AEW has had a Money in the Bank of sorts with the Casino Ladder Match. Their Blood & Guts match will essentially be their WarGames. All Out is their WrestleMania event. So on and so forth. It’s not a matter of stealing from WWE, but just following some successful patterns and trying to put their own spin on things.
The closest thing AEW has to a Royal Rumble is the Casino Battle Royale, but even that isn’t exactly the same sort of concept. Bringing people into the match in groups doesn’t have the same impact as one-by-one.
So what if AEW had its own Royal Rumble in a more traditional sense? Assuming it was a 30-man and 30-woman setup without any big changes to the gimmick, how would it go down?
AEW Women’s Royal Rumble Match 2021
AEW is a bit hush sometimes on whether or not someone is actually signed or if they’re just being paid on a per-show basis. If we go by the people who are definitively listed on their website, there are only 20 women (23 if you count Dasha Gonzalez, Rebel and Vickie Guerrero) officially on the roster.
However, one of those is Awesome Kong, who is no longer wrestling (seemingly), another is Brandi Rhodes (pregnant) and another is the champion, Hikaru Shida. Even if we assume Emi Sakura, Riho and Yuka Sakazaki could travel AND Jade Cargill was ready to wrestle AND Kris Statlander would be back in time—which is a lot to ask for—they’d still not have 30 women.
However, there are more than 10 women on their retainer who could be signed and show up enough on AEW Dark that we can count on filling in the ranks.
In no particular order, there’s: Ivelisse and Diamante, Red Velvet, Alex Gracia, KiLynn King, Tesha Price, Dani Jordyn, Ashley Vox, Vipress, Lindsay Snow, Jazmin Allure, Madi Wrenkowski, Vertvixen, Skyler Moore, Freya States, Kaci Lennox, Katalina Perez, and Lady Frost just within the past month. Some of those (the first 7, for instance, and people like Legit Leyla Hirsch) would certainly compete, based on how often they use them.
Madusa has popped up for AEW. Maybe she’d like to get back in the ring. Also, I have no doubt they’d reach out to some legends or some former WWE talent like Victoria, Ariane Andrew and so on to fill in a couple spots.
Thunder Rosa is another that I think would definitely show up. She’s not contracted to AEW, but she’s been used more in the past few months than some others who are on the roster. There’s no reason to believe she wouldn’t.
As far as potential winners go, if we assume Hikaru Shida is still the champion going into it, I think the clear and obvious winner would be Dr. Britt Baker. She would use that to propel herself into the title picture and go on to fight Shida and likely win the title at whatever event that match would go down (Double or Nothing, I guess, since Revolution would be the equivalent of WWE’s Royal Rumble placement on the calendar)
Shida’s already fought Nyla Rose a bunch of times, so while Nyla would be a close #2 to win, it wouldn’t be the preferred outcome just to revisit a feud we’ve already seen.
If not one of those two, it would have to be a brand new signing. AEW would have to bring in a big enough name from outside, like Jorynne Grace. That wouldn’t be the craziest expectation, either, seeing as how AEW has a working relationship with Impact Wrestling lately.
There’s also Deonna Purrazzo if you want to go that route, or possibly even Tessa Blanchard if she was someone AEW wanted to bring in.
All in all, though, I’d have to put my money on Baker as the likely winner of a women’s AEW Royal Rumble for this January if it were to take place.
AEW Men’s Royal Rumble Match 2021
Unlike the women’s roster, the men’s side of AEW has far more than 30 wrestlers to pick from. There won’t be any issue having a stacked Royal Rumble with All Elite Wrestling without needing to resort to people who are on AEW Dark.
Excluding Kenny Omega for obvious reasons, as well as possibly Darby Allin if you want to say the winner can challenge him, too, there are TONS of people who could win this and have it be a logical outcome.
Jon Moxley getting a shot to regain his title is an easy call. It wouldn’t be what I would do, but it would have to be discussed and I could see why others would want that to be the outcome.
Hangman Adam Page would be another top pick. However, I’m personally hoping he earns a title shot closer to All Out and beats Omega for the title there, rather than skipping straight to that feud so early. Let’s give Kenny some other people to beat in the meantime. Build him up some more. Page could use a few more months of momentum, too.
No one in Dark Order is ready. Natural Nightmares? Nope. In fact, not a single tag team has a member that I think I’d go with. Sorry Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus, or Scorpio Sky. Even The Inner Circle makes no sense as they’re heels. It would have to be a babyface.
Obviously, we could rule out guys like Brandon Cutler or Austin Gunn. They’re just not in that kind of position. No dice for Joey Janela and company.
If Matt Hardy weren’t playing more of a heel character at the moment, I’d say he could be a good pick. That way, he could get a boost in credibility, but ultimately lose.
I don’t think I could justify giving this honor to Sting over someone else on the roster.
In my mind, this comes down to 3 people (beyond just the Moxley option):
- Orange Cassidy – If you want to give this to a fan favorite and bump him up to more of a main event spot, he’s the sentimental pick. Cassidy is awesome and beloved. You know he’d have a great match with Omega and that people would cheer for him to win, but also forgive him for losing.
- PAC – Is he a heel? A babyface? Kind of a tweener? I guess he’s sort of in that gray area they like to play around with. But that’s okay, if not preferable. He and Omega have unfinished business and he’d look like a legit threat to the title after winning a Royal Rumble match like this. He’d also, naturally, lose his title opportunity just like everyone else. But that would be fine and he’d bounce back and always be able to say he was the first to ever win that match in the company’s history.
- Cody Rhodes – Could this be a way around his “I’ll never fight for the world title again” stipulation? I still think that was an absolutely terrible idea for AEW to do and I’m waiting for the day they go back on it. They pretty much have to at some point, right? So maybe it would be forgiven if he were to win a grueling match like this and use that as a device to circumvent that gimmick.
For my money, if it were happening at Revolution, I’d have to say Omega fights PAC for the title there (based on his interactions with Rey Fenix at New Year’s Smash Night 1) and Moxley would win the Royal Rumble. Alternatively, though, if you went with Omega vs. Moxley at Revolution, I’d go with PAC or Orange Cassidy winning this. The Cody Rhodes stuff is enticing and I’d save that for another year, but I’d rather him do something like that to fight MJF than Omega.
I don’t think this is ever going to happen, to be honest. It seems like the Casino Battle Royale is their attempt at doing just enough of a difference while trying to have as similar of a gimmick as possible.