Royal Rumble 2017 - A brief history.
WWE’s annual curtain raiser began back in 1988 with a 20-man Royal Rumble match featuring the likes of Hillbilly Jim, One Man Gang, Junkyard Dog and eventual winner Jim Duggan. Entrants came out in 2 minute intervals and eliminated their opponents by throwing them over the ropes – it was absolute carnage! Needless to say, wrestling fans loved it and it has been shown every January since.
The WWE, then known as the WWF, upped their game for 1989’s version with popular trio Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Randy Savage added to the mix. The match was scaled up to feature not 20, but 30 men in a ring fighting for just under an hour. 1990 & 91 were dominated by Hogan as he asserted his stranglehold on the wrestling world. 1990 brought us one of the most famous Royal Rumble moments of all time as Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior were left with each other to take out in the final moments of the match. A double clothesline saw them both knocked out, before Hogan finally emerged victorious.
The mid to late 90s saw the emergence of Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin as the two picked up back-to-back titles in 95 & 96 and 97 & 98 respectively. “Stone Cold” became a fan favourite as a disrespectful, beer-drinking antihero who regularly defied chairman Vince McMahon and the establishment.
The turn of the century saw a huge boom for the WWE and the introduction of many household names winning Royal Rumble, with The Rock in ’00, Stone Cold Steve picking up his third title in ’01, Triple H in ’02 and Brock Lesnar in ’03. The match quickly became WWE’s standout event of the year.
2007 gave us one of the most edge-of-your-seat moments in the history of the match. Just The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels remained unconscious on the floor after 55 minutes of carnage. 30 second of silence ensued before the two rose and set upon each other for a full seven minutes of false finishes, but the two just refused to lose. Michaels then set Undertaker up for Sweet Chin Music (his famous finishing move) be Undertaker sidestepped and threw him out of the ring. The match was over.
Fast forward to 2008 and it was John Cena’s time to shine. Triple H look set to pick up his second title as he stood in the ring waiting for the unknown 30th opponent. Cena emerged and the fight went down to a three-way between Triple H, Batista and Cena. It was a tense showdown until Batista was dispatched, Triple H was thrown overhead out of the ring and just Cena was remaining.
Cena had to wait five years to pick up his second title, emerging victor in 2013 in an epic battle that featured the likes of 2012 winner Sheamus, Rey Mysterio, Kane, Randy Orton and Ryback. Cena again showed his raw strength and wrestling ability to knock four opponents out of the ring. The event also featured a showdown between CM Punk and The Rock for the WWE Championship belt.
There have been many memorable moments in between the ones mentioned here, and many historical figures in the sport that have helped shape Royal Rumble into what it is today. We can’t wait for this year’s to kick off and give us some more talking points. Join a host of Walkabout venues to watch Royal Rumble 2017 on the big screen this January 29th.