A few years back I started getting DVD's of old Royal Rumble's from Netflix...yes back when getting DVD's in the mail was still a thing. I grew up watching the WWF, but we could never afford to buy the pay per view events, so I never got to watch any of the Royal Rumble events as a kid. This was a way to relive my childhood, but also more of a reminder that I had missed the best events year after year. You may not know the name Pat Patterson, but he was the first Intercontinental Champion and also the secret architect of what modern wrestling is now. He created the Royal Rumble, which in turn, created the way all pay per view events would be put together from then to now.
I realize that is a bit of an overstatement, but not as much when you break down the entire format. The Rumble isn't typically the main event, but it is the reason that everyone tunes in and there are "real" stakes involved that are tied to the main event. The winner of the 30 man free for all goes on to get a title shot at the big event everyone has heard of...Wrestlemania. There is a title match that follows the Rumble and from front to back the event flows better than any other. Sure there is filler and usually a celebrity (like Drew Carey) or old wrestler that shows up, but at the heart of it is the biggest names at the time.
Watching the old events now make me so happy because you can get a sense of what was going on at the time. Like in 1991, you can see some of the biggest names of all time at the height of their powers. The Royal Rumble match was won for the second year in a row by Hulk Hogan when he eliminated Earthquake. On top of that, Sgt. Slaughter (who doesn't get enough credit for the best wrestling name ever) beat the Ultimate Warrior and there was also a tag team match that included The Rockers, which gave us early Shawn Michaels who is one of the biggest names in the history of WWE. All of that was packed into one event!
You can currently take a trip down memory lane on the WWE Network by watching all of the old events and it's still nonstop excitement. Sure you will find some things that are hard to watch by today's standard, but the reason it holds up is for that "pop" of your favorite wrestlers music and the crowd losing their collective shit when they come roaring out of the locker room to jump into the action. That simple thing, the entrance music, is wrestling's secret formula for excitement. It started with Hulk Hogan, but he is not the gold standard. He may have gotten the crowd hype with I am a Real American, but the best of all time should create more excitement, so who did it the best? Let's examine the top 4.
The criteria must include how popular the wrestler is, the excitement the first sound made, and then the presence the person created when they entered.
Yes boys and girls, long before The Rock was the biggest effing movie star in the world (how the fuck did this happen??), he was the best person to ever touch a microphone in the WWE. There has never been a more charismatic wrestler, which is how you can see his transformation to mainstream action star. His entrance music is unmistakable because it's one of the many catchphrases he had over his tenure. You could see from the beginning that Vince McMahon loved him, when he came to the ring as a 3rd generation wrestler in 1997 as a rookie. He was talented, brash, and out of the gate exciting, which he used to evolve into a short list for most popular wrestler of all time.
The Ultimate mother f*#king Warrior!!!!
This is my favorite entrance and wrestler of all time! The fact that he isn't ranked number one is just a testament to my restraint. Fair is fair, sure, but nothing is more hype than that music starting and him being shot out of a cannon to drop excitement bombs all over the arena!
I remember coming unglued as a kid and now that I am a mature adult and a father, I still lose my shit when I see it! If the Warrior would have been even slightly above average as an on mic personality, then he would be the greatest wrestler of all time. There just wasn't anyone else that could match his intensity and the "pop" that he had when he started shaking the ropes! Sure, some of that was probably cocaine, but I've never turned off a Whitney Houston song because of that either. The Ultimate Warrior remains number one in my heart, but sadly there are a couple of others that can top him.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
GOOD GOD THAT'S STONE COLD'S MUSIC!!! BUSINESS IS ABOUT TO PICK UP!!! Say what you will about The Rock, but Stone Cold was right there with him as the fan favorite, even if he didn't call himself the peoples champ. Austin resonated with fans in a way that nobody has before or since. Yes, even Hulk Hogan. The ultimate rebel and just behind Rocky as the best mic man of all time, Steve Austin is definetely on the WWE Mount Rushmore.
That glass breaking was unmistakable and he always delivered the pop, even if you knew he was on his way. Stone Cold and the Royal Rumble go hand in hand since he is the only 3 time winner and had some of the most memorable moments in the PPV history. He didn't cross over the way that The Rock, or even Cena for that matter, but watching him in the moment was great and going back to see it again now, you could easily tell that fans far and wide leaned more to Stone Cold than The Rock. I don't think the popularity of the late 90's and early 2000's would have reached the heights it did without both of them, but Austin was the true fan favorite and did the most heavy lifting at the time.
Here is the pinnacle of all that is great about an entrance. This is the simplest, scariest, and most bad-ass entrance music of all time. You combine everything and it can't be beat. This video of him entering Wrestlemania XX captures the best entrance in the history of wrestling. I don't think The Undertaker has aged or ever resonated like some the others on this list, but he is responsible for some of the best moments in WWE history.
I personally prefer young Undertaker with Paul Bearer who was athletic and walked on top of ropes and into our hearts. That is something that I will never forget, and fun fact, I've been doing a Paul Bearer impression since I was 14. It's pretty solid, if I do say so myself. Those bells are so ominous and unique that it's hard to imagine that ever being topped again. Combine that with the lights going out and him rising in the ring when his opponent thought he was done for and the total package makes this number one. Even if someone passes him, don't ever rule out him coming back to regain the top spot.
Stephen Balding is the founder of Cinema Soapbox. You can reach him at email@example.com