2007 Royal Rumble Match: WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble of All Time

"Knock, Knock? Who's there? The guy that finished  second. The guy that finished second, who? Exactly."

There can only be one. We all know what is at stake in the Royal Rumble match.

What would you do for a mere chance to dance with immortality? A chance to define an era? A chance to stand in the center of history in the making?

The Royal Rumble. For many men it is their only opprotunity at becoming the WWE Champion. One chance at main eventing the most historically significant show in wrestling history.

A single second can be the difference from changing a career. But, only for one man. It's the short cut to WrestleMania, and a one way ticket to everlasting life. But to get there you have to cross through one of the most challenging matches the WWE has ever created.

Only one man can win, and how strange it is that the winner of the greatest Royal Rumble match of all time - is not a man at all...

The Criteria

While so much is at stake in the Royal Rumble match, for the fans, it is the most pure form of sports entertainment the WWE has.

Since the dawn of the modern wrestling era the Battle Royal has been the quintessential special attraction match. All the way back to the days of Haystacks Calhoun and the legendary Andre the Giant.

The Royal Rumble is a modern callback to those carnival attractions of old.

The Royal Rumble is not so much an example of skill and pacing as it is a showcase of entertainment and grandeur. It is over the top "sports entertainment" at it finest. It should never win a "Match of the Year" Slammy Award, but that doesn't mean it isn't one of the most important nights of WWE's year. Because it is.

Its plain and simple fun. So for a Royal Rumble match to be considered the greatest of all time it has to be, above all else, a fun showcase of everything the WWE is about and be able to tell multiple engaging stories without confusion.

In 1992, 1995, 2004, and 2006 we saw greats like Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, and Rey Mysterio go border-to-border and win it all.

In 2002, 2008, and 2010 we saw the legends of tomorrow like Triple H, John Cena, and Edge return and lay claim to their ticket to the main event.

In 2011, Alberto Del Rio went through 39, not 29, other men to win the biggest Royal Rumble in the events history.

But in 2007 a perfect storm of talent and entertainment came to the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas and became the benchmark of what a Royal Rumble match should be.

It's the modern equivalent of what the 1992 Royal Rumble became.

The Players.

The talent in the 20th ever Royal Rumble is absolutely unmistakable.

It an example of some of the greatest modern stars  and the hold outs left over from the days of the Monday Night War.

The expose began with 16-Time World Champion, and 1992 Royal Rumble winner, Ric Flair and 20+ year veteran Fit Finlay.

This also marked the first time ECW was represented in the Royal Rumble as WWE's third brand.

The likes of Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Sabu, CM Punk, and even Rob Van Dam all got to showplace their hardcore version of entertainment in the match.

Talent including Finlay, Edge, Shelton Benjamin, CM Punk, Randy Orton, and Shawn Michaels would all spend over 20 minutes or more in the match and really got to tell their stories well and provide a lot of action and excitement.

And how could we forget, the man who entered last. The Undertaker. For 20 years no man successfully won the Royal Rumble from the final position. It was almost as #30 was cursed.

However, it would seem that curse was finally broken by the "Demon from Death Valley."

Even after mentioning all of those names there were also impressive showings from Chris Benoit, Kane, King Booker, Jeff Hardy, Johnny Nitro, MVP, The Great Khali, and Carlito.

There was such a wealth of talent here, and while not all of them spent long amounts of time in the contest they really helped sell this matches entertainment factor with the spots and sequences they were all involved in.

This was billed as "The Most Star Studded Royal Rumble of All Time" and while that claim might be a bit of a stretch when you look at the men in this match it is hard to say that it isn't "The Most Talented Royal Rumble of All Time."

This is a Royal Rumble full of WWE Hall of Fame talent. Unmistakably.

The Match.

Finlay and Flair started this match out strong, and the Irishman would go on to have a very impressive showing, but his time in the Rumble would be out shined by a couple of young and brash thugs from Monday Night Raw.

Rated RKO, Randy Orton and Edge, deserve a lot of credit for being the pace-setters of this contest and the story of their dissolving partnership was really a gem among all the other stories being told in this match.

They dominated much of the action especially Edge, who at almost 45 minutes, was easily the longest lasted competitor in 2007's match.

The action here was a lot of what we had grown accustomed to in the Royal Rumble, but the WWE found new ways to surprise us.

ECW's Sabu was eliminated by Kane via a Chockslam through a wooden table and The Sandman entered the ring with a Kendo Stick and took a good whack at everything in sight until being quickly thrown out.

While this match lacked the attraction of featuring many surprise entrants like the more modern Rumble's do it still had impressive and consistent action. Once Shawn Michaels entered the fray things really got interesting.

One half of D-Generation X entered the Royal Rumble at 23 and eliminated Finlay. He then deviled Sweet Chin Music to Viscera who was painfully tossed out by eight other men! A record that eclipsed  the previous record Viscera held as "Mabel" almost 10 years earlier.

It was apparent Shawn Michaels had come to his home town to stop the show, and the entire match shifted into a higher gear when he arrived.

The match, as we all know, really ascended to another realm when the contest entered its final moments and two revered WWE superstars came face-to-face for the first time in nearly a decade...

