Whenever the Royal Rumble comes around, talk and speculation ramps up about several subjects: who will win, who will enter first and last, who will make a surprise return, etc.
But one subject that often comes up is the question of who will get the “Diesel Push” during the Rumble?
For those unfamiliar with that term: In 1994, Kevin Nash was serving as Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard. He was probably destined to eke out his wrestling existence as an enforcer type, not one of the biggest stars of the '90s.
But at the ‘94 Rumble, Diesel entered at #7 and started tossing wrestlers. Fans started cheering and chanting his name as each elimination took place. By the time Diesel was tossed, he had rebuilt himself. By the end of 1995, he was WWE Champion. Not bad work.
Not all Diesel Pushes are created equal, but it’s interesting to note that 14 men have tossed at least seven men in the Rumble since then. Some of those were up-and-comers who to some degree gained notoriety as a result of that performance.
A couple quick guidelines for this list: Many times, the guy who got the “Diesel Push” didn’t win the Rumble, or even last for a very long period. He got in, tossed a bunch of guys and got out. Main-eventers who eliminate several wrestlers don’t necessarily qualify because they’re already established megastars, not guys getting a rub from the performance.
Let’s get to it…
8. Shawn Michaels (1995)
There’s a certain irony that the first recipient of a “Diesel Push” was the guy whom Diesel protected during his early days in WWE.
But as 1995 began, Shawn Michaels was certainly a star on the rise, having stolen the show at WrestleMania X with his Intercontinental Championship ladder match against Razor Ramon and been a major focal point of the company. At the 1995 Royal Rumble, HBK did something no one had ever done before: he went coast-to-coast, drawing #1 and winning the match.
Along the way, Michaels tossed eight men, including the guy who started the match and closed it with him, the British Bulldog. While Michaels was already established, his performance in the Rumble helped solidify his standing as a top guy in the company.