Royal Rumble winners, the aftermath…
Part 1 – 1988 to 2001
Since the conception of the Royal Rumble match back in 1988, it has being the one time of the year when the audience get to boo, cheer and be surprised all in one match. Whether it be 20 or 30 or 40 men in the ring…the Royal Rumble is an opportunity to establish ones career. And give them a career defining path which they can hopefully build upon for the next year. So, here I bring to you a chronological of the Royal Rumble winners and what it achieved for them…
Royal Rumble 1988 – Winner: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
The original Royal Rumble match featured only 20 men and lasted a mere 33 minutes and didn’t feature any of the main event stars within the company. In actual fact, it was primarily full of mid-card talent. Duggan entered the match at number 13, and lasted just under 15 minutes before finally eliminating the One Man Gang to gain the victory. In these days, the winner didn’t go onto face the champion at WrestleMania. So, in the immediate aftermath he went on to feud with “King” Harley Race, before losing to “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase in the opening round of the championship tournament at WrestleMania IV. He later settled into a feud with Andre the Giant and Honky Tonk Man, but never rose to the prominent level of winning the Royal Rumble again. Duggan remains active to this day on the independent circuit, and occasional appearances in the WWE.
Royal Rumble 1989 – Winner: Big John Studd
This was the first Rumble match to feature 30 competitors and lasted for 64 minutes…nearly double that of the previous year. It also featured prominent WWE superstars of the time such as Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and Ted DiBiase to name a few. Big John Studd entered the match at number 27 and lasted just over 12 minutes before finally eliminating Ted DiBiase to gain the victory. This is regarded by many as the most significant accomplishment of his career, as he didn’t compete at WrestleMania V. He was however, a special guest referee. He later left the WWE in Summer 1989 once and for all. He later died in March 1995 from liver cancer and hodgkins disease.
Royal Rumble 1990 & 1991 – Winner: Hulk Hogan
This is the first Rumble match of note where it was won by a significant player on the WWE roster at the time. Then WWE Champion Hulk Hogan, entered the match at number 25 and lasted just shy of 13 minutes before eliminating Mr. Perfect for the victory. Following this, Hogan went onto face The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI in a champion vs champion match. Later on in the year, he went onto feud with Earthquake throughout the remainder of 1990.
The 1991 Royal Rumble was the first time a Rumble match was won by the same man twice. Entering at number 24 and lasting just under 20 minutes, Hulk Hogan won the match after eliminating Earthquake. The notable contestant from this match was “Model” Rick Martel who lasted a staggering 52 minutes. Following his win in this match, Hogan went onto face Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania VII where he won the WWE Championship. He continued feuding with him throughout the summer of 1991 as well Col. Mustafa and General Adnan before losing the WWE Championship to The Undertaker in the fall of 1991. Hogan was employed by the WWE until summer 2015, when he was released over previous inappropriate comments made.
Royal Rumble 1992 – Winner: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
Following the controversy between The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series 1991 and Tuesday in Texas, the WWE Championship was held up and declared vacant by then-president Jack Tunney. Therefore, 1992 marks the first and currently only time the WWE Championship is on the line in a Royal Rumble match. Entering at number 3, and lasting a staggering 62 minutes, Ric Flair finally eliminated Sid to be crowned the new WWE Champion. Originally scheduled to face Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VIII, it was later changed so that he would face “Macho Man” Randy Savage to whom he lost the championship to. He later regained it in September 1992 before losing it for the final time to Bret Hart in October 1992. Now retired, Flair continues to work for the WWE in an ambassador role whilst making semi-regular appearances on WWE programming.
Royal Rumble 1993 – Winner: Yokozuna
The 1993 Royal Rumble is a strange one, and marks a shift in the business from the “old school” style we had become accustomed to throughout the 1980s and early 1990s to shift towards the new generation. This was the first time the winner goes onto face the champion at WrestleMania, and entering at number 27 and lasting just under 15 minutes before eliminating Randy Savage. The finish to this match was very bizarre, as it is notable for Savage going for the pin fall over Yokozuna. Savage was ultimately eliminated by Yokoz kicking out and the force propelling Savage over the top rope. Yokozuna went onto face Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX where he won his first WWE Championship, before immediately losing it to Hulk Hogan. He later regained the championship from Hogan at King of the Ring 1993. He later went onto feud with Lex Luger throughout the remainder of 1993. Yokozuna continued to be employed by the WWE (in a significantly less prominent role) until 1998 when he was released and later died in October 2000