Written by Leah Williams
Next Monday, WWE will host its 31st Royal Rumble event, and for the first time ever will host a women’s Royal Rumble match for a championship title shot. As Kurt Angle confirmed on a recent episode of Raw, the match will feature 30 women competing, across Raw and Smackdown.
Despite this, there are currently only 19 women available to compete in the Rumble, leading to much speculation that the Women’s Rumble will play host to surprises from both NXT and older WWE legends. With this in mind – here’s our list of who we’d love to see win the Rumble.
Mickie James made a surprise return at NXT TakeOver: Toronto in 2016, taking on Asuka in a blistering championship match, and proving that she still had what it takes in the ring. WWE audiences had last seen her in 2010, and her return was met with much enthusiasm. Since then, she’s danced around the title scene, but has yet to make a splash – with her veteran wiles, the Royal Rumble match would be the perfect time for her to claim a new opportunity.
New Zealand’s own Dakota Kai has only recently made her full-time NXT debut, but she first made waves in the company with her performances in the Mae Young Classic. While it may seem too early for Kai to compete in the Rumble, she is one of the most promising new talents in NXT, with a hard-hitting style and loveable babyface persona.
Of all the women on this list, Beth Phoenix is the only one with significant Royal Rumble experience, entering the 2010 match and eliminating The Great Khali. This makes her one of only three women to have ever entered the Rumble.
While the Glamazon retired in 2012, there’s still a chance for her to return. As a WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Phoenix has a wealth of experience that could benefit her in the match, and a surprise victory could see her face Charlotte or Alex Bliss for one last championship match.
Since losing the WWE championship to Alexa Bliss, Bayley’s been treading water in inconsequential feuds, and has lost a lot of the momentum and fan support that she built in NXT. The Rumble would be the perfect opportunity for her to find her feet again, becoming the ultimate underdog as one of the early entrants, and fighting her way to the finish.
Nikki Bella is currently on a break from WWE, which would make her return all the more shocking. Nikki, the longest reigning Diva’s Champion, hasn’t yet had a chance to claim the newly minted Raw or Smackdown Women’s Championships, and she absolutely deserves a chance to do so before her eventual retirement. Unlike many of the ‘WWE Divas’ of yesteryear, Nikki has improved her wrestling work tremendously over the past few years, and a brand new title run would prove her enduring skill.
Much like Bayley, Becky Lynch has been lost in the Smackdown title scene since dropping the belt to Alexa Bliss. Since then, she’s feuded with the likes of Mickie James and James Ellsworth, as well as facing off with the Welcoming Committee in several repetitive multi-woman matches. The Rumble should give Lynch the chance to shine, showcasing her bullish strength and fiery determination. Lynch absolutely deserves another shot at the Smackdown Women’s title, having lost it unceremoniously after a disappointing first run.
As reported by WWE, Mae Young Classic standout and indie darling Candice LeRae has finally signed a contract with the company. While this may mean the end of her tag partnership with Joey Ryan, her time in The World’s Cutest Tag Team proved how relentless Candice truly is, and endeared her to PWG audiences and indie fans alike.
As a surprise entrant and eventual winner, she would have the chance to prove herself to the casual WWE audience, showing off her undeniable talent and highlighting why she’s been one of the hottest acts on the independent scene in recent years.
The Royal Rumble PPV streams live on the WWE Network on January 29, with the pre-show kicking off at 10am AEST.
Pic via WWE