How have Minnesotans performed in the Royal Rumble?

The WWE's over-the-top extravaganza is being held on Sunday.
Publish date:

Your favorite professional wrestling entity, the WWE, holds its annual Royal Rumble pay-per view this Sunday, Jan. 27.

The marquee event is the Royal Rumble match, a 30-wrestler, over-the-top battle royal for the right to headline the main event at WrestleMania in April.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes could arguably also be known as the Land of 10,000 Wrestlers as the state has been a hot bed for some of the best that ever stepped in the squared circle. 

To that end, we've had a look at how every Minnesotan – native or adopted son – has performed in the Royal Rumble Match.

Brock Lesnar

No, he wasn't born here, but even if you're not a wrestling fan, you've probably heard of Lesnar. He wrestled at the U of M, where he helped the team win a national championship, and for a time lived on a farm near Alexandria. He also tried playing for the Vikings.

He's wrestled at 7 Royal Rumbles but only competed in three of the over-the-top battle royals, as he was wrestling for the WWE Championship at the other four PPVs.

  • 2003: Winner after entering at No. 29, lasting 8:45, eliminating five wrestlers: Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Matt Hardy and the Undertaker.
  • 2016: Entered at No. 23, eliminated 21st by Braun Strowman, Erick Rowan & Luke Harper.

  • 2017: Entered at 26th, eliminated 19th by Goldberg

Ric Flair

Again, not a born son, but an adopted one. He grew up in Edina and spent a year at the U of M playing football, which is where he got involved in professional wrestling. He's arguably the greatest and most recognizable wrestler of all time.

  • 1992: Winner after entering 3rd and lasting over an hour, eliminating five wrestlers: The British Bulldog, Texas Tornado, BBM, Randy Savage and Sid Justice.
  • 1993: Entered at No. 1, and 1st eliminated by Papa Shango.

  • 2005: Entered at No. 30, 26th eliminated by Edge.

  • 2006: No. 5 entry, 3rd eliminated by HHH.

  • 2007: Entered at No. 1, was 1st eliminated by Edge/Kenny Dykstra.

Fun note: Ric Flair's 1992 win was the first Royal Rumble where the winner won outright what was then the WWF Title, and it led to one of the great wrestling promos of all time as he gave his victory speech.

Curt Hennig, aka Mr. Perfect

Hennig attended Robbinsdale High School in Minneapolis. He adopted the Mr. Perfect nickname in 1989 and went on to capture the Intercontinental title, the United State Title and the WCW tag team titles. 

The WWE inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2007, four years after he sadly died at the age of 44 in Florida. 

  • 1989: Entered No. 4, was 11th eliminated by Hulk Hogan.
  • 1990: Entered No. 30, was runner-up (last eliminated) to Hulk Hogan.
  • 1991: Entered at No. 23, eliminated 23rd by the British Bulldog.
  • 1993: Entered at No. 10, eliminated 8th by Jerry Lawler, Koko B. Ware and Ted DiBiase.
  • 2002: Entered at No. 22, eliminated 28th by HHH.

Sean Waltman, aka X-Pac/1-2-3 Kid

Waltman is a native of Minneapolis, joining the WWE (then the WWF) in 1993 at the tender age of 20. 

Over the course of his career, he wrestled under many stage names, including the 1-2-3 Kid Lightning Kid, but it was during his days in D-Generation X as X-Pac that he became a household name.

  • 1999: Entered at No. 25, eliminated 20th by the Big Boss Man.
  • 2000: Entered at No. 30, eliminated 28th by Big Show.

Fun note: In the 2000 Royal Rumble, X-Pac was technically eliminated by Kane but jumped back into the ring before the referees could see, and then eliminated Kane.

Rick Rude

"Ravishing" Rick Rude was born in St. Peter, Minnesota and was another of Robbinsdale's famous wrestling community, as well as attending Anoka-Ramsey Community College. The Ravishing One held the Intercontinental title and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017.

He passed away in 1999 in Georgia at the age of 40 from heart failure.

  • 1990: Entered at No. 28, was 28th eliminated by Hulk Hogan & Mr. Perfect

Erik Rowan

Rowan was born in Minneapolis but grew up in Montrose, in Wright County.

He also played football at the University of Minnesota-Morris. A current member of the WWE roster, Rowan rose to fame as part of the Wyatt Family stable.

In a true Minnesotan-on-Minnesotan crime, Rowan attacked and prevent Curtis Axel from entering the Rumble in 2015. Both are from Minnesota.

  • 2015: Prevented Curtis Axel from entering at No. 6, then ruled ineligible to compete.
  • 2016: Entered at No. 21, eliminated 17th by Brock Lesnar.

Joseph Hennig, aka Curtis Axel

Axel is the son of Curt Hennig (Mr. Perfect) and the grandson of the late Larry "The Axe" Hennig. He's a native of Champlin, graduated from North Hennepin Community College and is a huge Vikings fan.

