The 5 weirdest things to happen in a Royal Rumble Match
Anything can happen in a Royal Rumble Match. Sometimes, anything does. The traditional over-the-top-rope challenge that kicks off WrestleMania season is fertile ground for gaffes, twists and controversies that stretch from surprising, instantaneous elimination, to crowd mutinies that end up inspiring an on-the-fly repave of The Road to WrestleMania. We’ve combed through the annals of Royal Rumble Match history and assembled what we think are five of the strangest occurrences in the January classic. Make sure to stretch your quads first.
Randy Savage attempts to pin Yokozuna, unsuccessfully
Macho Madness: Good in small doses, bad in over-the-top-rope challenges. Randy Savage didn’t quite remember the space nor the place during the 1993 Royal Rumble Match when he got to the final two against Yokozuna and attempted to pin his massive opponent after a top-rope elbow drop. “Pinfalls don’t count!” accurately moaned Bobby Heenan, and the words were barely out of his mouth before the “Macho Man” was airborne, having been military-pressed by Yoko over the top rope and into second-place status and Royal Rumble Match infamy.
Daniel Bryan does not compete in the 2014 Royal Rumble Match, chaos ensues
If you had to write a storybook ending to Daniel Bryan’s Sisyphean march to the WWE World Heavyweight Title, it likely included a Royal Rumble Match victory. What better way to show the corporate powers that held him down that he was the best WWE had to offer than by outlasting everyone else WWE had to offer?
As the 2014 Royal Rumble Match came down to the wire, Bryan had yet to show himself, and the WWE Universe was convinced a surprise entrance at No. 30 was nigh. And then Rey Mysterio arrived instead, and martial law was declared. The strange sight and sound of The Ultimate Underdog getting booed lasted all the way past Batista’s eventual victory and the subsequent few months of programming until Bryan finally battled his way into the main event and won the title. Never let it be said that The Beard didn’t one-up himself, though: He actually entered the Rumble Match the next year and was eliminated halfway through, leading to a similar uprising that ended with the audience booing The Rock. Yeesh.
If there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then Titus O’Neil’s disastrous dive into the Greatest Royal Rumble Match, which made headlines and year-end Top 10s in 2018, is the undisputed pinnacle of The Big Deal’s in-ring WWE career. If there is such a thing as bad publicity, it’s a preposterous gaffe on par with The Shockmaster’s debut. Wherever you land, though, O’Neil’s instantaneously viral tumble, in which he lost his footing and sailed head-first under the ring apron at full speed, is perhaps the best and most amusing testament to the old adage that “anything can happen in WWE.” And hey, he got a T-shirt out of it, so it’s safe to say his will be the loudest, and last, of all the laughs associated with this moment.
The Rock is eliminated from the 2000 Royal Rumble Match, but wins anyway
One of the most famous Royal Rumble moments came from Shawn Michaels, who narrowly staved off elimination by keeping one of his feet off the floor, skinning the cat back into the ring and winning the match seconds later. In 2000, The Rock attempted the same feat at the peak of his powers and seemingly succeeded by eliminating Big Show … until a replay showed that The Great One had actually been eliminated by the narrowest margins of The People’s Toes. Oops. Rocky put his WrestleMania berth on the line against the giant at WWE No Way Out, but the title picture got infamously screwy down the stretch, as The Showcase of the Immortals ended in a notorious, McMahon-in-every-corner match that featured both Rock and Big Show anyway.
Mr. McMahon restarts the match, tears both quads
For all the chaos of the Royal Rumble Match, the ending is technically supposed to go the smoothest. It’s two super-tired guys (or women) in an over-the-top-rope challenge, so it should be relatively simple to close out. How many ways can it possibly go wrong? 2005 provided the answer.
In the final moments of that Royal Rumble Match, the following mishaps occurred: Batista, while attempting to powerbomb John Cena over the top rope, built up such a head of steam that both men went tumbling to the floor, leading to a no-contest. While the refs argued over the result and the crowd grew restless, a fuming Mr. McMahon stomped to the ring, demanding an explanation. He slid into the squared circle, tore both of his quads on entry and tumbled immediately to the mat, leading to the strange sight of The Chairman scolding two giant men in a seated position from which he could not physically rise. Eventually, McMahon was helped to his feet, the match was restarted and The Animal claimed the victory, but the main event of WrestleMania has rarely come with such collateral damage.