WrestleMania is obviously the biggest professional wrestling spectacle of the year, but the Royal Rumble may be the most entertaining.
As 30 superstars enter the Royal Rumble match, there are always a few superstars that surprise the fans. Whether they are superstars coming back from injury, NXT up and coming stars, or Hall-of-Famers, the Royal Rumble is bound to surprise us once again.
Beginning in 1988, the Royal Rumble started with 20 participants, which evolved into the 30, as it sits today. With the Royal Rumble’s lottery system, fans never know which superstars are going to be drawn next. Although the majority of superstars in the Royal Rumble are on the WWE main roster, a few surprises are always bound to happen.
There is no other PPV in wrestling like the Royal Rumble, so fans can’t wait to see what happens every year. The Royal Rumble winners guarantee themself in the main event at WrestleMania, so the surprising entries can create quite the intriguing storyline as the Royal Rumble progresses.
The surprising entries have sometimes been the first drawn number or 30th drawn number, so people never know when someone they didn’t expect is going to show up. This year’s Royal Rumble is bound to have a few surprising entries, which should make the PPV quite entertaining. Whether it’s Sting who draws a number, or someone like Randy Orton who finally returns from injury, the Royal Rumble will keep fans guessing and entertained.
With that being said, here are the top 15 Royal Rumble surprise entrants of all-time.
After a three-year absence from the WWE, Bob Backlund surprised many by making his return at the 2000 Royal Rumble. Backlund entered the ring as the 14th entrant and although he only lasted a few minutes in the ring, his return was special. Backlund is no stranger to the Royal Rumble match, once lasting over 60 minutes in the 1993 Royal Rumble; a mark that stood until 2004.
After an amazing 11-years outside of a WWE ring, Road Dogg made his return at the 2012 Royal Rumble. Lasting roughly five-minutes in the ring, Road Dogg was eventually eliminated by Wade Barrett. Always a fan-favourite, Road Dogg’s return at the Royal Rumble sparked some momentum as he continued to wrestler on the main roster for a few more years.
His appearance at the 2001 Royal Rumble was surprising, but what happened during his comeback was even more surprising. The WWE legend that loves to entertain the fans and play music came back at the absolute worst time. Kane was in the middle of setting the record (at the time) for most eliminations in Royal Rumble history and continued his dominance over Honky Tonk Man. Instead of leading the crowd in a song, Kane took the Honky Tonk Man’s guitar and smashed him over the head with it.
The beautiful diva Beth Phoenix entered the Royal Rumble in 2010, becoming the second woman to ever do so. Divas don’t normally wrestle superstars, so Phoenix making an appearance was quite intriguing. Entering the ring with The Great Khali and CM Punk, Phoenix bolted into the match. Phoenix would make a fool of The Great Khali, as she would grab his face to kiss him, but eventually pull him over the top ropes, eliminating him.
In one of the more surprising entries in WWE history, Drew Carey participated in the 2001 Royal Rumble. Better known as a comedian, Carey was quite funny during his only appearance in the squared circle. Normally fans will be laughing with Carey, but this time they were definitely laughing at him. In one of the funnier eliminations in Royal Rumble history, Carey eliminated himself from the match after being left alone in the ring with Kane.
Becoming the third ever female to enter a Royal Rumble match, Kharma entered in the Royal Rumble match in 2011. It’s always a shock when a WWE Diva enters the Royal Rumble, but this was even more surprising, as she had been out of the WWE for seven months. Although Kharma’s run in the WWE would not last much longer after than appearance, she was still effective in the match eliminating Hunico and Michael Cole, before being eliminated by Dolph Ziggler.
Mr. Perfect was away from the WWE five years before making his return during the 2002 Royal Rumble. Although, it wasn’t as surprising as others, as the WWE decided to reveal that he would be attending the Royal Rumble prior to the event, seeing him in the ring was still quite a surprise. Mr. Perfect was able to stay until the final three, but would eventually be eliminated. Although it was great to see him back in the ring, he didn’t last long with the WWE, being released a few months later.
After Goldust was released in 2012, he made his return in 2013. No one expected the famous Goldust to enter the match, so fans went crazy during his appearance. Goldust was eliminated by his half-brother, Cody, and lasted nearly 10 minutes. He wouldn't be back on regular programming again until September, where came to the aid of his half-brother after he was fired by Triple H.
Fans went crazy when Rob Van Dam returned to the WWE at the Royal Rumble in 2009. Entering as the 25th participant, fans erupted chanting “R-V-D” in a loud pop. Van Dam left the WWE in 2007 due to personal reasons, but to the delight of his fans lasted roughly 14 minutes, before being eliminated by Chris Jericho. Although RVD would continue to wrestle with TNA after the Royal Rumble, he has continued to make strong runs with the WWE in the past two years.
At the tender age of 51-years-old, Diesel made his return to the Royal Rumble in 2011. After not using the Diesel persona in the WWE since 1996, Diesel’s appearance was not expected and although he was so old during the match, he was incredibly serviceable putting on a great performance, lasting 2:45. Wade Barrett eliminated Diesel in the match, but his appearance nevertheless made fans everywhere excited.
Booker T is a fan favourite and his return in 2011 at the Royal Rumble excited many. Making his way into the ring for the first time since 2007, Booker T entered as the 21st participant. The Royal Rumble is quite the nostalgic match so watching Booker T do his trademarked spin move in the center of the ring made his appearance well worth it. Booker T would eventually be eliminated by Mason Ryan, and immediately moved into television as the SmackDown colour commentator two days later.
Foley’s appearance was quite surprising because of the circumstances that endured before his music hit. Test was supposed to appear as the 21st participant but was found injured before he could attend. Raw's Sheriff at the time, Stone Cold Steve Austin, ordered someone to find a replacement. As a result, Foley appeared as the 21st entry instead and began to attack Randy Orton, which highlighted a feud heading into WrestleMania.
In one of the loudest pops in Royal Rumble history, Chris Jericho’s return in 2013 was monstrous. After being on a hiatus touring with his band Fozzy, Jericho entered the match second after and lasted over 47 minutes in the ring. Jericho’s return at the Royal Rumble was so awesome because he continued to say on social media and in interviews that he would not be appearing. However, since he lied to the world and appeared unexpected, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
In 2008, John Cena was recovering from a torn pectoral muscle and wasn’t scheduled to appear in the WWE for few months after the Royal Rumble. However, as the 30th entry, Cena did the impossible by eliminating Carlito, Mark Henry, Chavo Guerrero and Triple H to win the 2008 Royal Rumble match. Like many others, Cena used the Royal Rumble to make his triumphed return and his victory secured him a main event match at Wrestlemania.
Entering the Rumble as the 29th entrant, Edge surprised everyone by coming back from a six-month injury hiatus. He was expected to be out for 14 months, but returned much earlier than anticipated. After tearing his Achilles tendon in 2009, Edge eliminated Chris Jericho and eventually eliminated John Cena to win the Royal Rumble. Although Edge would be defeated at WrestleMania, he was able to capture two more World Championships before retiring in 2011.