The winner of the inaugural Royal Rumble says competing in the big event bears some similarities to how people behaved in the Wild West.
‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan’s unlikely victory in the 1988 Rumble perfectly highlighted how the over-the-top-rope match has the ability to produce shock results.
He entered the ring number 13 out of 20 that year, surviving for almost 15 minutes before having his arm raised as the last man standing by referee Earl Hebner.
Ahead of the 35th edition of the Rumble this weekend, Duggan told Betway Casino that traditional wrestling tactics go out of the window during the big match.
“You want to be aggressive, you want to be strong, you want to be quick, and luck of the draw has a lot to do with it as well,” he said.
“It’s always better to come in later. You’re fresher than the guys who’ve been out there longer. For the first five guys, that’s a long time in the ring.
“You can be kicking butt and then somebody comes up behind you and that’s it.
“It’s very different to a singles fight. I liked being able to control the pace in a fight, but in a battle royale or a Royal Rumble, forget about it.
“Nobody’s controlling nothing – it’s like the Wild West out there.”
Duggan’s success in the Rumble was the archetypal feelgood underdog story, helping to cement his status as a patriotic working-class hero.
With wrestling legends such as Bret Hart and The Ultimate Warrior in the line-up, Duggan was not expected to emerge as the winner.
However, his achievement in outlasting the field demonstrated the Royal Rumble’s ability to produce totally unexpected results.
It also etched Duggan’s name into wrestling folklore, making him one of the most beloved characters ever to step into the squared circle.
His legendary status was plain to see with the wild reaction he received when competing in the 2009 Rumble, setting a record for the most years between appearances in the match.
Duggan returned again three years later aged 58, coming in at number 19 before being eliminated by Cody Rhodes – son of former wrestler and old adversary Dusty.
He admits to being concerned about embarrassing himself in the run-up to 2012 appearance, particularly with the Rumble attracting a massive global audience.
“Everything about the Royal Rumble in 2012 was harder,” he told Betway. “I knew it would be a challenge because all the kids were 15 or 20 years younger than me.
“I wasn’t in my prime anymore and I was worried about how I looked physically. I wore trunks and boots and as I got older, my trunks just kept getting bigger and bigger.
“It’s a show that millions of people are going to watch, so you have all that anxiety.
“Multiply that by 10 when they throw you into a pay-per-view and add another five when people know you’re Hacksaw and you won the first one.”