By Ivan the Impaler – The annual WWE Royal Rumble probably leads to more pre-event analysis and speculation than any other match
put on by the company.
Because this year, more than other recent bouts, we don’t know the identity of almost half of the participants.
It will be two for the price of one this Sunday in Philadelphia. For the first time, there will be a women’s rumble to a
accompany the men’s event.
The rules are relatively straightforward (by pro wrestling standards.) Thirty wrestlers enter the ring at timed intervals. A competitor is eliminated when they are thrown over the top rope onto the floor. (Both feet must hit the floor before the elimination is official.)
The last in the ring will receive a title shot at WrestleMania.
So far, both the men and ladies’ matches have announced only 18 competitors.
Here are the “official” participants to this point.
Men’s Royal Rumble —
2. Randy Orton
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
4. John Cena
5. Finn Balor
6. Baron Corbin
7. Matt Hardy
8. Bray Wyatt
10. Aiden English
11. Titus O’Neil
12. Apollo Crews
13. The Miz
14. Tye Dillinger
15. Big E
16. Kofi Kingston
17. Xavier Woods
18. Roman Reigns
Women’s Royal Rumble —
3. Ruby Riott
5. Sasha Banks
7. Mandy Rose
8. Sonya Deville
9. Liv Morgan
10. Sarah Logan
14. Nia Jax
15. Mickie James
16. Becky Lynch
17. Dana Brooke
18. Alicia Fox
(List courtesy f4wonline.com)
Almost every year, there’s been surprise entrants. Sometimes it’s a star debuting or returning to WWE (eg., AJ Styles in 2016.) Other times, wrestlers returning from a injury come back without advance notice (John Cena and Edge.)
Since the company started their NXT developmental system, some athletes made their WWE debut in the Rumble itself (Tye Dillinger last year , for example.)
Of the 12 needed to fill EACH of the matches, here are some names being tossed around:
-Dolph Ziggler – He last appeared on WWE TV when he laid his United States Title belt in the ring on December 19, seemingly forfeiting the championship. He’s rarely been mentioned since; the storyline is pushing the idea he walked away from the company due to being disrespected by the fans.
Here’s a secret kids: he hasn’t quit yet.
-Samoa Joe – After legitimately hurting his foot in early January, he’s been off TV. But the injury isn’t believed to be serious enough to keep him out of the Rumble.
-Jeff Hardy – The Artist Formerly Known as Brother Nero suffered a torn rotator cuff in September. Early speculation put him on the shelf four-to six months. A return this weekend is within that time frame, but by no means a sure thing. Jeff appeared in a poker-playing segment last week on Raw, for what that’s worth.
– Big Cass – The 7-footer hurt his knee on August 21. The initial timeframe was nine months, so a return this early seems, as Gorilla Monsoon would say, “highly unlikely.’
-Chris Jericho – Given his New Japan obligations, it’s doubtful. Still, he did appear briefly on Raw last week. Put it on The List of things to consider.
-Daniel Bryan – No yet.
-C.M. Punk – No!
-Evacuees from IMPACT Wrestling – Three of that company’s stars all left the company in last few weeks. All had previously been under WWE contract.
The names of Bobby Lashley, Ethan Carter III (Derrick Bateman) and Chris Adonis (Chris Masters) have all been considered as surprise rumble entrants. ( EC3 was acknowledged in the crowd last night at NXT, which eliminates him from being a”surprise” entrant.)
-The Rank and File- There are many other wrestlers between Raw and Smackdown available to fil the Rumble; the only curiosity is why more of the
names haven’t been mentioned yet. Shelton Benjamin, Chad Gable, Luke Harper, Erik Rowan, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (who are scheduled for the pre-show vs the Revival), Rhyno, Heath Slater, Curt Hawkins all come to mind. This doesn’t even include the cruiserweights, none of whom have yet entered.
Neville- Speaking of cruiserweights, the former (two-time)champ of that division has not wrestled in WWE since September. He’s not hurt; all signs point to a contract dispute with WWE. It’s pure speculation where things stand now. They could still be negotiating, he may be sitting out the remainder of his contract, or he could be returning…soon.
Your guess is as good as ours.
Lita- The former Women’s champion is still in the good graces of the company and would be welcomed back by most fans. She was conspicuous by her absence on the 25th Anniversary of Raw last week; perhaps she was kept off screen to heighten the surprise this Sunday
– Ronda Rousey – It’s no secret she’s been training at the WWE Performance Center in Florida. Her debut with the company is a question of when, rather than if. Some think they’re saving her for WrestleMania. She tried to quash speculation of a Rumble appearance by announcing she’ll be filming a movie in Columbia this weekend. She even released a photo of the movie set in that country.
By the way, she was not in that picture.
-NXT Call-ups – There will surely be some wrestlers from the developmental territory brought up just for the Rumble, especially for a women’s roster which has been maxed out. Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross and Kairi Sane are the name most often tossed around.
Are those enough scenarios for you?
Good. Because there WILL be at least one unexpected entrant or blast from the past. The numbers this year dictate it.