The WWE Royal Rumble stands out as one of the wrestling world’s most renowned events. It holds a premier status among WWE’s special events each year, with its inception dating back to 1988. The Royal Rumble boasts numerous elements that captivate fans, including the significant prize for the winner – typically a main event match at WrestleMania. The dynamic order of entrants adds an unpredictable element to the event, and perhaps most excitingly, fans can always anticipate surprise participants in the match.
Let us look at the top five surprise entries in the history of Royal Rumble;
5. Mick Foley (1998)
In the 11th year of the historic annual event, the 1998 Royal Rumble took place. The main event of this particular year featured Shawn Michaels triumphing over The Undertaker in a casket match to retain his WWF Championship.
Mick Foley, renowned for portraying multiple personas in his legendary career, cycled through Dude Love, Mankind, and Cactus Jack during the Attitude Era. In the 1998 Royal Rumble match, fans were treated to all three characters in action. Cactus Jack entered the Rumble as the first participant, Mankind followed at number 16, and Dude Love made his entrance as the 28th participant in the match.
4. Chris Jericho (2013)
Chris Jericho stands out as a wrestler with exceptional skills in engaging and captivating audiences. In the weeks leading up to the 2013 Royal Rumble, fans were buzzing with speculation about a potential Y2J (Chris Jericho’s nickname) return. Jericho attempted to mislead audiences on social media by indicating that he would not be present at the Rumble. However, to the surprise of many, he made a shocking return, entering at number 2 and impressively lasting nearly 50 minutes in the match.
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3.AJ Styles (2016)
In late 2015, speculation surrounded AJ Styles potentially joining WWE, with fans initially expecting a return to TNA. However, the surprise was unveiled as AJ entered the 2016 Royal Rumble as the 3rd participant, lasting 30 minutes and kickstarting a remarkable WWE career. Before WWE, Styles had a distinguished career, notably leading The Bullet Club in NJPW, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship twice. A key figure in TNA, he secured the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice, being the first Triple Crown and Grand Slam Champion. Since joining WWE, AJ Styles has consistently excelled, winning the WWE Championship twice and earning numerous accolades.
2. John Cena (2008)
Undoubtedly one of the most successful figures in professional wrestling, John Cena boasts over two decades of in-ring experience. Throughout his career, he clinched the WWE Championship 16 times among numerous other accolades. In late 2007, Cena faced a setback, suffering a severe torn pectoral muscle injury during a match against Mr. Kennedy. Surgery revealed a complete muscle separation from the bone, projecting at least a 6-month recovery period. In a dramatic return at the 2008 Royal Rumble in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, Cena after being absent for months, entered as the surprise number 30 entrant. He even ended up winning the match and securing a spot at WrestleMania.
1. Edge (2020)
The acclaimed Rated-R Superstar, Edge, stands out as one of the most thrilling and accomplished wrestlers in history. Across his illustrious career, Edge secured a remarkable 14 Tag Team Championships and an impressive 13 WWE Championships. However, during a RAW episode on April 11, 2011, Edge, facing issues from cervical spinal stenosis, emotionally announced his forced retirement, necessitating him to relinquish his championship.
A momentous return occurred during the 2020 Royal Rumble match, where the crowd erupted as Edge, the 21st entrant, made his comeback. The eventual winner, Drew McIntyre, went on to claim the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36 by defeating Brock Lesnar.