Going the Distance: Winning the Royal Rumble From The Starting Duo

As the Royal Rumble approaches, we are reminded of Rumbles past. 2019 will be the 32nd event in its history. In total, over 230 Superstars have competed in what we now call the men’s Royal Rumble. And of 32 Rumble matches, four specific winners have etched their names into history. Those men are Shawn Michaels, Mr. McMahon, Chris Benoit, and Rey Mysterio. They all entered at either number one or number two overall and went onto victory.

Every Rumble entrant has a 1 out of 30 or a 3 and one third percent chance of winning. It’s a test of endurance as well as skill in avoiding elimination. Of course, Lady Luck plays a huge role in that as well. Based on the time interval used in 2018 of 90 seconds, the first two entrants will have to last at least 42 minutes. That is the least amount of time it would take for all 30 participants to enter the ring. Obviously, not every single interval is timed to exactly 90 seconds, so the actual times tend to vary. It has also been as long as two minutes between entrants and as short as 60 seconds.

Winning the Royal Rumble From The Starting Duo

Photo: WWE

The 1995 Royal Rumble would be the first time in history when the first two men to start would be the last two in the ring. Shawn Michaels entered at number one and The British Bulldog entered at number two. They would battle each other and the other 28 participants for over 38 minutes. The time interval was changed from 90 seconds to just 60, in the spirit of perhaps speeding the matchup. Shawn would survive many near-eliminations, including the one at the very end. The British Bulldog would toss the surely exhausted Michaels over the top rope. Assuming he had made the elimination, Bulldog would go to the opposite side of the ring and celebrate in the corner, on the second rope. The Bulldog’s music even played, convincing the crowd and viewers that he was the winner.

However, Michaels had managed to hold onto the top rope and keep both feet from hitting the floor. He would roll himself back into the ring and toss Bulldog over the top rope before collapsing in the ring. Upon confirmation from Howard Finkel from the referees and instant replay footage, only one of Shawn Michael’s feet hit the floor. Therefore, he was not eliminated and the winner of the 1995 Royal Rumble. He would go on to unsuccessfully challenge Diesel at WrestleMania XI for the WWE Championship.

The 1999 Royal Rumble would see the owner and Chairman of the Board, Mr. McMahon enter the fray. Mr. McMahon’s arch-rival, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would enter at number one and McMahon at number two. By the time the 1999 Rumble rolled around, the timed interval had been returned to 90 seconds. This pair would also be the last ones in the ring, lasting over 56 minutes. Mr. McMahon would get the last laugh on Austin here, winning the Royal Rumble. McMahon did win the right to go onto WrestleMania XV to face the champion, but he declined. It would be awarded to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin by the Commissioner at the time, Shawn Michaels.

Chris Benoit would be the next winner of the Royal Rumble to enter at numbers one or two. He entered at number one in the 2004 Royal Rumble. Randy Orton would be the second entrant, but he was eliminated about two thirds through the match. Benoit would be in the final two with Big Show. Chris was able to use the World’s Largest Athlete’s size against him, locking in a front facelock and using the ropes to leverage the weight. This allowed him to tip Show over the top rope and to the floor.

Photo: WWE

Benoit also set the record at the time for longest time in the Rumble at one hour, one minute and 35 seconds. This record would be broken by our next subject, Rey Mysterio. Chris Benoit would go onto WrestleMania XX to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That was a triple threat match involving Benoit, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels.

Mysterio entered the 2006 Royal Rumble at number two, along with Triple H who was number one. They would last to the final three together with Randy Orton, who entered at number 30. The much smaller Mysterio was able to eliminate both Orton and Triple H and setting the new record time for the Rumble. He would last one hour, two minutes and 12 seconds. Rey would go onto WrestleMania 22 where he would win the World Heavyweight Championship. This was also a triple threat match, involving Kurt Angle and Randy Orton.

These four men made history in the Royal Rumble match, defying the odds and going the distance. Despite unfortunate circumstances surrounding Benoit, he will forever be synonymous with the Royal Rumble. He also rightfully earned his place in the history of this match, which can never be denied. There is still one record to be set, and that is the first woman to enter the Rumble at number one and go all the way. Who will be the next Superstar to go the distance? You’ll have to tune into the Royal Rumble on the WWE Network to see. The 2019 Royal Rumble goes down on Sunday, January 27th from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

Check out our other Royal Rumble coverage:

2019 Royal Rumble Preview

Of Mice and Iron Man: The Longest (and Shortest) Runs in the Royal Rumble