The 2008 Royal Rumble match lasted 51 minutes and 29 seconds (51m 29s). This match featured the surprise return of John Cena as he outlasted Triple H and Batista to claim his first ever victory in a Royal Rumble match.
Here is a text graphic that displays much of the information discussed below, including a chronological listing of who the longest lasting men were at any given point in the match. The graphic provides a quick visual way to understand which wrestlers dominated the 2008 Royal Rumble match as time progressed, as well as seeing how crowded the ring was at any given point. And if you really want to dig deeper, the graphic also includes time stamps for when each wrestler stepped foot into the ring as well as time stamps for each wrestler's elimination.
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 2008 Royal Rumble match was 12m 05s and the median survival time was 10m 17s.
Here is the full list of survival times for all 30 superstars:
- 37m 42s: Batista
- 32m 41s: Shawn Michaels
- 32m 35s: Undertaker
- 29m 25s: John Morrison
- 26m 06s: Umaga
- 23m 51s: CM Punk
- 23m 16s: Cody Rhodes
- 17m 59s: Kane
- 15m 07s: Carlito
- 13m 46s: Hardcore Holly
- 13m 32s: Mr. Kennedy
- 13m 07s: Miz
- 12m 27s: Gene Snitsky
- 11m 29s: Mick Foley
- 11m 21s: Triple H
- 9m 12s: Mark Henry
- 8m 28s: John Cena
- 7m 50s: Big Daddy V
- 7m 34s: Chavo Guerrero
- 4m 00s: Chuck Palumbo
- 2m 44s: Jimmy Snuka
- 2m 11s: Elijah Burke
- 2m 09s: Tommy Dreamer
- 1m 10s: The Great Khali
- 1m 01s: Roddy Piper
- 0m 28s: Jamie Noble
- 0m 25s: Santino Marella
- 0m 23s: Hornswoggle
- 0m 18s: Shelton Benjamin
- 0m 00s: Finlay
I first have to deal with Hornswoggle and Finlay, as they turned part of this match into a timing headache for me. Hornswoggle came out as the 9th entrant and immediately went under the ring. He did not enter the ring at any point prior to hiding under the ring, so I did not count his time under the ring as part of his survival time.
Hornswoggle finally appeared much later on in the match (about 25m 45s after he first went under the ring) when Mark Henry forced him into the ring. That's when I started the clock on his survival time. Then Finlay ran out with no buzzer ringing and used his weapon to protect Hornswoggle from a few competitors in the ring. Finlay and Hornswoggle then voluntarily left the ring and returned to the backstage area.
I ended Hornswoggle's survival time when his feet touched the floor upon departing the ring, even though he never went over the top rope. He never returned to the ring, so that seemed like the most sensible elimination point.
As for Finlay, the commentators announced that he was disqualified. The reason that he was disqualified wasn't quite as clear - one commentator claimed that Finlay jumped the gun on his buzzer, while the other commentator focused on his use of a weapon. Because no buzzer ever rang to officially signal Finlay's entrance in to the match, I decided to give him a survival time of 0m 00s. Finlay was in the ring for about 0m 15s, but to the best of my knowledge it was not as an official participant in the match because he ran out ahead of his buzzer.
If Finlay and his survival time of 0m 00s are removed from the records, the average superstar survival time increases to 12m 30s and the median time increases to 11m 21s.
Getting back to everyone else in the match, the bottom of this list of survival times immediately stands out. 10 of the 30 performers lasted less than 3 minutes, including the bizarre cases of Hornswoggle and Finlay.
Yet there are also some very high survival times on the other end, with 7 different superstars surviving for over 20 minutes. There was a pretty clear divide between the haves and the have-nots in this match, and not too many stars falling in the middle.
Even though Roddy Piper only survived for 1m 01s, he actually did last long enough to make it to the next buzzer thanks to his lengthy entrance.
At approximately the 38m 51s mark of the match, Jim Ross claimed that Batista was in the ring for 35 minutes. My clock had Batista's survival time at 29m 15s at that moment.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Big Daddy V's survival time of 7m 50s. That is the absolute maximum survival time he could possibly have, but there is at least a chance that it could be up to 14 seconds shorter.
Big Daddy V was on the ring apron and probably going to enter the ring when the camera cut away to focus on Undertaker destroying Snitsky on the outside of the ring. 14 seconds went by before I could see the inside of the ring again and clearly see that Big Daddy V was inside. So he theoretically could have joined the match anywhere in that 14-second window of time when the ring was not shown on camera.
