The 2015 Royal Rumble is just around the corner. The 30-man over-the-top-rope battle royal is always the main focus of the annual pay-per-view and is the most surprising and unpredictable match of the year.
This year will be the 28th annual Royal Rumble event and it being the surprising event of the year, it seemed apt to look back at some of the surprise returns that have rocked the WWE over the past two decades.
10 – Jerry Lawler – 1997
Commentary legend Jerry Lawler stepped off the mic to enter the 1997 Royal Rumble as the 23rd entrant. The Rumble itself was all about Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin, Lawler tried to take advantage of this by sneaking up behind Hart whilst he had Austin locked in the Sharpeshooter. This did little to bother the The Hitman who turned around and delivered two thunderous punches to The King, the second of which saw Lawler flip over the top rope and out onto the floor below. Jerry lasted just four seconds in the Rumble match, a feat that had only been beaten by three other men at the time.
9 – Sheamus – 2014
The Irish superstar made his valiant return to WWE at last year’s Royal Rumble event after being away from WWE for almost a year after he was forced to undergo shoulder surgery. The crowd favourite entered the Rumble match at number 17 and after eliminating Big E he made it all the way down to the final three, before Roman Reigns broke the record for Royal Rumble eliminations when he eliminated the Celtic Warrior. This was the third consecutive year that Sheamus had made it down to the final four of the Rumble match, after he won back in 2012.
8 – Big Show – 2001
The worlds largest athlete returned to WWE in January 2001 when he entered the Royal Rumble at number 23. He turned the tides of that Rumble match when he ran out to a full ring and quickly eliminated K-Kwik and Test, he then proceeded to chokeslam everyone else in the ring before The Rock low blowed the big man and sent him over the top rope. This wasn’t the end for The Big Show though, annoyed that The Rock had cheated to eliminate him, he dragged The People’s Champion under the bottom rope and chokeslammed him through the announce table for good measure.
7 – Diesel – 2011
The 2011 Royal Rumble will go down in history for many reasons, the main one being that it was the first and only Rumble that included 40 participants instead of the usual 30. One of those extra ten men was Kevin Nash, who was announced as Diesel for the first time since 1996 and was given a huge ovation from the WWE crowd. Nash was entrant number 32 and lasted just under three minutes in the match before he was eliminated by Wade Barrett. The big news to come out of the appearance was that Nash had signed a five-year legends deal with WWE and would be making many more returns in the future.
6 – Mick Foley – 2004
Mick Foley was a shock return in the 2004 Rumble as the hardcore legend hadn’t been seen in WWE since December when he was the co-general manager of Raw. When Test’s music played at number 21 and the big man was nowhere to be seen, the cameras headed backstage and showed him knocked out on the floor. Steve Austin was then yelling at someone to “get out there” which someone did. It was revealed that it was Mick Foley. Foley headed to the ring and attacked Randy Orton who he then set over the top rope and eliminated himself in the process. It didn’t end there as the two continued to fight on the outside before Nunzio involved himself and Orton sneaked away.
5 – Rob Van Dam – 2009
Mr. Monday Night left WWE in 2007 stating that he was burnt out. He then went on to perform on the independent circuit. This added to the shock when RVD came through the curtain as entrant number 24. The superstars in the ring were in shock and RVD went about kicking and clotheslining everything that moved before he was halted by Mike Knox. After lasting just over 13 minutes, Van Dam was eliminated by Chris Jericho. RVD then returned to the independent circuit and TNA where he became the TNA Heavyweight champion, before returning to WWE in 2013.
4 – Kharma – 2012
Only three women in the history of WWE have been included in the Royal Rumble match: Chyna, Beth Phoenix and Kharma. Having never even had a match in WWE, to be a part of the Rumble match must have been an honour for the super diva. Kharma left WWE in 2011 because she was “pregnant” and so was a surprise when she walked out as the twenty-first entrant. She intimidated Michael Cole into eliminating himself before taking out Hunico and hitting Dolph Ziggler with an implant Buster. The Showoff then eliminated Kharma; she spent just a minute in the match.
3 – Chris Jericho – 2013
Jericho had left WWE six months earlier after a Money in the Bank contract vs. Career Match with Dolph Ziggler saw him lose and be forced to leave WWE. Ziggler chose to be the number one entrant in the rumble, suddenly the lights went down and out stepped Y2J with his light up jacket. He and Ziggler fought for a near 50 minutes before Jericho was finally eliminated by The Showoff. Jericho did manage to eliminate Drew Mcintyre and Brodus Clay before he was removed. Jericho then remained with WWE until July when he was once again written of TV so he could go on tour with Fozzy.
2 – Edge – 2010
Edge suffered a torn achilles tendon in mid 2009 and it was reported that the Rated R Superstar could be out of action for up to a year. He was actually only out for six months and made his triumphant return at the Royal Rumble. As the penultimate entrant in the rumble match, Edge ran in and speared everyone that moved in the ring before eliminating Chris Jericho, who had some history with Edge prior to his injury. He made it down to the final two after Cena eliminated Batista and he and Cena exchanged moves before Edge eliminated the former champion to book himself in the Main Event at Wrestlemania XXVI. (Editor Note: Edge actually wrestled in the opening match for the World Heavyweight championship, the first time a Royal Rumble winner opened the show since Bret Hart in 1994)
1 – John Cena – 2008
The number one spot has to go to John Cena. After being involved in seven Rumble matches, eliminating 22 men and winning two of the events, Cena has a lot to look back on at The Royal Rumble, but nowhere more so that the 2008 event. Cena was set to be sidelined until mid-2008 with a torn pectoral muscle but the former World Champion arrived at number 30 and received arguably the biggest ovation of his career when he stepped up and had a stare down with Triple H who was in the centre of the ring at the time. Cena made it down to the final two eliminating Carlito, Mark Henry and Chavo Guerrero in the process. He and Triple H then went for AA’s and Pedigrees before Cena finally AA’d Triple H over the top rope to win the match for a second time and earn his title shot at Wrestlemania XXIV. Cena broke the record for the least amount of time spent in a Rumble that he won when he eliminated Triple H with a time of 8 minutes and 28 seconds.
As all of the above proves, The Royal Rumble is the most unpredictable match of the year and with a Wrestlemania main event spot on the line, every superstar wants to make their time in the rumble count. This years Rumble is in less than two weeks time and with so many superstars ready to step up their game, it could be the most unpredictable yet.
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