Last weekend, the WWE held its annual Royal Rumble event, which has been ongoing since 1988.
The latest winner was Brock Lesnar, who won his second ever Rumble event; his first one was back in 2003.
34 years ago, it was Hacksaw Jim Duggan who won the inaugural event. Back then, it was only 20 entrants before it was updated to 30 men. In 2011, they made the event with 40 entrants. In the 2018 Greatest Royal Rumble, there were 50 men.
When Duggan was asked what was the key to winning the event, his key was to stay away from the people in it. “Try to stay away from people,” says Hacksaw Jim Duggan in an interview with Betway Insider. “The less time you’re in contact with people, the longer you’re in the ring.”
Duggan was never known for staying away from anyone, as he was a fierce brawler who always went toe-to-toe with his opponents. But not everyone is like Duggan, who brawled with the likes of Andre the Giant in his career, so his suggestion was to stay in the corners and fight there.
“The whole thing is about longevity,” explains the retired wrestler. “That’s why when you watch the Royal Rumble, everyone goes straight to the corners. That’s a safe place.”
In 1988, Duggan entered number 13 of 20, and survived until the end, last eliminating The One Man Gang.
After the initial Rumble, Duggan competed in the 1991 and 1992 Royal Rumbles, but he was unsuccessful in them. He returned as a surprise entrant in the 2009 Royal Rumble at number 29. Duggan returned to the event in 2012 as number 19.
Duggan mentioned that one of the keys to the event is to get that late draw into the event.
“You want to be aggressive, you want to be strong, you want to be quick, and luck of the draw has a lot to do with it as well,” he says. ”It’s always better to come in later. You’re fresher than the guys who’ve been out there longer. For the first five guys, that’s a long time in the ring. You can be kicking butt and then somebody comes up behind you and that’s it. It’s very different to a singles fight. I liked being able to control the pace in a fight, but in a battle royale or a Royal Rumble, forget about it. Nobody’s controlling nothing, it’s like the Wild West out there.”
In this past Saturday’s event, it was Lesnar who entered number 30, was fresh, strong and threw out several competitors to win. A year earlier, it was Edge who won the 2021 Royal Rumble entering number one.
Both Lesnar and Edge are in their mid 40’s when they entered and won. In 2012, Duggan was 58 years old, so things weren’t as easier as they were in 1988, when he was 34 years old.
“Everything about the Royal Rumble in 2012 was harder,” he says. “I knew it would be a challenge because all the kids were 15 or 20 years younger than me. I wasn’t in my prime anymore and I was worried about how I looked physically. I wore trunks and boots and as I got older, my trunks just kept getting bigger and bigger. It’s a show that millions of people are going to watch, so you have all that anxiety. Multiply that by 10 when they throw you into a pay-per-view and add another five when people know you’re Hacksaw and you won the first one.”
Duggan, now 68 years old and who recently recovered from surgery to eliminate prostate cancer, has said that his wrestling days are definitely over.
Duggan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at Wrestlemania 27 weekend back in 2011.