I am a firm believer that the Number 30 doesn’t make or break the Royal Rumble match.
However, every once in a while, there is a Number 30 like Duke Drose in 1996, Ric Flair in 2005, and Dolph Ziggler in 2018 that make you think:
“Really? That’s its?”
Thankfully, these superstars are the opposite end of the spectrum. Be they unexpected returns, debuting superstars, or people just living up to their gimmick, here’s my pick for the Top five Number 30 entrants in Royal Rumble history.
5. Ted Dibiase – 1989
I have wrote before about how sometimes the importance of the Number 30 is over stated.
However, in the first ever 30 Man Royal Rumble in 1989, it was done to perfection. Everyone was relying on luck to get the Number 30 spot. But when you’re the Million Dollar Man, you don’t need luck. Everyone’s got a price and Slick sold him the Number 30.
Ted Dibiase was the top heel at the time, and not only did this make the crowd hate him more, but made the sight of Big John Studd throwing him out to win the match even sweeter.
4. Shayna Baszler – 2020
2020 Women’s Royal Rumble saw the match become par for the course in WWE.
I mean that in the nicest way possible, it was nice for it to be treated as it should be on the card as opposed to WWE saying:
“Lets pat ourselfs on the back for letting women wrestle!”
The match relied less on surprise returns from former stars and more on the women making their mark in this day and age.
And boy did Shayna leave her mark. She was only in the match for four minutes and 27 seconds, but managed to eliminate a record equaling eight women. That’s an elimination once every 33.38 seconds!
Shayna would be Number 1 on my list had she won. However she ended up as runner up to Charlotte Flair. But that doesn’t take away from what was a dominant display in the final stretch of the match.
3. The Undertaker – 2007
In 2007, WWE still had faith in the Great Khali. So when the lumbering oaf headed to the ring at Number 28 in 2007 and eliminated seven men in his 3:45 seconds in the match – three minutes too long for my taste – the worst was feared.
Thankfully, The Undertaker appeared and eliminated him. To be honest, I would include him for getting Khali out the match!
But not only did Undertaker do that, he then went on to have the best closing sequence in Rumble history. Him and Shawn Michaels hit each other with everything they could, and it wasn’t enough to keep the other one down. Indeed it would take Shawn Michaels going for a Sweet Chin Music too close to the ropes for Undertaker to pull off the win and be the first person in the 20 year history of the Rumble to win after coming in at Number 30.
2. Trish Stratus – 2018
For the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble, you need to have a big finish. When it comes to female wrestlers in WWE history, they don’t get much bigger than the Hall Of Famer Trish Stratus.
Leading up to Number 30, we knew the rumoured Ronda Rousey had not yet appeared. To that point as well, the now-unpopular face Bayley hadn’t entered. When Bayley’s music hit at Number 29, fans thought Number 30 was a foregone conclusion.
That’s what made the iconic laugh all the more iconic when Trish’s music hit at Number 30. A nice example of fans expecting one entrant but getting someone else that’s still a great entry.
Plus lets be honest, could we have had the first ever Royal Rumble without Trish?
1. John Cena – 2008
You cheered for Cena New York! You can attend as many indy shows as you like. Each one of you can boo Roman Reigns, and you can say “WWE SUKS” on Twitter, but we will never forget New York, you cheered John Cena!
The first of many super human recoveries, John Cena returned from a torn pectoral muscle three months ahead of schedule to the surprise of a packed MSG and win the Royal Rumble.
Some may disagree with my choice for Number 1, but to me there’s no bigger 30 than your biggest star coming back from an injury in half the time expected and then going on to win the Rumble match itself.
Sliding into the DM’s, Ross is the team’s sweepstakes expert, spending a number of long, painful hours deciding the destination of the ESSR Title.
Ross has been on hand to provide live tweets and commentary from various wrestling shows and PPVs, backed up by his quick wit and creative sense of humour. His ability to remember obscure moments in wrestling still shocks the team to this day.
Apparently he has a weird obsession with memes about Billy Gunn and claims to have numerous ‘best friends’ in the wrestling industry.