The Contentious Ten 01.17.11: Royal Rumble Statistics
Posted by Ryan Byers on 01.17.2011
From Kane's insane streak of Rumble appearances to Triple H's time spent in the ring and Shawn Michaels constantly eliminating Shelton Benjamin, this week's Contentious ten takes a look at the ten most interesting Royal Rumble statistics!
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Contentious Ten, where we rock and roll all night and part of every day.
My name is Ryan Byers. At the time most of you are reading this, you're about eight hours away from yelling at me for the opinion of Monday Night Raw that I'm going to express in the Instant Analysis. You're about twenty-four hours away from calling me an elitist prick for reviewing Japanese wrestling in Into the Indies.
. . . but none of that is important right now. What is important is that your regular Contentious Ten host, Aaron Hubbard, is sidelined this week with some pretty nasty writer's block. As a result, I've volunteered to take the helm of everybody's third favorite countdown column on 411mania. (Damn you, Politics Zone 5&1 for bumping down our rating with your strong debut. Who knew people thought Condi Rice was so hot?)
For this week's topic, I decided to do something a little bit different. I'm not ranking matches, pay per views, or wrestlers. With the Royal Rumble match coming up any day now, I have decided that I'm going to present to you the Top Ten ROYAL RUMBLE STATISTICS~!, the ten most interesting bits of trivia about the Royal Rumble match which are guaranteed to amuse, amaze, and entertain.
If you want to truly hype yourself up for the Royal Rumble experience while reading this column, I suggest counting down from ten in between each entry and then blowing an airhorn when you reach zero.
Most Men Involved in One Elimination
Gang of eight needed to toss Viscera.
It's a familiar scene in the Royal Rumble match: A dominant superheavyweight has thrown his hat into the ring, so the majority of the men involved a the match at the time of his entry bum rush him en masse, as it is the only way that they feel they can effectuate the elimination. Several big men have been subjected to this tactic over the years, including Yokozuna, Diesel, and Kane. However, no one man has required more wrestlers to throw him out of the Rumble match than Viscera. That's right. When he stepped into the ring for the 2007 installment of the Royal Rumble, the future Big Daddy V and former King Mabel weighed over five hundred pounds and was by far the heaviest competitor in that year's edition of the match. As a result, it's not surprising that eight wrestlers had to gang up on him in order to get him over the top rope. Four of them were the WWE's elite, as Edge, CM Punk, Chris Benoit, and Rob Van Dam were all involved in the fray. They were joined by the lower-card foursome of Kevin Thorn, Johnny Nitro, Shelton Benjamin, and Hardcore Holly. In total, that's over one-fourth of the competitors who were entered in the Royal Rumble match that year. This was not the first time that a mob was needed to get rid of Viscera. In 1999, it took three men to eliminate him, while, in 1994, it took a group of seven.
Least Time Spent in the Ring by a Match Winner
Ultimate Opportunist exerts least effort.
There is always a lot of focus put on the wrestlers who have spent the most time in the Royal Rumble. Everybody knows about the "one hour club" of Triple H, Rey Misterio, Chris Benoit, and Bob Backlund, all of whom spent over sixty minutes in the Rumble. (Ric Flair falls just short of the mark with his 1992 performance, coming in at 59 minutes and 26 seconds.) However, what people often overlook in celebrating these iron men is that staying in the ring for a long time isn't the goal of the Royal Rumble. The goal of the Royal Rumble is being the last man in the ring, regardless of whether you've been there for sixty minutes or sixty seconds. The record of the winning wrestler who spent the least amount of time in the Royal Rumble was actually set just last year in 2010. Edge, who entered the match at number twenty-nine, spent only seven minutes and nineteen seconds in the ring before being declared the victor. Oddly enough, the record that Edge broke had been set just two years prior by one of his biggest rivals, John Cena, who entered the 2008 Rumble at number thirty and walked away with his arm raised after spending only eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds in between the ropes. Of course, in both cases, there was a very good "real world" reason for the wrestlers' late entries and short runs. Both Cena and Edge were making returns in the Rumble match off of very serious injuries, and both of them were making those returns much earlier than had originally been advised by physicians.
Never Even Made it to the Ring
Seven men scheduled to compete never set foot in the ring – with no replacement.
