One of the most fun things of the Royal Rumble for years was the mystery of the surprise entrants – from debuts to injury returns, to past Legends returning for one more night of glory. The Rumble has always been a bit of a mangled mess of action, with moments of brilliance, but it was always the intrigue that kept people glued to their screens for the hour that the match itself took. But as the brands split, and the rosters ballooned, the chances of those same rushes in the men’s Royal Rumble are increasingly few and far between. Last year’s saw only one real surprise in NXT’s Tye Dillinger coming in at #10 (and that was heavily rumoured) – the rest, including The Undertaker‘s appearance, where all somewhat announced prior. The year previous in 2016, the only surprise was the debut of AJ Styles. It was back in 2015 that we saw our last “surprise entrants” in the form of past stars, when Diamond Dallas Page and The Boogeyman appeared, as well as the shocking return of Bubba Ray Dudley. But for the most part, with a bloated mens locker room, the opportunity for surprise entrants is slimmer each and every year. But that’s where the women’s Royal Rumble now has that advantage.
Women’s Royal Rumble Will Recapture Mystery of Original
Last week on Raw, Kurt Angle announced that the Women’s Royal Rumble would have the same rulings as the men’s, including having 30 participants. But while the men boast far more than 30 active members of the roster between Raw and Smackdown Live, the women do not. The women have 21 active women on both rosters combined and when you remove the two respective champions, that leaves 19 women who will almost certainly declare (most actually already have after tonight’s Smackdown Live, including Lana). Last night on Raw, Angle was on the phone with a former Women’s Champion who hadn’t appeared in years saying she’d be a welcome addition to the Rumble – so we already know we’re having at least one special “blast from the past”.
Assuming that Charlotte Flair remains Smackdown Women’s Champion by the Royal Rumble and Alexa Bliss remains the Raw Champion, here are the 19 WWE Women that will be participating in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble.
- Alicia Fox, Raw
- Asuka, Raw
- Bayley, Raw
- Becky Lynch, Smackdown
- Carmella, Smackdown
- Dana Brooke, Raw
- Lana, Smackdown
- Liv Morgan, Smackdown
- Mandy Rose, Raw
- Mickie James, Raw
- Naomi, Smackdown
- Natalya, Smackdown
- Nia Jax, Raw
- Paige, Raw
- Ruby Riott, Smackdown
- Sarah Logan, Smackdown
- Sasha Banks, Raw
- Sonya Deville, Raw
- Tamina, Smackdown
With only 19 main roster women, that leaves eleven (11) open spots for competitors in this historic event, and while we predicted they’d go 30 women back in June of last year with our predictions, some things have changed on the landscape. So here’s a look at some women who could be in line for one of those eleven remaining spots in first ever WWE Women’s Royal Rumble.
Women’s Royal Rumble: NXT
Chances are we may see some sort of a qualifying matches or Battle Royal at the January 4 tapings of NXT in Atlanta this week, where one or more NXT women will earn spots in the Women’s Royal Rumble. Regardless, it’s a sure fire bet that a few NXT women will get an opportunity at the Rumble, the question is how many.
THE ICONIC DUO (Peyton Royce & Billie Kaye)
Many were surprised that Billie Kaye and Peyton Royce were passed over in favour of Paige’s Absolution duo of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, or Ruby Riott and her squadron with Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. But NXT still needs the Iconic Duo more than they did the others. They’re still the brand’s top heels and, while they’re now building Shayna Baszler quickly, they still run the NXT roost. But appearing in the Women’s Royal Rumble would be nice pop for those who know them and an introduction of sorts for their inevitable main roster debut – which is probably closer than we think.
Everyone’s favourite crazy Scot has become a fan favourite at Full Sail, despite being allied with a heel faction in SAnitY. Her hard hitting matches against Asuka and Ruby Riott have been classics and she more than deserves to make her presence felt in the Royal Rumble.
It may be a longshot to see the NXT Women’s Champion in the Royal Rumble considering she’ll be defending the night prior at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, but it’s an even stronger argument that if anyone from NXT’s Women’s Division deserves a shot in the Rumble it’s their Champion.
Women’s Royal Rumble: The Returns
THE BELLA TWINS (Nikki & Brie Bella)
It was announced this week that the Bella Twins, both Nikki and Brie, would be returning to the WWE for Raw 25, but it’s most likely just one-off appearances as guest stars for the star-studded affair. But both have been training for months for their comebacks and it’s not far fetched to believe that they could both have big announcements on January 22’s episode of Raw that they could be returning to the ring with a bang by entering their names into the historic Royal Rumble itself. A potential stare down between the Bella twins and the Iconic Duo could be a real “moment”.
