The road to WWE Wrestlemania 34 begins this Sunday Night with the 2018 WWE Royal Rumble event.
Over the next week here on Fightful, I will be bringing you a “Countdown To The 2018 WWE Royal Rumble.” During these columns, we will be looking at the past history of the Royal Rumble event and while also previewing this years event as well.
So, without any further ado, here is Day Four of our countdown, as we look at who I would like to see as the surprise entrants in the men's and women's Rumble matches.
(Please Note: This list is not in any particular order or ranking and I am going with 12 women's and 13 men's surprise entrants because that's how many spots are left open in the Rumble matches.)
1. Trish Stratus
There may have been no better female wrestler and star in the WWE than Trish Stratus, who retired a few years back after defeating Lita for the WWE Women’s Title. Trish has popped up a few times since retiring, with the most recent being at Raw 25 this past week. Why not add to the WWE Hall Of Fame members historic career by giving her another accolade to add to the resume.
There would be no Trish Stratus without Lita and there would also be no Lita with Trish Stratus, their long feud has linked them forever in the wrestling history books. While Lita hasn’t popped up as much inside the ring since her retirement, it is something she has teased many times in the past. It would seem that if they are linked together again by competing in the Rumble, it would give the two best friends and former rivals one more thing to celebrate.
3. Stephanie McMahon
Let me make one thing clear about this right off the bat…I would like to see Stephanie McMahon in the Rumble, not winning the Rumble. Although she has already been announced as a part of the broadcast team for the women’s Rumble, it doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be in the match. Whether we like her or not and there are a lot of opinions on her TV character, one thing she has helped do is help push women’s wrestling into the best it has ever been in the WWE.
4. AJ Lee
Of all the people I am picking for surprise entrants, this one is admittedly got the least chance of actually happening. Although the way she left the WWE may have had some negative indications to the higher ups within the company (also, you must consider who she is married to), there is no doubt that AJ Lee was one of the most important women in the modern day era of the WWE. CM Punk has stated in past interviews that he doesn’t care if his wife returns to the ring and this may be the most opportune time for her to do so.
5. Ember Moon or Shayna Baszler
WWE NXT Women’ Champion Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler battle for the title this coming Saturday Night at WWE NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. The winner of that match, no matter who it is, should get a spot in the historic women’s Rumble match. If it does wind up being Moon, just imagine the pop she would get if she nails the Eclipse in the match itself.
6 & #7. The Iconic Duo (Peyton Royce & Billie Kaye)
There have been a lot of great female duo’s that have passed through the WWE over the years, but the best of them all may be Peyton Royce and Billie Kaye. The two are currently not scheduled to be wrestling at the WWE NXT Takeover: Philadelphia event the day before the Rumble, but that doesn’t mean they cannot appear the next night in the Rumble itself. Royce and Kaye have been main roster ready for awhile now (in my opinion), which means Sunday Night could be their big moment.
8. Nikki Cross
If there was ever a woman on the main roster or NXT in which the Rumble match was perfectly suited for, it is Nikki Cross. The crazy stuff that Cross has pulled off in her short time in NXT, as a part of Sanity, has been amazing to watch. If you take that craziness and inject it into the Rumble, fans could be in for something truly amazing on Sunday Night.
9. Beth Phoenix
Beth Phoenix is only one of a handful of women to have competed in the men’s Rumble match (Chyna & Kharma being the others), so why not include her in the first ever women’s Rumble. Phoenix currently sits behind the commentators desk, calling the action alongside Michael Cole and Corey Graves for the WWE Mixed Match Challenge. It has been quite a few years since the WWE Hall Of Fame member set foot in the squared circle, so the time may be right for the Glamazon to get the job done again.
10 & 11. The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie)
Love them or hate them, there is no denying that Nikki and Brie Bella are two of the most important women to ever step foot in a WWE ring. Between the reality shows, return from neck surgery (Nikki) and recently having a baby (Brie), the time is now for a full fledged Bella Twin return. Rumors have been ongoing for a while now stating that both ladies are returning for a program heading into ‘Mania 34, so expect to see one of both competing this Sunday Night.
