Liam Hoofe takes a look at some potential surprise entrants for this Sunday’s Royal Rumble match…
To many wrestling fans, the WWE’s annual Royal Rumble event is the most exciting event of the year. Sure, WrestleMania is a bigger show but the Royal Rumble is just so much more exciting, so much more unpredictable. While the last few Rumble matches are better left forgotten, the buzz around the event is still tangible right now and with the event only days away, fans are beginning to fantasy book matches and dream of which superstars will be returning, or debuting on Sunday night.
The company will no doubt have some surprise names in store for us but there are some superstars that seem more likely to appear than others. Let’s take a look at what superstars could make an entrance into this year’s Rumble, including current, inactive wrestlers, former WWE employees, and debuting stars.
Rey Mysterio’s exit from the WWE in 2015 was not what he or the fans deserved. Mysterio had been working for the WWE for 13 years when his contract expired and his last appearance in the company was in an instantly forgettable defeat to Wade Barrett on an episode of Raw. Rey’s current situation is unclear – the last thing we heard about him was that Impact were rumored to be interested in signing him but nothing appears to have come of it, yet. Given the current situation, there is a chance that the company will offer Rey another run, and perhaps give him the send off he deserves. If that is the case, then there is no better time for him to make his grand return than in Sunday’s Rumble.
Unless you’ve spent the last month living under a rock, you will be aware that Ethan Carter III, better known as EC3, has left Impact Wrestling and looks set to make a return to the WWE. Speculation has been rife over the past week as to whether or not EC3 will be appearing in the Royal Rumble, with the former Derek Bateman canceling an indie date on the same night as the event. There have also been rumors this past weekend that EC3 was spotted down at the WWE development center and if that is the case, then a return at the Royal Rumble seems increasingly likely.
Of all the names on this list, Shane McMahon is one of the most likely to make an appearance Sunday night. Shane’s ongoing feud with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens has dominated Smackdown for the last few months and there is every chance, especially considering the WWE title match that is taking place earlier in the night, that he is going to enter himself into the 30 man extravaganza. Shane will likely just appear in the match to continue his feud with the two Canadians here. While Shane’s run in the match won’t last too long, expect it to be one of the matches big talking points, at least in the eyes of the WWE.
If his Smackdown counterpart decides to add himself to the match, possibly to thwart Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens, then don’t be surprised to see Kurt unbutton his shirt and tie and reveal his all American singlet on Sunday night. Angle’s music hitting would give us one of the biggest pops of the night and a brief appearance in the Rumble, one complete with a couple of easy eliminations would be a great moment for the Olympic Gold Medallist. There is every chance that Angle is competing at Wrestlemania as well, so this could be a nice way to set up his future match.
If you’d asked me a month ago whether or not I thought Daniel Bryan would be making a return to the ring in WWE, my answer would have been a solid no. A lot can change in such a short period of time though and it is beginning to look increasingly likely that Bryan may well wrestle in the WWE once again. Bryan has not been medically cleared to wrestle in the WWE since early 2016 but with his contract running out, there is every chance that the company may clear him to compete once again. Bryan has made it incredibly clear that all he wants to do is wrestle and that once he is cleared, he will be back between the ropes. Add the fact that the bookies (who are more often than not, correct about these things) now have Daniel Bryan as the third favourite to win this match and we could be looking at one of the biggest returns in WWE history this Sunday night.
Batista looks set for a WWE return at some point in the next 12 months. The Guardians of the Galaxy star has made it clear in recent months that he would love a full-time return to the WWE, and despite a pretty woeful run back in 2014, it seems highly unlikely the WWE would not want to resign him given the opportunity. Could Batista return at this weekend’s Royal Rumble? It doesn’t seem that likely but the company are fairly good at keeping things under wraps when they want to. A big Mania match for Batista would no doubt be a big draw for the company, so setting up a feud on Sunday night would be a smart move.
Pete Dunne is one of the most talented wrestlers working for the WWE, not on the main roster. The current UK champion is being earmarked as a future star and it’s easy to see why. Dunne took part in the best WWE match of 2017 and has earned plaudits the world over for his work on the independent circuit. Dunne made a brief appearance on Raw in November, with the event airing from his native England and a little run in the Rumble would be a great way to further introduce him to the WWE audience. He doesn’t need to make it to the final four or anything, but a sustained run in the event, like Rusev had in 2014, would be an excellent way to get him over before he finally makes his way to the big stage. Dunne, like EC3, also canceled an independent booking on Sunday night, adding further fuel to this fire.
If there is one man you can’t rule out making an appearance in the Royal Rumble, it’s Triple H. After his last appearance, at 2017’s Survivor Series event, Trips has plenty of issues to resolve and a Mania match with either Braun Strowman or Kurt Angle still remains a real possibility. The Royal Rumble often shines a lot of light on the company’s plans for WrestleMania, and Triple H is never too far from the center of attention.
Gregory Helms was not a name on my radar until this past Tuesday, when 205 Live announced that they would be unveiling their new GM on their show after The Royal Rumble. Helms would be the ideal candidate to fill that role and a surprise entrance in The Royal Rumble would make sense as to why they opted to reveal him after the show, as opposed to before it. Helms is still very popular among WWE fans and he could even don his famous Hurricane outfit for the occasion.
Another name that only makes this list because of the 205 Live GM announcement. Rockstar Spud signed with WWE months ago and has been long rumoured to make his debut on 205 Live. This still hasn’t happened yet, and given his experience playing an authority figure under Dixie Carter in his Impact wrestling days, he would be the perfect fit for both the GM job and a surprise Royal Rumble entrant.
Considered a darkhorse contender to win the match by many, Dolph Ziggler is the most likely superstar to make his return on Sunday night. The former US champ has not been seen on TV since relinquishing his title back in the middle of December and his absence has successfully managed to create a buzz around his eventual return. Ziggler’s current gimmick is interesting and it could be used in any number of ways during the Rumble. He could just walk out to some mega heat at number 30 with no music playing, he could, as unlikely as it is, win the match and then just leave the company again until Wrestlemania, or he could just enter himself to eliminate Bobby Roode and then walk out of the ring of his own free will. A lot of attention will be on Ziggler when he does inevitably turn up at the Rumble, so let’s hope the WWE make the most of that.
Who would you like to see in this year’s Royal Rumble? Let us know in the comments below and let Liam know on Twitter @liamhoofe