In each of the last three years, for some reason I’ve tasked myself with watching every single Royal Rumble match in the build up to the next one. And in the process, I’ve kept track of some statistics that have interested me. WWE always come up with their annual Royal Rumble statistical packages at this time of year, and last year I put together an article to include some stats that aren’t included in them. Now I’ve updated it, because obviously there’s been one more Rumble match since then, and the stats change every year! So, without further ado!
Last year Randy Orton stopped a run of three Royal Rumble winners walking out of Wrestlemania without a world championship, though in 2016 Triple H won the WWE Championship in the Rumble match itself. The Rumble winner has only been guaranteed a title match at Wrestlemania since 1993 (in 1992 Ric Flair won the WWE Title in the match, in 1991 Hulk Hogan went on to challenge for the title after winning the Rumble match but it wasn’t a stipulation of the match, and in 1990 the WWE Champion Hulk Hogan actually entered the Rumble and won), and the winners’ record is fairly even. Challenging for either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championships, the Rumble winner has won 14 times at Wrestlemania, compared to 9 losses.
In 23 Wrestlemania title matches, 14 have been successful in their attempt to win a world title at Wrestlemania, and 9 haven’t. This was similar to the stats during the previous brand split, where the Rumble winner was victorious 5 times out of 9 (55.56%). This would rise to 7/11 (63.64%) for every Wrestlemania featuring two World Titles, breaking down to 4 WWE Championship matches (W2 L2) and 7 World Heavyweight Championship matches (W5 L2).
There have been two instances of the Royal Rumble winner not competing in a World Championship match at that year’s Wrestlemania. In 1997, Gorilla Monsoon ruled that since Stone Cold Steve Austin had been eliminated during the match (the referees didn’t see it, and he re-entered the ring and wound up victorious), he would not outright receive his title match. He was instead part of a Fatal-4-Way the next month, which he didn’t win. Austin did benefit from the second instance though, as in 1999 the Rumble winner Mr McMahon waived his title opportunity, and Commissioner Shawn Michaels subsequently awarded the shot to the runner-up – none other than Stone Cold.
In 2017 Chris Jericho became the sixth man to spend an hour in a single Royal Rumble match. The five longest times spent in the match, without winning it, are Bob Backlund (1:01:10 in 1993), Triple H (1:00:16 in 2006), Chris Jericho (1:00:13 in 2017), Roman Reigns (59:50 in 2016), and Stone Cold Steve Austin (56:38 in 1999).
Seven wrestlers have their entrant time in a Rumble match as 0 seconds. In 1991, “Macho King” Randy Savage was drawn 18th, but no-showed due to leaving the building after costing Ultimate Warrior the WWF Championship against Sgt. Slaughter. In 1994, Bastion Booger was drawn 25th, but no-showed due to suffering food poisoning before the match. In 1998, Skull was drawn 22nd, but no-showed due to being attacked by Los Boricuas after being mistaken as Stone Cold Steve Austin.
In 2004, Spike Dudley was drawn 13th, but was attacked on the ramp by Kane. In 2005, Scotty 2 Hotty was drawn 15th, but was attacked on the ramp by Muhammad Hassan. In 2008, Finlay was drawn 27th, but was disqualified after coming out before his number came up and using his shillelagh to help Hornswoggle. And in 2015, Curtis Axel was drawn 6th, but attacked on the ramp by Erick Rowan, who then entered the ring but was never an official entrant. And Axelmania was born.
In terms of active superstars (or at least those announced for this year’s Rumble), the wrestlers with the most eliminations are Kane (44), Big Show (31), Roman Reigns (26), John Cena (22), Randy Orton (20). Braun Strowman eliminated the most people last year with 7 (bringing his total to 11 from two Rumbles), which in a single Rumble match has only been bettered on 7 occasions.
Much as WWE tries to play up the luck of the draw, it’s easy to dismiss it as WWE storytelling, much like guys over 300 pounds being threats to win – I mean come on, it’s not like we really thought Viscera, Mark Henry, The Great Khali or Rikishi were going to win every year. Hell, even going back further, I highly doubt people thought Andre The Giant was going to walk out victorious at that stage of his career. But, for late entrants, it seems to ring true.
Over a third of Royal Rumble winners have come from the final five spots. WWE regularly tells us 27 is the lucky number with four separate winners coming from that spot (but none since Stone Cold in 2001), but the number 30 spot has also seen three winners, number 29 two winners, and 28 another two (both times Batista, in 2005 and 2014). Eight further winners have come between 21-25, with 20 out of the 31 Royal Rumble winners coming from the final ten entrants, including last year’s winner Randy Orton.
However, in recent years, John Cena and Roman Reigns have both won from the number 19 spot. Though all this flies in the face of the average Rumble winners’ time lasted in the match being 25 minutes, it makes more sense when the third highest grouping of Rumble winners was 1-5, with six winners coming from those positions. 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21 and 26 are the entrant numbers that have never produced a winner.
Probably unsurprisingly, the shortest winning entrant times have come from late entrants. Six winners have been in the match for under ten minutes, with the shortest times being Edge (7:19 from 29 in 2010), Triple H (8:05 from 30 in 2016), Brock Lesnar (8:59 from 29 in 2003), Alberto Del Rio (9:33 from 38 in 2011), Stone Cold Steve Austin (9:43 from 27 in 2001) and John Cena (9:51 from 30 in 2008).
16 out of the 31 winners had previously been world champion, the first and second of which were Hulk Hogan in 1990 and 1991. But 14 of those instances have come in the 18 Rumbles since 2000. Since 2000, two men have won the Rumble then gone on to win their first World Championship at that years’ Wrestlemania (Batista in 2005 and Rey Mysterio in 2006), while two haven’t come out of Wrestlemania with their first world title (Alberto Del Rio in 2011, and Roman Reigns in 2015).
With just a week to go, there are only 12 entrants announced on WWE’s website for the 2018 men’s Royal Rumble match. Of those, only John Cena and Randy Orton have won it before. Both Cena and Orton are two-time winners, putting them just one Rumble victory away from the all-time record of three set by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Four men currently announced will be making their Rumble debuts: Elias, Aiden English, Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor. 9 men have won the Royal Rumble the first time they entered, however that number is skewed by 6 of the first 8 winners being victorious first time. The most recent winning debutant was Alberto Del Rio in 2011, the only time this has happened in the last 12 years.
Four superstars announced for the match have previously been a World or Universal Champion: Cena, Orton, Balor and Bray Wyatt, but they have 31 reigns between them. For a comparison, the 2017 match featured 13 former world champions, 2016 featured 12, 2015 featured seven, and 2014 also featured 12 former World Champions. The recent trend has been for a former world champion to win the Royal Rumble, that being the case for 5 out of the last 6 winners (the only exception being Roman Reigns in 2015), so you would have to put Cena, Orton, Balor and Wyatt right up there in contention.
But, I’m sure the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura will have something to say about that. There are a handful of contenders for who will be standing tall pointing at the Wrestlemania sign on Sunday night. I know who I would like to win: Nakamura, but at this stage I don’t think you can rule out Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Randy Orton or Seth Rollins either.
I’ll be back in the next week to give my in depth thoughts on both TakeOver: Philadelphia and both of the 2018 Royal Rumble matches with my first PPV Spotlights of the year. Keep an eye out!