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The WWE Royal Rumble is typically associated with the Over the Top Battle Royal. The winner gets a guaranteed shot at a title of his choosing in the main event of WrestleMania. So, yes, the implications are quite high.
That being said, the January Premium Live Event has delivered some non-rumble matches that are far superior to the Royal Rumble match itself. Let’s take a look at the five best non-rumble matches at WWE Royal Rumble:
The Rock vs. Mankind (I Quit Match – 1999)
The Rock versus Mankind is one of the greatest feuds in the history of WWE. Back in 1998, Rocky was starting to climb the ladder of success. He needed a dance partner. He got one in Mick Foley.
Both men spent a full-fledged year beating the life out of each other. Their I Quit Match at the 1999 Royal Rumble turned out to be the most vicious battle in their brutal war. Foley took multiple unprotected chair shots to his head in one of the most gruesome acts at the height of the Attitude Era.
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (Last Man Standing Match – 2004)
They say good friends make better enemies. No one captures that statement quite like Shawn Michaels and Triple H. The real-life best friends spent nearly two years trying to rip each other apart in one of the most fabled WWE rivalries of all time.
Both men met at multiple PPV events between 2002 and 2004. Their Last Man Standing Match at WWE Royal Rumble 2004 was a great display of old-school storytelling with tons of violence. Triple H retained his world title after both men failed to answer the ten count.
John Cena vs. Umaga (Last Man Standing Match – 2007)
Ever since Solo Sikoa made his main roster debut, fans cannot help but compare him to the late Umaga. The Samoan Bulldozer was one of the most vicious competitors during the latter part of the Ruthless Aggression Era.
The former Jamal battled the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kane, and John Cena. Speaking of Cena, both men put on an all-time classic at the 2007 Royal Rumble. Cena bled buckets in this match, but somehow emerged as the Last Man Standing.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (2003)
Kurt Angle has said this is his favorite match from his legendary pro wrestling career. The Olympic Gold Medalist had many iconic battles with the Rabid Wolverine during the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras.
Both men squared off for Angle’s WWE Championship in the penultimate match at the 2003 WWE Royal Rumble PPV event. This was a display of technical masterclass from two of the best in the business at the time.
Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (Street Fight – Royal Rumble 2000)
Arguably the greatest non-rumble match at the WWE Royal Rumble and my personal favorite! This match established Triple H as a headliner during the Attitude Era. The Game entered the infamous Cactus Jack’s turf in a Street Fight at the iconic Madison Square Garden.
Both men displayed brutality of epic proportions. From Triple H getting a gash on his leg to Jack getting planted face-first on a pile of thumbtacks, the match put both men on a higher pedestal in front of millions of fans.
Diesel vs. Bret Hart (WWE Royal Rumble 1995)
The Hardys vs. Dudley Boyz (Rumble 2000)
The Rock vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Royal Rumble 2002)
Shawn Michaels vs. Sycho Sid (Rumble ’97)
Also read: Best WWE SmackDown Matches Of 1999