Of Mice and Iron Men: The Longest (And Shortest) Runs in the Royal Rumble

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Royal Rumble
Credit: WWE

When it comes to sports and sports entertainment, records are made to be broken, even if they are such that no one wants the distinction of breaking them. Of course, for the most part, we look at record-breaking as a good thing. Hitting the most home runs, scoring the most career touchdowns, winning the most titles, lasting the longest in a single Royal Rumble. Those are all achievements to be proud of. But not all records are good and some leave people hanging their heads in shame such as striking out the most times, throwing the most career interceptions, losing the most title matches or of course, lasting the shortest in a single Royal Rumble. If the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, I think you can see where I’m going with this…

Throughout its 31-year-history, the Royal Rumble has played host to some incredible (and forgettable) performances, with best of all times and worst of all times all wrapped up into one. When all is said and done, some of these men will wear the badge of honor of having lasted over one hour in a single Royal Rumble, while others will still be saying, “I wasn’t ready!”

Here are the top five longest and shortest runs in Royal Rumble history.

*WWE acknowledges Daniel Bryan‘s time of 76:05 from 2018’s Greatest Royal Rumble as the all-time best and Mike Kanellis‘ time of 0:03 as tied for the third shortest. However, for the purposes of the stats in this article, only the traditional Royal Rumble matches were included.

Top Five Shortest (Descending Order)

5. Titus O’Neil, 2015 – 0:04

At the Greatest Royal Rumble, Titus O’Neil slid his way into our hearts as he had one of the most entertaining and still talked about to this day, rumble entrances. Running down the ramp, O’Neil slipped and slid right under the ring only to slide back out and play it off, ultimately getting in the ring and surviving for 4:42 before being eliminated by eventual winner Braun Strowman. But what some people might not know is that this is not O’Neil’s only Royal Rumble fail.

In 2015, O’Neil tied Bushwacker Luke (1991) and Jerry Lawler (1997) for the fifth shortest time ever recorded in a single rumble. This time, O’Neil slid in the ring but was thrown right out of it by Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, lasting just four Mississippis, though according to PW Insider he was supposed to last even less. But no one remembers that four-second run given the never-ending GIFs from GRR.

T-3. Mo, 1995 – 0:03

In 1994, Mo made his Royal Rumble debut. Entering from the 19th spot, Mo lasted a respectable 22:46 before being eliminated by Fatu. His time was actually the fourth best time of all entrants that year. But that was 1994, and you know what they say, a lot can change in a year.

In his second rumble, Mo didn’t fare so well. In fact, he barely fared at all. Mo entered at 16th and was eliminated a mere three seconds later, being eliminated in short order by King Kong Bundy. It was Mo’s final appearance in a Royal Rumble, but he certainly left a lasting impression. It’s like they say, save your worst for last. Oh wait…

T-3. Owen Hart, 1995 – 0:03

The 1995 Royal Rumble has a unique and dubious distinction associated with it. As mentioned, Mo got eliminated in three seconds but he wasn’t the only one to go out so swiftly. Joining Mo on the list of quick eliminations was Owen Hart, who was one of Davey Boy Smith‘s four eliminations in the match. In fact, if we are going chronologically here, Hart entered 11th and was eliminated second, giving him the third place record to hold on his own for at least a few moments before Mo joined him.

It was Hart’s fifth Royal Rumble match (two were house shows), including one he won at a WWF house show a few days prior to the 1994 Royal Rumble PPV. He would go on to appear in a total of 10 Royal Rumble matches (two were house shows), never once even coming close to matching his, let’s just say “feat of failure” from 1995.

2. The Warlord, 1989 – 0:02

In 1989, with intervals still set at two minutes as opposed to the 90 seconds we know them to be today, the World Wrestling Federation held just it’s second ever Royal Rumble match and first to be shown on PPV. It was also the first to adopt the 30-person format, as opposed to the 20 entrants from the year prior. It also just so happened to be the first rumble where an entrant failed to last at least one minute in the match.

That honor, and record that stood for 20 years of shortest time spent in a single rumble, belongs to The Warlord. After entering 21st, it took just two seconds for The Warlord to become one of Hulk Hogan‘s then-record 10 eliminations. It’s certainly not a distinction anyone wants to have forever and fortunately for the Warlord, his place at the top, er, bottom of the mountain, was eventually taken over by someone else.

1. Santino Marella, 2009 – 0:01:9

They say records are made to be broken and Santino Marella did just that when he entered just his second ever Royal Rumble. In his first, in 2008, Marella lasted just 25 seconds and he was confident that he’d be in the match longer the second time around. After all, how hard could it be to just stay alive for 26 seconds?

Apparently harder than Marella thought because just under two seconds after he entered the ring as entrant #28, he was tossed out of it by Kane. If you blinked, you probably missed it. Famously afterward, Marella claimed, “I wasn’t ready!” before he was escorted to the back. Fortunately for Marella, his remaining three Royal Rumble appearances went better. He lasted 12:54 in 2011, 2:31 in 2012 and 0:55 in 2013, which, unfortunately, likely makes him the only person in history to have lasted under a minute in over half of the rumbles he entered. In fact, all told, Marella has just 16 minutes and eight seconds of total time in the five rumbles he’s been in.

