Tuesday, April 23

Best WWE Royal Rumble Matches

The Royal Rumble match is one of the most iconic concepts ever introduced to WWE. Starting back in 1988, WWE has held one or two of these matches yearly, and they always garner a lot of excitement from fans. Not every Rumble match has delivered over the years, but some have stood out as brilliant bouts.



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TheSportster’s rating system will determine the very best of the best when it comes to the Royal Rumble match. These ratings will also be compared to those on cagematch.net and Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

UPDATE: 2024/03/30 20:00 EST BY ANDREW KELLY

When looking over the course of WWE history, the vastly popular Royal Rumble match is one which manages to carry itself on the concept alone, and in actual fact the quality of these bouts over the years hasn’t always been great. Even when stretching this to looking at the top 15 Royal Rumble matches of all time, we are beginning to be stretched thin to rank objectively “good” Royal Rumble matches. It is tough to maintain a solid quality for up to an hour in a match like this, but either way WWE have still managed to do so on more than one occasion.


15 2017 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 7/10


Storytelling

1.25/2.5

Technical Ability

1.75/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3.75 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 5.38

The winner of this match was frustrating, as was Roman Reigns emerging as the number 30 entrant, but much of this bout was quite enjoyable. It had a lot of star power with Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, and several more.

The opening portion of the match was great, with Braun Strowman looking like an absolute beast, and the likes of Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, and Sami Zayn looking strong. A huge crowd was in attendance and reacting in a big way to everything, though the whole booking did leave a lot to be desired.


14 1997 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 7.25/10

Storytelling

2/2.5

Technical Ability

1.75/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

1.75/2.5

Crowd Reaction

1.75/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3. Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 7.02

This was all about “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and his star-making performance in the match, dominating much of it and stealing a victory in a terrific heelish way.


Unfortunately, the star power wasn’t all too present in this one, which did lead to a lack of energy at times. However, the bigger stars like Austin and Bret Hart did do a lot of heavy lifting to still ensure an enjoyable match. Several rivals were involved, ensuring for heat to carry through the whole thing.

13 2023 Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 7.5/10

Storytelling

1.5/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 4.25 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 7.46


Gunther’s record-breaking performance in this was phenomenal, Cody Rhodes’ return and victory was a nice moment, and the jaw-dropping mid-air collision between Logan Paul and Ricochet was the moment of the match.

This was a Rumble which set the course straight after a lackluster previous year, though it did struggle from a structure standpoint. It was very much “one wrestler comes in and their rival is the next entrant”, so the whole thing followed a predictable and lazy formula at times.

12 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 7.5/10

Storytelling

2/2.5

Technical Ability

1.5/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

1.75/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5


  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3.25 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 7.14

The in-ring work in this match wasn’t the cleanest by any means, but it was a truly special match in its own right. The atmosphere, the celebration of women’s wrestling past and present with stars from yesteryear, and the fully invested crowd led to this being fantastic.

Seeing different generations clash was great, Sasha Banks put in a wonderful performance, and Asuka was treated like a massive star with her victory. Asuka eliminating Nikki Bella was a symbol of changing eras, something which was a thread throughout this whole match.

11 2008 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 7.5/10


Storytelling

1.5/2.5

Technical Ability

1.75/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 4.25 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.34

The venue of Madison Square Garden helped to give this Rumble match a distinct feel and a special buzz. Starting out with Shawn Michaels & The Undertaker was genius, the throwback brawl between Jimmy Snuka and Roddy Piper was great, and John Cena’s insane return for the final part of the match was a wonderful way to close out the Rumble.

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The storytelling in this match did get lost for a while, with several entrants feeling pointless. Things slowed right down at times as the ring filled up, which does take some points away from it overall.


10 2005 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 7.75/10

Storytelling

2/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

1.75/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: N/A
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.24

This will go down as one of the most infamous Royal Rumble matches of all time due to the botched finished which saw Batista and John Cena inadvertently crash over the top rope and land on the floor at the same time, causing Vince McMahon to emerge and tear both quads.


The rest of the match was still pretty good, with arguably one of the best eliminations of all time when Paul London nearly got decapitated. It was a match with ups and downs, but overall a strong Rumble with an iconic finishing sequence (for all the wrong reasons).

9 2016 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 7.75/10

Storytelling

1.5/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 4 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 7.43


After two terrible years of Rumbles, 2016 had a lot of pressure to deliver – and it did so. The whole storyline thread of Roman Reigns getting attacked and returning later was predictable and forced, though his elimination was one of the best moments of the match.

There was plenty of star power on hand, AJ Styles’ debut and performance was great, and lots of individual feuds played out within the action. The closing stretch with top names like Triple H, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, and more made for some brilliant interactions and an exciting finish.

