Every January, WWE holds its most beloved event of the year. By the time the Royal Rumble rolls around, fans are filled with a mixture of anticipation and excitement to see who will return to the ring and who will earn their spot at Wrestlemania.
The winner of the famous Royal Rumble match earns themselves a championship match at Wrestlemania. This makes the Royal Rumble the start of the road to Wrestlemania and the start of the most exciting time in wrestling.
However, some Royal Rumbles are better than others. Fans can talk for hours about seeing Steve Austin come out on top in 2001, or watching the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels battle it out in 2007. Rey Mysterio made 1000s of new fans in 2006 when he won from the number two, while the 2004 Royal Rumble was actually not won by anyone.
Some of the Royal Rumbles are less well received, however. Many times fans have gone into the event expecting a new star to be crowned, only to leave begging for Vince McMahon’s head on a pike. You’d hope these Rumbles were few and far between, but you’d be surprise at the frequency of them.
Here in this article, we are going to look at the top 10 worst Royal Rumble matches in WWE history. We will be considering both male and female Royal Rumbles in history, looking all the way from Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s win in 1988 all the way to Brock Lesnar’s 2022 Royal Rumble win.
Worst Royal Rumble matches of all time
10. 2012 Royal Rumble
WWE went a new direction with the winner for the 2012 Royal Rumble, and one that had fans scratching their head. And for good reason!
Chris Jericho was set to finally win the 2012 Royal Rumble match after over a decade of being a star in WWE. He would go on to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship at that years Mania, but failed to win the Royal Rumble match. Why?
Because the fans got wind of the plan to crown Jericho that years Rumble winner. In a quick switch, WWE gave the win to Sheamus. The Irish star was set to face Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship anyway, so it made no difference which of the two men made this rumble their own.
Outside of the disappointing winner, the 2012 Royal Rumble is only the 10th worst Royal Rumble match. It had a host of surprise entrances including the three commentators calling the match, and Awesome Kong (Kharma in WWE).
9. 2014 Royal Rumble
Despite having a controversial winner, the 2014 Royal Rumble wasn’t actually that bad. The match featured great action and surprise entrances by Rusev, Kevin Nash, El Torito and JBL to pop the crowd huge during the match.
The match only fell apart once the number 30 entrant made their appearance. Fans had been chanting all match for Daniel Bryan, but once Rey Mysterio came out at number 30 they decided to boo everyone else in the match. The only man to get cheered was Roman Reigns as he battled Batista for the chance to win the match.
Imagine that, cheering Roman Reigns in the Royal Rumble.
Batista won the match and went on to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXX. Luckily Daniel Bryan fought his way into the match and won the championship, delighting the fan but putting a dampener on Batista’s second Royal Rumble victory.
8. 2017 Royal Rumble
The 2017 Royal Rumble was voted as the 8th worst Royal Rumble on Cagematch.net. However, I fail to see how.
Outside of the winner being less-than-ideal but ultimately great for the Wyatt family storyline, the match was jam packed with star power and great action. It furthered stories as all great Rumbles should, and had some great laugh out loud moments, such as Enzo Amore squaring up to Brock Lesnar before being swotted away like a fly.
While the surprise entrants were few with only Tye Dillenger at number 10 being unexpected but greatly appreciated, it featured some of the biggest stars in the companies history.
If a Rumble featuring The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg isn’t enough star power for you then I don’t know what is.
7. 1995 Royal Rumble
For some reason WWE decided that the 1995 edition of the Royal Rumble should be the shortest one yet. They lowered the time between entrants to only 60 seconds. This didn’t give the match time to breath and didn’t leave room for enough action between the entrances.
Shawn Michaels won his first Royal Rumble in this match. He lasted from the first entrant all the way to the end, eliminating the British Bulldog to earn his shot at the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania.
6. 1996 Royal Rumble
The lack of believable winners was the biggest issue with the 1996 Royal Rumble. With wrestlers like Duke “The Dumpster” Droese and Doug Gilbert filling up the ring, it’s no wonder why this match rated so low.
Luckily there were a few credible contenders for the match. Shawn Michaels, who had won the last years Royal Rumble, was the favourite to win the match for the second time in a row. He was joined by Diesel, Yokozuna and at a push Bob Backlund, but really there was only one winner.
HBK would win the Rumble for the second time in a row, but of course he did. It was the Shawn Michaels show and nobody every stood a chance. And that is what made it boring. The predictability.
5. 1993 Royal Rumble
The 1993 Royal Rumble will go down as one of the dullest Royal Rumble matches of all time. The only highlight really being a brief exchange between Ric Flair and Mr Perfect, but that didn’t last long and the match soon devolved into uninteresting fighting.
Bob Backlund pulled off what has been called one of the great ironman performance in Royal Rumble history. However, the former WWE Champion barely did anything and did his best to stay out of trouble for the majority of the match.
