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Ranking EVERY WWE Royal Rumble's Biggest Surprise 1988-2020

Thank god for the Royal Rumble.

Or, as we all know, thank the late Pat Patterson. A brainwave his boss and best mate Vince McMahon wasn't terribly convinced about back in the mid-1980s has since become an institution as beloved as WrestleMania, as revered as TakeOver and as longstanding as the Chairman's own volatile temper.

Outside of a disastrous mid-2010s run that was thankfully reversed before the end of the decade, the annual golden ticket battle royal provides a crucial tonic to a product that - too often - feels a little irrelevant. Title shots fall out of the sky for Randy Orton to such an extent that he could joke about it in programmes with Kofi Kingston and Drew McIntyre in 2019 and 2020. Midcarders with dodgy win/loss records can attack titleholders and get rewarded with Championship matches at pay-per-views because it's an accepted trope from the monopoly years. And Money In The Bank - the one new addition from that accursed period that was worthy of its own show - has been bastardised beyond reproach of late.

It's the closest thing WWE has to a magic power. The Rumble's timeless quality as a match elevates the prize for the winner. That elevation itself elevates WrestleMania's importance, which ensures that the 'Show Of Shows' remains the company's crown jewel.

All of this prestige was well-earned...

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  • WWE, WWE Royal Rumble, John Cena