Royal Rumble 2020: The 15 Toughest Rumble Participants in WWE History

The WWE Royal Rumble match is defined by its winner–the man or woman who goes on to main event WrestleMania and compete for the WWE Championship. But due to the Rumble’s structure, the person who works the hardest and the person who wins it are not always one and the same.

This gallery is for the standout WWE Superstars in Royal Rumble history: who lasted longest, eliminated the most competitors, or did both. Lasting long is a distinction that carries cachet; traditionally, the role is assigned to a veteran, who can direct traffic and call audibles from inside the ring. There’s a lot of moving parts to a Royal Rumble. For it to go down the way it was scripted backstage requires a ton of communication and coordination.

Make sure to tune in on Sunday, January 26, to watch the 2020 WWE Royal Rumble live on pay-per-view and the WWE Network. And if you liked this gallery, be sure to check out our gallery on the most shocking eliminations in Royal Rumble history.

1. Bret “Hitman” Hart

Event: Royal Rumble (1988)

Entered At: 1

Time: 25:42

Elimination(s): 1

Before Bret Hart was a singles star, he was one half of Hall of Fame tag team the Hart Foundation. In the very first Royal Rumble, the Hitman showed off his potential, three years before winning his first Intercontinental title. He lasted longer than any other competitor–a little over 25 minutes. But records, as we shall see, are meant to be broken.

2. Hulk Hogan

Event: Royal Rumble (1989)

Entered At: 18

Time: 11:31

Elimination(s): 10

The following year, Hulk Hogan sent a different sort of benchmark, this time for number of wrestlers eliminated. Hogan threw 10 other men over the top rope, and it took two men to eliminate him. Hogan needed only 11 minutes to cause this much mayhem, which gives him bonus points for efficiency.

3. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase

Event: Royal Rumble (1990)

Entered At: 1

Time: 44:47

Elimination(s): 3

Ted DiBiase entered at #1 in 1990. It was karmic justice; the money-hungry superstar had previously attempted to buy the #30 spot. Despite this disadvantage, however, DiBiase made an impressive showing. He nearly doubled the prior longevity record, established by Mr. Perfect the prior year.

4. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

Event: Royal Rumble (1992)

Entered At: 3

Time: 1:00:02

Elimination(s): 5

WWE’s first “Iron Man” entrant, Ric Flair won not only the Royal Rumble, but also the vacant WWE Championship. Did he do so with heroic panache? Of course not! This is Ric Flair we’re talking about. But the dual accomplishment, of not only winning the Royal Rumble but lasting the longest–over one hour in the ring–deserves praise.

5. Bob Backlund

Event: Royal Rumble (1993)

Entered At: 2

Time: 1:01:10

Elimination(s): 2

Poor Bob Backlund. This man was practically the face of WWE right before the company exploded in popularity nationwide, which meant that he got none of the massive paydays that Hogan, Savage or even Andre received. But he did have a bit of a career resurgence in the ’90s, including this spot in the 1993 Royal Rumble. The veteran entered at #2 and lasted over an hour, proving that experience has its worth.

6. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels

Event: Royal Rumble (1995)

Entered At: 1

Time: 38:41

Elimination(s): 8

Michaels was smaller than most of his contemporaries, but his athleticism and sheer charisma pushed him to the top of the card. In 1995, the Heartbreak Kid became the first man or woman to enter at #1 and win the Rumble. This was a short match in comparison to other years’ Rumbles; Michaels only had to last 38 minutes. But his 8 eliminations were all entertaining, especially the final, surprise elimination of the British Bulldog to win the whole thing.

7. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Event: Royal Rumble (1997)

Entered At: 6

Time: 53:46

Elimination(s): 10

The first time Austin won the Royal Rumble was as a heel, and he eliminated Bret Hart to get the job done. But if you replay the match and listen to the crowd, you can clearly hear that the audience starts to get behind Austin; it’s foreshadowing for the iconic antihero that he will eventually become. Part of the reason why the crowds loved Austin so much was his intensity and grit; he lasted 53 minutes and tied Hogan’s elimination record. That record wouldn’t stand for long, however.

