5 WWE legends who have surprisingly never appeared in the Royal Rumble match
WWE Hall of Famer and legend Pat Patterson created the Royal Rumble match. The event was first held on January 24, 1988.
Next year marks the 36th Royal Rumble event, which is set to take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. With a packed roster and a few names being thrown into the the rumor mill to return for the titular match, the January extravaganza is already one of the most anticipated premium live events since Triple H took charge.
The 30-man battle royale has been a star-making spectacle for several superstars over the years. Surprisingly, however, there are some who never entered the match, despite their legendary status. Let's look at five of them.
#1. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat never got an opportunity to enter in the Rumble
Ricky Steamboat is one of the most beloved WWE legends of all time.
His many matches against Ric Flair in WCW are remembered even today as some of the all-time greats. In WWE, arguably the finest and most meticulously constructed wrestling match during the Golden Era was Randy Savage vs. Steamboat at WrestleMania 3.
Despite all his accomplishments in his illustrous career, The Dragon has not once competed in a Rumble. However, he did have a singles match at the inaugural event in '88 against Ravishing Rick Rude.
Steamboat returned to the ring in November 2022 for Big Time Wrestling in their "Return of the Dragon" event in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Tony Khan is hoping to have The Dragon compete in AEW for a "last hurrah".
While it seemed near impossible that he would ever show up in a Rumble match in the last decade, there is now a possibility, albeit a very small one.
#2. The Four Horsemen's Barry Windham
The 1987-89 WCW version of the Four Horsemen that was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012 is an iteration of the faction best remembered by many.
Its members included Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard from the original four, and newest addition Barry Windham. The first three of these men have entered at least one Royal Rumble match, with Flair even emerging victorious after spending over an hour in the ring in 1992, making Windham something of an odd one out amongst his peers.
Despite never making much of an impact with his assorted gimmicks in WWE, Windham's WCW career was a distinguished one, albeit one that obviously never allowed him to appear in a Rumble match.
His nephew Bray Wyatt, however, has managed to achieve substantial success in the sports entertainment juggernaut, becoming one of the biggest babyface superstars on the roster today. There has been some speculation that Bray Wyatt's Uncle Howdy is Barry Windham, or at least that the character is partially based on him.
#3. Second-generation star Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko is widely considered one of the finest technical wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle. Daniel Bryan once claimed that his "number one guy" growing up was Dean Malenko.
Despite having wrestled with WWF, his in-ring efforts are better remembered during his time with ECW and WCW, the latter in which he had a memorable feud with Chris Jericho over the Cruiserweight Championship.
Malenko jumped ship to WWE a week after the 2000 Royal Rumble alongside Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn. Becoming known as the Radicalz, the four performed as a unit, feuded with each other and then reformed.
Despite two Light Heavyweight Championship reigns, Malenko's WWE run wasn't particularly memorable, and he was omitted from the only Rumble that he was present for as an active performer in 2001. His technical prowess, however, would have complemented the nature of the Rumble match, which usually goes as long as an hour.
Post retirement, he worked for WWE as a road agent until 2019.
#4. Stinger competed in two matches in WWE, the Royal Rumble was not one of 'em
Having made his on-screen debut in the 2014 edition of Survivor Series, Sting went straight away into a feud with The Authority, leading to a match between him and Triple H at WrestleMania 31. The match was pure pro wrestling ridiculousness and pretty freaking awesome.
His next match came later that year at Night of Champions against Seth Rollins. Despite another solid outing, his career was cut short and he was forced into his first retirement. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016.
The dream match between Taker and Sting never happened, Sting lost both his WWE matches, and there was no room for a Royal Rumble appearance in between.
#5. R.I.P Scott Hall aka Razor Ramon, also lovingly remembered as The Bad Guy
The late, great Scott Hall was involved in some of the biggest matches in the company's history, but never in a Rumble match.
Perhaps The Bad Guy's most memorable performance was his ladder match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X, which was the first of its kind exposed to a mainstream audience who weren't familiar with the concept. Preceding a disappointing main event, their match stole the show.
The two later met in a rematch at Summerslam 1995, once again putting on a show-stealing performance.
Hall split with WWE in 1996, ruling out the chance to compete in the Rumble match. He later returned to the company in February 2002, albeit for a short stint which included a WrestleMania match vs. Steve Austin.