JC’s Top Rope Report: Ranking Every WWE/World/Universal Title Match In Royal Rumble History
Everyone always talks about ranking Royal Rumbles. So I went a little different with this fun exercise and ranked every WWE/World/Universal Title match that has taken place at the Rumble PPV. Some of these I completely forgot about and wish I never saw again, but here we are.
And just so everyone knows, I did not include the 92 Royal Rumble or 2016 Royal Rumble match.
The Worst of the Worst
39. 2003: Triple H (c) vs Scott Steiner
I completely blocked this match from my memory. Of course I do that with most of Triple H’s World Title run. I went into this thinking nothing would be worst then the next match on the list. I was wrong. Multiple botches including a simple neckbraker and pump handle slam. Constant rest holds and sloppiness throughout. The crowd was never into this match and it seemed like they knew it would be bad from the start. Scott Steiner was fun in WCW but he was shit in this WWE run.
38. 2004: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Hardcore Holly
So as many of you know I am a fan of having different people challenge for Titles at the Royal Rumble since the Rumble match sells everything. And the WWE did that here. The problem is despite the story, no one in their right mind thought Hardcore Holly was winning. And even with the “Brock breaking Holly’s neck” story, the crowd still did not care. And it was a boring basic mat match which wasn’t Holly’s strength.
37. 2006: Kurt Angle (c) vs Mark Henry
Another sloppy match. I really didn’t remember that there were this many matches worse than the Taker/Yoko casket match. But Henry could barely move around here. It was a match that didn’t deserve the main event spot and was pretty much just there because of the final Undertaker angle.
36. 2007: Batista (c) vs Mr. Kennedy
Man, I am really blanking on a lot of these mid-2000 Title matches. When Kennedy came out they ran down the win streak he went on. It was a pretty non-descript match. Kennedy at one point had a pin with a low blow but the ref was down. No idea why they did that but the crowd got behind Kennedy after that and kind of deflated when Batista won.
35. 1994: Yokozuna (c) vs The Undertaker- Casket Match
Everyone remembers exactly one thing from this. Of course that would be when The Undertaker rose up from the video screen into the sky. Oh I mean Marty Jannetty now the Undertaker. This was maybe ten minutes of wrestling then every heel in the company beating down The Undertaker until he ended up in the casket. Talk about protecting someone. It is Wrestlecrap all over.
34. 2014: Randy Orton (c) vs John Cena
I was in the crowd for this match. And to say the crowd didn’t give two shits about this match from the beginning would be an understatement. This was peak “WWE isn’t pushing Daniel Bryan, but the fans don’t care.” Constant Bryan chants, constant chants for anything other than this match. And I think Cena and Orton knew it. They put on the most basic match they could because the crowd wouldn’t care. These two never worked well together and the crowd was sick of both by this point.
33. 2018: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Kane vs Braun Strowman
The only highlight of this match was Lesnar completely stiffing Strowman after Strowman stiffed him with a kick. Otherwise this was slow and plodding and no fun at all. It was suppose to be what we got this year in Finn Balor.
32. 2009: John Cena (c) vs JBL
These two had the most basic match you could possibly imagine. The whole story here was Shawn Michaels, who at the time was working for JBL because he was broke. So all the crowd cared about was what he was going to do. And he Super kicked both men then left. Cena ended up winning and that’s that.
31. 2010: Sheamus (c) vs Randy Orton
Remember the time Sheamus won the WWE Title from John Cena in a Tables Match? That was this reign. Both of these two guys were heels. But the crowd loved the sadistic Orton in the match. Another non descript match with a cheap finish involving Legacy causing a weak DQ.
30. 1991: The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs Sgt. Slaughter
If you know your wrestling history then you can just picture this match in your head given these two at the time: punch, kick, chin lock, elbow, shoulder tackle. Basic Wrestling 101. Of course Sgt. Slaughter was an Iraqi sympathizer at this point. This was all done to set up the two big matches at Wrestlemania 7: Slaughter vs Hogan for the Title and Warrior vs Randy Savage, who cost Warrior the match after hitting him with his scepter.
29. 2013: Alberto del Rio (c) vs Big Show- Last Man Standing
Nowhere near as good as the Last Man Standing Match that appears later on the list. I hated the ending here with Del Rio using duct tape to keep Big Show down. It’s a weak way for a face to win a match. And the action was pretty boring and way too tame for this type of match, outside of Big Show chokeslamming Del Rio off one of the LED fixtures.
28. 1996: Bret Hart (c) vs The Undertaker
These two tried to do what Hart and Diesel did the year before in working a classic wrestler vs big man match. The problem? It went on wayyyy too long. Not only that it was also very slow and plodding. Weirdly enough I never thought these two had great chemistry with each other. Plus the DQ finish here was crap, especially for how long the match went on.
27. 2006: Edge (c) vs John Cena
Edge won the Title with the Money in the Bank cash in earlier in the month. The match was fine, but it was obvious they were going to get the Title back on Cena here. The action was okay but nothing standout. These two had much better matches down the line.
