Half of the fun of the 30-man Royal Rumble Match is waiting to see who WWE will surprise the fans with as an unexpected entrant. Huge names like John Cena and Triple H have made surprise returns during the Rumble Match in years past. The rumors are all over the place for this year's event. From Triple H and Daniel Bryan to A.J. Styles and Austin Aries, there's a long list of superstars that the WWE Universe hopes to see on Sunday.
As much as we'd like to see them, there are some personalities that the WWE can't (or simply won't) bring back for a variety of reasons. Some stars have contracts that won't allow them to compete with WWE; others simply have no interest. Some former WWE Superstars simply aren't on good terms with Vince; some entrants could result in a PR nightmare for the publicly traded wrestling enterprise.
While any of the following 5 wrestlers would absolutely blow away everyone from the IWC to the biggest Cena marks, they simply will not happen this year. Wrestling fans love to speculate on the what-ifs of dream matchups. So, let's take a look at some guys that would make this year's Rumble Match epic -- but definitely won't.
For years, fans have wondered if they will ever see Bill Goldberg in the WWE again. While his WrestleMania match with Brock Lesnar was a bad way to leave, WWE devotees are quick to forgive. The "Goldberg" chants that Ryback used to receive got people wondering if WWE would try to bring him back.
Now that Steve Austin and Lesnar are appearing on WWE programming regularly, Goldberg's name is in circulation again. How epic would it be if Bill arrived to show Roman Reigns the proper way to execute a spear before tossing him over the top rope and to the floor, only to end up face-to-face once again with Lesnar?
To my knowledge, no major players have ever made their WWE debut as a Royal Rumble entrant. While Austin Aries was definitely at NXT this weekend to sign a contract, the odds of him showing up as part of Sunday's Rumble are slim to none.
While A.J. Styles is a legitimate possibility, Aries is not. Austin's contract signing was taped for WWE NXT and won't air until March 2. With a big surprise booked for their developmental division, Vince isn't going to give the okay for someone created outside of WWE to steal the headlines of the first major event of the calendar year.
While it has been known for some time now that Kurt Angle's contract with TNA Wrestling is up this month, he has said time and time again that he's taking a year off from wrestling to give his body a rest and pursue other interests. But every WWE fan from the late 90's wants Angle to have one last WWE run before he retires. As he gets up there in age, he's going to have to do it soon if it's going to happen.
But it won't be this year at the Royal Rumble, as awesome as that might be. He's still under contract with TNA, as he's currently on his farewell tour. Could we see it at the 2017 Rumble Match?
For years after the infamous "Montreal Screwjob," WWE fans concocted conspiracy theories about Vince and Bret pulling the biggest work of all-time. As it turns out, the whole ordeal was legit.
But what if that's what CM Punk is truly doing? What if he just wanted some time off, always looking forward to a return? Unfortunately, that's just not how things are. Punk recently announced he wants to compete in eight fights at UFC. If he ever makes it back to the squared circle, it won't be for a few years.
Is there really any need for explanation? Every time Hulk Hogan makes a surprise appearance, it's a huge deal. But he made a racist comment one time, the whole world found out, and WWE blacklisted the man who's arguably responsible for the WWF's success in the 80's and 90's. But Stone Cold committed domestic abuse, and he's got his own podcast. Hulk Hogan will be back, but not this year.
The WWE Royal Rumble 2016 airs Sunday a 8/7c.