A Phenomenal Rumble debut by AJ Styles in 2016; the fans welcomed John Cena back in 2008!

WWE Royal Rumble - 5 most surprising entrants of all time

WWE's Royal Rumble is one of the premier special events of the year. The event dates back to 1988 when Hacksaw Jim Duggan was crowned the inaugural Royal Rumble match winner. Duggan entered the match as the 13th entrant and outlasted the remaining field to win it all.

As one of "The Big Four" – Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series – the Rumble is always highly anticipated by the WWE Universe. The event is one of the irreplaceable staples of the company's annual cycle.


Each year as the Royal Rumble approaches, speculation spreads regarding who might make a surprise entrance. We have seen legends from years gone by, former WWE Superstars who have moved on to different promotions, and we have seen some superstars return from injury or some other type of hiatus.

Regardless of the situation, fans expect to see at least one surprise entrant each year. With that said, today we take a look at some of the most surprising entrants of all time. Here is our list of the five most surprising entrants in Royal Rumble history.

#5 - The Glamazon Beth Phoenix entered the men's Royal Rumble in 2010

WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix

No one will ever forget the 2000 Royal Rumble. On this particular night, the late, great WWE Hall of Famer known as Chyna made history by becoming the first female to enter the men's Royal Rumble match. A decade later, another future Hall of Fame superstar became the second female to enter the men's Rumble match. Beth Phoenix entered as the #6 entrant, creating another historic milestone for women’s wrestling.

Beth began her WWE career in 2004 as a part of the OVW roster, which was the developmental brand for WWE at the time. She would eventually make her main roster debut in 2006 when she aligned herself with fellow Hall of Famer Trish Stratus.

Phoenix went on to have an unbelievably successful career with the company. Beth captured the Divas Championship in 2011 and also held the WWE Women’s Championship three times. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017.

Most recently, Beth was working as a commentator for NXT. She has also made several run-ins to assist her husband, fellow WWE Hall of Famer Edge, when he was being attacked by Rhea Ripley and The Judgment Day.


#4 - All three faces of Foley appeared in the 1998 Royal Rumble

All three faces of Mick Foley participated in The Royal Rumble

The 1998 Royal Rumble was the 11th year of the historic annual event. This particular year's Rumble featured a main event bout that saw Shawn Michaels defeat The Undertaker in a casket match to retain his WWF Championship.


Mick Foley is known for playing multiple personas throughout his legendary career. During the Attitude Era, Foley would alter between Dude Love, Mankind, and Cactus Jack.

During the 1998 Royal Rumble match, fans had the opportunity to witness all three monikers in action throughout the match. Cactus Jack entered the Rumble at number one, Mankind entered at number 16, and Dude Love made his entrance as the 28th entrant in the match.

#3 - WWE Hall of Famer Edge returned to action at the 2020 Royal Rumble

The Rated-R Superstar Edge

The Rated-R Superstar Edge is one of the most exciting and successful superstars of all time. Throughout his Hall of Fame career, Edge was not only a 14-time Tag Team Champion, but he was also a 13-time WWE Champion as well.

During an episode of RAW on April 11, 2011, Edge announced that he was being forced to retire due to nagging issues from his diagnosis of cervical spinal stenosis. Edge addressed the crowd, giving an emotional speech as he was forced to vacate his championship.


During the 2020 Royal Rumble match, the crowd erupted as Edge's music hit. He returned to action as the 21st entrant in the Rumble match. That year's Rumble was won by Drew McIntyre, who went on to win the WWE Championship by defeating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36.

#2 - John Cena shocked the world, returning at the 2008 Rumble match


It's no secret that John Cena is one of the most successful and decorated superstars in professional wrestling history. With well over 20 years of in-ring experience to his credit, Cena has held the WWE Championship 16 times, along with multiple other accolades under his belt.

Towards the end of 2007, John suffered a severely torn pectoral muscle injury while performing a routine hip toss during a match against Mr. Kennedy. During surgery, doctors discovered that the muscle had completely separated from the bone and they predicted Cena could miss at least 6 months of action while recovering from this injury.


The 2008 Royal Rumble was held in New York City at Madison Square Garden. At the time of the event, Edge was the reigning World Heavyweight Champion, while Randy Oton was the defending WWE Champion. As the Rumble match got underway, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels were the first two entrants.

As the match progressed, the clock ticked down and the number 30 entrant was revealed to be John Cena. After being away for months, the crowd erupted as Cena made his way to the ring, ultimately winning the match and going on to WrestleMania

#1 - AJ Styles debuted at #3 in the 2016 Royal Rumble match

A Phenomenal Rumble debut!

Towards the end of 2015, speculation began swirling regarding AJ Styles potentially coming to WWE. While many fans felt that TNA would likely persuade Styles to rejoin them, the answers were revealed when AJ Styles entered the 2016 Royal Rumble match as the 3rd entrant in the bout.

Despite not winning the match, AJ did last 30 minutes in the contest, setting the tone for what would become a "Phenomenal" career with the company.


Before signing with the company, AJ Styles became one of the most well-known and respected names in all of professional wrestling. He enjoyed major success not only with various promotions in the United States but also with NJPW.

While competing as the leader of The Bullet Club, Styles captured the coveted IWGP Heavyweight Championship twice. AJ was also one of the main reasons for TNA's success, becoming the TNA World Heavyweight Champion twice, as well as being the company's first Triple Crown Champion and first Grand Slam Champion.

Since arriving, AJ has not let fans down. He has consistently remained at the top of the roster, winning the WWE Championship twice thus far, as well as many other accolades during his short history with the company.

Legendary WWE star confesses he did not initially like Dolph Ziggler. More details here.

Edited by
Jacob Terrell
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