The Royal Rumble has always been and likely always will be my absolute favorite WWE event of the year. Nothing is more exciting than the anticipation of counting down the clock to the reveal of the next entrant – even if WWE has bungled a few entrants in the past.
So you can imagine how excited I was when Stephanie McMahon announced that this year’s event would also feature a 30-woman traditional Royal Rumble match. So far, 18 women have declared their participation — which means there are 12 spots left to fill. Here are my predictions as to who the mystery entrants could be.
Lots of NXT Talent
WWE is a big fan of using the Royal Rumble match to highlight the company’s up-and-coming talent, so it’s a no-brainer that much of NXT’s current women’s roster will participate. The women I expect to see show up for the match include the Iconic Duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, who could quite frankly use the exposure of the main roster PPV; fan favorite Nikki Cross; Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane and tournament standout Bianca Belair; and Lacey Evans.
Conversely, I don’t expect to see NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon or the recently debuted Shayna Baszler in the match, as they’re squaring off against each other the night before at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia.
It would be a huge misstep on WWE’s part not to include Candice LeRae in the women’s Rumble match; she’s a huge star, a phenomenal wrestler, and incredibly popular. Lots of people expected WWE to sign her immediately following the Mae Young Classic, but they made us wait. Putting her in the Rumble match is the least they could do to make up for that.
Beth Phoenix is distinguished as the quickest woman to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame following retirement. She’s also already returned to WWE, acting as a commentator for the Mixed Match Challenge. As one of the few bright lights during the extremely lackluster Divas Era – and one of just three women in history to have entered the men’s Royal Rumble match – it would only make sense to have Phoenix return to the ring for the women’s rumble. Besides all that, it would also be a perfect way for her to reunite with her BFF, Natalya.
It seems like a given that Nikki Bella will be in this match. While she hasn’t wrestled since WrestleMania 33 and seemingly took time off to heal her nagging neck injury, she announced on social media that she intends to return “when the day is right.” Is there a better day than Jan. 28th, the day of the first women’s Royal Rumble match? I don’t think so.
Trish Stratus is arguably the most iconic female wrestler of all time (sorry Billie and Peyton), so it feels necessary to include her in a match this historic. Besides, the last match Stratus wrestled was a tag team match at WrestleMania XXVII that also included Snooki of Jersey Shore fame. Stratus, who is currently the winningest women’s champion of all time, deserves a better final match than that.
To be perfectly honest, I’m a little hesitant to include Lita here as she apparently wasn’t even invited to appear at Raw’s 25th-anniversary show. However, if WWE includes Stratus they should also include her longtime rival — and it would be a good way to make it up to her for losing her invite to the anniversary show.
This one is admittedly a long shot, but I’m going to make the bold prediction that Kaitlyn will be an entrant in the women’s Royal Rumble match. Not only did she recently begin training again, but she’s already booked to make her in-ring return at Coastal Championship Wrestling on Feb. 10. Even if it’s only for one night, I wouldn’t be too incredibly surprised to see her back in WWE.
Who do you think will be the surprise entrants at the women’s Royal Rumble match? Do you agree or disagree with my picks? Share your comments below!