The 2022 Royal Rumble is coming up fast, and the hype has already begun. Fans are already speculating which lucky WWE superstar will outlast 29 other men and punch his ticket to the main event of Wrestlemania.
If you look through the list of Royal Rumble winners, you will be awestruck by the sea of legends in front of you (plus an oddly omitted winner for 2004). Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns are just a few of the all time greats who have won the Royal Rumble match. In the case of some, they have even won multiple Rumble matches.
However, if you do peruse the hall of victors of the Royal Rumble, you may be shocked by the number of legends who never won the match. Some of the greatest wrestlers of all time managed to never win the Royal Rumble match. Former WWE Champions, hall of famers and one of the tallest wrestlers ever inhabit this list.
You may do a double take when you see some of names on this list, but trust me. These wrestlers, no matter how great, somehow managed to avoid winning the most fun match in WWE.
Here are the greatest wrestlers in WWE history who didn’t win the Royal Rumble match.
Greatest Wrestlers who never won the Royal Rumble
WWE Hall of Famer Randy Savage did come close to winning the Royal Rumble, but never managed to get over the line and win the whole match.
In 1993, he was in the final two entrants with eventual winner Yokozuna. Savage got the upper hand, knocking the 600 pound monster to the floor. He climbed the top rope and hit his trade mark Elbow Drop from the top rope, and went for the pin fall for the win.
Obviously that didn’t work because that’s not how you win the Royal Rumble. His mistake made literally no sense and with such stupidity he deserved to lose. As he pinned Yokozuna, the large
Samoan Japanese wrestler simply threw him up and over the top rope, winning the Royal Rumble.
Yokozuna is now a household name, whilst the name Macho Man has faded into the sands of time.
Okay, Savage is a huge legend in WWE, but that was really stupid.
Despite being one of the most dominant superstars in the events history, Kane never managed to win the Royal Rumble match. Since his debut in 1997 as the Big Red Machine, Kane dominated everyone he stepped in the ring with. Physically imposing everyone he came across, he even dominated his brother The Undertaker as the pair battled from 1997 all the way into the 2010s.
Kane also dominated inside the Royal Rumble match. He holds the record for the most appearances in the match (20) whilst also holding the record for the most eliminations in one match from 2001 to 2014. He eliminated 11 men in that match, a record that would be broken by Roman Reigns when he eliminated 12 men in 2014. In both cases, the men with the most eliminations finished as runners up to Steve Austin and Batista, respectively.
Whilst he is one of the greatest wrestlers to never win the match, Kane has had more memorable Rumble moments than most of it’s winners. He will forever be a Royal Rumble and wrestling legend, and still makes occasional appearances in the ring whenever his political career doesn’t get in the way.
Despite winning an Olympic Gold Medal, championships in WWE, TNA and NJPW and being a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, Kurt Angle is one of the most surprising names to have never been victorious in a 30 man Royal Rumble match.
Angle made his debut for the WWE in 1999, and appeared in a number of Royal Rumble matches since then. He spent a lot of his time in the company as either the WWE or World Heavyweight champion, so did not have as many Royal Rumble appearances as other wrestlers on this list.
Angle has since retired and been inducted into the WWE Hall of fame, so the chances of him winning the Royal Rumble are unlikely. The odds of him doing an incredible Edge-style comeback seem unlikely.
For WWE fans in 2014, nobody else deserved to win a Royal Rumble match more than Daniel Bryan. Fans had endured The Dazzler being screwed out of his WWE Championship again and again, patiently waiting for him to finally get his due and get a run at the top of WWE as their headlining champion.
However, when Batista returned to WWE in the Royal Rumble match, fans could see the writing on the wall. Daniel Bryan was not going to be in the Rumble match. A smattering of boos filled the arena as the Animal made his entrance. But there was still hope.
Right until the final countdown for the last entrant into the Rumble ended, fans still had hope that Daniel Bryan would make his entrance, clear out the ring and earn his place in the main event of Wrestlemania.
