Royal Rumble (2004)
|Royal Rumble (2004)|
Promotional poster featuring John Cena
|"Nothing Left To Lose" by Puddle of Mudd|
|Promotion||World Wrestling Entertainment|
|Date||January 25, 2004|
|Royal Rumble chronology|
Royal Rumble (2004) was the seventeenth annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It was presented by Sony's PlayStation 2, took place on January 25, 2004, at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and featured talent from the Raw and SmackDown! brands.
As has been customary since 1993, the Royal Rumble match winner received a match at that year's WrestleMania, in this instance WrestleMania XX. Beginning with this Royal Rumble, the winner could challenge at WrestleMania his choice of either the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship.
Six professional wrestling matches were featured on the event's supercard, a scheduling of more than one main event. The main event was the annual 30-man Royal Rumble match, which featured wrestlers from both brands. Chris Benoit, the first entrant, won the match by last eliminating The Big Show, the twenty-fourth entrant. This win resulted in Benoit breaking the longevity record last held by Bob Backlund, staying in the match for over one hour. The primary match on the Raw brand was a Last Man Standing match between Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship, which ended in a draw. The predominant match on the SmackDown! brand was Brock Lesnar versus Hardcore Holly for the WWE Championship, which Lesnar won to retain the championship. The featured match on the undercard was a Tables match for the World Tag Team Championship between Evolution (Ric Flair and Batista) and the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von), which Evolution won to retain the titles.
The professional wrestling matches at Royal Rumble featured professional wrestlers performing as characters in scripted events pre-determined by the hosting promotion, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Storylines between the characters were produced on WWE's weekly television shows Raw and SmackDown! with the Raw and SmackDown! brands—storyline divisions in which WWE assigned its employees to different programs.
The buildup to the Royal Rumble match started on the January 1, 2004, episode of SmackDown, when John Cena interrupted a promo of the SmackDown General Manager Paul Heyman about Tribute to the Troops in Iraq event. This angered Heyman and Heyman forced Cena to compete in a Handicap match with a partner and the two needed to win the match to gain entry in the Royal Rumble match. Cena's partner was revealed to be Chris Benoit and the two defeated The Full Blooded Italians (Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli) in a Handicap match to qualify for the Royal Rumble match. As a result, all the three members of Full Blooded Italians lost their spots in the Royal Rumble match. If Cena and Benoit would have lost, neither would have been able to participate in the match. After the match, Kurt Angle announced that he would participate in the Royal Rumble match and would win it. Later that night, Benoit insulted Heyman and Heyman forced Benoit to compete at the #1 spot in the Royal Rumble. On January 5, Kane announced that he was going to win the Royal Rumble but was confronted by Booker T, who claimed that he would eliminate Kane from the match and win the match. Three days later on SmackDown, Benoit defeated the Full Blooded Italians in a Handicap Mini Royal Rumble to retain his spot in the Royal Rumble. Goldberg defeated Matt Hardy and announced that he would participate in the Royal Rumble match on January 12. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, several qualifying matches were held for the Royal Rumble, including a battle royal between Full Blooded Italians, which Nunzio won. On January 19 Goldberg, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Mark Henry and Chris Jericho won matches to qualify for a Battle Royal to determine the #30 entrant of the Royal Rumble match. Goldberg won the Battle Royal and earned the #30 spot in the Royal Rumble.
The main rivalry heading into the event from the SmackDown brand was between Brock Lesnar and Hardcore Holly over the WWE Championship. The rivalry could be dated back to September 12, 2002, episode of SmackDown, when Lesnar defeated Holly in a non-title match and injured him by breaking his neck, putting him out of action for over a year. A year later, at Survivor Series, Holly returned to WWE from injury to take revenge from Lesnar. On SmackDown, on December 18, Heyman announced that Holly would team with Shannon Moore in a tag team match against A-Train and Matt Morgan, in which Holly could get a match of his choosing if he won but if he lost, his WWE contract would be terminated. Holly and Moore won the match, allowing Holly to wrestle a match of his choosing. On the January 1 episode of SmackDown, Holly intentionally got disqualified in a match against Big Show by brutally assaulting him. On the January 8 episode of SmackDown, Holly defeated Big Show in a Street Fight. As a result, Big Show placed a restraining order on Holly and Lesnar stayed with Big Show to protect himself from Holly. On the January 22 episode of SmackDown, Holly attacked Lesnar during a Handicap match pitting Lesnar, Big Show, Matt Morgan and Rhyno against John Cena and Chris Benoit in a Handicap match. This led to a match between Lesnar and Holly for the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble.
