The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Sasha Banks – 10 possible surprise WWE returns or debuts at Royal Rumble 2024

Dan Murphy
Sasha Banks, Hulk Hogan, Dwayne Johnson

The WWE Royal Rumble is always exciting as you never know who is going to make a big debut or a shocking return as the road to Wrestlemania gets under way.

2024’s edition especially is one of the most hotly anticipated in years as some excellent booking going into the event means it’s set to be a thrilling night even if there are no surprises.

The ambiguity of who will win both matches, the teased face-off between CM Punk and Cody Rhodes, the anxiety surrounding the latter losing his Mania main event, will Gunther be able to go one step further than last year and win the whole thing while holding the Intercontinental title, could there be a winner no one sees coming?

Those are just some of the talking points going into the marquee matches as many interweaving stories are set to converge, accompanied with a lean undercard of just two title matches as Roman Reigns and Logan Paul defend their championships.

But the night will be made even more memorable, of course, if there are some stunning entrants in the Rumble matches that leave jaws dropped.

Here are 10 possible options:

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Dwayne Johnson has been all over the news this week as speculation about a return to the ring continues to grow.

The Rock was appointed to the TKO – WWE’s parent company – board of directors on Tuesday and rang the bell at the opening of the NYSE alongside several WWE executives as the company’s stock soared following the massive announced that Raw will be moving to Netflix from 2025.

Then, in an interview with First Take, The Rock once again teased facing his cousin Roman Reigns by admitting there’s a ‘chance’ they could main event the upcoming Wrestlemania XL.

There’s no better place to announce his return to action then being a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, winning the match and earning his chance against the Undisputed Universal Champion.

Sasha Banks

Only the departing New Japan star Kazuchika Okada can rival Sasha Banks as the business’ hottest free agent at the moment.

Both WWE and AEW are clamouring to sign Banks, or Mercedes Mone as she’s also known, to long-term deals but, while reports suggest AEW is winning the race, a final decision is yet to be confirmed.

The allure of Wrestlemania, reuniting with best friend Bayley and returning to a stacked main event women’s scene in WWE may prove to be tempting factors and a return in the Rumble would be a seismic statement.

There is the small matter of the Boss’ injured ankle, which has kept her out of action since May, to consider though.

Hulk Hogan

Not exactly a man many would be happy to see but Hulk Hogan has suggested he could pull on the boots once more, 12 years on from his last official match.

In a video package during this week’s Monday Night Raw to mark the 40th anniversary of his World Championship victory over the Iron Sheik at Maddison Square Garden, Hogan said on the Rumble: “You never know… I might have one left in me.”

Michelle McCool

PWInsider Elite reported this week that Michelle McCool is expected to attend Saturday’s premium live event alongside her husband The Undertaker.

Of the two, McCool is the more likely super star to make a surprise return. The 43-year-old has competed in the 2018, 2022 and 2023 editions of the Women’s Royal Rumble and has impressed in each one.

Jade Cargill

Jade Cargill made the jump from AEW to WWE last year in a massive switch but she is yet to lock up in her new home. In fact, the longest reigning TBS Champion hasn’t even appeared on TV since September.

Instead, she has been stepping up her training at the Performance Centre ahead of her anticipated debut. There isn’t a bigger or better place to make a grand arrival and put the rest of the division on notice than the Rumble by eliminating some big stars in the process. Even more if she wins the whole thing.

Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas

It became pretty clear towards the end of Andrade El Idolo’s time in AEW that he was desperate to return to WWE. He is married to Charlotte Flair and was made NXT Champion by Triple H during his first stint in the company.

Now Andrade has officially finished up with AEW following his loss to Miro at Worlds End, ‘Cien’ Almas is free to make his WWE return as a surprise entrant in this year’s Rumble.

Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar has been away from WWE programming since the conclusion of his epic feud with Cody Rhodes at SummerSlam in August. But with Wrestlemania just around the corner and the Beast Incarnate always a special attraction, it would be a great time for the seeds of a story for Philadelphia to be planted.

Big E

It’s almost certainly a pipe dream but the roof would be blown off the Tropicana Field if it had one should Big E make a miraculous return to the ring.

The former WWE Champion tragically broke his neck in a match between the New Day and the Brawling Brutes in March, 2022, which has almost certainly ended his career.

Yet, fans can’t help but hope to see Big E again and the growing feud between the New Day and Imperium is begging for him to even the numbers for his stablemates. A come back in the rumble, even if it’s just a one-off, would be one of the most emotional moments of the year.

Speaking about a possible return this week, Big E told TMZ: “I just want to make a smart decision. I didn’t start wrestling to end up in a wheelchair. So I want to make sure I’m making the best decision for myself. I don’t have a timeline, unfortunately, so thank you for asking.”

Jake Paul

While Big E would get the biggest cheer of the night, Jake Paul would likely get some of the loudest boos.

The YouTube boxing sensation’s brother, Logan, has been a revelation in his own venture into professional wrestling and will be defending his United States Championship against Kevin Owens on the undercard.

Jake Paul has seconded Logan in the past and if he’s in the building on Saturday there is always the possibility of a surprise debut in the Rumble. If he’s half as prodigious in the ring as his brother, there’s a great tag team on the cards.

AJ Lee

Another career which was sadly waylaid by neck issues was that of AJ Lee, who retired from in-ring competition in 2015. Fans have prayed for at least just one more Rumble appearance for the former Divas Champion for years but it’s a lot more likely this time around now her husband, CM Punk, is back on good terms with the company.

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About The Author

Dan Murphy is a freelance senior sports writer at Dexerto. After graduating from the University of Sheffield, Dan spent five years at the Manchester Evening News covering the city's two juggernaut clubs. He also has bylines for FourFourTwo, The Blizzard, Liverpool Echo, Newcastle Chronicle and countless more. As well as football, Dan is a passionate pro wrestling fans and also loves darts, cricket and combat sports. You can email him here: