Match Times: The 1999 Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble 1999 poster.

Here is a full breakdown of the timing for the 1999 Royal Rumble match.

The 1999 Royal Rumble match lasted 56 minutes and 38 seconds (56m 38s).  This match is generally regarded as one of the worst Royal Rumble matches in history.  Austin and Mr. McMahon opened and closed the match together.  The end result saw Mr. McMahon claim victory after eliminating Stone Cold Steve Austin from the ring.

The timing of this match was a nightmare.  The main story early on revolved around Austin being lured into a trap in the women's bathroom.  The consequences of that ambush resulted in both Austin and McMahon disappearing for large chunks of the match, as well as the camera focusing on what was happening backstage to Austin rather than what was going on in the ring.  As a result there were 4 important events that could not be properly timed.  They were the following:

  • Droz was the 4th entrant into the match.  But right as the buzzer went off for Droz's entrance to begin, the camera was focused on the backstage area for the next 24 seconds, so it is really hard to know at what exact point Droz stepped into the ring to officially begin his survival time.  By the time the ring was shown again, Droz was just hanging out in the far corner by himself, as he was the only man in the ring.   
  • Tiger Ali Singh was the 9th entrant into the match.  But early on during his entrance the camera once again ditched the action in the arena to show Stone Cold's situation backstage.  This lasted for 33 seconds before they finally showed the ring again, and Singh was already battling it out with other superstars.  Once again, his exact starting time in the match is unknown due to this occurrence. 
  • The lights went out at one point and Undertaker's music began playing.  When the lights came back on, Mabel was already on the outside of the ring and officially eliminated from the match due to an attack from Undertaker's minions.  The lights were out for 22 seconds, so Mabel could have been eliminated at any time in that interval. Therefore his survival time can't be determined very accurately.   
  • Towards the middle of the match Vince McMahon returned to an empty ring, only to see Ken Shamrock walk out as the next entrant. The camera cut back to Vince during Shamrock's entrance and Shamrock was not shown on camera again until 13 seconds later, at which point he had already walked across the entire ring.  So it is hard to know exactly when he stepped foot into the ring to start his survival time.

In each of these four cases, I simply took the midpoint of the given time interval endpoints as the official time that I would use for each of these events.

Determining the survival time for Austin and McMahon was also a bit troublesome, as they each disappeared for more than half of the match duration.  I am officially giving them credit for the full match, but I did time their absences as well.

This text graphic captures much of the information discussed below.  It gives time stamps for each superstar's arrival and exit from the match, as well as showing who the longest lasting superstars were as the match progressed.  This graphic gives Austin and McMahon full credit for the entirety of the match.

This alternate text graphic is similar to the one above, except it is updated to reflect the absences of Austin and McMahon from the match.  Notice how sparsely populated the ring is with participants once you adjust for the absences of Austin and McMahon.

For comparison's sake, here are similar text graphics for the Royal Rumble matches from 1992, 2011, and 2013.

Survival Times

My definition of the Survival Time for a superstar is the time that lapses between the point when a superstar steps foot into the ring and the time that the superstar's feet hit the floor to signal elimination. This does not include the time it takes for a superstar to make his way from the entrance ramp down to the actual ring.

The average superstar survival time for the 1999 Royal Rumble match was 9m 37s but the median survival time was only 6m 08s.  When the survival times for Austin and McMahon are adjusted to reflect their absences from the ring, the average survival time plummets to 6m 56s while the median survival time remains unchanged at 6m 08s.

Here is the full list of survival times for all 30 superstars.

  • 56m 38s: Stone Cold Steve Austin (falls to 25m55s when adjusted for his absence)
  • 56m 38s: Vince McMahon (falls to 6m 58s when adjusted for his absences)
  • 18m 55s: Big Boss Man
  • 14m 21s: Triple H
  • 12m 42s: Val Venis
  • 12m 38s: Droz (margin of error is 12 seconds)
  • 11m 51s: Edge
  • 11m 49s: Test
  • 10m 41s: Road Dogg
  • 9m 11s: D-Lo Brown
  • 7m 57s: Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry
  • 7m 21s: Steve Blackman
  • 7m 08s: Bad Ass Billy Gunn
  • 6m 54s: Kurrgan
  • 6m 32s: Owen Hart
  • 5m 44s: X-Pac
  • 5m 42s: Dan Severn
  • 4m 52s: Ken Shamrock (margin of error is 7 seconds)
  • 4m 06s: Tiger Ali Singh (margin of error is 17 seconds)
  • 4m 02s: Goldust
  • 3m 38s: Jeff Jarrett
  • 3m 00s: Blue Meanie
  • 1m 39s: The Godfather
  • 1m 18s: Mabel (margin of error is 11 seconds)
  • 0m 53s: Kane
  • 0m 47s: Al Snow
  • 0m 35s: Chyna
  • 0m 26s: Gangrel
  • 0m 14s: Golga (John Tenta)
  • 0m 07s: Gillberg

