The Royal Rumble is always the highlight of the wrestling calendar and 2023 is no different. It stars the road to Wrestlemania and locks in who will compete in the main event of Wrestlemania, which this year will earn themselves a match with WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns.
Many surprise wrestlers are always rumoured for the Royal Rumble. We have collated the best surprise Royal Rumble entrants in this article, so you can click that link to see who topped the list, or read below to see the surprise entrants for the 2022 Royal Rumble match, in both the male or female editions of the match.
Both the men’s and the women’s edition featured a number of surprise entrants in their matches. While the Women’s version featured a lot more legends coming back for one more match, both bouts had similar amounts of returns in their matches.
WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE 2022 SURPRISE ENTRANTS
The following women were surprise entrants in the 2022 Royal Rumble and made either one-off appearances or full-time returns in the match. (Note: Mickie James appeared in the match, despite being signed to Impact Wrestling. She entered holding her Impact Knockouts Championship with her TNA music, but was announced prior to the match and was not a surprise. Other legends, like Lita, were also announced and were not surprises.)
- Melina (#2) – The former WWE Women’s Champion was a shock entrant to start the match. She entered at number two opposite Sasha Banks, but lasted only 53 seconds before she was tossed over the top rope by “The Boss”
- Cameron (#13) – The former Funkadactyl made a shocking return in the 2022 Royal Rumble for the first time since her release in 2016. She entered at number thirteen and was eliminated by Sonya Deville, who was feuding with her former partner Naomi at the time. She also briefly wrestled for AEW in 2020.
- Ivory (#18) – The next legend to appear was WWE Hall of Famer. Appearing as her “Right To Censor” gimmick, she cut a promo denigrating the crowd to huge boos and was eliminated quickly by Rhea Ripley. With the appearance, she became the third oldest wrestler in Royal Rumble history, with her 60 years falling only behind Jerry Lawler (62) and Jimmy Snuka (64).
- Sarah Logan (#25) – The former WWE star was a shock return at the event, rumoured to be making an appearance due to another star dropping out at the last minute. She was backstage already at the event, due to her marriage to one half of the Viking Raiders.
- Molly Holly (#27) – Appearing as her superhero alter-ego Mighty Molly, Holly made her second Royal Rumble appearance in the WWE. Her appearance got a huge reaction from the crowd, but was soon eliminated by Nikki Cross
- Ronda Rousey (#28) – Former Women’s Champion and UFC Legend Ronda Rousey made her long-awaited return to the WWE in the number twenty-eight spot in the 2022 Royal Rumble. She had not wrestled since the main event of Wrestlemania 34 and her shock return did huge numbers around the world. She outlasted 29 other women to book her place at Wrestlemania by winning the Royal Rumble match, although she was poorly received by the fans after the fact.
MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE 2022 SURPRISE ENTRANTS
The following men were surprise entrants in the 2022 Royal Rumble and made either one-off appearances or full-time returns in the match. (Note: Johnny Knoxville was a non-celebrity participant in the match in 2022 but he was announced beforehand, so he is not counted as a surprise entrance.)
- Ridge Holland (#5) – The Englishman returned from an injury suffered at Day 1 (2022) to make an appearance in the 2022 Royal Rumble. He had an impressive run, lasting 19 minutes before being eliminated by former WWE Champion AJ Styles.
- Drew McIntyre (#21) – After spending a few weeks away due to injury, McIntyre returned as one oft he favourites to win the 2022 Royal Rumble. Entering at number twenty-one, he lasted all the way to the end before being eliminated by Brock Lesnar, much to the chagrin of the live crowd.
- Bad Bunny – (#27) – Latin American music star and one of the most popular recording artists in the world, Bad Bunny, appeared for the first time in a year as a shock entrant into the match. He impressed with some amazing moves, including a Canadian Destroyer, and lasted until the final five before being eliminated by the eventual winner (who we will get on to soon).
- Shane McMahon (#28) – The only legend making an appearance in this match was the Best In The World Shane McMahon. The former WWE Tag Team Champion made his surprise return in the match, having not been heard of since his cage match with Braun Strowman the year prior. He finished third in the match but was not as well received as he would have hoped – and was even fired by Vince McMahon after the match for some of his backstage antics.
- Brock Lesnar (#30) – One of the most unpopular surprises of all time, Brock Lesnar entered the match after losing his WWE Championship to Bobby Lashley earlier that night. Enraged by the work of Roman Reigns to cost him the title
Based on the legends taking part in the men’s match, you can see some of the reason it is considered one of the worst Royal Rumble matches of all time.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.