  • 2016: Entered at No. 5, eliminated 3rd by AJ Styles.

Fun note: After he was prevented from entering the 2015 Rumble by Erick Rowan, he Axel spent much of the next year running a schtick about how he was the longest-running Rumble competitor in history, as he'd never been eliminated.

Joseph Laurinaitis, aka Road Warrior-Animal 

One-half of the Legion of Doom, Animal and tag-team partner Hawk (himself a St. Paul native) made for a legendary team.

Animal attended Irondale High School and worked as a bouncer in downtown Minneapolis nightclub, where he caught the eye of Eddie Sharkey, a respected wrestling trainer. 

The two formed the Legion of Doom and made their footprint in WWF, NWA, WCW and Japan. You can make a case they're the most recognizable tag-team in history.

  • 2006: Entered No. 19, 10th eliminated by Rob Van Dam.

Bob Backlund

The wrestling legend was born in Princeton, Minnesota and attended school in Iowa as well as NDSU, where he was an amateur wrestler. He enjoyed his WWF heyday in the '70s and became only of only 8 wrestlers to hold the WWF Title for more than a year.

He returned to WWF for a run in the 1990s, even getting a short title reign, before returning for a cameo in 2000. In the 1993 Royal Rumble, Backlund lasted for longer than an hour.

  • 1993: Entered No. 2, eliminated 28th by Yokozuna.
  • 1994: Entered No. 8, eliminated 7th by Diesel.
  • 1995: Entered No. 25, eliminated 17th by Lex Luger.
  • 1996: Entered No. 3, eliminated 1st by Yokozuna.
  • 2000: Entered No. 14, eliminated 9th by Chris Jericho.

Nora Benshoof, aka Molly Holly

Born in Forest Lake and raised in White Bear Lake, Molly Holly was a fixture in WCW and WWE, capturing the women's title twice and is one of few women to hold the Hardcore championship.

She left the WWE scene in 2005 but made stops in the independent ranks. Benshoof returned to WWE last year at the first ever Women's Royal Rumble. She is now a trainer at The Academy: School of Professional Wrestling in Minneapolis.

  • 2018: Entered at No. 12, eliminated 10th by Michelle McCool.

WWE wrestlers from Minnesota who have never competed in a Royal Rumble

– Jesse Ventura

– Shawn Daivari

– Ariya Daivari

– Road Warrior Hawk

– Chad Gable

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 12.04.55 PM

Minnesota's COVID vaccine appointment site goes live

Huge demand was expected when the site went live at noon.

emily ford

Duluth woman is hiking 1,000-plus miles on the Ice Age Trail this winter

She could be the second person ever to finish a winter-thru hike of the Wisconsin trail.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 19

Two days in a row with fewer than 1,000 new cases.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.52.12 AM

After fire destroyed their house, couple forced to euthanize beloved dog

The couple's daughter has launched a fundraiser for her parents.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.16.14 AM

Investigation after teacher accused of lewd act during distance learning

No charges have been filed yet and the staff member has not been identified.

cook county schools

Investigation after assistant principal displays "joke" Gadsden flag during announcements

"My apologies to anybody who was offended by that part of the snake that was on that comic and it's been taken down."

Forest - orono, Minnesota

Report: Forests, agricultural land could help Minnesota reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Nature Conservancy's Minnesota chapter released a report that shows how many acres of trees would be needed to help the state reach its reduction goals.

University of Minnesota

U of M will halt admissions to 12 PhD programs

The move is expected to help address the school's estimated budget shortfall of $166 million.

snow, plow

NWS says 'increasing potential for an impactful winter storm' this weekend

Nothing is certain yet. The weather service advises Minnesotans to monitor the forecast.

Mike Lindell, My Pillow CEO.

Under-fire Mike Lindell claims retailers have dropped MyPillow

The MyPillow CEO is seeing receiving backlash as he continues to share conspiracy theories about the election.


WWE wrestler from MN gets death threats for Saudi Arabia skit

Ariya Daivari said the threats came after his appearance at the Greatest Royal Rumble.

Watch: Nate Burleson's story about Brock Lesnar suplexing a Chiefs player

Apparently WWE moves translate pretty well to the football field.

Thief breaks into WWE wrestlers' rental car in Minneapolis

It was a cold ride to the airport for Lince Dorado and Cedric Alexander.


Reality TV show to hold casting call for Minnesotans with Danish ancestry

The open casting call is being held at the Mall of America on Feb. 1.


Wrestling legend Joseph Laurinaitis, aka Road Warrior Animal, dies at 60

He was half of the famous tag teams known as the Road Warriors and the Legion of Doom.

Brock Lesnar

Richard and Rick Pitino make bet over Brock Lesnar's WrestleMania match

Riding on the bet is the location of a potential Gophers-Iona matchup.