The looming presence of Ronda Rousey

The Women’s Royal Rumble may still be in its infancy (can you believe this is only the fifth one?), but tonight it has the potential to steal the whole show!

The men’s rumble feels like an afterthought with no clear storylines to progress. It’s a mess of superstars thrown together at random. The women’s Rumble has the opposite problem. There are so many potential winners and potential storylines that it’s almost impossible to predict. Or it was until the rumors of a Ronda Rousey return became more and more likely.

But before we talk about the Rousey-shaped sword of Damocles hanging over this match, let’s break down the known entrants and some other potential winners.

At the time of this writing, there are 23 declared entrants: sixteen current and seven returning superstars.

Current WWE Superstars:

  • Charlotte Flair (SmackDown Women’s Champion)
  • Sasha Banks
  • Bianca Belair
  • Sonya Deville
  • Liv Morgan
  • Naomi
  • Rhea Ripley
  • Nikki ASH
  • Carmella
  • Queen Zelina
  • Dana Brooke
  • Natalia
  • Tamina
  • Shayna Baszler
  • Aliyah
  • Shotzi

Former WWE Superstars:

  • Brie Bella
  • Nikki Bella
  • Lita
  • Michelle McCool
  • Kelly Kelly
  • Mickie James (Impact women’s champion)
  • Summer Rae

The most likely winners of the known current roster entrants are Charlotte Flair or Sasha Banks.

Charlotte Flair would be an interesting choice because she already is a champion. So instead of choosing which championship she wants to compete for at WrestleMania, she would choose her opponent. Of course, Charlotte is the Queen of the heels, so it would be likely that the opponent of her choice would be someone who is barely a threat to her crown. Someone easily defeated, like Aliyah or Dana Brooke. Not exactly WrestleMania caliber matches.

Sasha Banks was not supposed to be in the Rumble match at all. She was out with an injury that reportedly was not due to heal until after the Rumble. But it’s wrestling, and things are always changing! On the go-home episode of SmackDown, The Boss interrupted Charlotte Flair and a bevy of wannabe winners to announce her return to the ring and declare herself for the women’s Royal Rumble match. A Sasha Banks win would be a big deal. The Boss was the first-ever entrant into the woman’s Royal Rumble in 2018, was the first-ever ironwoman, and hasn’t been seen in a Rumble match since then. It’s a solid story to tell and would resolidify her presence in the women’s division. Plus, we get a guaranteed Sasha Banks match at WrestleMania, which is always a good thing.

Of course, there is always the possibility of a surprise win in a Rumble match (I’m down for another Naomi title run!), but it is unlikely looking at the list of declared current superstars. Bianca Belair has more of a chance than anyone else as she has unfinished business with Becky Lynch, the current Raw women’s champion, but as she won it last year, the odds are not in her favor.

In terms of known returning superstars, well, it’s unlikely that any of them will win, but my money would be on Nikki Bella or Lita if any of them could. We thought we’d never see the leader of the Bella Army (sorry Brie) return to the ring after her devastating neck injury, so having her return and win the whole dang thing would be awesome. Of course, if Nikki is back full time, it’s more likely that she and Brie will focus their duel energy on the women’s tag titles, and god knows that division needs it. Former women’s champion and trailblazer Lita says she has one more championship run in her, and that’s definitely the type of nostalgia that WWE likes to invest in (13 year old me is freaking out at the possibility). Mickie has already kicked in that forbidden door and is unlikely to win as she is the current Impact Women’s champion. Summer, Michelle, and Kelly are fun but will never be women’s champions again, legend status notwithstanding.

That leaves seven open entrant slots for potential surprises.

I expect a few NXT entrants like Io Shirai and Dakota Kai – two women who are more than ready to join the main roster – but they will be there for the crowd pop and some cool spots. They might even give us NXT women’s champion Mandy Rose to inspire us all to want NXT on Tuesday (despite the show being largely terrible). Alexa Bliss has been in therapy trying to work out her demons, and while it’s nice to have Bliss back, it’s disappointing that she’s still stuck in Lilly limbo. Having her old music hit, returning her to Goddess status, could be the jump start she needs to leave Lilly in the past. And don’t forget first-ever women’s Rumble winner Asuka! She’s been gone for a good long while, and WWE desperately needs The Empress of Tomorrow back.

But of course, the most likely winner, despite aaaaallll the other great potential choices they could pick, is Rowdy Ronda Rousey. We knew she’d be back sooner or later, and as the Rumble is the start of a new WrestleMania season, a big Rousey return makes sense. She left after only a year and a half, and while she got some big matches with some big-name wrestlers, she left a lot of unfinished business, especially with The Man Big Time Becks. WWE will want her in the spotlight immediately if she is returning, and there is no better way to do that than with a Royal Rumble win.

There are so many potential winners for this match! You’ll just have to tune into the Royal Rumble, airing at 8 PM ET on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network elsewhere to find out. And of course don’t forget to follow along at CagesideSeats.com for all your Royal Rumble coverage.

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    Charlotte Flair

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