Typically with the “Superstars Missing” articles, we have a set card in place and there isn’t much wiggle-room to incorporate many other wrestlers, but with the Royal Rumble, there’s always some empty space needed to be filled.
It’s unlikely any more matches will be added to the card unless they’re placed on the pre-show, but a bigger factor is always the Royal Rumble spots themselves. Currently, most of the field has been announced, although WWE has changed things up the night of the pay-per-view in the past by pulling people and replacing them with other wrestlers.
Essentially, anything is game when it comes to how this event could go down, but if we take everything at face value at the moment, here are the men and women currently not officially scheduled to wrestle at the 2017 Royal Rumble event:
Raw Women’s Division
Paige and Summer Rae are still injured while Tamina hasn’t returned yet, despite apparently being cleared. Alicia Fox is tied up with the cruiserweight division and has no feuds against any other women at the moment. These are no surprises, nor is it a shocker that Emma/Emmalina still hasn’t made her return as that’s been the running not-so-funny gag for 4 months.
Where is Dana Brooke, though? Outside of her appearance on Main Event this week, I can’t remember seeing her name brought up in anything for nearly two months if not longer. She was held off the Survivor Series team and hasn’t regained any steam since then. Do they not have any ideas of how to use her because they had only planned on doing the feud against Charlotte and nixed that? Is she injured? If she were in the dog house, they’d have her losing on Raw as punishment, but instead, she’s just been absent. Curious…
SmackDown Women’s Division
The two women on the SmackDown side of things who are reasonably left in the dark for the Royal Rumble this year are Carmella and Eva Marie. The latter is still M.I.A. for the longest time while Carmella was saddled with being James Ellsworth’s love interest instead of being placed into a feud, so it’s understandable why she doesn’t have a match.
When it comes to the rest of the women, though, that’s a different story. Obviously, they aren’t likely to be factored into the Royal Rumble match itself, but between the Nikki Bella and Natalya feud as well as the Naomi / Alexa Bliss / Becky Lynch / Mickie James story going on, not a single one of the SmackDown women was added to the card in any way?
This seems like a gross oversight and at least one of those three potential matches should happen, even if it’s bumped to the pre-show. Natalya vs. Nikki Bella, Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi or Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch are all on par or more important than the Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks feud, so why should those two get to be on the card while none of these women do?
EDIT: Mere minutes after posting this, WWE announced a six-woman tag team match featuring Naomi, Nikki Bella, and Becky Lynch against Alexa Bliss, Natalya and Mickie James, so that solves that problem.
There’s been nothing to indicate exactly whether or not the cruiserweight wrestlers can participate in the Royal Rumble. In the past, “every superstar is eligible” has been stated, which is why we could rationalize legends coming back and commentators joining the fray and so forth, but this phrase hasn’t been uttered this year. That could be on purpose as WWE wants to keep the addition of a cruiserweight or two to be a surprise or it could simply be a matter where they aren’t going to compete so there’s no need to address it. Essentially, we’ll understand that they are in a separate division and there are plenty of other people available to take those spots.
That being said, these same wrestlers can still compete on the card in some fashion even if they aren’t in the Royal Rumble match itself. As it stands right now, Rich Swann will be defending the Cruiserweight Championship against Neville in what is most likely going to be the only match featuring this division, which is perfectly fine and reasonable. Feuds like Noam Dar vs. Cedric Alexander can be kept to 205 Live and Raw, Brian Kendrick still has to wait for Tajiri to return from his injury before they wrestle, and a match between Tony Nese and Mustafa Ali isn’t going to be prioritized over any of the other bouts that can happen here, even on the pre-show.
If no cruiserweights show up outside of the title match, it’s somewhat justified.
Possible Royal Rumble Entrants – Main Event Talent
Seth Rollins lost his spot in the Royal Rumble to Sami Zayn, but they’re not going to keep him out of this match for real, right? That would just be absurd. Somehow, some way, he needs to be reinserted into the match. This could be some kind of deal he makes during the show itself where he convinces Stephanie to let him back into it, but only if he enters at #1. Then, later on in the night, Triple H comes out to screw him over after he’s made significant progress. This is a common occurrence for the Royal Rumble as it has happened before with Steve Austin, CM Punk and even heels like The Miz, so it looks like Rollins might be the token recipient of this trope in 2017. If by some means he’s not on the card at all, I’ll be utterly floored as I just cannot see that happening.
And then there’s Kane. Oh, poor Kane. Few people have had the track record he’s had in Royal Rumble matches, yet this year, we’re not hearing even a peep about him. I expect to see him show up and if he doesn’t, it will just feel awkward. Typically over the past few years, he’s been used as a late entrant who doesn’t stick around too long. That would be perfectly fine, even though I’d prefer to see him show up a little earlier in the night so the spotlight can be focused on a few other people. He hasn’t been a super valuable member of the SmackDown roster since the draft, so being a cog in the wheel is at least better than nothing for this legend.
Lastly, there is still notoriety to Mark Henry that shouldn’t be overlooked. The World’s Strongest Man has been gone more than he’s been active for the past year, so if he sits this one out, it won’t be too surprising, but it’s a good match for him to make one appearance just so we don’t forget about him. Even if he’s only used as someone who can be eliminated to make Strowman look impressive, it’s still useful to get him in the match for that role than to just ignore him.