It's that time of year where all wrestling fans' focus shifts towards the next major pay-per-view in Royal Rumble. For many, it is the most exciting event thanks to one of WWE's greatest concept matches to date. With the first Royal Rumble having taken place in 1988, this year is set to be the 31st event. The PPV is closely followed not only by current WWE fans but also the older ones who have stopped watching, which speaks volumes about how exciting and iconic this Rumble match truly is.
With the winner heading to the main event, WrestleMania, for a title match, there is plenty at stake to make fans look forward to it. But it's not the only reason why so many people tune in to watch the Royal Rumble, the surprise returns have played a big part in generating hype throughout the years. Some of the most famous returns have occurred during the event, which makes sense since it's one of WWE's most viewed shows. Nostalgia is known to sell more than anything in wrestling as fans love watching their favorite Superstars return, and WWE has always used that to their advantage.
While there are plenty of names that fans would love to see back in a WWE ring, they aren't realistic due to personal rifts that may exist or burned bridges with Vince McMahon. With today's list, we look at 8 who might return for Royal Rumble 2018 and 7 who have no chance!
15 Might Return: Rob Van Dam
Since RVD's last run with the company, his name has come up in rumors linking him to return to WWE. He has also teased a comeback on his Twitter account, leaving the door open for a potentially final run. RVD is no stranger to Royal Rumble returns as he already did back in 2009 to a great reception from the fans. The former Superstar will be turning 47 in a month, which means he may be considering one last run and hefty check with the WWE before he hangs up the boots.
While no one expects RVD to win the Rumble, he's one of the few faces that fans will always cheer for and look forward to seeing upon his appearances. More recently, RVD was featured in WWE 2K18 as a Superstar, indicating that recent talks have taken place between him and the company, but it remains to be seen whether he will return to the ring.
14 No Chance: John Morrison
If you ask most WWE fans about wasted talents, one of the first names that will surely come to mind is John Morrison who enjoyed a decent run with the company but never fully reached his potential. When he teamed up with The Miz, not many would have that thought the latter would end up headlining WrestleMania and achieving greater success, while Morrison would fade away.
In 2011, fans were surprised to see Morrison leave the WWE after rejecting a new contract, opting to take his talents to the independent scene. In several interviews, Morrison has noted that he enjoyed wrestling more since leaving the company, as he prefers having creative control and different options available to him.
For that very reason, it seems unlikely that Morrison will be back anytime soon as he continues to be a major player in Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide as well as Impact Wrestling.
13 Might Return: Carlito
Carlito is one of the many names from the mid-2000s who were expected to have a bright future but failed to reach that next level. With a victory over John Cena to win the United States title in his debut, Carlito quickly rose to fame in 2004. Fans appreciated his early years where he shone as the arrogant heel who spat apples in wrestler's faces. But many factors played into his downfall as a Superstar from his laziness to bad booking.
Carlito left the company due to frustration with the creative team and joined some independent promotions where he continues to wrestle today. With two of his siblings signed to the WWE, Carlito never burned any bridges and has indicated that the door is open for him to return. He did note that it would have to make sense from a creative and financial perspective to sign with the company.
12 No Chance: Daniel Bryan
While Daniel Bryan is still around as the General Manager of SmackDown, the entire WWE Universe would much rather see him compete in the ring. Bryan was forced to retire due to an injury with WWE doctors refusing to clear him Although he has gotten the approval of outside doctors, the WWE seems set to not take any risks with Bryan's health, as it could lead to bad PR. Fans are still hoping to see him compete once again, believing that WWE might clear him eventually. But that's unlikely to happen for this upcoming Royal Rumble, so you would be better off not getting your hopes up. After seeing Kurt Angle compete recently, it's understandable that fans believe that Bryan may be getting the green light. Angle appears to be in a far worse condition and has a history of injuries, but Bryan's career will not be resuming at this time.
11 Might Return: Batista
Everyone can agree that Batista's last run was a failure. It wasn't his fault by any means, as he was stuck in a no man's land. While he has always been popular with the fans, they wanted a new star in Daniel Bryan to win the Royal Rumble, which Batista ended up winning. Since them, he was greeted with boos to the point WWE had to change its original plans. Batista's recent Hollywood success hasn't made him move on from wrestling as he has declared an interest in a final run. After departing to creative differences last time, Batista would have to come to an agreement with the company about the direction of his booking. He was also featured in the newly released WWE 2K18, and recently had a brief exchange with Vince McMahon on Twitter. Wrestling sites claim that Batista may be one of the names to return soon, and it could happen at the Royal Rumble.
10 No Chance: Ryback
Ryback may have burned any bridges he had left with WWE with some of his interviews. The outspoken Superstar has never been one to hold back, and he has called out some top figures in the company. After enjoying a decent run, he left the company due to a contract dispute. WWE refused to meet his demands, and Ryback who was already fed up with the creative team opted not to extend his expiring contract. It was a bitter situation that resulted in another WWE Superstar getting released.
When Ryback took to social media to explain the situation and voice his feelings, Cameron replied to support his claims. She was gone from the company within days, which tells you that Ryback may not be welcomed back at this time. After embarking on a new journey on the independent circuit, Ryback is probably not too interested either following years of frustration.
9 Might Return: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho will have a busy start to his year after agreeing to compete against Kenny Omega at the upcoming Wrestle Kingdom 12 in NJPW. The match is going to be huge in the wrestling world with two stars from different companies meeting up in the ring. Although Jericho isn't signed to WWE at the moment, he was taking a break to tour with his band Fozzy. Before he returns to the company, Jericho will compete against what many have dubbed as the best wrestler in the world.
With the match taking place on January 4, 2018, Jericho would have 24 days to prepare for the Royal Rumble. With his tour coming to an end, Jericho probably wants to be involved in the upcoming WrestleMania and there's no better place to come back than the Rumble match. It's likely going to be the surprise of the night if the rumors prove to be true.
