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WWE Royal Rumble 1991 Match Time and Statistics

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The 1991 Royal Rumble match lasted 65 minutes and 17 seconds (65m 17s).  This match featured exemplary performances from Greg Valentine and Rick Martel, but ultimately culminated with HoganWinsLOL.

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 1991 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.

For comparison's sake, here are other versions of this graphic for Royal Rumble matches from 1988, 1992, 1999 (version 1, version 2), 2003, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

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 1991 Royal Rumble match was 16m 30s and the median survival time was 13m 46s.

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

  • 52m 30s: Rick Martel
  • 44m 13s: Greg Valentine
  • 37m 45s: Hercules
  • 36m 50s: British Bulldog
  • 30m 31s: Tito Santana
  • 26m 31s: Shane Douglas
  • 24m 46s: Earthquake
  • 24m 21s: Texas Tornado
  • 20m 59s: Hulk Hogan
  • 20m 39s: Bret Hart
  • 18m 38s: Demolition Crush
  • 18m 28s: Demolition Smash
  • 16m 17s: Mr. Perfect
  • 14m 19s: Undertaker
  • 14m 06s: Paul Roma
  • 13m 25s: Haku
  • 13m 01s: Jake Roberts
  • 11m 12s: Jim Neidhart
  • 10m 09s: Bushwhacker Butch
  • 10m 08s: Brian Knobbs
  • 8m 09s: Jimmy Snuka
  • 6m 41s: Animal
  • 6m 40s: Hawk
  • 4m 45s: Jim Duggan
  • 3m 08s: Dino Bravo
  • 2m 33s: Tugboat
  • 2m 28s: Saba Simba
  • 1m 37s: Warlord
  • 0m 04s: Bushwhacker Luke
  • 0m 00s: Randy Savage

These are ridiculously high survival times for Royal Rumble standards.  Heck, Hercules seemed almost like a non-factor in the match yet he managed to survive for almost 38 minutes.

10 of the 30 men survived for over 20 minutes.  4 of those 10 men survived for over 35 minutes.  These things don't happen often in Royal Rumble matches.

When the buzzer for the 18th entrant sounded, it looked like someone may have slightly opened the curtain for a brief moment, but ultimately nobody came out.  On commentary, Roddy Piper said that the unknown man had until the next buzzer to make it out to the ring, or else he would forfeit his ability to compete in the match.

Gorilla Monsoon said he had the full list of 30 wrestlers on hand.  When Tugboat came out as the final entrant, Monsoon said that Randy Savage was the remaining superstar on that list and must have been the missing 18th entrant.

Earlier in the show Randy Savage played a pivotal role in ending the WWF Championship reign of the Ultimate Warrior, so Piper speculated that maybe Warrior ran him out of the building.

I decided to count Macho Man as a participant in the match with a survival time of 0m 00s.  If Savage is excluded, the remaining 29 wrestlers had an average survival time of 17m 04s and a median time of 14m 06s.

Warlord and Bushwhacker Luke had the next two shortest survival times, and neither man lasted long enough to make it to the next buzzer.

This match included the memorable moment where Luke performed the Bushwhacker march all the way down to the ring, maintained it for his extremely brief time inside the ring, and then continued the march outside the ring right after being eliminated in four seconds by Earthquake.  I timed Luke's elimination several times, and I am pretty sure that his survival time was somewhere between 3 and 4 seconds.

Rick Martel set the Royal Rumble record for survival time in this match by lasting for 52m 30s.  His elimination seemed somewhat controversial in my mind even though the commentators didn't seem to notice.  Martel walked under the top rope to get onto the ring apron.  Then he climbed to the top of the turnbuckle from the ring apron, and that's when he was dropkicked off the buckle and eliminated by British Bulldog.

It seems to me that Martel should not have been eliminated because he  climbed to the top buckle via the ring apron without ever going over the top rope.  I can only assume that WWF's official rule book said that being on top of the turnbuckle constitutes being inside the ring.  It is also worth noting that one of the referees outside the ring happened to share a striking resemblance to Shane McMahon, so perhaps this was an early McMahon family screw job.

The Active Iron Man is the wrestler in the ring with the highest current survival time.  Bret Hart, Greg Valentine, and Rick Martel passed the baton for Active Iron Man to one another as the match ran its course.

Bret Hart was the Active Iron Man for his entire survival time of 20m 39s.  Once Undertaker dumped Hart of the ring rather easily, Valentine took over as the Active Iron man for the next 25m 43s.  Valentine was thrown out by Hogan, and Martel then became the Active Iron Man for the next 14m 15s.  So Martel was the overall Iron Man for the match, but Valentine and Hart each spent more time as the Active Iron Man.

After Martel's elimination, Bulldog spent a whopping 0m 25s as the Active Iron Man, and then he was followed by Earthquake for the final 4m 15s of the match.

One other thing that stands out in these survival times is how the two members of Demolition had extremely close survival times to each other, and so did the two members of the Legion of Doom.

Finally, the survival time of 26m 31s for Shane Douglas stands out because he was not an established name in WWF at this point.  The commentators offered him high praise for his efforts after he was eliminated. The exact point when Douglas was eliminated was not caught on camera, so there are a couple of seconds of uncertainty with his survival time.

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 (Bret Hart, Dino Bravo) are excluded because their entrances took place prior to the start of the match.

  • 0m 37s: Mr. Perfect
  • 0m 25s: Luke
  • 0m 23s: Undertaker
  • 0m 22s: Earthquake
  • 0m 17s: Butch
  • 0m 16s: Snuka
  • 0m 11s: Duggan
  • 0m 09s: Hogan, Haku
  • 0m 08s: Valentine, Roberts, Knobbs, Tugboat
  • 0m 07s: Simba, Hercules, Tito, Smash, Douglas, Crush, Anvil, Warlord
  • 0m 06s: Roma, Bulldog
  • 0m 05s: Tornado, Martel, Hawk, Animal
  • 0m 00s: Savage

Savage never made an entrance so I gave him an entrance time of 0m 00s.

Some of these entrance times can be a little misleading because it's not necessarily a measure of how long it took a superstar to make it to the ring.  It's simply the time span between the buzzer going off and when a superstar enters the ring.

Sometimes the buzzer goes off and the superstar doesn't actually show up on camera for a couple seconds. Those seconds count as part of his entrance time.

Other times the superstar starts running down early before the buzzer goes off.  That time wouldn't be counted towards his entrance time.

Luke and Butch each had relatively lengthy entrances because they did their Bushwhacker march towards the ring.  During Butch's entrance, Monsoon remarked that "by the time he gets to the ring there'll be another one coming down."

According to the commentators, Mr. Perfect probably took his sweet time walking to the ring because it was a smart strategy to stay out of the ring as long as possible.

Not surprisingly, Undertaker and Earthquake also walked very slowly to the ring.

The exact moment when Jake Roberts entered the ring was not caught on camera, so the margin of error for his entrance time is maybe one second more than most other participants.

These numbers add up to about 4m 49s of entrance time out of the entire 1h 05m 17s match. That means that for about 7.4% of the match, at least one superstar was in the midst of his entrance.

Time Between Buzzers

Gorilla Monsoon stated that there would be 2 minute waiting intervals between each entrant. How well did WWF stick to that claim? Here are the waiting times between all 28 buzzers, in chronological order:

  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 1 - Valentine
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 2 - Roma
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 3 - Tornado
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 4 - Martel
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 5 - Simba
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 6 - Butch
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 7 - Roberts
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 8 - Hercules
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 9 - Santana
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 10 - Undertaker
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 11 - Snuka
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 12 - Bulldog
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 13 - Smash
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 14 - Hawk
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 15 - Douglas
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 16 - Savage
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 17 - Animal
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 18 - Crush
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 19 - Duggan
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 20 - Earthquake
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 21 - Perfect
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 22 - Hogan
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 23 - Haku
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 24 - Neidhart
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 25 - Luke
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 26 - Knobbs
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 27 - Warlord
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 28 - Tugboat

All 28 of the waiting periods fell within two seconds of the 2-minute goal.  That's about as close to perfect as it can get.

The median waiting period was 2m 00s, and the average time was 2m 00s.

In a perfectly timed match, the final buzzer (signaling Tugboat's entrance) would have gone off 56m 00s after the start of the match. In reality, this buzzer went off at 56m 13s.

There really isn't much left to say about these numbers.  Kudos to WWF for nailing these waiting period times with such high accuracy.

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 8h 14m 53s.  Given that the match lasted a total of 1h 05m 17s, that comes out to an average of 7.6 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:

Active Wrestlers Total Time Percentage of Match Time Cumulative Percentage
2 5m 57s 9.1 9.1
3 4m 25s 6.8 15.9
4 2m 25s 3.7 19.6
5 2m 56s 4.5 24.1
6 3m 58s 6.1 30.2
7 2m 45s 4.2 34.4
8 9m 12s 14.1 48.5
9 11m 46s 18.0 66.5
10 17m 52s 27.4 93.8
11 4m 01s 6.2 100.0

This is a very interesting distribution of active wrestlers in the ring, and it's unlike most other Royal Rumble matches that I have previously analyzed.  The chart above shows that WWF actually spent more than half of this match with a minimum of 9 active wrestlers in the ring.  The ring was filled with 10 or more men for over one-third of the match!

After Dino Bravo's quick elimination at the 3m 08s mark, WWF didn't waste any time filling the ring up as fast as possible.  Nobody was eliminated for the next 9m 31s between the time stamps of 3m 08s through 12m 39s.  Roma, Tornado, Martel, Simba, and Butch all entered the ring during this time.

Martel's entry into the match marked the first time that the ring reached a depth of 5 active wrestlers.  The ring then remained at 5 or more wrestlers for Martel's entire 52m 30s survival time in the match.  His elimination was also the point when the ring finally dropped back down to under 5 active wrestlers.

That means that if you add up all of the corresponding times in the chart above for each of the Active Wrestlers rows of 5 through 11, the result will be Martel's survival time of 52m 30s.  There were always 5 or more active wrestlers in the ring for Martel's entire stay in the match, and there were always less than 5 active wrestlers in the ring when Martel was not in the match.

The ring was filled with between 8 and 11 superstars for the entire section between the time stamps of 16m 12s and 59m 03s.  There is no doubt about it; this is one of the most crowded Royal Rumble matches of all-time.

End of the Match

Once Tugboat entered the ring, the match essentially turned into a 10-man Battle Royal to the finish between Rick Martel, British Bulldog, Shane Douglas, Earthquake, Mr. Perfect, Hogan, Haku, Neidhart, Knobbs, and Tugboat.  This final segment of the 1991 Royal Rumble match lasted 8m 56s, and at that point Hulk Hogan emerged as the winner of the match.  Hogan's one-on-one finale with Earthquake took up 2m 48s of that time.

That's all you need to know about the timing of the 1991 Royal Rumble match. Which numbers do you find to be the most interesting?

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Previous Royal Rumble analyses:
1988
1992
1999
2003
2007
2008
2011
2013
2014
2015