Arguably the best part of the Royal Rumble is the surprise entrants.
Sure, in the end, most of the wrestlers who make these surprise entrances aren't in any plans for the long term. They make an appearance, yadda yadda yadda and get eliminated. We already know the full-time stars are going to be the ones around at the end of the 30-man rumble.
However, it's not always about what they do. It's often simply about them being there.
Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, and when the music of a wrestler who you idolized as a kid—or as a slightly younger-ish adult—blares through the speakers, it provides a moment that can be far superior to anything inside the ring.
Mixed in with superstars and jobbers, these surprise entrants are a signature of the Royal Rumble.
Let's take a look at who we'd enjoy seeing in 2014.
Could you imagine? WWE fans have been itching to see Kurt Angle back in action in the WWE for quite some time, and if he made his return during the Royal Rumble in his hometown of Pittsburgh, it would be electrifying.
Now, to be clear, the odds of this happening are about as slim as Mark Henry is not. As Jim Ross pointed out (h/t PWMania.com), Angle is still under contract with the TNA, so a return in 2014 is "highly unlikely."
Technically, though, that could add to the moment. Think about it. The odds are stacked against an Angle return, but then "3, 2, 1" and this music hits. That would create a pop somewhat similar to a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run.
Outside of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, I can't imagine any surprise entrant capable of putting the crowd into a bigger frenzy than Angle. At 45, he can still wrestle a little bit too. This wouldn't be a Godfather-in-2013 situation.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
The problem with this one is that Jake "The Snake" returned on Old School Raw last week:
The general assumption, of course, is that if the WWE was planning on giving him an appearance in the rumble, the company probably wouldn't have sent him out on Raw. That would, theoretically, significantly cut down the excitement of him appearing in Pittsburgh.
Still, as The Snake himself pointed out, he could "do some cool stuff":
Daily questions on Rumble. Here is my official statement. I have had no contact from WWE. I publicized returning at the Royal Rumble as my goal about a year ago. Looking back, setting goals that are entirely in someone else's hands was not the best idea. My advice, and my practice now is to set goals that you can control. Do your best to control your destiny. If the Rumble happens, I will do my best to put on a memorable performance. If they want to keep me around, I know I can do some cool stuff.
It doesn't seem likely at this point, but Jake is in the best shape he has been in for quite some time and has the kind of character who could make for a thrilling show.
Rob Van Dam
Obviously, Van Dam isn't quite as much of a nostalgia pick as Angle or Roberts. If you wanted to go that route, there are certainly a slew of other names to choose from.
Instead, I've got Van Dam on this list for the kind of energy he brings. The Royal Rumble is made for high-flying wrestlers, and although RVD has lost a step, he can still put on a show inside the ring.
I'm not necessarily calling for another extended stay with the company, but a one-night appearance from RVD—who still has a massive fanbase and continually receives big pops—during which he puts together some big spots and then helps a younger wrestler go over would certainly be beneficial.