26. 1997: Sid (c) vs Shawn Michaels
This was in HBK’s hometown of San Antonio in the Alamodome. It is a typical Sid match. Sid wears the little guy down with long rest holds until the little guy starts a comeback. It is a good thing the match was in San Antonio because the crowd was behind Michaels the entire time. Of course, Michaels would relinquish the Title a few weeks later as the early part of this year went on to be full of backstage politics.
25. 2012: Daniel Bryan (c) vs Big Show vs Mark Henry- Steel Cage Match
They had to do this in a cage, because there is no way Daniel Bryan could carry these two to a good wrestling match. Bryan just cashed in MITB and won the Title and turned heel in the process, but the crowd still loved him. I was also a fan of Henry during this time doing is Hall of Pain gimmick. I was there when he won the World Title and popped huge. But this match is slow and plodding and not even Bryan can save it.
The Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling
24. 2011: The Miz (c) vs Randy Orton
People still crap on this Miz Title reign but I defend putting the Title on him to this day. The guy was hot at the time. The problem was he was booked like a complete chump in all of his matches. It was no different here. It took Alex Riley, the new Nexus and CM Punk to beat Randy Orton. The match itself was fine, but Miz needing so much to beat Orton was crap. I also completely blocked out Heel Michael Cole from my mind and had to listen to it here.
23. 2005: Triple H (c) vs Randy Orton
A Triple H match from the mid-2000s that has a ref bump? Who would have thought! They almost ruined Randy Orton with this feud. They rushed through it then Batista came in and took Orton’s spot. Orton was hot but they pulled the trigger too soon with him. And it was evident here as the crowd turned on him at the start. These two never worked well together in basic wrestling matches. They had a really good Last Man Standing Match but when it comes to standard matches they never clicked.
22. 2005: JBL (c) vs Big Show vs Kurt Angle
Dave Meltzer only gave this match *3/4 but I thought it was better. They kept it short and kept the pace going throughout the match. Sure there was outside interference but the crowd was into it which is always a plus.
21. 2004: Triple H (c) vs Shawn Michaels- Last Man Standing
Any time a Last Man Standing Match ends in a draw, you are going to have a bad time. And when it comes to Last Man Standing Matches, this one falls on the weak end. Both men bled like stuffed pigs. But this was big move, ref count, big move, ref count, big move ref count. That ruins the flow of the match for me.
20. 2009: Jeff Hardy (c) vs Edge
We were suppose to see the return of Christian here. But since everyone knew he was coming back Vince changed his mind and had Matt Hardy turn on Jeff. In the build up to this someone was wreaking havoc in Jeff’s life. I always thought these two worked well together. We’re pretty much reaching the point on the list of good, perfectly acceptable wrestling matches.
19. 2018: AJ Styles (c) vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Two on one handicap matches for the WWE Title are always stupid ideas. The ending saw Styles pin the wrong person even though the ref allowed it. It continued a long drawn out story that went on for way too long between these three.
18. 2001: Kurt Angle (c) vs Triple H
I don’t know what they were trying to do with this match. They wanted to wrestle a technical match, but both men were heels and the crowd did not care. There was a bigger reaction for when Trish Stratus and Stephanie McMahon fought during the match then these two got when they were fighting. The crowd only got into it then and when Steve Austin came out at the end to cost Triple H the match.
17. 2008: Randy Orton (c) vs Jeff Hardy
This match was a bit too quick for my liking. And the finish pretty much came out of nowhere as Jeff lost clean as a whistle after they built him up so strongly. Again, Hardy wasn’t expected to win but it never seemed like they gave him an actual shot of winning in the eyes of the fans.
The Good to Very Good
16. 2012: CM Punk (c) vs Dolph Ziggler
It amazes me how much the WWE screwed up CM Punk. He was easily the most over guy during this time period. These two had a good match even with the John Laurinitis shenanigans. Ziggler looked like a goober here and was treated way worse than he was the year prior against Edge.
15. 2008: Edge (c) vs Rey Mysterio
These two always have great chemistry together. The match was short but the action was nonstop. The MSG crowd was behind the heel Edge and not Rey Mysterio. On the low end of their matches but still good. It was also weird seeing Zack Ryder with long hair here.
14. 2011: Edge (c) vs Dolph Ziggler
Member when people cared about Dolph Ziggler matches? I memba! This is back when people thought he had potential to be someone like Edge down the line. I thought this was Edge’s best Title match at all of the Rumble PPVs.
13. 2010: The Undertaker (c) vs Rey Mysterio
I really liked this match Andy might have it a bit too high. But I remember when this match was made I loved the interesting dynamic between these two. It was a face vs face match the crowd hadn’t seen before and for the short time it went I thought it was very good.