With the exception of the first version, which only involved twenty competitors, the Royal Rumble has always been billed as a thirty man event. However, there have been six years in which the number of competitors was unexpectedly lowered to twenty-nine and one year in which it was lowered to twenty-eight. This is because, from time to time, unforeseen circumstances pop up which prevent every scheduled wrestler from making his way to the ring. The phenomenon first occurred in 1991, when Randy Savage, after costing the Ultimate Warrior the WWF Championship in a match against Sergeant Slaughter, fled the building and chose not to compete in the Rumble match due to fear of retribution by the Warrior. Three years later, reported indigestion kept Bastion Booger out of the Royal Rumble. (No, seriously.) More often than not, though, it is an attack by a rival wrestler which has prevented participants from making their way into the thirty man fray. The first such attack occurred in 1998, when the stable of Los Boricuas was attempting to collect on a bounty placed on the head of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin but instead accidentally ambushed the similar-looking Skull from the Disciples of Apocalypse, keeping him out of the running for the Rumble. In 2004, Spike Dudley was sidelined during his entrance when he passed an enraged and recently eliminated Kane, who chokeslammed him out of commission. A similar scene unfolded the very next year, when Muhammed Hassan laid out Scotty II Hotty as the two were passing in the entranceway. Most recently, in 2008, we saw the first year in which two scheduled participants were prevented from entering the Rumble, as Hornswoggle was a set to be a part of the match but never really competed. Fit Finlay rushed the ring to defend his little buddy when other wrestlers planned to attack him, despite the fact that Finlay's entrance number had not yet come up. In a first for the Royal Rumble, Finlay was actually disqualified for entering before his scheduled slot, and Hornswoggle walked away with him, never really entering the match officially or being eliminated. The way I see it, Hornswoggle haters, the little guy is still owed the championship match he never had his promised opportunity to win.
Longest Gap Between Rumble Appearances
Seventeen years for ole' Hacksaw.
A Royal Rumble match has been held every year since 1988. That's over two decades now, a statistic that makes me feel hopelessly old. Of course, many changes have occurred in the landscape of professional wrestling generally and WWE specifically during that span of time, including many wrestlers leaving the company, entering the company, leaving the company, and returning to the company. As a result, wrestlers will occasionally wind up appearing in two different Royal Rumble matches in two completely different eras. The Big Bossman was one of the first and best examples of this, as he put in an appearance at the 1992 Rumble held during the kiddie-friendly Hulkamania era and wasn't back until seven years later when he popped up during the 1999 Rumble that was smack-dab in the middle of the Attitude Era. That's quite a gap, but it actually doesn't come close to approaching the record. That honor goes to "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Duggan won the first ever Royal Rumble match in 1988, and he appeared in a handful more until 1992, when he bid the Rumble adieu. Before long, Duggan would jump ship from the WWF to WCW, where he would wrestle until 2001. In the latter part of the 2000's, WWE would bring Hacksaw back on a part-time basis, appearing occasionally on Monday Night Raw and helping young wrestlers learn the ropes, both in front of the camera and behind it. It was as a result of this new run in the company that Duggan was able to enter the 2009 Royal Rumble match, which would be his first such bout in SEVENTEEN YEARS. Roddy Piper, who had last been seen in the same 1992 Rumble as Hacksaw, could have set the record if he'd waited one more year, but Piper's guest appearance in the 2008 Rumble puts him in second place with a sixteen year absence from the match. Roadwarrior Animal is third with his fifteen year hiatus between the 1991 and 2006 Rumbles.
Though the three men mentioned above are pretty clearly wrestlers from another era who were brought back for nostalgia purposes in their most recent Rumble appearances, there is one wrestler who had a sizable gap in between Rumbles during what can be considered the prime of his career. Current WWE Raw star R-Truth first set foot in the Royal Rumble in 2001 under his former ring name of K-Kwik but was released later that year. He wouldn't participate in a Rumble until seven years later in 2008, being re-signed by WWE after a lengthy stint in TNA Wrestling.
My Own Worst Enemy
Over the years, seven men have eliminated themselves from the Rumble.
