2021 will be the first time the WWE Royal Rumble will be held without fans. Despite this – the event is still highly anticipated by the WWE Universe because anyone can show up during the 30 men and 30 women matches.
In the past – the likes of Booker T, Diesel, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Edge, Mick Foley, Lita, Jacqueline and, Michelle McCool have arrived when the buzzer hit zero.
This year nobody will be counting down from ten, but if a surprise return does happen, the look on the faces of the fans in the ThunderDome will be a sight to behold.
One of the most exciting things about WWE Royal Rumble is the unexpected appearances from wrestlers from the past – here are 10 comebacks that could occur at this year’s event.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Despite announcing her retirement last October – Jazz recently appeared in Impact Wrestling. It would be a shame if she did not have one last showing in WWE before hanging up her boots for good.
Jazz was a pivotal part of the women’s division in the Ruthless Aggression Era. She is a former two-time champion and had great matches with Lita, Trish Stratus, and Jacqueline.
As her time in Impact Wrestling proved – the ‘Female Fighting Phenom’ is in fantastic shape.
If WWE and Jazz agree on a one-off deal, she is so good, she would convince the company to extend that and sign a short-term deal. If Jazz does stay – she will be an asset in the ring and a trainer.
WWE would be silly not to use Jazz’s experience in some capacity. If she has fulfilled her commitments with Impact Wrestling, bringing her back is a no brainer.
It has been 15 years since Jazz last wrestled in WWE – the time for her to return has arrived.
4. Eva Marie
Eva Marie was in WWE from 2013 until 2017 – she has been linked with a return to the company recently.
To add to the speculation, Bayley name-dropped ‘All Red Everything’ when she was on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions podcast last week.
Many theories have suggested Marie will be Angel Garza’s love interest on Raw. Marie could be used as a valet or wrestler – she was comfortable in either role during her first run.
The roster has changed a lot since Marie left. A plethora of new faces awaits her including Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose, and Lacey Evans.
During her first spell – the former Total Divas star had feuds with Carmella and Bayley. A call-back to those programs could be possible if she makes her return at WWE Royal Rumble.
No matter where she is placed – the women’s roster needs freshening up. Marie would be a welcome addition to Raw or SmackDown.
Since departing four years ago – Marie has featured in several films, those experiences will help her on-screen progression in the company.
Marie has an aura around her, she looks like a star. Marie was the only woman on the roster to have a personal ring announcer for her entrance – it is about time we heard it again.
3. Trish Stratus
Despite retiring in 2006 – Trish Stratus has wrestled several times in the subsequent 15 years, including a brilliant match against Charlotte Flair at SummerSlam two years ago.
In that contest – the Canadian proved she has plenty left to offer inside the squared circle, she did not miss a beat against Flair.
If Stratus does show up in the Rumble match, she could plant the seeds for one more contest against Bayley, Carmella, Sonya Deville, or Sasha Banks.
The WWE Hall of Famer and the current SmackDown Women’s Champion had a showdown in the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble three years ago, ‘The Boss’ later threw Stratus over the top rope.
Unless things change – Banks will not be in the Rumble match but the two could have a confrontation backstage, with Stratus making a challenge for Elimination Chamber or WrestleMania 37. Banks does not have many opponents on the blue brand – this would be a good short-term feud.
Both women have spoken about facing each other. Stratus claims she has “unfinished business” with Banks, while ‘The Blueprint’ said Stratus “inspired” her growing up.
If Stratus does have one more match in her – it does not have to be against one of the newer female wrestlers, a final battle with her old adversary Mickie James would be awesome.
The possibilities are endless if Stratus is one of the 30 women in the match. Even if a future match is not on the horizon – it would be great to see Stratus in a WWE ring again after a two-year absents.
When returns are discussed on social media – Melina’s name is always mentioned due to her being one of the most popular superstars of her era.
Charismatic, athletic, and pretty – it is easy to understand why the WWE Universe clamor for Melina’s in-ring return, yet she has only had a few backstage cameo appearances since leaving the company 11 years ago.
Despite frequent talk of Melina making a permanent return to the company – she has only been used in backstage segments when on camera.
Two weeks ago she was on Raw: Legends Night with Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado – two years ago MNM’s former manager was involved in some 24/7 Title skits.
Those blink and you’ll miss it appearances are not befitting of the first woman in WWE history to become a multiple-time champion by winning both the Women’s and Divas Championships.
Melina entering the WWE Royal Rumble could lead to some exciting matches down the line.
Naomi is on record saying stepping into the ring with Melina would be a “dream match” – while Asuka, Peyton Royce, Charlotte Flair, and Lana would make interesting adversaries for the Los Angeles native.
Lana and Royce, in particular, would learn so much from a veteran like Melina.
After dedicating herself to WWE for eight years – Melina should be given one final run in the company.
It is hard to believe Victoria has not stepped foot inside a WWE since leaving the company in 2009.
After her departure – she spent several years in Impact Wrestling however it is the time spent in WWE that put her on the map.
Victoria was one of the best heels in the company and announced her retirement from professional wrestling three years ago but has said she is willing to reverse that decision to face the like of Mickie James, Charlotte Flair, or Natalya.
Even if those matches do not happen – it would be amazing to see Victoria in a WWE ring again.
It seems like the company has erased the master of the Widow’s Peak from their memory, she is never brought back for any of the reunion shows, but fans will always remember her – she made a lasting impression with her crazy gimmick.
In the build-up to last year’s event – talk of Victoria returning heated up. An image of her entrance video was shown on the Titantron, in the Minute Maid Park arena, but nothing materialized.