Top Five Longest (Descending Order)

T-5. Triple H, 2006 – 60:13

The 2006 Royal Rumble was a special one in that both the #1 and #2 entrants surpassed the one hour mark, but more on that later. Triple H, representing RAW, entered first, ultimately outlasting all but two other men in the contest. He picked up six eliminations, which was tied for the most that year, singlehandedly taking out Big Show, Kane, Ric Flair, Chavo Guerrero and joining with Rey Mysterio to take out Rob Van Dam and Simon Dean.

The match was Triple H’s fifth rumble of nine overall. All-time, in addition to holding the record for the fifth-longest match time in a single Royal Rumble, Triple H also ranks second for most career time spent nearly eclipsing over four hours (3 hours, 59 minutes) in the match. In his most recent appearance in 2016, he became one of just two men, Ric Flair being the other, to win a WWE world title in the Royal Rumble. He is also the only person to win a title in said match, where the title was being defended, as when Flair won in 1992 the title was vacant. Triple H also won the 2002 Royal Rumble, doing so after a triumphant return from a quad injury.

Bow down to the King.

T-5. Chris Jericho, 2017 – 60:13

When it comes to career time spent in the Royal Rumble, no one has more than the one-and-only Chris Jericho who across 10 appearances has been in the ring for nearly five hours (4 hours, 56 minutes) combined. A lot of this is owed to his appearance in what may end up being his last Royal Rumble, the 2017 edition, in which Jericho tied Triple H for the fifth-longest time in a single rumble at one hour and 13 minutes. Jericho entered second and wasn’t eliminated until 25 spots later. He had just two eliminations himself in the match, taking out Sheamus and Cesaro. But overall, in a year where Jericho was proving to fans that he could still go, this rumble certainly helped make that case. He clearly saved his best for perhaps his last.

As mentioned above, Jericho has spent the longest time career-wise in the Royal Rumble, averaging just over 29 minutes per the 10 he’s been in. Unlike Triple H however, Jericho never won a Royal Rumble, with his best finish being in 2012 as he came in 29th and was the last one eliminated before Sheamus won the match.

3. Chris Benoit, 2004 – 61:01

Chris Benoit‘s is a name that you won’t hear on WWE TV again and for good reason. But prior to Benoit’s murder-suicide in the summer of 2007, he was one of the company’s golden boys and someone who was in line for a big push after entering and winning the 2004 Royal Rumble from the first position. Benoit put on a gutsy performance as for over one hour, evaded elimination all while picking up a rumble-high six eliminations himself: Bradshaw, Rhyno, Mark Henry, A-Train, Matt Morgan and Big Show.

It was Benoit’s first ever Royal Rumble and while it’s not talked about, the record books will always show that he sits alongside Shawn Michaels (1995) as the only two men to win the Royal Rumble for the first entrant spot. But that’s not the only rumble history that Benoit can lay claim to. Following his victory, the SmackDown roster member chose to challenge the RAW World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H, instead of his own brand’s champion, Brock Lesnar. It was the first time that a rumble winner had that choice but certainly not the last as in each year since, the winner of the Royal Rumble has been able to choose the champion they’d like to challenge.

2. Bob Backlund, 1993 – 61:15

Younger wrestling fans may remember Bob Backlund as Darren Young‘s life coach during the “Make Darren Young Great Again” gimmick, but prior to his time as a hype man, Backlund was a decorated wrestler and beloved WWF legend. And in 1993, he became the first man to top the one-hour mark in a single Royal Rumble. Doing so as the #2 entrant, Backlund, at age 43, outlasted 27 other men before finally being eliminated 28th. Backlund himself picked up two eliminations on Fatu and Rick Martel.

It was Backlund’s first of five Royal Rumble appearances (not counting two WWE ran at house shows in 1994) but it was also his best. The Hall of Famer’s record of 61:15 remained intact for 13 years until a certain luchador put together an all-time great performance in 2006.

1. Rey Mysterio, 2006 – 62:12

You can’t talk about the top-five individual Royal Rumble performances without mentioning the man at the top, Rey Mysterio. And remember the above about #1 and #2 entrants both topping one hour and the comment, “more on that later.” This is later.

In 2006, in his third rumble appearance (he’s been in eight total), Mysterio made history that still stands to this day*. Looking back on highlights from that year, it was really Mysterio’s showcase. In addition to surviving the match from its opening bell until the end, Mysterio also eliminated six men, which was tied with Triple H for the high that year and which ranks as tied for seventh all-time. These men included Triple H, Randy Orton, Psicosis, Super Crazy (co-elimination with Rob Van Dam), Simon Dean and Rob Van Dam (both co-eliminations with Triple H).

Perhaps the best part about Mysterio’s win and record-breaking performance, in addition to the fact that he went on to win the world title at WrestleMania, was that he dedicated his rumble win to his best friend, the late-great Eddie Guerrero. “Viva La Raza!”

Read more about Mysterio’s win, as well as those of the other three men to start a Royal Rumble match and survive until the final bell: Going the Distance: Winning the Royal Rumble From The Starting Duo

You can also read our preview for the 2019 Royal Rumble, including all matches on the card.

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