminated in the competition. He was tossed out of the ring by Jake “The Snake” Roberts, ending his dreams of winning the inaugural event. Roberts would also go on to eliminate Boris Zhukov, who obviously wasn’t actually Russian. These were different times, and insensitive gimmicks like this were lapped up by the crowds!
7. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin threw himself out in 1996…
Today, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is remembered as a legend of the WWE, and rightly so. However, back in 1996, things were different; he still had a lot to prove, having only adopted the “Stone Cold” persona that same year. Vince McMahon put a lot of faith in Austin, booking him to make the final four (for wrestling, as we know, is mostly staged), but Austin fell foul of the Headshrinkers’ Fatu (later known as Rikishi), who had applied a liberal amount of oil to himself. This caused Austin to fall out of the ring, technically eliminating himself.
8. …but is the only Superstar to win the Royal Rumble three times
Only one Superstar has ever won the Royal Rumble more than twice, and that star is Steve Austin himself. He won it consecutively in 1997 and 1998, then went on to claim victory once again in 2001. This also makes Austin one of only two wrestlers who have won the Royal Rumble two consecutive times, the other being Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. Other wrestlers to have claimed victory more than once in the Rumble include Triple H, Randy Orton, and Edge.
9. Brock Lesnar holds the record for most eliminations in one match
The hulking Brock Lesnar is unstoppable. During the 2020 Royal Rumble, Lesnar eliminated a staggering 13 participants, before ultimately being eliminated himself by a well-placed kick from Drew McIntyre. This also meant that Lesnar was in danger of losing his WWE title; he’d entered the ring that year declaring that nobody deserved a title shot, but Drew McIntyre, who eliminated him, would also end up taking his title away from him at that year’s Wrestlemania.
10. Kane holds the record for most eliminations overall
Most people of a certain generation know the wrestler Glenn Jacobs as Kane, the terrifying figure wearing a mask and appearing amongst flames. Kane holds the record for most eliminations across his entire career; he’s thrown forty-six wrestlers out of the ring in all his Royal Rumble appearances, although he has never actually managed to win a match himself despite entering 20 competitions. Still, we certainly wouldn’t want to get in the ring with him!