We’ve talked to several of the LWOPW staff about their thoughts on who their pick is for the winner of the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble this Sunday and what their surprises of the match will be.
Rich Laconi: What’s better than one Rumble? Two Rumbles! This year will be the very first Women’s Royal Rumble and despite only being the first go around, the speculation as to what surprises appearances we will be wowed with. There is a real palpable sense of surprise emanating from the Women’s Rumble as there are only 19 active superstars on RAW and Smackdown, so there are guaranteed to be surprises. The best part of the Rumble match has always been the element of surprise and this match if rife with it. There is speculation that Ronda Rousey could be included and that’s just one name. Former champions like Trish Stratus, Lita and Beth Phoenix are also rumored to join, making this a star-studded affair. The easy money is on Asuka, she’s dominated the division and seems unstoppable. However, quite often, the most dominant competitor is singled out and eliminated, so this could leave the door open for someone else to win the match. Becky Lynch has been the outside looking in during many of the firsts in the Women’s division and the time is right for her to step up and solidify herself as one of the top athletes in the division.
Eric Thompson: Nia Jax and Asuka are at the tip of most tongues when it comes to the Women’s Royal Rumble. The thing is, neither needs this victory. Nia Jax will still be physically intimidating, and Asuka will still be undefeated in singles competition. Absolution and the Riott Squad will both make deep runs in the Rumble, but it might be too soon for any of them. With a movie on the horizon and a recent return to revitalize her position on the card, Becky Lynch will take the win in the Women’s Royal Rumble.
Dan Niles: Some of the female competitors are only around five-feet tall, so there will be interesting ways to get the women over the top rope, but that won’t affect the match quality too much. Asuka is the clear standout and my pick because of the momentum leading to a WrestleMania match with Alexa Bliss. This should kick off the show with a bang and maybe someone like Sonya DeVille can really impress by lasting until the end.
Jamie Greer: Part of me really thought that Paige was going to win this to ultimately face Asuka as Champion at WrestleMania (she would have won title at Elimination Chamber), but now Asuka just seems too obvious. While WWE can be predictable, sometimes when the winner is so mindnumblingly apparent, that’s when they pull the biggest swerve. If the WWE Four Horsewomen vs MMA Horsewomen happens to happen (which I think it will), then Charlotte will not be defending at WrestleMania, so the winner should technically be from Raw. If it’s not Sasha, Bayley, or Asuka, then who could it be? Well, it could just be Nia Jax. She’s being built as the women’s divisions Andre the Giant – the monster who can be gentle and lovable, or the angry beast that could crush anyone. She’s been cutesy enough of late, with her Social Media posts with bestie Alexa and the (thankfully) over love story with Enzo Amore. It’s time for her crush again. Having a dominant run in the Rumble and win it would create a huge momentum and if Asuka won the belt at Elimination Chamber, it would be Nia Jax vs Asuka at WrestleMania – the wrestling equivalent of Marvel’s Wolverine vs. Juggernaut. Going out on a wing and prayer and going with Nia Jax.
Alex Richards: It would be crazy to vote against a competitor like Nia Jax in this match a woman who could easily win it. Another woman with a big chance of winning is the undefeated Asuka, WWE has never had a woman quite like Asuka who has been dominant ever since arriving in NXT. There is an outside chance that Becky Lynch or Bayley overcome the odds in this one but my pick is Asuka.
Moritz Risch: This one could really make or break the division. WWE has to give this match enough time to establish multiple female wrestlers. For debuts and returns i go for: Candice LeRae, Ronda Rousey, Michelle McCool, Trish Stratus, Melina, some NXT call ups and maybe/hopefully Marina Shafir. Prediction: Candice LeRae.
