So with the launch of this website (which I really appreciate all feedback! Also sorry for ruining at least one work day). I thought I’d look for my first long form article at one of my more controversial statements. You see my times tend to differ from the ideas that are put forward from the WWE, and I hope to use this blog post to explain the differences and why I made those decisions by answering the question – just how long was Ric Flair in the 1992 Royal Rumble?

The 1992 Royal Rumble

The 1992 Royal Rumble is touted as an all time classic. The official statement is that Ric Flair – the winner – lasted over 1 hour to win the match from number 3. The match was full of star studded participants. For the Nature Boy to last over 1 hour to win was a completely unique storyline at the time. Previous winners had rarely gone over 15 minutes, and one had gone a maximum of 20. An hour? It’s an impressive feat, right?

Well…not quite. Thankfully WWE have been helpful and uploaded the entire of the match on YouTube. Let’s look at timestamps.

At 6:05 Flair entered the ring, and at 1:04:13, Sid Justice – the runner up – has both his feet hit the floor. This gives a difference of 58 minutes and 8 seconds. Even using the WWE Network timestamps (as the match has been edited for YouTube), Flair entered the ring at 1:32:54 on the broadcast and Justice’s elimination occurred at 2:32:26 – which gives a time of 59 minutes and 32 seconds.

What about buzzers? Well at 5:22 the buzzer for entry number 3 – Ric Flair – goes off, which gives a time on YouTube of 58 minutes and 51 seconds. On the WWE Network, the buzzer sounds at 1:32:12. This gives a total time over the magic threshold – 1 hour and 14 seconds. Still 12 seconds off on Wikipedia’s result, but we’ll ignore that for now.

Fudging The Figures

So does WWE include the buzzer and the time taken for the competitor to get to the ring to compete? Well….maybe. But to check this let’s look at instead of longevity, let’s look at speedy eliminations. Thankfully WWE also helps us here, with a top 10 of the Fastest Royal Rumble Eliminations.

I’ve then extracted these entrants from my database and looked at comparison times, both in terms of how long they lasted in the match (from entry to elimination), and then also how long they lasted from their buzzer sounding to elimination.

PositionWrestlerEventTotal TimeTotal Time (With Buzzer)
1.Santino MarellaRoyal Rumble 200900:0100:13
2.The WarlordRoyal Rumble 198900:0300:28
3.MoRoyal Rumble 199500:0400:10
4.Owen HartRoyal Rumble 199500:0301:08
5.Titus O'NeilRoyal Rumble 201500:0400:32
6.Bushwhacker LukeRoyal Rumble 199100:0400:28
7.Jerry LawlerRoyal Rumble 199700:0500:27
8.The GodfatherRoyal Rumble 201300:0500:56
9.GillbergRoyal Rumble 199900:0700:48
10.MVPRoyal Rumble 201000:0603:30

There is some discrepancies in terms of times using the WWE timestamp, but if you compare the video to my table based on timestamped data, you can see that WWE’s total time and my time matches up a lot more than the times including the buzzer. Santino – officially the quickest elimination – took a huge 12 seconds to power walk to the ring in the 2009 Royal Rumble! So for short data they seem to use time taken from entry of the ring to elimination, whereas for longevity time they use the time taken from buzzer to elimination?

Well not exactly, there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason. If we take the 2012 Royal Rumble for example – which was a totally unspectacular match – the winner (Sheamus), strong performers (The Miz & Cody Rhodes) and the least time in the match (Epico) all seem to correlate their times roughly with the times on the WWE website.

The Marty Jannetty Precedent

There is another thing to potentially look at – at the 1992 Royal Rumble Flair came to the ring with only one person in the ring at the time as The British Bulldog had eliminated Ted Dibiase. Could it be a special timing thing that if there is only one active competitor in the ring when the buzzer hits, then WWE times from when the buzzer hits, not when the competitor enters the ring? Thankfully we have a precedent for that.

In the 1990 Royal Rumble, Ted Dibiase quickly disposed of Koko B. Ware and waited for the number 3 entrant – Marty Jannetty. Jannetty entered the ring at the WWE Network timestamp of 1:42:00 and was eliminated at 1:43:36 – a time that seems to correlate with Wikipedia’s results (albeit a second out)

In all reality, it’s WWE wanting to fudge the numbers to make their stories work better – similar to the 100,000+ at Wrestlemania 32. However, on this site I recognise numbers and can’t argue with them. Whilst I applaud the 1992 Royal Rumble for it’s fantastic show, and Ric Flair for an enthralling performance, which added another notch to his hall of fame career, I also must recognise the first true 1 hour long performance in the Royal Rumble – which was Bob Backlund one year after Flair’s.