The Stat Man is back with a "From The Vault" edition of Statistically Speaking. I wrote this two years ago, so with John's permission I'm sharing it again for everyone who hasn't seen it. I've updated some facts to reflect the 2011 and 2012 Rumble events as well!
The winner of the over the top rope 30 man battle royal goes on to face the champion at Wrestlemania, but is the winner any better off in terms of royalty? After all, the match is called the Royal Rumble. Wouldn't you think that you'd gain a sense of entitlement to a crown with the victory? I know if I won one of these matches I would want to be referred to as "Thou mighty conqueror of the Royal Rumble, purebred champion of once and future kings!" (Damien Sandow owes me copyright on that idea). Since winners have not become kings, let's look at some competitors who have been king while in the match:
Harley Race, Randy Savage, Jerry Lawler, Mabel, Booker T, and most recently Sheamus, have all entered a Royal Rumble with the moniker or nickname of "King". Yet none of them have won their respective matches when entering under those circumstances. Lawler has had four appearances, totaling nine Kings in the matches history. Their average number of elimination? 9. Four of them (Race in '88, 4th, Savage in '90, 4th, Mabel in '96, 3rd, and Lawler in '93, 6th) were all eliminated rather early for people with the pedigree of kings. Jerry Lawler holds the longest and shortest amount of time for a king out of this select group. In 1997, he lasted 5 seconds before being eliminated by Bret Hart. In 1996, he lasted over a half an hour, clocking in at 36 minutes and 34 seconds, before being eliminated by Shawn Michaels. Their nine appearances have produced eight eliminations, with Booker T holding the most eliminations in one match, with three in 2007 (Kane, Hurricane, and Sandman).
So what's the correlation between the Royal Rumble, and kings? Not very good. If you're a king, you're bound to be eliminated quick and early and without much fanfare. Even if you're a threat to win like King Mabel in 1996.
He's a Threat To Win!
Speaking of threats to win let's look at guys who weigh over 350 lbs. You think it'd be hard for a smaller wrestler to gain enough leverage to flip someone who's taller and weighs twice as, over the top rope and ensure that both of their feet touch the floor, right? Well, in every day normal situations like a match on weekly television, this just is not an issue at all. Smaller wrestlers, both men and women, topple their larger adversaries without much trouble. But come the Royal Rumble match, it's always much more difficult to achieve this easy accomplishment that happens all the time. Bravados all around to the company though, for giving this little wrinkle some light in the Rumble match, and other battle royals, but neglecting it completely in regular events.Since there have been 749 competitors in the Royal Rumble in it's 25 year history (Don't get too confused, there haven't always been 30 guys in the Rumble officially), it's impossible to go over every single large competitor. I'm going to pick and choose some of my favorites.
Fire up the Delorian, we're going back to 1988 when the One Man Gang put on a hell of a show, and eliminated a bunch of guys, almost a third of the entire field himself at six men, before succumbing to Jim Duggan. One Man Gang managed to ruin his chance though, when he practically eliminated himself, running towards Duggan, and promptly being eliminated when Duggan used the mans own momentum against him.
In 1990, Earthquake was the biggest threat to winning the match, and he eliminated two guys quickly, before being thrown over the top rope by Two Guys named Jim, Smash, and Ted. Sounds like a Southern rotissary chicken BBQ Sunday to me. Earthquake lasted only 2 minutes and 32 seconds, but the threat was there.
In 1991, we saw the debut of the Undertaker. An imposing force to the Federation, and a threat to win. With his career only three months old, the Undertaker was destroying everyone in his path. In his first Rumble he'd eliminate three guys and last over 15 minutes before being eliminated by the tag team Demolition (in a spot that's still cool to this day.)
The largest superstar in Royal Rumble history managed to live up to the hype in 1993, when borderline 600 pounder, Yokozuna entered 27th, eliminated seven guys by "Pearl Harbor" 'ing them (I miss Gorilla Monsoon) and won the match in his debut! After that and for every year since, every fat man in the match had a chance!