Yokozuna was the winner of the match, but even that was stupid. Whilst he was a top star in the company, the way he won made former WWE Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage look like an absolute idiot.
It’s common knowledge that the only way to eliminate someone from the match was to throw them over the top rope. So Randy Savage obviously hit the 500lb Samoan with his elbow drop and tried to pin him. Yokozuna then simply threw him over the top rope, winning the match and making Savage look like an absolute moron.
4. 2022 Royal Rumble (Women’s)
This year’s women’s Royal Rumble was one that showcased WWE’s downfall over the last few years, especially in the women’s division.
Due to budget cuts that definitely needed to happen despite a record year of profits for WWE, the women’s division in WWE had a dearth of talent. Due to this they needed to bring in wrestlers from the past to fill up the match, or else the match would have been a 15 woman match.
Former WWE women’s wrestlers filled the rumble. Whilst returning legends are one of the best parts of the event, having too many just highlights the lack of star power on the roster.
The former WWE Diva’s that made appearances were:
- Kelly Kelly
- Michelle McCool
- Mickie James
- Alicia Fox
- Summer Rae
- Sarah Logan
- Ronda Rousey
As well as Sonya Deville, who was a backstage talent and no longer a full time wrestler.
Even worse, the returning Ronda Rousey actually won the match, despite not having been seen since Wrestlemania 35. It was a damning indictment of the women’s roster and was one of the worst Royal Rumbles of all time.
3. 1999 Royal Rumble
The 1999 Royal Rumble has come to be the epitome of “Russo Booking”. To Vince Russo’s credit, it’s a Royal Rumble with a consistent theme and story throughout, with the Austin vs McMahon rivalry in full force.
However, the bounty put on Austin’s head soon takes over the Rumble as the match filled up with some of the least interesting jobbers in the company. The match suffered greatly with a lack of star power, especially when Mabel is one of the biggest stars in the match.
The match is least fondly remembered due to who won the match. Steve Austin was the biggest star in wrestling history and fans were clamouring for him to win. Obviously he had already won two rumbles, so they could have given the win to someone else.
Triple H was in the match and could have won a spot at Wrestlemania. He was really the only other man in the match who was close to being on the level of challenging the Rock for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania.
So WWE in all their wisdom had the chairman, Vince McMahon, last from number 2 and win the whole match. He eventually lost his Wrestlemania title shot to Steve Austin anyway, so it would have been simple just to have Austin win this Rumble that was incredibly lacking in star power.
2. 2022 Royal Rumble (Men’s)
The 2022 Royal Rumble is nowhere near as hated as others. Fans don’t scream and shout when they remember Brock Lesnar winning after being in the match.
Nor do they seethe when they think about Johnny Knoxville not lasting all the way to the end and winning the match, then beating Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania.
They just don’t think about it. At all. The match was WWE’s greatest achievement. They made the Royal Rumble, the most fun match in wrestling history, boring.
The only legend to make an appearance was Shane McMahon, and he hadn’t been gone from WWE for more than a year. Johnny Knoxville was pretty great in it, but that didn’t make up for the lack of star power for fans to cheer for.
The match was also filled with midcarders with the most generic music possible. I couldn’t tell who anyone was until they were already in the ring. Also some guy called Madcap Moss was in there and he was terrible, yet still eliminated AJ Styles.
Brock Lesnar won the match but who was even still awake at that point?
1. 2015 Royal Rumble
What else could it be? Really?
The 2015 Royal Rumble was just a mess. But only from a certain point, very early in the match. In the beginning you had some great action, great call-backs and some legends returning (DDP, Bubba Ray Dudley and The Boogeyman).
It was all going so great. Daniel Bryan entered the match and looked great doing it. He’d just returned from a year-long neck injury which had forced him to relinquish the WWE Championship he had won at Wrestlemania XXX. He was certain to go all the way, win the Rumble and beat Brock Lesnar for the Championship he never lost.
Then he was tossed out in the first half of the match but Bray Wyatt. It was devastating and, just a year after slapping fans in the face by having him not be in the Rumble, WWE once again slapped the fans right in the face.
So they ruined it. They ruined the entire Royal Rumble match and it was glorious. They booed literally everyone and cheered no-one, except when people were eliminated. Roman Reigns won the match as the fans chanted “Bullshit” and “Refund”.
Then, The Rock ran out to fight off Reigns’ attackers and raised the hand of the Royal Rumble winner. And they BOOED THE ROCK. THE ROCK. FANS HATED THE MATCH SO MUCH THEY BOOED THE MOST POPULAR MAN IN THE WORLD.
In my opinion, best Royal Rumble ever because of the absolute dumpster fire that happened after Daniel Bryan was eliminated. And I still hate The Big Dog to this day.
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.