Thursday, January 28, 2016

Numbers breakdown: Royal Rumble 2016

This Royal Rumble was definitely a treasure trove of statistics
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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.

While 2016 was third straight Royal Rumble to prominently feature a Roman Reigns narrative, it can be argued there at least was some more variety this year. As much as I love to discuss Rumble stories, we’re here to talk numbers, and the fact 15 wrestlers logged at least one legal elimination, the most since 2013 (the record is 18 in 1998), is a sign there was a bit more fun stuff to go around than what we’ve seen of late.

For example, the 2016 Rumble included five previous winners, the most ever. And at 1:01:43, it was the first 30-man Rumble to exceed an hour since 2006. The average time between entrances was 1:53. The longest gap was 3:01 between Bray Wyatt (27) and Dolph Ziggler (28); the shortest gap was 1:38 between Tyler Breeze (4) and Curtis Axel (5). A total of 10:11 elapsed between the third and fourth eliminations (Axel and Goldust), and while I don’t have full details yet on all 28 Rumbles, I can report it is quite rare for any such gap to reach 10 or more minutes.

He was the third to win from the final entry spot, but more notably, at 46 years, five months and 28 days, Triple H became the second oldest person to win a Rumble. Vince McMahon was 53 years and five months when he “won” the 1999 Rumble. Moving to third place is Batista, who was eight days past his 45th birthday when he won in 2014.

Although he was out of the ring for a significant portion of the match, Reigns officially lasted 59:49, leading the field, and he also led with five eliminations, bringing his career total to 23, one behind Hulk Hogan on the all-time list. He now has finished, second, first and third in his first three Rumbles.

Cody Rhodes is now a member of the three-hour club, and depending on how you count entrance times, Triple H became the charter member of the four-hour club. He also joined the 30-elimination club, moving to 31 overall. However, he remains behind Big Show, who with two eliminations is tied with Undertaker at 32 overall.

On the flip side, poor Jack Swagger has been in six Rumble matches and never once made an elimination. That’s tied for first place all time with Matt Bloom (Albert/Tensai). Related is Miz’s move to second place on the list of most Rumbles (nine) without a single final four appearance. He’s tied there with the late Nelson Frazier (Mabel/Viscera), but still two behind Goldust, who ran his mark to 11. Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth all joined Booker T, Great Khali and Shelton Benjamin in going 0-for-8.

As expected, Triple H made his fifth final four, while Sheamus made his fourth and Reigns his third. None are alone at those ranks, and all trail Glenn Jacobs with six.

Of the 29 men who have most often entered a Rumble, this edition featured 11 of them: Jacobs (19), Big Show and Goldust (11), Triple H, Chris Jericho and the Miz (nine) and Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston, Ziggler, Henry and Truth (eight).

There now have been 870 Royal Rumble entrance positions allotted to more than 300 wrestlers, though of course not all of them made it to the ring. In breaking down the 2016 Rumble by entry spot, there are a few things of note:

The first entrant had not eliminated more than three wrestlers since CM Punk tossed seven in 2011. Reigns dumped five, his lowest total in three Rumbles.

Tyler Breeze entered his first Rumble at the fourth spot, which has not gone to a Rumble rookie since Psicosis in 2006. (It’s not particularly relevant, but Breeze is only five days older than the Rumble itself, having been born Jan. 19, 1988.) He also was the first number four to be eliminated by two wrestlers since Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero teamed to oust Bob Holly in 2005.

The sixth spot usually goes to relatively inexperienced entrants (the average had been 2.1 Rumbles), but this was Chris Jericho’s ninth Rumble. He was the first at that spot to log an elimination since 2011. His 58:41 in the ring nearly caught 1991 Rick Martel (52:32) for longest from this position, though it should be noted Martel was only in the ring for 80.55 percent of that match, while Jericho hung around for 83.23 percent. Although he just missed the final four, it was the best number six showing since Kane was the runner up in 2001. And how old is Jericho? At 45 years, two months and 15 days, he’s now the oldest sixth entrant, breaking the mark of Harley Race, who was 44 years, nine months and 13 days in 1988.

By contrast, seventh entrant Kane, at 48 years, eight months and 29 days, is younger than 2015’s number seven, the 50-year-old Boogeyman. It was Glenn Jacobs’ 19th Rumble, and he’d never entered at the seventh spot.

Goldust made his 11th Rumble appearance, the second time entering at the eighth spot (he did the same in 2013). He was the fourth person eliminated, the earliest out from this spot aside from Dan Severn, who was the third man eliminated in 1999.

Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston entered tenth and did not log an elimination. The last tenth man to throw up a goose egg was Epico in 2012, the only other time a tag belt co-holder entered at that spot. Both were the sixth man eliminated, though Kofi was in this match significantly longer.

Entering at 11, Titus O’Neil was the seventh man eliminated. That makes him just the 10th man who entered at seven — and only fifth in the last 20 years — to be among the first nine men tossed.

The 12th man, R-Truth, lasted just 60 memorable seconds, barely longer than the worst No. 12, 2012 Jerry Lawler. Truth was the fifth man out, the worst finish for a 12th entrant since Kurrgan in 1998. It was the fifth time Kane had eliminated No. 12 (and in two other years Kane WAS No. 12).

Luke Harper, who made three eliminations, became the first No. 13 since Michael McGillicutty in 2011 to not get shut out. The current Curtis Axel also recorded three eliminations that year, and both men had a hand in dumping Mark Henry for their third tally. At 24:17, Harper logged the most ring time at 13 since Matt Hardy cleared 27 minutes in 2003.

Entering 15th, Big Show made just two eliminations. That’s not much (the spot produced 18 eliminations in the last two Rumbles combined), but it continues a six-year streak for the 15th spot of at least one elimination.

Braun Strowman was the first Rumble rookie at number 17 since Trevor Murdoch in 2006. Strowman, however, made a serious impact with four eliminations over his 18:03, being just the 20th man eliminated. That’s easily the best number 17 of all time, eding 1988’s Dino Bravo, who eliminated two men and finished third (in a 20-man Rumble).

The 19th entrant, Dean Ambrose, became the seventh man from that position to be eliminated by the eventual winner. He became the third runner-up from that spot, joining One Man Gang in 1988, but more similarly John Cena in 2010. At a second shy of a full half hour, Ambrose spent more time in the ring than any other number 19, eclipsing Kurt Angle in 2004, who also cleared 29 minutes.

It took three members of the Wyatt Family to eliminate number 22 Mark Henry — no one from that spot had ever been eliminated by more than one opponent. It was Henry’s eighrth Rumble, making him the most experienced 22nd entrant ever, eclipsing 2003 Kane in Glenn Jacobs’ seventh Rumble.

No 23rd entrant had made an elimination since Kane in 2009 until this year, when Brock Lesnar dumped four opponents.

At 38 years, seven months and 30 days, Alberto Del Rio became the oldest man to enter at the 26th spot, nearly three months older than Hulk Hogan in 1992.

Bray Wyatt, number 27 in, was the 25th man out, the best finish for that position since Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger finished 25th in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

When Triple H ousted number 28 Dolph Ziggler, it was the eighth time an eventual winner dumped the 28th entrant. As noted earlier, it also was Ziggler’s eighth Rumble, making him the most experienced wrestler to enter at that spot.

And, as I ended the 2014 and 2015 versions 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.


NOTE: When beginning any discussion about the Royal Rumble, it is important to establish the ground rules — and to be immediately aware they sometimes conflict.

My preference is to look at each match and career in story terms as much as possible — to give credit to Rey Mysterio for his incredible bell-to-bell run in 2006 on face value, and not in acknowledgement of the backstage influence — yet some statistical compiling must take into account real-life factors such as Mick Foley entering the 1998 Rumble as three distinct characters, or the fact 28 wrestlers have been in Rumbles as multiple personas (Charles Wright racked up five), and at least two characters (Diesel and Sin Cara) have been portrayed in Rumbles by multiple wrestlers.

Also, the only plausible way to tabulate eliminations is to give each wrestler who took part in an elimination full credit for that feat. So when Mil Mascaras and Pierroth dumped Cibernetico in 1997, each is attributed one elimination. And yet, there were only 27 total elimination credits in 1997, because three people eliminated themselves, and that shouldn’t count. Neither do no-shows, or failure to make it to the ring (see Axel, Curtis, 2015). Neither does an illegal elimination, such as Kane returning to toss CM Punk in 2014 or Giant Gonzalez appearing from nowhere to oust Undertaker in 1993.

(The oddest oddity remains Bret Hart and Lex Luger eliminating each other in 1994, but being named co-winners. This is the kind of thing that drives Rumblemetricians mad.)

Other ground rules: Your time in the match begins when the buzzer hits zero, not when you hit the ring. Your time in the match ends when your body hits the floor. Wikipedia doesn’t count things this way, but I found I had to in order to preserve sanity. And if you no show (like Randy Savage in 1991 or Bastion Booger in 1994), you just get zeroes. No one is credited with eliminating you, you are not counted in the order of elimination, although clearly it does change the number of remaining opponents.