Each January, wrestling fans get pumped for a match that only comes around once a year - that match is the Royal Rumble. This isn’t just your typical battle royal match where everyone is trying to throw each over other top rope for no reason; no, this is an opportunity to propel someone to new heights, for a chance at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. It’s a kickoff to the “Road to WrestleMania” and luckily for every wrestling fan, it’s going to happen in less than two weeks.
Typically, this match has thirty spots, which are scooped up by most of the active roster, typically through an announcement by each one. There are a few left open to surprise fans with wrestlers from the past, that were previously injured, or even from other promotions. When done right, this usually gets everyone out of their seats yelling in excitement, or as former WWE announcer Jim Ross would say: “Business is about to pick up!”
So, in the spirit of tradition, let’s do like the crowd does and countdown to the biggest and best surprise entrants for WWE’s Royal Rumble!
10 Edge (2010)
Edge tore his Achilles tendon during a house show match in July of 2009. Most fans weren’t expecting to see Edge for awhile as it was reported he could be out for up to a year.
9 Kharma (2012)
Kharma's history with the WWE is relatively short as the Royal Rumble match was her only official one with the company. In mid 2011, she revealed to the WWE Universe that she was pregnant, and would have to take a break for the foreseeable future.
8 Triple H (2002)
Keeping the trend of “injured superstars” going, Triple H had a match against Chris Jericho where he ended up tearing his left quadriceps muscle completely off the bone, famously still finishing the match, despite the incredible pain. This happened on May 21st, 2001 and kept Triple H out of action for over eight months; the injury was so bad some thought he may never wrestle again.
7 Chris Jericho (2013)
After losing his WWE contract in a match with Dolph Ziggler in mid August of 2012, Jericho was forced to leave the WWE. In actuality, he had to go tour the world with his band Fozzy. After about five months, fans began to forget about Y2J and that’s when he decided to come right back into their lives at the 2013 Royal Rumble.
6 Roddy Piper (2008)
By 2008, Piper’s full time in-ring days were long gone, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t still jump in to wrestle from time to time. Well, in the 2008 Royal Rumble, Piper’s spot came one after another old-school wrestler, Jimmy Snuka. There was a massive difference in the reaction each wrestler received; Snuka’s was more of a golf clap, while Piper received an extremely loud pop that carried out all the way until he climbed into the ring.
5 Rob Van Dam (2009)
Due to burn out from the wrestling business, RVD left the WWE back in 2006 to take a break and heal up. He eventually started making the rounds in the indy wrestling scene, but in early 2009 he decided to come back to the WWE for a special appearance.
4 Booker T (2011)
Booker T left the WWE back in 2007 due to being linked to a company that was selling performance-enhancing drugs; Booker denied ever using this company, and ended up asking for his release from the company soon after. He went off to TNA Wrestling and worked internationally for the next few years, falling very much out of the mindset of most WWE fans.
3 Bubba Ray Dudley (2015)
Last year, the Rumble was in Philly, where once Daniel Bryan was eliminated, the crowd became extremely grumpy for the remainder of the match. Before that occurred, WWE smartly booked to the live crowd by bringing out Bubba Ray Dudley at number three, where he did a bunch of the usual Dudley spots with R-Truth. Amazingly, this would be his first ever appearance at the Royal Rumble.
2 John Cena (2008)
On October 1st, 2007, John Cena was in a match with Mr. Kennedy and while performing a hip toss, he ended up tearing his pectoral muscle completely off the bone, instantly putting him on the injured list.
1 Diesel (2011)
2011 was a good year for legendary returns as the man, Kevin Nash, hadn’t been in WWE since he left in 2004, going off to TNA for the next few years. Topping that, the gimmick of Diesel hadn’t been seen since 1996, so needless to say, when the big man stepped out and put on his black glove, everyone in the arena exploded with cheers.
Diesel fared a bit better than Booker T, as he lasted almost three minutes, eventually being eliminated by Wade Barrett. Nash ended up signing a Legends Contract with WWE, making random appearances ever since then, including feuds with CM Punk and Triple H.
Sources: WWE.com, Wikipedia.org
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