Kane would enter the 1999 Royal Rumble, eliminate four guys in under a minute (52 seconds!), before eliminating himself! That was a record on a per second basis. In 2001, Kane would have another amazing showing as he'd enter 6th overall, eliminate 11 men in one match which is a record that stands to this day, and last 53 minutes before being eliminated 29th by Steve Austin. Now there's a threat!
In 2002, we were given a threat so large, a threat so big, a threat so legen...wait for it .....dary, that a bolt through the male reproductive organ was named after him: Albert. Albert was such a threat, he was eliminated in 48 seconds and history wrote itself a new folkhero. Every man wanted to be like him, and last 48 seconds, that they pierced themselves in extraordinary places!
2004 gave us our next threat to win, when Goldberg made his one and only Royal Rumble showing from the 30th spot, eliminated three guys, but was promptly eliminated when Brock Lesnar ran interference and Kurt Angle eliminated the threat after a measley 2 minutes and 8 seconds. A man that won 180 matches in a row four years earlier, could not last even the average amount in the match, and he came in last!
The next threat did not weigh 350 plus pounds. This man did not stand seven feet tall. This man imposed fear in the others, because he spoke in a different tongue and wore a ceremonial threaded silk turban on his head. The man, Muhammad Hussan, was a threat for a different reason. He was a Muslim who preached anti-Arab sentiments and asked to be treated equally, especially in the month we celebrate civil right movements and the shame of our country's past when we honor leaders like Martin Luther King who stood side by side average people and said "WE SHALL OVERCOME" and gave speeches like "I had a dream, that one day, all men would be created equal", we were made to hate Muhammad Hussan because he was a threat. He was not equal. He was not the same as all of us. He, like every Muslim character, are made to be threats to our culture and way of life. The crowd did not like him, nor did the wrestlers in the ring who all waited for him to arrive, and they eliminated him in 54 seconds. Even the bad guys hated Muhammad Hussan. Now that's a threat!
Other large threats have wrestled in the Royal Rumble, like the Big Show. The Big Show has competed in nine Royal Rumbles in his career, totaling only an hour of in ring. Big Show has always been eliminated by one guy! The Rock got him twice, Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Triple H, Kane another four times, but the most shocking of all; R-Truth eliminated all 500 pounds of the Big Show by himself in 2010. Truly absurd there. Mabel/Viscera, would compete in nine Rumbles, lasting 49 minutes total. He weighed over 400 pounds and couldn't last five minutes on average. The greatest of them all is Mark Henry. Since making his Royal Rumble debut in 1998, he's been in seven Rumbles, with four career eliminations.
All these threats have come, and most of them are vanquished easily, just like the kings before them. So what does this say about threats in the Rumble? The announcers lie.
Things That Grind My Gears (Thanks for posting Peter Griffin):
You know something I hate? I hate that Warlord and Santino have the record for futility. Warlord entered the 1989 Rumble, and was eliminated in a supposed two seconds. That bends the entire concept of space and time. It took two seconds for the person who ran at him to even make contact, and then for the Warlord to flip backwards over the top rope, and hit the floor was at minimum, two more. Santino's elimination was more of the same. Real sports have legitimate records that aren't fabricated (Unless you count Wilt Chamberlain being the Man With 100 Points and 1000 Women, but that's neither here nor there).
Is It Best To Be Early To The Party?
In 25 Royal Rumbles, there have been winners from all across the entry board. The first person to win from a top 5 entry was Ric Flair who entered 3rd and triumphed in 1992, to not just win the match and outlast 29 other guys, he won the vacant WWF Title! In 1995, Shawn Michaels became the first man to win the match from the #1 entry position, a feat only copied by Chris Benoit in 2004 (who?). Steve Austin would win from the #5 position in 1997. Rey Mysterio won from the #2 position in 2006. Multiple others have entered in the single digits and lasted a while and gone on to great careers like Triple H who has entered #1 on two separate occasions (1996 and 2006), and Bret Hart who entered #1 in 1988 and 1991. Both have Rumble wins on their resume. In 2011, CM Punk entered #1 and lasted 35 minutes and had seven eliminations before being eliminated by John Cena. CM Punk would go on to become to win the WWE Championship twice in 2011, and longest reigning WWE Champion in the modern era in 2012.
