The Royal Rumble is one of the most beloved and influential events in WWE history. The 2022 Rumble is shaping up to be a fantastic event and to celebrate the Sports Obsessive crew is taking a look back at the best moments of each decade of Rumbles. Here are the top ten moments from the 2009-2018 Royal Rumble.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Hardy turns on Jeff Hardy at 2009 Rumble, Rey Mysterio vs. The Undertaker at 2010 Rumble, Batista return at 2014 Rumble, Bubba Ray Dudley return at 2015 Rumble, Kevin Owens with Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns at 2017 Rumble, Rich Swann vs. Neville at 2017 Rumble
10. Kofi Kingston Jaw-Dropping Handstand
The moment that started it all, Kofi was able to land an impressive handstand to avoid being eliminated. Kofi would of course become famous for his jaw-dropping methods of keeping his feet off the floor, and it all began here in 2012.
9. Five Championship Matches At Royal Rumble 2016
A new generation of WWE stars began to become the focus at the 2016 Rumble, and they combined to produce five excellent championship matches. The in-ring action in all five matches was exceptional and showed off the different types of professional wrestling in a highly memorable event.
The opening match featured a series of brutally awesome spots between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship. The chaotic competitors smashed each other with and into everything inside and outside the ring, including Michael Cole’s glasses. Ambrose was able to retain by pushing Owens over the ring post through two stacked tables in an awesome end to a great clash.
Two of the greatest teams of all time showcased the magic of tag wrestling as The Usos and New Day had an early classic clash for the championship. The New Day, who was interestingly leaning slightly heel, were able to retain their gold in an extremely solid match that also saw the debut of Francesca II.
The high-flying and unpredictable lucha libre style was then showcased, as an extremely over Lucha Dragon member Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship. This was the second US title for Kalisto, who pleased the crowd with several dazzling maneuvers.
In a story that was rehashed just last year, the friendship turned rivalry between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair (with Ric), led to a clash for the Divas Championship. The women’s revolution was on full display as the two Horsewomen delivered in a terrific showdown. Charlotte, with some help from her father, retained. Sasha Banks then appeared to a huge ovation, tossed Becky out of the ring, and hit a backstabber on Charlotte, solidifying the three as megastars and the future of WWE.
Finally, the WWE Heavyweight Championship was defended in the Royal Rumble Match for the first time. Roman Reigns was forced to outlast 29 men to retain his belt. After winning the 2015 Rumble with the help of his cousin The Rock, which was not a popular result, Roman looked to become the first man to win consecutive Rumbles since Stone Cold Steve Austin. Roman eliminated Rusev and Tyler Breeze but then was neutralized. Mr. McMahon used the League of Nations to weaken Roman by putting him through the announce table, and the champ was brought to the back. While Roman was out, Brock Lesnar entered to battle the dominant Wyatt Family but was taken out by the ferocious family. Roman returned during Sheamus’ number 29 entrance, and was able to make it into the final four, but was eliminated by the corporate savior Triple H. The future and past collided and The Game was able to withstand Dean Ambrose and win his 14th major championship. After a night were new stars shined, none was brighter than the everlasting authority figures aka The McMahons.
The match featured several legendary competitors, a huge surprise debut, major stars of the time and future, a fun Kofi saving-himself spot, and the one and only R-Truth climbing a ladder in the middle of the ring for no reason.
8. Randy Orton Outlasts Monsters and Legends To Win Second Rumble
In the 30th edition of the Rumble, Randy Orton further cemented his legendary status by winning his second Royal Rumble match. Out on entered the match
To win the match, Orton had to outlast some of the largest and most well-known stars in WWE history. The sheer body mass of the participants was impressive, as the murder’s row of gargantuan Big Cass, Mark Henry, Big Show, Braun Strowman, Luke Harper, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, The Undertaker, and Roman Reigns. Most of the giants eliminated one another, leaving Randy and his family member Bray Wyatt to contend against Reigns. Roman tossed Wyatt, and the slippery Orton hit an RKO and tossed Roman out to win his historic second rumble victory.
7. Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt Open 2014 Rumble With A Classic
What a fantastic contest by two competitors who Shawn Michaels called the future of the WWE directly after their clash. Welp.
Bryan gave Wyatt every shot that he had, but the demented Bray took each knee and kick with a twisted grin on his face. Wyatt eventually hit a nasty Sister Abigail on the outside and another in the ring to secure a victory.
This was not the last we would hear about Daniel or the Wyatt family during the event, like Bray, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan would attack John Cena during his WWE Heavyweight Championship Match against Randy Orton.
While Bryan was not physically in any other match, the raucous fans in Pittsburgh chanted for Bryan many times during the event. The crowd chanted for Bryan and booed the legendary Rey Mysterio as he entered at entry spot number 30 instead of the crowd-favorite Bryan. Of course, Bryan would eventually follow the momentum of the Yes Movement to headline Wrestlemania 30 and defeat champion Orton and Rumble winner Batista for an all-time historic WWE moment.
