If you really want to make yourself feel old, ponder this: The Royal Rumble event turns 35 this year. Thirty-five.
While WrestleMania is synonymous with WWE, the Royal Rumble might as well be Mania’s first cousin. It’s been around long enough to span the end of Hulkamania’s first run at the top of the then-WWF, through the Attitude Era, past the doldrums of the 2010s, and up to today’s strange and uncertain times.
At this stage, if you aren’t familiar with the concept or rules of the Royal Rumble, you probably need to read a serious primer. This article will give you the Cliff’s Notes version of that and provide some information and details that both novices and hardened sports entertainment veterans should find illuminating.
The Rumble is one of those rare wrestling events or gimmicks where there actually is a wealth of statistics and interesting factoids to call up and spit out at random moments. When Michael Cole is feeling it (and is allowed to sound like some semblance of a sports announcer), he will spout random tidbits about how long someone has lasted in the Rumble, how many people they’ve eliminated, or whether the number they’ve entered from has produced a winner.
But you shouldn’t have to wait until Cole has an epiphany. Buckle up for some facts and figures you should be armed with before the Rumble.
Let’s get to it…
10. The Genesis Of It All
We owe our enjoyment of the Royal Rumble to one man: Pat
The first Intercontinental Champion and Vince McMahon’s righthand man devised the concept of a battle royal where participants didn’t all start in the ring at the same time, but rather entered the match at regular intervals, with the last person remaining in the ring after everyone had entered being the winner.
But here’s the kicker: Vince wasn’t too thrilled with the concept. An early attempt at the Rumble in October 1987 with 12 men didn’t go over well, and it might not have gone any further if not for TV executive producer Dick Ebersol. The WWF was counterprogramming NWA’s upcoming Buckhouse Stampede PPV with a free TV event on USA Network. But Ebersol wasn’t wild about the card.
Patterson pitched the Rumble idea, and Ebersol ran with it, complete with the countdown clock, and a winter wrestling tradition was born. The Royal Rumble was a huge success from the jump, and the first Rumble PPV followed in 1989.
The initial Rumble featured 20 wrestlers, and every other Rumble except the 2011 (40 men) and 2018’s Greatest Royal Rumble (50 men) has featured 30 superstars.