Raw General Manager Mick Foley identifies the top Raw Superstars to look out for at the 2017 Royal Rumble, live this Sunday at 7 ET/4 PT on the award-winning WWE Network.01/24/2017 - 11:30
10 Instances of Superstars Going Over the Limit
With WWE Over the Limit 2012 closing in, WWE.com thought it only appropriate to examine standout memories of Superstars and matches that went “over the limit.”
In some instances, the matches discussed here exceeded very tangible constraints – for example, a time limit. Figurative limits of decency and good taste were overstepped in other cases. In all examples, the WWE Universe watched on as the Superstars did what they do best: shatter boundaries.
Over the weight limit
The structural integrity of the WWE squared circle is put to the test nightly in the form of multi-Superstar tag matches and the occasional battle royal. But at WWE Vengeance 2011, it took only two warriors – granted, one was The World’s Strongest Man, and the other was The World’s Largest Athlete – to collapse the ring.
This ground-shaking development occurred October 2011 when Big Show challenged for Mark Henry’s World Heavyweight Championship at WWE Vengeance in San Antonio. During the contest, the 7-foot Show, who’s listed at a svelte 441 pounds, ventured up to the top rope for a rare aerial maneuver. The 412-pound Henry halted his giant foe in his size 22 EEEEE tracks, and positioned him for a superplex.
The WWE Universe in attendance let out an audible gasp upon realizing what Henry had in mind. As the two bulls crashed onto the mat, ring posts broke free, ropes sagged and the canvas-covered platform sank, much to the crowd’s shock and delight.
Outlaws go over the edge
Even by their dastardly standards, the Outlaws crossed the line in February 1998 during a No-Disqualification Match on Raw between Mick Foley and his hardcore wrestling mentor, Terry “Chainsaw Charlie” Funk. Tag partners at the time, Foley and Funk went at it tooth-and-nail because, as Jim Ross put it, “Some buddies like to go play golf. These buddies like to fight."
The good-natured but hard-knock bout reached a turning point after Foley jumped off the TitanTron and landed an elbow drop on Funk, who was inside a dumpster. At that moment, the Outlaws saw their opportunity to pounce on the potential challengers to their World Tag Team Titles. Zip ties in hand, Road Dogg and Gunn locked Foley and Funk inside the dumpster before rolling them off the Raw stage. The vile action brought the show to a standstill, and the locker room emptied in support of Foley and Funk, who were feared to be seriously injured.
Over the time limit
With the WWE Championship on the line, titleholder Bret “Hit Man” Hart and “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels met at WrestleMania XII in a contest that seemed tailor-made for the two mat tacticians: a 60-minute WWE Iron Man Match.
After all, what better way to determine the top dog in the yard than with a grueling hour-long contest of strength and strategy between two of the generation’s best grapplers?
As it turns out, one hour wasn’t enough.
By the time the 60 minutes had elapsed, not a single decision – pinfall, submission or otherwise – had been rendered. Although “The Excellence of Execution” was in control in the final second of regulation time, holding Michaels in the feared Sharpshooter, WWE President Gorilla Monsoon signaled for the match to continue in a sudden-death “overtime” period, which The Showstopper won to capture his first WWE Championship.
Kane chokeslams Zack Ryder through the Raw stage
After “resurrecting,” with mask, in late 2011, Kane embarked on a terrifying campaign to get John Cena to “embrace the hate.” Unfortunately for Cena comrade Zack Ryder, “Long Island Iced-Z” unwittingly became a pivotal cog in Kane’s persuasive strategy.
For weeks, The Big Red Monster attacked Ryder at every turn in the hope of goading Cena into action. On the first Raw SuperShow of 2012, Kane even harnessed the flames of Hell in a scare tactic directed Ryder’s way.
Ryder’s fortunes only worsened from there. On the Jan. 23 edition of Raw, WWE’s top broski would have his chance at retribution in the form of a Falls Count Anywhere Match against The Devil’s Favorite Demon. When the combatants fought their way up to the Raw stage, however, things grew dangerously bad for Ryder, whose ribs were already heavily taped following an earlier run-in with Kane.
In an unconscionable move, Kane chokeslammed Ryder through part of the steel stage floor. The match was declared a no contest, though the sight of Ryder being stretchered out of the arena offered little doubt as to who was victorious.
The Ultimate Underdog sets a record
Rey Mysterio is used to having the deck stacked against him, but at Royal Rumble 2006, even The Ultimate Underdog knew the uphill challenge facing him was seriously steep. Having drawn the No. 2 entry into the Royal Rumble Match, Mysterio would have to survive the entire 30-Superstar pack if he hoped to secure his main event slot at WrestleMania 22.
