Jon Material - Royal Rumble 2012 edition: 30 facts you may not know about the annual match and event
By Jon Lopuch
1. The first Royal Rumble event was a special for the USA Network that occurred on January 24, 1988 from Hamilton, Ontario.
2. The first match to take place was a battle between Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and "Ravishing" Rick Rude. Steamboat would take home the winner’s share of the purse when Rude was disqualified for using the referee as a shield.
3. The first man to enter the Royal Rumble was WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hit Man" Hart. He was joined in the ring for the start of the match by another Hall of Famer, Tito Santana.
4. The first five recognized Royal Rumbles were won by WWE Hall of Famers. The most impressive performance was turned in by Ric Flair at the 1992 event when he lasted nearly one hour to capture the WWF Championship after drawing No. 3.
5. The 1992 Rumble was for the WWF Championship after a series of controversial finishes in matches between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker in the months before. The 1993 match began the tradition of the winner receiving a title shot at WrestleMania.
6. 1994 was the only time two men have won the Rumble. Bret Hart and Lex Luger exited the ring simultaneously and both received title shots at WrestleMania X. In an evening that symbolized their WWF careers, Luger blew his chance at glory when he was disqualified for putting his hands on special guest referee "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig. Hart made the most of his opportunity by defeating Yokozuna via pinfall with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as the special guest ref. Piper lost to Hart at WrestleMania VIII while Hennig fell to Luger at WrestleMania IX.
7. Hart pulled double duty at the 1994 event. In addition to his Rumble victory, Bret would team with his brother Owen in an unsuccessful attempt to wrestle the WWF Tag Team Championship from The Quebecers. The match was stopped when referee Tim White determined the knee injury Bret sustained during the bout was too severe for "The Hit Man" to continue. A disappointed Owen then took his frustrations out of Bret and cemented his heel turn.
8. Hart was the first man to win the Rumble after participating in a match earlier in the day. Brock Lesnar is the other member in this club and actually won his match.
9. Both the 1997 and 1999 winners of the Rumble would not face the champion at WrestleMania. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was victorious in 1997; however, he faced off against Bret Hart in the legendary submission match at Mania after receiving a WWF Championship opportunity at the February In Your House PPV in the wake of Shawn Michaels losing his smile and forfeiting the title. In 1999, Vince McMahon won the Royal Rumble but would give up the title shot because he wasn’t a wrestler. That shot was then given to Austin by Commissioner Shawn Michaels. Stone Cold was the last man eliminated and held on to the opportunity by defeating McMahon at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre despite the debut of The Big Show.
10. John Cena won the 2008 Rumble as a surprise entrant, but he chose to cash in his prize at the next month’s PPV, No Way Out. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to win the championship from Randy Orton at the event, as he would be a month later at WrestleMania XXIV in a Triple Threat that also include Triple H.
11. The 1991 Royal Rumble saw the breakup of one of wrestling most famous employment arrangements when Virgil broke away from "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. Instead of handing in the traditional two-week’s notice, Virgil smacked DiBiase upside the head with the coveted Million Dollar Belt.
12. It was at the 1998 event in San Jose that Shawn Michaels would suffer the back injury that cost him several years in the middle of his Hall of Fame career. The injury occurred during a Casket Match he won against The Undertaker.
13. The famous "I Quit Match" between The Rock and Mankind, which was a featured portion of the documentary "Beyond The Mat" because of the brutality, took place at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim during the 1999 broadcast.
14. Bob Backland holds the distinction of lasting the longest of any man who hasn’t won the Rumble match. In 1993, he survived for just over an hour.
15. You may not want to draw No. 1, but you really don’t want to draw a number in the teens. No wrestler who drew a number between 9 and 21 has won the Royal Rumble since 1996. Only two wrestlers with a number in the teens (Jim Duggan and Shawn Michaels) have ever won the Royal Rumble.
16. Any many men who have drawn No. 1 (Shawn Michaels and Chris Beniot) and No. 2 (Vince McMahon and Rey Mysterio) have won the Rumble as men who drew No. 30 (The Undertaker and John Cena). Undertaker and Cena won in consecutive years (2007 and 2008).
17. The latest number to win the Rumble was No. 38. This happened last year when Alberto Del Rio won the largest Royal Rumble ever. That Rumble had 40 men while the inaugural Rumble had 20 participants, and each one after that featured 30.
18. For all the talk about how hard it is to eliminate giants, super heavyweights haven’t fared that well. Only two wrestlers billed at over 350 pounds have ever won the Rumble (Big John Studd and Yokozuna). By comparison, five men weighing less than 240 pounds have had their hands raised at the end of the match. The average billed weight of Rumble winners is 274 pounds.
19. An American hasn’t won the Rumble since 2009, but that is the exception. Only four Rumble winners have not been born in America (although both Yokozuna and Rey Mysterio have spent at least part of their careers being billed from other countries). Three of those wrestlers are Canadians (Bret Hart, Chris Beniot, Edge) and last year’s winner, Alberto Del Rio, hails from Mexico.
20. The first title change at a Royal Rumble event took place at the inaugural edition in Hamilton when the Jumping Bomb Angels defeated The Glamour Girls for the WWF Woman’s Tag Team Championship. The first title change on PPV was at the 1991 event when Sgt. Slaughter defeated The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Championship thanks to "Macho King" Randy Savage’s scepter, which was delivered directly to the skull of the Warrior.
21. The WWE Championship has changed hands five times at the Royal Rumble PPV (excluding Flair’s winning of the title in 1992 match). The most recently time was at the 2009 event when Edge defeated Jeff Hardy following Jeff’s brother, Matt, turning on his sibling and hitting him with a steel chair.
22. Mark Henry challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship in 2006 when he battled fellow Olympian Kurt Angle for Angle’s title.
23. The World Heavyweight Championship has never changed hands at the Royal Rumble.
24. Kane still holds the record by eliminating 11 men during the 2001 Royal Rumble. The list of men who met their demise at the hands of Big Red Monster consists of: Grand Master Sexy, Scotty 2 Hotty, Steve Blackman, Al Snow, Raven, Perry Saturn, The Honky Honk Man, Tazz, Crash Holly, Albert, The Rock.
25. Dustin Rhodes made his PPV debut at the 1991 Royal Rumble.
26. Triple H’s Rumble debut occurred in 1996. He lost a match to Duke "The Dumspter" Droese on the "Free For All" pre-game show and, as a result, was the first man in the Rumble. It was a good night for Hunter, though, as he survived for nearly 50 minutes before being eliminated by a man he’d have a match with 15 years later, Diesel.
27. Rikishi started the 2000 Royal Rumble off by eliminating the first seven men, a record to begin the match. He would be the eighth man thrown over the top rope.
28. Last year’s event generated nearly 450,000 PPV buys.
29. The 1993 Royal Rumble witnessed the introduction of Lex Luger, who signed on as a member of the World Bodybuilding Federation and would join the WWF as "The Narcissist" after the WBF’s dissolution.
30. The 1996 Rumble marked the first time wrestlers had their entrance music played when they made their way into the arena.
If you enjoyed the column, found an error, or want to share in a good cry over the shocking end of the Green Bay Packers season, contact Jon Lopuch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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