Perhaps the most exciting part of the annual Royal Rumble match are the surprise entrants that appear in every year. How WWE selects which legends of the past will make an appearance is explained by former WWE writer Court Bauer.
Bauer spoke to Fightful and said WWE's process isn't concrete or organized. Suggestions for surprises for the Royal Rumble could sometimes come from members of WWE's creative team and WWE's Talent Relations department would then try to contact the suggested names. Bauer did say that in making suggestions, the creative team needed to be aware of not doing too many surprises with Vince McMahon sometimes shooting down names for the Royal Rumble match.
"It's just something that will pop up for random people. There were people who were fans of certain people like Brian Gewirtz is a huge fan of Bob Backlund and he would sometime pitch, 'Hey what about Backlund?' You just have Talent Relation dial them up and see if they can get him in. I always loved those kinds of surprises. Sometimes, you'll have a receptive audience from the chairman, etc... Sometimes, he'll bark and say, 'Goddamn, it's about our stars, not the stars of yesteryear that our fanbase doesn't know.' You have to balance out the star power and the surprise. It has to be the right balance. Too many [surprises] and it gets kind of funky. The wrong star coming out and it seems random. You just never know and you hope that they have a purpose," Bauer said.
An unintended benefit of having surprises in the Royal Rumble is the fact that some of these surprises get such a big response by the crowd that those wrestlers get an extended run in WWE instead of making one-time appearance at the Rumble.
"What I love about [the surprises] is that you get guys like Goldust, they'll trigger a whole resurgence for their career just off of that kind of randomness. I think it happened for a lot of guys in the last 10, 15 years. Guys like Mr. Perfect weren't anticipated to come back and it was just a one-off and they got a big pop, looked like a million bucks, let's bring them to TV. TV turns into next week and then they're offered a deal. I like that. It's a wild card component and sometimes you realize when you bring these people in is that you need a veteran and you missed someone like that. That's something I hope to see with the Rumble coming up," Bauer said.
Goldust returned to WWE at the 2013 Royal Rumble and was later brought in to help his brother Cody Rhodes fight to The Shield later that year. Since then, Goldust has been a mainstay for WWE and is now appearing on 205 Live. Mr. Perfect returned to WWE at the 2002 Royal Rumble where it was also supposed to be a one-time deal, but then remained with the company for several more months before being released.
The interview can be seen in the video above. As for this year' Royal Rumble, Fightful will have full coverage of Royal rumble weekend, with a post-show podcast after NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia and the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.