Mick Foley, 2004
Mick hadn’t been an active roster member since WrestleMania 2000, but made his in-ring return for the 2004 Rumble to confront a Randy Orton who hitting the very heights of his Legend Killer phase. The comeback only last forty-three seconds, but it was enough to eliminate The Viper and set-up their epic clash at WrestleMania.
Rowdy Roddy Piper, 2008
The Royal Rumble has become synonymous with a nostalgia pop, and perhaps it’s originator came at the 2008 event when one of the all-time greats made a surprise return to the company. Reigniting the flame of his long-term rivalry with Jimmy Snuka, Rowdy Roddy Piper raced to the ring and the pair locked-horns like it was 1984 all over again. That was until Kane decided enough was enough and eliminated both Hall of Famers.
Kharma – formally known as Awesome Kong in TNA – only had one match in WWE and it was this surprise appearance in the 2012 Royal Rumble. She became the third women to compete in the men’s rumble match (after Chyna and Beth Phoenix), entering at number 17 and going on to eliminate Michael Cole and Hunico before Dolph Ziggler dumper her out the match. Unfortunately, there was no follow-up for Kharma, who requested her release following the event and later returned to TNA.
The man who likes to out work everybody, certainly worked the WWE Universe into ever thinking we’d see him compete in a WWE ring once again. However, in 2021 and a year on from Edge’s emotional comeback, Christian shocked fans by entering The Royal Rumble and lasting twenty minutes. A stint that included a touching moment where he and his former tag team partner embraced in the middle of ring.
Beth Phoenix, 2010
It’s fitting that The Glamazon returns to action at this year’s Royal Rumble as she’s responsible for one of the most famous shocking entrants. Becoming the second female to enter a men’s rumble match, Beth raced to the ring only to be confronted by The Great Khali. Khali lifted Phoenix up and asked her to leave, but Beth replied by kissing the Punjabi Playboy and slinging him over the top rope.
Rey Mysterio, 2018
The glory days of Rey Mysterio seemed long gone in WWE, with Rey having left the company in 2015. However, the master of the 619 made a triumph return for 2018 Rumble – looking in the best shape of his career. Rey flew around the ring, hitting a double 619 on Roman Reigns and John Cena, in a moment that kick-started his latest run with the company.
Chris Jericho, 2013
No superstar is more renowned for his surprise returns than one Chris Jericho, and once again he had the fans fooled at the 2013 Royal Rumble. Jericho hadn’t been seen in WWE since losing a contract match with Dolph Ziggler back in August of 2012, but when Ziggler became the first entrant in The Royal Rumble, it became the perfect time to break the walls down once again. Even though Chris had gone on social media to deny any involvement in the match. He got us again, kids.
AJ Styles, 2016
For years fans wondered if we’d ever see AJ Styles in a WWE ring, and they finally got their answer in one of the most epic WWE debuts of all time. Styles was a free agent at the time and been heavily linked with making the move to WWE, but his entrance at number three blew the roof off the Amway Center with very few in the company privy of knowing he’d signed on the dotted line.
John Cena, 2008
A return that almost brought Madison Square Garden to it’s knees. Cena had torn his pectoral muscle during an October episode of Raw and was expected to be on the side-lines for at least six months. Yet, when the countdown hit zero for entrant thirty, there was Cena stood, smiling in the entrance way as bedlam ensured around him. And in true John Cena fashion, he went on to eliminate Triple H to win the match and put the finishing touch on a truly monumental surprise.
There can’t have been many more emotional moments than the sight of Edge returning at the 2020 Royal Rumble. The Rated R Superstar had been forced to retire from wrestling in 2011 due to multiple neck injuries and a return to the ring had been out of the question, virtually impossible. Then, as the timer ticked down for entrant number twenty-one, ‘You Think You Know Me’ filled the arena and there stood Edge. With a look etched on his face that will live on in the minds of wrestling fans forever. Comeback complete.