“Everyone is eligible to enter,” they said. For weeks and weeks, WWE announcers brayed this curious little phrase in regards to the 2012 Royal Rumble match, and it seemed like an odd note to continuously press. Of course anyone’s eligible, based on the sheer number of surprise entries that have popped up over the years. Hell, fans today openly speculate as to who the surprises are going to be (which kills off the very idea of what a “surprise” is), so surprises are a given concept for modern Rumbles.
But man, we had no idea that the majority of the Rumble field was going to be essentially one offbeat entry after another, to the point where a regular midcard entry hit the ring, it was an underwhelming moment. There may have only been eight “novelty” entries in the match (three announcers, a manager, a women’s a wrestler, two Attitude Era stars, and the first-ever televised Rumble winner), but it truly felt like more than that.
The 2012 Royal Rumble was kinda fun in the moment, but doesn’t hold up with even a couple years hindsight, let alone seven. Aside from a very good WWE Championship match, it was kind of a “just there” show, with little else to prop it up.
10. Fifteen Feet Of Steel
Unless you’re TNA Lockdown or an MMA event of some sort, it’s a bit unconventional to start a pay-per-view with a steel cage match (not that cage matches haven’t been diluted through overuse and such anyway). The 2012 Royal Rumble began with just such a bout, as Daniel Bryan defended his World Heavyweight title against a pair of monsters in Big Show and Mark Henry.
This would mark the first time that the Royal Rumble ever had a steel cage match on its card, taking until the 25th incarnation of the event before the enclosure made its Rumble debut. It would be the last of the Big Four events to feature a cage match, after WrestleMania (1986), SummerSlam (1990), and Survivor Series (2001).