The Royal Rumble is one of the best stipulation pay per views in the business. 30 competitors launch each other over the top rope to earn a main event spot at the grandest stage of them all: WrestleMania. One thing that makes the Rumble such a spectacle is the “over the top rope” stipulation.
A great elimination can leave a lasting effect on a fan, it can spark cheers, shock and awe, laughter and sometimes even tears. This list will cover 10 Royal Rumble eliminations that have made wrestling fans around the world feel all of those emotions and have made a lasting impression on them in the years that followed.
1. Drew McIntyre Eliminates Brock Lesnar | Royal Rumble 2020
Starting off with the most recent Royal Rumble, and one of the best Royal Rumble matches in the past decade. MVP returned, Shelton Benjamin reunited with Brock Lesnar before being quickly eliminated by The Beast himself, Keith Lee made his main roster debut, and, of course, Edge returned from 9 years of retirement after announcing he would never wrestle again due to injury.
Brock Lesnar, the WWE Champion at the time, entered the Royal Rumble in the #1 spot and immediately began decimating the competition. Lesnar eliminated 10 other entrants in a matter of minutes, and while Keith Lee, Ricochet and Strowman managed to hold their own against Lesnar, they just couldn’t do the job and eliminate him.
That is until the sound of bagpipes filled Minute Maid Park as “Scottish Psychopath” Drew McIntyre made his way to the ring. The two standoff and, aided by a low blow from Ricochet, McIntyre delivers the Claymore heard around the world as Lesnar drops to the floor. The crowd erupts with cheers, Paul Heyman’s jaw drops to the floor, McIntyre wins the Rumble; beautiful stuff.
2. Maven Eliminates The Undertaker | Royal Rumble 2002
A good elimination is one that subverts the fan’s expectations. Not like Daniel Bryan getting eliminated in 2015, that one just hurt. Drew eliminating Brock subverted expectations because it was the first time Lesnar had been defeated with such ease since Goldberg destroyed him at Survivor Series in 2016. Flashback to the absolutely stacked rumble of 2002: Kane, Undertaker, The Hardy Boys, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin; huge names that completely sum up the early 2000s of WWE.
The Undertaker enters at #8 to a huge pop and eliminates everyone in the ring with ease. Matt and Jeff Hardy enter at #9 and #10 respectively and with a low blow from Lita they manage to put some hurt on “Big Evil”, delivering Twist of Fates and a Swanton Bomb to “The Phenom”. The Hardys don’t do enough and Taker strikes back, eliminating both and leaving him alone in the ring as Maven makes his slow, concerned entrance as he stares down his possible demise.
Unsurprisingly, The Undertaker starts destroying Maven, until The Hardy Boys jump back into the ring and start beating him down. Taker throws them both back out turning his back on Maven shouting “Stay out of my ring!” at the brothers, seconds before eating a dropkick from Maven launching The Dead Man over the top rope, erupting the crowd in a hellacious pop. Maven celebrates, but not for long as Taker gives Maven a death stare, walks up the steps, back into the ring, eliminates Maven, and begins to literally deliver a beatdown across the entire arena.
3. Triple H and Stone Cold Eliminate The Hurricane | Royal Rumble 2002
Sticking in 2002, but this time for a moment of sheer comedic genius. Later in the same match, Stone Cold Steve Austin enters, and as Stone Cold so often does, he cleans house and he is left alone in the ring physically counting down the time to his next entrant, unlike The Undertaker, his entrant would not be “a Maven”.
Motorhead rings out, Triple H enters the building and fans know that there’s about to be a war. Triple H and Stone Cold stare each other down and begin a fairly even fight, flooring each other. The countdown begins to the next entrant “Stand back! There’s a Hurricane coming through!” Shane Helms’ superhero persona The Hurricane sprints down to the ring and prepares to chokeslam Triple H and Stone Cold, he gets his hands around their throats until both of them realise that they are twice the size, and twice as strong as Helms and launch him over the top rope with ease before beginning to beat each other down once more.
The timing, the faces of “struggle” that Triple H and Austin pull as Hurricane holds their necks until looking at each other like “Is this guy serious?” absolute comedy brilliance.
4. Chris Benoit Eliminates The Big Show | Royal Rumble 2004
It’s never easy to talk about Chris Benoit, a great wrestler who committed an unspeakable act. However, this list would not be complete without this match as it led to one of the finest WrestleMania main events in WWE history.
Chris Benoit was one of the hottest wrestlers in WWE during the 2000s, jumping ship from WCW as part of The Radicalz along with Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko and long time friend Eddie Guerrero, Benoit quickly became popular with his technical/submission style of wrestling and brutal looking Crossface finisher. After the Radicalz had started competing as singles competitors, it took until 2004 for Chris Benoit to be seen in the main event picture. Entering Royal Rumble in the #1 spot and out lasted all other competitors to win the event, one of only two people to win the event from the #1 spot, the first being Shawn Michaels.
Benoit and The Big Show were the last two in the ring. The two begin to battle for supremacy as Big Show throws Benoit onto the ring apron and tries to eliminate him, Benoit hooks Big Show’s head and slowly pulls him down over the top rope and onto the floor below. It’s a true David and Goliath moment and one which rocketed Benoit to the main event of WrestleMania XX where he defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win his first, and only WWE World Heavyweight Championship, a moment made all the more bittersweet as the PPV ended with him and best friend Eddie Guerrero hugging it out as both of them had finally made it to the top of the proverbial mountain.