The former Straight Edge Society member made a surprise return to the WWE last summer as a participant in the Mae Young Classic and received praise from management and fans alike. Reports indicate she was offered a training position at the WWE Performance Center but took time away to decided on her future. New reports from Squared Circle Sirens indicate she was recently spotted in Pittsburgh, home of WWE’s main medical staff and where their final medicals are conducted, so Serena could be on her way back. Even if it’s to accept the trainer position, a spot in the Rumble isn’t out of the question.
The former Divas Champion recently returned to training in a wrestling ring for the first time in years and she’s already announced her return to the ring on February 10 for Coastal Championship Wrestling (CCW) in Florida. WWE has been keen on her returning for some time and what better way to reintroduce her to the WWE Universe than as part of the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble?
Women’s Royal Rumble: The Debut
This is the big “will she/won’t she” isn’t it? Rumours have been afloat for months that former UFC Champion Ronda Rousey was on the verge of signing with the WWE, reports repeatedly denied by Triple H himself. But WWE isn’t the type to confirm “surprise debuts” – after all, even the Hardys denied their return to the WWE up until the day of WrestleMania last year. If the Four Horsewomen showdown is still on the table for WrestleMania 34 this year, having Rousey in the Rumble to face the likes of Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch – with possible interference from NXT’s Shayna Baszler and the other two MMA Horsewomen Jessamyn Dyke and Marina Shafir – would be a great way to set that up. The three WWE Horsewomen in the match could easily team up and eliminate Rousey to avoid the trap of having to let Rousey win the Rumble outright.
Women’s Royal Rumble: The Legends
Trish has been teasing a return to the WWE for years now in some capacity, and last year’s return was put on hold when she had another child. Now that she’s back in shape, Trish probably remains the most likely – and desired – return of the former Champions.
Wherever there is Trish, you can usually find her best friend, Lita. Lita has been far more visible in the WWE Universe lately, especially taking part as part of the commentary crew for the Mae Young Classic last year. Standing next to her longtime rival/friend Trish Stratus in the historic Women’s Royal Rumble would be the icing on their legacy together.
The WWE Hall of Famer was recently announced as joining the commentary team for the WWE Mixed Match Challenge, but it could also be to help reintroduce Beth’s name into the WWE Universe. She was the second woman to ever compete in the regular Royal Rumble, but a spot in the Women’s first one would be only fitting.
Another former Divas Champion who has expressed interest in returning in some capacity, she’s been spotted backstage at WWE events with increasing frequency the past year. If you’re going to test the water for a return, this is the time and place for just such a return.
Victoria has always had a great rapport with the WWE Universe and the former Women’s Champion and Impact Knockouts Champion is still popular with the fans, competing regularly on the indie circuit. She’d be a welcome veteran presence in the ring.
Another recent WWE Hall of Famer, Jacqueline is as tough as they come, despite just turning 54. Another former Women’s Champion who broke barriers winning the WWE Cruiserweight title, she deserves a legends spot in another historic moment.
Ok, so this is a long shot. But hey, her husband will be there defending his Universal title, and it could be way for the kids to see both their dad and their mom compete on the same night.
With GLOW being a major mainstream hit with it’s Netflix show garnering Emmy nods this year, the cross promotion appeal is something that the WWE is well aware of. Former Knockouts Champion Awesome Kong – who competed briefly in the WWE as Kharma – is a solid choice to represent the show. She was the third woman to compete in the regular Royal Rumble and was a guest of the WWE (along with the other GLOW girls) at the Mae Young Classic finale last year.
Molly Holly is still in great shape and is still training new wrestlers in the Minnesota area. One of the Attitude Era’s most underrated performers, Molly Holly holds a special place in the hearts of the WWE Universe and a surprise entrance at the Royal Rumble would be an welcomed addition.
If Ivory is indeed the rumoured 2018 WWE Hall of Fame inductee for the Women’s Division this year, announcing her the night after she competes in the Royal Rumble would be fitting. Not to mention that Ivory, as Tina Ferrari, was one of the original GLOW girls back in the late 80s and a potential showdown with new GLOW girl Kharma could be another great cross promotional opportunity.
With so many variables, surprises, and legends abound, it feels like the Women’s Royal Rumble could finally tap into that special aura of surprise and wonder that made the men’s such an attraction for decades prior.