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Yo-Yo's Roomie

Every Royal Rumble match ranked

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Some may recall me doing this on the old board for WrestleMania and Summerslam. Basically, I watched every Royal Rumble pay-per-view, and then attempted to rank the matches. This was probably harder than those other two to do, because it can be difficult comparing a royal rumble match, designed to go about an hour, to a regular singles or tag match. I tried my best, but I dare say if I did this all over again, the rankings might come out fairly different.

 

For this one I also did mini-reviews for each match, explaining what I did or didn't like about it. I wanted to post two separate lists (one with the reviews and one without, so the people who didn't want to read the reviews didn't have to scroll through them all), but I'm lazy, and that would be too time consuming. As always, I invite criticism and (if you feel you must) ridicule, and I hope some of you share your own top whatever rumble matches too.

 

Here we go then (in 2 parts):

 

141. Mickie James Vs Ashley (2006)- Ashley was out of this world terrible in this, and there was nothing Mickie, or guest ref Trish, could do to save it.

 

140. Chris Jericho Vs Chyna Vs Hardcore Holly (2000)- I’m trying to think of nice things to say about this, and all I’ve got is that the right guy won. Jericho also hit a nice dive onto Holly. Triple threats generally suck anyway, and this one had Chyna, who was really as bad as I can remember her being in this.

 

139. The Beverly Brothers Vs The Bushwhackers (1992)- God, this is terrible. Lots of stalling to begin, then the Bushwhackers work their shtick for a bit before the Beverlys take over. I don’t mind comedy spots, but guys biting other guys on the butt isn’t my idea of comedy. Jamison actually makes the Bushwhackers worse, and even his bit with the Genius after the bell goes on way too long.

 

138. Strap Match: Sable Vs Luna Vachon (1999)- Pretty bad, and even at under 5 minutes, this goes too long. I’m trying to think of a strap match that doesn’t end with the old ‘opponent is also touching the corners’ finish.

 

137. Casket Match: The Undertaker Vs Heidenreich (2005)- This is comically bad. Heidenreich really was terrible, with his little one-two punches complete with ‘boom boom’ sound effects. I’m amazed ‘Taker gave this guy so much. Snitsky run-in and he and Heidenreich are the worst pair of villains. Kane popping out the casket was so ridiculous. I don’t mind some goofy supernatural shenanigans, but this was a bridge too far. Funny, but so bad.

 

136. The Boogeyman Vs JBL (2006)- This goes under 2 mins, which is its only saving grace really. I hate the Boogeyman gimmick.

 

135. The Genius Vs Brutus Beefcake (1990)- The Genius is a good character who they could have done more with. Fuck Beefcake for mocking him by prancing around with a limp wrist. But this is wrestling and I probably shouldn’t expect any better. This goes pretty short and Beefcake sucks, and the Genius isn’t adding a lot outside of some good mannerisms and athleticism.

 

134. The Mountie Vs Koko B.Ware (1991)- Mountie is really boring here. Koko’s comebacks are standard stuff, but as a squash this is wholly unremarkable. The highlight is Jimmy Hart badmouthing Frankie.

 

133. The Bushwhackers Vs The Rougeau Brothers (1990)- The ‘Whackers suck, and the Rougeaus can’t really do much with them here. Jacques is sporting a beard and doing nip-ups for fun, but it isn’t long before they succumb to a battering ram to finish this off. Not much to enjoy here.

 

132. Judy Martin Vs The Rockin' Robin (1989)- Nothing terrible here, with Martin using her power game, and Robin her quickness. Finish is good with Robin feigning a cross body and then hitting it a moment later. I can’t decide if Sherri’s commentary is really good or really bad.

 

131. 1995 Royal Rumble Match (1995)- God, this is rotten to the core. What a shallow roster they had at this point, and yet they still run an angle where one of their best wrestlers (Owen) gets attacked on his way to the ring and lasts mere seconds in the match. So many tag teams in this one- The Gunns, The Headshrinkers, The Heavenly Bodies, Men on a Mission, Well Dunn, the fucking Blu Brothers, the motherfucking Bushwhackers in 1995. Then just a conveyor belt of jobbers (Mantaur! Aldo Montoya!). Luger probably should have won this and turned heel to face Diesel, as Shawn just didn’t feel like a main event-level star at this point (though he was clearly on the cusp of a breakthrough). Cool seeing Dick Murdoch at least.

 

130. Randy Orton Vs The Miz (2011)- I can’t really think of a less appealing match to me than this one, and giving them 20 minutes was a big mistake. This was really boring. The highlight of the match by a mile is Orton launching Riley over the top rope onto the New Nexus. Riley takes the bump like a champ. The idea seemed to be to make Miz look tough by withstanding a lot of Orton offence, but I just don’t think that was the type of match they should have had, and is kind of undone by Miz getting the fluke win anyway.

 

129. Shawn Michaels Vs Sycho Sid (1997)- Shawn has ‘flu’, so we’re faced with the daunting prospect of a Sid carry job. That basically entails extended camel clutch, chin lock and bearhug sequences. A couple of decent cut-offs, and they finish with a nice call-back/payback spot to the Survivor Series match, but this is a chore.

 

128. MVP Vs Ric Flair (2008)- Flair is pretty sad here, and MVP is not a guy who is going to carry him to anything interesting. We get a pinfall with Flair’s leg on the rope that made the ref look kinda stupid for even counting it, as he was looking right at it. Playmaker reversed into a figure four was decent, though came with no build whatsoever.

 

127. Natalya Vs Michelle McCool Vs Layla Vs Eve Torres (2011)- Serviceable 5 minute diva affair, highlighted by Natalya’s double sharpshooter on Eve and Layla. Giving Eve the belt seemed an odd booking decision given the story was Natalya Vs Lay-Cool, but whatever.

 

126. Beth Phoenix, Natalya and the Bella Twins Vs Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, Tamina and Eve Torres (2012)- The faces looked decent in this, particularly Kelly and Eve who worked pretty well as plucky underdogs. The story is Beth is dominant, and she tags herself in hard at the end to finish off Kelly. Decent little match.

 

125. 2/3 Falls Match: The Islanders Vs The Young Stallions (1988)- Weird choice for the main event slot of the first rumble event, even though it was set up to make the Islanders look strong for their feud with the Bulldogs. A 2/3 falls squash match essentially. The Islanders do look good, aggressively going after the Stallions, and I like how Roma’s injured knee is capitalized on. The highlight of this was probably Vince, after a close-up of one of the Islanders’ feet, saying they could probably hang upside from tree branches with those toes, leading Jesse to point out just how racist that is. Jesse was the best.

 

124. 1988 Royal Rumble Match (1988)- The first rumble doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. Bret puts in a good shift starting from number 1, but this is really light on star power, as they’re obviously experimenting with the format. Weird seeing Warrior dumped with no fanfare, like he’s just another guy. Danny Davis always makes me laugh when he wrestles. What a marvelous little prick he was. Duggan wins.

 

123. Legion of Doom Vs New Age Outlaws (1998)- This quickly turns into an Attitude Era-type match, with the Outlaws handcuffing Hawk to the ring, against which the ref takes no action. Kinda shitty.

 

122. Ken Shamrock Vs Billy Gunn (1999)- They bring the intensity in the early going, but then the match just peters out, with neither guy bringing anything interesting to the table. Gunn totally no-sells Shamrock’s legwork for his comeback. Tim White probably takes the best bump of the match.

 

121. Brock Lesnar Vs Hardcore Holly (2004)- This sucked. Just a poorly laid out match, that made Holly look like a joke of a contender (which he was, but still). Really short, and the meat of the match is made up by a Brock bearhug.

 

120. 1999 Royal Rumble Match (1999)- Really this is just an angle disguised as a rumble match, as literally nothing matters apart from the stuff involving Austin and McMahon. Even the premise of the match, that McMahon will pay anyone who eliminates Austin $100,000 doesn’t really come into play in any meaningful way. Too many guys getting tossed in short order, and the angles they do try to run in the match (The Ministry kidnapping Mabel, Kane being pursued by men in white coats) just seem kinda throwaway. I like the finish.

 

119. Drew McIntyre Vs Brodus Clay (2012)- Clay looks good in squashing Drew, but that’s all this is.

 

118. Mickie James Vs Michelle McCool (2010)- I forgot how much I hated LayCool. Hard to rank a 20 second match, but this was exactly what it should have been, with Mickie destroying LayCool for the quick win.

 

117. Chyna Vs Ivory (2001)- Chyna actually looked decent ragdolling Ivory around. The finish wasn’t terribly well executed, but it was a good idea, and this match was worked pretty much exactly as it should have been.

 

116. Ahmed Johnson Vs Jeff Jarrett (1996)- Just a short match with Jarrett trying to find ways to counter Ahmed’s power Ahmed busts out his big dive and just avoids landing on his head. Sweet guitar shot to finish with.