You would think that, with the stakes as high as they are in a Royal Rumble match, wrestlers would pay pretty close attention to the rules and not do anything which might cost them a victory. (Which, since 1993, has in theory guaranteed the victor a title match at Wrestlemania.) Despite this, seven different wrestlers in six different Royal Rumbles have undeniably cost themselves this major victory. The first instance of this behavior occurred in 1989, when Andre the Giant was spooked by Jake "The Snake" Roberts' pet serpent Damien and ran from the ring to throw himself out of the bout. Wrestlers were significantly more careful about accidentally eliminating themselves until 1997, when, in an incredibly bizarre turn of events, two different wrestlers cost themselves the match. The first was Ahmed Johnson, who let his temper get the better of him when he chased rivals the Nation of Domination out of the ring, accidentally eliminating himself in the process. Mexican legend Mil Mascaras, who was a guest star in the Rumble that year, suffered a similar fate, as he lost sight of the rules and performed a tope from the top rope down to the arena floor, sealing his fate. (Of course, more cynical observers pointed to the fact that Mascaras is notorious for doing anything he can to avoid showing weakness and speculated that the "self-elimination" was a ploy to prevent some other wrestling from besting him.) Kane would be the next man to eliminate himself, fleeing a group of workers from a sanitarium who were attempting to have him involuntarily committed. I'm still trying to figure out whether that's more or less idiotic than Bastion Booger's no-show due to intestinal difficulties. Definitely not idiotic and pretty damn entertaining for what it was was Drew Carey's appearance in the 2001 Rumble, fleeing from Kane to cause a self-elimination that actually made a fair bit of sense. More recently, Mick Foley has accidentally taken himself out of the 2004 Royal Rumble with his trademark Cactus Clothesline (executed on Randy Orton), and MVP has taken himself out of the running in 2010 as a result of an then-ongoing rivalry with now-WWE Champion Mike the Miz.
Eliminated by the same wrestler three years running?
Sometimes one wrestler just has another wrestler's number. That's definitely the case with poor Shelton Benjmain, who has the misfortune of being the only Royal Rumble competitor to be eliminated by the same wrestler three years in a row. Who is that wrestler? None other than "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels. Well, Shelton, at least if you're going to perennially be doing the j-o-b, you're perennially doing it to one of the best. Benjamin and Michaels first tussled in the Rumble in 2006, when Shelton drew a very desirable number twenty-eight entry but HBK was too much for the University of Minnesota alumnus, tossing him over the top with ease. Benjamin didn't draw as lucky a number in 2007, entering the match ninth, but the result was the same, as Michaels threw him out once more. Finally, in 2008, Shelton came in at the middle of the pack at number seventeen but Shawn scored a hat trick by ditching him once more. Fortunately for Benjamin, Shawn Michaels wound up suffering severe financial difficulties in the latter part of 2008, which lead to him going to work for John "Bradshaw" Leyfield and thus staying out of the next Rumble match. Unfortunately for Benjamin, the Undertaker saw it fit to pick up where HBK left off, dumping the Gold Standard for the 2009 Rumble match.
In Shelton's defense, it should probably be noted that Kane came close to tying his record, as Triple H has played some role in the Big Red Machine's elimination from the Rumble in 2006, 2008, and 2010. However, that is not quite as impressive a statistic since a) the years are nonconsecutive and b) Trips required an assist from Big Dave Batista in 2008 in order to get the job done against Kane.
Ron Simmons holds record for most sub-sixty second appearances.
As noted previously, there is a lot of attention given to the people who stay in the Royal Rumble the longest but not nearly that much attention given to the people who have short runs in the Rumble. Ron "Faarooq" Simmons holds an unfortunate record in this regard. You see, the former collegiate football great from Warner Robbins, Georgia, has had more sub-one minute appearances in the Royal Rumble than any other person, totaling four in all. Faarooq's bad luck began in 1997, when he was chased out of the Royal Rumble match by a 2x4 wielding Ahmed Johnson. As a result of Johnson's rage, Simmons only lasted forty-one seconds in the ring. Things weren't much better in 2000, when Faarooq was jumped from behind by the Mean Street Posse during his entrance, which softened him up enough for the Big Bossman to eliminate him after eighteen seconds in the ring. I don't know what's more embarrassing – being eliminated quickly or going down in history as the guy who got beat up by the Mean Street Posse. In 2001, Faarooq again had to be attacked by multiple men in order to end his Rumble dreams quickly, as double teaming from the Hardy Boys lead to him being kicked out of the ring fifty-eight seconds after entry. Finally, in 2002, Simmons tussled with the "King of Kings" Triple H, and the result was a thirty-six second ride in the Rumble.
I suppose if you look at things from a businessman's perspective, this isn't all too bad. After all, there's one winner of the Royal Rumble and the other twenty-nine guys involved get paid the same thing, regardless of how you do. As such, if you're not going to win, you might as well do the minimal amount necessary to get your check. Of course, if you care a bit more about glory and you wind up performing like Faarooq did, you're probably going to wind up shaking your head and saying one thing . . .
(Come on, I had to do it.)
Man of Many Faces
Charles Wright appears with four different personae in the Rumble.
As noted above, the Royal Rumble has been going on for a loooooong time, and things have changed a fair amount in the wrestling world over the years. This means that several wrestlers have played a variety of different characters in different Rumble matches. For example, the man most recently known as Rikishi also popped up in the Rumble under his original name of Fatu and later on under a mask as the Sultan. Savio Vega appeared under that name and as the masked ninja Kwang. Ron and Don Harris were in Rumbles as both the Disciples of Apocalypse and Eli and Jacob Blu. Demolition Smash showed up in the Rumble one year, and the Repo Man showed up in another.
