Royal Rumble 2015 preview: The best returns and comebacks, featuring Triple H, John Cena, Chris Jericho, The Godfather and Road Dogg

A trip down memory lane to relive the greatest returns during the famous Royal Rumble match

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The Independent Online

The Royal Rumble is just days and there have been many rumours on who will make surprise returns at the once a year event. There have been many shocking, comical and questionable comebacks to the WWE since the event’s inauguration in 1988. Whether it made fans jump out of their seat or left some dumbfounded, we take a look at the top returns to the company in Royal Rumble history. 

Rob Van Dam – Royal Rumble 2009

RVD had been away from the WWE for two years following one his of greatest runs in wrestling as WWE Champion after defeating John Cena. The 2009 Rumble action came to a halt and the fans seemed to lose interest in the battle but as soon as the words “One of a kind” blared through the speakers, the arena erupted.

“The Whole Dam Show” left the contestants astounded with his trademark spinning kicks and left the crowd eager to see one of their favourites back on Raw. However, RVD would not be seen again for another four years, making this appearance a truly rare treat for the fans.

The Godfather - Royal Rumble 2013

Charles Wright was one of the most colourful personalities in the 1990s, with an array of controversial gimmicks that ranged from the voodoo master Papa Shango to Black Nationalist Kama Mustafa. It was The Godfather character that fans will have the most humorous memories of, with reports of Vince McMahon joking that Wright should have been paying the WWE for the amount of fun he was having.

Godfather returned to the ring after 11 years as he danced down the ramp with his ladies to be the 17th entrant in the 2013 Rumble. The veteran however focused too much on dancing and was eliminated by Dolph Ziggler as soon as he walked through the ropes. The most entertaining part of the whole affair is that his music didn’t stop playing the whole time until he exited through the curtains.


Road Dogg – Royal Rumble 2012

There was a time where you would never expect Road Dogg to ever step foot in a WWE arena again. The New Age Outlaws had cut an infamous promo a few years earlier in TNA where they insulted Triple H and Shawn Michaels. With Triple H being a newly appointed executive, it looked like game over for Road Dogg’s relationship with WWE.

The WWE Universe was however pleasantly surprised in 2012 when the six-time Tag Team Champion used his shake, rattle and roll to attempt a shot at the WWE Championship. This appearance had set up a positive series of events for the former DX member as he would eventually go into WrestleMania 30 on the back of another Tag Team Championship reign after fifteen years.

Diesel – Royal Rumble 2011

Kevin Nash was a force to be reckoned with in both WWE and WCW where he had huge political power in The Kliq and NWO respectively. Even though Nash had returned to WWE programming in 2002 with the NWO, he was soon injured with one of his recurring quad tears and failed get to have the light shined on him on the top card once more.

In 2011, Nash made a surprise comeback in the form of Diesel, which saw the powerhouse dominate the WWE in 1995 as the Heavyweight Champion. The look on the faces of the in ring competitors was priceless as Diesel slid on his glove before bulldozing over the newcomers. Nash would soon however once again drop the Diesel persona and take on CM Punk in the summer of that year.

Honky Tonk Man – Royal Rumble 2001

2001 will always be remembered as the year that Kane dominated the roster and set a record of most eliminations in one Rumble, which was eventually broken by Roman Reigns in 2014. The Honky Tonk Man interrupted Kane’s destruction with a dazzling display with his beloved guitar.

The former Intercontinental Champion had returned to the business for the first time since the 1994 but was not interested in wrestling at all. Instead he sang and danced to his catchy theme song before Kane grabbed the guitar and smashed it over the Elvis impersonator’s head.

Bob Backlund – Royal Rumble 2000

There could not have been a better homecoming than Bob Backlund’s return to Madison Square Garden in 2000. Backlund won the WWE Championship in 1978 at the Garden and went on to successfully defend it there consecutively for five years.

The shock from the crowd remains unmatched as they witnessed their childhood hero return to the ring during a time when he was running for a political seat in Connecticut. Backlund would soon go on to manage a future WWE Champion, Kurt Angle and even taught him his signature Crossface Chickenwing.

Mr. Perfect – Royal Rumble 2002

Curt Hennig was revered as one of the most gifted technical wrestlers of all time. Bouts with the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in WWE’s upper mid-card in the “New Generation” had left fond memories in millions of fans across the world. When it was announced that he will be returning to the company as Mr Perfect at the 2002 Royal Rumble, no one would have thought that he would end up in the final three with Triple H and Kurt Angle.

Hennig didn’t win the Rumble but he stayed around in the year until he picked a fight with none other than Brock Lesnar during the much talked about “Plane ride from hell”. This return enabled the master of the Perfectplex to have one last run with the company before his untimely death the following year.

John Cena returned to the Rumble in 2008

John Cena – Royal Rumble 2008

In the autumn of 2007, Cena tore his pectoral muscle in a match with Mr. Kennedy on Monday Night Raw. The reigning WWE Champion was forced to vacate his title and it was reported that he would be out for up to a year. The leader of the Cenation however proved to the world how he’s not your average man as he made a shocking return just four months later in Madison Square Garden to a thunderous ovation.

Cena would go on to win the whole match and go onto face Randy Orton and Triple H at WrestleMania. The fifteen-time World Champion affirmed his place among the most elite at this Rumble and is rightly a landmark moment in his career.

Chris Jericho – Royal Rumble 2013

In a time of spoilers, rumours and gossip running abundant online, it’s very rare that a return is really a surprise in the WWE these days. Management have even resorted to announcing most surprise returns to the company weeks before to avoid spoilers leaking the information online.

Jericho’s entrance as one of the first two competitors in the 2013 Rumble was a flash back for many as the reaction from the crowd displayed how powerful a surprise return can really be. This was not your standard cameo appearance either, Y2J lasted 45 minutes in the match and looked more active than ever by adding a few higher risk manoeuvres to his arsenal despite being in his early 40s. The first Undisputed Champion in history proved that you can defy the odds, as a man that retired in 2005 with a back problem ended up grappling with the best of them eight years later.

Triple H – Royal Rumble 2002

“The Game” tore his quad during one of the most highly acclaimed main events in Raw history as he teamed with Stone Cold Steve Austin to face Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. 8 months later, “The Cerebral Assassin” made his long awaited return to the ring after surgery and won the whole Rumble.

Triple H

This was the first time that Triple H was the main event face of the WWE and he went to WrestleMania 18 to face Jericho, who was managed by his own wife, Stephanie McMahon. Triple H would end up successfully winning the Undisputed Championship and debuted a new look title the next day to mark his presence as the leader of a new era of wrestling.