8. Kane

Event: Royal Rumble (2001)

Entered At: 6

Time: 53:46

Elimination(s): 11

In 2001, Kane eliminated an unprecedented 11 competitors in the Royal Rumble. It was a WWE record that would stand for over a decade. And ever since, Kane has been a force to be feared. He’s competed in more Rumbles than any other WWE Superstar in history.

9. Chris Benoit

Event: Royal Rumble (2004)

Entered At: 1

Time: 1:01:35

Elimination(s): 6

The other man to win the Royal Rumble from the #1 spot, Chris Benoit, like Shawn Michaels, was a small-statured competitor in a roster of giants. He showed iron grit and determination, especially with his final elimination of the Big Show. His landmark accomplishment, as well as his main event victory at WrestleMania XX, has unfortunately been lost in the annals of history, for obvious reasons.

10. Triple H & Rey Mysterio

Event: Royal Rumble (2006)

Entered At: 1 & 2

Time: 1:00:09 & 1:02:12

Elimination(s): 6 & 6

Two months after Eddie Guerrero’s death, Rey Mysterio won the Royal Rumble from the #2 position (which, if you really think about it, is identical for all practical purposes as entering at #1). Mysterio dedicated his victory to his fallen comrade and would win the world title at WrestleMania. The #1 entrant was Triple H; like Rey, he also lasted an hour, and was part of the final four before Mysterio eliminated him as well.

11. Roman Reigns

Event: Royal Rumble (2014)

Entered At: 15

Time: 33:51

Elimination(s): 12

Roman Reigns had the misfortune of losing the Rumble when he shouldn’t have in 2014, and winning it when he shouldn’t have in 2015. It was in 2014 that Reigns broke Kane’s long-standing record, with 12 eliminations in all. The winner, Batista, was booed as the Big Dog lay on the outside, hands clasped to his head in frustration.

12. Chris Jericho

Event: Royal Rumble (2017)

Entered At: 2

Time: 1:00:13

Elimination(s): 2

In 2017, Jericho had a late-blooming career peak. He wasn’t winning world titles, but he was doing some of the best character work of his career (“YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!”). Jericho lasted over an hour in the Rumble that year, which, if Vince McMahon had followed his original plan, would have led to a Universal Championship victory at WrestleMania. Unfortunately, both he and Kevin Owens were shunted to the side in favor of a marquee match between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar.

13. Finn Bálor

Event: Royal Rumble (2018)

Entered At: 2

Time: 57:38

Elimination(s): 4

Finn Bálor lasted nearly an hour in the 2018 Rumble. He rode a wave of support; he was the first Universal Champion, and had to relinquish the title the day after winning it at Summerslam (2015) due to a shoulder injury. Could this have been his return to the main event stage? Unfortunately, however, Bálor couldn’t get the job done. Instead, Shinsuke Nakamura won that year, which set up a dream match between him and AJ Styles at WrestleMania.

14. Sasha Banks

Event: Royal Rumble (2018)

Entered At: 2

Time: 54:46

Elimination(s): 3

2018 was also the year of the first women’s Royal Rumble. And the ladies started things off right with an exciting match that main-evented the show. Asuka would win and face Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. But it was Sasha Banks who was the event’s star, entering at #2 and lasting nearly 55 minutes before being eliminated by the Bella Twins.

15. Natalya

Event: Royal Rumble (2019)

Entered At: 2

Time: 56:01

Elimination(s): 2

Natalya has spent an unselfish career making everyone around her look great. And keeping with this, she did an incredible job of running point in the 2019 Rumble. Like Sasha Banks, she entered at #2, and she bested the Boss by lasting a little over a minute longer than she did in 2018. The Queen of Harts is an understated leader who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for playing her role perfectly.