In a few months, the WWE will be headed to one of its biggest and most entertaining PPVs of the year in the Royal Rumble. Since its beginnings as a television special on USA Network in 1988 to the beloved PPV it has become now, the Royal Rumble is often host to a lot of great wrestling. This is a fun match that lots of fans can enjoy because it allows for interesting storylines to be born, confrontations between the separated rosters, and the return of wrestling legends both from the WWE and other promotions. However, this year’s show has a lot more history to it than most rumbles
In 2017, the 30th Royal Rumble Show will take place on January 29th in San Antonio, Texas at the Alamodome. This is the first time in 20 years that the company has returned to the Alamodome when Shawn Michaels defeated Sycho Sid to retain the WWE Championship and when Stone Cold Steve Austin won his first Royal Rumble. There’s a lot of history the WWE can tap into and there’s also the possibility of WWE turned TNA talents like The Hardy Boyz coming back to the company.
Now it’s understandable that most of the wrestlers who are listed won’t return because the WWE must build up their own roster, but if even half of the people on this list comeback for a Royal Rumble match or to have another match, it will make for a much greater show. Therefore, this article will look at the 15 Superstars Who Should Return at the Royal Rumble; for one off appearances or extended returns.
15 Finn Bálor
Ever since he vacated the title the night after SummerSlam, Finn Bálor has been out of action due to the shoulder injury he received the night before. However, his recovery has been reported to have been going along fine and there is a very strong possibility that he may return for the Royal Rumble. So, with his recovery aligning with the Royal Rumble Match, his history with Kevin Owens, and his history with the Universal Title, it only makes sense that Bálor would go after the that title by possibly winning the Royal Rumble Match; assuming a Raw wrestler wins the match.
If a Raw wrestler doesn’t, then the company will have weeks to develop Bálor’s character and make The Irish Young Gun and The Demon King feel legitimately like different entities. Whatever they wish to do with him, reappearing at the Rumble as The Demon will make him look much more like a star.
14 The Boogeyman
When thinking of interactions that would be interesting, seeing The Demon King, Finn Bálor, have an interaction with The Boogeyman would make for some interesting interactions.
When the Boogeyman returned at the 2015 Royal Rumble, his interaction with Bray Wyatt made for some entertaining moments in the match, but it was cut way too short. Having it happen this year and seeing two demonic characters would be entertaining. Even a small feud would be interesting if only for one episode of Raw or something.
The Boogeyman may not have been the best wrestler, but his portrayal of his character was always fun to watch. So, if he had a mini-feud with Balor that ends on an episode of Raw, it would be a unique match with interesting characters involved.
Since Goldberg has already made his return to the WWE, it would be funny to see his parody Gillberg come out to his music and make his way to the ring during the rumble match. His purpose in the match wouldn’t be anything more than comedy, as he could have interactions with other enhancement talents like Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. With this you can even appeal to Goldberg haters while introducing some light-hearted fun into a company that doesn’t do funny all too well anymore. He already returned this year on The Edge and Christian Show that Totally Reeks of Awesomeness, so it’s clear they’re in contact with him.
But an even more interesting interaction may be seeing him face off against the chinless wonder James Ellsworth from SmackDown. No Chin Music vs. The Jack Hammer. Imagine the comedic possibilities.
12 Sycho Sid
When discussing the 1997 Royal Rumble PPV, one of the standout matches was the encounter between Sycho Sid and Shawn Michaels. The two men had history prior to their title match back in 1995 when Sid was hired as Michael’s bodyguard heading into the match between HBK and Diesel at WrestleMania XI. The feud was mostly on and off as Sid left the WWE for a while due to an injury, but the feud finally came to fruition at the 1997 Royal Rumble. With their history at this show, it would be interesting to see Sid make a momentary appearance.
Whether as a just a cameo appearance or as an actual Royal Rumble entrant, seeing Sid at the show would be a nice little nod to the viewers of the 1997 Rumble and could help put someone over by eliminating a former WWE Champion.
11 Cody Rhodes
Stardust was an absolute waste of time for wrestling fans. He never did anything interesting, had no good matches, and had no character whatsoever. He was a generic rip-off of Goldust that the majority of people didn’t like after the first month or two. However, Cody Rhodes was a man that many people felt had potential to be a big star.
Pre-brand split, it made perfect for Rhodes to leave the company, but the brand split has provided several opportunities for wrestlers who were booked into irrelevancy this year; i.e. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler. Whether Rhodes would be given a world championship opportunity is highly unlikely, but there is nothing wrong with being a supporting character. All Rhodes needs is to develop a character for himself and he would be a clear standout in the company. If TNA goes under and Rhodes get some assurance from WWE higher ups, the Royal Rumble could be a great spot for Cody to return.
10 Triple H
This might come off as a little humorous, but this is a legitimate point.
Triple H’s presence in the Universal Championship match on Raw a few months ago was a huge shock and his endorsement of Kevin Owens made the moment even bigger. Fans assumed he would return to TV, explain his betrayal of Seth Rollins, and slowly build to a feud between the two, but that’s not what’s been happening. Aside from a brief cameo at Clash of Champions, Triple H has yet to return to TV let alone the ring. For whatever reason, they want to hold off on building this match up and his return to TV probably won’t happen until 2017. So, if the company is going to wait so long, why not have him return in the Rumble match? It would be like last year’s storyline with Roman Reigns, but fans would likely be much more into this match. The WWE clearly wants to wait this out, so they should at least make the impact occur on a meaningful show.
It goes without saying that Batista was treated harshly by the fans when he returned in 2014. When he won the Royal Rumble, they hated him, but with legitimate resentment for his part-time status despite showing up every week and appearing on house shows. So, when he left the company to finish filming for Guardians of the Galaxy, many fans were wondering whether he would ever return. Well, if he were ever to return, now would be the time.
