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10 Best Royal Rumble Finishes In WWE History

From shock returns to double-swerves, we look at the most thrilling Rumble endings ever...

Ask almost any wrestling fan about the Royal Rumble, and it's fair to assume that their eyes will light up in glee. There's something about that heady mix of over-the-top-rope eliminations and staggered entrances that just sets the soul on fire, you know?

But if we just stop and think about the history of the match, it's apparent that the Rumble is a wildly inconsistent beast. In the weeks leading up to each, we imagine it to be fantastic and fun - and some are. Some, on the other hand, are incredibly disappointing.

However, there's one factor that can save even the biggest wet fart of a Rumble: the finish.

Yes, WWE may not have delivered quality Royal Rumbles on as consistent a basis as we'd like, but they've certainly experimented with all manner of exciting endings. From overtime to double-winners, shock returns to marathon feats of endurance, January often provides some of the most surprising moments of WWE's calendar year.

Let's take a look at the 10 best finishes in Royal Rumble history - and remember, that doesn't necessarily mean the match itself was a good one. It may have just ended with a bang.

(Some of these Rumbles are brilliant though, obviously.)

10. 1995


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The 1995 Rumble is one of the shortest and weakest ever, but at least benefitted from a compelling ending sequence.

It's a shame that the first no. 1 winner came about in such a poor match, but the final showdown between Shawn Michaels and the British Bulldog was unquestionably compelling.

We'd seen last-minute switcheroos already by this stage in Rumble history - even from '88, where a charging One Man Gang was outfoxed by Jim Duggan - but this was on another level. Davey Boy hurled HBK over the top rope and turned to celebrate with his music playing.

Then, of course, HBK dangled there, allowing only one of his feet to touch the floor, before scrambling back into the ring and knocking Davey Boy off the turnbuckle. It may not have been an ideal Rumble by any stretch of the imagination, but the finish was certainly a spectacular one.


9. 2006


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Rey Mysterio's 2006 win has since been tainted by the bad handling of his subsequent World Heavyweight Championship reign - but the little luchador's triumph was one of the biggest emotional highs in Rumble history.

Entering at no. 2 in a low rider, Mysterio's epic victory was a touching tribute to close friend Eddie Guerrero.

The two major heels in this match - Triple H and Randy Orton - played their roles to perfection. The Game matched Mysterio for almost the entirety of the match, surviving almost all the way from no. 1. Orton was a great choice for the fresh, cocky final entrant - becoming complacent when attempting to throw Rey out at the very end.

Mysterio's mid-air reversal - switching momentum while suspended above Randy's head - was an instant Royal Rumble moment, and one of the match's most fitting finishes ever.

8. 1988


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In all honesty, the 1988 Rumble hasn't aged too well - but credit must still be given, considering its status as the originator of WWE's most beloved stipulation.

The ending was, in hindsight, a simple one, but was played to perfection. One Man Gang was the rampaging heel, Duggan the popular underdog, and the whole ending hinged on the idea of the smaller man being physically unable to eliminate his monstrous foe.

In the end, inventiveness won the day. One Man Gang charged at Duggan, only for the babyface to yank down the top rope and allow his opponent's momentum to carry him to the floor. Hardly the most complex Rumble finish ever, but the first of its kind.

This would probably have ranked even higher on the list, were it not for Vince McMahon's decision to utterly telegraph the ending on commentary.

7. 2011


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2011's mammoth 40-man edition is a mixed bag to look back on, full of highs and lows. It's certainly not one of the more consistent Rumbles, but its finish was one of the most unorthodox, and it paid off.

When newcomer Alberto Del Rio blindsided Randy Orton, it seemed as though the Mexican aristocrat had won in underwhelming fashion.

Then, unthinkably, Santino Marella rolled into the ring. An eternal comedic midcarder, Marella had been knocked out of the ring many minutes prior - with nobody really paying him much attention.

Crucially, though, he hadn't gone over the top rope. While Del Rio argued with officials, wondering why his music hadn't started to play, Marella nailed him with a Cobra and prepared to throw him out. The crowd rightfully lost their minds - this would surely be the craziest upset in Royal Rumble history - only for Del Rio to reverse Santino's momentum and tip him to the floor instead.

It was a marvellous bait-and-switch, or perhaps bait-and-switch-and-switch. It also remains one of the most inventive Rumble finishes ever.


6. 1992


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The 1992 Royal Rumble is widely regarded as one of the greatest, capped off by its controversial finish.

