Marc Mero Isn’t Prepared (Royal Rumble 1998)
Marc Mero’s turn from high-flying Wildman to a more grounded misogynist boxer may not have worked out that well, but he was a great first target for Stone Cold Steve Austin in the 1998 Rumble. As the entire Rumble field (all called out by Austin beforehand) waited to get their hands on Austin, Marc Mero shadowboxed behind everyone else. Instead of avoiding the Rumble favorite as he intended, Stone Cold entered the ring from the other side and eliminated the pantomiming Mero before anyone even caught on.
Too Cool Eliminations (Royal Rumble 2000)
Rikishi had a pretty great run at the 2000 Royal Rumble, which set the the thong-clad star up for a semi-main event run during the early 2000s. Part of the run was getting the audience excited by having Rikishi and his tag team pals Too Cool perform an impromptu Royal Rumble dance. It may seem stupid for Rikishi to eliminate his two pals immediately after they got funky, but it’s even more outlandish to picture Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty Too Hotty (who has the worst Royal Rumble luck in history) actually working as enforcers in the Rumble for any extended period of time.
Drew Carey, WWE Hall of Famer (Royal Rumble 2001)
No performer has done so little to enshrine himself in the WWE Hall of Fame, but at least Drew Carey’s three minutes of in-ring time during the 2001 Royal Rumble was packed with entertainment. Immediately after entering, Drew found himself alone thanks to the double elimination of the Hardy Boyz (made even more entertaining by the notion that if this happened at the end of the Rumble, Carey would be headlining WrestleMania). Where Carey earns his enshrinement is his attempt to bribe Kane (who doesn’t seem like he ever uses legal tender) and his quick self-elimination once Kane is distracted.
Maven Eliminates Undertaker (Royal Rumble 2002)
The WWE has had plenty of underdog-rookie-beats-veteran stories, but few on the level of what happened at the 2002 Royal Rumble. The Undertaker (who had already established a Hall of Fame career) cockily beat up the underdog Hardy Boyz, leaving himself open to get dropkicked out of the ring by Maven, a competitor who won a WWE contract on a reality show just one year earlier. Of course, Maven was beaten to a bloody pulp afterwards, but it was nice at the time (and made better a year later when a cocky Maven attempted the spot again on The Undertaker and got eliminated for his trouble at the 2003 Rumble).
Hurricane’s Attempted Double Chokeslam (Royal Rumble 2002)
It’s usually a bummer to see fan favorite underdogs get treated like cannon fodder by main eventers during Royal Rumble matches, but it can be entertaining if done correctly. Case in point, the skinny superhero Hurricane, who entered the Royal Rumble match with prolific champions Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin having just knocked each other out. Hurricane poses for the crown and attempts to chokeslam the duo (when he likely couldn’t even pick up one of them), and the two rivals briefly join forces (and a “can you believe this” gaze) to eliminate the also-ran.
Paul London Flips For Elimination (Royal Rumble 2005)
If you’re not long for the Royal Rumble match, it’s best to make an impression in any fashion possible. Primarily a high-flying lightweight tag team wrestler, Paul London wasn’t going to get a run of eliminations or even a lengthy stay in the Royal Rumble match, so instead, London performed the best elimination ever, performing a gainer dive to the floor after getting clotheslined by Gene Snitsky.
Scotty Too Hotty’s Last Stand (Royal Rumble 2005)
Just about every one of Scotty Too Hotty’s Royal Rumble performances is worthy of a writeup (facing off alone against the duo of Kane and The Undertaker with the most mortified look on his face ever gets an honorable mention), but his last Rumble entry succinctly summarizes his futility. After a ring full of wrestlers attacked and eliminated Arab wrestler Muhammad Hassan immediately upon his arrival, Hassan took his frustration out on an unlucky Scotty, laying him out on the entranceway before Mr. Too Hotty could even enter the ring.
Ric Flair Plays Dirty With Batista (Royal Rumble 2005)
Even though his record 16 world title reigns speak enough for Ric Flair’s accolades as a performer, Flair can also be one of the funniest wrestlers at times, too. One such moment took place when Flair and his Evolution teammate Batista were clearing the ring near the end of the 2005 Royal Rumble. The “sneakily eliminate a teammate” spot had already been done plenty of times in WWE history, so when Flair flopped while trying to do the same to Batista, it made for a pretty hilarious moment.
Sabu Goes Through Chekov’s Table (Royal Rumble 2007)
This is a simple but effective Royal Rumble moment. Sabu set up a table outside the ring before entering the Royal Rumble, which seemed a bit specious since his offense is based entirely on jumping on opponents placed *on* tables, which would require Sabu jump out of the ring and eliminate himself should someone *happen* to find themselves on the table during the match. Instead, Sabu is hoisted by his own petard and choke slammed through the table by Kane in a matter of minutes.
Santino’s First Folly (Royal Rumble 2008)
Santino has had plenty of Royal Rumble fails, so it’s easy to forget his first moment of Royal Rumble futility (especially since his career-defining moment happened one year later). After closing out the 2007 Royal Rumble with a barn-burning conlusion, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels started off the next year’s Rumble match. The third entrant? Santino Marella, who attempted to intimidate the Hall of Famers before getting quickly destroyed.
The clock counts down to modern Royal Rumbles on the next page!