For sheer nostalgia – Victoria needs to be in the match. Even without an authentic pop, it will still be a special moment.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
5. Samoa Joe
This may be cheating but Samoa Joe leaving the commentary table and stepping into the ring still counts as a return.
Joe has been a breath of fresh air on Raw – now his injury problems are behind him, it is time he got back to what he does best, kicking a** in a 20 x 20.
‘The Samoan Submission Machine’ has not wrestled in 11 months and said himself he is “not done in the ring”.
The former United States Champion is itching to compete again. The 30 man match is the right time for him to swap his announcer headphones for wrestling tights.
The 41-year-old was not included in the last WWE Draft – meaning he is eligible for any brand. He has unfinished business with Seth Rollins on SmackDown and could resume his battle with AJ Styles on Raw (Hello Wendy).
New rivals such as Keith Lee, Bobby Lashley, Riddle, or Jey Uso could be on the card or moving back to NXT. Finn Balor has been on fire since returning to the Black and Gold Brand – a change of scenery could rejuvenate Joe’s career as well.
Despite his injury record – Joe is far from finished as a full-time competitor.
The Royal Rumble is the right time to bring his back and hopefully set him on the path to a first Universal or WWE Championship that he deserves.
The former Intercontinental, United States, and Tag Team Champion was a solid mid-carder during his time in WWE but other than appearing at his father’s 2014 Hall of Fame induction – he has not been seen in the company since his departure four years earlier.
John Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair were just some of the superstars Carlito wrestled – that shows the level he reached during his six years in Stamford Connecticut.
Carlito was advertised for Raw: Legends Night, a fortnight ago, but did not make the show with apparent creative differences getting in the way. Many people on social media voiced their disappointment when Carlito was not on Raw that night – it goes to show he is still over after more than a decade away.
Creative would not be a problem if Carlito shakes hands on a one and done deal only for WWE Royal Rumble. If an agreement can be made – he would be able to give his fans a last one last hoorah before retiring, now that would be cool.
3. John Cena
You have missed seeing (wink wink) John Cena in a WWE ring, admit it.
‘The Face That Runs The Place’ has not wrestled since his spectacular ‘match’ against ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 36 – it is time he blessed us with his presents again.
We know the days of Cena wrestling full-time are behind him but another match on the Show of Shows could be in the pipeline.
There are a few scenarios for Cena if he does make a surprise return at WWE Royal Rumble.
He could chase either Roman Reigns or Drew McIntyre titles, in a bid to beat Ric Flair’s record of 16 world championships, or the 2008 Royal Rumble winner could go after the Intercontinental Championship – the only major singles honor that has alluded him during his 19-year career.
A match with Big E would elevate the current IC Champion and the title itself – it is a win-win for everyone.
If none of the above happens – having Cena back would make the Royal Rumble instantly better.
Fingers crossed WWE pull this off – the reaction by the fans on the ThunderDome screens will be worth it.
2. The Rock
The Rock won the WWE Royal Rumble, in 2000, but has not been in the over-the-top-rope Battle Royal in 21 years.
With his cousin Roman Reigns, claiming to be the head of the Anoa’i table and the man that his putting food on his families plate, this night would be ideal for ‘The Brahma Bull’ to make his debut at Tropicana Field, win the Rumble, and shut ‘The Tribal Chief’s’ mouth at WrestleMania 37.
Reigns’ treatment of the Anoa’i family has been reprehensible – The Rock is the right man to stand up to the Universal Champion.
This scenario is a long shot because The Rock is one of the busiest men in Hollywood but this is only one night. ‘The People’s Champion’ could enter at number 30 and win from there.
He does not have to come to television regularly – his build to his WrestleMania matches with John Cena is evidence of that.
The Rock wants this match. In an interview promoting Hobbs & Shaw, a film Reigns also starred in, ‘The Most Electrifying Man in all of Entertainment’ stated it would “make sense” to face his family member adding it would be “an honor” to put him over.
Reigns also spoke favorably about this facing older sibling. Talking to ESPN last year, ‘The Big Dog’ said it would be “amazing” to go one-on-one with ‘The Great One’ in the future.
This match would be a huge Box-Office attraction – we know Vince McMahon is all about the money.
Recent reports indicate WWE intends to push WrestleMania back two weeks, hoping people can attend the show.
If that is the case, this is the match that everyone wants to see. The Rock winning the Rumble would be the first step in that direction.
1. CM Punk
CM Punk left WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble – it would be fitting if he made a sensational return seven years later.
After the ‘Voice of the Voiceless’ departed, he and one of the company’s doctors engaged in a bitter legal war after Punk made allegations about how he was treated when injured.
The sides settled any issues in 2018 and Punk kind-of returned to the company in November 2019 when he joined FOX Sports as an analyst for WWE Backstage. On the show, he worked with WWE contracted personnel including Paige and Booker T.
His first appearance drew reactions from the likes of Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt. Punk was still making waves despite being out of the spotlight for half a decade.
After initially shooting down any chance of coming back to wrestler for Vince McMahon – the man who held the WWE Championship for 434 days has softened his stance lately.
When Punk was a guest on Renee Paquette’s Oral Sessions podcast last December, he said it would take the “stupidest amount of money” to return to the WWE.
Triple H, WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, did not shoot down the idea of Punk returning – saying a deal is possible if it was “right for everybody” and you could “never say never” in this business.
Punk keeps an eye on the current product. He made some hilarious comments about Slapjack’s ring attire and had high praise for Pat McAfee’s promo skills.
Talk of Punk and WWE reuniting never goes away – there is never smoke without fire. If Cult of Personality plays at WWE Royal Rumble flames would engulf the industry.