6. A.J. Styles Debut at Royal Rumble 2016
The Phenomenal One’s arrival in the WWE was a huge moment, and the attending crowd reacted as such. After Roman eliminated Rusev, Styles made his arrival as the number three entrant.
Side note: face Styles vs. heel Reigns should be a feud we get in 2022.
The crowd chanted for Styles all night, as he showed just a taste of the skills that would eventually lead him to multiple championships in the WWE. Styles lasted 28 minutes in the match before being tossed over the rope by Kevin Owens.
5. Asuka Makes History at The First Women’s Royal Rumble
After 30 years, the female stars of WWE finally got their chance to show out in their own Rumble match. The match was given the honor of main-eventing the show, and the winner Asuka and all the participants proved they were more than up to the task.
Stars like iron-woman Sasha Banks, Natalya, Carmella, Michelle McCool, Nia Jax, and the Bella Twins were impressive competitors, but in the end, the Empress of Tomorrow stood tall by throwing Nikki Bella over the top rope.
4. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins Epic WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Three of the best performers in WWE history put on show in front of Paul Heyman and a rowdy ECW-loving Philadelphia crowd. Each performer played their role to perfection, and many big spots made the championship triple threat one of the best of all time.
Cena, showered with boos, struggled against the power of Brock and craftiness of Seth in a futile pursuit of his 16th World Championship. Cena had several near falls on both of his opponents but came up just short.
Flanked by J&J security and wielding his Money In The Bank briefcase, Seth was the perfect slimy wild card against the titanous Lesnar and Cena. Rollins showcased his tremendous athletic ability and variety of moves that would earn him many future accolades. Perhaps the move of the entire night was Rollins incredible flying elbow off the top rope to a prone Lesnar on the Spanish announce table.
Lesnar hit a minimum of 20 suplexes in a dominating performance. Both Seth and John gave Brock their best shots, but the Beast was able to recover and pin Rollins after an F5 to retain his title in a historic clash.
3. The Entire 2010 Royal Rumble Match
Even after 12 years, the match holds relevance to wrestling in 2022 as competitors like CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre, Chris Jericho, Edge, and even the former Zach Ryder aka Matt Cardona played major roles. Punk was the story of the beginning of the contest, as he eliminated opponent after opponent and cut an extended promo as he waited for his next victim. On the lighter yet still memorable side was Beth Phoenix’s entry, and her smooch and elimination of The Great Khali.
All of the amazing moments and competitors in this match culminated with a Hall of Fame final foursome of Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Batista, and the returning Edge. Michaels, who was desperate to win and face The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, even went so far as to take out his DX teammate Triple H. After an extraordinary performance, the Heartbreak Kid saw his dream crushed after being sent over the top rope by Batista. The winner of this Rumble was Edge, who made the first of his two massive surprise Rumble returns in this excellent contest.
2. CM Punk vs. The Rock
Punk’s historic 434-day reign would not see day 435. The returning hero Rock played the babyface to perfection, cutting an inspirational promo before the match that focused on his mother’s defeat over cancer. Momma Rock in the crowd was probably a tip that Rock would come out with a victory, even if it took match restart to get there.
The in-ring work by two of the best talkers in wrestling history was excellent, even with an unexpected collapse that saved Punk getting Rock Bottomed through the Spanish announce table. The two traded several signature spots until Rocky set Punk up for a People’s Elbow. The crowd began to buzz with anticipation until the lights cut out. The Shield entered in the cover of darkness and slammed Rocky through the announce desk. Vince McMahon, who warned Punk and his guy Paul Heyman that he would take action if the trio interfered, prepared to strip the champion. Instead, The Rock demanded the match be restarted which led to the Brahma Bull hitting his signature elbow and capturing his first WWE Championship in a near-decade.
1. Two Legends Clash for the WWE Championship and Make History
A year after his debut the year before, Styles fulfilled one of the dream matches that fueled his motivation to move to the WWE by facing John Cena for the WWE Championship. After his 2016 debut, Styles was impressively able to become champion in his rookie season. The conquering heel came into the match with a perfect record against Cena in previous singles competition, and let Cena know it.
The phenom Styles was at the peak of his physical powers, delivering devastating strikes with every part of his body and move repertoire. The ever-resilient Cena withstood Styles best shots and showcased a bit of innovation to his ring style to raise himself to A.J.’s level. The power game of Cena and the submission ability of Styles made for a wonderful clash, and the crowd loved every minute. The two traded big move after big move, emptying their respective bag of tricks for a wrestling master-class. In the end, Cena was able to match Ric Flair’s 16 championship wins, as he hit two AAs to vanquish his foe in a true classic.
What are some of your favorite Royal Rumble moments? Drop them and anything Rumble related in the comments below.