 

115. The BodyDonnas Vs The Smoking Gunns (1996)- About as nondescript as tag wrestling gets. The Donnas have some nice double team moves, but never really look convincing against the bigger Gunns. Competent work all around, but nothing of real interest.

 

114. Trish Stratus Vs Jazz (2002)- Standard WWE women’s stuff, but too short to be truly effective. Trish’s bulldog to finish looked bad, and I’m sure these two had better matches.

 

113. Triple H Vs Scott Steiner (2003)- Not the atrocity I always thought it was, but certainly not good, and the problem comes with the way the match was laid out coupled with the near-20 minute match time. Steiner gets probably 75% of the match on offence, and that’s way too much for a match this long. Hunter seems sluggish too, and one time in particular he doesn’t go up properly for a double underhook powerbomb, which results in you fucked up chants for Steiner, who the crowd didn’t like to begin with. It’s weird because on surface level this looks like a genuine attempt to get Steiner over, with Trips bleeding, running away and trying to get himself disqualified. Hard to know if this was a calculated attempt to expose Steiner, or just a case of misjudging the situation. It results in a dull match either way.

 

112. Tables Match: Ric Flair and Batista Vs The Dudleys (2004)- Short and pretty shitty match, the highlight of which is Bubba sliding a table from one side of the ring to hit Batista who was standing on the other side. Coach interferes and this ends with a rather meek spinebuster through the table. Dudleys/Hardys it ain’t.

 

111. Shawn Michaels Vs Triple H (2004)- I was kinda dreading this, and while it delivered on all the things I feared it would (a manufactured sense of drama and epic-ness, blood used as a shortcut, slow brawling), it also gave a few nice moments. Shawn’s ridiculously overshot springboard crossbody which resulted in him going through the announce table was one. Sweet Chin Music countered with a low-blow was another. This is just going on way too long though, and doesn’t really have any sense of urgency to it. The fans ate it up though, so you have to hand it to them.

 

110. JBL Vs Kurt Angle Vs The Big Show (2005)- Not bad for a triple threat. Show makes these matches make sense, because he’s so big he almost forces the other two guys to double team, but it’s believable that he can fight them both off too. I thought the ending, though not really befitting a pay-per-view title match, was smart.

 

109. Dusty and Dustin Rhodes Vs Ted Dibiase and Virgil (1991)- This is all about setting up the post-match angle where Virgil turns on Dibiase. Short, story-based match that sees Dibiase getting increasingly more pissed off at Virgil’s inability to control their opponents.

 

108. The Big Boss Man Vs Bam Bam Bigelow (1993)- These two don’t mesh particularly well. This is a showcase for Bammer, but he doesn’t really bring a whole lot to the table. Bossman takes a couple of nice bumps, which end up being the highlights of the match. Dull.

 

107. The Undertaker Vs IRS (1995)- This is probably about as good as it could have been, considering there can’t have been a person on earth who thought IRS had any chance of winning this. They work a lot of distraction spots to keep Irwin in the fight, and Taker is good about knowing how much to give. Shitty beatdown from Bundy post-match.

 

106. John Cena Vs JBL (2009)- This was during the Shawn Michaels works for JBL angle, which I absolutely hated, so you get lots of Shawn looking conflicted at ringside. The match itself isn’t good. JBL works a very methodical style here, which I don’t think suits him. Then the angle took over as we got a ref bump and Shawn interference. Not a fan of this one.

 

105. Torrie Wilson Vs Dawn Marie (2003)- Maybe I’m crazy, but this was okay. This is post-death of Al Wilson, and Torrie’s bereavement acting is the pits, but Dawn carries this with some really vicious arm work, including a nasty Fujiwara armbar. Dawn then busts out a springboard clothesline, and I wonder how I missed Dawn becoming this solid in the ring. Torrie ends it with a weak neckbreaker, but this isn’t the worst way to spend two minutes.

 

104. The New Age Outlaws Vs The Acolytes (2000)- Really brief match that told you everything you needed to know about both teams. The Acolytes kicked ass, and the Outlaws eked out a win thanks to shenanigans. I remember being really pissed off about this result at the time, but that aside, this was fine.

 

103. X-Pac Vs Gangrel (1999)- This is a short sprint, and both guys are pretty good in this environment, Pac especially. There is the sense that they’re rushing through things a bit, but this is decent.

 

102. Casket Match: Yokozuna Vs The Undertaker (1994)- The actual meat of this match is really short, and comprises mostly of Taker dominating Yoko. This is fine because Yoko was such a great stooge, especially for a guy his size. Taker gets the visual ‘fall’ in no time, but then the goon squad shows up and the ridiculousness ensues. Smart of Fuji to just hire the entire heel roster to take out Taker though. I thought the aftermath with Taker speaking from the grave was some stupid shit even when I was a kid.

 

101. The Rock Vs Ken Shamrock (1998)- Neither guy was particularly impressive in this. The only thing that stands out is the finish, with Rock planting brass knucks in Shammy’s tights to get him dq’ed. Wanted a bit more hate.

 

100. The Dudleys Vs Lance Storm and William Regal (2003)- Bubba Ray looked really motivated here, and in good shape. Him screaming ‘die, you bloody wanker’ as he charged at Regal was a highlight. This was too short for them to really tell a good story, and there wasn’t anywhere near enough Regal/Storm offence for my liking. Kinda felt like a missed opportunity.

 

99. 2010 Royal Rumble Match (2010)- What a crappy rumble this was. It was like no thought went into it, everything felt rushed and unimportant. The one big story in the match was Shawn trying to win so he could get his match with Taker, a story which veered from kind of obnoxious (Shawn throwing dudes left and right) to hilarious (his acting after being eliminated was something else- he looked like an Alzheimer’s patient), although I did like him desperately trying to hang on before getting dumped by Batista. Edge’s comeback didn’t really feel special like Cena’s a couple of years earlier, as little focus was put on him. The highlight of the match was undoubtedly Punk’s stint, cutting promos between eliminating people  (I especially liked him telling Ryder he had potential before popping him on the head with the mic). This also incorporated the Beth Phoenix appearance, which was pretty well done (really surprised they let Punk GTS her). Punk should have lasted much longer in this, and certainly not been tossed with little fanfare by Triple H. Very disappointing all in all.

 

98. Kane Vs John Cena (2012)- This is a bit on the dull side, and doesn’t really accomplish much of anything, but doesn’t outright suck. They brawl to the back, but it all seems distinctly un-chaotic, then we get some fun with Zack Ryder and Eve. This whole angle is best forgotten.

 

97. Rey Mysterio Vs Jamie Noble (2004)- Too short to really get going, but these two usually work well together, and they worked the Nidia is blind angle into the finish, so I can’t complain.

 

96. Tazz and Spike Dudley Vs The Dudleys (2002)- I liked the Spike/Tazz team. This is worked exactly as it should be. The Duds isolate Spike, who finally makes the hot tag to Tazz, who cleans house. Tazz gets to throw some suplexes, and this is short and sweet.

 

95. Tazz Vs Kurt Angle (2000)- Tazz is made to look great in his debut, as he throws Kurt around and finishes him off in short order. Fun squash match that makes me nostalgic for the days when wrestling fans could get excited about the impending debut of a guy who made his reputation with another company.

 

94. Triple H Vs Randy Orton (2005)- This was half a pretty good match, and I was especially impressed with Triple H. I’m not sure why his hair looks like his building just installed low-flow showers though. He does some varied leg work, and looks to be guiding Orton through the match at times. Orton is a poor babyface though, probably the least sympathetic babyface since, well, Triple H. The story is Hunter must avoid the RKO at all costs, and him transitioning to offence by dumping Randy over the top in blocking an RKO was nice. Then they go into a concussion angle, and the match loses me. I’m not sure what this was supposed to achieve, but it kinda made Randy look like a bitch.

 

93. Vader Vs TAFKA Goldust (1998)- It’s kinda sad watching Goldust in this gimmick. He deserved better. This is pretty good, but I would have liked to see more of Goldust on offence. For example, he low-blows Vader to counter a Vader Bomb, but the match just continues with Vader on offence. Cool visual of Vader hitting the Vader Bomb with Luna on his back, although I’m not sure how cool Luna thought the landing was.

 

92. Razor Ramon Vs IRS (1994)- Razor looks good here, and I think his matches were usually structured pretty smartly at least. This match is really at its best when Razor is hitting his big offence though, otherwise it just kind of fades into the background.

