The Royal Rumble has been a staple of WWE since 1988, and since then, has developed into the official kick off of the Road to Wrestlemania and one of the “Big 4” PPV’s. It’s easy to see why.
The premise of the Rumble garners excitement, where the fans truly never know who or what they will see at the event, making it the favourite PPV of a lot of fans including myself.
With the match itself though, having so many moving parts and major spots, it inevitably leads to some odd moments and accidents occurring. Stone Cold Steve Austin himself said in recent interview that, despite winning the titular match three times (1997, ’98, and 2001), he’s never liked them due to how much is going on all at once.
In this list, we’re going to be looking at the 10 most memorable, unplanned moments that have occurred in the Royal Rumble.
10. Finlay and Hornswaggle Never Officially Eliminated – Royal Rumble 2008
In the 2008 match, we saw Hornswaggle enter at number 9 and proceed to hide under the ring. Later in the match as Mark Henry was attempting to eliminate Cody Rhodes, ‘Swoggle emerges and attempts to pull The World’s Strongest Man over the top rope. Henry pulls him into the ring and he, Viscera, and Chavo Guerrero all grab the Leprechaun. It’s at this moment that Finlay runs out, shillelagh in hand, and makes the save. The two men then slide out under the bottom rope. While WWE said that Finlay was “disqualified” as he had not yet officially entered, Hornswaggle was never eliminated, making him the entrant with the longest Rumble time with him technically being in the match indefinitely.
9. Stone Cold Accidentally Eliminated – Royal Rumble 1996
In his second appearance for WWF, The Ringmaster, later known as Stone Cold Steve Austin, entered the Royal Rumble match. as the story goes, he was supposed to be part of the “Final 4” which usually leads to a push following the match, even if the superstar doesn’t win. During the match however, Fatu (later known as Rikishi) clotheslined Austin over the top rope. The plan was for him to hold on and stand on the ring apron, however, due to the excess baby oil on the ropes, Austin lost his grip and was eliminated. The Rattlesnake has recalled on his podcast having to go and inform Shawn Michaels (the eventual winner) what had happened so the could improvise the finish. Thankfully, this blunder did not hinder the Texan as he would go on to win the match the following year.
8. Alex Riley Accidentally Eliminated – Royal Rumble 2011
Another accidental elimination here. Alex Riley, who at the time was aligned with The Miz, was getting beaten down in the corner by John Cena and Kofi Kingston. These spots typically lead to the wrestler in question getting a “rest spot” in the corner, however, Riley managed to slip and fall to the floor, earning him the ultimate rest spot backstage in catering. It was later revealed that the plan was for Riley to eliminate Cena later in the match which would’ve undoubtedly earned him some name recognition. But alas, it was not meant to be.
7. Randy Savage Causes A Rule Change – Royal Rumble 1992
The Macho Man arguably led to one of the strangest moments in Royal Rumble history back in ’92. Following his elimination of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, who he was feuding with at the time, Savage leaped over the top rope and continued beating down Roberts at ringside. The commentators were clearly just as bewildered as the fans as the began proclaiming he was out of the match. The powers that be intervened however, as Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon explained that the rule was ACTUALLY that someone needs to throw you over the top, meaning that if you voluntarily jump over the top, you’re all good.
6. Kofi Kingston Concusses CM Punk – Royal Rumble 2014
To date, the Royal Rumble 2014 match was the last time we saw Phil “CM Punk” Brooks compete in a wrestling ring. Now, while there has been plenty of injuries sustained across the Rumble’s history, none are more notable the CM Punk’s because it was arguably the catalyst for the series of events that led to Punk leaving on such bad terms and even taking Dr. Chris Aman, WWE’s Senior Ringside Physician to court. Punk entered at number 1 in that year’s match and got concussed from a flying clothesline courtesy of Kofi Kingston. As Punk tells it:
“I motion to Doc. I go, ‘I have a concussion.’ And he was like, ‘What do you want me to do?’ And I just started laughing and I was just like, ‘Doctor, you are one of the most worthless pieces of s*** I have ever met in my entire life.”
Punk walked out the next night, and despite appearing on WWE Backstage on Fox, has not wrestled for any promotion since, instead trying his hand in MMA both in the cage and on commentary.