12. 2002: Chris Jericho (c) vs The Rock
The crowd was really into The Rock here. Of course, we once again had interference mess around with this one. We also had Nick Patrick as a crooked referee which I completely forgot about. Jericho deserved better as the first Undisputed Champ in the WWE rather then get protected through multiple shenanigans before winning.
11. 1998: Shawn Michaels (c) vs The Undertaker- Casket Match
Much more more of a wrestling match/brawl than the 1994 match was. They used weapons on the outside that fit the times. Everyone hated Michaels at the time. Of course the storyline that played out at the end of the match with Kane turning on Undertaker and setting the casket on fire. This is also the match where Michaels hurt his back. A good brawl which is what a match like this at the time should have been.
10. 2017: Kevin Owens (c) vs Roman Reigns- No DQ with Chris Jericho In A Shark Cage
I didn’t remember this match being as good as it was but here we are. I cringed when Owens took that bump off the top through the stack of chairs. Jericho was great here in the cage cheering on Owens at the top. Owens didn’t get the pay off he deserved as Universal Champ after the run that he had. Him and Reigns busted their ass in this one.
9. 2013: CM Punk (c) vs The Rock
The end of CM Punk’s 434 day WWE Title reign. I still maintain that Punk should have beat The Rock here, even if they ended it with The Shield beat down and went on to the next PPV and had The Rock win there. The match was better than any of his two Cena matches, and it is a credit to Punk for putting on a great performance as well.
8. 1995: Diesel (c) vs Bret Hart
This one gets praise from people but I think their match at Survivor Series the same year was much better. Plus this ended in a No Contest after constant interference from Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart and Bob Backlund. These two actually had good chemistry together in the ring.
7. 1993: Bret Hart (c) vs Razor Ramon
Remember the days when someone would get a Title shot being in the company less than a year? Well that is what happened here. Unfortunately for Razor he would never get to that point again in his WWE career. Bret was having good to great matches with all competitors at this point. Razor’s heel character was on point here and I wish he had another opportunity to get to the top after this performance.
The Cream of the Crop
6. 1999: Mankind (c) vs The Rock- I Quit Match
As I’m sure anyone reading this knows, this one is tough to watch. The ending with The Rock delivering ten chair shots to the skull of Mick Foley is hard to stomach, especially knowing what we know about concussions today. But the match was also quite entertaining, with The Rock throwing out insults every time he was asked if he quit. And you started to hear chants for The Rock as the match went on. The announcers also played a part here, with both Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler talking about how tough it was to watch the match as it went on. I thought Cole was actually good here.
5. 2007: John Cena (c) vs Umaga- Last Man Standing Match
I remember this match being good. I forgot how good it actually was. They were in a tough spot with Umaga where you knew they couldn’t put the Title on him but they had to make him look good in defeat. And they did exactly that. Umaga threw Cena around like a rag doll and Cena had to do everything in his power to beat him. He threw ring steps at him, he hit him with a metal part of the post, and one by choking out Umaga with the rope. Cena bled pretty badly too. Good showing by both men.
4. 2000: Triple H (c) vs Cactus Jack- Street Fight
If you compare this one to Rock/Mankind from 99 I think this match had more flow to it. The pace was better set and you didn’t constantly have to stop your flow to ask your opponent if he quit. Triple H gets busted open pretty bad here on his head and on his calf. Of course Mick Foley again goes out of his way to put over someone by getting his ass beat. Taking a Pedigree into the thumbtacks is something you could never pay me enough to do.
3. 2017: AJ Styles (c) vs John Cena
These two had really great chemistry with each other. Styles was leaving his mark left and right in a WWE ring by this time. He had a series of great matches with Roman Reigns after Wrestlemania and then had a great one with John Cena at SummerSlam and this one was even better. By this point everyone knew how good Cena was and him and Styles tore the house down. Cena busting out a Code Red is always fun.
2. 2015: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Seth Rollins vs John Cena
For me this was the coming out party for Seth Rollins. Everyone knew his potential. The WWE did when they had him be the one to turn on Reigns and Ambrose. But he was still trying to find his way and this match solidified he could be a top star. Rollins looked great and he hit a picture perfect dive onto Lesnar through an announce table and he had some great counters to Cena and Lesnar’s offense. The match is great and has nonstop action throughout. Easily one of the best triple threats in WWE history.
1. 2003: Kurt Angle (c) vs Chris Benoit
Talk about two polar opposites when it comes to matches. Steiner/HHH on this show was a trainwreck. This one was a classic. Benoit and Angle put on one of the best pure wrestling matches you will ever see. Counter after counter. Brutal move after brutal move. Benoit DDT’d Angle on the apron. Angle countered the crossface into an Angle Slam. The difference between Benoit and Angle’s German/Belly-to-Belly suplexes and Steiner’s are night and day. Yeah it involves Chris Benoit, but this has always been one of my favorite matches. Of course, it is tough to watch Benoit hit a diving headbutt 3/4 of the way across the ring. These are the matches wrestlers should be studying today.
Agree or Disagree? Let me know!
Until Next Time,
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