11 Royal Rumble winners who lost in their title match opportunity at WrestleMania


The Royal Rumble is one of the most exciting times of the year as it's the place where WWE begins building towards its biggest show of the year, WrestleMania.

The biggest match of the event is the Royal Rumble itself, as fans get a glimpse at what the headline match of WrestleMania will be for both the men and the women.

While a Royal Rumble win guarantees the victor a title match at the Showcase of Immortals, not every superstar that has won the Rumble has gone on to win at WWE's biggest show of the year.

It's a harsh truth for any superstar that wins the Royal Rumble. Just because you win the Rumble match, it doesn't mean you'll win at WrestleMania as well. In fact, 11 superstars have failed to win in their title opportunity at WWE's biggest show of the year following a Royal Rumble win.

Here are the 11 superstars that have won a Royal Rumble match, but went on to lose in their title shot at WrestleMania.

Asuka - Royal Rumble 2018


The only woman to appear on this list is Asuka, as she won the first-ever women's Royal Rumble in 2018, but she lost her title match at WrestleMania 34.

The Empress of Tomorrow last eliminated Nikki Bella to earn her spot at WrestleMania, and although she was a Raw superstar, she challenged Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women's Championship instead.

Asuka lost her SmackDowm Women's title match vs Flair at WrestleMania 34, but it looks like she will be returning to the top of the women's card in 2020, as she's set to face Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's title at this year's Royal Rumble. 

Lex Luger - Royal Rumble 1994


The 1994 Royal Rumble ended in controversy as both Lex Luger and Bret Hart hit the floor at the same time. As a result, they were both announced as winners of the Rumble and both men went on to challenge Yokozuna for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania X.

While Hart was successful in his match, Luger was not, as he lost his match via disqualification after he pushed guest referee, Mr. Perfect, for not counting his pin on Yokozuna. 

At the time of the pin, Mr. Perfect was tending to Yokozuna's managers, Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette, as they had been attacked by Luger when they jumped on the ring apron. Luger's attack on Perfect turned him heel as a result.

Shawn Michaels - Royal Rumble 1995


Shawn Michaels made history at the 1995 Royal Rumble as he became the first superstar to win the Royal Rumble from the number one spot, but he wouldn't capitalise on his historic victory at WrestleMania XI.

HBK last eliminated the British Bulldog at the 1995 Royal Rumble to earn his spot at WrestleMania XI, a match vs Diesel for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

Michaels used his high flying offense to take advantage of Diesel in their match, and he did hit his Sweet Chin Music finisher, but was never able to score the pinfall as Sid, his bodyguard, had the referee distracted. Diesel was able to recover and hit Michaels with a botched Jackknife powerbomb for the win.

The Rock - Royal Rumble 2000


The Rock scored his only Royal Rumble match victory in 2000 in another controversial Royal Rumble, but he would fall short at WrestleMania 2000 to WWF Champion Triple H.

The Rock initially won the 2000 Royal Rumble by last eliminating Big Show, but video footage later showed Rock's feet hitting the floor first before Show. After multiple attempts to name a rightful number one contender failed, both The Rock and Big Show were added to the main event

Mick Foley, who came out of retirement after losing a Hell in a Cell match to Triple H, was later added to the match to make it a four-way match. At WrestleMania 2000, Triple H defeated Rock, Foley, and Show in a fatal four-way elimination match to retain the WWF Championship.

John Cena - Royal Rumble 2008


John Cena won his first Royal Rumble match back in 2008, but he didn't wait until WrestleMania XXIV to use his title match opportunity, and even when he failed to win the title and was given another shot at the Showcase of Immortals, he still was unsuccessful.

Cena made a surprise return at the 2008 Royal Rumble and won the match by last eliminating Triple H. However, he requested to face WWE Champion Randy Orton at No Way Out instead of WrestleMania, a match he won, but only by disqualification, meaning he didn't win the WWE title.

The Game then became Orton's opponent at WrestleMania by winning an Elimination Chamber match. Cena, however, earned another opportunity when he defeated The Viper the next night on Raw, making it a triple threat match. At WrestleMania XXIV though, Orton was able to beat Cena and Triple H to retain the WWE title.