 

91. 2012 Royal Rumble Match (2012)- The comedy rumble? This feels like it has the weakest list of participants maybe since the dark days of the mid 90s, with a lot of really low card guys, guest appearances, and, of course, the announcers, all getting in. The comedy probably peaks with Ricardo’s ADR tribute act. I didn’t hate King, Booker and Cole all getting in, thought it was pretty funny actually. Foley really looked awful here. Miz is a poor choice for the iron man spot, and doesn’t really do anything. Cody at least has his little story of eliminating all the legends. Road Dogg looked great in his cameo. This feels very repetitive, with a guy coming in, getting a little shine, and then being tossed. The finishing stretch between Sheamus and Jericho is by far the highlight of the match, and is really well worked. This is kinda the rumble match equivalent of a fun little sub-10 minute C-show match.

 

90. Razor Ramon Vs Goldust (1996)- Marlena’s debut. Goldust is trying to feel Razor up to throw him off his game, and you have to admire his commitment to the gimmick. This just doesn’t click the way I was expecting it to though. Maybe the gimmick overwhelms the work a bit too much. Weak way for Goldie to get the belt as well.

 

89. Eddie Guerrero Vs Chavo Guerrero (2004)- This was really disappointing just in how completely they killed off Chavo as a viable heel, and made him look so inferior to Eddie. The work itself is fine, of course, and the story of Eddie vowing to keep his cool in order to get the win is well told, complete with Eddie losing it post-match and beating down both Chavo and Chavo Classic. I just wanted something more competitive.

 

88. Cruiserweight Title Tornado Match (2006)- A spotty sprint, where none of the spots are all that impressive. The one wow moment is London hitting a shooting star press to the others on the outside, and all of them somehow failing to catch him. Helms as the Raw guy being teamed up on by the others was a good little bit of storytelling, but didn’t go far.

 

87. Edge Vs Jeff Hardy (2009)- The big problem with this match is the no dq stip, which is really only there so they can do the finish with Matt interfering and turning on Jeff. Otherwise they don’t really use it at all (sans Jeff coming off a ladder to put Chavo through a table), which seems illogical given Edge’s character and Chavo’s presence at ringside. I couldn’t really get past that.

 

86. The Miz Vs MVP (2010)- Striker calls Miz one of the most recognizable faces IN THE WORLD. Lawler heels on MVP for no apparent reason. Yeah, the commentary was the most notable thing about this match. It wasn’t terrible, but MVP was terribly miscast as a babyface. The finish with Miz catching MVP with a small package was pretty nifty.

 

85. Hector Garza, Perro Aguayo and El Canek Vs Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal and Fuerza Guerrera (1997)- An attempt to counter the trios matches that WCW were putting on, but this featured the wrong kind of workers to get over. Heavy Metal and Garza had some nice sequences (and Garza busted out the corkscrew plancha), but these guys just didn’t seem all that comfortable out there.

 

84. Tatanka Vs Bam Bam Bigelow (1994)- The highlight is Bigelow cutting off Tatanka’s war-dance/no sell act with an enziguri to the back of the head, and then doing his own little war-dance. These two seemed to have loads of matches together, which probably explains why this is as solid as it is.

 

83. Ahmed Johnson Vs Faarooq (1997)- Faarooq working the kidneys is smart. Ahmed’s big offence isn’t terribly impressive here, at least not until he powerbombs one of the Nation members through a table post-match. Not bad.

 

82. Kurt Angle Vs Mark Henry (2006)- These two just didn’t mesh very well, and I wonder why Angle didn’t just work the leg of Henry to set up the ankle lock, which would seem to make the most sense story-wise. I did like that Angle was still a cheating bastard, after having been a heel just a week previous, and that it took a nut shot, 2 chair shots, an exposed turnbuckle and feet on the ropes to put Henry away.

 

81. Team Hell No Vs The Rhodes Scholars (2013)- This is a solidly worked match, but is kinda colourless, which I think could be true of a lot of THN’s matches. Rhodes and Sandow do some good work isolating Bryan, but Kane’s offence off the hot tag falls a bit flat. They just didn’t quite have the chemistry to take this into a higher gear.

 

80. John Cena Vs Randy Orton (2014)- These two worked hard, and the match wasn’t bad, but I just felt it was so by-the-numbers WWE main event, like a throwback to the early 2000s but without the creativity or sense of urgency. I know the crowd was going to shit on this whatever, but I really don’t think they worked the kind of match that was going to be well-received in different circumstances. Orton, at least, interacted with the crowd a bit, but even that didn’t come off as particularly natural. The finisher trading was the final nail in the coffin for me as, with a few exceptions, I hate that shit.

 

79. Melina Vs Beth Phoenix (2009)- Good match in which Beth looked like a beast, and Melina an effective underdog. I love the infamous spot where Beth makes Melina kick herself in the back of the head. Beth busts out a couple of good power moves, and Melina’s counter into a roll-up for the finish was slick. Santino was a good second too. About as good a divas match as I’ve seen.

 

78. Lashley Vs Test (2007)- The cheap count-out win for Lashley here seemed unusual, but these two worked a solid, if simplistic match, built around Test going after Lashley’s arm. Nothing wrong with this.

 

77. Haku Vs Harley Race (1989)- Pretty much what you’d expect from these two at this point in time. Lots of big bombs thrown at one another. Harley is old and out-of-shape, but is still a game bumper, and eats a wicked superkick for the fall.

 

76. The Beverly Brothers Vs The Steiner Brothers (1993)- This is pretty much a showcase for the Steiners, but the Beverlys can bring the pain too, so they mesh pretty well. Just your usual Steiners match really, but not bad.

 

75. The Big Boss Man Vs The Road Dogg (1999)-

Boss Man is really good in this role, not doing much but controlling the match, mostly with some nice punches. Dogg sells okay and has his over signature spots, but it’s Boss Man who makes this as good as it is. I like that he goes over strong too.

 

74. 1993 Royal Rumble Match (1993)- The old man rumble. I don’t say that as an insult, as that’s pretty much the best thing about this match. At one point you have Flair, Backlund, Lawler and Tenryu all in there, which is pretty cool. Later you get Carlos Colon, and add in Dibiase and Savage and you have some real years of experience in there. There’s also a lot of jobbers in this match, and it gets really dull at times. The highlight of the match is probably Perfect’s elimination by Dibiase and Koko B Ware, with Lawler helping out from the floor. From there Lawler and Perfect come to blows and have to be separated. Cool spot. Earthquake and Yoko have a cool little thing also. The Gonzalez/Taker thing was at least interesting, ignoring how shit the resulting matches between the two were. I like that as soon as Gonzalez chops Taker over the top, Bill Alphonso was right in Taker’s face telling him he was eliminated. Fuck you, Fonzie, I have bigger fish to fry right now. The final two showdown was going good, but that finish is really stupid, in my opinion.

 

73. Max Mini, Mosaic and Nova Vs Battalion, El Torito and Tarantula (1998)- Arm-drag city here, but these guys are so slick and fast in their movements. This is a showcase for Max Mini, and he certainly stands out with his speed and fluidity. Nice dive sequence. They have to work special ref Sunny into the match, which doesn’t go great, but overall this is a fun little diversion.

 

72. Legion of Doom Vs Natural Disasters (1992)- Good hard-hitting power match, with pretty solid psychology too. The Disasters work over Hawk’s back, and he sells it pretty well. The Disasters should have got a good title run as heels, based off this.

 

71. 1998 Royal Rumble Match (1998)- This match is all about Austin, and it doesn’t really get going until he enters. That is a great moment, with the whole ring stopping when his music hits, and Austin sneaking in behind them all. Match begins with Foley and Funk braining each other with chair shots, which just looks stupid in retrospect. The three faces of Foley all being entered is a neat angle. This seems pretty poorly booked, with the ring filling up and then a bunch of guys being eliminated at the end in quick succession. Once we get to the final four it gets pretty good though. And who decided 8-Ball should go half an hour in there.

 

70. 2000 Royal Rumble Match (2000)- There’s very little that stands out about this match, which I was surprised about considering how many over personalities there were on the roster. The only highlights from the early going are Rikishi eliminating Too Cool after dancing with them, and Lawler’s glee at the way Taka is thrown over the top rope and face plants on the floor. The running gag of KaiEnTai coming in and getting tossed wears thin after that, and I couldn’t get excited about the Mean Street Posse running in to attack the APA. Rikishi gets the Diesel spot and looks good doing it. Things pick up when the Rock enters, and the final four is quite exciting, but overall this is a forgettable one.

