One week prior to the WWE Royal Rumble, he does an interview saying he won’t be at WrestleMania 24 then the next week he is winning the World Wrestling Entertainment Royal Rumble and scheduled to headline WrestleMania 24. Nobody expected John Cena to return to the WWE this soon, win the Royal Rumble, and go on to headline WrestleMania 24 and win a title shot of his choice.
In October 2007 when John Cena relinquished the WWE title due to injury, we were told he wouldn’t be back for seven months. During his time away, Cena had been out of the spotlight and was barely even mentioned on WWE programming. John Cena surprised everyone when he entered the Royal Rumble at number 30 and threw out Triple H to win the Rumble and immediately challenge Randy Orton for the same belt he never lost at WrestleMania 24.
Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker picked up right where they left off at the 2007 Royal Rumble. It was a great way to start the Rumble since nobody watching the show expected either one of them to start the match. HBK would wind up eliminating Undertaker and extracting revenge for last year’s Rumble. I would normally assume that this means that the WWE picked up on what I have been screaming about since last year’s Rumble and put these two together at WrestleMania 24. However, that match didn’t come for another year.
The runaway fan favorite going into the Royal Rumble was (and usually is) Triple H. It wasn’t so much Triple H, but there was nobody else that seemed to be an obvious or close second choice. Not only was John Cena a shock to the crowd at 30, he wasn’t the only surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble.
Fresh off his stint signing autographs at a barber shop in New Jersey, WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Superfly Jimmy Snuka returned home to Madison Square Garden and tried his luck in the Rumble. The surprises continued, as fellow WWE Hall of Fame inductee Roddy Piper made a shocking return to the Rumble as well. It was quite a moment when the two men that sold out the Garden over twenty years ago were going toe to toe once again. I love when the WWE brings back a surprise legend or two for the Rumble and so did the crowd. Bringing back the hottest feud of my childhood if not for just two minutes was pure old school wrestling heaven.
I talked a lot about fan passion at the time on my radio show and in blogs yet the fan reaction to John Cena at the Rumble is something that people still talk about today. The entrance itself is arguably the greatest Rumble entrance in the history of the match. The place went nuts in a way that rivaled Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in their heyday. It was truly a historic WWE moment that helped solidify Cena’s WWE status as a WWE superstar.
The final four in the Rumble came down to Kane, Batista, Triple H, and Cena. Triple H and Batista united to throw Kane over the top rope. Triple H subsequently wound up eliminating Batista, which looked like would set up a WrestleMania 24 match between the two. It then came down to Triple H and Cena. After several minutes of failed attempts at elimination by both men, John Cena FU’d Triple H over the top rope to win the Rumble and go on to WrestleMania 24 and challenge for a WWE title of his choice.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship
Edge vs. … for the WWE World Championship
Triple H vs. Batista
JBL vs. Chris Jericho
Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
As we know now, none of those matches took place at WM 24 except Orton-Cena with Triple H thrown in the mix for a Triple Threat Match.
Other 2008 Royal Rumble results saw….
Ric Flair defeated MVP in a non-title match
JBL defeated Chris Jericho via DQ
Edge defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the WWE World Championship
Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the WWE Championship