Event: Royal Rumble 1998
Date: January 18, 1998
Location: San Jose Arena in San Jose, California
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Last Eliminated: The Rock
Iron Man: The Rock
Quickest Out: Tom Brandi
Most Eliminations: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Although it didn't pace all that well, this was absolutely one of the best Rumble matches in history, simply because it had so much going on. Stone Cold Steve Austin was the focus of the match, having spent the weeks leading up to it attacking everyone involved, vowing to get them before they could get him. This was brilliant because it led to the storyline that everyone in the match hated him so he would have the biggest target on his back.
Much of the match was spent wondering if Austin would even make it to the match, with plenty of speculation that he had been taken out beforehand and wouldn't be showing up, something they played into with no number 22 entrant, which was supposed to be Skull but he was beat down by Los Boricuas because they mistook him for Austin.
That's how wonderfully played up this was.
Ultimately, the glass would break at number 24 and when it did, the entire ring turned to focus on the entrance area, all the wrestlers inside it waiting to get their hands on the beloved "Texas Rattlesnake." So what did old Stone Cold do?
He came in from behind (that's what she said).
Austin jumped in with a head of steam and eliminated a couple guys before the action calmed down again. There were a lot of moving parts in the match, with various feuds coming into play as usual. The final four were Austin, The Rock, Dude Love, and Faarooq. Austin and Love had been a tag team but turned on each other. Rock and Faarooq were both members of the Nation of Domination but Rock eliminated his stablemate and planted the seeds for their eventual break up and "The Great One's" ascension to his role as leader of the group.
Austin and Rock were the final two. Now, this sounds like a dream pairing but Rock wasn't nearly as big then as he would be even one year later. Still, it was electric and a great tease to the amazing rivalry these two would have in the years to come. Austin tossed Rock after a Stunner, all while Mike Tyson cheered him on in a press box at the arena. He would come into play on Raw not long after -- TYSON AND AUSTIN! TYSON AND AUSTIN! TYSON AND AUSTIN! -- and play a big part in Austin's run up to his WrestleMania 14 title shot against Shawn Michaels, not to mention the match itself.
As if all that wasn't enough, this Rumble also featured Mick Foley entering three separate times with all three of his characters: Cactus Jack at number one (eliminated by Chainsaw Charlie), Mankind at number 16 (eliminated by Goldust), and Dude Love at number 28 (eliminated by Faarooq).
This one was just a lot of fun.