 

69. 2002 Royal Rumble Match (2002)- For one of the longest rumbles in history, this sure felt rushed. A hell of a lot of guys getting short runs in there, and they do two ‘Diesel’ spots- one with ‘Taker and one with Austin. To be fair, both provide good value. I really like the visual of the Hardys and Lita all triple teaming ‘Taker and just laying the boots in to him (payback for something, though I don’t recall what). ‘Taker tosses them regardless. This leads to one of my all-time favourite rumble moments, Maven eliminating ‘Taker. ‘Taker’s reaction to this is just perfect, and I love Maven going from excitement to disbelief too. Then the beatdown begins and it’s pretty glorious (savage unprotected chair shot to the head notwithstanding). Very memorable stuff. Then Austin clearly the ring upon his arrival, realizing he has more time before the next man comes out, so throwing Christian and Palumbo back in and eliminating them both a second time is great stuff also. I forgot to mention ‘Taker decking Scottie 2 Hottie on his way to the ring just because. Funny. Then nothing happens for a while until the last 5 guys come out, who are all big names. Kane bodyslamming Show over the top was impressive. RVD comes in a house of fire to a big pop, lays everyone out, but then gets hit with a Pedigree which he sells for about 2 minutes before Booker comes in and eliminates him. Seemed like typical Triple H bullshit. Speaking of, this match was really built around Austin and Hunter as the two big dogs going at it, but all their interactions seemed kinda lukewarm at best. Austin didn’t seem in the best shape here, and Hunter had all the extra muscle mass which didn’t do him any favours. It was very unsatisfying to me. Really this one kinda sucked for the most part.

 

68. The Big Show Vs Brock Lesnar (2003)- Brock throwing Show around is always fun, and looks especially impressive here as Show looks really heavy. This is pretty short and doesn’t have a great deal to it other than Brock’s said manhandling of Show.

 

67. 2/3 Falls Match: Jim Duggan and The Hart Foundation Vs Dino Bravo and The Rougeau Brothers (1989)- The Rougeaus were a good team, and do lots of great showboat-y stuff. Bret does the majority of the work for the faces, mostly taking a beating. Duggan flagrantly cheats to win the match, hitting Bravo with the 2x4. Gorilla says it’s okay as the heels were cheating throughout the match. Pretty good overall, and the fans were really into the face team, which helps.

 

66. The Big Boss Man Vs 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan (1990)- Bossman looks really good in this, busting out an enziguri, and just otherwise looking really big and agile. Duggan is pretty much along for the ride. This is solid stuff.

 

65. Triple H Vs Kurt Angle (2011)- This went too long, and was kinda plodding, although the work itself wasn’t bad or anything. Indeed, Triple H did some nice focused leg work, which Angle made the effort to sell. The only time I really felt the match got out of first gear and showed some intensity was when Steph and Trish did their big brawl at ringside. Hard to pull off a heel/heel match, and these two didn’t quite get there.

 

64. Sheamus Vs Randy Orton (2010)- Orton is nominally the face here, but doesn’t work too much like one. Match is kinda slow, but has some solid psychology. Cody interferes to get Orton dq’ed, and you feel like the match was just to advance Legacy’s breakup.

 

63. 2011 Royal Rumble Match (2011)- I think this suffers from having the 10 extra people in it, as it just becomes exhausting, though it’s paced about as well as can be expected. It starts well with the focus on Punk and Bryan, Regal’s cameo and Morrison’s parkour survival spot. Then we get the New Nexus dominating the ring, which was definitely interesting, though might have hurt the match as a spectacle a bit (kudos on the well-booked hope spot of Khali eliminating Husky, only for Mason Ryan to be the next guy out). Cena showed a lot of intensity in cleaning house, even though I think there’s more interesting ways they could have gone there, and I would have liked to see Punk survive a bit longer to really milk his elimination. Cena and Hornswoggle teaming up is the kind of crap I have no time for, so I’m glad they kept it fairly brief. The surprise Booker and Diesel appearances were both really cool, Striker’s reactions notwithstanding. Hilarious how little anyone gave a shit about the two Cena/Orton stand-offs. The crowd seemed pretty burnt out towards the end, and I think they either should have booked Del Rio’s win better (put more focus on him/made him a bigger part of the match) or just gone ahead and done the Santino upset win. Overall decent match, but I just think the 40-man concept was a mistake.

 

62. The Big Show Vs Brock Lesnar (2014)- I like that they did something different here, as I really had no interest in seeing them wrestle a straight match. Brock looked like such a beast with the way he ran over Show in the early going, and then walking around with him on his shoulders before the F5.

 

61. CM Punk Vs Dolph Ziggler (2012)- The work here is solid, but the booking really doesn’t do Ziggler any favours, making him seem like an unworthy challenger and an afterthought. It ends up being more angle than match with the ref bump and Laurinaitis getting involved. Nice counter from the GTS into a rocker dropper, but that’s probably the highlight of a disappointing match.

 

60. 2006 Royal Rumble Match (2006)- An odd rumble in that there really aren’t any big memorable spots you can point to. Lots of down time in this too. There were some strong performances, and the match is anchored by Triple H and Rey, numbers one and two, who go back to each other at several points, and then do their little bit after Hunter gets eliminated. Kane and Show, tag champs at the time, teaming up to eliminate Lashley, who got a lot of shine, was nice. Flair only lasting a minute was notable, and didn’t go down well. It’s a solid match, but lacks those big moments.

 

59. The Orient Express Vs The New Foundation (1992)- I liked this most when they were just trading spots, with Owen especially catching the eye. Once they settled into the tag formula, I thought it meandered a bit, with Owen not being a particularly compelling fip. Lovely belly to belly leading to the hot tag though. Match goes home way to suddenly after that though. A bit disappointing for me, this one.

 

58. Ric Flair Vs Vince McMahon (2002)- Those crazy old bastards bleed all over the place for our entertainment. McMahon takes way too much of this match for my liking, though the spot where he takes Ric’s daughter’s camera to take a pic of a bloody Flair is great heel stuff. Anyway, the prolonged beatdown on Flair only leads to a big Naitch comeback, a revenge camera spot (Megan takes a pic of her old man biting the bloody head of Vince) and Vinny Mac tapping like Samuel Morse to the figure-four. So all’s well that ends well.

 

57. Vader Vs The Undertaker (1997)- These two had better matches, but this one isn’t too bad, as they throw some big bombs at each other. Bearer comes out, which disrupts the match, but works for the angle they had going on. What felt like a rare big win for Vader in the WWF.

 

56. 1996 Royal Rumble Match (1996)- This has a lot of interesting stuff going on, and some cool interactions, but also feels like a bit of a disappointment considering some of the talent in the ring. Lawler hiding under the ring is a classic Royal Rumble moment. The Vader/Yoko stuff is weird in that they square off a bunch of times before the final square off when they get eliminated by Shawn, whereas now you know they’d just wait until the right moment to do the one big face-off. Yoko is massive and taking lots of breathers which is sad to see. Vader looks like a beast though. This is all about Shawn though. The match is built around him from when he enters, he gets the big Vader/Yoko elimination, and is pretty much always front and centre. I wish he’d have selled getting press slammed over the top by Vader better.  I also wish he hadn’t pulled his tights down after winning.

 

55. 2013 Royal Rumble Match (2013)- Ziggler and Jericho at 1 and 2 put in really good shifts here, busying themselves for almost 50 mins apiece. Kofi’s bit with the chair is a bit on the silly side, but still cool, and a great bit of heat for Cody eliminating him right after he makes it back to the apron. Cody has a few good heel bits in this actually, like his smugness after eliminating Goldust. The other standout spot in this is the deal with Team Hell No, Bryan eliminating Kane, and then Kane having the option to save Bryan, but declining to. Funny character stuff. The final 5 or 6 is quite fun, as they all just throw bombs at each other and it’s worked really fast paced. It kinda dies when it gets down to Cena and Ryback though. I thought at the time Ryback should have won this, but they were obviously hamstrung by the Cena/Rock rematch. Cena seemed like a really uninspired choice to win regardless. A solid rumble match.

 

54. 1994 Royal Rumble Match (1994)- What stands out about this is how long the match lasts from number 30 coming out to the end. I kinda liked that. Vince seems convinced that Adam Bomb is going to win this thing when he comes out at number 30. Funny stuff. The Diesel stuff is a good mid-match story, and was really effectively done, even though he is just tossing jobbers. It looks like Backlund almost shoot eliminates him. There’s a fun section with heels interacting with each other. First Diesel and Crush eliminate Savage, before Crush turns on Diesel. Then the two of them hold the ropes open for Bam Bam so he can have at Doink, but then both attack him. No honour amongst thieves. I like Fuji paying off Kabucki and Tenryu to prevent Luger winning, and Bret selling his leg like a champ gives both the eventual winners a nice angle to play off. The fans clearly wanted a Bret win at the end. Overall the match had just about enough going for it to keep it interesting.

 

53. Shawn Michaels Vs Marty Jannetty (1993)- This starts slow, not really what you’d want or expect from these two. Shawn working over the arm is a pretty good story for the match, but Marty’s no-sell of it on his comeback is pretty egregious. Finally the pace picks up and you get more counters and reversals, and I wish they could have worked the whole match like that. I’m pretty neutral on the finish.

