The 2012 Royal Rumble is almost upon us. Of course, part of the fun of the Rumble every year is the dramatic entrances from grapplers who weren’t expected to participate. What better way to get excited for this year’s event than to check out the wrestlers who we most want to crash the party?

We’ll include WWE heroes who’ve been absent from in-ring action due to injury (or “injury”) in recent months, combatants from rival promotions who may be ready to jump ship, and even stars from other sports who are rumored to be ready to rumble. So what are we waiting for?

Here are the top 10 wrestlers we most want to show up at the 2012 Royal Rumble:

10. Rey Mysterio

The high-flying hero and master of the gravity-defying between-the-ropes move known as the “619” has been out of action for the past few months due to a legit injury. It would be a nice surprise to everyone — especially the kids in the crowd — if we were greeted to the return of this 2006 Rumble winner, who eventually went on to Wrestlemania and fulfilled his dream of becoming world champion.

9. Rob Van Dam

Fans watching the 2012 Royal Rumble could get a great surprise if ‘Mr. Monday Night,’ he of the top-rope jump known as the ‘Five Star Frog Splash,’ decided to return on a Sunday. Last seen in rival promotion TNA, Van Dam is the beloved smoke-friendly former WWE and ECW champion. So go ahead, light ‘em up, and get your thumbs ready for the big “R-V-D” chant.

8. Shaquille O’ Neal

Now we know what you are thinking, but actually, it wouldn’t be a shocker if the former hoops star and king of ‘Shaq-Fu’ showed up to interfere with the 500-pound hulkster known as the Big Show. The two have crossed paths before, and Show’s been known to tangle with non-wrestling stars (Floyd Mayweather and an actual sumo wrestler) at past Wrestlemania events. What better way to kick off the feud? Plus, after retiring from the NBA, it’s not like Shaq has much else to do right now.

7. Kurt Angle

Although he may be currently busy both wrestling for TNA and training for a return to the Olympics, we can’t help but hold out hope for a surprise return of amateur legend turned pro superstar Kurt Angle. A former WWE champion and master of many submission holds, Angle’s return to wrestling’s biggest stage would be much appreciated. Especially if he drove a milk truck down to the ring.

6. Batista

Known as ‘The Animal,’ and one of the wrestlers who looks like he’d do the most damage in a real-life fight, this former multi-time WWE heavyweight champion and 2005 Rumble winner has been away for some time now. His MMA and acting careers don’t seem to be setting the world on fire, so it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for him to make his return at this event. Just think of all the wrestlers who are deserving of his devastating ‘Batista Bomb‘ finishing maneuver…that’s right, we’re looking at you, Santino Marella!

5. Bill Goldberg

Who’s next? Well everyone would be if former WCW champion and massive car enthusiast Bill Goldberg made a shocking return at this year’s Royal Rumble! He never really had a proper sendoff from professional wrestling, and delivering a few of his patented spears would be a great way for him to start, provided we could cut down his long-winded ring entrance routine a little bit.

4. Randy Orton

Since the Royal Rumble takes place in his hometown of St. Louis this year, it only seems fitting that the 2009 winner and former World Heavyweight champion known as ‘The Viper’ would make a dramatic return from a recent (and possibly fictional) injury. We are sure the WWE universe would like nothing more than seeing him deliver an RKO to the dastardly Wade Barrett for tossing him down a flight of stairs on ‘Smackdown’ a few weeks ago.

3. Brock Lesner

With the sudden and shocking retirement of 2003 Rumble winner Brock Lesner from the UFC, and his appearance in the recent wrestling video game ‘WWE 12,’ the time seems right for the ‘Next Big Thing’ to come back and re-establish his dominance over the pro wrestling world. Fans can only wonder who his first victim would prove to be, but it’s safe to say we wouldn’t want it to be us.

2. The Rock

The biggest main event in Wrestlemania history is already set for this year, with big-time movie star The Rock returning from a long wrestling absence to battle the sport’s current poster boy John Cena. We’re sure hopeful Rocky, also known as Duane Johnson, turns up at this year’s Rumble. Maybe he could “Rock Bottom” Cena again, right out of the ring this time, to advance the storyline. IF you smell what we’re cooking.

1. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Our number one pick has to be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, as it probably will be for the next 17 years. With the chronically injured Austin recently saying that physically he could wrestle again, and his recent Twitter feud with current anti-authority champion CM Punk, hearing that famous glass-shattering entrance sound would make an awesome surprise. He’s got the experience, having won a record-setting three Royal Rumbles, and he’s damn sure got the attitude! So let’s book it – Austin vs. Punk at Wrestlemania, and that’s the bottom line cause GuySpeed said so!

Eric Haggard is a Boston Red Sox fan living in Ohio, a big fan of music, movies and books. He spends his days trying to decide what Megadeth album to play next and planning for the zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Twitter.