The main rivalry heading into the event from the Raw brand was between Triple H and Shawn Michaels over the World Heavyweight Championship. At Armageddon, Triple H defeated then-champion Goldberg and Kane in a No Disqualification Triple Threat match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. On the December 15 episode of Raw, Michaels and Rob Van Dam defeated Evolution (Triple H, Ric Flair and Batista in a Handicap match, when Michaels pinned Triple H. As a result of pinning Triple H, Michaels earned a World Championship match against Triple H on December 29, on Raw. Michaels seemingly pinned Triple H to win the title but the Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff declared the match a draw because both men's shoulders were down on the mat during the pinfall. As a result, Triple H retained the title. On January 5, the self-proclaimed Sheriff of Raw Stone Cold Steve Austin announced that Triple H would defend the title against Michaels in a Last Man Standing match at Royal Rumble.
A secondary rivalry heading into the event from the SmackDown brand was between Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero. At Survivor Series, Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny) defeated Los Guerreros (Eddie and Chavo) to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship. After the event, Los Guerreros started to break up as a team when Chavo began blaming Eddie for the team's recent failure. On the November 20 episode of SmackDown, Los Guerreros defeated World's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) but after the match, Haas and Benjamin attacked Chavo and injured his leg. This caused Chavo to blame Eddie for the injury. On the November 27 episode of SmackDown, Chavo was attacked again and he blamed Eddie again. This continued on the December 4 episode of SmackDown, when Eddie helped Chavo in defeating Benjamin in a one-on-one match. Chavo blamed Eddie for stealing the spotlight that Chavo needed. On January 1, on SmackDown, Eddie and Chavo finally broke up the team after losing to World's Greatest Tag Team. However, on the January 8 episode of SmackDown, Kurt Angle reunited Los Guerreros and earned them a Tag Team Championship match against Basham Brothers, which Los Guerreros lost. After the match, Los Guerreros finally ended when Chavo attacked Eddie and caused him to bleed. As a result, Chavo became a villain. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, Angle informed Eddie that the SmackDown General Manager Paul Heyman had made a match between Eddie and Chavo at Royal Rumble.
Another secondary rivalry heading into the event from the SmackDown brand was between Rey Mysterio and Jamie Noble over the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. On January 1, Mysterio defeated Tajiri to win the Cruiserweight Championship. The following week, Tajiri and Noble were scheduled to have a number one contender's match for the Cruiserweight Championship, but Noble was not present on the show. As a result, the SmackDown General Manager Paul Heyman ordered Noble's manager Nidia to replace Noble in the match. Tajiri easily defeated Nidia. After the match, Tajiri tried to assault Nidia, but Mysterio rescued her. This prompted Noble to come out and attack Mysterio as he thought that Mysterio was trying to harm Nidia. On the January 15 episode of SmackDown, Noble defeated Tajiri to become the number one contender for the Cruiserweight Championship at Royal Rumble.
The secondary rivalry heading into the event from the Raw brand was between Evolution (Ric Flair and Batista) and Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) over the World Tag Team Championship. At Armageddon, Flair and Batista defeated Dudley Boyz in a Tag Team Turmoil match to win the Tag Team Championship. On December 29 on Raw, Flair served as the special referee during a match pitting Dudley Boyz against two enhancement talents. Flair awarded the victory to enhancement talents by disqualifying Dudley Boyz. Batista then came out and attacked Dudley Boyz from behind. On the January 5 episode of Raw, Flair and Batista defeated Dudley Boyz to retain the Tag Team Championship. The next week on Raw, Batista defeated D-Von in a one-on-one match. After the match, Flair tossed a table into the ring and Batista set it up but Bubba Ray entered the ring and chased Flair and Batista. On January 19, on Raw, Evolution member Randy Orton defeated The Hurricane in a match. After the match, Flair and Batista came out to congratulate Orton. Hurricane's tag team partner Rosey came out to check on him but was attacked by Batista. It led to Dudley Boyz coming out to deliver a 3-D on Flair through the table but Jonathan Coachman ran down to stop them and was hit with a 3D on the table by Dudley Boyz. This led to a Tables match between Dudley Boyz and Evolution for the Tag Team Championship at Royal Rumble.
