The 1988 Royal Rumble was the first one ever broadcast. Up until now, it had been run at house shows without much success. The brainchild of Pat Patterson, the WWF had a TV special on the USA Network. With Pat at the helm, he booked the match, introduced a rudimentary countdown (previously the entrants entered the match at random), and was a huge success. It was the highest viewed wrestling program on cable TV at the time with an 8.2 rating, turning it into a January based Pay Per View and becoming the fourth of the “big four” PPV’s the following year, after Wrestlemania, Survivor Series and Summerslam.

In the match – “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan won the titular match, last eliminating The One Man Gang to win the match. No prizes were for winning said Royal Rumble, although technically Duggan competed for the title at that year’s Wrestlemania, albeit in the Wrestlemania VI tournament, where he was eliminated in the first round by “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase.

Promotional poster for Royal Rumble 1988

24th January, 1988

Hamilton, Canada

Copps Coliseum



Notable Records

Record Individual
Winner Jim Duggan
Iron Men Bret Hart (25:45)
Least time in Match Junkyard Dog (02:09)
Most Eliminations One Man Gang (6)
Potential Winners (wrestlers in the ring after last entrant) 10 (Jim Duggan, One Man Gang, Dino Bravo, Don Muraco, Ron Bass, Junkyard Dog, The Ultimate Warrior, Danny Davis, Hillbilly Jim, Nikolai Volkoff)
Number of debutants 20 (Bret Hart, Tito Santana, Butch Reed, Jim Neidhart, Jake Roberts, Harley Race, Jim Brunzell, Sam Houston, Danny Davis, Boris Zhukov, Don Muraco, Nikolai Volkoff, Jim Duggan, Ron Bass, B. Brian Blair, Hillbilly Jim, Dino Bravo, The Ultimate Warrior, One Man Gang, Junkyard Dog)
Last Rumble Appearances 11 (Butch Reed, Harley Race, Jim Brunzell, Sam Houston, Danny Davis, Boris Zhukov, Don Muraco, B. Brian Blair, Hillbilly Jim, One Man Gang, Junkyard Dog)
Average Time in match11:11
Number of individuals with at least one elimination55%

Did You Know?

  • This is the only Royal Rumble to take place in Canada.
  • This is the only broadcasted Royal Rumble that has had 20 wrestlers. As such, it’s the shortest recognised Royal Rumble.
  • This is one of two Royal Rumbles that had no former World champions in it. The next one was 1998.
  • This Royal Rumble match didn’t main event the show. Instead a two out of three falls match between The Islanders and The Young Stallions headlined the event.
  • This was the only Royal Rumble that took place on broadcast television, with later events taking place on Pay Per View or the WWE Network.

Watch Royal Rumble 1988

You can watch Royal Rumble 1988 on YouTube for free. Watch it below.


Number of Entrant Wrestler Name Time in Match Finishing Position Eliminations Eliminated By Other Facts
1 Bret Hart 25:45 13 1 Don Muraco

Bret set the record for the longest time & cumulative time with this entry.

2 Tito Santana 10:43 19 0 Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart

The first recognised champion to enter the Royal Rumble, as he was a tag team champion at the time of the match. Rick Martel didn’t enter the match (as he was injured at the time).

3 Butch Reed 03:17 20 0 Jake Roberts

The first person ever eliminated from a Royal Rumble.

4 Jim Neidhart 19:05 15 1 Hillbilly Jim
5 Jake Roberts 21:53 11 2 One Man Gang
6 Harley Race 10:03 17 0 Don Muraco
7 Jim Brunzell 12:06 16 1 Nikolai Volkoff
8 Sam Houston 14:39 14 0 Ron Bass
9 Danny Davis 17:51 8 0 Jim Duggan
10 Boris Zhukov 02:33 18 0 Jake Roberts, Jim Brunzell
11 Don Muraco 16:17 4 3 Dino Bravo, One Man Gang

Don Muraco came down and was followed by Nikolai Volkoff. As Nikolai wasn’t a valid entrant into the match at the point, the time is taken from when he entered the ring.

12 Nikolai Volkoff 11:40 10 1 Jim Duggan

Nikolai Volkoff came down with Don Muraco and attacked him, although was made to wait 2 minutes to join the match.

13 Jim Duggan 14:44 1 3 Winner
14 Ron Bass 10:14 5 2 Don Muraco
15 B. Brian Blair 05:50 12 0 One Man Gang
16 Hillbilly Jim 05:55 9 1 One Man Gang
17 Dino Bravo 08:13 3 2 One Man Gang
18 The Ultimate Warrior 03:51 7 0 Dino Bravo, One Man Gang
19 One Man Gang 06:51 2 6 Jim Duggan

The One Man Gang set the record for the most eliminations & most cumulative eliminations with this entry.

20 Junkyard Dog 02:09 6 0 Ron Bass


Entrant Waterfall
Elimination Pie Chart
Time by Number
Eliminations by Number

Entrant Waterfall

Elimination Pie Chart

Time by Number

Eliminations by Number

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