The Finish.

Rarely, can the finish of a match do so much for it's legacy after the fact.

The finish of this match really came about with the entrance of the 28th man, The Great Khali. The monster from Punjab quickly eliminated seven Royal Rumble competitors; among them the likes of CM Punk, Rob Van Dam, The Miz, and several others.

The ring began to empty and it looked like the road to WrestleMania had been cleared by Khali. 3-2-1...

The 30th man to enter the Royal Rumble was no man at all. Through smoke and fire The Undertaker emerged as the final man and the AT&T Center exploded. The "Conscience of the WWE" made quick work of Khali and MVP and we were left with only Undertaker, Randy Orton, Edge, and Shawn Michaels.

A whose-who of WWE at the time, and probably the most decorated "Final Four" of any Royal Rumble - ever.

Rated RKO used their alliance to dominated the two other legends, but their inability to communicate effectively left them vulnerable as the attempted to finish off "The Deadman." The "Heartbreak Kid" sneaked behind them and quickly eliminated the two dastardly heels.

Shawn had to quickly collapse to regain his composure and we were left with the two Texan veterans laying side-by-side in the ring. The crowd knew exactly what that meant and erupted before the two legends even moved.

The conclusion to this Royal Rumble is absolutely iconic and far and away the most well produced conclusion to any Royal Rumble match ever. The Undertaker. Shawn Michaels. Two bonafide pillars of the WWE left laying in the ring with only one another standing in their way at a chance to dance in the light of WreslteMania's main event once again.

The Undertaker sits up. Shawn Michaels nips up. The two battle worn legends stare across from one another and know what they have to do to win.

This was perhaps one of the most original sights we had ever seen. Both men were downed and the crowd exploded before they even moved, and when the two men got up electricity was in the air.

"These two legends are face-to-face. One of them is going to headline WrestleMania!" -Michael Cole

What followed was a preview of the absolute classic matches these two would have at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, and WrestleMania XXVI.

The two native Texans fought tooth and nail going for all their big moves  in an attempt to go back to the main event of the most important show  to ever exist.

It was an ending filled with passion and 20 years of WWE history, and it opened the door to the possibility that we had not yet seen the last of the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels story.

"How many times do you get to see two legends, two cornerstones of this company, go at it with everything possible on the line?" -JBL

After both men fought off elimination several times, Shawn Michaels targeted down for one final kick, Sweet Chin Music.

The cagey veteran, Undertaker, had it scouted and dumped out his fellow longest tenured WWE superstar to win the 20th ever Royal Rumble and solidify his spot at WrestleMania.

Shawn Michaels sat at the base of the entrance ramp as he internalized the possibility that he would not make it to WrestleMania. The two icons shared a glance. One of pure respect.

It would, thankfully, be far from the last time they did so.

The Undertaker would go to WrestleMania 23 and face World Heavyweight Champion, Batista, and Shawn Michaels would go to WrestleMania 23 and face the WWE Champion, John Cena.

The two, easily, had the best matches of the night.

The End is The Beginning is The End.

The end of the 2007 Royal Rumble would indirectly give birth to what would go on to become the beginning of the end for Shawn Michaels' illustrious career.

The two legends would begin the 2008 Royal Rumble, and the following year Shawn Michaels would finally challenge The Undertaker to a match at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania.

That match is now considered to be the culmination of over 100 years of sports entertainment and one of the greatest matches ever wrestled.

The following year, in Phoenix, Arizona  at WrestleMania XXVI, Shawn Michaels would finish his story - for good. He made one last  attempt at "The Streak," but to get it he had to put his career on the line.

He stood across the ring from The Undertaker and wrestled his final match. For The Undertaker, it was his 18th consecutive WrestleMania victory.

The two men who were brought into the WWE during "Hulkamania," fought in the trenches against WCW, and enjoyed over a decade of prosperity thereafter shook hands one final time.

There is possibly no two other men in the wrestling world who are more respected for what they have done in the ring than these two.

I think that, above all else, is what made the 2007 Royal Rumble so special.


Sherri Martel: Wrestling's Most "Sensational" Manager

The legends of this industry, the ones we so often look back fondly on, are not necessarily the ones who captivated us with their unparalleled ring repertoire or their willingness to jump off the tallest object. The entertainers who we often have the fondest memories of are the ones who used their unmatched ability to captivate us and grab out attention as we sat on our living room floors staring at our television sets.

With their over the top personalities and their keen knack for getting a reaction a good manager’s purpose is to rally the crowd in favor of  or against their clients.

The art of a being manager is no easy task.

He or she must possess charisma, be well spoken, and must be selfless enough to draw the crowd’s reaction for their client and not take the spotlight for themselves. Managers are designed and assigned to hid the weakness’s that performers have while accentuating their positives. Much like a salesman or saleswoman the manager works their hardest to  sell their clients to the crowd.

To me, no one exemplifies what a manager should be more than “Sensational” Sherri Martel.

Martel was born to a single mother in Birmingham, Alabama in 1958. Like many others who had a passion for the wrestling business she entered training to become one herself at a young age.

