Knocking out numbers 40 through 31 was no easy task. That’s why it was even harder to rank numbers 30 through 21. A lot of thought and consideration had to go into making sure credit was given where it was deserved and that each and every pick was justified. I don’t want to waste any more time, so let’s take a quick look at #’s 40 through 31 before we continue the countdown:
40. The Warlord aka The W.O.A.T.
39. “Mr. Irrelevant” Tenryu
38. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
37. Vincent Kennedy McMahon
36. Bushwhacker Luke
35. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
34. Herc-a-leez, Herc-a-leez, Herc-a-leez
33. Mr. Backlund
32. Taka Michinoku Driver
31. David Bautista
So far so sweet. Like the great Mills Lane used to say: Let’s get it on!
30. Lex Luger (1 – 1) – In the summer of 1993, the wrestler formerly known as “The Total Package”… formerly known as “The Narcissist”… became the “All-American” before Jack Swagger became the “All-American-American-American-American” (no matter how many “Americans” you add, it still sounds like it makes sense). After body-slamming the 600-plus pound Yokozuna aboard the USS Intrepid, Lex had been crammed down the throats of wrestling fans EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately for Luger, he never quite got the reaction he was supposed to. Something just didn’t seem right. When the 1994 Royal Rumble came around, he attempted to change all that. He was going to become Champion no matter what. The end drew near as he and Bret Hart traded blows in the center of the ring. Lex picked up The Hitman to toss him over the top. Whether it was fatigue or his inability to get a good grip on Hart, The Lex Express let him slip out. Bret took advantage of the momentum and rode Luger right to the floor. After much debate, it was determined that they were the first ever Co-Winners of the Royal Rumble Match. At 10 years old, it blew my MIND. Lex would come out on the short end of the stick at WrestleMania after losing to defending Champion Yokozuna. He never quite recovered from that lost, but his shared Rumble victory will always be one of a kind.
29. The Godfather (0 – 7) – Pimpin’ aint easy for The Good Kama Shango. The Godfather rode the Ho Train to the Royal Rumble on 7 different occasions with an impressive FOUR different identities (Only Mick Foley could say the same). His Rumble debut came in 1993 as the voodoo doctor Papa Shango. When that gimmick didn’t work out, he made his second Rumble appearance as the “Supreme Fighting Machine” Kama in 1996 (where he made it to the Final Four with Shawn Michaels, Diesel and The British Bulldog). When the Attitude Era struck in 1998, Kama transformed into The Godfather. Years later, at the 2001 Rumble, the reformed pimp would enter as The Goodfather. He also holds the record for Most Rumbles Temporarily Stopped to Solicit Prostitution.
28. CM Punk (0 – 4) – The current leader of The Nexus is poised to make an impact at this year’s Royal Rumble. He has four dudes backing him up! I like those odds! Looking back at his past accomplishments, The Straight Edge Superstar has managed to make his presence felt in the Royal Rumble. Just last year he eliminated 5 Superstars by himself and did one of the hardest things to do in a Royal Rumble: Stand alone. While others like Diesel, Rikishi and Austin also gave themselves some breathing room, Punk took full advantage of the opportunity and preached his Straight Edge beliefs to not only the crowd in Atlanta, but to his opponents as they entered the match (“Great Khali… I can make you GREATER” is still one of my favorite quotes of 2010). To top it all off, he managed to hang for over 20 minutes in EACH of his first 3 Rumbles.
27. Alberto Del RRRRRRio (0 – 0) – Is it fair to give Alberto a spot on this countdown even though he’s never fought in a Royal Rumble? Probably not. Is it safe to assume that he has the “It” factor that Vince McMahon dreams about and will probably amass anywhere between 14 to 17 eliminations at this year’s Rumble? I’d like to think so. I’m pretty confident that when they up the number of participants to 50, Mr. Del Rio will have already won a record-shattering 6 Royal Rumbles. There’s almost no doubt in my mind. While I may or may not have chosen John Cena as my official prediction for this year’s Rumble, there’s a great chance ADR could shock the world, but you… you already knew that.
