As a flagship event of the WWE, The Royal Rumble is a truly spectacular form of entertainment. Even though most participants are announced in advance, the concept allows for a few surprises. This is part of the charm and excitement.
Thanks to the rich history of the event and so many iconic moments, it was very hard to pick only a few names for this list. To keep the list short and relevant, we concluded it is best if we stick to surprise appearances, returns from retirement, and sudden returns from hard injuries. Here we go!
John Cena Winning His First Royal Rumble Ever
John Cena’s early injury recovery was one of the biggest surprises in the 2008 Royal Rumble. Following the injury that was supposed to keep him out of action for a year, Cena made his return after only four months, shocking the fans in the Madison Square Garden. Not only did they see his unexpected return, but he also won his first Royal Rumble match that night. This moment solidified Cena as one of the top stars in WWE history.
Kane Igniting the Flames Again
Kane is arguably one of the best Royal Rumble participants despite having never won the event. He was a villain, but he was likable. The flames, and the red and black attire led him to be known as the quote “horror-themed personification of fire”. Although it could be over the top for some, the fire theme permeates a lot of our entertainment today, whether it’s the popular fire joker slot demo, latest horror movies or superhero/villain TV shows. The mayor of Knox County made a completely unexpected appearance back in 2021 when he entered as the 18th participant, eliminating two competitors.
Carlito Shocking the Audience
Carlito’s appearance in the 2021 Royal Rumble shocked everyone. His surprise entry was the perfect mix of nostalgia and excitement for the fans. Although his stay in the ring was short-lived, it reminded everyone of his talent and charisma.
Chris Jericho’s Major Comeback
Chris Jericho comes and goes, sometimes with huge promo campaigns, sometimes quietly. But stepping into the ring as the second entrant, Chris Jericho’s surprise return to the WWE in the 2013 Royal Rumble sent shockwaves through the crowd and the wrestling world. “Break the Walls Down” echoed through the arena, and the crowd simply erupted. It was a moment that will forever be etched in the minds of Jericho’s fans.
Triple H Beating His Quad Injury
Another unexpected return after the injury was Triple H’s entrance in the 2002 Royal Rumble match. After being out of action for months thanks to the quad injury, he made a surprise appearance, entered as the 22nd participant, and went on to win the match. It was a remarkable comeback for both The Game and his fans.
Diesel Making an Appearance After 15 Years
It was expected to see a few surprises in the 2011 Royal Rumble, as the number of participants was raised to 40. But no one expected to see Big Daddy Cool after the 15-year absence. Diesel’s return was one of the most shocking and exciting moments of the whole event. The way he put on his iconic leather glove was simply electrifying, and fans went completely wild when he eliminated the Big Show.
Edge Appearing in the Best Shape of His Life
Edge’s appearance in the 2020 Royal Rumble was probably one of the greatest returns ever. Faced with the daunting prognosis of permanent paralysis after the serious neck injury, the superstar was forced to abandon his wrestling career in April 2011. However, the spirit of the WWE Hall of Famer refused to be extinguished. Against all odds, Edge made a remarkable return. At the age of 46, he emerged in peak physical condition as a surprise entrant and was received with a thunderous roar from the crowd.
Rey Misterio’s Sudden Appearance
Rey Misterio left WWE in 2015, after 13 years. After his departure, fans thought they had seen the last of him in the Royal Rumble matches. However, in 2018, Misterio made an unexpected return. Being one of the best Royal Rumble competitors in history, his sudden appearance in the 2018 Royal Rumble was received with an enthusiastic welcome. Even though he was not scheduled to be part of the match, Rey made a surprise entrance as number 27.