Royal Rumble qualification matches
- John Cena and Chris Benoit defeated Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo, and Johnny Stamboli in a Handicap match – SmackDown!, December 30 (aired January 1)
- Rico defeated Tommy Dreamer – Heat, January 12 (aired January 18)
- Matt Morgan defeated Orlando Jordan – Velocity, January 13 (aired January 17)
- Rikishi defeated Scotty 2 Hotty – SmackDown!, January 13 (aired January 15)
- The World's Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas) defeated Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny Basham) – SmackDown!, January 13 (aired January 15)
- Nunzio defeated Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli in a Triple Threat Battle Royal – SmackDown!, January 13 (aired January 15)
- Big Show defeated Funaki – SmackDown, January 13 (aired January 15)
- Tajiri defeated Billy Kidman – SmackDown!, January 20 (aired January 22)
- Albert defeated Shannon Moore – SmackDown, January 20 (aired January 22)
- Bradshaw defeated Akio and Sakoda in a Triple Threat match – SmackDown!, January 20 (aired January 22)
|Commentators||Michael Cole (SmackDown!)|
|Tazz (SmackDown! / Royal Rumble match)|
|Jerry Lawler (Raw)|
|Jim Ross (Raw / Royal Rumble match)|
|Jonathan Coachman (Opening match)|
|Carlos Cabrera (Spanish)|
|Hugo Savinovich (Spanish)|
|Ring Announcers||Tony Chimel (Smackdown!)|
|Howard Finkel (Raw / Royal Rumble match)|
|Referees||Mike Chioda (Raw)|
|Jack Doan (Raw)|
|Brian Hebner (SmackDown!)|
|Earl Hebner (Raw)|
|Jim Korderas (SmackDown!)|
|Nick Patrick (SmackDown!)|
|Charles Robinson (SmackDown!)|
|General Managers||Eric Bischoff (Raw)|
|Paul Heyman (SmackDown!)|
As the event concluded, the first match that aired was a Tables match for the World Tag Team Championship. Evolution (Batista and Ric Flair) defended the titles against Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von). The object of the match was to knock any member of the opposing team through a table. Batista had a mic in his hand when he was making his entrance with Flair. He started insulting Dudley Boyz, causing Dudley Boyz to attack Flair and Batista in the aisle. They brawled at ringside. Bubba Ray grabbed a table from under the ring and slid it into the ring. Dudley Boyz set up the table and suplexed Flair on it but Batista moved the table out of the way first. As a result, Dudley Boyz began double-teaming Batista until D-Von clotheslined Batista over the top rope to the floor. Flair started attacking Bubba Ray by chopping him into the table in the corner. Bubba Ray fought back and rammed Flair’s head into the table. Flair eventually climbed the top rope but Bubba Ray slammed him to the mat. Jonathan Coachman interfered in the match as he distracted Dudley Boyz. Dudley Boyz tried to perform a Diving Headbutt Low Blow, which they call Whassup but Flair threw D-Von out of the way. D-Von clotheslined Flair, allowing Batista to perform a Spinebuster on D-Von through the table to retain the Tag Team Championship.
The next match featured Rey Mysterio defending the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Jamie Noble. In a match pitting cruiserweight action, Noble dominated Mysterio in the earlier match until Mysterio started gaining momentum in the match by using his high-flying maneuvers such as a Hurricanrana and quick speed. At one point, Noble ran through the ropes but his manager Nidia caught his legs, thinking that it was Mysterio. As a result, Noble was distracted. Mysterio took advantage and performed a Tiger Feint Kick, which he calls 619 on Noble and followed it with a Springboard Legdrop, which he calls Droppin Da' Dime to win the match and thus retained the Cruiserweight Championship.
