The Royal Rumble is upon us! One of the most excited times of the year in the world of WWE. 30 men and 30 women randomized to make their entrance to the ring one by one, with the only way to win being throwing 29 other people over the top rope and having both their feet touch the floor. If you’re the last person standing in the ring, you’re headed to WrestleMania to get a World Championship match. But, who will win? Every year it feels like there’s at least one shoe-in that everyone thinks will win, but every so often, the big surprise goes down and we get a winner that we never expected. In 2023, in Texas, who’s heading to WrestleMania? Well, I have five potential winners for each women’s and men’s Rumble matches. So, let’s get into it.
Just like I spoke about the shoe-in win, it feels like Cody Rhodes is that person this year. Coming back from a torn pectoral muscle, announced to return at the Royal Rumble in the match, it feels like all the stars have aligned to set Cody up to be the World Champion. He’s made it very clear ever since he came back to WWE that gold is on his mind and now, this could be his opportunity. Roman vs. Cody feels like the biggest potential matchup for the championship between active stars at this time. Now, can he get it done this Saturday? It’s very possible.
On the surface, if you’ve been out of the loop, you may think “why the hell is The Rock a pick?” Well, with WrestleMania being in Los Angeles, rumors swirling of WWE wanting Roman to battle The Rock, it’s the perfect set up for the match. Rock comes back, wins the Rumble and proves he is the true head of the table in the Samoan Dynasty. But, rumors have also been swirling that the deal fell through because The Rock is too busy and not in ring shape, not being able to be ready for WrestleMania in just 3 short months. Many fans seemingly lost hope on Rocky coming back after he didn’t show up at RAW’s 30th anniversary. But, could this all be a swerve? Could WWE be saving the big surprise for the Royal Rumble match and putting out that The Rock isn’t ready, just to surprise us all Saturday night? There’s a huge possibility of that. WrestleMania 39: Roman Reigns vs. The Rock, the family battle. Let’s see if it comes to fruition.
At this point, it’s undeniable. The most over person on WWE television right now is Sami Zayn. He’s currently in the mix with the Bloodline, led by the current Undisputed Universal Champion Roman Reigns and as we saw this past Monday on RAW, it seems Roman is getting a little skeptical about wether Sami is with the Bloodline for real, or just being a little rat in their circle. Well, what if he is? What if this is all Sami’s game plan by getting to the inside source, getting to know all the secrets and little details about the Bloodline, only to win the Royal Rumble and cement his name as the true contender to Roman? Let’s be honest, if Sami won 100 matches in a row, Roman still wouldn’t give him a championship shot. So, winning the Royal Rumble may be his only way to get his shot at Reigns. This feels like the biggest fan favorite for the Rumble match because of how over Sami is at this moment. If he pulls it off this weekend, the crowd is going to lose their minds. Head of the table vs. Honorary Uce incoming?
What? Stone Cold, what? Yes, Stone Cold Steve Austin could be a potential Royal Rumble winner. Late last week, Austin made headlines after it was revealed that he was pitched a match against Roman Reigns. This isn’t out of the ordinary either, considering at WrestleMania 38, Stone Cold battled Kevin a Owens in the main event and he didn’t look too bad doing it. Now, Austin could come back and win the Rumble for the fourth time in his career to set up a match that no one ever thought was possible against Roman Reigns. Is it likely that Austin would beat Reigns for the title at WrestleMania? No. But, we’ve seen Rumble winners lose at WrestleMania before and of WWE wants to set up a huge match in Los Angeles that many fans never even knew was possible, then Stone Cold may be the right winner for the 2023 Royal Rumble. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see those back and forth promos and watch the Bloodline catch a Stone Cold stunner?
I had to have one outlandish surprise pick, right? Francis Ngannou is the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. He recently left UFC after not being happy with the company and has set his sights on other things outside of the UFC. In interviews, he’s hinted at going to another MMA promotion but has really expressed his interest in Boxing. Though he hasn’t publicly spoke about getting into pro-wrestling, the massive heavyweight spectacle of a man would be a great fit inside of the squared circle. He’s only 36 years old and has a lot of years left in the tank. Plus, we’ve seen many cross-over stars such as Ronda Rousey, Matt Riddle, Cain Velasquez, Floyd Mayweather and even Tyson Fury hop over from other combat sports to get inside the pro-wrestling ring. Francis could be another one to add to the list. The visual of Francis facing off against the likes of Braun Strowman, Omos and many others in the Royal Rumble would be such a cool moment and then to win and have Francis Ngannou vs. Roman Reigns, two of the hottest stars of their respective sports, at WrestleMania would be mind-blowing. It may be a crazy pick, but crazier things have happened!
