Wrestlers Who Absolutely Blew It At Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is one of WWE's big four events of the year and the favorite of many fans across the globe, fans who count down from 10 whether they're in the arena watching live, or just home cheering from the couch. It's been a beloved part of WWE for almost 40 years, with the 2024 edition being number 37 in Rumble history. Thirty men and 30 women will enter the ring at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg/Tampa to vie for a chance at the title of their choosing in the main event of WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia.

Pat Patterson's vision began in 1988 and since then, as of 2023, hundreds of competitors have entered the ring. From epic returns to celebrity appearances, the Royal Rumble has provided fans with some of the most iconic moments in WWE. However, some of these moments aren't always iconic for the right reasons. There have been plenty of botches and missed opportunities throughout the Rumble's history. From the 2022 disaster to eliminations within mere seconds or unfortunate injuries, we're taking a look at some of the biggest losers in Royal Rumble history.

SANTINA MARELLA

One of the most infamous moments in women's wrestling history in WWE didn't actually happen at the Royal Rumble, it was the Women's Battle Royal at WrestleMania 25. The moment is remembered because it wasn't actually won by one of the women, who were still going by the title "Divas" at the time in the company, but by Santino Marella, who was dressed as his "twin sister" Santina. As WWE moved into and through "The Women's Revolution," it's a match, and character, that left a bad taste in many fans' mouths. 

Santina Marella returned in the 2020 Royal Rumble match, just the third women's Rumble match in history, to the groans of fans who thought Marella's character was taking up a spot of a much more deserving woman at the number 29 position. Marella got in the ring and was cornered by Natalya and tried to use the Cobra sock, but jumped over the top rope and consequently was eliminated, allowing the real women wrestlers of WWE to carry on.

TITUS O'NEIL

WWE Ambassador and humanitarian Titus O'Neil had possibly the most viral moment of the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia when he entered at number 39 out of 50 men. Seemingly overly excited to get down to the ring, O'Neil tripped and slid right under the ring in a moment that's now known as "Titus World Slide," mocking the star's previous Titus Worldwide faction. His slide has inspired countless memes and GIFs over the years, and it's a moment, despite not being in the official Royal Rumble, that fans will never forget.

O'Neil took the botch in stride, telling Fightful in 2023, "It's one of those things that, in life, much like in a lot of stuff that happened in my life, I tell people all the time, I fell down and gotten back up so many times. I'm still alive and well to tell the story, and I'm an entertainer at the end of the day. So, I don't really have anything to be embarrassed about. [I] got paid a lot of money to fall under the ring and survive."

JOHN CENA

While many may not think of the iconic "Super Cena" as someone who may have blown it in a Royal Rumble match, John Cena has had not one, but two, mishaps in Rumble matches. In 2004, Cena was thrown over the top rope by Big Show and landed awkwardly on his leg. Though he didn't miss any TV time and was wrestling shortly after the botch, Cena revealed in an interview he actually tore his MCL.

The biggest fail of Cena's Royal Rumble career, however, came in the infamous ending in 2005 when both he and Batista went over the top rope at the same time, with both of their feet hitting the floor. Batista attempted a Batista Bomb and Cena countered with a headscissors, and the momentum sent both of them over. Batista was meant to win the match and ended up being declared the winner after Vince McMahon stormed down the ramp and into the ring and ordered the final portion of the match with Batista and Cena to be restarted.

VINCE MCMAHON

Though he wasn't actually in the previously mentioned 2005 Rumble match, McMahon was one of its biggest losers after he legitimately tore both of his quads when restarting the match with only its last two competitors, Cena and Batista. McMahon stormed down the ramp after both men's feet hit the floor at the same time and referees for both "Raw" and "SmackDown" began arguing about who won the match. McMahon's knees got caught on the apron when he tried to get in the ring, causing the injuries. The visual fans were left with was McMahon sitting in the ring, hanging on to the ropes, barking orders at the wrestlers, as well as the referees.

Later in his life, however, when being interviewed by Pat McAfee, McMahon seemed to take the injury in stride. "Not too many people can sever the quad tendons at the same time. That takes talent ... You have no use of your legs at all," he said.

STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN

Another potentially surprising name on this list is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, though the first time he failed in a Royal Rumble was when he was still known as "The Ringmaster." It's a botch that could have completely changed the course of his career, but thankfully, that wasn't the case. In 1996, Austin was meant to finish fourth in the Rumble match. Austin has explained in interviews that Rikishi gave him a clothesline, and the ropes were so slippery from the wrestlers' baby oil, that he slipped and went over the top rope "way early." Thankfully, following the Rumble botch, Austin was able to change up his persona to the "Stone Cold" character.

That wasn't Austin's only loss in Rumble matches, however. In 1999, Austin was eliminated by his arch-nemesis, Mr. McMahon, allowing for McMahon to win the match in shocking fashion. It all worked out in the end, however, with McMahon not going on to face The Rock at WrestleMania that year, but Austin taking his place in the match to win the WWE Title.

RANDY SAVAGE

If there was one WWE legend who was absolutely terrible at Royal Rumble matches, it was Randy Savage. In 1991, Savage actually never made it into the match, though he was supposed to be entrant number 18. Savage helped Sgt. Slaughter beat the Ultimate Warrior for the WWE Title earlier that night, and the former champion chased him out of the building, causing Savage to completely miss the Rumble match. In 1992, after eliminating Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Savage hopped out over the top rope after him, technically eliminating himself. Commentator Gorilla Monsoon covered for him, saying wrestlers needed to be thrown out of the ring by someone else to be eliminated.

In a spot fans may remember most, in 1993, Savage seemed to forget he was in a Rumble match. Rather than attempting to throw Yokozuna over the top rope, Savage tried to win the match with a pinfall. Unsurprisingly, Savage never won a Royal Rumble match in his career.

BASTION BOOGER

Bastion Booger was supposed to appear in the 1994 Royal Rumble bout, which is a match known for its no-shows and substitutions. Booger was supposed to be in the match from the beginning. He even had his own pre-match vignette where he drew his number and was supposed to enter the match at number 28, which he revealed. Apparently, it was a violation of Royal Rumble rules to reveal where he would be entering, so he was forced to choose another number.

However, Booger was nowhere to be seen during the course of the Royal Rumble match. In the storyline, it was instead stated that Booger was sick.

CHELSEA GREEN

Chelsea Green has made an impact in the women's tag team division since her return to WWE with her "Karen" gimmick, but her run in her first Royal Rumble match left much to be desired. Green returned to the company as a surprise as the number 20 entrant in the 2023 Rumble match, but she was immediately eliminated by Rhea Ripley. Green holds the record for the shortest time in a women's Royal Rumble, lasting just five seconds in the match. It may be a record for all the wrong reasons, but it was something Green embraced after it happened.

"Look, that five seconds of fame is gonna last forever because I did set a record. It might not have been a record that I wanted, but I set a record and I'm about to be in the record books and they are about to have to replay clips of me for years to come," Green told POST Wrestling.

SANTINO MARELLA

While Chelsea Green may hold the record for the fastest elimination in the women's Rumble match, it's Santino Marella who holds the record on the men's side with his appearance in the 2009 Royal Rumble. Marella entered from the number 28 spot, but was eliminated by Kane in under two seconds. Kane immediately clotheslined Marella, knocking him right back out of the ring. The official time for Marella clocked in at 1.09 seconds.

Marella's exasperated "I wasn't ready!" to the referee at ringside is something many fans remember about the iconic Rumble fail. Marella's "twin sister" Santina lasted a total of 61 seconds in the previously mentioned 2020 women's match.

SHANE MCMAHON

Shane "O'Mac" has appeared in a few Rumble matches, but 2022 is regarded as one of the worst matches in event history, due in part to McMahon's reported backstage politics. The heat was enough for McMahon to be fired by his father following the match. While Shane McMahon was a talent in the Rumble match, he was also the lead producer and writer. There was reportedly heat on McMahon for the way he took charge of the booking in an attempt to make the match all about himself.

McMahon entered the match at number 28, but it was supposed to be Randy Orton who entered from the spot. Reportedly, Orton was set to enter the match, but McMahon's "Here Comes The Money" theme music played, and Orton said he was absolutely not entering to the music, so McMahon had to enter the match a spot early. The botch was reportedly so funny to Orton, he was almost on the ground laughing backstage. McMahon lasted just around five minutes in the match before being tossed out by Brock Lesnar. McMahon was supposedly set to be at WrestleMania 38 in some capacity before his firing.

