Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Royal Rumble Oddity Recap

Roman Reigns' Royal Rumble stats were kept strong *ducks tomatoes*
Photo Credit:
If you’re interested in how the methodology I apply to Rumble statistics leads me to certain results, please see the explanatory note at the end.

My deepest apologies, but the 2015 Royal Rumble did indeed end up being almost all about Roman Reigns statistically as well as per the narrative. More on the details to follow, but it must be said after only two matches he’s already on the short list of greatest Rumblers of all time.

Here’s some quick hits on the match itself:
  • At 59:40, 2015 was the 10th longest of 28 Royal Rumbles.
  • The average time spent in the ring was 8:49 — the eighth shortest.
  • It was the eighth Rumble with zero previous winners (the first since 2003 and 2004).
  • It was the first Rumble with only three rookies, the next lowest total is six, which happened in 1990, 2008, 2010).
  • It was the first Rumble in which three entrants tied for most eliminations (six).
  • Twenty participants had zero eliminations — only 2001 and 2011 (the 40-man Rumble) had more with 21.
  • If you look at the Rumbles year by year and count who stayed the longest in a given year, Bray Wyatt’s 46:58 was 14th. It was only good for 20th longest overall and the 15th-longest for a nonwinner.
  • No one was eliminated by more than two competitors, the first time that’s happened since 2012.
  • No wrestler who entered the ring was tossed by someone not legally in the match, the first time that’s happened since 2010.
  • One person eliminated both members of a tag team twice — Rusev dumped Kofi Kingston and Big E; Roman Reigns ousted Goldust and Stardust. That hadn’t happened in one Rumble since 2012, and now 2015 joins 1995 as the only time it happened twice (and in that match, Crush and Dick Murdoch joined to eliminate both of the Smoking Gunns while Shawn Michaels ousted both Bushwhackers, so 2015 can technically claim “first” status here).
Taking a look at the winner, Reigns was the first person to be last eliminated in one year’s Rumble and win the succeeding year’s match. Shawn Michaels was the last out in 1994 before winning in 1995 (and 1996), but 1994 deserves an asterisk for the double-winner situation in which Bret Hart and Lex Luger both won but also are considered eliminated.

Reigns became only the second man to win from No. 19 (following John Cena in 2013) and logged the eighth-longest appearance by a winner (27:29). He joins four other winners who eliminated six men.

Reigns also now has 18 career eliminations, good for 10th on the all-time list (he is tied with CM Punk, and they trail No. 9 Randy Orton by just one elimination). Reigns has only been in two Rumbles, and he at this pace he’ll match Hulk Hogan, who logged 24 legal eliminations in his four Rumbles — though Hogan did so in 55:44, and Reigns has 1:01:10 in ring time already.

Also, that 30:35 split moves Reigns to fourth all time in average minutes per Rumble for anyone with two or more Rumbles. But now checking in at second there is Bray Wyatt (if you factor in the minutes from his Husky Harris appearance in 2011, which I do) with an average of 31:23. They join Fit Finlay (31:16 in two matches) as the only men in the top 10 with only two Rumbles.

Moving on to some of the other weird stuff I chart, Dolph Ziggler lasted just 2:20 but logged two eliminations, the 27th shortest ring time for someone with at least one elimination and seventh shortest for someone with multiple eliminations.

In the world of repeats, Reigns dumped Goldust as he did in 2014. (Goldust also was twice eliminated by Cody Rhodes.) But that’s not as notable as Big Show eliminating Ziggler for the third time (it also happened in 2011 and 2012), the fifth person to be thrice eliminated by the same opponent.

Looking at career totals, Kane broke into the three-hour club, now standing in third place at 3:15:00 over 18 Rumbles. He’s also the only man to make the final four six times and leads with 41 career eliminations.

Big Show, who made his fourth final four (joining Cena and Triple H) was eliminated by the eventual winner — making him the only man to meet that fate on four occasions (the others were in 2000, 2004 and 2009).

Cody Rhodes remains 6:54 shy of three hours, but is still sixth all time over his seven Rumbles. It also was his third time entering at No. 13 — no one else has done it twice.

Goldust now is alone atop the leaderboard of most Rumbles (10) without a final four appearance. His closest was 1998 when he was the sixth-place finisher.

He is tied, however, with The Miz for most Rumble time with no final fours — both men now are at 1:21:38, good for sixth all time. They lag behind new No. 4 Kofi Kingston, who is at 1:25:38 over seven Rumbles. Wyatt is now 10th all time at 1:02:46 with zero final fours in two Rumbles.

