- Worst: Triple H (2016)
Triple H’s win in 2016 is the final example on our list of a superstars Rumble Win just not being as good the second time around. Triple H won his first Rumble in 2002 as part of an ongoing process of turning him into a legitimate main event talent, however, his Rumble win this past year in 2016 was solely for storyline purposes. For whatever reason, WWE Creative was adamant this past year that the main event at WrestleMania should be Triple H vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Title. However, hoping to avoid negative fan feedback on back-to-back Rumble wins for Reigns, WWE decided to let a 46-year-old Triple H win the Rumble. To make matters worse, the title itself was also on the line in the Royal Rumble.
- Best: Brock Lesnar (2003)
Perhaps the best way for WWE to use the Rumble as a tool to improve its product is to have it serve as a “coming out party” for a young star. One of the most successful instances of this was when the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, won the Rumble in 2003. At this point, WWE itself was almost entirely sold on Lesnar as its next big star, however, him beating twenty-nine other superstars on such a prominent stage was able to sell him in this role to the WWE Universe at large. Following an almost unprecedented rise, Lesnar would leave WWE for UFC, leaving a bad taste in many decision makers mouths. However, with his recent comeback and huge drawing power, WWE has once again started to receive the fruits of this good Royal Rumble decision.
- Worst: Vince McMahon (1999)
With our last bad entry, we talked about the perils of choosing a forty-six-year-old executive as the Royal Rumble winner. The difference between Triple in 2016 and Vince McMahon in 1999, of course being that at one point Triple H was a legitimate main event star in WWE. Vince McMahon meanwhile has never been a full-time wrestler and there is simply no plausible reason why he should ever have won the prestigious Rumble tournament. To be fair, the McMahon win was meant as a stunt to further his rivalry with Steve Austin and his status as the top heel authority figure in WWE. Despite the storyline excuses associated with this choice, VKM should never have come close to a Royal Rumble win, and its moments like this that have served to devalue the Rumble and Rumble winners over the years.
- Best: Stone Cold Steve Austin (1998)
I will admit that on principal I am usually against a superstar winning multiple Royal Rumbles. It just seems that their second run of things never reaches the level of success that their initial foray into Rumble success did. Batista and Triple H’s second Rumble wins were a mess, and even Cena’s 2013 win was seen as somewhat as a disappointment in comparison to his 08 victory. The exception to this rule, however, was Stone Cold’s win in 1998. Current WWE fans complain about Roman Reigns (and John Cena before him) racking up constant wins, but they don’t understand that it’s these high-profile wins that establish top stars. As such, the influence of Austin’s record three Royal Rumble wins cannot be overestimated in regards to building him up to be the national phenomenon that he was in his prime.