5 Greatest WWE returns in Royal Rumble history

AJ Styles makes his Phenomenal return in 2016, as Edge returns in 2010!
AJ Styles makes his Phenomenal return in 2016, as Edge returns in 2010!

WWE fans are excited about the annual Royal Rumble premium live event that is quickly approaching. Originally created by Hall of Fame legend Pat Patterson, The Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated events of the year for wrestling fans.

As we inch closer to the Royal Rumble, new participants for the Rumble match are being revealed on RAW and Smackdown. With that said, fans should expect a few surprises based on some of the historic returns in the past. Here is our list of the five greatest returns in Royal Rumble history.


#5 - 9-time WWE Tag Team Champion Bubba Ray Dudley returns at the 2015 Royal Rumble

WWE Hall of Famer Bubba Ray Dudley.
WWE Hall of Famer Bubba Ray Dudley.

Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley are among the most decorated tag teams in professional wrestling history. For nearly 30 years, The Dudley Boyz have set the standard that tag teams strive to emulate.

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Bubba Ray Dudley has been known not only for his tag team work, but he is also an accomplished singles star as well. During his time with TNA/IMPACT, Bubba became the company's top star during his run as the leader of Aces and 8's. Throughout his career, Bubba has helped elevate not only himself but everyone around him with his tireless work ethic.

As his time with IMPACT came to an end, Bubba Ray looked to move on to the next chapter in his career, which began at the 2015 Royal Rumble. Bubba shocked the wrestling world when he sprinted to the ring as the 3rd entrant in the Rumble match, making his return to the company.


#4 - 9-time WWE Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho returns at 2013 Royal Rumble

Chris Jericho made a shocking return in 2013!
Chris Jericho made a shocking return in 2013!

Most fans probably remember the "RAW is Jericho" era in 1999, when Chris Jericho completely took over the Monday night show. Jericho went on to become one of the premier superstars of the post-WCW era. He would fight his way to the top of the roster, eventually being crowned as the Undisputed Champion.

At the 2013 Royal Rumble, Chris Jericho shocked the wrestling world when he returned after being out of action for over five months. Jericho was the 2nd Rumble entrant, lasting nearly an hour until he was finally eliminated by Dolph Ziggler.

Chris Jericho is currently one of AEW's top stars. He began with the company at the official media announcement when AEW was introduced to the world. Chris would become the inaugural AEW Champion at the 2019 All Out pay-per-view. Jericho is widely regarded as the cornerstone star of AEW and one of the true pillars of the company.


#3 - WWE Hall of Famer Edge returns at the 2010 Royal Rumble

The Rated-R Superstar made his return to the Rumble in 2010!
The Rated-R Superstar made his return to the Rumble in 2010!

The Rated-R Superstar Edge gave nearly everything he had for the sake of entertaining millions of fans all over the world. During his career, Edge established himself as an elite tag team specialist, as well as a singles competitor.

Edge's list of accolades is too long to recount, but his WWE run was highlighted by his legendary 11 World Championship reigns. Edge capped off his career by being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.

In mid-2009, Edge sustained a torn Achilles tendon during a house show match against Jeff Hardy. He was expected to miss an extensive amount of time, but he recovered more quickly than originally anticipated. After being on the shelf for several months, Edge returned as the 29th entrant in the 2010 Royal Rumble match. He went on to win that match and eventually captured the WWE title at the TLC pay-per-view later that year.

When Edge's contract expired in late 2023, he decided it was time to move on to his next chapter, which involved signing with AEW and making his debut at WrestleDream. He has since started an exciting feud with his longtime friend and partner, Christian.


#2 - 16-time WWE Champion John Cena returns at the 2008 Royal Rumble

John Cena is having a showdown with Batista and Triple H.
John Cena is having a showdown with Batista and Triple H.

When John Cena made his return in 2023, Michael Cole constantly referred to him as "the greatest of all time." While that may be a stretch for some wrestling fans, it's hard to argue against Cena being the greatest of this generation, at least. The 16-time WWE Champion began his journey as part of a legendary developmental class in 2000.

In late 2007, John Cena was on a roll. He was the reigning champion and had been the champ for over a year when he injured his pectoral muscle in a match against Mr. Kennedy. This injury resulted in Cena vacating his title.

As the participant filled the ring for the 2008 Royal Rumble, it was time for the final entrant to make his way out to the ring when suddenly John Cena appeared through the curtain. Cena was the final entrant and went on to win the match.

What makes this win unique was that John went on to challenge Randy Orton at No Way Out, rather than the traditional title bout at WrestleMania.


#1 - 2-time WWE Champion AJ Styles returns at the 2016 Royal Rumble

The Phenomenal AJ Styles in the 2016 Rumble match!
The Phenomenal AJ Styles in the 2016 Rumble match!

A little-known fact about AJ Styles is that his 2016 WWE debut was not his first time with the company. AJ made several appearances with WWE back in 2001 and 2002. From there, Styles went on to become a global phenomenon. He established himself early on with Ring of Honor before making his way to TNA/IMPACT and eventually NJPW.

In the months leading up to the 2016 Royal Rumble event, rumors were flying regarding WWE being interested in signing AJ Styles. While some believed he would be signing, there was still a lot of doubt because Styles had made it pretty clear that he was happy as an independent free agent.

But when the clock counted down for the 3rd entrant in the Rumble match, AJ Styles emerged, making his triumphant return after nearly 15 years.

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