Undertaker wins the Royal Rumble Match

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January 28, 2007

The Royal Rumble Match featured a number of firsts, but the most prominent was the name of the winner. In his eighth attempt, Undertaker finally won his first Royal Rumble Match, last eliminating Shawn Michaels to secure a championship match in the main event of WrestleMania 23.

In the process, he also became the first man to enter the Rumble at No. 30 and go on to win the match. This wasn't the first time The Deadman had drawn No. 30; in 2003, he was the last man in and also the last man eliminated by winner Brock Lesnar, and in 1997 he was No. 30, but eliminated by eventual winner Stone Cold. In 2007, however, The Deadman had destiny on his side, claiming victory for SmackDown for the second straight year and fourth time in five years.

Thirty men entered, but the final four were Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Edge and Randy Orton, the latter two who both made their second consecutive run to the final four. When an RKO sent HBK rolling under the bottom rope to the arena floor, things looked grim for The Deadman. The Royal Rumble Match is every man for himself, but the World Tag Team Champions worked together to try to get The Deadman over the top rope.

However, when Edge & Orton went for a Con-chair-to on The Deadman, HBK sprung back to life. After quickly tossing Orton, HBK nailed Edge with Sweet Chin Music and eliminated him, setting up the final Raw vs. SmackDown battle. At 45 minutes, the Rated-R Superstar did earn the "Mr. Longevity" title for this year's Rumble Match; however, when WWE.com caught up to him afterwards, he downplayed any tension that was seemingly present between himself and his fellow World Tag Team Champion.

"No tension, it's every man for himself, and we both knew that. Two Superstars such as Randy and myself, we're going to take the best opportunity we can to eliminate each other. You saw how effective we can be if we keep our minds together; we had a little lapse in judgment, and we got eliminated because of it."

Once it was down to the final two, HBK and the Deadman went tooth and nail, with a record on the line for both (an HBK victory would have tied him with Stone Cold for the most Royal Rumble Match victories). Michaels was able to hit Sweet Chin Music once, but when he tried to hit a second, The Deadman grabbed the hometown hero and launched him over the top rope to the floor to earn the victory. The fans were stunned as a dejected Michaels sat solemnly in the entrance aisle, but in a show of respect, The Deadman nodded and pointed at the Raw icon during his celebration, acknowledging the fighting spirit of the hometown hero.

SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long was ecstatic about Undertaker's victory, which gave SmackDown its second consecutive Royal Rumble Match win and fourth in five years since the WWE brand extension.

"I feel real good about Undertaker winning the Royal Rumble; it puts SmackDown right on top," a beaming Long said elatedly. "With this being Shawn Michaels' hometown, I'm sure he was trying his very best to win the Royal Rumble. But you have to give it to Undertaker, who will now challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 23."

This year's Royal Rumble Match was also the first to feature ECW Extremists. The fans were solidly behind them with strong "ECW" chants, and the Extremists certainly made their mark. Sabu set up a table at ringside when he entered at No. 7, but was later sent crashing through the same table when Kane chokeslammed him into elimination. Sandman later entered at No. 15, swinging his Singapore cane proudly before King Booker quickly ended his night. Rob Van Dam and CM Punk also put in impressive showings, but fell victim to another Rumble first-timer.

That man was The Great Khali, who entered at No. 28 and blazed an immediate path of destruction. In the span of three minutes, Khali eliminated seven straight Superstars until The Deadman entered at No. 30.

It wasn't quite as good of a night for fellow first-timer The Miz, however. WWE.com spotlighted the reality star on his big day, but his preparation methods didn't quite give him the best chance of winning. The luck of the draw gave Miz No. 29, but he unfortunately ran into the buzzsaw that was The Great Khali and was immediately tossed over the top just seconds after entering. Of the many accomplishments under The Miz's belt, the title of "Superstar who spent the shortest amount of time in the 2007 Royal Rumble Match" will be one the Miz-fits would like to forget.

And in another dubious Rumble moment, a record was set for the most Superstars involved in an elimination. Everyone knew it would take a lot to get Viscera over the top rope, and "a lot" turned out to be nine men. Even after HBK nailed Big Vis with some Sweet Chin Music, it took Edge, Orton, Punk, Van Dam, Chris Benoit, Johnny Nitro, Shelton Benjamin, Hardcore Holly and Kevin Thorn to send the World's Largest Love Machine over the top rope. This bests the previous record of seven, which Big Vis "set" when he was eliminated in 1994.

But with everything that happened in the Royal Rumble Match, it turned out to be Undertaker's night when all was said and done. The Deadman is 14-0 at WrestleMania, and the only previous time he was in the main event, he defeated Sid at WrestleMania 13 to become WWE Champion. Thanks to his Royal Rumble victory, he will have a chance to claim gold in the biggest spotlight of all once again. Ten years after his biggest WrestleMania conquest, will The Deadman rise again in Detroit?

The road to WrestleMania starts at WWEShop.com with exclusive WrestleMania 23 merchandise and special offers.

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