The Royal Rumble is the start of the road to Wrestlemania, in which the Winner: would get a World Championship match at the Showcase of the Immortals. However, as we look at the history of the event, it was not always like that.
Royal Rumble 1988
Coops Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
The first Royal Rumble was not on PPV and was shown as a TV special. This Rumble only had 20 participants.
Winner: Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who came in at number 13, by eliminating One Man Gang.
Aftermath: Duggan took part in the WWE Championship Tournament at Wrestlemania IV but was defeated in the first round by Ted DiBiase. Duggan was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2011.
Royal Rumble 1989
The Summit, Houston, Texas
This was when the number of participants was increased to 30.
Winner: Big John Studd, who came in at number 27, by eliminating Ted DeBiase
Aftermath: Big John Studd served as special guest referee to the match between Jake Roberts and Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania V. Studd left the WWF soon after and passed away from liver cancer in 1995. Studd was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
Royal Rumble 1990
Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida
Winner: Hulk Hogan, who came in at number 25, by eliminating Mr Perfect So far, this has the only time that the winner was also the WWF Champion.
Aftermath: Hulk Hogan went on to have a match against Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI and lost.
Royal Rumble 1991
Miami Arena, Miami, Florida
Winner: Hulk Hogan, who came in number 24, by eliminating Earthquake. Rick Martel set the longevity record of 53 minutes.
Aftermath: Won the WWF Championship by defeating Sgt Slaughter at Wrestlemania VII.
Royal Rumble 1992
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, New York
This Royal Rumble was unique as it was used to determine who would win the vacant WWF Championship
Winner: Ric Flair, who came into number 3, by eliminating Sid Justice (with help from Hulk Hogan). Flair also broke the longevity record with a time of 59 minutes and 26 seconds.
Aftermath: Flair got into a feud with Macho Man Randy Savage over Miss Elizabeth and lost the Championship to Savage at Wrestlemania VIII.
Royal Rumble 1993
ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California
This Royal Rumble was the first one in which it was to determine who would be the No.1 contender for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania
Winner: Yokozuna, who came in at number 27, by eliminating Randy Savage. Easy win for Yokozuna considering that he was the size of a small car. Bob Backlund broke the longevity record with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 10 seconds.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Yokozuna, with some help from Mr Fuji, defeated Bret Hart to win the WWF Championship. However, Mr Fuji thought it would be a great idea to immediately challenge Hulk Hogan, who had come in to help Bret Hart. Thirty seconds later, Hogan wins to become the WWF Champion.
Royal Rumble 1994
Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island
Winner: Lex Luger (number 27) and Bret Hart (number 23), who had eliminated each other at the same time.
What happened at Wrestlemania? This was before we had triple threat matches (otherwise problem solved). Therefore, after a coin toss, Luger would face WWF Champion Yokozuna first with the winner facing Bret Hart later on. Yokozuna defeated Luger by disqualification, thanks to special guest referee, Mr Perfect. In the last match of the night, Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna to become WWF Champion.
Royal Rumble 1995
USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida
Winner: Shawn Michaels, who came in at number 1, by eliminating The British Bulldog. Bulldog thought he won it when he threw Michaels over the top rope. However, Michaels managed to hold on to the top rope and keep both feet from touching the floor and then got back in and eliminated the Bulldog.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Michaels took on his former bodyguard Diesel (Kevin Nash), who had won the Championship from Bob Backlund. Michaels, despite assistance from Sycho Sid, was unsuccessful.
Royal Rumble 1996
Selland Arena, Fresno, California
Winner: Shawn Michaels, who came in at number 18, by eliminating Diesel
What happened at Wrestlemania? Michaels took on Champion Bret Hart in a 60 minute Iron Man Match. After 60 minutes, no one scored a pinfall. Therefore, WWF President Gorilla Monsoon ordered the match to go into overtime. Two minutes later, Michaels pinned Bret to become WWF Champion.
Royal Rumble 1997
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin, who came in number 5, by eliminating Bret Hart. Austin had been eliminated earlier in the match by Bret Hart. However, Austin snuck back in when the referees were distracted by a brawl between Terry Funk and Mankind.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Shawn Michaels vacated the WWF Championship the next week. Due to this and the controversy surrounding the end of the Rumble, the new Champion was decided between the last four of the Royal Rumble (Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Undertaker and Vader) in a 4 corners match at the next Pay-Per-View. Hart won the match but lost the title the next day to Sycho Sid thanks to interference from Steve Austin. At Wrestlemania, Undertaker defeated Sycho Sid for the WWF Championship.
Royal Rumble 1998
San Jose Arena, San Jose, California
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin, who came in at number 24, by eliminating The Rock.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Austin took on Michaels for the WWF Championship with Mike Tyson as the Special Enforcer. Even though Tyson had aligned himself with Michael’s stable D-Generation X, he made the 3 count to give Austin the WWF Championship for the first time.
Royal Rumble 1999
Arrowhead Pond Arena, Anaheim, California
This Rumble was the one in which Chyna became the first female to take part, coming in at number 30.
