The 8 Most Shocking Royal Rumble Eliminations in WWE History
After three decades of watching one of WWE's largest PPVs, the Royal Rumble, certain aspects of the match have become predictable. There will be a massive giant who will be eliminated by a gang of smaller guys. There will be a brief stretch, near the beginning of the match, where only one guy is in the ring, dominating opponents by himself.
There's always one "iron man," who will last in the match for an hour, but probably won't win. And if a good guy wins the match, he'll probably win it after eliminating his opponents in a 2-on-1 scenario.
There are only so many ways the writers can script this match to be entertaining. But on its best day, the WWE still has the capacity to surprise us. And few things accomplish this better than unexpected Rumble eliminations.
An unexpected elimination of a favorite Superstar takes commitment and courage; it requires the writers to upend the story expectations that they've been building, possibly for months. And there needs to be good narrative tradeoff for doing so. Does it elevate the person who pulled off the upset? Or does it diminish both wrestlers in the eyes of fans? We've seen these moments inspire both the biggest cheers and the biggest boos in Rumble history.
Here are the eight most shocking Royal Rumble eliminations in WWE history. Also, read the match card and our picks for the 2019 Royal Rumble. You can find every confirmed entrant for the men's and women's Rumble here. And check in with Gamespot on Sunday, January 27; we'll be posting the results, and our thoughts, live.
8. Daniel Bryan (2015)
In 2014, WWE screwed the pooch by leaving Daniel Bryan, the most popular wrestler in the company, out of the Royal Rumble. In 2015, the company included Bryan, but instead of lasting into the later third of the match, disaster struck. Bray Wyatt bumped Bryan off the ring apron after just 10 minutes of in-ring action. The fans revolted, and they spent the remainder of the match chanting Bryan's name, booing the remaining participants, and yelling "Bulls***."
7. The Great Khali (2010)
In 2010, Beth Phoenix became the second woman to enter the Royal Rumble (the first was Chyna in 1999; more on her later). And she made an immediate impact; she kissed former World Heavyweight Champion the Great Khali, which stunned him so much that she was able to leverage him out of the ring. It was a fun comedy spot that came early in the match; she even hoisted CM Punk on her shoulders before the Straight Edge Superstar got the upper-hand and eliminated her.
6. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (1999)
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin won the 1997 and '98 Royal Rumbles back-to-back. And he would have three-peated this feat, had The Rock not come down to the ring and distracted Austin in the 1999 Rumble. That gave Mr. McMahon just enough time to sneak behind Austin and dump him over the side, winning the match.
Typically, it's not a good sign for business when a wrestling promoter goes over the actual wrestlers. But this was also smack in the middle of the legendary McMahon/Austin feud; their chemistry with each other, and their on-screen hatred of one another, was just palpable enough to make this finish work, against precedent.
5. Mark Henry (1999)
Chyna was the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble in the event's history. And she immediately made her presence known; she went after Mark Henry, laying in a couple of forearms before tossing him over the top rope. Unlike the Beth Phoenix spot from 2010, everyone, Henry included, played this seriously.
4. Shawn Michaels (2003)
The Heartbreak Kid is another back-to-back winner, winning the Rumble in 1995 and '96. So when Michaels entered the 2003 Rumble, fans may not have expected him to win, but they were expecting, at the very least, a decent showing. They didn't get that. Jericho attacked Michaels from behind and smacked him with a chair. He then eliminated Michaels after only 2.5 minutes.
3. Andre the Giant (1990)
Anytime Andre the Giant enters anything, he's an automatic favorite to win; he's simply that big and that beloved. But when he entered the 1990 Royal Rumble, he was three years removed from his legendary match at WrestleMania III and in more pain than ever. He was eliminated after just 10 minutes by the powerful combination of Ax and Smash, also known as Demolition.
2. British Bulldog (1995)
The British Bulldog celebrated early at the 1995 Royal Rumble when he got on the turnbuckles to celebrate his "victory." In the meantime, Shawn Michaels managed to pull himself back into the ring before both feet hit the floor; he pushed Davey Boy off the turnbuckle to secure his first of two back-to-back Rumble wins.
1. The Undertaker (2002)
Maven was the first winner of WWE reality TV show Tough Enough, where contestants compete for a WWE contract. When he entered the 2002 Royal Rumble, the Undertaker, who had entered earlier, laughed at him. But then, the Hardys attacked Taker, and this provided enough of a distraction for Maven to land a dropkick on the Undertaker, sending him toppling over the top rope. The Dead Man looked as stunned as the rest of us; he had lasted under eight minutes in the contest.Maven's triumph, however, was short-lived. Taker blew his cool, and he dragged Maven back to the concession area, where he beat the rookie to a pulp. Talk about a sore loser!