Another aspect of reality they put into booking the match itself (aside from the difficulty of eliminating a large person), is they really play on the fact that the fresher someone is, the less likely it will be that they get eliminated. Though we as know this doesn't hold a lot of water, eleven wrestlers who have entered 25th or later have gone on to win it. The average time in the match for a #1 entry is 30 minutes, and average elimination number is 13th, with seven of them making it past 20th. The average time in the match for someone 25th or later is 6.5 minutes, and average elimination number is 24.3, but 23 of the 150 superstars to enter 25th or later, have gone on to finish in the final 2. So take it for what you will, the shorter you're in the match the better your chances at winning. And so it will be true when you multiply time with energy consumed to do a task using the law of physics.
It's All Part of the Luck of the Draw
I've always been curious to what number is the luckiest and unluckiest to draw, and many people have come out and discussed this. We know the most winners have come from the 27th entry, and the Curse of #14. We know how hard it is to win from #1, and that until 2007, no one had won the match coming in 30th. Well I have my own opinions concerning this topic. How is the most unluckiest number to draw not #2? The two people who have won a Rumble match from this position (Vince McMahon '99, and Rey Mysterio '06) don't receive the same accolades that a winner receives from winning from the #1 spot, yet, THEY BOTH COME IN AT THE SAME TIME! British Bulldog in '95 is a prime example of this. We always hear about Shawn Michaels winning from #1, but no one realizes the Bulldog put on just as an impressive match that night, entering #2 and remaining until the end with Michaels. History completely ignores this feat.
Former World/WWE/WWF Champions
Another reader asked me to break down the history of WWE Champions in the match, so that's the next thing I'll talk about. Seems like a cool little wrinkle to discuss. (Note*: I'm only counting them if they were WWE/World Champion before the match started, so Cena 02-05 does not count, Cena 06-12 does. Also, Flair's appearance in the 1992 Rumble does not count either.) There have been 123 superstars in Rumble history who have wrestled in the Rumble match who has been a former WWE Champion. That's almost a sixth of the entire field. Now, those numbers are inflated of course because the business is quickening it's pace and well as a multi-branded company awarding two World Champions at a time. I'm sure many of you are wondering why I'm including the Smackdown title, and I wasn't going to originally. Then I realized people like Booker T, Bryan Danielson, Mark Henry, and The Great Khali have never held the WWE Title, but their reigns as "top dog" shouldn't go unnoticed. The company had faith in them, and I can't take that credit away.
The 2010 and 2012 matches featured the highest percentage of former WWE/World Champions with 33% of the field being former world champions. The 2011 match featured the most former champions with eleven. The first time there was a former WWF Champion in a Royal Rumble, it was 1989 when the match was expanded to 30 men and featured three past champions. In 1995, the only former WWF Champion to appear in the match was Bob Backland, who lasted 15 seconds. Of the 123 men to have achieved this status, they've combined for over 32 hours of in ring time in the matches history, which equates to almost 16 minutes an appearance. The other 625 superstars have combined for just around 85 hours, which only 7.5 minute averages. Clearly the company goes all out in promoting the status of past champions as threats to win the match, even though only eight past champions have lasted over 45 minutes, where as ten non-former champions hit the same mark.
If At First You Fail. Try…Try…Try Again
When you were little you learned how to ride a bike, right? Well, when you took your training wheels off for the first time and fell down, it hurt like hell. You probably bled a little too. And some of us cried. Okay, we all cried. But the thing was, we got right back on the bike, and we tried again. And again. And again. Until we finally accomplished what we set out to do when we first started to try. That's what every superstar in the WWE strives for. They start at the bottom, and work their way to the top. Everyone has their first, and you'll never forget your first. Let's look back at some notable first time Rumble appearances from some of our greatest WWE Superstars!