In her in-ring career Sensational Sherri proved to be one of the most successful women of her time holding the AWA World Women’s Championship three times and then going on to have one of the longest WWE Women’s Championship reigns of all time.

She can also lay claim to have wrestled some of the best lady performers to ever enter the ring. The likes of Candi Devine, Rockin’ Robin, Alundra Blayze, and even the woman who helped train her, The Fabulous Moolah, have all tussled in the ring with Sensational Sherri.

However, Sherri had something that a majority of the greatest women wrestlers of this era could not lay claim to.

Unlike any other woman in the business Sherri Martel had a fire inside of her and charisma boiling up to her eyeballs. Her talents for drawing a reaction did not go unnoticed. Soon she made the transition to managing some of the greatest talent professional wrestling has ever laid eyes on. She never looked back.

The first notable clients to receive her impeccable services were the AWA Tag Team Champions “Playboy” Buddy Rose and his tag team partner Doug Somers. The tandem, led by a young Sherri Martel, would have notable matches with The Midnight Express, a young Scott Hall and Curt Hennig, and even The Rockers.

Sherri had an iconic screech,  infamous bad attitude, and willingness to do whatever it took to have her boys win even if it meant getting physical in the ring with men. Sherri set herself apart from any other woman in professional wrestling at this time. She may have looked like a girl, but she performed as if she was no different from the boys.

As the AWA began to fade away Sherri’s stock was only rising. The young woman’s talents would be put to much better use as she entered the WWE in 1987 at the height of “Hulkamania.”

When the lights are turned on bright the performers who are truly meant for greatness shine their brightest and the ones who are not fall to the way side. So is the nature of the entertainment business.

In her time as a member of  the WWE roster Sherri Martel truly became "Sensational" as she donned make-up and costumes to accent her clients while also dialing up her attitude to its maximum capacity. Her extravagant personality and catty ringside antics gave her associates heat that would make even Vickie Guerrero blush as she said "excuse me."

Sherri truly shined bright among the stars in the World Wrestling Federation.

Her most infamous role came when she replaced Miss Elizabeth at "Macho Man" Randy Savage's side. Her short temper only highlighted the madness that the "Macho Man" took with him everywhere he went. Especially in the ring.

The "Macho King" and his "Queen Sherri" would feud with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Jim Duggan, Dusty Rhodes, and the Ultimate Warrior.

In one of  WrestleMania's most touted feel good moments Miss Elizabeth ran to Savage's aid after he lost his match to the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. Elizabeth threw Queen Sherri from the ring and on to her next client.

Aside from her iconic three year run with "Macho Man" Randy Savage which saw her produce some of her best work as a ringside dictator she also managed WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels, Ted DiBiase, and even the Honky Tonk Man.

In her time working with Shawn Michaels, Sherri put his "Heartbreak Kid" persona on the map and aided Michaels in establishing himself as a viable singles competitor. She even let the young Texan push her to the ground in a forceful manner to sell his reputation as a "heart breaker." Her one of kind screech can even be heard singing Michaels long  running entrance music.


Her time in the WWE ended in 1993 and Martel departed south to WCW after a brief stint in Paul Heyman's ECW managing Shane Douglas.

In WCW Martel  added yet more names to the long list of men she has bettered. First, she walked to the ring with the only two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee and 16 time World Champion, Ric Flair. A character who she, much like she did with Randy Savage, complimented very well.

After her time with Flair the young firecracker from Alabama moved on to once again managing a tag team.

This time she stood in the corner of Harlem Heat who began referring to Martel as Sister Sherri. The two brothers Sherri fought for were without a doubt one of the most formidable teams in the history of WCW. A team that managed to become 10 time WCW Tag Team Champions. Seven of which came while Sister Sherri was by their side.

The two were truly at their best  with her in their corner and Martel went on record affectionately calling them both the closest thing she has ever had to real brothers.

Sister Sherri left Harlem Heat, and WCW all together in 1997, and never came back to the wrestling business full time.

Sherri Martel found success in the professional wrestling business for her charismatic persona at a time when women were not known for their charisma. She used that gift to better the people she worked with.

Her contributions are too often overlooked in this day and age.

Martel would pop up once again in McMahon's promotion in 2005 and then again the following year to take her well deserved place in the WWE Hall of Fame. A  Hall of Fame in which many of the men she once managed would enter soon after.

At a time when men were known as the most colorful characters a woman was so motivated that she made herself valuable enough to stand in the corner of her male counterparts. She was just as good if not better than every single one of them.

In a position that is made most famous by the likes of Bobby Heenan, The Grand Wizard, Jim Cornette, and others alike, Sherri managed to become the first women to truly have an iconic role in professional wrestling outside of the woman's wrestling division. No one woman could stir up the emotions of the crowd like her.

Sherri left every person she stood next to in the ring better off. Forget all of the titles and the Hall of Fame inductions as they pale in comparison to her greatest accomplishment, working towards immortalizing the men she managed. Not only was she a good person to stand by in front of the crowd, but many of her former clients have stated that she was just as supportive of them behind the curtain.

Man or woman, there were none better than Sherri Martel.

The fans made Sherri "sensational," and she in turn made everyone around her just as much so.