The third match was between Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero. Chavo's father Chavo Guerrero Sr. managed him in the match. Eddie was dominating the match until Chavo Sr. began interfering in the match and continuously interfered and attacked Eddie throughout the match. However, Eddie started gaining momentum by applying an Armbar on Chavo. Chavo escaped by performing a Belly to Back Suplex and got a near-fall. Chavo started dominating the match until Eddie regained his momentum and performed three consecutive Vertical Suplexes, which he called Three Amigos on Chavo and followed it with a Frog Splash to win the match. After the match, Eddie punished both Chavo and Chavo Sr. by continuously attacking them and made Chavo bleed from his mouth.
Main event matches
The SmackDown brand main event was between Brock Lesnar and Hardcore Holly for the WWE Championship. Lesnar and Holly started fighting at ringside until they returned to the ring where Lesnar applied a Bearhug on Holly. Lesnar followed up by stomping away at Holly and then suplexed him. Lesnar continued to dominate the match until Holly started making a comeback in the match by performing a Clothesline on Lesnar and dropkicking him. Holly followed it by performing his finisher, a Flapjack Spinebuster, which he calls Alabama Slam. Holly then applied a Full nelson. Lesnar tried to get out of the hold but could not get released until he rolled out of the ring. Holly rolled out to the ring with Lesnar and continued to apply the hold until Holly returned to the ring and pulled Lesnar on the ring apron. Lesnar broke the hold by jumping to the floor and snapping Holly's neck over the top rope. This allowed Lesnar to perform a fireman's carry facebuster, which he called F-5 on Holly to retain the WWE Championship.
The Raw brand main event was also the final match on the undercard. It was a Last Man Standing match between Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship. The match went back and forth with Triple H and Michaels battling each other and in a brutal action, both men started bleeding. Triple H made the first attempt at performing a Double Underhook Facebuster, which he calls Pedigree on Michaels onto a steel chair. However, Michaels countered and dropped Triple H onto the steel chair. Michaels proceeded to beat Triple H and made his first attempt at performing a Superkick, which he called Sweet Chin Music on Triple H, but Triple H low blowed Michaels. Triple H eventually performed a DDT before performing a Pedigree on Michaels and waited for the 10 count but Michaels got up at 9 count. Triple H was shocked. Michaels took advantage and performed a Sweet Chin Music on Triple H, knocking him down. However, Michaels fell down himself and both of them were unable to answer the referee's 10 count. As a result, the match ended in a draw and Triple H retained the World Championship.
The main event was the annual 30-man Royal Rumble match, where the winner would get to wrestle the world champion of his brand at WrestleMania XX. Chris Benoit and the WWE Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton were the first two entrants. As the match started, Benoit and Orton battled each other until Mark Henry entered at #3 and began attacking both Benoit and Orton. Tajiri entered at #4 and performed a Handspring Back Elbow on Orton. Orton battled Henry and Benoit battled Tajiri until Bradshaw entered at #5 and began dominating all the participants by finishing off Orton, then Henry, then Tajiri, with three consecutive Lariats, which he called Clothesline from Hell. Bradshaw attempted to perform a Clothesline from Hell on Benoit but Benoit countered it into a Crossface, which he called Crippler Crossface. Bradshaw got out of the hold by picking Benoit up and tossing him over the top rope. However, Benoit jumped on the apron and eliminated Bradshaw instead. Rhyno entered at #6 and attacked Orton, before focusing on Benoit. Tajiri battled Henry and applied a Rope Hung Boston Crab, which he calls Tarantula on Henry. Rhyno performed a Spinebuster on Benoit and attempted to perform a Striking Spear, which he calls Gore, on Benoit but Benoit avoided the move and Rhyno instead crashed a rope hung Tajiri. This caused Tajiri to get eliminated from the match. Benoit then tossed Henry over the top rope, eliminating him.
