Sunday night is the 32nd WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view event (31st if you don’t include last year’s Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia). In looking back at 30-plus years of Royal Rumble matches, while a lot of the most interesting and relevant numbers involve accumulation, like most eliminations or most time spent in the ring, there’s plenty more to parse and examine as we look forward to Sunday night’s showcase.
ESPN’s 2019 WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view coverage, from the match card to news and stories about the first WWE pay-per-view of the year.
We watched the tape, crunched the numbers, and came up with the top 10 stats you need to know heading into this year’s men’s Royal Rumble Match.
Randy Orton and John Cena have both announced their entry in this year’s men’s Royal Rumble match. Both could join Steve Austin as the only superstars to win three Royal Rumbles (Cena won in 2008 and 2013; Orton won in 2009 and 2017).
Most Royal Rumble Match Wins
■ Steve Austin: 3
■ Randy Orton: 2
■ John Cena: 2
■ Triple H: 2
■ Batista: 2
■ Shawn Michaels: 2
■ Hulk Hogan: 2
Additionally, Cena has been among the final three remaining superstars in five of his past six Royal Rumble appearances, including a third-place finish in 2018. Another top-three finish for Cena would break a tie with Triple H, Orton and Roman Reigns for the most such finishes in Royal Rumble history.
It is worth noting that WWE.com reported that Cena suffered an ankle injury on Jan. 14 on Monday Night Raw, putting his Royal Rumble status in doubt. It’s often hard to parse what’s 100 percent real and what’s storyline when WWE puts out a story, so we’ll have to wait and see. Cena has not competed at a pay-per-view event on U.S. soil since WrestleMania 34 last April, when he lost to The Undertaker in less than three minutes. Cena wrestled at Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia and Super-Show Down in Australia later on in 2018.
At last year’s Royal Rumble event, Shinsuke Nakamura entered at No. 14 and lasted nearly 45 minutes on his way to winning the men’s Royal Rumble match. At this year’s event, Nakamura is scheduled to challenge Rusev for the United States championship on the kickoff show. If Nakamura also competes in the Royal Rumble match (a move with plenty of precedent), he could be the fourth superstar to win back-to-back Royal Rumbles — and the previous three to do so are all in the WWE Hall of Fame. Austin won two straight in 1997 and 1998, Shawn Michaels won in 1995 and 1996 and Hulk Hogan won in 1990 and 1991.
It is an annual tradition that the winner of the Royal Rumble match earns a world title match at WrestleMania. However, only three of the past 10 Royal Rumble winners walked away from the “Granddaddy of Them All” as champion. This balances out a stretch from 2001-07 where seven straight Royal Rumble winners went on to become world champion at WrestleMania.
At last year’s Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia, Braun Strowman set the record for most eliminations in a single Rumble with 13, breaking Reigns’ record of 12 in 2014. Kane holds the record for most career eliminations with 42.
Most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble match
■ 2018 Braun Strowman: 13 (2018 Greatest Royal Rumble)
■ 2014 Roman Reigns: 12
■ 2001 Kane: 11
■ 1997 Steve Austin: 10
Most career Royal Rumble eliminations
■ Kane: 42
■ Shawn Michaels: 40
■ The Undertaker: 38
■ Steve Austin: 36
■ Big Show: 32
■ Triple H: 31
■ Roman Reigns: 30
Kofi Kingston will be appearing in his 12th Royal Rumble Match, tying Michaels and Big Show for third-most in WWE history. Additionally, the Royal Rumble match will be Kingston’s 100th career pay-per-view match. He is the 12th superstar to reach that plateau and the first since The Miz reached the century mark last year.
Most Royal Rumble match appearances entering 2019
Kingston is also famous for displaying his athleticism and creativity to avoid elimination in the Royal Rumble Match.
Rey Mysterio will appear in this year’s Royal Rumble Match and already has the fourth-most combined ring time in Royal Rumble match history. If Mysterio can last 23 minutes, he will join Chris Jericho as the only superstars to spend more than four hours combined in the ring in Royal Rumble matches.
Most total time spent in Royal Rumble matches – WWE history
■ Chris Jericho: 4 hours, 59 minutes
■ Triple H: 3 hours, 59 minutes
■ Shawn Michaels: 3 hours, 41 minutes
■ Rey Mysterio: 3 hours, 37 minutes
■ Kane: 3 hours, 33 minutes
At last year’s Greatest Royal Rumble, Daniel Bryan broke Mysterio’s record for most time spent in a single Royal Rumble match, entering at No. 1 and lasting more than 76 minutes before he was eliminated by Big Cass and settled for a third-place finish. Santino Marella holds the “record” for shortest appearance, after being eliminated by Kane in 1 second in 2009.
Longest time in a single Royal Rumble
■ 2018 Daniel Bryan: 76:16 (2018 Greatest Royal Rumble)
■ 2006 Rey Mysterio: 62:12
■ 1993 Bob Backlund: 61:15
■ 2004 Chris Benoit: 61:01
■ 2017 Chris Jericho: 60:13
■ 2006 Triple H: 60:13
Shortest time in a single Royal Rumble
■ 2009 Santino Marella: 0:01
■ 1989 The Warlord: 0:02
■ 2018 Mike Kanellis: 0:03 (2018 Greatest Royal Rumble)
■ 1995 Owen Hart: 0:03
■ 1995 Mo: 0:03
Among this year’s participants, if there is anyone equipped to go the distance it may be Seth Rollins, who many consider the favorite to win it all. Rollins lasted nearly 50 minutes in the 2014 Royal Rumble Match, and also competed for 65 minutes in a 105-minute Gauntlet Match last February — the longest match in Monday Night Raw history.
The No. 27 spot in the Royal Rumble has produced four winners — more than any other slot — but none since 2001.
While drawing the No. 1 or No. 2 spot and having to begin the Royal Rumble match may be a huge disadvantage, four superstars have actually gone wire-to-wire to win. That is more winners than the coveted No. 30 spot has produced (3).
Won Royal Rumble match as No. 1 or No. 2 entrant
■ 2006 Rey Mysterio (2)
■ 2004 Chris Benoit (1)
■ 1999 Vince McMahon (2)
■ 1995 Shawn Michaels (1)
Samoa Joe and Mustafa Ali are competing in their first career Royal Rumble match. Ten of the 31 previous men’s Royal Rumble winners actually did so in their Royal Rumble match debut, including Shinsuke Nakamura last year.
Won first career Royal Rumble match
■ 2018 Shinsuke Nakamura
■ 2011 Alberto Del Rio
■ 2004 Chris Benoit
■ 2003 Brock Lesnar
■ 1999 Vince McMahon
■ 1994 Lex Luger
■ 1993 Yokozuna
■ 1992 Ric Flair
■ 1989 Big John Studd
■ 1988 Jim Duggan
Intercontinental champion Bobby Lashley has entered this year’s Royal Rumble match. Unfortunately for Lashley, only one superstar has ever entered a Royal Rumble match holding a championship and then gone on to win. Hogan entered the 1990 Royal Rumble Match as WWE champion and won the match from the No. 25 spot.
Only 20 of this year’s Royal Rumble match participants have been announced as of Wednesday, leaving the opportunity for some surprises. Only twice has a Royal Rumble been won by a superstar who had not been previously announced as an entrant. In 2008, Cena made a surprise return from a torn pectoral muscle and won the match as the No. 30 entrant . In 2010, Edge made a surprise return from a torn Achilles and won from the No. 29 spot.