The stakes were higher than ever before in this one - and wouldn't be matched again until 2016 - as the vacant WWF Championship was on the line. Ultimately, we all remember Ric Flair's legendary performance all the way from no. 3, and Bobby Heenan's legendary commentary throughout. But the ending stands alone as a crucial moment in Rumble history.

A petulant Hulk Hogan, angered by Sid's elimination of him, grabbed his fellow babyface by the arm - allowing Ric Flair to tip his final opponent out of the ring. In all honestly, Hogan actually helps drag Sid out. It's a total heel move.

The reason this moment doesn't rank higher on the list revolves around WWE's fan expectations. Mega-babyface Hogan was supposed to be viewed as a heroic figure here, getting revenge on Sid, who sneakily eliminated him while his back was turned. Of course, as we're reminded every year, the Rumble is 'every man for himself' - so why on earth was Sid the bad guy here!?

5. 2004


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2004 is obviously a difficult Rumble to watch in hindsight, but unfortunately, it does feature one of the best finishes in the history of the match.

It's a simple enough final elimination, physically at least. Using the top rope as a fulcrum, Benoit dragged the much larger Big Show over the top rope to the outside - a simple but ingenious way of ending the match.

The key here is context. Sure, it may not have been the most visually impressive elimination ever, but it had been foreshadowed all through the bout. Benoit found inventive ways to throw out bigger opponents on more than one occasion, while Big Show was ganged up on multiple times - only for his own brute strength to win out over the combined efforts of everybody else.

When it came down to Show and Benoit, the question of how the latter could possibly win had already been placed in our minds, perfectly setting up the slow, agonising final effort.

4. 2008


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Including this finish in the list meant I had to leave out Edge's 2010 return - which is a shame because it's probably my favourite Rumble of all time.

However, even I have to admit that the Rated R Superstar's victory was a carbon copy of John Cena's return two years prior. Despite being reportedly sidelined for 7-12 months in 2007, WWE's top babyface decided to recover in astonishingly short order.

The return was kept a total secret, which made his entrance and victory from no. 30 all the more exciting - and produced one of the most organic pops in Rumble history. Even the Cena-haters had to cheer.

The icing on the cake was the identity of the man he last eliminated - ultimate final boss Triple H, who looked to be steamrolling to victory.


3. 2005


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The 1994 Rumble still leaves a sour taste in the mouth, personally. I just don't think the match should have two winners - and while it was certainly a unique ending to the match, I can never quite accept it.

Thankfully, 2005 showed us all how it should be done. When the final two entrants (John Cena and Batista) crashed over the top rope to the floor at exactly the same time, this finish could have easily descended into farce.

Instead, the quick thinking referees declared both Cena and Batista the winners of the match - Raw officials taking the latter's side, SmackDown refs arguing for the former.

As if things weren't memorable enough, the sight of Vince McMahon blowing both his quads after stomping down to the ring made this a truly unforgettable moment. The overtime period could have been a tad longer, but when Batista emphatically threw Cena out for a second time, you can't argue that he didn't earn the victory.

2. 2001


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The finish of the 2001 Royal Rumble saw Steve Austin hit Kane with a chair several times, before eliminating him with a running clothesline.

That might sound very simple, but the build-up to this moment made it utterly electrifying - and the finish of one of the best Rumbles of all time.

Kane was a wrecking ball in this match, eliminating everybody from Honky Tonk Man to The Rock - while Austin was gunning for a record third Royal Rumble win. From the moment Stone Cold was jumped by Triple H during his entrance, this bout went into overdrive.

Austin bravely made it to the ring (bleeding a lot) before engaging in a legendary staredown with Rock - the man he would ultimately beat at WrestleMania X-Seven. As the pair tussled, the Big Red Machine tried to eliminate both - only for the Rattlesnake to hang on and set up that visceral, adrenaline-pumping finale.

1. 2007


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Ultimately, I couldn't really put anything else at this spot on the list. Surprisingly few Royal Rumbles allow the final two entrants to have much time together, but 2007 saw a mini-bout between two of the best of all time.

HBK and Undertaker's tussle would set the stage for their two WrestleMania classics, proving that their incredible Attitude Era chemistry was very much alive and well in the 21st century.

Admittedly, it's not the only Rumble finish to feature a prolonged scrap between the final two guys - but nothing has really come close to this. Sheamus and Chris Jericho attempted to emulate it in 2012, but a strong argument can be made to suggest that the wrong guy won.

In 2007, it was a real win-win situation. When 'Taker scooped HBK up in a burst of energy, finally dumping him to the outside, it didn't matter that the hometown legend had failed to win. The live crowd realised that they'd truly witnessed something special - just as we all did.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]