Best WWE Championship Matches At The Royal Rumble

12/19/2023 5:17 AM

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Best WWE Championship Matches At The Royal Rumble

Best WWE Championship Matches At The Royal Rumble

December 19, 2023 5:17 AM
Best WWE Championship Matches At The Royal Rumble

Five of the best WWE Championship matches that took place at the Royal Rumble.

The 36th anniversary of the Royal Rumble is quickly approaching and it should be a show to remember. Royal Rumble is no stranger to producing incredible matches and moments, whether it was Rey Mysterio lasting over 62 minutes in 2006 to Vince McMahon himself winning the Rumble. 

Of course, the top prize in the company has been a staple for most of these shows. The World Heavyweight Championship, NXT Championship, and WWE Championship have seen plenty of ups and downs at the pay-per-view. This list narrows down the five best WWE Championship matches at Royal Rumble. 

I Quit Match: Rocky Maivia vs. Mankind - Royal Rumble 1999

Foley and Rocky had an excellent feud. Their I Quit match was intense out of the gate and the story told was solid. The match didn’t have any crazy stunts or anything of that nature, but the purpose was to showcase that Foley was a tough son of a gun.

Foley getting blasted with multiple chair shots to the head while in handcuffs certainly shaved years off his career, but it helped establish his character in this match. Looking back, the tape recording finish still works. Granted, you can easily tell that it wasn’t Foley’s live voice because of the sell job of Mankind towards the end. 

Still, the finish was clever enough to trick the live crowd and it helped that Rock scrambled his brains first before pulling off the controversial ending. 

Street Fight: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack - Royal Rumble 2000

Oh, how the tables have turned one year later. This is arguably the best gimmick match that’s taken place at the Royal Rumble. What’s great about Cactus Jack is that his matches are relatively simple, but that works so much in the favor of both men. It makes the match feel gritty and believable and helps put over the toughness of both men. 

The call back to the handcuff spot from Royal Rumble 1999 was a nice touch. So was Rock being the man to release Cactus Jack from the cuffs. WrestleMania 2000 featured a lame Four-Way match with a McMahon in every corner, so it would’ve been better if creative found a way to save their Hell in a Cell bout for the big show instead. 

Like always, the chair shots are nasty and the pedigree to the thumbtacks is one of Triple H’s best use of his finisher. An incredible match that still holds up to modern-day wrestling. 

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit - Royal Rumble 2003

It shouldn’t be surprising that Benoit and Angle put on a wrestling clinic in their RR encounter. Suplex after suplex, counter after counter, the bout was an edge-of-your-seat contest with an unpredictable result. The WrestleMania direction wasn’t exactly clear, so it could’ve been possible that Benoit walked out of the match as the new WWE Champion. 

After kicking out the third Angle Slam, it was hard to remain seated because this bout was so darn good. Benoit launching himself from one end of the turnbuckle into Angle, who was across the ring was impressive. As were the numerous escapes and counters to both men’s submission finishers. 

Benoit was ultimately tapped, but Angle and creative made sure to make him look like a true star before the match finished. An incredible pure wrestling match from beginning to end.

Last Man Standing: John Cena vs. Umaga - Royal Rumble 2007

The reign of Super Cena got extremely tiring once he finally dropped the belt later that year. However, there’s no denying that the former WWE Champion put out some bangers throughout his championship run. This match is a prime example of this. The story of the match was great. Umaga was picking apart Cena slowly, and the champ’s “injury” helped further the story between the two men. 

Cena’s comeback spots were quite inspiring. Him launching the steel steps over the ropes onto Umaga, or Umaga crashing through the announcer’s table were some of the big highlights. Cena felt like a true underdog in this bout, and the match felt believable throughout. On paper, the ending is a great idea. 

But the execution was a little flimsy as Umaga didn’t need to get up so quickly before Cena tied the ropes around his neck again. But it didn’t kill the overall match. The only drawback was that it was hard to take Umaga seriously as a main-event star because he was unable to beat an extremely weak Cena. Nevertheless, easily the second-best Last Man Standing match to take place at the Rumble. 

Triple Threat Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena - Royal Rumble 2015

Any combination with these men will result in an excellent match, but these three created some true magic when they met at the 2015 Rumble. This was beautiful chaos: explosive, wall-to-wall action that didn’t slow down for a minute. Whether it was Cena and Lesnar, Rollins and Cena, or all three together, the match was simply fantastic with so many awesome spots. Even the interference by J & J security elevated the triple threat match. The ending sequence of Lesnar catching Rollins in an F-5 was perfect. Not only one of the best WWE title matches at the Rumble, but one of the best title matches of the modern generation.