Right off the bat, we look at Bret Hart. The Hitman was the #1 entry in the first ever Royal Rumble. He was a member of the upstart Hart Foundation at this time, tagging with partner Jim Neidhart, who would also make an appearance here. Bret's first Rumble was one of his best. He lasted 25 minutes, also recording a double team elimination of Tito Santana 10 minutes into the match. He didn't win, nor eliminate a lot of guys, but it was the longest he'd last in the Rumble in his career, notching two other 20 minute showings, but never eclipsing this. We could easily say Bret Hart was put on the map as an essential star to the future of the company, and his showing helped legitimize the ability to make a star in the Rumble.
The next year gave us the Royal Rumble debut of Shawn Michaels. He came in at #9, but you wouldn't recognize the young superstar if you knew him today. Clean shaven, bleach blond hair, and multi-colored pants with tassels. He looked like a rock and rock star right off the stage of a concert. Blatantly enough, he was a member of the tag team called The Rockers with partner Marty Jannetty. Michaels lasted over 14 minutes before being tossed by Arn Anderson and Randy Savage. It wasn't his best showing, and it also wasn't his worst. Michaels would become one of the elite Rumble workers of all time with 12 career appearances (2nd all time) with almost four hours of career time (2nd all time) and have the most career eliminations up to 2010, but on this night, he was just beginning the dream.
In retrospect, one of if not the greatest Royal Rumble of all times featured the debut of The Nature Boy Ric Flair. As stated many times already in this article, Ric Flair would enter early, last well over an hour here, and win the vacant WWF Championship. This match lead many to believe we'd see the face of the NWA in Ric Flair do battle with the face of the WWF Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI, but it was not to be. Flair was absolutely great in his debut, recording five eliminations, and avoiding elimination numerous times. The match itself was put over the top (figuratively speaking) by amazing commentary by Flair's manager and friend Bobby Heenan who's showing on the microphone was on par with what we saw in the match. Flair would make four more appearances in the matchin his career, his last coming long after this one, in 2007 while still an active competitor.
Someone who I haven't talked a great deal about, and I really should have discussed more is the "Black Hart" Owen Hart, who's unfortunate, untimely, and tragic death cut short an already legendary career. He'd easily have been a top 6 superstar of all time had he been able to finish his career on his own terms, and I say that without a doubt. His ability to work, sell, garner heat and love were incredible. And most importantly unlike so many before and after, he had an unparalleled passion for this business to make every match and moment something you wanted to remember. He'd wrestle in seven consecutive Royal Rumbles from his debut here in 1993, until his last in 1999. With that said, had he not passed away, we'd be writing about the greatest Royal Rumble superstar ever right now, and not a career that should have been. Owen debuted in 1993, and only lasted five minutes before being tossed by eventual winner Yokozuna. I have a hard time typing "He'd learn from experience and have better showings as the years went on" because as true as it is said, all wrestling fans know that the man was bound for greatness, greater than anything he achieved in his time he spent with us.
The next year gave us a legendary debut, the likes that had not been seen before. The seven foot tall former bodyguard of Shawn Michaels, Diesel, was an imposing force in his Rumble debut. Though he only competed in two, this one was by far the best. He decimated everyone in his path eliminating seven guys in 17 minutes. Though he didn't last long (A quartuplet of Bam Bam Bigelow, Mabel, Crush, and Spark Plugg Holly were required to eliminate him), he had a great debut, one that won't ever be forgotten, especially by the guys he was with in in the match with.
1996 featured the debut of two future legends who would main event five consecutive Wrestlemanias, win four Royal Rumbles and combine for nineteen WWE/World Championship reigns in the company, the duo even won the WWF Tag Team Titles in 2001. Hunter Hearst Helmsley came in at #1, and lasted 48 minutes in his first Rumble. Quite an impressive showing, but he did not eliminate a single person setting the mark for most time spent in a Rumble without an elimination. He'd also under go a complete gimmick change, escaping the blue blood gimmick he'd have here. Steve Austin would come in at #24, and tossed Spark Plugg Holly from the match, "The Ringmaster" Steve Austin didn't raise much hell, being tossed by Fatu after only 10 minutes. He'd come back with an entirely different attitude the next year, and because of that- wrestling changed completely. So two of the greatest superstars made their debuts in 1996, but would only eliminate one guy. I guess it panned out for the best as history has spoken there.