 

52. Edge Vs Shawn Michaels (2005)- This is Edge’s coming out party as a heel, and while it’s fitting that he steals the win with his feet on the ropes, it seemed silly to have Shawn kick out of a pair of spears. Overall this is a solid match, but not much more. It seemed like Edge was still figuring things out as a heel (him mocking Michaels’ poses was nice, but didn’t feel entirely natural).

 

51. Edge and Christian Vs The Dudleys (2001)- The Dudleys were working a concussion angle coming into the match, and it was going well, with all of Edge and Christian’s offence being targeted to the back of Devon’s head. Then they went and ruined it all by, moments after the hot tag to Bubba, the Dudleys doing the ‘Wazzup?’, so the guy with the suspected concussion doing a diving headbutt off the top, and showing zero ill effects. I know getting your signature spots in is important in the WWF, but they have no excuse not to be smarter about it than that. The finishing stretch was exciting.

 

 

 

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Top 50:

 

50. 2014 Royal Rumble Match (2014)- Away from the surrounding hysteria and bad feeling, this rumble isn’t half-bad, and I think there’s a lot of stuff in there that WWE probably thought might appease this crowd (obviously wildly underestimating the depth of the Bryan love)- Punk’s long run, the Shield tearing shit up, Cesaro swinging bitches. I’d say for the first ¾ this is a good match, but then it loses steam (probably around when Punk stops giving a shit, although I don’t think the two are connected). I mostly think this is a good showcase for the strength and diversity of the roster, and also a testament to WWE pigheadedness. Rusev looked good in his cameo, Torito’s spot was fun, and Kofi delivered yet again on his (pretty much) one opportunity of the year to shine. The Shield story played out well too. If Bryan has entered this and won, it might be talked about as a contender for greatest rumble ever, such are the margins involved here.

 

49. Edge Vs William Regal (2002)- Regal doing the power of the punch gimmick was always a good time. Here he gets the knucks taken from him pre-match, but of course, has a second pair waiting for the finish. This is fairly basic. Edge is pretty much a blank slate as a babyface, not sucking but not really bringing anything to the match. Regal nearly kills him a couple of times with suplexes. Nice spot where Edge reverses a butterfly suplex into a back drop, but Regal holds onto the double arm underhook and floats back up to deliver the move. Edge targets the nose a bit. Good match.

 

48. I Quit Match: The Rock Vs Mankind (1999)- The infamous finish to this doesn’t get any less brutal over time. That final chair shot in particular made me cringe. This also has a stunt with Foley being thrown off the balcony onto some electrical equipment. I’m not a big fan of these kinds of stunts in matches. Apart from that, this is a fairly exciting brawl, and I do like Mankind’s final hope spot after being handcuffed. The best thing about the match though is probably the two guys’ interactions on the mic as they tell the other to quit. Rock, in particular, has a few gems.

 

47. 2004 Royal Rumble Match (2004)- Probably a mid-range rumble in the grand scheme of things. As far as big moments go, you get the tease of the Undertaker, which scares the shit out of Kane, and Brock’s run-in which costs Goldberg. Highlight of the match is Goldberg’s spear on Nunzio, who was really good hiding by the side of the ring, and then being a sneaky little fucker when he finally gets thrown in. The Foley cameo is also really good, and he and Orton have a fun little brawl (stupid chair shots to the side of Foley’s head though). This is a good showcase for Orton as he gets a bunch of eliminations. Show looks like a beast in there, at one point taking 5 or 6 signature moves in a row and still staving off elimination. Benoit’s performance is impressive, but not an all-time great rumble performance, as I felt he went missing for portions of the match (not that that’s surprising when you’re going an hour).

 

46. Hunter Hearst Helmsley Vs Goldust (1997)- Hunter’s body changed so much over the years. Extended Goldust shine to start the match, and he’s breaking rules all over the place. Pretty exciting stuff. They work both Marlena and Mr Hughes into the finish, and give Hunter the win while keeping the feud going. I enjoyed this.

 

45. Razor Ramon Vs Jeff Jarrett (1995)- These two worked well together, and set the tone early with Razor dominating with power, and Jarrett outwrestling Razor. Jarrett’s goofy heel shtick is entertaining, strutting around after every takedown, and the Roadie is a really good second getting in on the action. The match flounders a bit leading into the restart, but I like how Razor’s injured leg eventually plays into the finish.

 

44. The Mountie Vs Rowdy Roddy Piper (1992)- I enjoyed this quite a bit. Sometimes Piper’s act just clicks with me, and this was one of those times. It’s basically a squash match, but Piper brings lots of charisma and energy to the table, and I really love his sell when he’s announced as the new champion. Really made it feel like a big/cool moment. Mountie brought two things to this match. One, he skins the cat, which I don’t remember him having in his repertoire. Two, he gets Piper in a half-nelson and repeatedly rams him head-first into the turnbuckle, which was a neat spot.

 

43. The Ultimate Warrior Vs Sgt. Slaughter (1991)- This is a good smoke and mirrors match, kind of like a truncated version of an Attitude Era main event. Sarge bumps around hard as ever, but has practically nothing on offence. Sherri and Savage pretty much steal the show, and Warrior holds up his end of the bargain too. Fun.

 

42. Ricky Steamboat Vs 'Ravishing' Rick Rude (1988)- Really solid stuff from these two. I think they had such good chemistry because Rude was such a great heel, and Steamer should a good baby. They could just play off each other so naturally. It’s nothing groundbreaking, just two masters of their roles going to work. Things like the way they work a camel clutch spot make you realize that there aren’t too many workers like this around these days, guys who really know how to get the most out of a basic match.

 

41. 2/3 Falls Match: Glamor Girls Vs Jumping Bomb Angels (1988)- They work this at a fair clip, more of a joshi-paced match, although they do dip into more traditional US tag stuff with some face in peril work. I like the Glamour Girls as a pair of roughhouses. Judy Martin in particular has some nice power spots. Sweet double missile dropkick from the Angels to finish the match, although Martin’s shoulder is clearly off the mat. Vince denies this, making himself look like a total buffoon.

 

40. Jeff Hardy Vs Randy Orton (2008)- Hardy gives a good performance here, his reckless style playing into the idea that this is his big shot at realizing a dream, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Orton is as dull as ever on offence, but he takes a nasty-looking bump into the guardrail off a baseball slide, and took most of Hardy’s moves well. I thought the RKO out of nowhere finish was cool, and I usually hate that.

 

39. Edge Vs John Cena (2006)- Edge was really good with his character stuff here, coming off like a real prick. His offence during the heat section lacked direction though. The story here was that Edge isn’t just a fluke champ, and can hang with Cena, and they got that across well, with Edge having an answer to everything Cena threw at him. The finish was a little abrupt, and undermined some of the work a little, but this was good overall.

 

38. Christian Vs Ezekiel Jackson (2010)- This feels like probably Jackson’s best ever match. His stuff is really basic, but all looks like it hurts, and he builds up to his high-end offence well. Christian gives a masterclass in working an underdog babyface-style, taking to the ropes for high impact moves when given the chance, selling Jackson’s stuff big, and getting an against-the-odds win.

 

37. Bret Hart Vs Razor Ramon (1993)- Early legwork from Bret is blown off by Razor as soon as he gets on offence. I liked the transition with Bret going ribs-first into the ring-post, leading to Ramon working the ribs for the heat section. It’s largely solid stuff, with Bret really keeping it interesting with his selling and his comebacks.

 

36. Edge Vs Dolph Ziggler (2011)- This took a while to get going for me, although not for lack of effort from Ziggler. It got pretty hot as we went into the finishing stretch, with a couple of really good near-falls, notably off the Zig-Zag. The spear being banned could have been incorporated more into the match, but I did like the finish with Edge hitting the spear while Vickie and the ref were down, and then finishing off with the Killswitch. Edge’s crafty grin at the end was funny.

 

35. Cage Match: Daniel Bryan Vs The Big Show Vs Mark Henry (2012)- This to me is a case of three good wrestlers doing what they can with a flawed gimmick. I guess escape the cage rules is my wrestling bugaboo, and that gets heightened when you make it a triple threat, as many times it just seemed like it would be so easy for one of the three to walk out the cage door while the other two were fighting. Still, as I said, these are three good wrestlers, so this is pretty entertaining stuff. Bryan is really great as the chicken shit champ trying to escape with the belt, and I love how simply the finish conveys this. I would have liked a lot more of Henry on offence here, but now I’m thinking about it, he may have been carrying an injury around this time. I liked that they kept it reasonably short too. Not every title match has to be an epic, and this one didn’t need to be.