Austin is the only man who was in the ring for more than 20 minutes.

It is probably just a coincidence, but in the three Rumble matches I have timed so far that include Kane, his maximum survival time was 1m 36s.  According to wikipedia, there are still an additional four Rumble matches that have seen Kane last under 5 minutes.

Kurrgan lasted longer than Owen Hart, Jeff Jarrett, Shamrock, X-Pac, Goldust, Kane, and Chyna.

5 of the participants (Golga, Gillberg, Gangrel, Snow, Kane) were eliminated by the time the next countdown clock hit zero.

Chyna became the first woman to ever accumulate survival time in a Royal Rumble match.

Entrance Times

Here are the entrance times for each superstar involved. This is the amount of time that passed between an entrance buzzer going off and when the superstar finally stepped foot into the actual ring. The first two entrants (Austin and McMahon) are excluded because their entrances took place prior to the start of the match.

  • 1m 04s: Mabel
  • 0m 49s: Godfather
  • 0m 40s: Gillberg
  • 0m 39s: Kane
  • 0m 39s: Shamrock (margin of error is 7 seconds)
  • 0m 35s: Boss Man
  • 0m 27s: Golga
  • 0m 26s: Jarrett, D-Lo
  • 0m 25s: Chyna
  • 0m 23s: Tiger (margin of error is 17 seconds)
  • 0m 18s: Gangrel
  • 0m 15s: Henry, Owen
  • 0m 14s: Severn
  • 0m 12s: Droz (margin of error is 12 seconds)
  • 0m 12s: Test, Al Snow
  • 0m 11s: Edge
  • 0m 10s: Meanie, Triple H
  • 0m 09s: Road Dogg, X-Pac
  • 0m 08s: Blackman, Kurrgan, Goldust
  • 0m 07s: Gunn, Venis

Gillberg's entrance was more than 5 times as long as his survival time.

Boss Man's entrance overlapped with Austin's return to the Rumble match.  In fact as the buzzer sounded, Boss Man's music played but he was nowhere to be seen.  Instead Austin walked out and chased after Vince.  It wasn't until a little later that Boss Man magically showed up ringside.

Headbanger Mosh was supposed to be the 11th entrant into the match, but he was decimated backstage by Mabel, who then walked to the ring as his replacement.  This entire exchange counted as part of Mabel's entrance and is the main reason that his entrance lasted so long.

The sum of all these entrance times is 9m 38s, which is roughly 17.0% of the match where a superstar was in the midst of his or her entrance.  With the noted margins of error for a select few superstars in mind, this could fluctuate to anywhere between 16.0% and 18.1%.

Time Between Buzzers

The rules indicated that there would be 90 seconds between entrants.  How well did WWF stick to that claim? Here are the waiting times between all 28 buzzers, in chronological order:

  • 1m 37s: Buzzer 1 - Golga
  • 1m 45s: Buzzer 2 - Droz
  • 1m 11s: Buzzer 3 - Edge
  • 1m 31s: Buzzer 4 - Gillberg
  • 2m 10s: Buzzer 5 - Blackman
  • 1m 32s: Buzzer6 - Severn
  • 1m 34s - Buzzer 7 - Tiger
  • 1m 40s: Buzzer 8 - Meanie
  • 1m 30s: Buzzer 9 - Mabel
  • 1m 34s: Buzzer 10 - Road Dogg
  • 2m 31s: Buzzer 11 - Gangrel
  • 1m 19s: Buzzer 12 - Kurrgan
  • 1m 26s: Buzzer 13 - Snow
  • 1m 39s: Buzzer 14 - Goldust
  • 1m 34s: Buzzer 15 - Godfather
  • 1m 36s: Buzzer 16 - Kane
  • 1m 51s: Buzzer 17 - Shamrock
  • 1m 48s: Buzzer 18 - Gunn
  • 1m 36s: Buzzer 19 - Test
  • 1m 31s: Buzzer 20 - Boss Man
  • 1m 34s: Buzzer 21 - Triple H
  • 1m 32s: Buzzer 22 - Venis
  • 1m 40s: Buzzer 23 - X-Pac
  • 1m 38s: Buzzer 24 - Henry
  • 1m 36s: Buzzer 25 - Jarrett
  • 1m 44s: Buzzer 26 - D-Lo
  • 2m 19s: Buzzer 27 - Owen
  • 1m 43s: Buzzer 28 - Chyna

Only 10 of the 28 buzzers went off within 5 seconds of the 90-second claim.

Three of the 28 waiting periods surpassed 2 minutes.

Perhaps Edge's spot was rushed a little bit because Droz was the only man standing in the ring at the time.

The clock for Gangrel's entrance into the match must have been temporarily paused so that The Undertaker could properly abduct Mabel.  Here is how that sequence was timed:

  • 0m 00s: Buzzer 10 sounds for Road Dogg
  • 0m 37s: Lights go out and Undertaker's music begins playing
  • 0m 59s: Light are back on, Mabel is attacked outside, Undertaker is in the aisle ready to abduct
  • 2m 25s: Undertaker, The Ministry, and Mabel are all gone and Undertaker's music stops
  • 2m 31s: Buzzer 11 sounds for Gangrel

In a perfectly timed match, the final buzzer (signaling Chyna's entrance) would have gone off 42m 00s after the very beginning of the match.  In reality, this final buzzer went off at 46m 41s.

Ring Crowdedness

I also wanted to take a look at how the ring filled up with superstars as the match progressed.

If you add up each wrestler's survival time, it results in a total survival time of 4h 48m 19s. Given that the match lasted a total of 56m 38s, that comes out to an average of 5.1 active competitors at any given second.

However this number of legal participants is misleading because Austin and McMahon were absent for large portions of the match, and so the ring was actually a lot emptier than the above numbers indicate.  When the times for Austin and McMahon are adjusted to reflect their lengthy absences from the ring, the total ring time for all superstars drops to 3h 27m 56s.  That comes out to a more realistic average of 3.7 competitors in the ring at any given second.

Here is a better way to understand how many men were in the ring at any given time. This list shows the total time that the ring was filled with an exact number of discrete superstars at once:

  • 1m 45s: 0 participants
  • 6m 11s: 1 participant
  • 14m 54s: 2 participants
  • 7m 28s: 3 participants
  • 7m 34s: 4 participants
  • 4m 18s: 5 participants
  • 6m 27s: 6 participants
  • 5m 23s: 7 participants
  • 2m 18s: 8 participants
  • 0m 20s: 9 participants

6 different men (Austin, Droz, Road Dogg, Kane, Vince, Shamrock) had the ring to themselves at one point.

There were three different points where nobody was in the ring.

Road Dogg shared the ring with exactly one other superstar for 3m 01s.  The men he shared the ring with at different times were Kurgan, Mabel, and Gangrel.

Edge and Droz were fighting each other as the only men in the ring together for a total time of 3m 31s.

With only 3.7 competitors in the ring at any given second, it is no wonder that this match is regarded as one of the worst Royal Rumble matches in history.  This match was more focused on Austin getting attacked backstage, Mabel being thrown into a hearse, Kane attacking employees of the insane asylum, Chyna's elimination of Henry, and Austin's final showdown with McMahon.  Everything that happened in between those moments was largely a bunch of unimportant filler.

End of the Match

Once the final entrant (Chyna) entered the ring, the match essentially turned into a 9-person Battle Royal to the finish between Austin, McMahon, Boss Man, Triple H, Venis, Henry, D-Lo, Owen, and Chyna.  This final segment of the Royal Rumble match lasted 9m 32s, and at that point McMahon emerged as the winner of the match.

That's all you need to know about the timing of the 1999 Royal Rumble match. Which numbers do you find to be the most interesting?

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