A week before Royal Rumble, Kurt Angle wrestled on a live event and speculation began that he was warming up for a possible appearance in the Royal Rumble match.
It turns out that Angle’s appearance was decided on late in the weekend.
As reported on Wrestling Observer Radio, Zack Ryder was originally supposed to be in the Men’s Royal Rumble match.
Angle entered in as number 4 and was eliminated a short time later by Shinsuke Nakamura. Some fans wondered why a bigger deal wasn’t made of Angle being in the match and why his time was so short.
Dave Meltzer noted that the entry and elimination spots were planned for Ryder so that’s why Angle’s time in the match came across as an afterthought. Basically, the match was already laid out and they just swapped Angle for Ryder and Angle was eliminated when Ryder was supposed to be eliminated.
The change was made because Vince McMahon felt that Angle would get a bigger pop than Ryder.