Stunningly, Mysterio overcame the odds and lasted the entire Royal Rumble Match, eventually eliminating the No. 30 entrant, Randy Orton, for the win. The masked Superstar’s perseverance paid off in more than one sense: Not only did Mysterio win the contest, but he also broke the record for the longest time ever spent in a Royal Rumble Match at one hour, two minutes and 12 seconds.
No quit in Austin
Perhaps no incident better displays "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's toughness than what transpired at WrestleMania XIII. While facing Bret Hart in a Submission Match, The Texas Rattlesnake proved to the world that it takes much more than physical punishment to make him throw in the towel.
The Hart-Austin showdown holds a special place in the heart of any fan that witnessed it. After bludgeoning one another with chairs and a ring bell, not to mention fists and feet, Hart locked Austin into his Sharpshooter – the most predictable (and effective) weapon in his arsenal of moves, given the submission stipulation.
With his forehead lacerated, the resolute “Stone Cold” refused to give in, even as Hart cranked back on the Sharpshooter for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, Austin’s body gave out, though his will never did: Exhausted and suffering from a loss of blood, “Stone Cold” passed out while in the Sharpshooter and lost the match because he was unable to respond to guest referee Ken Shamrock. What he won that night, however, was a legion of fans in WWE’s rabidly growing Attitude Era.
Supersized Royal Rumble
With the exception of the very first Royal Rumble in 1988, however, one element had remained constant: the number of match participants, at 30. (The ’88 Royal Rumble Match, which aired on TV, featured 20 contestants.)
So, when WWE tinkered with the tried-and-true formula in 2011 and expanded the field to include 40 Superstars, the change did not go unnoticed. The WWE returned to the 30-Superstar format for this year’s Royal Rumble Match, but the 2011 iteration of the Rumble Match will nonetheless go down as a bout that went over the limit – historically speaking, at least.
Long before Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” reverberated through arenas or Wade Barrett set out on his “barrage,” the Superstars previously known best as NXT Season 1 rookies established themselves as the original Nexus by viciously assaulting John Cena during his match against CM Punk on the June 7, 2010, edition of Raw.
The incident was one of those rare examples when the Raw broadcast appeared to come completely off its hinges. The fact that eight relative unknowns (including current Superstars Justin Gabriel and Darren Young, to name a few) would team up to go after WWE’s alpha dog was surprising enough. Even more startling was that their ambush didn’t end with Cena.
Then under the guidance of Barrett, The Nexus members took out their anger on everyone who was within swinging distance. They assaulted commentators Jerry “The King” Lawler and Matt Striker, as well as tore up the ring, trashed the broadcast tables and broke the protective barriers around ringside.
By the time Nexus ultimately disbanded in 2011, the group had inflicted its wrath on countless occasions. Still, no other incident quite compares to their jumping Cena on Raw.
The Viper kisses Stephanie
In March 2009, Randy Orton was ringleader of the brazen Legacy stable – an irreverent three-Superstar group that included second- and third-generation competitors Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, respectively. Rhodes and DiBiase faithfully followed the orders of Orton, so it came as little surprise when Rhodes interfered when Orton & DiBiase took on then-WWE Champion (and heated Orton rival) Triple H.
Rhodes’ interference caused the match to be tossed out in barely a minute’s time. However, what unfolded from there most definitely went over the limit of decency.
The Legacy handcuffed Triple H to the ropes and then intimated that they would attack him with his own weapon of choice, a sledgehammer. With her husband in very real danger, Stephanie McMahon raced to the ring and tried to convince Orton not to go after The Game. Instead of hearing her out, though, Orton fell McMahon with a draping DDT and then, in a diabolical maneuver, kissed her in full view of Triple H.
A handstand highlight
Kingston’s elimination from the Rumble match looked all but certain after The Miz launched him over the top rope and subsequently prevented the sly Kingston from attempting to “skin the cat” and re-enter the match. Kingston was in an awkward predicament, with his feet on the ring apron but his hands on the ground. (Per Rumble Match rules, both feet must hit the ground for a Superstar to be eliminated.)
Yet, when The Awesome One grabbed his feet and threw them toward the floor, the acrobatic (and balanced) Kingston instead maneuvered into a handstand and “walked” his way to the ring steps, avoiding elimination.
The awe-inspiring resourcefulness and body control prompted the live audience to burst into applause as Michael Cole exclaimed, “That has got to be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in the Royal Rumble Match!”
The quick thinking saved the innovative Kingston (at least temporarily) and went way over the limits of conventional thinking.