Winner: Vince McMahon, who came in at number 2. Vince had to deal with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who came in at number 1, fled the ring without getting eliminated and Austin got attacked by the Corporation and went to hospital. Vince went to do commentary with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler until Austin returned, who then eliminated everyone else and dragged Vince back into the ring. Vince managed to eliminate Austin after a distraction by The Rock.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Vince vacated his title opportunity but was told by Commissioner Shawn Michaels that the runner-up (Austin) would take it instead. Austin defeated The Rock at Wrestlemania to win the WWF Championship for the second year running.
Royal Rumble 2000
Madison Square Garden, New York City
Winner: The Rock, who came in at number 24. The Big Show thought he eliminated The Rock. However, The Rock came back and threw Show over the top rope.
What happened next? The Big Show spent ages trying to prove that The Rock did actually get eliminated. It was settled in a match between the two at No Way Out, which Show won, becoming number 1 contender. Vince McMahon made sure that The Rock would get a title opportunity. Eventually, they were involved in a 4 corners elimination match at Wrestlemania, along with Mick Foley and Champion Triple H. With help from Vince McMahon, Triple H became the first heel to successfully retain the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania.
Royal Rumble 2001
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
This Rumble was the first time that a celebrity (Drew Carey) took part. Kane also set the record for the most number of eliminations in a single Rumble match (11).
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin, who came in at number 27, by eliminating Kane.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Austin took on WWF Champion The Rock in a brutal no-disqualification match. Austin, with some help from Vince McMahon, won and turned heel in the process.
Royal Rumble 2002
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Winner: Triple H, who came in at number 22, by eliminating Kurt Angle.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Triple H defeated Chris Jericho to become the Undisputed WWF Champion.
Royal Rumble 2003
Fleet Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Winner: Brock Lesnar, who came in at number 29, by eliminating the Undertaker.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Lesnar challenged Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. Despite almost knocking himself out by attempting a Shooting Star Press, Lesnar hit the F-5 to become WWE Champion.
Royal Rumble 2004
Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Winner: Chris Benoit, who came in at number 1, by eliminating the Big Show. Benoit broke the longevity record of 1 hour, 1 minute and 30 seconds.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Benoit was on Smackdown when he won the Rumble. However, after coming aware of Smackdown General Manager Paul Heyman’s intention to ruin his title opportunity, Benoit defected to RAW and challenged World Heavyweight Champion Triple H. At the contract signing, Shawn Michaels interrupted it and signed the contract himself, making it a triple threat match. Benoit won the match by getting Triple H to submit to the Crippler Crossface.
Royal Rumble 2005
Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
Winner: Batista, who came in at number 28, by eliminating John Cena
What happened at Wrestlemania? Triple H, along with Ric Flair, devised a scheme in order to get Batista to challenge for John Bradshaw Layfield’s WWE Championship. However, Batista became aware of the scheme and challenged Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship instead. At Wrestlemania, Batista defeated Triple H to become the World Heavyweight Champion.
Royal Rumble 2006
American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Winner: Rey Mysterio, who came at number 2, by eliminating Randy Orton. Mysterio set the record for the longest time in the Rumble at 62 minutes and 16 seconds.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Randy Orton challenged Mysterio for the title opportunity at No Way Out and won. However, Mysterio would be readded to the match, making it a triple threat match between Orton, Mysterio and World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle. Mysterio was victorious to win the Championship.
Royal Rumble 2007
AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Winner: The Undertaker, who came in at number 30, by eliminating Shawn Michaels
What happened at Wrestlemania? The Undertaker challenged Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship. The Undertaker won the match and increased his undefeated streak to 15-0. Interestingly enough, this was the last time a Royal Rumble winner went on to win a World Championship at Wrestlemania.
Royal Rumble 2008
Madison Square Garden, New York City
Winner: John Cena, who came in at number 30 by eliminating Triple H
What happened at Wrestlemania? Er...yeah, about that. Cena, for reasons that only Cena can explain, didn’t want to wait til Wrestlemania for his title shot. Therefore, Cena took on Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at No Way Out, in which Cena won by disqualification. At the same event, Triple H won an Elimination Chamber match to become No. 1 contender. At Wrestlemania, it was a triple threat match between Orton, Triple H and Cena, in which Orton won.
Royal Rumble 2009
Joe Louis Arena, Detriot, Michigan
Winner: Randy Orton, who came in at number 8, by eliminating Triple H.
What happened at Wrestlemania? Orton challenged Triple H, who had won the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out. Triple H defeated Orton at Wrestlemania to retain the WWE Championship.
Royal Rumble 2010
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Winner: Edge, who came in at number 29, by eliminating John Cena
What happened at Wrestlemania? Edge took on World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho, who had won at Elimination Chamber the month before. Jericho prevailed but was destroyed by Edge afterwards. This led the way for Jack Swagger to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to become World Heavyweight Champion the following Smackdown.
Royal Rumble 2011
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
This Rumble was when it was expanded from 30 men to 40.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (number 38) which I don’t think anyone saw coming. Del Rio thought he won it after eliminating Randy Orton; however, Santino Marella, who earlier had been thrown out of the ring under the bottom rope, came in and hit Del Rio with the Cobra. Santino tried to throw Del Rio out but Del Rio reversed it and threw Santino out.
What happened at Wrestlemania? After the Rumble, Del Rio chose to challenge Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship. Despite help from Ricardo “Virgil” Rodriguez and his NXT Rookie Brodus Clay, Del Rio was unsuccessful.