Andre The Giant never won the Royal Rumble match but WWE officials did want him to win the 1991 edition. By the time the Royal Rumble pay per view was created in 1988, Andre was was his prime and struggling with his health.
The enormous Frenchman wrestled for many years under serious pain, with his back a serious risk for him in his later years. He could barely walk toward the end of his WWE career and his match with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III had to be carefully planned around him.
Hulk Hogan revealed in an interview that he had to plan the match around Andre’s lack of mobility. He had to work out how every spot could end with Andre falling near the ropes, so that he could grab them to help him up. This was because he was unable to stand up by himself at this time.
Andre The Giant did appear in two Royal Rumble matches. His first was in the 1989 Royal Rumble match. He entered third in this match and lasted an impressive 14 minutes and 55 seconds. Andre eliminated three men in the match, throwing out Smash, Ronnie Garvin and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
However, he also eliminated himself. Terrified by Jake Roberts’ pet snake Damian, he leapt out of the ring to escape from the monster and ruled himself out of winning the match that was eventually won by Big John Studd.
He wrestled in the match the year later, at the 1990 Royal Rumble. His health was going downhill but he continued to appear for the WWE. He entered at number eleven, eliminated two men and lasted around ten minutes before being thrown out by Ax & Smash of Demolition.
This was his last Royal Rumble match as soon his health was so bad that he couldn’t wrestle anymore. His last match took place in 1992 and he passed away in January the next year, aged just 46.
Andre The Giant Was Planned To Win 1991 Royal Rumble
As it turns out, Andre The Giant was planned by WWE to win the 1991 Royal Rumble. This was because they knew they did not have long left wrestling in the WWE and wanted to give another honour to the legendary Giant.
Andre won the WWE Championship in 1988 from Hulk Hogan but only held it for a matter of minutes. He immediately gave it to “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase whose title reign with the belt was unrecognised by the company (despite him defending the title multiple times on house shows).
He gave the title away because his body was failing him and he could not be the fighting champion that he would have wanted. He walked with a cane when the cameras were off and could barely move around the ring for his matches. His giant frame was so heavy that it caused havoc on his joints and back.
However, WWE still wanted him to win the 1991 Royal Rumble. Winning the annual match would have meant that he didn’t need to take a bump over the top rope. This was the same reason that The Iron Sheik won the Gimmick Battle Royal at Wrestleamania.
Bruce Pritchard said that they considered having him enter at number 30 and winning the whole match. This would’ve made him the first man ever to do so. Nobody won from the number 30 until The Undertaker in 2007, although now 5 men have won from that spot (The Undertaker, John Cena, Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes).
During an interview with WrestlingInc, Bruce Pritchard revealed that the WWE wanted Andre The Giant to win the 1991 Royal Rumble match.
“It was health issues, it was the thought that we’re not going to get Andre beyond this,” Prichard said. “[We thought] maybe we do one where he wins it, but health issues just weren’t going to allow him to be able to compete in it. Even bringing him out at number 30 wouldn’t have been pretty.”
Andre The Giant’s last match in WWE was a battle royal. He competed in a 17-man battle royal on May 11th, 1991 on a WWE house house show. The match was a #1 Contender match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship and was won by “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich.
In 2014, Hulk Hogan announced that the WWE were honouring Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania 30. The company created the “Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal” as a 30 man over-the-top-rope battle royal to take place at Wrestlemania, with the first match being won by Cesaro.