With no clear-cut storyline for any potential winner of the Rumble, nor anybody for him to feud with, Batista coming back for a one-off appearance would be welcomed by most. He wouldn’t be taking anyone’s spot, plus Texas has typically less hostile crowds.
In his promo addressing Brock Lesnar, Goldberg would allude to the fact that his match against Lesnar might very well be his last match. This now makes Survivor Series a must-see show as the second and possible final encounter between Goldberg and The Beast Incarnate. However, there are rumors that the WWE is attempting to get Goldberg to wrestle a few more matches after that. If that’s true, then he should make his return at the Royal Rumble.
Whether he wins or loses against Brock Lesnar, it would be easy to write an excuse for him to continue wrestling. If he wins, he can claim that one match wasn’t enough for him and if he loses he can claim he wants to get at least one win before his career ends; it’s a great scenario either way. As a one-off appearance, it works because no one counts the Royal Rumble as a legit match for part-time surprise returns and if it’s a legit return to introduce a new storyline, then the feud can be built from a controversial rumble elimination.
7 Jeff Hardy
People tend to forget how popular Jeff Hardy got before leaving the company, but he was on the verge of surpassing John Cena before venturing to TNA. Now that the company is possibly seeing its end soon, then the WWE has a decent chance of seeing Hardy return to the WWE. There are a multitude of things that can be done with him back into the fold. He’s expressed his desire to wrestle a Hell in a Cell Match and main event WrestleMania and those are all still plausible things for him if the WWE wants him back (maybe not the main event part...).
Sadly, this all depends on whether TNA goes out of business because it’s been reported that Jeff’s contract wouldn’t expire until February of 2017. And in that scenario, even if he was free of his contract as of February 1st, he would still miss the Royal Rumble by two days.
6 Rey Mysterio
With the return of the Cruiserweight Division, it only makes sense to bring back one of the greatest cruiserweight wrestlers of all time.
Rey Mysterio is a house-hold name in regards to luchadores, cruiserweights, and Latino wresters in general. Everywhere he went, he had great matches with cruiserweights and heavyweights alike and made himself a huge star. So to give the new cruiserweights some love, the WWE should do everything they can to bring him in to work the Royal Rumble. If they want to go for something a bit more flippy, then he can have an interaction with Lince Dorado or Gran Metalik. If they want to bring back memories of the past cruiserweight division, then having they can have Mysterio fight or team up with Brian Kendrick.
5 Shelton Benjamin
When the brand split was announced, several wrestlers were rumored to be in talks with the WWE or on their way back to the company. Of those wrestlers, Shelton Benjamin was confirmed when the WWE aired a video package hyping his return to the SmackDown brand. Sadly, an injury was revealed that will keep him on the shelf until next year. While this is disappointing from a short-term standpoint, it could end up being satisfying from a long term one.
With the Royal Rumble coming up in a few months, Benjamin will now can make his comeback in convincing fashion. As the clock counts down to the next Rumble entrant, Benjamin could make his return to a loud pop and a delighted crowd; and unlike most Rumble returns, he’d be back for an extended run.
4 Kurt Angle
Since his contract ended with TNA, fans have been begging to see the Olympic Gold Medalist make his return to the company. He is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars the company ever produced and it would only benefit fans to see him back in the company.
Kurt Angle is a fantastic wrestler with legitimacy from his amateur and Olympic wrestling background. Angle has had some great matches in the WWE with men like Shawn Michaels and Shane McMahon and helped to bolster the TNA roster with his feuds with men like Sting and Samoa Joe. Seeing him make a return and have an extended run on a part-time basis would be great for the WWE. With A.J. Styles, Joe, and Brock Lesnar currently employed by the company, Angle would have a great chance to reignite some great feuds of the past.
3 Matt Hardy
Similarly to Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy’s TNA contract reportedly doesn’t end until February of this year, making it highly unlikely he'll return to the WWE unless they go out of business soon. However, Matt Hardy has made himself a stand-out wrestler with his broken gimmick.
Most people thought of Matt Hardy as a generic wrestler with half the athleticism as Jeff, but Matt has long since surpassed this notion and is one of the biggest stars in TNA. His character can work in any environment; whether serious or comedic. His wrestling ability has not waned and the fans have an even stronger desire to see him than ever before. If by some sad turn of events Hardy had to be released of his contract, the WWE might welcome him back faster than they would Jeff.
2 Stone Cold Steve Austin
He’s undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in the history of professional wrestling and one of the all-time greats from WWE’s past. With a fan base that still loves him, a role with less physical stress, and a PPV in his home state, there’s no reason why Stone Cold Steve Austin shouldn’t be a Royal Rumble entrant.
It’s literally the perfect role for him. His return would evoke a major reaction from the crowd, he could stunner a few people, and then eventually get eliminated by someone the WWE wants to put over or an established star. No one should have a problem with a one-shot return from a legend in the state of his birth, especially since he wouldn’t be winning the match. All they'd need is to bring back his beer thrower and they'd be set.
1 Shawn Michaels
Speaking of huge stars, one can look no further than The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels.
Though Stone Cold Steve Austin is a Texan wrestler and a beloved superstar as well, returning to The Alamodome for Shawn Michaels would be an even bigger return than Stone Cold’s. It was at the 1997 edition of the Royal Rumble where Shawn Michaels defended the WWE Championship against Sycho Sid in his home state. He has a lot of history in that building, let alone that state, so if anyone should make an appearance, it should be him. Though he has stuck to his guns about staying retired, making a Royal Rumble appearance isn’t considered coming out of retirement, so fans won’t be heckling him about it. However, if he did want to come out of retirement, then fighting against A.J. Styles for the WWE Championship would be great for everyone.