However, if you push aside Mick Foley (whose whole gimmick was that he had multiple personalities), one man has appeared in the Royal Rumble match portraying more different characters than any other. Outside the world of professional wrestling, that man goes by the name of Charles Wright. However, if you were to see him in the 1993 Royal Rumble, he would be more recognizable as the voodoo priest Papa Shango. If you saw him in 1996 or 1998, he would be the "Supreme Fighting Machine" and/or militant black Muslim Kama Mustafa. Fast forward to 1999 and he's the fun-loving pimp the Godfather, who would also appear in the 2000 and 2002 Rumbles, being briefly replaced in 2001 by his censorship-lovin' alter ego the Goodfather. That's four different monikers for Wright in different Rumble matches over the year years, more than any other wrestler.
With all of that Rumble experience out of the way, now what we need to do is focus on booking the dream Survivor Series elimination match between the Charles Wright team of Papa Shango, Kama Mustafa, the Godfather, and the Goodfather and the Ed Leslie team of Brutus Beefcake, Zodiac, the Bootyman, and the Disciple.
Most Combined In-Ring Time
Triple H leads the pack with over four hours.
I've mentioned twice already in this column that a large amount of attention is paid to the guys who spend a lot of time in the Royal Rumble match. However, the focus is usually on wrestlers who have a lengthy stay in one match and one match only. Coming into this column, I thought that it would be interesting to see who has the most in-ring time combined across all of his Royal Rumble appearances. The results were not necessarily surprising, but they were interesting. The clear-cut winner is none other than the Game, the King of Kings, the son-in-law, Triple H. If you do the math, Hunter has spent over FOUR HOURS in the ring across eight different Royal Rumble appearances, which is quite impressive when you consider the fact that most wrestlers don't even get to stay in the Rumble for ten minutes at a time. As noted, Trips has been entered in the Rumble match eight times now, and, of those eight appearances, only one has lasted less than ten minutes. The bulk of his time in the match comes in three of the eight appearances, with a one hour run in 2006, a fifty minute run in 2009, and a surprisingly long forty-eight minute run in 1996 before Hunter Hearst-Helmsely had even really started to break out as a singles threat.
Say what you will about Triple H, but the man keeps himself in tip-top condition and knows how to perform in a professional wrestling match so that he can go the distance, and the results show when you look at his track record in the Royal Rumble. Of course, if Bob Backlund had his druthers, he'd have been in every Royal Rumble match since its inception for seventy minutes at a go, but that's another story for another time.
Most Royal Rumble Appearances
Kane has been in over half of the Royal Rumble matches held.
This statistic isn't exactly a surprise. In fact, I'd say that it's brought up quite frequently compared to other Royal Rumble trivia. However, I still had to put it at number one because it's by far the most impressive stat on the books. There have been twenty-five Royal Rumble matches over the years. Kane has appeared in FOURTEEN of them. This shows not just that he's a long-time WWE employee but that he's also a surprisingly healthy long-time WWE employee, as most wrestlers who have been around as long as he has have had to sit out one or more Rumbles due to injury. Even if you throw out the two appearances that Kane made prior to adopting his current persona – one in 1996 as Isaac Yankem and one in 1997 as Diesel – he still has twelve appearances which is enough to tie him in first place for most Rumble appearances with Shawn Michaels. The craziest part of this story may be that it doesn't appear that Kane is going to STOP appearing in Royal Rumbles anytime soon, as he's almost a lock to appear in this year's match to further pad his lead while simultaneously surpassing HBK if you only want to count Kane's appearances as Kane.
In tallying wrestlers' Rumble appearances, I found it interesting that there are only sixteen men in history who have appeared in the match seven or more times. Billy Gunn, Bob Holly, Jake Roberts, Matt Hardy, Owen Hart, Rick Martel, Goldust, the Big Show, and the Godfather all have seven appearances. Triple H and Shelton Benjamin are tied with eight each. Viscera has nine. The Undertaker and Rikishi come in at ten. From there, it's up to Michaels with twelve and Kane with fourteen.
Given the current tendency of WWE to quickly "future endeavor" wrestlers who don't work out for them and the trend of young wrestlers to leaving the sport altogether when they determine that it's not for them, you have to think that a record like Kane's is going to stand for quite some time to come . . . especially if he keeps adding years to his career, for which there is currently no end in sight.
And that does it for me. Aaron Hubbard should be back next week. Until then, drop a line in the comments. They're always entertaining, for better for or for worse.