 

34. The Undertaker Vs Rey Mysterio (2010)- This was pretty much flawless from a psychology standpoint, but there were moments where Taker just looked awkward taking Rey’s stuff, moreso than other big guys generally look. Taker getting busted open added to the match, and there was a great moment early on where Taker just grabs Mysterio round the neck and launches him over the top rope.

 

33. Edge Vs Rey Mysterio (2008)- Edge’s legwork is a bit lackluster, but Rey sells it so well, hobbling with every move he makes. The only time he blew it off was for the springboard, which led to the match-ending spear. I hate the heel pulling the ref out of the ring to stop a count spot, which they use here with Vickie. Why isn’t that an instant dq, or hell, why does someone tugging on his leg stop the ref from hitting the mat a third time? Vickie protecting Edge on the 619 was a nice way to lead into the finish though. Edge is good, Rey is great.

 

32. Chris Jericho Vs JBL (2008)- This is a really good sub-10 minute brawl. Jericho usually works better with smaller guys, I think, but here he was really laying it in with JBL, and visually it worked. JBL’s heat section working on Jericho’s throat area was neat, and Jericho bled a gusher which looked cool. Lots of fire from Jericho on the comeback, and the revenge hanging spot looked really good, with JBL selling it with some fun facials. This is pretty much a forgotten feud, but on this evidence, it might need another look.

 

31. Batista Vs Mr Kennedy (2007)- Kennedy really shows a lot in this match, going after Batista’s leg with gusto, busting out some unusual stuff, like a reverse figure four kinda deal, and generally working really tight. It’s like he knew this was his big spotlight moment and wanted to seize the opportunity. Batista sells the leg well, and makes Kennedy look good. What I really like about this is how much of a struggle they make it look. This is exemplified in the finish, with Kennedy raining down desperate punches on Batista as he’s up for the Batista Bomb, and Batista struggling to get good purchase on the pin because of his leg. Really good stuff.

 

30. Kurt Angle Vs Chris Benoit (2003)- Not as ‘workrate-y’ as I was expecting, although there’s no real story being told with the work other than two guys working as equals doing moves to each other. I appreciate how hard they were laying some of their shots in, and I thought this built pretty nicely with them doing teases to their signature moves. Some nice nearfalls too. I really hate all the submission reversals though. It just became overkill. Liked how it led to the heel hook ankle lock though (I think the debut of that) as the final death move.

 

29. 1997 Royal Rumble Match (1997)- This is basically all about the finishing stretch, and it’s really well done by everyone involved. Most of the match is actually kind of plodding, with the only real highlights being Austin cleaning house, Ahmed Johnson’s ridiculously long 2x4, Mil Mascaras not being willing to be eliminated by anyone, and Latin Lover giving Goldust a cresent kick to the ass. Dubious highlights. Then, from when Bret comes out onwards this is really good. Austin’s reaction to Bret’s music hitting is an all-time favourite rumble moment of mine. Shortly thereafter we get another one, with Jerry Lawler’s hilarious (“it takes a king”) elimination (“to know a king”). Lawler’s face is priceless. He looks so confused. The ring starts filling up with basically all the best guys at this point too (Vader, ‘Taker, Mankind, Terry Funk). Vader fallaway slamming Flash Funk over the top is a great elimination. Then the really strong Austin/Bret angle to finish.

 

28. 123 Kid and Bb Holly Vs Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka (1995)- Bammer and Tatanka could have been a really good team, as they seem to delight in just being mean bullies here, and I wonder if Tatanka’s mid-nineties heel run has any hidden gems in it. Great moment when Holly is so beat up that he tries to tag Tatanka in. I like Tatanka drawing Kid to him so that Holly can’t make the tag, a variation on the ‘knocks tag partner off the apron to prevent tag’ trope that I haven’t seem a whole bunch. The finish was clever too, with Tatanka hitting the ropes, not realizing that Bam Bam was up top going for a moonsault. Holly is the weak link in this one, the other three bring the quality.

 

27. Tables Match: The Hardy Boyz Vs The Dudleys (2000)- This is a really fun spotfest with some crazy bumps. I really like Matt coming off the ladder onto Bubba, with Jeff just flying into the shot from the top rope to make it a double team move. I also like the Hardys both flinging themselves through tables in quick succession. These two teams worked the style really well.

 

26. The Big Boss Man Vs The Barbarian (1991)- These two had some good chemistry, and worked a really good big man match, with lots of athletic stuff thrown in. Bossman really was rapid in his movements, and I’m not sure if his excellent exhaustion selling here is just that he legit wore himself out. Good finish with Barbar going to the top rope well once too often and it costing him.

 

25. 1990 Royal Rumble Match (1990)- This one peaks early, and then comes back up later on for the Hogan/Warrior interaction. That left me a bit underwhelmed, but I suppose it’s different watching it 20-odd years later in your thirties than it is watching it as it happens. Anyway, the early stuff with Dibiase attempting to run the gauntlet is cool. Jannetty has the best elimination, cross bodying himself over the top to the floor. At one point you have Dibiase, Jake, Savage and Piper in the ring, and you just have to be impressed with the level of talent there. Then you add Dusty to the mix! Savage goes way too early to build to his Mania match with big Dust. This is the first rumble where you can really see them using the match as a way to build to Mania. Dibiase puts in a real good shift here. Once Warrior goes Hogan’s win is never in doubt. There are a few too many dead spots during the match, but this is still a really solid rumble.

 

24. Bret and Owen Hart Vs The Quebecers (1994)- Really strong match and angle. Both Harts work a short face-in-peril section to establish that they are there for each other, but then the Quebecers go to town on Bret’s leg. Really entertaining mugging, with a chair shot and polo stick shot. Tim White’s positioning is poor though, as he clearly sees this going on. Kind of a stupid finish, as that kind of thing never happens, but it worked well for the angle, and Bret and Owen really performed well.

 

23. 2009 Royal Rumble Match (2009)- This rumble stands out for the story thread of guys being really difficult to eliminate. I really liked that as it made the match feel like a big deal that people had prepared for, meant that we had a nice crowded ring throughout the match, and gave us several really good performances, notably Rey and John Morrison, who spend a lot of time on the apron, and to a lesser extent Triple H, Punk and Ted Dibiase. There are others too (special mention to my boy Mike Knox going 30-plus). This all gave the match a different feel to previous rumbles, and I appreciated that. Cody and Goldust squaring off is a good little deal, as is Dolph trying to introduce himself to Kane, but getting chucked. Kendrick is also fun for the 15 seconds he lasts. I like the Legacy sticking together angle, but felt they could have done more with that during the meat of the match. It was effective in the stretch though.

 

22. 2007 Royal Rumble Match (2007)- Edge is really good in this, going 40-plus and really playing his character well, things like tossing Kenny Dykstra after the two had formed a little alliance, and then gearing up to spear Orton (and his reaction when he’s caught out). Rated-RKO working in tandem is a good base to this whole match. Other guys have good runs, notably Finlay and Punk. Kane chokeslamming Sabu through a table was a good elimination. They really made Khali look unstoppable here, as he tossed something like 6 dudes in about 30 seconds. I don’t recall anyone getting a run like that before. Made Taker getting him out seem a bigger deal. I was annoyed at Shawn recovering from a spear to eliminate Edge and Randy in quick succession before going back to selling, but it lead into the good finishing stretch between he and Taker. Usually I don’t like these long finishing stretches in battle royals, and it often seems too contrived, but they worked this really well. Funny to see the Miz treated like a complete jobber. And by funny, I mean apt. Booker and Kane had a wild brawl that looked like it was leading to a Mania match, but of course it never did. This didn’t have a bunch of great wow moments, but it did have a lot of good work, and was rarely dull, making it one of the better rumble matches.

 

21. Casket Match: Shawn Michaels Vs The Undertaker (1998)- If I’m not mistaken the bump that did for Shawn’s back comes really early on in this, in which case credit must go to Shawn for continuing to bump around like a loon for Taker. The turning point comes with a fun little mugging from Shawn and Hunter, with Shawn busting out the piledriver on the steps to good effect. The match ends up turning into more of an angle by the end, with Kane coming out to help, and then turn on, his brother (complete with hokey post-match), but the meat of the match is really quite good.

 

20. Last Man Standing Match: The Big Show Vs Alberto Del Rio (2013)- This is really well put together, with Show looking unstoppable, and Del Rio playing such a good underdog face that it makes me wonder why his face run was such a failure. What I like most is how believable this is. We don’t get Del Rio taking a bunch of crazy stuff and surviving, as you’re apt to see in last man standings- the chokeslam through a table off part of the set is the one killer move he survives- and his comeback is built to logically. The finish is smart, even if I’m not a fan of babyface’s using outside interference to win.

 

19. Matt Hardy Vs Jack Swagger (2009)- Very good match, built around Swagger working over the arm of Matt, which saw him do some cool, hurty-looking stuff, like clamping on a key-lock and then jerking Matt into the air. Matt sold really well, and this definitely brought to mind Swagger’s classic title defense against Christian from a month later.

