Royal Rumble Rules
Like any good wrestling match, the Royal Rumble has its rules – in fact the rules of the Royal Rumble are one of the most famous and traditional aspects of the match, and help make it one of wrestling’s most popular and enduring matches. It comes as no surprise then, like in any good wrestling match, each and every rule of the Royal Rumble has been bent, stretched or broken at some point over the years. Here’s the full lowdown on the rules of the Royal Rumble match.
Alright, so here’s the rules as they’re generally announced before the start of the Royal Rumble match each year, or at least within the past few years:
The individuals who drew numbers 1 & 2 will enter the ring, and the match will begin. Every 90 seconds a new superstar will enter the match according to the number that they drew. This will continue until every superstar has entered the match. Elimination occurs when a superstar is thrown over the top rope and both feet touch the floor. The last remaining superstar, after all other superstars have entered, will be declared the winner, and will advance to the main event of Wrestlemania!
And here’s just about how each of those rules has been broken in the past:
The individuals who drew numbers 1 & 2 will enter the ring, and the match will begin…
Fair enough, this usually happens, although in 2011, all the members of the Corre ambushed the #1 entrant CM Punk before the #2 entrant arrived. They were quickly joined by Punk’s Nexus, but all members of both groups (except Punk) were removed from the ring so the match could begin.
Every 90 seconds a new superstar will enter the match…
For the most part, this usually happens too, although the amount of time between entrants has changed from 1 minute up to 2 minutes. The majority of Royal Rumbles have had intervals of 90 seconds between entrants, but are hardly ever exactly 90 seconds long. Use a stopwatch if you ant to check.
Also, in 1998 Mick Foley made three appearances in the same match, technically not entering as a ‘new’ superstar.
…according to the number that they drew.
Most wrestlers tend to enter at the number they’re meant to, but again, there are exceptions. In 2008, Finlay jumped the gun by entering the match before his number was called. He was later disqualified for doing so.
In 2004, Nunzio entered the arena as his number was called, but didn’t enter the ring until much later after, when further entrants had already done so. He was not disqualified.
Several superstars have also been attacked while walking to the ring, and only entered the ring until they recovered.
This will continue until every superstar has entered the match.
There have been a few instances of contestants failing to make it into the match because they were assaulted before the match began, or during their entrance and were unable to compete. Bastion Booger holds a unique record for not being to compete because he ‘ate too much’.
Elimination occurs when a superstar is thrown over the top rope and both feet touch the floor.
Nicknamed the ‘Shawn Michaels rule’, because contestants are allowed to have one foot touch the floor and not be eliminated. Of course, there are other ways to be eliminated:
- Disqualification: In 2008 Finlay was disqualified for entering the match too early.
- No-showing: A total of 4 superstars have been eliminated simply because they failed to turn up.
- Eliminating themselves: Many contestants decided they’d had enough of the Royal Rumble and eliminated themselves by climbing over the top rope and hitting the floor. We’re looking at you, Drew Carey.
The last remaining superstar, once all other superstars have entered, will be declared the winner…
There have been two occasions when somebody was wrongly announced as the winner – in 1995 British Bulldog’s music hit even though Shawn Michaels had yet to be eliminated. Michaels returned to the ring, eliminating Bulldog and officially won.
In 2011, Alberto Del Rio was announced the winner, despite the fact that Santino Marella had not been eliminated, and was just hiding on the outside. Needless to say, Del Rio eliminated Marella and officially won.
In 1994, Bret Hart & Lex Luger were the last two contestants in the ring and eliminated each other. After much deliberation they were declared co-winners.
In 2005, John Cena & Batista were the final two and eliminated each other, although on that occasion it was completely accidental. A furious Vince McMahon stormed to ringside, tore his quads (literally) and demanded that they restart the match. Batista quickly eliminated Cena and was announced the winner.
…and will advance to the main event of Wrestlemania!
The Royal Rumble winner has only been granted a Wrestlemania title match since 1993, but even since then, they haven’t always made it to the grandest stage of them all.
In 1994, Royal Rumble co-winner Lex Luger competed in a Wrestlemania match against WWF Champion Yokozuna, with the winner advancing to the final match of the night with Bret Hart. Luger lost the match, and didn’t close the show.
Rey Mysterio, who won the Rumble in 2006, lost his winner’s rights to Randy Orton after putting them on the line in a match, although he was later reinstated to the match, making it a triple threat.
2008’s winner John Cena decided to have his championship match at No Way Out instead, claiming he wanted to enter Wrestlemania as the champion, not the challenger. He lost, but got another match anyways – typical Cena.
The 2011 winner Alberto Del Rio’s championship match was the first match on the card, so wasn’t technically the main event.
There’s also a bunch of unwritten rules that aren’t announced before the match starts:
- An elimination must be witnessed by a referee in order to be counted. In 1997 Stone Cold Steve Austin was eliminated by Bret Hart, although the referees were too distracted to notice. Austin re-entered the match regardless and went on to win. X-Pac also did the same in 1999, but didn’t win.
- Contestants are free to leave the ring at any point, as long as they don’t go over the top rope. Vince McMahon spent most of the 1999 Royal Rumble commentating, re-entered the ring at the end to eliminate Stone Cold and won.
- You don’t have to be eliminated by a Royal Rumble contestant. Plenty of superstars have been eliminated by someone who isn’t entered in the Royal Rumble, or by someone who has previously been eliminated.
- The match is open to anyone. Over the years the Royal Rumble has featured female contestants, celebrity contestants and contestants not even under a WWE contract.
Hopefully that clears things up a bit. Or at least illustrates how lax the officials are at enforcing the rules. Before I go, I’d also like to make the case for a new rule to be introduced:
Superstars must enter the ring before the arrival of the next entrant or will be disqualified!
In other words, people who enter at #9 could currently just sit at ringside and let everyone else enter the match before them, making a mockery of the entire entry number system! Shock horror! They should have to get in the ring before the #10 entrant does, just so your entry number is your actual entry number. Just sayin’.