Heading into the women’s side of things, the shoe-in pick for the ladies is undoubtably Rhea Ripley. She’s been on a tear with the Judgement Day faction and it feels like the only thing the group is missing is some gold. Though the men of the group have a chance to get some in the foreseeable future, so does Rhea Ripley. She’s been away from the championship scene for quite some time now and it feels like herself and the RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair are being kept away from each other until a potential match is ready to go. The history between Bianca and Rhea is there. They were the two finalist in the 2021 Royal Rumble where Rhea lost to Bianca. Now, Rhea has a chance at redemption to win the Rumble match for the first time in her career and challenge Bianca to a match at WrestleMania. The two hottest young women in WWE right now clashing at the grandest stage of them all just seems like a no brainer.
Could the glow return to WWE? Naomi has been away from WWE since May of last year when she walked out aside of Sasha Banks. Now, the former Sasha Banks, Mercedes Monè, has gone on to debut in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. But, what about Naomi? We’ve still heard nothing about Naomi returning to in-ring action with any company, but what if that’s because she’s being saved for a Royal Rumble surprise? Not only that, it’s about time she comes back and they give her the push she deserves and winning the Royal Rumble could be the start of that. Naomi then going on to challenge Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania seems like the perfect opportunity to give Naomi a good, solid, lengthy championship reign. Plus, I think everyone would love to see Naomi in the Rumble match. She’s become the queen of saves in the past few years. But, what if her biggest of of them all is staying in the match and winning the whole damn thing? Lets feel the glow!
Maybe not the most popular pick from a fans point of view, but Ronda Rousey recently lost the SmackDown Women’s Championship to a returning Charlotte Flair on the same exact night she returned. It’s been a few weeks since then and we’ve heard virtually nothing about Ronda’s whereabouts. Is she done with WWE? Is she just taking a break? Well, what if she’s just plotting a plan to win the Royal Rumble and get her hands on Charlotte Flair to extract revenge and take back the SmackDown Women’s Championship. I’ll be honest, do I want this to happen? No. And I know many fans don’t either. In fact, it seems many fans would be completely fine with Ronda never showing up on WWE TV ever again. But, WWE seemingly loves the Ronda Rousey project for some unknown reason, and this seems like the sort of thing they would do, having Ronda win the Royal Rumble again, back to back, to piss the fans off again two years in a row. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen, but don’t put it past WWE.
Becky Lynch is a former Royal Rumble winner, She’s main evented WrestleMania, she’s held both RAW and SmackDown Women’s Titles at the same time. But, recently, ever since her return from injury a few months ago, it feels like she’s been in limbo, stuck in a never ending feud with Damage CTRL. Wether you’re a fan of ‘The Man’ or not, it’s hard to deny her star power and in recent times, WWE has seemingly forgot about that. Becky Lynch has honestly become more and more of an afterthought as the time passes by. Week in and week out we see Becky beat up Damage CTRL, then get beat up by Damage CTRL, back and forth, every week. It’s about time WWE ends this feud and sends Becky in a different direction. The one way to do this would be having Becky Lynch win the Royal Rumble and set her sights on a new challenge. But, since we’ve seen Becky battle Bianca at last years WrestleMania, Becky picking her opponent to be the SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair would be a nice little swerve. Moving Becky over to the SmackDown brand would only held her get away from Damage CTRL even more and let her have some new fresh matchups on a different show.
Carmella has been on the shelf since August of 2022. Over five months off of TV with zero indication of her returning any time soon, it seems like a lot of people have sort of forgot about Carmella. But, maybe it’s because a Royal Rumble surprise return has been in the works. It would be the perfect time for Carmella to return to WWE and not only that, if WWE really wants to put her back into the mix, Carmella winning the Royal Rumble for the first time would be huge for her and have her set for the next few months. But, which Championship should she go after? You could make a case for an already made historic past between Carmella and Charlotte Flair, after all, Charlotte was the person Carmella beat in order to win her first SmackDown women’s Championship in WWE. But, Carmella has also been 24/7 Champion and Women’s Tag Team Champion, but has never been the RAW Women’s Champion. So, Carmella setting her sights on Bianca Belair to cross off that one last title she needs could be a story written in itself. Maybe the Royal Rumble in 2023 will be F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!
The Royal Rumble goes down this Saturday January 28, 2023, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The big event will be live on Peacock at 8/7c. Are you ready to Rumble?
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