 

18. 2008 Royal Rumble Match (2008)- The hoss rumble. Man, so many awesome big dudes in this. At one point you have Kane, Taker, Snitsky, Batista, Umaga, Henry and Big Daddy V all in the ring at once. It also felt like a really wide open rumble, with lots of big stars, and it was a match that gave a rub to a lot of younger guys, with Cody Rhodes, John Morrison and Punk all getting strong runs. Taker and Michaels starting was a good continuation of the finishing stretch from the previous year, and Santino was a great comedy entrant at number 3. I could do without the Hornswoggle entry, although to be fair they kept it to just one little spot. Great sequence where Taker throws Snitsky, then gets thrown by Michaels, who in turn gets thrown by Kennedy. Crowd seemed a little deflated by Taker and Michaels going, but picked up again with Triple H and Cena coming in. Cena’s entry is one of those great rumble moments, great reaction from the crowd, and from Triple H too. Felt like the big moment that it was. Fun moment when Snuka and Piper come in, and everyone else just stands around and watches them go at it for a minute. Very strong rumble match.

 

17. 2003 Royal Rumble Match (2003)- You could call this the ‘workrate’ rumble, as there were so many guys in this who were widely considered good work guys (the Guerreros, Team Angle, Jericho, Christian, Tajiri, Hardys, RVD, Edge, Rey). This has maybe the best start to a rumble ever, with Christian doing Jericho’s entrance, and then Jericho attacking Michaels from behind. Had me marking out big time at the time, as a confessed Shawn-hater. Rey and Edge destroy Christopher Nowinski with what was supposed to be a double missile dropkick, but they mistimed it so Edge ended up just landing on Nowinski’s face. One of the highlights of this thing was Shannon Moore as Matt Hardy’s MF’er doing everything he could to try to keep Matt in this. Really fun. Matt eventually gets F5’ed out by Lesnar. I liked Kane double-crossing RVD and throwing him out, after telling him he would do just that before the match. I was thinking this match needed a couple of imposing big men to take it to the next level, and then we end up with a final four of Brock, Kane, Taker and Batista. I guess that counts. A-Train looks good in this. Great callback as Maven thinks he’s eliminated Taker again, only to turn around into a waiting Deadman. ‘Taker’s reaction after getting thrown out is great. Very fun rumble.

 

16. The Hardy Boyz Vs MNM (2007)- This was some choice tag team stuff, with a double fip, and some nice concentrated body part work by the heels. This was coming off Mercury getting his face destroyed, so there’s another thread of MNM trying to mess up the Hardys’ faces, and they work over Matt’s jaw in follow up of an attack on Smackdown. Then Nitro gets his knees up on a Jeff splash from the top, and that leads in to the heels working on Jeff’s midsection. They could probably have milked the second hot tag a little more. Lots of fast-paced stuff + solid psychology = a very good match.

 

15. 2005 Royal Rumble Match (2005)- Really well-booked action-packed match. Benoit and Guerrero are a good early base for the match, and both put in good shifts. Puder getting the shit kicked out of him was perversely entertaining. The ring separating between the Raw and Smackdown guys was a really cool moment, which the fans were really into. The face-off was made even better by Muhammad Hassan being the next man out, and everyone just going after him to eliminate him. Edge and Mysterio both go 40 mins-plus, and Rey in particular looks great. Cool to see him and Eddie teaming up in there. London takes that nutty bump to get eliminated. Nice little World’s Greatest Tag Team reunion. Batista and Flair double-teaming dudes is cool, and leads to Naitch trying to double-cross Batista. Funny moment. Angle and Michaels set up their Mania match nicely. What the fuck happened with that finish though? I always heard it was a mistake, but what a stupid mistake to make. Like, how do you fuck that up? I’m sure Batista and Cena were bricking it when Vince came out, and even more so when Vince messed up his knees (not to take pleasure in the misfortune of others, but that was some funny shit). Anyway, they covered it all well, and Batista was the right winner for the time, so all in all this was a very satisfying match.

 

14. I Quit Match: Ronnie Garvin Vs Greg Valentine (1990)- Holy shit, why don’t more people talk about this? These two beat the piss out of each other for 20 minutes in a submission match, which is both about as close to a real fight as you’ll see in the WWF, but also has the really fun pro-wrestling hoopla of Garvin wearing a shin guard (called the Hammer Jammer) to counter Valentine’s own (the Hart-Breaker). So, when Valentine finally locks on the figure-4, it has no effect, and we get the really goofy visual of Garvin pulling faces at Valentine while in the hold. This is really all about the stiffness though, which is about at Finlay/Regal levels. Really good stuff.

 

13. Bret Hart Vs Diesel (1995)- Very good match which I think is marred by the two restarts. Was this the first big main event match where they did a total shmozz finish? I don’t mind the run-ins and the no contest finish, but I think the restarts hurt the flow of the match, and it seemed really unfair on Diesel in particular, who had Bret beat with the jackknife. Diesel’s selling of the leg is spotty at best. Bret, though, puts in one of his best selling performances here for me. I especially like the way he sells a sternum-first impact into an exposed turnbuckle. Everything he does looks so believable. I also like how Bret would heel it up in face/face matches. I think he was a very selfless worker in that regard.

 

12. Bret Hart Vs The Undertaker (1996)- This got rather good after a pretty ropey start. They work a claw hold early doors, and I’m thinking this is going to be more Summerslam 97 than One Night Only. Things pick up when Bret gets on offence, and I like how focused and relentless he is on the leg, although there are a couple of points where they’re just sitting around in holds. It goes up another notch when ‘Taker takes back over with some brawling on the outside. Bret takes Taker’s mask (or facial apparatus as Vince insists on calling it) off, and then runs for his life from ‘Taker’s great pissed off facials. I like how both guys take turns heeling in this one, and the fans react accordingly, giving this a neat atmosphere. They should have protected the champ better though.

 

11. The Rock Vs CM Punk (2013)- This feels like a peak-era Rock match with the way it’s put together, the way he sells, and the way his babyface charisma really comes through. I think this is a really good CM Punk performance. This might be the high watermark of his run as heel ace, as he’s really good here at cutting the Rock off, controlling the tempo of the match, and playing to the crowd. The major flaw is that the body part work gets lost in the final third of the match, which is a shame, as I like how Punk worked on Rocky’s midsection. What I really appreciated is that they didn’t do a bunch of finisher killing and reversals of signature spots, and what they did do felt fresh (Punk countering a Rock Bottom with a crucifix into the Anaconda Vise, for example). The Shield run in with the lights off was a bit of an unimaginative way to get around that stipulation, and I still wish Punk had retained, but Punk celebrating>Vince coming out and restarting the match>Rock winning with the People’s Elbow was a fitting way for the title reign to end.

 

10. 1989 Royal Rumble Match (1989)- This is what I want from a rumble, lots of star power and little storylines running throughout the match. One of the best starts to a rumble ever, with Ax and Smash at 1 and 2, and Andre, the only man with a chance to survive at number 3 coming out. Then Mr Perfect saunters out at number 4. I love watching Andre interact with people, and wish he would have stayed in longer. I like Bad News and Savage squaring off. Anderson hits a wicked spinebuster on Shawn, and then Tully appears out of nowhere with an elbowdrop. Brainbusters! Hogan is such a dick in this. He eliminates his tag partner and supposed best friend, Savage from behind. Okay, every man for himself, and Savage maybe overreacts a bit. But then, Hogan gets double teamed and eliminated by the Twin Towers and gets all mardy, pulling Bossman over the top rope from the floor. Maybe if you hadn’t have eliminated Savage, you wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. Did it piss you off that the Twin Towers know how to work as a team, while you only care about yourself? Dibiase buying number 30 is a great character thing, and he probably should have won this. Studd winning seems really weird in retrospect, but he did look pretty boss at the end throwing Dibiase around, and then dealing with Virgil. Not too many lulls in this one.

 

9. The Rock Vs Chris Jericho (2002)- This was really exciting from bell to bell, and I really liked the way these two characters interacted with each other, starting with Jericho getting in Rock’s face at the bell, and doing the ‘just bring it’ gesture right in his mug. Rock nipping up while Jericho was going for a people’s elbow was a nice spot, as was the Rock Bottom from one announce table to the other. The bullshit kicks in with Storm and Christian interfering, a ref bump, and Nick Patrick doing his heel ref act (and getting Rock Bottomed for his troubles). Doesn’t feel like overkill though. I love the finish with Jericho using a low blow, an exposed turnbuckle, and feet on the ropes to steal the win. Great way for a sneaky heel to retain his title.