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 (Undertaker, Shawn Michaels) are excluded because their entrances took place prior to the start of the match.
- 25m 45s: Hornswoggle
- 0m 51s: Cena
- 0m 46s: Piper
- 0m 22s: Big Daddy V
- 0m 21s: Khali, Snuka
- 0m 16s: Kane
- 0m 15s: Kennedy, Triple H
- 0m 14s: Noble, Umaga, Foley, Henry
- 0m 13s: Chavo, Burke
- 0m 12s: Snitsky, Carlito
- 0m 11s: Dreamer, Palumbo
- 0m 10s: Miz, Shelton
- 0m 09s: Cody
- 0m 08s: Santino, Morrison, Punk
- 0m 07s: Batista, Hardcore
- 0m 00s: Finlay
Hornswoggle's entire time under the ring counts as part of his entrance according to my definition. In a more practical sense his entrance time was just 0m 22s, because that is how much time passed between the buzzer ringing and him disappearing under the ring.
Big Daddy V's entrance time could be up to 14 seconds higher. It's not clear what portion of those 14 seconds was spent during his entrance and how much was spent in the ring.
I gave Finlay an entrance time of 0m 00s because he never had an official entrance into the match. He was disqualified before his spot came up.
If the more reasonable entrance time of 0m 22s is assigned to Hornswoggle, then these numbers add up to about 7m 04s of total entrance time. That means that for about 13.7% of the match, at least one superstar was in the midst of his entrance.
Time Between Buzzers
Michael Buffer stated that there would be 90-second waiting intervals between each entrant. How well did WWE stick to that claim? Here are the waiting times between all 28 buzzers, in chronological order:
- 1m 31s: Buzzer 1 - Santino
- 1m 41s: Buzzer 2 - Khali
- 1m 47s: Buzzer 3 - Hardcore
- 1m 34s: Buzzer 4 - Morrison
- 1m 16s: Buzzer 5 - Dreamer
- 1m 40s: Buzzer 6 - Batista
- 1m 34s: Buzzer 7 - Hornswoggle
- 1m 20s: Buzzer 8 - Palumbo
- 1m 27s: Buzzer 9 - Noble
- 1m 30s: Buzzer 10 - Punk
- 1m 31s: Buzzer 11 - Cody
- 1m 30s: Buzzer 12 - Umaga
- 1m 31s: Buzzer 13 - Snitsky
- 1m 30s: Buzzer 14 - Miz
- 1m 17s: Buzzer 15 - Shelton
- 1m 17s: Buzzer 16 - Snuka
- 1m 17s: Buzzer 17 - Piper
- 1m 25s: Buzzer 18 - Kane
- 1m 21s: Buzzer 19 - Carlito
- 1m 15s: Buzzer 20 - Foley
- 1m 27s: Buzzer 21 - Kennedy
- 1m 39s: Buzzer 22 - Big Daddy V
- 1m 39s: Buzzer 23 - Henry
- 1m 35s: Buzzer 24 - Chavo
- ?m ??s: Buzzer 25 - Finlay
- 3m 00s: Buzzer 26 - Burke
- 1m 19s: Buzzer 27 - Triple H
- 2m 17s: Buzzer 28 - Cena
Buzzer 25 never sounded due to Finlay's disqualification, but notice that exactly 3 minutes passed between Buzzer 24 and Buzzer 26. That's exactly as it should be with 90-second waiting intervals.
However this means that it is possible to theoretically assume that Buzzer 25 would have sounded at exactly 90 seconds between Buzzers 24 and 26. Here are the important time stamps that detail what happened in the match around that theoretical Buzzer 25 that never actually existed:
35m 34s: Buzzer 24 - Chavo
35m 47s: Chavo enters ring
36m 06s: Morrison eliminated
36m 48s: Henry forces Hornswoggle into ring
36m 54s: This is when the 10-second countdown clock to Buzzer 25 should have started
36m 57s: Finlay is shown in the aisle running towards the ring
36m 59s: Finlay is in the ring
37m 01s: Finlay strikes Henry with weapon
37m 04s: This is when Buzzer 25 should have theoretically rang
37m 11s: Hornswoggle leaves ring
37m 14s: Finlay leaves ring
38m 34s: Buzzer 26 - Burke
Buzzer 25 was supposed to be Finlay's entrance into the match, but he entered the ring about 5 seconds earlier than the time when that buzzer should have gone off. However there should have been a 10-second countdown clock on the screen 3 seconds before we ever saw Finlay, yet that countdown clock didn't exist either.
