The Most Rewatchable WWE Royal Rumble Moments from the Last 5 Years

Erik BeastonDecember 5, 2022

The Most Rewatchable WWE Royal Rumble Moments from the Last 5 Years

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    Ronda Rousey's 2018 Debut Remains One of the Royal Rumble's Most Unforgettable Moments.
    Credit: WWE.com

    The last five years of WWE's Royal Rumble pay-per-view have provided fans with many unforgettable moments.

    From shocking debuts to mesmerizing returns, the event has been home to some of the most talked-about happenings in modern wrestling history.

    As the company looks toward the 2023 edition on January 28 in San Antonio, relive the last five years of the Rumble and these most rewatchable moments from those shows.

10. Inaugural Women's Royal Rumble (2018)

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    At one hour, six minutes, the inaugural women's Royal Rumble match in 2018 may not be quite as rewatchable as other moments on this list due to its length of it, but there is no denying the historical significance of the match or just how much fun it was throughout.

    With surprise appearances from Lita, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Trish Stratus and The Bella Twins, it did enough to keep even the most casual viewer invested while modern stars such as Bayley, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Nia Jax carried the mantle for their generation.

    Asuka would ultimately win the contest after a tense exchange with Nikki Bella on the ring apron and cash her ticket to WrestleMania 34 and a date with SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair.

    The less said about the outcome of that one, though, the better.

    Still, the weight of expectation and opportunity rested on the shoulders of every one of the 30 competitors in the match, and they rose to the occasion by delivering performances that helped ensure the women's contest remains a staple of the PPV today.

9. Rey Mysterio Returns (2018)

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    Rey Mysterio had again earned the buzz of the wrestling world thanks to appearances on Lucha Underground and in Mexico, where he reminded the fans that age is but a number and he was nowhere near slowing down.

    Impressed by what he saw out of the former world champion, Vince McMahon brought one of the most decorated and beloved stars in WWE history back into the fold, booking him for as a surprise entry into the men's Royal Rumble match.

    Mysterio was in the best physical shape that he had been in years and moved around the ring with the speed and agility of a much younger man.

    After a lackluster conclusion to the 47-year-old's first run with the company, it was clear he saw the return for what it was: The first step in leaving a legacy on his own terms.

8. Hardcore Country (2022)

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    Travel back some 15 years and try to imagine a scenario in which the Impact Wrestling Knockouts champion would be allowed to appear on WWE television with the title, using her own theme music while the commentary team acknowledged her career with a rival company.

    It was an unfathomable scenario but one that played out in 2022 when Mickie James made her way to the ring, her Impact theme "Hardcore Country" playing and the WWE commentary team publicly discussing Impact and its then-KO champ.

    The fans greeted the legendary competitor and future Hall of Famer appropriately and watched as she battled for nearly 12 minutes before being eliminated by Lita.

    An unforgettable moment that teased cooperation between WWE and another prominent wrestling company, it hopefully paved the way for moments like that to occur between the leading promotion in North America and its counterparts around the world.

7. Christian Returns (2021)

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    Prior to his return in the 2021 men's Royal Rumble match, Christian had not wrestled a legitimate bout on WWE programming in seven years.

    Following in the footsteps of his friend, Edge, Captain Charisma returned to the squared circle after a series of concussions forced him to quit in-ring action.

    Wrestling his first match since 2014, though, he delivered a performance that suggested he still had plenty of time left as an active competitor.

    The future Hall of Famer did not win the match, but he channeled the emotion and desire to continue his in-ring career into a jump to AEW later that year, where he quickly captured the Impact World title and battled Kenny Omega in the main event of All Out.

    Like Edge, Christian's return was both unexpected and welcomed with open arms by fans who will always appreciate his legacy of show-stealing, revolutionary performances.

6. Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lima, Delta...Shield (2022)

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    Roman Reigns entered the 2022 Royal Rumble PPV riding a year-long run as universal champion and with no signs of stopping.

    At least it appeared that way until Seth Rollins entered the picture as the top contender and wasted little time playing mind games with The Tribal Chief, repeatedly referencing their time as two-thirds of The Shield.

    With that in mind, Reigns made his way to the ring and stood menacingly in the squared circle, ready to kick off the broadcast by smashing and pinning his former friend and cashing his ticket to WrestleMania 38.

    Then, a familiar sound: Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lima, Delta...Shield!

    Rollins, in full Shield tactical gear, made his way through the fans just as the iconic trio used to. He taunted Reigns, knowing full well he was living rent-free in the head of the second-generation star.

    The match was almost secondary to the unforgettable entrance and the Twitterstorm it created across social media. The fans appreciated the call back to the faction, the story behind The Visionary's grand display and what they believed to be a top-tier match in today's WWE.

    The chemistry between the competitors and their backstory make this a matchup WWE should revisit again sometime in the near future.

