The Royal Rumble has always been a staple within the WWE, as well as with the wrestling community. It is the official kickoff for the Road to WrestleMania, with big names coming back to start the run in. That being said, in recent years we have seen legends return for a final swansong, and future champions have made their WWE debuts.
10. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan – 2009 Royal Rumble, #29
The winner of the first ever Royal Rumble in 1988, the crowd would always pop for the WWE Hall of Famer when he made an appearance. While 2012 was a welcome sight, his appearance in the 2009 Royal Rumble sent the crowd into pandemonium. Duggan didn’t last too long, however, the nostalgic feeling as he walked down the aisle just sneaks it into the top 10.
9. Booker T – 2011 Royal Rumble, #21
It had been rumored that Booker T would be making an appearance at the event in 2011, but almost no one thought that he would be returning to take on the New Nexus in the middle of the main event. The Nexus were looking as cocky as ever, with all four members in the ring as the countdown began. It got to zero, the buzzer sounded, and Booker T emerged. We then witnessed CM Punk fall to his knees, as the arena lit up in anticipation for the former six-time champion.
8. Trish Stratus – 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble, #30
There has only been one Royal Rumble for the women, but it was a massive trip down memory lane that ended with the most iconic name in female wrestling in Trish Stratus. This isn’t saying that the likes of Michelle McCool, Molly Holly and Jacqueline weren’t great to see, but Stratus turned the perception of the female superstars around in the attitude era. Teaming up with the likes of Lita, it was only fitting that Stratus had a face-to-face encounter with Sasha Banks and Mickie James.
Banks and Bayley, along with the likes of Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Paige, all paved the way from NXT to have the title of “Diva” dropped. Stratus having confronting the face of the women’s division solidified what we all knew: The women are back and better than ever.
7. Mr. Perfect – 2002 Royal Rumble, #25
Mr. Perfect was someone who battled his fair share of issues, but his return in the 2002 Royal Rumble was nearly perfect. Fans knew in advance that the Hall of Famer would return to the WWE for the first time in nearly five years, but we did not know where in the Rumble he would appear.
The moment that the music of Mr Perfect played throughout the arena, the crowd knew they were in for something special. While he didn’t send anyone over the top rope, he lasted just over fifteen minutes and into the final three. It would take Triple H, the eventual winner of the Royal Rumble, to toss him out. This match led to a full-time contract with the WWE, and while it was only a short one, it was good to see him back where he belonged.
6. Diesel – 2011 Royal Rumble, #32
It was the largest Royal Rumble in history, with the expectation that many superstars from the past would be coming back as per the norm in the event. While we didn’t get as many returns as we expected, the two legendary returns that we did receive were memorable for different reasons.
We already discussed Booker T and his return, but the crowd went nuts for Big Daddy Cool. That eventually lead to Kevin Nash coming back for a run within the WWE, and while that was somewhat cringe worthy, this appearance was the opposite of that.
5. Chris Jericho – 2013 Royal Rumble, #2
There was not a single person within the audience that was expecting Chris Jericho to make his return to the WWE in the Royal Rumble match in 2013. He had finished up his tour with Fozzy, but there was not even an inkling that Jericho would be back. Logically, it made sense as Dolph Ziggler, who was the first entrant, cost Jericho his contract five months earlier.
His comeback match would be a fantastic showcase, lasting almost 48 minutes, as well as tossing two over the top. Ziggler eventually eliminated his old nemesis, but it was a superb performance that saw Jericho back for a solid run into the first half of 2013.
4. Edge – 2010 Royal Rumble, #29
Six months after Edge had torn his Achilles tendon, he surprised everyone by coming in at #29 to win the 2010 Royal Rumble. There really is nothing that described this more than the video that has the view behind Jericho.
It was a match full of spears after Edge entered the ring, before eliminating his former tag team partner in Jericho. With Batista, John Cena and Shawn Michaels in the last four, Michaels and Batista took care of themselves before Edge sent Cena over the top to get his title shot at WrestleMania.
3. Triple H – 2016 Royal Rumble, #30
It was at a time where Roman Reigns was just starting to be disliked by the fans within the WWE Universe. He was being forced down the throats of the viewers, and was quickly becoming the next target outside of John Cena.
When Triple H came out, the crowd exploded. They exploded yet again when Triple H eliminated Reigns, taking away not only his chance to win the Rumble match, but also his WWE Championship. Triple H became a fourteen-time world champion with that win, and took the spotlight away from Reigns.
2. Rey Mysterio – 2018 Royal Rumble, #27
The main shock of the most recent Rumble was the return of Rey Mysterio, who appeared in the illustrious #27 spot. The crowd was pretty well on fire for most of the night, with the surprises of Andrade “Cien” Almas, Adam Cole and The Hurricane all receiving positive reactions. In the best shape of his life, Mysterio’s music hit and reacted with joy.
It was that night that brought talks between the two about a potential return to the WWE. It seems that it will now happen, with Mysterio signing a two-year deal within the last few weeks. The interest will be based around where he may go, as well as in what capacity.
1. John Cena – 2008 Royal Rumble, #30
John Cena tore his pectoral muscle just four months earlier during a match with Mr. Kennedy, and wasn’t expected to return until just after WrestleMania. Bobby Lashley had been barred from the Royal Rumble, as per the instructions of Mr. McMahon, so everyone was clueless as to who would be #30.
As Cena entered, Triple H was in a state of shock, with the Rumble coming to a complete standstill. Cena came in and cleared the ring, taking out Mark Henry, Carlito and Chavo Guerrero in quick succession. It came down to Kane, Batista, Triple H and Cena. The duo from Evolution took care of Kane, while Hunter got rid of Batista. Still, it was Cena who won with an “F-U” to Triple H.
That leaves a few off the list that very well could be on it. The likes of AJ Styles could an example, if it wasn’t for an emphasis on Roman Reigns during the entrance. Who do you think should be on the list?
Picture Credit – WWE