Matt Hardy entered at #7 but was quickly tossed over the top rope by Benoit but Hardy landed on the apron. Rhyno tried to eliminate Hardy but Hardy stayed in the ring. Scott Steiner entered at #8 and started dominating all of the participants of the match. Hardy and Orton battled in the corner, where Hardy had nearly eliminated Orton until Benoit attacked Hardy and Orton was saved from being eliminated. Matt Morgan entered at #9 and he performed a Sitout Powerbomb on Benoit and a Big Boot on Hardy. The Hurricane entered at #10 and performed a Diving Crossbody on Hardy. Hurricane then began fighting Morgan, who dominated Hurricane and eliminated him by tossing him over the top rope. Morgan then tried to eliminate Hardy in the same way, but Hardy landed on the apron and stayed in the ring. Benoit began fighting Rhyno, Steiner battled Orton and Hardy battled Morgan until Booker T entered at #11. Booker attacked Steiner and then performed a Scissors Kick on Orton. Booker then eliminated Steiner from the match. Kane entered at #12. Morgan started attacking Kane but Kane performed a Chokeslam on Morgan. Kane performed a Big Boot on Rhyno and then Kane chokeslammed Orton. Eventually, The Undertaker's entrance theme music began playing in the arena and the lights went out. When the lights came back, Kane was distracted and Booker eliminated Kane from behind.
Following Kane's elimination, Spike Dudley entered at #13. Kane was angered at it and he thought that it was Dudley, who played Undertaker's gong. An enraged Kane performed a Chokeslam on Dudley on the ramp and Dudley was knocked out which meant that he was unable to participate in the Royal Rumble. Rikishi entered at #14. Along with Rikishi's entrance, Benoit backdropped Rhyno over the top rope, eliminating him. Rikishi started attacking Hardy and performed a Stink Face on Morgan. René Duprée entered at #15 and started battling Hardy before dropkicking him over the top rope to eliminate him. However, after eliminating Hardy, Duprée was eliminated himself by Rikishi when Rikishi performed a Savate Kick on Duprée, causing him to fall over the top rope. A-Train entered at #16 and began attacking Rikishi. Benoit eventually eliminated Morgan. Orton began dominating the match as he eliminated Rikishi and then backdropped Booker over the top rope to eliminate him. Benoit battled A-Train, while Shelton Benjamin entered at #17. Benoit eliminated A-Train and Benjamin tried to perform a Superkick on Orton, but Orton ducked the move and eliminated Benjamin. The first two entrants of the match, Benoit and Orton were left remaining. Ernest Miller entered at #18, along with his manager Lamont. Instead of using the opportunity of eliminating the knocked out Benoit and Orton, Miller and his manager Lamont danced to Miller's entrance theme. However, Benoit and Orton recovered and ruined the dance as Benoit tossed Lamont over the top rope and Orton eliminated Miller from the match. Following Miller's elimination, Benoit and Orton continued to battle each other.
Kurt Angle entered at #19 and began fighting Benoit while Orton recovered in the corner. Rico entered at #20 and began battling Orton. Rico performed a Roundhouse Kick on Orton while Benoit performed three consecutive German Suplexes on Angle in a row. Orton recovered and backdropped Rico over the top rope, eliminating him. Test's music began playing at #21 but Test did not appear, as he was found knocked out at backstage by some doctors and the Raw Sheriff Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin ordered someone to replace Test and gave him the #21 entry number. This person was revealed to be Mick Foley who immediately started attacking Orton. Foley performed a Flying Clothesline on Orton, eliminating Orton and himself in the process. Foley and Orton continued to fight each other after their eliminations. Christian entered at #22 and started battling Benoit and Angle. Foley and Orton numerously attacked each other, where Foley was about to perform a Mandible Claw on Orton until Nunzio entered at #23 and Foley turned his focus on Nunzio and performed a Mandible Claw on Nunzio, knocking him down. Orton attacked Foley and then retreated to the backstage. Angle battled Christian and Benoit in the ring while Nunzio sat in the ringside, instead of entering the ring. The WWE United States Champion Big Show entered at #24 and began dominating the participants in the match.
