The 2011 Royal Rumble having 40 entrants instead of the traditional 30 left the door open for an extra number of surprise entrants and Diesel (aka Kevin Nash) was one of them. To see him sporting the old-school WWF gear rather than his WCW attire was refreshing, bringing back old memories of him and Shawn Michaels together, amongst many others. It was a cool moment just to see him back, although his time in the match was nothing special.
This was rather unexpected, granted not as much as the incredible comeback career he had after his Rumble return. Specifically targeting his brother Cody, Goldust’s return set up a feud that for some reason never really saw the time it should’ve gotten. However his return was a huge surprise and the following couple years after were arguably some of his best work, for example his tag match with Cody against the SHIELD, one of the most emotionally investing matches we’ve seen this decade in WWE.
This is one of the few Rumble returns in the last 10 years that WWE actually managed to shut the fuck up about and because of that, it was one of the biggest pops we’ve heard in a Rumble match in recent memory. Convinced he was long gone, hearing “One of a Kind” suddenly start playing really lit up the crowd. Granted, other than winning the title from Cena at One Night Stand, WWE really never did treat RVD very well since that return. But at the very least we got an awesome moment from it.
After a destructive run from the CM Punk version of the Nexus, number 21 had the crowd erupt when the words “Can you dig it…SUCKAAAAAAA!!!” played for the first time in quite a while. Matt Striker marking out really added to the moment, regardless of people’s opinions of him, clearly WWE didn’t enjoy it. But Booker’s return marked a super awesome moment when it comes to Rumble surprises, although it didn’t last terribly long due to the numbers game. But it’s okay, he’s got a really good announcing career going on! *sarcasm*
The picture makes this set of returns look terrible, but in terms of an actual moment in history, this was huge. To have both Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Rowdy Roddy Piper in the same ring together, that same rivalry we all remember from the Piper’s Pit coconut moment. It was incredible, if you were a fan during that era, this moment was absolutely tremendous for you. As it should be.
The earliest entry on this list, Mick’s return in 2004 was a crazy setup. I believe it was Test that was supposed to come out to the ring at that spot, but he was found lying on the floor, out. Austin who was the Commissioner at the time, I believe, yells at someone and tells them that they’re in the match instead. And then we hear that familiar car wreck sound and out comes Mrs. Foley’s baby boy! Of course, this was to continue a rivalry that he’d been having with the “Legend Killer” at the time, Randy Orton. It was a great moment in the Rumble, the look on Orton’s face alone sold it so well.
My personal favourite moment in the Rumble, which leads to a wish I have about the future Rumbles, having to do with Asuka. But Kharma suddenly showing up in the 2012 Rumble was amazing. Someone scaring the fuck out of Michael Cole is good enough, but for her to actually get legitimate offense, including her finisher on a male wrestler was huge for that time, given the state of the
Women’s Divas division. Poor Dolph, he never stood a chance.
Another return that was kept quiet, in the last few years no less! After Ziggler got the #1 spot and had a promo telling everyone it doesn’t matter, so just send out #2 already was a prime introduction to a huge surprise in a returning Jericho. Which is a real shame to think about now, when this year’s Rumble having a returning Jericho is so haphazard. A man of his talent and star power shouldn’t be this “Meh.”. Ever.
Returning from a serious injury to winning the Rumble match, Tazz said it best when he nearly said “Holy Shit!” into the headset. And it was positioned perfectly, near the very end to a crowd of already exhausted wrestlers. The “Ultimate Opportunist” indeed. And I’m a huge Edgehead as well, so while I think this deserves the spot it’s in, there may be a little bias in this one.
The current mark in me is scoffing at this moment and wanting to vomit, but I can’t deny that this was the most shocking and surprising return in Royal Rumble history. SuperCena was supposed to be out far longer with a serious (I think it was a shoulder tear or something?) injury and he returned to be #30 in the Rumble, win and go onto WrestleMania. Of course Cena gets that treatment, just wait for the 2020 Rumble when Roman gets the same shtick. Either way, the crowd went crazy when this happened and it’s understandable. He wasn’t in “Let’s go, Cena! CENA SUCKS!!!” territory just yet.
And there’s my Top 10 Royal Rumble Surprise Entrants! If you’ve got a different order or names I forgot to mention, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below!