As the 28th annual Royal Rumble approaches, we take time to look back at some of the classic Rumble matches of years past. It’s a rite of passage for most WWE superstars, especially the ones of today that grew up on the product, to hit the ring at the buzzer and take part in the industry’s most famous scrum. Even if you never make it higher up on the card, being a part of the Royal Rumble match is afforded to many wrestlers.
Amazingly, there have been quite a few stars of renown that have never known that feeling. Listed below are ten such examples of well-known WWE talents that have never once performed as a Royal Rumble entrant. Sting is excluded from this list for obvious reasons (though some wag will try to point him out). Otherwise, the list of non-Rumble players is pretty surprising.
The ‘Boy Wonder’ can be credited with one Rumble elimination, tossing Shawn Michaels in 2006 in the early stages of what would become the D-Generation X/McMahons war. Still, there is no official entry for one of the Attitude Era’s great risk-takers, and you’d think he’d have at least once entered as part of his father’s corporate resistance against some hero (2006 would have been an appropriate time, instead of a simple run-in). McMahon carried his own weight through a number of PPVs, and a Royal Rumble match simply wasn’t one of them.
9. Barry Windham
In Windham’s case, his times with the company either failed to coincide with the January classic, or in the case of his final tenure, the former Horseman was simply pushed aside. US Express-era Windham left before the first Rumble, and his ‘Widowmaker’ run encompassed about five months of 1989. Windham worked for two years, mostly as underneath fodder, from 1996 to 1998, and was left out of the two Rumbles in that time-frame (including the 1997 match in his native Texas). By that time, Windham’s wattage had dimmed into darkness.
‘The Ugandan Giant’ ended his first notable WWE run in late 1987, missing out on the USA Network special with the inaugural airing. Kamala would return in mid-1992, and would miss the 1993 event during an angle in which ordained Reverend Slick ‘humanized’ him into a slightly-more dignified (in the company’s eyes) babyface. Although the big man departed in the summer of 1993 to little fanfare, he was actually named on WWE programming as an entrant into the 1994 match, before being replaced by Virgil for unknown reasons.
7. Lance Cade
In the days before The Shield, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, and Damien Sandow, developmental call-ups were far more miss than hit. The good-sized Cade, with his drugstore cowboy image, had potential and a bit of company backing before his release in 2008, after a substance-related seizure. During the five years in which Cade found use, he missed out on every Rumble. Partner Trevor Murdoch took part in 2006 without him, while the duo sat out on the 2007-08 matches altogether. In the three-brand era, Cade’s odds were trimmed.
Imagine someone wrestling in WWE for 12 years and never getting a sniff of the Rumble match. Well, that’s actually a misleading statement: Funaki and partner Taka Michinoku made repeated run-ins in the 2000 match for comic effect (until Michinoku infamously face-planted over-rotating to the floor). Besides that bout of diversion, Funaki was always left out of the Rumble match. A Smackdown lifer once the roster was split, Funaki rarely appeared on actual PPVs, let alone the kick-off point of what is termed “WrestleMania season.”
5. Ricky Steamboat
Not super-surprising when you remember that the eras of ‘The Dragon’ don’t exactly coincide with the Rumble timeframes, but Steamboat was on the card for one event. In fact, Steamboat competed in the first ever match in Rumble event history, beating Rick Rude by disqualification in 1988. The only other time Steamboat could have made it to the match, not counting a quickie cameo in recent years, was the 1992 event had he not quit months earlier. Ric Flair’s one-hour run for the title could have included perhaps his greatest rival ever.
4. Stevie Richards
Playing off of Funaki’s prolonged employment and never getting a spot in the Royal Rumble, Richards has a similar tale. In nine years with the company, Richards was never an entrant, despite high-profile runs with both Right the Censor and as Victoria’s submissive beau. Making it a bit more bizarre, his Blue World Order mates Blue Meanie and Nova, despite much shorter WWE runs, *have* participated in Rumbles: Meanie in 1999 and Nova (as Simon Dean) for the 2005 and 2006 matches. Richards still has his DDP Yoga and his cats, sizable consolations both.
3. Jacques Rougeau
Brother Raymond also qualifies for this list, but the focus should go to his younger sibling, The Mountie. From 1989-94, with sole exception of 1993, Jacques competed in the event’s undercard, including: a six-man tag in 1989, a tag match with the Bushwhackers a year later, an character showcase win over Koko B Ware at the 1991 event, an Intercontinental Title loss to Roddy Piper in 1992, and (with Quebecer Pierre) a Tag Team Title retention over Bret and Owen Hart in 1994, where the match was secondary to Owen’s hallmark heel turn.
This kind of/sort of excludes baby brother Spike, who was an entrant in 2004 that never made it to the ring (Kane murdered him following his elimination). From 2000 to 2004, Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley worked some form of undercard tag team bout, with four matches deciding Tag Team Champions. As the truest of default teams during the era, there were memorable bouts with the Hardyz (a table match in New York) and Edge and Christian, with a notable clunker against Evolution members Batista and Ric Flair at the 2004 card.
1. Razor Ramon
Not including the fake Razor from 1997, the genuine article of Scott Hall only graced the Rumble match once: in 1996, chasing 123 Kid in and out of the ring during that year’s brawl. From 1993 to 1996, ‘The Bad Guy’ was showcased only in singles action, all for championship gold. The first year, Razor was programmed as an early victim of Bret Hart’s World Title run, while the next three saw Hall defend the Intercontinental Title. In 1994, Razor retained over IRS, while the latter years saw him drop the belt to Jeff Jarrett and Goldust respectively.