 

8. 1991 Royal Rumble Match (1991)- Not a particularly star-studded match, nor one that features any strong storylines, but I like this because it features a lot of good individual performances. Top of the list is Rick Martel, who surely gives one of the best rumble match performances ever. For over 50 minutes he’s just everywhere, seemingly fighting off elimination at every turn. Other guys put in good shifts too, like Valentine and Davey Boy, and there’s a really good Mr Perfect cameo. He strolls down the aisle at a glacial pace, but then the minute he’s in the ring he’s doing 360 bumps and stooging around. Did anyone ever walk the line between being the coolest guy in the room and the most ridiculous like Perfect did? Another thing I like about this is that they really let the ring fill up, which is my preference in rumble matches. It seems like there’s always at least 10 guys in the ring. Hogan’s win was really predictable, and formulaic, but the crowd were super into it anyway. Gotta mention Luke’s elimination too, as a classic rumble moment.

 

7. The Rockers Vs The Orient Express (1991)- Fantastic tag match. Diamond and Tanaka were such a good team, as, of course, were the Rockers. This moves at a really fast pace, and even when the Orients slow it down for the heat section it never plods (despite a nerve-hold spot, which might be my least favourite move in wrestling). Everything is hit super crisp and timed really well. Shawn’s hope spot being cut off by the upside down bump in the corner and then being superkicked by Tanaka from the apron back into the ring was really great. I wish that had got longer as I feel the Rockers’ early-match shine went on a bit too long for the length of the match. I really like the finish to this too, with Marty turning a slingshot into a sunset flip. Clever, and it looked cool.

 

6. 2001 Royal Rumble Match (2001)- Man, this rumble was just packed with stuff, not all good stuff, but nothing boring either. The Hardys collide segment might have been cool had their exchanges not looked like complete shit. Drew Carey was okay for a bit of comedy. Kane was actually really good in this whole match, in a big, lumbering, oafish kind of way. I liked the bit where he just had enough of the hardcore division guys teeing off on him, and tossed them all in about a minute. That led to Honky Tonk Man coming in and getting brained with his guitar, and Kane just shakes his head like ‘what did you think was going to happen?’ Then the Rock comes in and business picks up. They found a nice balance between all the gimmicky stuff in the early going, and then the serious stuff, and this felt really chaotic at times. Triple H attacking Austin as he came out was well-done, and led to the great visual of Austin wrestling the match with a bloody face. Show chokeslamming Rock through the announce table also added to the chaos. You had the spot with the Brothers of Destruction sizing each other up, and then poor Scotty 2 Hotty coming out to be destroyed by them. The return of Haku! Rock/Austin interaction. Yes, this was really enjoyable.

 

5. Bray Wyatt Vs Daniel Bryan (2014)- Tremendous match that’s worked at a really good pace, and is really augmented by the terrific crowd. Bray catching Bryan off the dive and hitting Sister Abigail into the guard rail might be one of my favourite spots in wrestling history. It was just hit so smoothly, and was the perfect match clinching move after such a titanic struggle. Bray, in general, looked great in this. His cut offs look great, the fat boy senton on the floor was sweet, and his stuff just looks so vicious. Love him playing off the crowd too. Bryan is Bryan and his approach to the match, his urgency, his fire, makes this feel like a really big deal and a really important match.

 

4. Last Man Standing Match: John Cena Vs Umaga (2007)- Umaga looks like a total beast here, and I really wish he’d have got a run with the belt at some point (here, ideally). Cena has a couple of questionable rushes of adrenaline, but generally his selling is excellent, and his blood-soaked face showing disbelief and desperation makes for a great visual. Indeed, there were several great visual moments in this, my favourite probably being Cena throwing the steps out the ring at Umaga, with special mention going to Umaga’s splash through the ECW announce table. I thought the finish was very creative, although didn’t make for the best visual. I liked Cena doing all his signature moves on the steel steps too. Great match that looked like a real war.

 

3. Street Fight: Cactus Jack Vs Triple H (2000)- Fantastically brutal match, which I think saw both guys at the top of their game. Hunter, in particular, never looked the part quite like this again, in my opinion, and Foley really killed himself to get the match and his opponent over. The brutality escalates well, without there ever really being a feeling of overkill (well, Foley takes a pretty sick full-on chair shot very early on that you might call questionable, even though it played into the story of Jack being able to take ridiculous amounts of punishment and keep coming back). Nice callback to the Rock/Mankind match with the handcuffs. Piledriver on the announce table (that doesn’t give) looked great. The only thing I didn’t really like about this was the Rock’s interference, as I think it made Foley look weak, and Trips was getting enough of a rub as it was without having to overcome a numerical disadvantage. Great memorable finish to a great match.

 

2. Ladder Match: Chris Jericho Vs Chris Benoit (2001)- This is about as brutal a ladder match as I can ever recall seeing. Both these guys don’t mind leaning into stuff to make it seem more real, and that leads to some really crazy-looking bumps here. One great sequence sees Jericho take a nasty over the top rope bump after being whipped into the ladder, which is followed shortly by Benoit’s tope being met with a chair to the head, probably the best-looking version of that spot I’ve ever seen. I really like how they don’t really do anything contrived or too complicated with the ladder. Probably the most contrived thing they do is the Walls-variation on top of the ladder, and that’s a cool visual so it didn’t bother me. This wasn’t just spots either. They had the story of Jericho coming into the match with an injured arm, and, while they drifted away from that once or twice, they always came back to it. This was really, really good.

 

1. 1992 Royal Rumble Match (1992)- So, Flair was decent in this, hey? Seriously great performance, as he just spends the whole match going blow for blow with people, and probably has interaction with everyone in the match sans Dibiase who had already gone (a shame, by the way). Davey Boy gives a good accounting for himself, and him clearing the ring so he can get Flair one-on-one is a good early story in the match. Great moment when Flair dumps Bossman, giving him the ring to himself, and then Piper comes out as the next entrant. Great selling from Ric. The Savage/Jake rivalry is another great story in this, but Savage eliminating himself had to be a mistake, right? Otherwise Andre the Giant has a legit gripe re: eliminating himself in 89. Jake is such a great evil dick. I love how when he first comes in it’s just Piper and Flair in the ring, and Piper has Flair in the sleeper. Jake just motions for Piper to carry on, and sits himself in the corner, which gets a pop from the fans around ringside. I don’t think this is quite as star-studded as people make out, or rather, a lot of the stars were way past their best and were no real threat in there. My only major gripe with this though is the way the finish puts all the focus on Hogan and Sid, and not Flair. Goes without saying what a piece of shit Hogan is at the end there. This pretty much has everything you’d want in a rumble match.

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Really enjoyed reading that, thanks for posting.

Agree with the love for Garvin/Valentine at RR90. So untypical of that era in the WWF, there is something satisfying about two guys just beating the crap out of each other, and you can tell Hammer is glad to be wrestling someone he can really lay it in with. Great match.

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I actually agree with a lot of your rankings, and I might quibble with the order of the top 5 or 7, but would probably go with those same matches.

 

But that whole "Rock is blown up 2 minutes in, Punk works himself for 20 minutes" match being even in the top half of the list is just...  what?

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Glad you've done this again as I liked your previous WrestleMania and SummerSlam ranking topics. Do you still have copies? These must take a lot of time, any plans for the next one?

 

I agree with most of your placings. Can't share the Punk/Rock (!) love.

 

My very rough top ten. I haven't watched them in years.

 

1. Royal Rumble Match 1992

2. John Cena vs. Umaga. Royal Rumble 2007.

3. Royal Rumble Match 2007

4. Royal Rumble Match 2001

5. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt. Royal Rumble 2014.

6. Royal Rumble Match 2008

7. Diesel vs. Bret Hart. Royal Rumble 1995.

8. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack. Royal Rumble 2000.

9. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit. Royal Rumble 2003.

10. The Rockers vs. The Orient Express. Royal Rumble 1991.

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I'm already working my way through the Survivor Series, although it might be a while before I finish that one. I still have the Mania and Summerslam rankings, so when I get a minute I might throw them back up.

 

And Punk/Rock was a choice match. Didn't see it at the time, and wasn't aware of any kind of critical consensus of the match, so I went into it with no preconceptions, which is always nice. Made my case for the match above, and stand by it. I never got the sense it was a Punk carry-job either, although, as I mentioned, I thought his performance was excellent, and he certainly dictated the tempo of the match. But Rock held up his end well, I thought.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read and give feedback.

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Good read, I just want to add that that awful Beverly Brothers-Bushwackers tag has Heenan totally trashing Jamison, Gorilla really has no defense. Other then that, ugh.

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Good read, I just want to add that that awful Beverly Brothers-Bushwackers tag has Heenan totally trashing Jamison, Gorilla really has no defense. Other then that, ugh.

 

Heenan's great during that.

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