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5 Royal Rumble Winners You Probably Forgot About

Recalling five Royal Rumble winners you are unlikely to remember.

5 Royal Rumble Winners You Probably Forgot About
Yocozuna: Won an unmemorable Royal Rumble match in 1993

The Royal Rumble match was devised by WWE booker, Pat Patterson and debuted as a television special in January 1988, specifically to cause damage to the NWA, who were promoting a pay per view, Bunkhouse Stampede, the very same night.

After the success of the inaugural edition, won by Hacksaw Jim Duggan, WWE then decided to run the event as a pay per view special the following year in 1989 and have done so ever since. The show is one of the most anticipated on the WWE calendar but despite its early success, had something missing.

The first few Royal Rumble matches did not have an award for winning it. This was rectified in 1993, when the prize for winning the match that everyone knows today was added. The winner of the bout would be named the number one contender for the WWE World Championship at Wrestlemania.

In 2018, WWE added a Woman's Royal Rumble match to their annual event for the first time and will host another in 2019.

On April 27, 2018, WWE promoted a 50-man version of the match for a WWE Network special in Saudi Arabia, won by Braun Strowman, which was the largest ever in history, beating out the 40 man version which took place in 2011.

Winning the match is a major award for wrestlers and can catapult a superstar to superstardom. However, for every superstar whose career was made by a Royal Rumble victory, such as Yocozuna, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Batista, there are many others whose careers have not experienced any growth due to the win and thus are lost to history.

In the following slideshow, SK looks at five such men who have all been victorious in the Royal Rumble match, but that you are unlikely to remember.

#5 Chris Benoit (2004 Royal Rumble)

Chris Benoit: Won the 2004 Royal Rumble

Chris Benoit's 2004 Royal Rumble has faded into history and understandably so. Benoit's double murder of his wife and young child on a fateful night in June 2007 put paid to any part of his two-decade career being celebrated.

The fact that Benoit was one of the top five best in-ring performers of the mid 1990s to mid 2000s is irrelevant. His actions on one weekend in June, which resulted in his own suicide means that he receives no mention on WWE television broadcasts.

Therefore, his 2004 Royal Rumble win effectively no longer exists. However, back in January 2004, that 'Rumble match was celebrated as one of the very best of all time. Benoit began the encounter as the number one entrant opposite number two participant, Randy Orton.

He lasted 61 minutes and last eliminated the Big Show to win the title shot at Wrestlemania XX. In that one, he won the match of the year defeated Triple H in a triple threat bout also including Shawn Michaels.

You will never hear about those achievements on WWE programming, however.

#4 Alberto Del Rio (2011 Royal Rumble)

Alberto Del Rio: Won the (then) biggest Royal Rumble in history

In 2011, with a massive roster, WWE decided to inflate the number of participants in the Royal Rumble match from 30 men to 40.

That led to a bout which went much longer than the usual hour and featured many memorable moments, such as the return of Diesel and Booker T, Hornswoggle teaming up with John Cena and The Miz, combining with Alex Riley to eliminate Cena.

However, what is lost to history somewhat is that the winner of the match was Alberto Del Rio.

Del Rio had only debuted on the main roster the previous summer but had sped up the ranks and last eliminated Santino Marella to earn the Championship shot at Wrestlemania XVII.

Part of the reason, why his victory is not remembered is the fact that he did not win the title at Wrestlemania, instead losing to World Champion, Edge.

Del Rio would have to wait until Summerslam that year to become champion when he defeated CM Punk after successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.

Another reason, it is not remembered is because it is not a celebrated part of WWE's past due to the acrimonious way Del Rio parted the company and his destructive relationship with Paige, whom WWE were, due to her young age, very protective of.

#3 Sheamus (2012 Royal Rumble)

Sheamus: 2012 Royal Rumble winner

The 2012 Royal Rumble is not fondly remembered. In fact, it is barely remembered at all. It was a match full of comedy and not one to be taken seriously.

It also included a dearth of main event level talent and potential winners. The favourite to win the bout was the recently returned Chris Jericho. He made the final two, with Sheamus, who had turned face the previous year after an unsuccessful stint as a heel WWE Champion between 2009-2010.

The 2012 match-up featured lots of legends entering the match, the entire commentary team and contained lots of comic spots such as Mick Foley's Mr. Socko and Santino Marella's Cobra locking up in combat.

Sheamus last eliminated Jericho to win the match and won the World title from Daniel Bryan in a bout at Wrestlemania XVIII memorable only for the overwhelming negative crowd reaction to Bryan's sub 18 second loss to Sheamus.

#2 Lex Luger (co-won 1994 Royal Rumble)

Lex Luger: Co-won the 1994 Royal Rumble with Bret Hart

Former WCW World Champion, Lex Luger was expected to achieve big things in WWE, when he signed on in late 1992. By 1994, however, after the failure of the Lex Express tour the previous summer in which he did not capture the WWE Championship from Yocozuna, fans had lost interest in the character.

The more realistic Bret Hart character was more engaging to the masses and it was he, who the WWE fans were now supporting in large numbers.

The 1994 Royal Rumble was an entertaining match and memorable for Diesel becoming a star when he eliminated seven men in quick succession.

However, it was a disaster for Luger. When he and Hart last eliminated each other, the crowd loudly cheered Hart and booed Luger.

Few remember that Hart did not win the bout himself as Luger failed to wrest the title from Yocozuna at Wrestlemania X and Hart would defeat 'Zuna later that night to win the title for a second time.

Luger is one of a very small number of wrestlers to never appear on screen for the promotion after he left in 1995.

#1 Big John Studd (1989 Royal Rumble)

Big John Studd corners Ted DiBiase before eliminating him to win the Royal Rumble

The 1989 Royal Rumble was the first Royal Rumble event to take place on pay per view. However, despite a field that included Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, Andre the Giant and Jake Roberts, it was veteran Big John Studd who was awarded the win.

It proved to be the last push of Studd's career as he disappeared from wrestling entirely later that year.

Studd died from liver cancer in 1995. Over twenty years after his death and Studd, who despite his presence in the WWE Hall of Fame has largely faded from the consciousness of the WWE Universe.

The 1989 Royal Rumble is much better remembered for the dissension between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage as Hogan eliminated his friend, which enraged Savage and led to the break up of the pair and a memorable title bout in the main event of Wrestlemania V.

At that event, Studd was relegated to the position of special referee in the match between Andre the Giant and Jake Roberts.

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