26. Jake “The Snake” Roberts (0 – 7) – He eliminated Andre The Giant from the 1989 Royal Rumble. I’m going to say that again because I think it bears repeating. He eliminated Andre The Giant from the 1989 Royal Rumble. Now… was he a legal participant when it happened? No. Did he get a little help from a snake? Yes. Throw that up there with the weird fact that Jake has been in 7 Royal Rumbles and drawn the number 7 three times and you have yourself an unforgettable Royal Rumble competitor.
25. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (0 – 4) – This guy is one of my favorite professional wrestlers of all-time. In 1989 he almost won the second Royal Rumble, but was the last man eliminated by Big John Studd. The following year he entered at #1 and lasted 44 minutes and 47 seconds (which is longer than Shawn Michaels’ 1995 Wire-to-Wire win). He also dumped 10 competitors over the course for 4 Rumbles in an era where Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and The Ultimate Warrior were active in Rumble competition. Nice stats.
24. Edge (1 – 5) – The “Rated PG Superstar” was the surprise winner of last year’s contest after entering at number 29 and eliminating 2 men to claim victory. The current World Heavyweight Champion would go on to WrestleMania 26 to come up short against then rival Chris Jericho. Prior to his victory, Edge’s Rumble appearances were somewhat sporadic. His Rumble debut was in 1999. He’d follow it up in 2000, then ‘03, ‘05, ‘07 and ‘10. The number 5 also seems to be a trend for Edge. He has drawn the #5 spot on three occasions (one of which was 2007 where he eliminated… you guessed it… 5 opponents (also eliminating 5 in 2005. Creepy.)). Why I didn’t rank him at “25” is still a mystery to me. He also found his way into the Final Four in 2005 and 2007, posting times of 40:19 and 44:02 respectively.
23. Chyna and Beth Phoenix (0-2 and 0-1) – It was impossible for me to leave the ONLY two female competitors in Rumble history off the list. It was also impossible for me to rank one of the other. The 9th Wonder of the World only lasted 35 seconds in the 1999 Royal Rumble, but managed to eliminate MARK HENRY… by herself! She would outdo herself the following year by going for 37 seconds and getting rid of none other than Chris Jericho. It would take 10 years for another woman to step inside the Royal Rumble to vie for a shot at the WWE Championship. The Glamazon entered the 2010 Royal Rumble and single-handedly eliminated The Great Khali (roughly the same weight as Mark Henry but almost twice as tall). Beth Phoenix also triple Chyna’s total Rumble time in one night. It‘s impossible to rank one over the other. Give it up for the ladies.
22. “The Model” Rick Martel (0 – 5) – I have to credit Rick Martel for being one of the reasons I started liking heels and noticing things about the Royal Rumble other than the winners. In the 1991 Royal Rumble, Martel destroyed Ted DiBiase’s record time by nearly 8 minutes! He was also a member of the Final Four in the ‘89 match. He’s one of those guys that you wouldn’t expect to last the way he did, but he made himself stand out in a crowd of many.
21. Big John Studd (1 – 0) – He was the first man to win a 30-man Royal Rumble in 1989. That’s saying something. His strength of opponents is downright ridiculous. The match included Demolition, Mr. Perfect, Greg Valentine, Jake “The Snake”, Randy Savage, The Big Bossman, Akeem, Hercules, Rick Martel, Ted DiBiase, Andre The Giant AND Hulk Hogan! Get the hell outta here! Studd also kicked off the trend of entering at #27 and becoming the winner. He also went undefeated in the Royal Rumble. Sure, Vince McMahon can say the same thing, but Big John Studd decided to man up and get in there. It makes you wonder kind of damage he could have done if he entered other Rumbles. Unfortunately, we’ll never know, but I kinda like it that way.
That about does it for this portion of the countdown. Be sure to come back tomorrow as I crack open the Top 20 and inch closer to revealing the Greatest Royal Rumble Competitor of All-Time.