On October 1, 2007, John Cena was competing against Mr. Kennedy on Raw, when he would suffer a complete pectoral tear. Cena would defeat Kennedy, clutching his right arm. He would then get an RKO from Randy Orton, as well as hit with the steel steps. To make matters worse, Cena would get another RKO from Orton on the commentary table, which left Cena's arm limp. Although Cena was scheduled to compete against Orton the following Sunday at No Mercy in a Last Man Standing Match, Cena required immediate surgery, which left no other option but for Vince McMahon to vacate the championship the next night on ECW TV.
Based on the severity of the issue, Cena's surgery required a timeline of six months to a year to recover before he could make a return to the ring.
Three months later, at the 2008 Royal Rumble inside the Madison Square Garden, 29 competitors had already entered the match. All of a sudden, the buzzer hits for 30, and John Cena's music hits. This was a major shock to the audience, since his recovery took half the time as expected. Cena would then eliminate Carlito, Chavo Guerrero, and Mark Henry, before lastly eliminating Triple H to win his first Royal Rumble match.
I recently spoke with former WWE Marty Elias, who was a referee for that match. He revealed how WWE kept Cena incognito before he came out from backstage.
"I was one of only a handful of people who knew he was coming back and was going to win the Rumble," said Elias. "Cena was hidden all day and when it was time for him to enter, he was walked through the hallway covered so no one knew it was him!"
Ten years later, Cena will be entering the 2018 Royal Rumble, in hopes of tying Steve Austin for all-time Royal Rumble wins.