5. Undertaker Gets Maven Drunk – Royal Rumble 2002
The story behind this moment was long disputed between fans as to whether it was meant to happen the way it did. Tough Enough Season 1 winner Maven came out and dropkicked Undertaker in the back, thus eliminating him from the match. The Deadman was understandably annoyed and proceeded to beat the holy hell out of Maven all over the arena. While it has been revealed that this was always the plan, it has also been revealed that Maven was “two sheets to the wind” during it. The man himself tells the story best.
“So the match called that night for me to get color and in the business, if you want to get good color, you take Aspirin. Well, I’m allergic to Aspirin. So, Taker’s backstage, [he] tells me an hour and a half before we go out — he’s like, ‘Take a couple baby Aspirins to thin your blood out’ and I’m like, ‘I’m allergic’. He said, ‘Oh, let’s drink some Jack’. I’m out there, he’s not feeling a thing because he’s Taker and I’m two sheets to the wind. I’m shocked as f*ck that I actually hit the dropkick, but I’m glad I did.”Credit: Fightful
4. The Rock’s Feet Touch The Floor – Royal Rumble 2000
While WWE may have worked this into an angle for The Rock’s character, the moment itself was not meant to happen. At the Royal Rumble 2000, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and The Big Show were the final two competitors in the match. The ending spot was meant to be: As Big Show was about to eliminate The Rock, The Great One was to pull him over the top and to the outside. While this did happen, The Rock’s feet can be seen firmly planted on the floor before Big Show hits the ground. This was ignored by the officials as Rock was the planned winner, however, he and Big Show made mention of it in a conversation backstage on Raw where Rock told him that whoever won that match was going to be cast as The Scorpion King meaning that all of his Hollywood success, really should have gone to The Big Show.
3. Titus WORLDSLIDE! – Greatest Royal Rumble 2018
This one is just funny. Back in 2018, WWE travelled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to host the “Greatest Royal Rumble” event. the match had 50 participants as opposed to the traditional 30 and the winner received a title belt and trophy. While Braun Stowman would be the one to win the match, the greatest moment of the Greatest Royal Rumble had to be Titus O’Neil’s entrance. Entering at number 39, Titus ran full steam ahead down the ramp and managed to slip and slide directly underneath the ring. The moment was made all that much better as Michael Cole and especially Corey Graves, could not contain their laughter, with Graves asking for repeated replays and giggling away. This moment may not be as impactful as the other on this list, it is arguably the most memorable.
Honorable Mention: Shawn Michaels eliminated – Royal Rumble 2010
This one is an honourable mention as it has not been confirmed whether it was planned or not, however many people believe it wasn’t meant to happen. The story going into this match was that it was Shawn Michaels’s last chance to get his rematch with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. His plan was to win the match and challenge ‘Taker for his World Heavyweight Championship. While the plan was likely to always have the returning Edge win the Rumble, the way Shawn Michaels was eliminated was shocking and somewhat anti-climactic, with Batista simply knocking him off the apron. Michaels desperate attempts to grab the ropes and Batista’s face after it happens are what lead people to believe it was an accident.
2. The EXACT SAME TIME – Royal Rumble 2005
I mean, you knew it had to be this one right? Going down as one of, if not the most unbelievable coincidences in wrestling history. So the first moment happens at the climax of the match. John Cena and Batista are left as the final two and are battling it out. As Batista had Cena up for what looked like a Batista Bomb to the outside, Cena kept his legs wrapped and performed a head scissors, bringing Batista with him. The two men hit the floor at the exact same time. It was so perfectly synchronized that, given 100 attempts, you could not replicate it. The beauty of the moment though was the referees jumping into action with the Raw referees holding up Batista’s arm in victory and the Smackdown! ref’s, holding u Cena’s arm. This continued for a few minutes until Vince McMahon came storming down, screaming and shouting to lead us into our number 1 moment…
1. Vince McMahon Tears Both Quads – Royal Rumble 2005
So, understandably, The Chairman was furious at what had happened and stormed down the ramp, launching his jacket to the floor. He slid in the ring and unfortunately caught his quadricep on the way in. The moment got crazier though, as when Vince stood up, he tore his other quad and fell back to the mat. He then proceeded to start screaming and berating both Cena and Batista and ordered the match to be restarted with just those two. This would’ve been an amazing moment on it’s own, however it was made even better by Edge’s recount of the events during a Inside The Ropes interview, where he revealed that when he was backstage after it had happened, the wrestlers were informed not to go into the hall as McMahon had refused help and instead was walking on two torn quads to his limo to take him to the hospital.
That’s our list! If there is any other unplanned Royal Rumble moments that we’ve missed, let us know on Twitter @HO_Wrestling