After three decades, it is hard not to take the Royal Rumble for granted. For many fans, it is one of the most anticipated matches of the year. Unfortunately, it seems like the best Rumbles of the past decade have been okay at best. So when was the last good Royal Rumble match? Let’s go back to 2007.
No pre-match interviews but an awesome video package shows some of the Rumble’s greatest moments including the Hulk Hogan-Warrior stare off, Ric Flair’s historic win, HBK’s tap dance, and the Luger-Hart double elimination.
Ric Flair and Finlay start us off. Kenny Dykstra is #3. He goes straight for Flair, with whom he had been feuding. Matt Hardy and his awesome V1 music is #4. Edge is #5 and spears Flair. Edge and Hardy briefly brawl. Edge takes out Flair to serious heat then throws out Dykstra from behind. Tommy Dreamer is #6 to silence. Sabu is #7 and immediately gets a table. Shane Helms is #8 and he goes after Matt. Shelton Benjamin is #9. Aside from Edge and Matt, lots of dead weight in the ring. Maskless Kane is #10 and the crowd wakes up. He quickly eliminates Dreamer and Sabu.
CM Punk enters his first Rumble at #11. Lots of rooting interests for Lita. King BOOKAH!!! is #12 and he immediately disposes of Helms. Super Crazy is #13. They have constantly said this is the most star-studded Rumble ever. Guess the stars are waiting. Jeff is #14 and he and Matt start double teaming everyone. Sandman comes through the crowd at #15 and Booker tosses him right out. Randy is #16. Rated-RKO take out Crazy then the Hardys. JBL verifies he was an awful commentator back in 2007, stating that if Rey Mysterio didn’t eliminate him from the previous year’s Rumble, Orton would have challenged for the World Title at WrestleMania, even though Orton did.
Chris Benoit is #17 and Rob Van Dam is #18. Kane takes out Booker who rolls back in and eliminates him. Viscera comes in at #19 and the crowd killing begins. Johnny Nitro is #20, Kevin Thorn is #21 then Hardcore Holly is #22. Shawn Michaels is #23 to a huge pop. Finlay is finally eliminated. Everyone gangs up on Viscera and take him out. Chris masters is #24. Benjamin and Nitro are out. Chavo Guerrero is #25. The vampire is out. MVP is #26. Masters is out. Carlito is #27. Great Khali is #28. There goes Holly. Miz is #29 and before I can finish typing that he’s wearing jorts and has a faux hawk, he’s eliminated. Khali throws out RVD, Punk, Carlito, and Chavo. Khali has eliminated six guys in less than a minute. He tree slams Shawn and stands triumphant as the commentating team wonders who can stop him. Immediately after Cole gets the sentence out…GONG! Undertaker is #30 and trades blows with Khali before eliminating him. MVP gets tossed.
The final four are Edge, Orton, Shawn, and Taker. Now the crowd is in to it. Randy with a sick chair shot that busts Taker open. Rated-RKO tease dissension before Orton hits HBK with an RKO out of nowhere. The hometown kid rolls out, leaving Taker on his own. Taker eats another bad chair shot to the head. The two set up Taker for a Conchairto when HBK rolls in and tosses Rated-RKO.
Taker and Shawn are both motionless on the mat. Zombie sit up from Taker. Kip up from HBK. Awesome. Crowd is buzzing. Taker almost knocks Shawn out and the crowd screams. Flair flip from Michaels but he falls back into the ring. Taker charges, misses the boot and goes over top to the apron. Shawn charges and punches Taker who is reeling. Shawn tries again but Taker knocks Shawn back. Taker eventually gets Shawn in a suplex and throws him over the top. HBK hangs on to Taker’s neck and is just dangling. He eventually fights out and starts punching Taker while still on the apron. Michaels grabs Taker by the hair and begins climbing to the top turnbuckle. I question this strategy. The San Antonio crowd is solidly behind Shawn. To no one’s surprise, Taker nails Michaels with a right. HBK is knocked off the top turnbuckle but manages to hang on and is swaying. Crowd thought that was the end. Now both men are up top trading punches. Taker almost throws Shawn out again but he knocks Taker off, hits the picture perfect elbow and tunes up the band. Taker blocks the superkick and hits a gigantic chokeslam. Tombstone attempt but Shawn slips out and hits Sweet Chin Music! HBK sets up to eliminate Taker a la Diesel at Rumble 96. Taker ducks and lifts Shawn up and over the top to finally win. I need to catch my breath after that.
Final Thoughts: Don’t be mistaken: this is not a great Royal Rumble. Too many slow spots and not enough stars. But when it gets down to the final four, things get good. And when it’s down to Shawn Michaels and Undertaker, things get great. Easily the most exciting ending to a Royal Rumble ever.