Chris Jericho entered at #25 and started fighting Angle. Big Show knocked the heads of Jericho and Christian together before battling Jericho. Christian started attacking Big Show. Benoit, Angle, Christian and Jericho tried to eliminate Big Show but failed. Charlie Haas entered at #26 and was double-teamed by Jericho and Christian. Jericho eventually eliminated Christian. Billy Gunn entered at #27 and performed a Legdrop Bulldog, which he called Fameasser on Angle. Gunn then performed a Fameasser on Jericho and fought Big Show and Haas. John Cena entered at #28 but instead of entering the ring, he focused on Nunzio, who was sitting in the ringside. Cena tossed Nunzio into the ring and began attacking him until Big Show started attacking Cena. Big Show and Nunzio double-teamed Cena until Nunzio attempted to eliminate Big Show but failed. Cena started attacking Big Show and tried to eliminate him while Nunzio tried to eliminate Benoit. Rob Van Dam entered at #29 and started dominating all the participants of the match. Nunzio tried to eliminate RVD but Haas battled Nunzio. Big Show battled Gunn and Cena performed a Fireman's Carry Takeover, which he called F-U, on Angle. Goldberg entered at #30 and performed a Spear on Big Show and then speared Gunn.
Goldberg punched several wrestlers including Angle, Jericho, RVD, Cena and Haas. Nunzio jumped on Goldberg's back while Goldberg eliminated Haas from the match. RVD kicked Goldberg. Goldberg speared Nunzio and then clotheslined Gunn over the top rope, eliminating him. Goldberg picked up Nunzio in a Military Press and threw him over the top rope, eliminating him from the match. Goldberg started attacking Big Show, until Brock Lesnar interfered in the match and performed a F5 on Goldberg and left the ring. Goldberg was distracted and when he recovered, Angle eliminated him from behind. Benoit, Angle, Jericho, Cena and RVD all teamed up against Big Show when Big Show picked up Cena and Angle performed a Chop Block on Big Show. RVD performed a Slingshot Legdrop and followed it with a Five-Star Frog Splash on Big Show. All the five participants tried to eliminate Big Show, but Big Show shoved all of them and eliminated Cena. RVD attempted to perform a Monkey Flip on Big Show, but Big Show tossed him over the top rope, eliminating RVD, leaving Big Show, Benoit, Angle and Jericho as the final four competitors. Big Show backdropped Jericho over the top rope but Jericho landed on the apron and entered the ring. Jericho applied an Elevated Boston Crab, which he calls Walls of Jericho on Big Show. Angle attacked Jericho and Big Show picked up Jericho and eliminated him.
Big Show chokeslammed Benoit and fought Angle. Angle performed an Olympic Slam, which he calls "Angle Slam" on Big Show and then performed an Angle Slam on Benoit. Big Show eventually tried to perform a Chokeslam on Angle but Angle rolled it into an Ankle Lock. Big Show was near the ropes, and he flipped out of the Ankle Lock, causing Angle to get eliminated. Big Show landed on the apron. Benoit climbed the top rope and performed a Flying Forearm on the back of Big Show's neck, sending Big Show back into the ring. Big Show tried to perform a Chokeslam on Benoit, but Benoit countered it into a Crippler Crossface. Benoit eventually landed on the apron while applying a front headlock on Big Show. He dragged Big Show over the top rope, who flipped over and got tossed on the floor over the top rope, getting eliminated. As a result, Benoit won the Royal Rumble match and became the second person in history to win the match from the #1 spot (after Shawn Michaels in 1995). He also broke Bob Backlund's longevity record in 1993 by staying in the match for 1:01:30.
On the following night's episode of Raw, during a confrontation at the beginning of the program between Triple H and Shawn Michaels, the Raw Sheriff Stone Cold Steve Austin intervened and announced that even though he could not make a match between the two (Austin having lost his General Manager powers in November 2003), he would "uphold the law" and announced that Michaels would not get the next shot at Triple H because he did not win the Royal Rumble. Austin revealed that the Royal Rumble winner face "the champion" at WrestleMania, but that there was no specification as to which champion— thus, creating a loophole that Chris Benoit, who was then property of SmackDown, exploited to announce that he would instead chase the World Heavyweight Championship due in part to bad feelings between himself and his general manager, Paul Heyman. On February 9, Benoit and Triple H were to have their contract signing for the WrestleMania match, but Michaels interfered and hit Sweet Chin Music on Benoit then signed the contract himself. The following week, Austin announced that Triple H would defend the title against Benoit and Michaels in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania. At WrestleMania XX, Benoit defeated Michaels and Triple H in a Triple Threat match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Benoit's defection led to a rule change for the Rumble winner, where he could now choose which world champion he would face at WrestleMania.
