11 times The Royal Rumble has been won by a first half entrant, here they are in order of their entry;
Shinsuke Nakamura Royal Rumble 2018
It was Nakamura who won royal rumble in 2018. Came in to the rumble as entrant 14. Nakamura was the earliest entrant out of the final 3. Made up of Nakamura, John Cena and Roman Reigns. Things are pointing towards Nakamura being the least likely to win the match. The opponents he was up against, and the fact they have entered later than him. Surprisingly, Nakamura went onto to win the match.
Seth Rollins In 2019
Rollins came in as entrant number 10, however Rollins managed to eliminate Braun Strowman who came in as entrant number 27 and is the bigger wrestler. Therefore fans could be forgiven that the match was heading in the direction of Strowman, but Rollins became another early entrant to win The Royal Rumble.
Randy Orton Royal Rumble 2009
The Rumble in 2009 went to Randy Orton, coming in at entry number 8. We could have been writing about Triple H being an early entry winner coming in at number 7. They both went the distance to the end of the match to be the last two standing. Eventually Orton would be the overall winner and adding himself to the list of early entry winners.
Stone Cold Steve Austin In 1997
Coming in at number 5 Austin would go onto win the Rumble. On course to his win he would gain, a then joint record with Hulk Hogan of most people eliminated in a royal rumble match(10). Austin’s winning was controversial. He was eliminated by Bret Hart, however the officials did not see this. Cruelly for Hart, Austin would come back into the ring and eliminate him. This after Hart had just dispersed of Diesel over the top rope. Thinking he was the victor. Austin would come behind and eliminate him and claim the controversial win.
Ric Flair Royal Rumble 1992
Ric Flair, was in this match for over 1 hour in total. After which he was finally crowned the winner. He came in at number 3, he scored 5 eliminations in total. The final elimination coming, when Hulk Hogan(already eliminated) grabbed onto Sid Justice’s arm. Flair ever the opportunist, capitalized and snuck up and lifted Sid over the top rope. This particular win is regarded as one of the best due to the length of time and the position Flair entered the match.
Rey Mysterio Royal Rumble 2006
Another occasion where Triple H nearly won it from an early position. Triple H coming in at position number 1. Rey Mysterio was the second entrant. They made up 2 of the final 3 wrestlers left in when Mysterio eliminated Triple H , leaving him in the ring with Randy Orton as the final 2. Mysterio winning from such an early position goes against typical Royal Rumble conventions. Smaller wrestlers tend to struggle and also few wrestlers last over 1 hour in the match. Triple H also lasting over 1 hour in this Royal Rumble.
Vince McMahon Royal Rumble 1999
Vince won the Royal Rumble in 1999, as it odd as that sounds looking back. Technically in at number 2, with Austin in at number 1. Vince would flee at the first opportunity he got.
He did not get eliminated though, which was pivotal. With Austin pursuing him, Vince leads him to the back where he is attacked by The Corporation. Vince would end up back at the commentary table still technically in the match. Austin later returned to the ring mid match, driving an ambulance. Seemingly this was setting up a win for Austin who was insanely over in 1999. The win would not come, Austin grabbing McMahon from the announcers table and proceeding to beat him in the crowd.
The vital moment came after Austin had delivered the Stunner to Vince. The Rock coming to ringside to taunt Austin, who eventually reacted trying to punch The Rock, McMahon capitalized and eliminated Austin. It was setting up some nice potential future matches. With Vince winning after barely taking part, it does, however, leave him with more credit than he deserves in the wrestling history books.
Chris Benoit Royal Rumble 2004
The winning wrestler has been the first entrant on 3 occasions. In 2004 Chris Benoit completed the feat. He was another who was in the match for over an hour. He scored 6 eliminations and was in a final 3 of Kurt Angle and The Big Show. A difficult pair of opponents. Benoit, was able to come through. Big Show eliminating, Kurt Angle , who over the years was a great rival of Benoit. Benoit was able to overcome The Big Show to claim the victory. A great wrestling achievement.
Shawn Michaels Royal Rumble 1995
Shawn Michaels, won from the number 1 spot in 1995. Looks like a fantastic effort on paper. It was all over in 38 minutes and Michaels had won the whole thing. Michaels scored 6 eliminations in this match. One of the great wrestlers, but this win seems great on paper given the position of the entry. Time in the ring and amount of eliminations suggests it is a little bit overrated. Retaining the title of Royal Rumble winner in 1996, was arguably more impressive. Michaels came in at position 18, but managed to get 8 eliminations. These include Yokozuna, Vader, The British Bulldog and Diesel. He was in the match for just over 26 minutes.
Edge in 2021
Another match which number 1 and 2 entries were also the final 2 in the ring. Edge coming in at number 1 and Orton at number 2. They fought outside the ring before the match had officially began. Orton spending a lot of time not actually competing in the match. He came in when Edge eliminated seemingly his last opponent, Seth Rollins. Orton delivered the RKO and was looking to eliminate his rival Edge. Edge counters and eliminates Orton. Becoming a two time winner of the Rumble. The Match lasted just over 58 minutes.