5. Rey Mysterio Eliminates Randy Orton | Royal Rumble 2006
Carrying on the sensitive subjects for a moment, 2005 saw the tragic death of Eddie Guerrero due to heart disease, his death shook the wrestling world, one of the most talented and beloved wrestlers to lace up a pair of boots taken away way too soon.
A year later and Eddie’s death is still fresh in the minds of fans and wrestlers alike. Rey Mysterio, a close friend of Eddie, vowed that he would win the 2006 Royal Rumble for Eddie and that Eddie was watching over him.
Triple H enters at #1 and stands in the ring hiding a smile as Rey rides into the arena in Eddie’s lowrider — the emotions were already high. Fast forward to the end of the match after a beatdown from Triple H and it looks so certain that Randy Orton will vanquish Rey’s promise to win the Rumble for Eddie,. He picks Rey up onto his shoulder and one quick reversal later and Orton is eliminated, Rey has done it. As the crowd cheers and applauds his victory, Rey looks up to the sky, arms outstretched shouting Eddie’s name, as if to say “I did it, I did it for you”. Heart wrenching stuff.
6. Rikishi Eliminates Too Cool | Royal Rumble 2000
Let’s lighten the mood. Rikishi had some weird gimmicks over his wrestling career, starting out as part of The Headshrinkers as Fatu, then being shortly packaged as “Make a Difference” Fatu who had video segments where he talked about gun violence and helping the community, and whatever The Sultan was, a masked wrestler who didn’t speak because his tongue had been “cut out”. Wrestling is weird sometimes. Rikishi finally reached popularity as part of Too Cool along with Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty. The trio would come out to the ring in incredibly 90s sunglasses and have dance offs.
Rolling onto the Royal Rumble, Grandmaster Sexay enters early and is soon joined by Rikishi who clears house, the two stare down as Sexay tries to convince the Samoan not to eliminate him. Scotty 2 Hotty enters next, the fans lose their minds, Sexay slides tiny yellow sunglasses onto Rikishi and the trio begin dancing to cheers and chants of “Rikishi”. It’s cut short as Rikishi floors both his stablemates and eliminates them at the same time before continuing to dance on his own. Comedy gold.
7. Snitsky eliminates Paul London | Royal Rumble 2005
Some eliminations make you smile, some make you cry, and some make you go, “Oh my god, how is he still alive?”
That’s the case with Paul London’s elimination from the Rumble in 2005. Snitsky is battling Paul London who is stood on the apron, London ducks Snitsky’s initial attack but is caught by a massive forearm from a clothesline, sending London off of the apron with a backflip as the back of his head comes inches away from bouncing off of the matted floor.
Not much more to say really on this one, just a really savage looking elimination.
8. Shawn Michaels eliminates British Bulldog | Royal Rumble 1995
Some great story telling with this one. Michaels and British Bulldog were the first two to enter the Royal Rumble and the last two standing at the end, both men wanted to win, both men deserved a spot at ‘Mania and boy did they give their all.
Michaels gets put in so many false elimination spots, bouncing his whole body on the corner of the ring, being sat on the top rope, and finally being clotheslined over the top rope. Bulldog’s music hits, and the whole thing is sold like Bulldog has won until Michaels comes out of nowhere and knocks Bulldog out of the ring. The ring announcer then states that only one of Michaels’ feet touched the floor and by the rules BOTH feet have to touch the floor to count as an elimination.
This moment is a level of storytelling that isn’t seen often in rumble matches, the crowd goes from cheering Bulldog, to audible confusion, to cheering Michaels it’s brilliant work.
9. Batista Eliminates Shawn Michaels | Royal Rumble 2010
One year after his first loss against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25, Shawn Michaels could not let it go. He had become obsessed with Undertaker and obsessed with ending The Streak. So much so that he entered the 2010 Royal Rumble in hopes of heading to WrestleMania to face the ‘Dead Man’ once again. However, after a brief scuffle with returning Edge on the apron Michaels is attacked from behind by Batista eliminating him.
While not the most flashy or impressive elimination ever, what makes this great is the sheer look of disbelief and distress on Michaels’ face as he lays on the floor, hands on his head, his heart shattered once again. Michaels continues to look more and more distressed as he makes his way to his feet and begins to slowly edge towards the entrance ramp before climbing back into the ring in full denial of his elimination, even delivering Sweet Chin Music to the referee before collapsing to the floor and slowly making his exit.
In the end, Michaels would face Undertaker at WrestleMania 26 in a Streak vs Career match, which Michaels would ultimately lose thus ending his career.
10. The Undertaker Eliminates Shawn Michaels | Royal Rumble 2007
This is the one that started it all. Michaels and The Undertaker, face to face on the Road to WrestleMania. After fending off Rated RKO (Edge and Randy Orton) the duo collapsed on the ring canvas, worn out, beaten down, and following a sit up from a bloodied Undertaker and a kip up from Michaels, the ground for a legendary feud would be laid.
Michaels and Taker pulled out all the stops trying to eliminate one another; rights and lefts thrown constantly, chokeslams, Tombstone Piledrivers, Sweet Chin Music after Sweet Chin Music, the fans were rabid with excitement. Ultimately Michaels’ fate would be sealed after Undertaker lifted him over the ropes and out of the ring following a Sweet Chin Music attempt.
A fantastic years long feud built all because of this one perfectly done elimination, everything a big Royal Rumble elimination should be.
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