The Miz now is the sixth man to twice enter at No. 1 (doing so first in 2012). The others are Bret Hart (1988/1991); Dolph Ziggler, (2010/2013); Ric Flair (1993/2007); Michaels (1995/2003); and Triple H (1996/2006). Miz also entered twice at No. 16, which Goldust matched this year after also doing so in 1999.

Kane entered at No. 24 for the third time, joining Steve Austin (1996 and 1998) and Chris Masters (2007, 2010) on the repeat list.

Jack Swagger has been in five Rumbles and logged no eliminations, trailing only Matt “Albert/Tensai” Bloom, who did it six times. Swagger’s cumulative ring time is 39:43, fourth most among those with zero eliminations.

If you followed my series leading into the 2014 Rumble looking at performances based on each entry spot (to see how No. 4 in 1996 compared with No. 4 in 2006, for example), you might be interested to learn Reigns can now claim to be the best No. 19 in Rumble history, topping the previous best, Cena, who in 2013 lasted 26:39 and made four eliminations en route to a win.

Rusev was a great No. 15, lasting 35:17 (second only to Cody Rhodes going 37:01 in 2009 and finishing third), but Reigns entered 15th in 2014 and eliminated 12 men. Even a win from 15 might not push that past Reigns’ showing. He’s now set the bar at two entry spots.

The other closest to a “best” was Big Show at No. 29, making five eliminations, finishing third and lasting 8:22. But the honor still goes to 2003 No. 29, Rumble winner Brock Lesnar, logging four eliminations in 8:59.

Wyatt lasted longer than any other No. 5, but the man he beat was Steve Austin, who in 1997 from the fifth spot made 10 eliminations, lasted 45:07 and won.

On the flip side, at four seconds, Titus O’Neil now becomes the worst No. 26 ever, taking the honor from Michaels, who lasted just 12 seconds in 1990. At 38 seconds, no one has done worse from No. 8 than Sin Cara (Bob Backlund lasted 41 seconds in 1994).

It’s also worth noting though Diamond Dallas Page has been in just two Rumbles (the other was 2002), both times he entered No. 14.

Other things to note here are how spots 15 and 19, with six eliminations each, vaulted into second and third place respectively for all-time eliminations from those spots, sending previous No. 2 (which actually was No. 2) into fourth place. No. 30 still leads, now with 54 all time, but No. 15 has been responsible for 43 eliminations and No. 19 has been responsible for 42.

A few firsts of minimal importance happened here as well, as it was the first time the third entrant eliminated only two opponents and the first time the fifth entrant eliminated exactly six opponents. Big Show was the first No. 29 entrant to finish third and Kane was the first No. 24 to finish fourth. Reigns and Rusev, at winner and runner-up, were the second from each entry spot to hit those marks.

And, as I ended the 2014 version of this piece, there is sadness because we’re as far away from the next Royal Rumble as possible. Waiting sucks, especially when there are some memories from this edition many folks would like to wash away — again.

Notes on my statistical methodology:

WWE’s stance on performers with multiple characters has caused me some issues over the year. For example, Mick Foley was openly acknowledged as Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack, and he also appeared in a Rumble under his given name. But Glenn Jacobs is not canonically recognized as being the man behind Isaac Yankem. Further, the roles of Diesel, Razor Ramon and now Sin Cara have been portrayed by multiple wrestlers in Rumbles.

Since you can’t give Scott Hall credit for the work of Rick Bognar as Ramon or pair Mistico and Hunico under the Sin Cara heading, I tally career totals based on the performer, not the character. Jacobs gets cumulative credit for every character he’s played. Bray Wyatt has only appeared in one Rumble, but it was the second outing for Windham Rotunda.

Further, WWE is not good with this stuff — repeatedly considering Diesel’s 1997 Rumble stats as part of that character’s work, for example — so take all “official” numbers with a grain of salt. Also, I do not count unofficial eliminations. So in 1990, when Bad News Brown returned to the ring to eliminate Roddy Piper, Brown is not awarded credit (although Piper was ruled to be eliminated and his order of finish is noted as such).

When we have a Curtis Axel situation, he is counted as an entrant and given credit for zero seconds (the clock starts when you enter the ring, not when the timer hits zero), but his elimination is not factored into the order of elimination (so Rusev is branded as the 28th man tossed in 2015, not the 29th).