8 1992 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 8/10


Storytelling

1.75/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3.75
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.70

The star power in this match was through the roof, with so many Hall of Fame icons making up the field. This of course led to a strong match in many aspects. The storytelling was pretty good, though the finish of Hulk Hogan helping Ric Flair win will always remain as a major issue with the match.

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Ric Flair’s performance was incredible, becoming the first real “Iron Man” of the Rumble with a stunningly long run in the match. His WWE Championship victory was still a good moment despite Hogan stealing the spotlight.


7 2003 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 8.25/10

Storytelling

2/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3.25 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 7.60

The Ruthless Aggression Era was in full flow here with a match jam-packed with great wrestling and storylines, with many great fun interactions between wrestlers. Chris Jericho was the MVP here, dumping out Shawn Michaels in a shocking moment before going on to have a great run in the match.


Brock Lesnar, Kane, Batista, and The Undertaker all felt like huge threats when they came in, and they helped to carry the final portion. There was so much attention to detail in this match with everyone shining in some way.

6 2004 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 8.25/10

Storytelling

2.25/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3.75 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.67


The 2004 Royal Rumble had a classic underdog story going the distance from number one to winning the bout, which acted as a strong thread to hold the whole match together. It did take some time for this match to get going as the star power wasn’t too huge, but when bigger stars like Goldberg and Kurt Angle were in the match, the bout took on a different energy.

It was certainly a Rumble match which introduced a new era of talent, but that did take a toll on the quality at times. Overall though, this was still a terrific Royal Rumble match with one of the more impressive victories of all time.

5 2010 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 8.5/10

Storytelling

2.25/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2.25/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2/2.5


  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3.5 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 7.58

This is one of the shorter Rumble matches in history, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It was a match with a lot of focus and a strong structure. CM Punk’s early dominance, Beth Phoenix’s surprise entrance, the shocking elimination of Triple H, Edge’s massive return, and of course the emotional Shawn Michaels performance all helped to make this match special.

There was a period of the match that didn’t quite deliver in the middle, with it running slowly as the ring filled up with some midcard fodder. Perhaps the ending did feel a little rushed too, but it was still executed well.

4 2007 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 8.5/10


Storytelling

2/2.5

Technical Ability

2.25/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 4 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.89

The magical finishing sequence between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels puts this Rumble in contention with the best of all time without anything else in the match needing to happen.

This was still a strong Rumble match throughout, though at times the star power did dwindle and there were some very slow and meandering moments. When the big names got involved though the action improved, and as noted the final portion of the match was full of excitement. It is arguably overrated elsewhere due to the great ending being what people remember most.


3 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 9.25/10

Storytelling

2.5/2.5

Technical Ability

2.25/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2.25/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 4.25 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.30

This match deserves more plaudits. It was such a well constructed Rumble match with nearly every single entrant doing something of note which added to the match and made sense with their character. There were so many great surprises such as NXT stars, The Hurricane, and Rey Mysterio, and a huge number of massive talents who could’ve all won.


The decision to put Shinsuke Nakamura over Roman Reigns and John Cena was bold, but the fans absolutely loved it, going crazy in the final stretch. A brilliant Rumble match that had very few negatives, with it being exciting all the way through.

2 2001 Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 9.25/10

Storytelling

2.25/2.5

Technical Ability

2/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2.5/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.5/2.5

  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 3.25 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.72


Although the Attitude Era was ending, this match represented everything that fans loved about that time. It had plenty of mega stars, weapons, absolute silliness, and a raucous crowd who ate everything up.

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Kane’s performance was sensational, ripping apart the field and only falling to the super hot Steve Austin. It is true that some parts of this match weren’t perfect, but it is still a top tier Royal Rumble match with so much variety and excitement.

1 2020 Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Overall Rating From TheSportster: 9.5/10

Storytelling

2.5/2.5

Technical Ability

2.25/2.5

Character Work/Psychology

2.5/2.5

Crowd Reaction

2.25/2.5


  • Dave Meltzer Rating: 4.25 Stars
  • Cagematch.net Rating: 8.59

Nostalgia plays a part for many when it comes to ranking Royal Rumble matches, but TheSportster’s greatest Royal Rumble match is the Men’s one from 2020. There has never been a more unique Rumble match, with the opening half being very memorable. Brock Lesnar’s elimination spree was handled to perfection, it never tired, it featured surprises, and the pop for his elimination was insane.

From there, the match slowed at some points but the fans were still hooked and plenty of massive stars still came out, not to mention Edge who sensationally came out of retirement. Drew McIntyre also proved to be a popular winner with one of the largest Royal Rumble reactions of all time when he finally won.

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