5. Shinsuke Nakamura Wins Men's Rumble Match (2018)

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    Shinsuke Nakamura exploded onto the main roster in 2017 and wasted little time emerging as a top contender on the SmackDown brand.

    Entering the men's Royal Rumble match the following year, he was one of a handful of stars who could realistically win and earn a shot at either the WWE or Universal Championship at WrestleMania 34.

    With the likes of Roman Reigns, John Cena and Randy Orton announced for the bout, it felt like a possibility in name only.

    Then, it happened.

    The Artist stared down Reigns and dared him to bring the fight to him. Then, he took The Big Dog over the top rope and to the arena floor, earning the biggest and most defining victory of his career.

    Today, nearly five years later, it remains the most monumental win of Nakamura's run with WWE. It gave hope to fans that the New Japan Pro-Wrestling export would have the sort of success that he did early and often in NXT.

    Unfortunately, it set him up for a WrestleMania 34 showdown with AJ Styles for the WWE Championship and little else.

    Still, it's a hugely rewatchable moment, if only because the red-hot Philadelphia fans were so pro-Nakamura and anti-Reigns that the drama alone made for enjoyable viewing.

4. The Man Comes Around (2019)

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    No wrestler in the industry was hotter from a popularity standpoint than Becky Lynch entering the 2019 Royal Rumble PPV.

    When she lost to SmackDown women's champion Asuka in the night's opening contest, it appeared the opportunity to make a splash at WrestleMania 35 had bypassed The Man.

    Fans were understandably frustrated when 29 women entered the Royal Rumble match later in the show, with one known participant left. Lana was slated to take that spot when she was attacked by Nia Jax and left unable to compete.

    Enter Lynch.

    The antihero marched to the ring, officially entering the match and proceeding to win it by last eliminating Charlotte Flair.

    The bout continued the monster push Lynch enjoyed on the Road to WrestleMania that year, culminating in a historic WrestleMania main event that saw her defeat Flair and Ronda Rousey in a Triple Threat match to win both the Raw and SmackDown women's titles.

    As one of the watershed moments in Lynch's journey to the top of the industry, it remains a must-watch.

3. Drew McIntyre Conquers The Beast (2020)

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    The 2020 Royal Rumble saw universal champion Brock Lesnar enter the match, looking to further establish himself as the most unstoppable force in professional wrestling. For the early portion of the match, he did just that.

    Lesnar entered at No. 1 and proceeded to set the record for most eliminations, dumping 13 Superstars to the arena floor in a show of dominance not seen since Kane in 2001 and Braun Strowman in the Greatest Royal Rumble special in Saudi Arabia.

    The ever-confident Lesnar was not prepared for the fury that Drew McIntyre brought to the ring, though.

    The Scottish Warrior halted The Beast Incarnate's path of rage, with some help from Ricochet, and rocked him with a Claymore that sent him over the top rope and to the floor.

    The crowd, having grown tired of watching Lesnar toss Superstars around for nearly a half hour, erupted for McIntyre in the first hint that his push toward the main event scene was working.

    The Scot would go on to win the match, last eliminating Roman Reigns, and cash his ticket to WrestleMania 36, where he defeated Lesnar to capture the top prize in the industry.

    That win would lack the fanfare of his Rumble triumph due to the empty arena of the pandemic era, making this the real defining moment of McIntyre's career.

2. Ronda Rousey's Debut (2018)

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    Love her or not, there is no denying the shockwaves Ronda Rousey's debut in WWE caused in 2018.

    As the most influential women's mixed martial artist in the history of the sport and eventual UFC Hall of Famer, her signing with the top professional wrestling company in the world was a big deal and would bring new eyes to the product.

    Moments after Asuka won the inaugural women's Rumble match and was joined by Raw women's champion Alexa Bliss and SmackDown titleholder Charlotte Flair, Rousey exploded through the curtain to an enormous ovation and wasted little time making her plans known: She was going to WrestleMania 34.

    And she did, delivering one of the greatest first-time in-ring performances ever alongside Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

    Her arrival, before fans became jaded and fickle later in that first run, was magical and exactly what the women's division needed to achieve consistency at the main event level.

1. Edge Returns (2020)

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    In 2011, Edge was forced into retirement after a neck injury that jeopardized his long-term health.

    That is, until 2020, when he made the unlikeliest return in recent memory, exploding through the curtain at No. 21 and drawing one of the most unforgettable reactions of all time.

    Even with the internet abuzz about the possibility that The Rated-R Superstar may be preparing for an improbable in-ring return, the surprise as he entered the arena was undeniable.

    He would last an incredible 23:43 before seeing his dreams of headlining WrestleMania dashed by Roman Reigns, the man he would compete against at The Showcase of the Immortals a year later.

    Edge's return created a buzz surrounding the industry that it badly needed amid cries of staleness and provided one of the most innovative and historically significant competitors of his generation the opportunity to rewrite the end of his story.

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