In the first of a new series of WWE features, David Dodgson (@DodgeeGamer) speculates about the form and potential participants for the forthcoming first ever Women’s Royal Rumble.
WWE do like to keep us guessing at times. Last Tuesday saw the announcement of a tournament for the US title. Beyond the opening match of Bobby Roode v. Baron Corbin we learned little else. It wasn’t until Tye Dillinger cut a promo later in the night that we learned it was an eight-man tournament, and the remaining matches were not revealed until a social media posting later in the week (with Xavier Woods declaring that he “didn’t even know” he was in it!)
We find ourselves in a similar situation with the Women’s Royal Rumble. It has been over a week since Stephanie McMahon broke the surprise news but beyond the obligatory superstars declaring their own entries, we don’t have any details yet. How many participants can we expect? How long will the intervals between entrants be? Will we have any NXT stars in the match or any surprise entries? Here is a look at the best and worst options available.
20 or 30?
All bar two Royal Rumble matches have been billed as a ’30-man’ event, with the exceptions being 20 participants in 1988 and 40 in 2011. Logic would suggest a 20 women event is probable – Raw and Smackdown between them have 19 currently active women on their rosters (excluding the two champions, Alexa Bliss and Charlotte) so one more slot would need to be filled (a returning Nikki Bella?) and you have a nice round 20. With the men’s elimination match usually lasting around an hour, this would help avoid Battle Royale Overload with a shorter women’s event.
Logic and WWE do not always work well together though and in this case, that would be a good thing. It would go against the whole history-making aspect of the match to have it run quickly and it would equally be a shame to not have that surprise entrant element or to cut one of the current female stars from the match. I am therefore hoping for a 30-women match. This will show that WWE are serious about putting the women in the same spotlight as the men and will allow for the fun of a few shock participants (see below for more thoughts on that).
Last year, the Royal Rumble PPV ran for four hours and as a result, the interval time between entrants in the signature match returned to 2 minutes after several years of 90 seconds. We have had one occasion in the past with 60-second intervals (1995 when Shawn Michaels and the British Bulldog were the first two in the match and the last two left at the end). Two-minute intervals would be too long this year. That would mean two extended Rumble matches with rushed midcard championship bouts in between.
60 seconds for the women’s match would help things move more quickly but would ruin the spectacle by leaving little time for the drama (1995 was way too rushed with the same two starting and ending the match being the only memorable part). WWE’s best option here would be to put both matches on an equal footing with men and women getting 90-second intervals, allowing time for the drama to unfold and leaving enough of a gap for the title matches to get their due.
As mentioned above, all women currently on the RAW and Smackdown rosters deserve a chance to make history in this event (a shame that Charlotte – arguably the biggest female star in the company – and Alexa Bliss will most likely miss out as champs). If WWE go with 30 participants, NXT is an obvious place to go for extra numbers. We could see Ember Moon renew her rivalry with Asuka, see how the likes of Peyton Royce and Kairi Sane measure up to the main roster talent, and delight in Nikki Cross going mental with a flurry of eliminations.
Nostalgic returns could also be on the cards. Could we see the likes of Lita, Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix, or others back in the ring one more time? As long as we don’t get a surprise James Ellsworth return or another appearance by Santina Marella, this will be a welcome addition to the event for long-time fans.
The Royal Rumble is also being heavily rumoured to act as the stage on which to introduce Ronda Rousey to the WWE Universe. There are even rumours circulating that she could win the whole thing and go on to challenge Charlotte at Wrestlemania. That might be jumping the gun a bit too much, however. Still working on the assumption that Rousey will be a part of the event and if it is still a possibility, the Royal Rumble offers the perfect opportunity to set up the oft-touted Four Horsewomen match. At present, we have the WWE Four Horsewomen split across the two main brands, one of the MMA Horsewomen on NXT, another married to an NXT superstar, and a third still only rumoured to be joining WWE. The Rumble match offers the perfect chance to bring at least some of the different players together. Perhaps Banks, Bayley, Lynch, Rousey, and Baszler all cause each other to get eliminated and continue fighting afterwards. Follow that up with the MMA stars interfering in Charlotte’s title match to get revenge and you have your Wrestlemania match.
Of course, it could well be the case that we do not yet know how many superstars will enter as WWE is currently approaching people about their participation. Once they have confirmed deals in place, we can expect to hear more details (or they could just not tell us until someone mentions it on the night in a promo, Tye Dillinger style!)
So, worst option – a 20-woman event with 60 second intervals all over in less than half an hour with no surprise entrants and no intriguing call-ups from NXT to leave the fans wanting more.
Best option – a 30-woman match given the same time and attention as the men’s event with NXT stars, nostalgic returns, and some MMA muscle filling out the card. This could be the chance to let some under-used stars shine and set up new storylines for months to come.