The Royal Rumble is WWE’s most chaotic match – so it makes sense that sometimes things don’t always go according to script.
The annual gimmick-based PPV has been a fan favourite since its debut in 1988 and marks the company’s first major event of the year.
The modified battle royal sees 30 competitors continuously enter at timed intervals until there is one last man or woman standing in each respective Rumble.
Despite how it appears on screen, the event is meticulously planned – with wrestlers knowing who to eliminate to set up future storylines as well as pre-determining the overall victor.
However, the hustle and bustle of so many athletes sharing the ring at once means occasionally the plan goes out the window.
The Royal Rumble was only four years old at the time of this huge botch, so perhaps the Macho Man wasn’t yet familiar with the rules.
Only that reason can explain why Savage inexplicably eliminated himself in 1992 by jumping off the top rope to the outside.
He had already turfed out rival Jake Roberts from the match when he made the move to attack ‘The Snake’ some more.
By WWE‘s own rules, he was now out as well, but Savage sneakily re-entered the contest without any protests from the referees.
Gorilla Monsoon attempted to explain on commentary that you can’t eliminate yourself from the match – but considering that very thing had happened in Rumbles prior, the excuse fell flat…
Before Steve Austin took over the mantle as the Rattlesnake, he arrived in WWE as the Ringmaster, but his 1996 Rumble exit showed he wasn’t quite the master inside the ropes his gimmick suggested.
Having entered at number 24, Austin was meant to be involved in the finale of the match before a crucial mistake saw him eliminated early.
“I was supposed to be the fourth guy left, and my first year in the company, that’s a pretty good push,” Austin said on his podcast.
“I was doing a spot. I believe it was with Fatu [Rikishi], one of the Samoans. Man, he had a lot of baby oil on and all the guys were oiled up so the ropes were very slippery.
“I was going to do a deal where he does something to me and I was going to take a bump over the top, hang onto the top rope and come back in the bottom [rope].
“Well zip, zip, boom, I lost my grip and fell out on my butt by the guardrail. I thought ‘Oh man, I’m the new guy in the company. They’re trying to give me a little bit of a push here by being the fourth-last guy and I blow it.’”
Luckily for fans everywhere, the mistake didn’t prove too costly as Austin became Stone Cold later that year and went on to win three Royal Rumble matches.
The Miz’s former protege was being groomed for a major push in WWE but his 2011 botch seriously hampered his career.
Having come into that year’s Rumble with the honour of eliminating John Cena, Riley inadvertently suffered a role reversal in the match.
After a spot in the corner in which Cena and Kingston threw him over the top rope, Riley missed the chance to grab the bottom rope on his way down and fell to the floor.
Cena’s look of stunned disbelief was obvious, and referees later had to pass him secret messages to explain the contingency plan for his own elimination.
The most infamous ending in Rumble history came in 2005 and even led to Vince McMahon tearing both his quads.
Again Cena was involved, and again he was supposed to be eliminated when he faced Batista as the final two competitors of the match.
However, in the most freak event, Cena countered a Batista Bomb with a head scissors takedown and the move saw Batista stumble and accidentally send both men tumbling over the top rope.
In the ring, WWE referees attempted to improvise the ending by having RAW officials declare Batista the winner and SmackDown ref’s hold up Cena’s hand as the victor.
But due to the benefit of the replays on the big screen fans were not buying it and McMahon had to personally intervene.
As per McMahon’s orders, the match was restarted with Batista promptly eliminating Cena correctly this time but not before an irate McMahon had stormed the ring and torn both his quads.
Has a wrestler ever won the Royal Rumble by accident?
Yes, and that honour goes to the Big Show – even if WWE still refuse to recognise him as the victor in their record books!
In an eerily similar scenario to Cena and Batista, the pair found themselves tangled in a mess, except their feet did not touch the mat at the same time.
The planned finish was supposed to have Show carry Rock on his shoulders before the latter could pull down the top rope and use the big man’s momentum to flip him over and out.
Yet Show’s momentum saw Dwayne Johnson follow suit and their combined weight dropped the rope so low that the Brahma Bull clearly touched the ground first.
Despite that meaning that the World’s Largest Athlete was indeed the winner, WWE refs stuck to the script and raised Rocky’s hands.
To their credit, the writers backstage turned the furore into a storyline and had Show prove that he was the rightful winner which led to a match at next month’s No Way Out pay-per-view.
But the record still shows Rock wrongly as the 2000 Rumble victor.