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The 17 Best Royal Rumble Surprises Of All Time

The 17 Best Royal Rumble Surprises Of All Time

The Royal Rumble always throws up a surprise or two and these are SPORTbible's favourite ones from the past 32 years.

Ryan Sidle

Ryan Sidle

To many the Royal Rumble match is the best event of the WWE calendar and that is mainly to do with the surprise element of the night.

We know that 30 men, and women in the newer match, will enter and we often know who many of those names are but the excitement comes in not knowing the order and not knowing who may turn up that isn't advertised.

Despite the Rumble starting in 1988 the 'surprise' element is pretty new as before the turn of the century pretty much all the competitors were current members of the roster.

Here's our favourite surprises from down the years:

17. Honky Tonk Man - 2001: Perhaps the original surprise entrant. The longest ever reigning Intercontinental Champion left WWE in 1991 but returned in 1997 for a year as colour commentator and manager. By 2001 he'd been out of the company for three years and made a surprise return entering the Rumble. He didn't last long and was one of Kane's many eliminations that year.

16. Rowdy Roddy Piper - 2008: Piper still managed to get a huge pop at the Rumble in Madison Square Garden. It had only been two years since he'd held the tag titles with Ric Flair but it was still awesome to seem him come face to face with old rival Jimmy Snuka.

Snuka and Piper at the Rumble. Image:
Snuka and Piper at the Rumble. Image:

15. Pete Dunne - 2019: In modern times some of the surprises come from NXT which means they're still part of the current roster, does it make them less surprising? Not in the case of Dunne who was still NXT UK champion at the time and the Bruiserweight representing the UK will always get a huge pop from us

14. DDP - 2015: Diamond Dallas Page's time in WWE may have only lasted about a year but he's a wrestling icon from his time in WCW. When he returned to action at the Rumble in 2015 it was his first match in the company in 14 years and he hit a raft of Diamond Cutters.

13. Bubba Ray Dudley - 2015: The Miz and R-Truth kicked off the Rumble in 2015 but they were massively outstaged the first time the countdown clock hit zero and the Dudley's bombs falling were sounded. In Philadelphia, the home of ECW, the crowd went wild.

12. RVD - 2009: Rob Van Dam had been out of WWE for two years when he came in at number 25 in the Rumble to a huge reaction. Mr Monday Night lasted nearly 14 minutes but despite an impressive performance he wasn't coming back to WWE, which makes it even better. He did eventually return in 2013.

11. Jeff Jarrett - 2019: Few placings in a Rumble have been as perfect as Jarrett's last year. The Tennessee man interrupted Elias trying to sing a song for the crowd, entering at number two. Unfortunately his time in the match lasted just over a minute but it was still a brilliantly executed surprise.

10. Diesel - 2011: Big Daddy Cool returned to the WWE as a surprise entrant in the first ever 40 man Rumble and the crowd were loving it. The fact that he came back as Diesel and not Kevin Nash or with the nWo just made the whole thing cooler. He'd been away from the company for eight years and it eventually led to his feud with CM Punk and Triple H later in the year.

9. Mick Foley - 2004: Foley's triple entrance in 1998 as Cactus Jack, Mankind and Dude Love is one of the coolest Rumble moments in history but his return in 2004 is one of the most surprising. In 2003 he'd had a storyline with Randy Orton but hadn't competed in any matches. He returned at the Rumble lasting just 43 seconds to eliminate Orton and himself and set up their future match perfectly.

Foley fights with Orton. Image:
Foley fights with Orton. Image:

8. Beth Phoenix - 2010: Chyna was the first woman to compete in the men's Royal Rumble but it wasn't a surprise as the Eighth Wonder of the World competed against men all the time. Phoenix's surprise in 2010 was brilliant and she eliminated the Great Khali to make it even better.

7. Kharma - 2012: This surprise would have been higher if it didn't end up going nowhere, which was hugely unfortunate. Kharma had a brief spell of action in 2011, without ever competing in a match, before being taken off TV in May. She returned at the Rumble, eliminated Michael Cole and Huncio, the latter in awesome fashion, before Dolph Ziggler eliminated her. It was her only official match in the company.

Kharma turns up for the 2012 Rumble. Image:
Kharma turns up for the 2012 Rumble. Image:

6. Rey Mysterio - 2018: In 2014 Mysterio was the unfortunate number 30 entrant when fans wanted Daniel Bryan. The Master of the 619 was unfairly booed and the whole thing was a mess. He left in 2015 but returned to a hugely positive reaction three years later at the Rumble and is still enjoying his latest run with WWE.

5. Chris Jericho - 2013: Jericho's contract was terminated in 2012 in a storyline with Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler entered the Rumble at number one and told the crowd he didn't care who number two was, cue Y2Js entrance music. Jericho lasted nearly 50 minutes which is always an impressive feat.

4. Edge - 2010: Edge suffered an injury in July 2009 which meant he was going to be injured for up to a year. It came when he was tag team champion with Jericho. His partner soon replaced him with Big Show and trashed Edge. At the Rumble the R Rated Superstar returned early to a massive reaction, eliminated Jericho and won the match.

3. AJ Styles - 2016: In this day and age it's hard to keep anything a secret and many thought that AJ Styles had left New Japan Pro Wrestling to sign with WWE but no one knew he was going to turn up at the Royal Rumble. The man considered the best western wrestler in the modern era never to have appeared in the company showed up to great reaction and he's been the best thing on the roster since.

2. Ronda Rousey - 2018: Perhaps not strictly a Rumble surprise as the match had already ended but to heck with it. Women's sport owes a lot to former UFC champ Rousey and when she hit the ring after Auska's victory in the first ever Women's Rumble the reaction was massive. Her run in WWE was brief but it helped elevate the women to their first ever Wrestlemania main event. Massive.

1. John Cena - 2008: Edge's comeback from injury was great but it wasn't the original. Cena tore his pectoral muscle on a Raw episode in October and after surgery was expected to be out for up to a year. 29 men had entered the Rumble at Madison Square Garden with Triple H, the favourite, coming in as the penultimate entrant. No one knew who 30 was going to be and as the buzzer hit zero there was a slight pause with 'Trips' stood on his own in the middle of the ring. The shock on the 14 time champions face when Cena's music hit, several months earlier than expected, was a thing of beauty and the crowd erupted once when the entrance video showed and again when the stage doors revealed the Dr of Thuganomics. Cena, Trips and Batista were the last three and the former two men were the last pair remaining. After a brilliant back and forth Cena lifted his rival and dumped him over the top rope with the FU. Cena flexed his arm to show the pec was fine and he was off to headline Wrestlemania. The best shock, the best comeback an incredible moment.

What's your favourite Rumble moment?

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Topics: Rey Mysterio, Wrestling News, WWE News, Wrestling, Royal Rumble, John Cena, WWE, Ronda Rousey