Meanwhile, on SmackDown, in order to make up for Benoit's defection, Heyman announced that a second Royal Rumble match featuring fifteen of SmackDown's wrestlers competing for a shot at Brock Lesnar's WWE Championship at No Way Out in February. The thirteen SmackDown wrestlers (Kurt Angle, Rhyno, Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Bradshaw, Ernest Miller, Tajiri, Billy Gunn, Big Show, John Cena, Nunzio, A-Train, and Rikishi) who competed in the original Royal Rumble match were given entries in the match as were Hardcore Holly and Eddie Guerrero (Holly, who replaced an injured Matt Morgan, wrestled and lost to Lesnar at the Rumble and Guerrero, who replaced Benoit, was continuing his feud with Chavo). Guerrero won the match and earned the title opportunity. At No Way Out, Guerrero defeated Lesnar to win the WWE Championship.
|9||Big Show||8||Angle, Gunn, Guerrero, Haas, Holly, Rikishi, Cena|
|10||John Cena||7||Big Show|
|14||Rikishi||13||Guerrero and Angle|
Impact of Benoit tragedy
Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son before committing suicide on June 24, 2007. Once the details of Benoit's actions became apparent, WWE made the decision to remove nearly all mentions of Benoit from their website and from future broadcasts. As a result, this Royal Rumble and Benoit's victory is often ignored in official publications. When referring to the #1 entrant, WWE personalities will occasionally state, for instance, "two people have won from the number one position, including Hall of Famer HBK in 1995", as commentator JBL did in 2015. WWE coverage of the Rumble has been very selective; no photos of Benoit exist on WWE's webpage for the event, focusing rather on the Last Man Standing match between Triple H and Shawn Michaels, and Benoit is only mentioned on the results page as the winner of the event. Only a few WWE video features include footage from the Royal Rumble match, but those that do use careful shot selection so that Benoit is not seen on screen. WWE's website has also posted photo galleries dedicated to the number one entrants and winners in the Royal Rumble history, both of which completely ignore Chris Benoit and the year of 2004. The pay-per-view and the Royal Rumble match exist in their entirety on the WWE Network unedited, albeit preceded by a disclaimer as is the case with all programming featuring Benoit.
|1H||Victoria (with Steven Richards) defeated Molly Holly||Singles match||04:56|
|2||Evolution (Ric Flair and Batista) (c) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley)||Tables match for the World Tag Team Championship||04:23|
|3||Rey Mysterio (c) defeated Jamie Noble (with Nidia)||Singles match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship||03:12|
|4||Eddie Guerrero defeated Chavo Guerrero (with Chavo Guerrero Sr.)||Singles match||08:03|
|5||Brock Lesnar (c) defeated Hardcore Holly||Singles match for the WWE Championship||06:30|
|6||Triple H (c) vs. Shawn Michaels ended in a draw||Last Man Standing match for the World Heavyweight Championship||22:46|
|7||Chris Benoit won by last eliminating Big Show||30-man Royal Rumble match for a world championship match at WrestleMania XX||1:01:35|
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
|2||Randy Orton||Raw||17||Mick Foley||33:43||5|
|3||Mark Henry||Raw||3||Chris Benoit||05:14||1|
|7||Matt Hardy||Raw||8||René Duprée||14:18||0|
|8||Scott Steiner||Raw||5||Booker T||06:49||0|
|9||Matt Morgan||SmackDown!||10||Chris Benoit||12:14||1|
|10||The Hurricane||Raw||4||Matt Morgan||00:19||0|
|11||Booker T||Raw||12||Randy Orton||09:11||2|
|13||Spike Dudley||Raw||Attacked by Kane before entering the ring||0:00||0|
|17||Shelton Benjamin||SmackDown!||14||Randy Orton||00:37||0|
|19||Kurt Angle||SmackDown!||27||Big Show||29:04||1|
|24||Big Show||SmackDown!||28||Chris Benoit||22:38||4|
|25||Chris Jericho||Raw||26||Big Show||14:58||1|
|26||Charlie Haas||SmackDown!||20||Goldberg & Rob Van Dam||06:53||0|
|28||John Cena||SmackDown!||24||Big Show||07:37||0|
|29||Rob Van Dam||Raw||25||06:44||1|
- "Wrestling Information Archive – Other WWF Information". Retrieved March 1, 2008.