THE GREAT KHALI

Even with his massive size, The Great Khali's track record in Royal Rumble matches isn't the best. In 2007, the big man seemed to forget where the hard camera was during the match, taunting to the crowd following a spree of eliminations. Shawn Michaels, who was at that point laid out in the center of the ring, had to noticeably break character to shout and point out the hard cam to Khali, who then turned around. 

In 2010, Beth Phoenix became the second woman to enter the men's Royal Rumble match (the first being Chyna in 1999). Phoenix kissed Khali to distract him, before eliminating "The Punjabi Playboy" from the match.

REY MYSTERIO

Rey Mysterio didn't technically do anything wrong or botch any moves or eliminations in the 2014 Royal Rumble match. It was just the fact he entered at number 30 and wasn't Daniel Bryan like the fans in the arena wanted at the height of the Yes! movement that was the problem in this Mysterio Rumble appearance. 

Mysterio entered the ring to a chorus of boos from the crowd, who had been chanting for Bryan throughout the match when CM Punk, Batista, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns were fighting. He only lasted just over two minutes in the match. Bryan, however, faced Bray Wyatt earlier on in the show and was not featured in the Rumble match at all. Much to the disappointment of fans who were clamoring for Bryan, Batista won his second Rumble match after four years away from the company.

KOFI KINGSTON

Kofi Kingston is known for his spots throughout years of Royal Rumble matches where his feet don't touch the floor and he's able to get back in the ring through impressive acrobatics like handstands, or just sheer genius, like using one of the commentator's chairs to keep his feet off the floor as he rolled his way back to the ring. The spots are often the highlight of the Rumble, and Kingston has been successful with his antics for over a decade. During 2022's lackluster Rumble match, however, Kingston's luck ran out. During the match, Kingston jumped up to the top rope from the apron of the ring, and Kevin Owens shoved him, sending Kingston flying toward the ring barricade, where he hit chest-first. Both of Kingston's feet touched the floor, however, and it was acknowledged by commentary that he had been eliminated. Though disappointed, it's something Kingston took in stride following the botch.

"You're bound to mess one up, that's just the way things go," Kingston told the New York Post

ALEX RILEY

Alex Riley was the victim of a botched elimination in the 2011 Royal Rumble that almost ruined The Miz and John Cena's feud. In the match, Riley, who was The Miz's protégé, was in the corner, being beaten up by Kingston and Cena. While straddling the top rope, Riley fell from the apron and onto the floor in an elimination that wasn't meant to happen so early. 

Riley was meant to eliminate Cena to further the star's feud with The Miz. Cena looked visibly shocked and had to be told by the referee what to do next. To save the angle, The Miz, who wasn't even involved in the Rumble match as he was WWE Champion at that point, was the one to eliminate Cena, off the distraction from Riley, who came back to ringside.

WWE PRODUCTION

While of course not a Rumble entrant, there have been various production botches in Royal Rumble matches that earn a spot on this list. One of the most glaring production botches came in 2016 with the surprise WWE debut of AJ Styles. The cameras missed "The Phenomenal One" walking out onto the stage. They rather were focused on the confused expression of Roman Reigns in the ring while Styles' music played. It's something that's been corrected with additional footage on Peacock and the WWE Network. Bad camera work struck again when Edge made his shocking return in the 2020 match, with his first spear since being forced to retire years earlier missed by the cameras.

The final egregiously bad botch came during the women's Royal Rumble match in 2023. Nia Jax made her return to the company at the number 30 spot, but her music played before the countdown even started. In interviews since, Jax joked that someone was overly excited for her return, and prematurely played her music.

CM PUNK

The Royal Rumble 2024 will bring CM Punk full circle within WWE since his shocking return to the company at Survivor Series: War Games. Punk's last Rumble match took place 10 years ago in 2014. In his last Rumble match, Punk entered first and lasted the longest in the match at just under 50 minutes. He was, however, eliminated by Kane, who had already been eliminated from the match himself. Kane did not just pull Punk over the top rope, he then chokeslammed him through the announcer's desk. 

Punk walked out of WWE the following day, on January 27, 2014 over a myriad of issues with the company, including various issues allegedly involving Punk's health. Since his return, "The Second City Saint" has declared for this year's match. With the 2024 Rumble taking place on January 27, 2024, Punk could very well win the Rumble 10 years to the day he walked out of WWE.

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