Marilee Gallagher: To go back to the “Vegas’ favorite has won every year since 2013” argument, despite not even being officially signed to WWE, this looks like Ronda Rousey’s event to win. Rousey has been the odds-on-favorite for much of the last month, briefly alternating with Asuka for that top spot. Recently, Rousey made it a point to say that no contract had been signed and that she wouldn’t be debuting at the Royal Rumble. Jeff Hardy said the same thing right before he and brother Matt showed up at Wrestlemania, one day after working a Ring of Honor show. The point being, Rousey’s comments are most likely a swerve, as it would be more surprising than not if she wasn’t in the 30-woman battle royale. Winning is a bit of another thing but it’s no secret WWE is working towards a match involving Rousey and Charlotte. Whether that be the Four Horsewomen bout or a Mania’ title match remains to be seen. On Sunday however, that picture will be made much clearer.
WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE: THE SURPRISES
Marilee Gallagher: WWE already announced that the entirety of the active roster (minus the two champions) will be in this match, but this only fills up 18 spots, meaning 12 NXT wrestlers/legends, will be appearing in the first ever rumble. Expect the Iconic duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay to fill two of these spots, as well as, depending on what happens in the NXT Women’s title match, either Ember Moon or Shayna Baszler. The newly signed Candice LeRae could make her main roster debut as well. On the side of the legends, Lita and Trish Stratus seem like obvious choices, as does Nikki Bella and possibly Brie as well. Beth Phoenix, who recently started working for WWE as commentator in the Mixed Match Challenge, seems like another likely to be in the match.
Eric Thompson: The WWE needs to have Candice LeRae in the Women’s Royal Rumble. After the negative comments from Sunny, the WWE should stand behind the signing in as big of a way as possible. The Iconic Duo should absolutely be in the match as well. Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, and Kairi Sane (if she’s healthy enough to perform) should round out the NXT entrants. Returns from Lita, Trish Stratus, and Serena Deeb would all be appropriate returns. Shayna Baszler, Ronda Rousey, and Jessamyn Duke (with Marina Shafir in their corner) would make the most sense to fill the remaining spots in this history making match
Dan Niles: There are going to lots of surprises with only 18 main roster spots and hopefully former women’s champions return. My picks are Legends: Lita, Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, Layla El, Victoria, and Eve Torres. NXT: Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Kairi Sane, Candice LeRae and Bianca Belair.
Rich Laconi: The Women’s Royal Rumble will definitely be full of surprises, with a good number of stars of yesteryear, like Stratus and Lita seem like locks, but who ends up filling the other slots is actually more interesting. Candice LeRae just recently officially signed with WWE, so she could be included, even if she ends up on the NXT roster. Abbey Laith is another Performance center talent who could be making a debut as well. Current NXT talents Peyton Royce and Billie are two other possibilities that could round out the match.
Jamie Greer: NXT will send some of their top to showcase, but also some that are on their way to the main roster. The Iconic Duo are practically guaranteed a spot. They need to be seen by a large audience quickly. Which may lead to a dream showdown at the Women’s Royal Rumble if both Bella Twins show up. A stare down between the two Mean Girls duos of the past decade would be an iconic photo for women’s wrestling lore (maybe even add in Michelle McCool and Layla for some LayCool as well). Lita may have been left of the Raw 25 because she was entering the Women’s Royal Rumble. It would be a bigger pop if she hadn’t just been seen six days earlier. Also, the decision to leave Beth Phoenix off commentary – considering she’s one of the commentators with the Mixed Match Challenge now – almost seems to indicate that perhaps she’s in it as well. A long shot of Madusa and Bull Nakano would be too much to hope for, but Ivory (rumoured to be the 2018 Women’s Hall of Fame inductee) or Kharma/Awesome Kong would be smart promotional surprises with the mainstream success of GLOW, the awards nominations and the impending Season Two on Netflix. Other NXT potentials include Nikki Cross, who has been an unheralded gem in NXT the past year, potential breakout star Bianca BelAir, and maybe even Shayna Baszler. After all, if Rousey is really not going to be there, they’ll need one of the other Four Horsewoman in it to confront the WWE version. With Jessamyn Duke (who Triple H put over huge at the NXT teleconference on Thursday) and Marina Shafir sitting ringside.