12. Ronda Rousey
There are twelve women on the list and Ronda Rousey is the only one that has never stepped foot in a WWE or WWE NXT ring. Rousey is a former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and has been rumored to be coming to the WWE for quite some time now. However, much like what I stated earlier with Stephanie McMahon…I am all for Rousey being in the match, but not winning the match.
Now that Enzo Amore is gone from the WWE, it would seem like the 205 Live brand needs a returning Neville more than ever. Neville was arguably the greatest WWE Cruiserweight Champion since the division was resurrected and his wrong was cut terribly short. Neville is still listed as a member of the WWE roster right now, so maybe a comeback in the Rumble isn’t as far fetched as some may believe it to be.
2. The Undertaker
There has been nobody better in the WWE, in my opinion, than The Undertaker, who returned for the first time since ‘Mania 33 this past week on Raw 25. The Undertaker did not declare that he was going to enter the Rumble match at Raw 25, but he did look good physically and probably has a few more bouts left in him. Plus, when you consider that Roman Reigns is also a part of the Rumble, it would seem natural that ‘Taker would want some revenge on the man who bested him at ‘Mania 33.
3 & 4. The Miztourage (Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas)
While The Miz is seemingly skyrocketing to the top of the card right now, a huge factor in the latest ascension has been The Miztourage, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. The Miz has helped elevate these two from the curtain jerker on WWE Main Event to become solid heels who could be worthy on a somewhat bigger push on their own one day. Plus, with The Miz already in the match, it would seem natural that his two cohorts get in on the action as well.
5. Pete Dunne
The WWE and Dunne himself may have already tipped off that the WWE UK Champion is going to appear in the Rumble, as he has been pulled from events this weekend. Dunne has done quite well for himself since winning the title, with his name growing in importance with each title defense. Dunne can be seen fairly often on WWE NXT and a spot in the Rumble would give the champion the biggest spotlight of his professional wrestling career.
6. Andrade “Cien” Almas or Johnny Gargano
Andrade Almas and Johnny Gargano battle for the WWE NXT Heavyweight Title the night before at WWE NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. Whomever walks away victorious in that title match should also be given the opportunity to compete in the Rumble match. Almas is the favorite to win right now if odds makers are to be believed, but imagine the pop Gargano could get with his hitory in the city.
7 & 8. The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan)
I commented in the women’s section about how the Rumble match was built for a competitor like Nikki Cross and the same could be said on the male side of things for the Bludgeon Brothers. Since making their return as a due a few months back, Harper and Rowan have been destroying all the opposition put in front of them. A Royal Rumble match would be the perfect environment for the duo to dish out their specific brand of violence to the WWE roster.
9. Dolph Ziggler
Ever since relinquishing the WWE United States Title a few days after winning it, Dolph Ziggler has been absent from the WWE. There may be no better way for the former champion to return than to take part in the Rumble match. This is especially true if the man who is the current WWE United States Champion in Bobby Roode gets in the match as well.
10. Big Show
It is no secret that the career of the Big Show is coming to a close soon and there may be no better stage for the big man to get the spotlight on him one more time than to pop up in the Rumble match. Show has been hit or miss in past Rumble matches, but without Braun Strowman in the match, there is a need for the big man to step through the ropes again. Show should get one last hurrah before exiting the squared circle for good, with that last hurrah kicking off this Sunday Night.
11. Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode won the WWE United States Title a few weeks back by defeating Jinder Mahal in the finals of an eight man tournament. Roode has yet to declare for the Rumble match, but it would seem odd to leave the WWE United States Champion out of the encounter. If Roode were to somehow win the match, then he would become the first former WWE NXT Champion to win a Royal Rumble.
12. Jinder Mahal
Whether you love or hate Jinder Mahal, the one thing nobody can deny is that he has had an amazing year in 2017, capturing the WWE Heavyweight Title at WWE Backlash. Mahal has sill found himself somewhere near the top of the cards since losing the title, last competing in the WWE United States Title Tournament. Mahal may not be the champion no more, but a shot in the Rumble and a potential victory could get him back to having a belt around his waist.
13. Daniel Bryan
There is no indication whatsoever that Daniel Bryan has been cleared to compete again, but that doesn’t mean us fans can’t dream. Bryan is arguably one of the most popular wrestlers of the modern era of the WWE, even though he has been out of action for almost two years now. Bryan has hinted at returning to the ring when his WWE deal expires, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way he can return beforehand.