Rocky Maivia would make his Rumble debut in 1997, only two months after making his Federation debut. He came in at #25, lasted thirteen minutes, but didn't lay any smackdowns as Rocky was just learning the ropes here. He'd get tossed by future tag team partner and champion, Mankind. Like so many before him, he'd under go a complete character change from what we saw here. The funny smile, and the jericurl hit the curb, as by this time the following year Rocky Maivia would be no more, replaced simply by a name with only one name. The Rock.
I already discussed Kane's Rumble debut in 1999 above, but let's crash course here: 52 seconds, four eliminations. Edge also made his Rumble debut in 1999, coming in at #5 and lasting over 11 minutes. He'd toss Gillberg, before being eliminated by the Road Dogg. This was Edge's first dip in the deep end, but he'd make the best of the learning curve, because he'd compete in five more in his on going career, being one of only ten superstars to record over two hours of in ring career time in the Rumble match, and finally winning one in 2010. Just like Edge, Chris Jericho was as future WWE Champion when he made his Rumble debut in 2000. The Millenium Man made his Federation debut back in August of 1999, but unlike The Rock before him, Jericho had wrestled all over the world and in five different major promotions before making his Rumble debut. Jericho's first trip was a measley three minutes before he was ousted by Chyna. He'd go on to become another member of the Two Hour Club though, clocking in at 2 hours and 5 minutes over the course of six Rumbles in his career.
We'd skip ahead to the Rumble debut of John Cena in 2003. Basic Thuganomics would make his Royal Rumble debut in his home city of Boston, Massachusetts. He'd cut a scathing heel promo before entering, wearing a #22 Roger Clemens Yankees jersey, to the loud dislike of the crowd. Cena would last almost 20 minutes before being booted by the Undertaker from the match, without recording an elimination. This would be the first and only Rumble Cena would appear as a bad guy. Undertaker would also eliminate another future WWE/World Champion who was making his Rumble debut as well, when he sent Batista over the top rope after 10 minutes. Batista eliminated Test and Rikishi in his time in the match. Both Batista and John Cena would go on to win the Rumble later in their careers.
Alberto Del Rio joined Yokozuna in winning his debut appearance in 2011, which featured 40 superstars for the first time ever. Bryan Danielson lasted 20 minutes in his Royal Rumble debut in 2011 as well.
Predictions for 2013:
-Dolph Ziggler will enter #1 and last over a half an hour
-Wade Barrett will eliminate more than three superstars
-We will see at least three Hall of Famers in the match
-Mark Henry will make his return, last more than five minutes, and not record any eliminations
-The final four will be John Cena, Randy Orton, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler
-John Cena will win
In closing, this is all fun and games. Unfortunately, sometimes the real world rips itself away from that fun. Two day ago, a terrible tragedy occurred in my small town involving several co-workers and their families, in Putnam, CT. Around midnight on Tuesday morning, a multi-family house caught fire. Two young girls, daughters of my co-workers, aged 9 months and 2, died in the fire.
I come to you to today with a heavy heart. But I come to you all knowing there is no larger group of loving, caring, truly wonderful people than everyone here in this community. NO matter who is involved in such a tragedy, we are all connected as human beings. From high and low, to coast to coast, we are a family. We are like no other family, I will assure of that.
Now, I am asking all of you to show your power and unity. I am asking anyone who could help, anyone who could find it in themselves to reach out to my store, my community, and my friends who have suffered such a terrible loss today. I am asking for any amount of charitable donations, in the form of clothes (mens sizes L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, women L, XL, 2XL, boys and girls 3-5), food, furniture, or any amount of monetary donation which could assist with medical expenses, funeral costs, and finding a new place to live in this unforgiving New England winter.
Donations can be made to:
Walmart #1980, 625 School Street, Putnam, Connecticut, 06260
You can also donate to a fund I have set up for them HERE, we've raised $175 already, and it has been shared on Facebook over 300 times.
I love you all, and thank you very very much.