Randy Orton - Royal Rumble 2009


Randy Orton won his first Royal Rumble in 2009, but he too would fall short at WrestleMania XXV against an all too familiar opponent, Triple H.

The Viper eliminated The Game last at the 2009 Royal Rumble to earn his title match, and although he was on Raw, he challenged SmackDown's Triple H for the WWE Championship after punting Vince and Shane McMahon in the head as well as RKO-ing Stephanie McMahon.

Both superstars attacked each other over the coming weeks leading to WrestleMania, and Triple H even attacked Orton at his house. However, at WrestleMania XXV, The Game successfully defended the WWE title against The Viper.

Edge - Royal Rumble 2010


Edge returned to WWE after a six-month hiatus due to injury at the 2010 Royal Rumble and won the whole thing to a huge ovation. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to capitalise on his return with a win at WrestleMania XXVI.

Returning to SmackDown, The Rated-R Superstar last eliminated John Cena to win the 2010 Royal Rumble and would go on to challenge World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXVI.

However, at WrestleMania, in the middle of a back-and-forth match, Jericho hit Edge with the championship while the referee was down from an accidental blow to the head by Edge. He went on to hit a Codebreaker to win and retain his title. Edge did manage to spear Jericho through the barricade after the match, but he never won the World Heavyweight title on the night.

Alberto Del Rio - Royal Rumble 2011


Edge would get his WrestleMania moment a year later at WrestleMania XXVII, but at the expense of the 2011 Royal Rumble winner, Alberto Del Rio. In the first Rumble to ever feature 40 superstars, Del Rio won the match by last eliminating Santino Marella.

As a SmackDown star, he would challenge Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVII. Both men had company with them in the opening match of WrestleMania XXVII, as Edge had Christian while Del Rio had Ricardo Rodriguez and Brodus Clay.

While Christian fended off Clay and Rodriguez, Del Rio focused on Edge's injured arm. The Rated-R Superstar was able to turn things around however with the Edgecator while Del Rio applied the Cross Armbreaker. Edge then hit a spear to win and retain the title. This would end up being Edge's last WWE match to date as he retired due to a neck injury.

Batista - Royal Rumble 2014


Batista returned to WWE in 2014 and won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Roman Reigns, meaning he would face Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania XXX. However, fans made sure he knew it was not supposed to win the match, at least in their eyes.

Fans wanted Daniel Bryan, not The Animal, to win the Royal Rumble, as he was the hottest superstar in WWE at the time. When he wasn't in the match, they booed heavily. WWE had to change their original plans for WrestleMania XXX to make sure their biggest event of the year wasn't overrun with boos.

As a result, Bryan was given a pathway into the WrestleMania main event, he had to beat Triple H earlier in the night, which he did. Bryan went on to win the WWE World Heavyweight title after he applied the Yes! Lock to Batista in the main event, forcing him to submit. 

Roman Reigns - Royal Rumble 2015


Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble in 2015 by last eliminating Rusev, earning himself a WWE World Heavyweight title match vs Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. However, this was once again another Rumble match fans wanted to see Daniel Bryan win.

WWE wouldn't add Bryan to the main event this time around. Instead, they settled for a match between Reigns and Bryan at Fastlane to decide who went on to the main event of WrestleMania. The Big Dog won to the match, but some fans were still unhappy.

Reigns wasn't able to keep his momentum going at WrestleMania vs Lesnar, as Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and was added to the match while it was taking place, making it a triple threat. Rollins then hit Reigns with a Curb Stomp and pinned him to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Shinsuke Nakamura - Royal Rumble 2018


The most recent male superstar to win the Royal Rumble match but lose their title opportunity at WrestleMania was Shinsuke Nakamura in 2018. He earned his spot by last eliminating Roman Reigns.

The King of Strong Style knew immediately who he wanted to face after winning the Royal Rumble, as he told the world in the middle of the ring following the match that he wanted to face WWE Champion AJ Styles. A dream match inside a WWE ring was set.

In a decent match where both men were able to hit their finishers, Styles was able to retain his WWE title. However, after the match and while the two showed respect to one another, Nakamura delivered a low blow to The Phenomenal One, turning heel and continuing their feud.

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