- "Royal Rumble 2004 Results". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
- "Royal Rumble 2004 official results". World Wrestling Entertainment. January 25, 2004. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- "Royal Rumble 2004 Results". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
- Grabianowski, Ed. "How Pro Wrestling Works". HowStuffWorks. Discovery Communications. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- "Live & Televised Entertainment". WWE. Archived from the original on November 18, 2013. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- "WWE to make Raw and SmackDown! distinct TV brands" (Press release). WWE. March 27, 2002. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- Giebink, Dusty (January 2, 2004). "1/1 Smackdown review: Giebink's detailed report on show". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Tylwalk, Nick (January 6, 2004). "RAW: Heartbreak Kid gets his shot". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Plummer, Dale (January 9, 2004). "Smackdown!: Holly chokes out Big Show". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Tylwalk, Nick (January 13, 2004). "RAW: Orton's campaign gathers steam". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Plummer, Dale (January 16, 2004). "Smackdown: Heyman loves his soaps". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Tylwalk, Nick (January 20, 2004). "RAW: No. 30 in the Rumble is....". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Milner, John M. "Hardcore Holly". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Wrestler Profiles: Hardcore Holly". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- Plummer, Dale (December 19, 2003). "Smackdown: Hardcore Holly keeps his job". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Plummer, Dale (January 23, 2004). "Smackdown: Guerrero family feud grows". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- "Goldberg vs. Triple H vs. Kane in a No Disqualification Triple Threat for the World Heavyweight Championship". World Wrestling Entertainment. December 14, 2003. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Tylwalk, Nick (December 16, 2003). "Raw: Foley hits the road". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Keller, Wade (December 29, 2008). "Keller's WWE Raw Report 5 yrs. ago (12–29–03): Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H for 30 minutes, Lita & Trish & Stacy, Mick Foley and Steve Austin". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- "Survivor Series 2003 official results". World Wrestling Entertainment. November 16, 2003. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Plummer, Dale (November 21, 2003). "Smackdown!: Kane has last word on 'Taker". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Waldman, Jon (November 28, 2003). "Smackdown!: Battle royal mayhem". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Keller, Wade (December 3, 2010). "WWE SmackDown flashback – 7 yrs. ago (12–04–03): Standout matches of Lesnar vs. Benoit & Cena vs. Benoit, more wrestlers in TNA than WWE in 2010". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- "Armageddon 2003 official results". World Wrestling Entertainment. December 14, 2003. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Maes, Jeremy (January 28, 2004). "1/18 WWE Heat review: Test, Scott Steiner, Bizzaro Born Thrillers, Miss Jackie". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Giebink, Dusty (January 18, 2004). "1/17 Velocity review: Dragon vs. Moore, Morgan vs. Jordan for a spot in the Rumble". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- WWE Royal Rumble 2004 (DVD). WWE Home Video. 2004.
- Tylwalk, Nick (January 27, 2004). "Raw: Mrs. Foley's little boy is back". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Tylwalk, Nick (February 10, 2004). "RAW: Benoit booted from Mania?". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Keller, Wade (February 16, 2004). "2/16 WWE Raw review: Keller's ongoing "virtual time" analysis of live show". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- "Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship". World Wrestling Entertainment. March 14, 2004. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
- Giebink, Dusty (January 31, 2004). "1/29 Smackdown review: Giebink's detailed report on show". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- "Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship". World Wrestling Entertainment. February 15, 2004. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
- "Sheriff: Wrestler Chris Benoit murder–suicide Case Closed". FOXNews.com. February 12, 2008. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- "Royal Rumble 2004". WWE.com. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
- "Every Royal Rumble Match entrant who drew No. 1: photos". WWE.com. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- "The history of Royal Rumble Match winners: photos". WWE.com. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- "WWE NEWS: Ross returns to TV on ESPN, Benoit/WWE Network update, top indie tag team turned down?". Pro Wrestling Torch. January 7, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
- "Rumble Match: Chris Benoit (spot No. 1) wins the Royal Rumble Match". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- "Royal Rumble 2004". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved April 8, 2011.