If WWE was trying to keep the details all in order, that 10-second clock should have been counting down all while Finlay was running to the ring and during his first few seconds in the ring, culminating with the buzzer sounding while he was dishing out a beating with his weapon. That would have at least made things seem a little more realistic.
If Buzzers 25 and 26 are excluded from consideration due to their strange circumstances, then WWE only landed 12 of the remaining 26 waiting periods within 5 seconds of the 90-second goal.
The waiting period prior to Cena's entrance lasted 2m 17s. During that time Triple H entered the ring and 4 men were eliminated. Triple H also gave a pedigree to Umaga right before the 10-second countdown clock started. It looks like WWE wanted to rid the ring of some dead weight and then leave Triple H in a dominant position so that he could have an intense staredown with Cena.
The next longest waiting period lasted 1m 47s, and during that time the only three men in the ring were Undertaker, HBK, and Khali. The 10-second countdown clock started once Khali was eliminated, so it appears that WWE was waiting for that elimination before proceeding.
There was one stretch from Buzzers 10 through 14 where the waiting periods were essentially timed perfectly, but outside of that streak it was pretty much all over the place.
7 of the waiting periods lasted 1m 20s or shorter.
Was WWE intentionally trying to shorten the match? There were 7 consecutive waiting periods from Buzzers 15 through 21 that all lasted less than 1m 30s.
The waiting period between Snuka and Piper was only 1m 17s, and this is probably because WWE was just looking to get a quick pop from the MSG audience without actually planning for those legends to do anything of substance. The waiting period following Piper's entrance lasted 1m 25s, and that's when Kane came out and immediately tossed both Snuka and Piper from the ring.
Outside of these handful of speculative guesses, it's hard to decipher why so many of the waiting periods strayed far from the 90-seond goal.
In a perfectly timed match, the final buzzer (signaling Cena's entrance) would have gone off 42m 00s after the start of the match. In reality, this buzzer went off at 42m 10s.
So even with all the timing chaos that ensued between these waiting periods, it pretty much all evened out in the end. The median waiting period was 90 seconds, and the average time was also 90 seconds. Is it possible that WWE was actually monitoring this behavior and trying to balance the clock after things became unbalanced?
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 6h 02m 17s. Given that the match lasted a total of 51m 29s, that comes out to an average of 7.0 competitors in the ring at any given second.
Here is a more accurate way to understand how many men were in the ring at any given time. This chart shows the total time that the ring was filled with an exact number of discrete superstars at once:
|Percentage of Match Time
This match started out as a continuation of the ending of the 2007 Royal Rumble match, with the spotlight being shined on Undertaker and HBK. They disposed of the next two entrants rather easily before the ring started to fill up with Hardcore Holly's arrival into the match.
There was a 5m 26s duration from the time stamps of 4m 43s to 10m 09s with no eliminations. That's when Holly, Morrison, Dreamer, and Batista all entered the ring. This was actually the second longest stretch in the match without any eliminations, which doesn't seem like a very long time at all. The longest such stretch was lasted 5m 30s (between the time stamps of 27m 01s to 32m 31s), so it really wasn't much longer than this one.
The ring fluctuated between 5 to 8 men between the time stamps of 8m 00s to 21m 32s. That's when the ring finally reached 9 active wrestlers (not counting Hornswoggle, who was under the ring), and it remained at 9 or more wrestlers for the next 19m 26s. That took the match to the time stamp 40m 58s, which is when Triple H was in the ring and tossing out guys in the lead-up to Cena's entrance.
The above table shows that during this long chunk of the time when the match was at its most crowded state, the ring was often filled with exactly 11 superstars.
The ring was filled with 10 or more superstars for 33.0% of the match.
As a result, this is one of the more crowded Royal Rumble matches that I have investigated.
End of the Match
Once John Cena entered the ring, the match essentially turned into a 9-man Battle Royal to the finish between Batista, Umaga, Kane, Carlito, Kennedy, Henry, Chavo, Triple H, and Cena. This final segment of the 2008 Royal Rumble match lasted 8m 28s, and at that point John Cena emerged as the winner of the match.
It only took about 1m 52s for those final 9 men to be reduced to these three men: Batista, Triple H, and Cena. Those three guys then stared at and taunted each other for 0m 59s before finally engaging in physical contact. Batista was then eliminated 1m 26s later. Triple H and Cena then stared at each other and took turns pointing at the WrestleMania sign for 1m 14s before finally attacking each other. Triple H was eliminated 2m 57s later.
That's all you need to know about the timing of the 2008 Royal Rumble match. Which numbers do you find to be the most interesting?