8 No Chance: CM Punk
With WWE starting to run out of names to bring back, CM Punk is probably the biggest name out there who can generate fan excitement for more than a week. While we have seen stranger things happen, he has been on bad terms with the company since leaving. Whenever the fans chant CM Punk towards Triple H or Stephanie McMahon, they've taken shots at the former Superstar.
Punk was one of the many stars upset with the direction of the company and eventually was too fed up to continue working for them. He has also called out the WWE for neglecting serious injuries that could have been career threatening and forcing wrestlers to work in these conditions. If there's one name we can guarantee won't show up at the 2018 Royal Rumble, it would be CM Punk. Time heals all as they say, and he might be welcomed back eventually.
7 Might Return: Kevin Nash
With Kevin Nash being advertised for Raw's 25th year anniversary, some websites have indicated that he may appear as a surprise entry at the Royal Rumble match. He returned a few years ago as Diesel to surprise everyone, and it was one of the better returns in recent years. While Nash is far removed from his prime years, and he can't be actively wrestling anymore, a brief cameo at the Rumble wouldn't be a tough task for him. It would likely be a one-time appearance since Nash isn't exactly a drawing power these days, nor are fans invested to see him more than once every year. In recent interviews, he has hinted that he may be appearing soon for more than one appearance. With the Royal Rumble coming up, it would make sense for WWE to use him as a surprise entry with very few options available.
6 No Chance: The Rock
Just a few days ago, The Rock revealed on Twitter that he has a torn labrum in his shoulder after being challenged to an arm wrestling contest by a fan. With the Rumble taking place in approximately two months, The Rock probably won't be healed by then. But even if he The Rock happened to be healthy, wrestling just doesn't seem to be in his plans at the moment.
With another busy year coming up, The Rock is set to be filming a couple of projects that will take up the majority of his time. Last year, he was named as Hollywood's highest paid actor and he continued his dominant run in 2017. It seems unlikely that The Rock would be willing to take wrestling bumps for a check that simply doesn't compare to that of his films. While he might make an appearance to cut a promo at one of the upcoming events, he's probably not going to be involved in ring action.
5 Might Return: The Undertaker
Most people were convinced that The Undertaker had finally retired at WrestleMania after losing to Roman Reigns. WWE wanted the moment to come off as the torch being passed down but fans have rejected that notion. Rumors claim that Taker is gearing up for another WrestleMania match this year. He's also appearing at the Raw 25th year anniversary in January, so you may see him wrestling again at the 2018 Royal Rumble.
Taker participated in last year's match, and there's a decent chance that he will be involved once again. With so many potential WrestleMania opponents for him, the Rumble always serves as a great way to build up a feud. From John Cena to AJ Styles and even Sting, there are several dream WrestleMania matches that fans would love to see. Although he doesn't have much left in the tank, fans will never say no to an appearance from The Deadman.
4 No Chance: Mr. Kennedy
It's been nearly a decade since we last saw Mr. Kennedy in a WWE ring. It's hard to believe considering he was supposed to be the next huge Superstar, but his career came crashing down once Randy Orton and John Cena complained about him being a dangerous worker. Kennedy was released and moved on to TNA for years to come until he recently left to become a commentator.
It seems like the WWE door may not be open for him since he hasn't returned after all these years, while the company has largely ignored his run. With Cena and Orton still being two influential figures, they may be the reason why Kennedy has no chance of returning to the WWE. He hasn't exactly set the world on fire since leaving so they may not be too eager to consider giving him a second chance.
3 Might Return: Bobby Lashley
One could say that Bobby Lashley was the original Roman Reigns before he left the company. He was pushed to the moon in a relatively short time, winning the ECW Championship while headlining plenty of events. He was supposed to be in the class of John Cena and Batista, who had been the main faces of the company at the time. Fans were growing sick of Lashley after basically running over the entire roster before he was surprisingly released.
Lashley would go on to join TNA where he has significantly improved since his WWE days, not only as a wrestler but on the mic as well. He would be a good addition to today's roster and rumors have it that Lashley may be interested. In a recent interview, he mentioned that he stays in contact with Paul Heyman who has invited him to rejoin the company. With the Royal Rumble coming up, it would be the perfect opportunity for him to come back.
2 No Chance: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio was the winner of the 2006 Royal Rumble but history won't be repeating itself. Unless the WWE has been secretly planning to sign him, he is unlikely to appear at the Royal Rumble. His last run was forgettable as he struggled with several injuries that put him out for an extended time. The storylines involving him weren't interesting, and fans slightly lost interest in the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Since leaving the company, Mysterio has avoided nagging injuries and appears to be having a better time with Lucha Underground. The schedule works for his favor as well with Mysterio being too injury prone to work a full-time schedule. He will definitely be back in a WWE ring in due time, but not at the moment. Mysterio is currently having the most memorable run of his career in years, and he will likely struggle to fit in the current WWE.
1 Might Return: Goldberg
After returning to WWE in 2016 to compete in a few matches, Goldberg was able to conquer some of the top Superstar including Brock Lesnar and Kevin Owens. He squashed the former in a matter of seconds and beat the latter to capture the WWE Universal Title.
Goldberg had been absent from the WWE for 12 years and fans were excited to see him, but that began to fade away once he became champion. Goldberg hasn't wrestled since his last match at WrestleMania in which he lost the title to Lesnar, but rumors claim that he may be returning at the 2018 Royal Rumble.
While fans would love to see Goldberg, they will surely turn on him once again if he's booked to win the match over a full-time talent. Looking at WWE's history, it wouldn't exactly shock any of us as old-timers continue to dominate the scene as seen at Survivor Series.