Unfortunately, Rey Mysterio’s music hit. The lovable luchador ran down to the ring to more boos than he’d ever received in his life. The life long good guy had never been booed in WWE before. But the fans wanted Daniel Bryan, and the fans wanted him. Batista won the match as the fans showered him with boos. But hey, they couldn’t make the same mistake twice, right?
The following year, Bryan returned from injury after a long year out. He was the fans favourite to win the Royal Rumble match, and had the perfect story to get back in the main event. He had to relinquish the WWE Championship due to injury and wanted his shot at WWE Champion Brock Lesnar to regain the title he never lost.
So they eliminated him early and had Roman Reigns win. Fans booed. It was amazing.
Andre the Giant
Despite being one of the biggest stars in wrestling history, the legendary Andre the Giant never managed to survive 29 other men and win the Royal Rumble match. He is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, with a larger than life personality that left everyone in the audience in awe whenever he stepped into the ring.
He did enter the Royal Rumble match, however. Twice, in fact, he stepped through the ropes and tried to win the Rumble match, but came out as the unlucky loser. In 1989 he had a good showing, but eliminated himself to avoid confrontation with Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ pet snake, Damian. Andre had a known fear of snakes, and Roberts took advantage of this fact in order to eliminate the biggest threat in the Rumble.
He came back the next year, but was past his physical prime at that point. It was just three years before his death, and he continued wrestling despite his ailing health. He was eliminated by Ax and Smash, of Demolition, finishing in 21st place.
That was his last Royal Rumble appearance, and Andre the Giant would pass away three years later due to heart failure, a complication of his gigantism. He was 46 years old, and was one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, despite never winning the WWE Royal Rumble match.
Despite being a huge part of WWE for nearly 20 years, Chris Jericho was never a winner in the Royal Rumble match. Some fans think he should have, however, and it seemed backstage they agreed to.
Rumours circulated that Y2J was set to be victorious in the 2012 Royal Rumble. He was gearing up to face CM Punk at that years Wrestlemania, and a victory to set up the WWE Championship match was going to be a fine way to build up to that match.
Sadly, that finish leaked prior to the match. Even though fans thought it was a great idea, Vince McMahon was furious. So, he gave the win the Sheamus instead, who last eliminated Chris Jericho to win his first and so far only Royal Rumble match.
Both men went on to Wrestlemania to face the two WWE world champions, with Jericho losing to CM Punk and Sheamus beating Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight championship. In the grand scheme of things, whether he won that year didn’t make any difference to the Wrestlemania plans. However, Chris Jericho still remains one of the greatest wrestlers of all time to never win the Royal Rumble match.
Whether it be as Mankind, Cactus Jack, Dude Love or simply Mick Foley, none of the four faces of Foley have tasted victory in the Royal Rumble match.
Foley was one of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era, with his three distinct personalities endearing him to the fans and making him a household name. He also branched out into being an author, with his first book being one of the best wrestling books of all time.
While he didn’t win the Royal Rumble match, he did have one of the most memorable performances in any Royal Rumble. In the 1998 Royal Rumble, he entered the match not once, not twice but three times. Each time he was eliminated he returned under a different gimmick. As Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack he tried his best at winning the Royal Rumble, but sadly came up short.
Despite being the biggest star of the 2010s not named John Cena, CM Punk never managed to win the Royal Rumble match. The Royal Rumble match winner is granted a title match in the main event of Wrestlemania, something that was the catalyst in Punk’s eventual departure from WWE.
CM Punk did have some great showings in Rumble matches. In the 2010 Royal Rumble, he entered early and eliminated each man as they entered one by one. He would grab a microphone, offer them salvation to join his Straight Edge Society and when they refused, dump them over the top rope. This even included WWE Diva Beth Phoenix.
He was eventually taken out by Triple H, which is a phrase that can also be used to describe his rise to the top in WWE. He and Triple H never got on and his failure to win the Royal Rumble and main event Wrestlemania could be attributed to Triple H and his backstage influence.
CM Punk has since left WWE and after seven years away joined AEW, where he currently wrestles.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.