On January 30th, World Wrestling Entertainment will host its 34th edition of the Royal Rumble. The annual pay-per-view is often headlined by a 30 man over the top rope battle royal to determine who will receive either a WWE or Universal championships match at that year’s WrestleMania.
It’s often seen as an event that can launch a wrestler to main event status and sometimes even see them take their first steps towards the WWE Hall of Fame.
Wrestler entry numbers have always been something to keep an eye on in the Royal Rumble. Most winners of the match have drawn somewhere in the twenties. However, winners have been scattered through the thirty spots, including the first and second spots.
One number that’s produced a lot of intrigue is number 14. Not because of how many winners it’s produced (one, Shinsuke Nakamura in 2018) but rather because of what’s happened to the careers of wrestlers who have drawn the number. Simply put, it’s been a curse to not only that wrestlers career, but in some instances the company itself.
Some wrestlers were lucky, including Ken Shamrock (1998), Bob Backlund (2000), Kofi Kingston (2017) and Braun Strowman (2020), and avoided the curse. However, the majority have seen their careers shortened and in a couple of cases seen their lives ruined from it.
Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at the wrestlers who drew number 14:
Starting in 1988, Ron Bass drew number 14 in the inaugural edition of the Royal Rumble. While Bass had a long career prior to joining the then World Wrestling Federation, his time was short after drawing the number. He’d wrestle with the company for another year before leaving. Two years later, he’d retire due to injuries.
In 1989, Marty Janetty would draw the fateful number and his career would crash. His tag team with Shawn Michaels, “The Rockers,” would break up three years later. And while Michaels became one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Janetty would be a constant failure.
Haku would draw it a year later and while he was one of their best heels, he never was considered good enough to be in the main event scene.
1991 and 1992 were drawn by “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith and Hercules, respectively. Smith would die at age 39 of a heart attack in 2002. Two years later, Hercules died of heart disease at age 47.
The Berzerker (1993), Ray Apollo portraying “Doink The Clown” (1994) and Jacob Blu (1995) drew it but would be released from the company within the same years. Doug Gilbert dew it in 1996 and was never brought back to the company.
Goldust drew 14 in 1997 and had an on again, off again career. However the curse really hit him in his personal life. Two years after drawing the number, he would divorce his wife. He would go through another divorce a few years later.
Kergen would draw it in 1999 and after a short career, he became an actor. The Godfather would never reach main event status after drawing it in 2001. “Diamond” Dallas Page would draw it in 2002 and 2015, to limited success for the company.
2003 saw Eddie Guerrero at 14 and while he is considered one of the greatest of all time, he also had a long history of drug abuse. This would lead to his death in 2005 at age 38.
Rikishi (2004), and Orlando Jordan (2005) would be released within a year of drawing 14. Joey Mercury would draw in 2006 and suffer a nasty nose injury that would shave time off his peak. Meanwhile his partner, Johnny Nitro, became John Morrison and the bigger star.
2007 saw Jeff Hardy in this spot and despite a great career, he has constantly faced issues with drugs. 2008’s number 14, Umaga, also had drug issues and would lose his life over it six months after drawing the fateful number.
2009 was Finlay, who would become a backstage producer shortly after, but was fired and rehired after a controversial live segment with the National Anthem.
MVP (2010), Chris Masters (2011) and Jinder Mahal (2012) would get the cursed number and after dwelling in the midcard, would be granted their releases in two years or less. Rey Mysterio would see his career marred with injuries after he drew it in 2013, and Kevin Nash would see his feud with CM Punk and Triple H flounder in 2014 when he drew it.
In 2016, Stardust, portrayed by Cody Rhodes, would draw 14. Despite years of midcard success, he would ask for his release a couple of months later. Years later he helped start All Elite Wrestling, which has since become a major competitor to WWE.
Shinsuke Nakamura draw it in 2018 and actually won the match. However, that year his career started going downhill. It started when his dream match with A.J. Styles underwhelmed and lead to a lackluster feud. He would fall down to this the midcard over that year and has been there ever since.
The final person to look at is Dean Ambrose, who drew 14 in 2019. Ambrose would leave WWE less than a year later and become one of AEW’s biggest stars, including it’s second world champion.
Call it coincidence, call luck of the draw, call it what you will, but whatever you call it, make sure you put respect on the number. We’ll soon find out what happens this year, and who has a game changing performance. However, we’ll also see who the curse of number 14 strikes next.