One of the most intriguing aspects that makes the Royal Rumble match one of the most exciting segments of the year is the potential for surprise entrants among the 30 Superstars.
In the past, we’ve had everything from new signings to triumphant returns from injury, legends who hadn’t stepped in the ring for years, celebrities, commentators and practically everything you could imagine.
This year, there’s no telling what shocking twists WWE has cooked up for the 2024 men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches—if any. But it’s worth tossing out some predictions, as that’s part of the fun!
Keep in mind that everyone jumps on the hype train to get their names out there. I doubt we’re going to see WWE pull main roster talent off the show to insert someone like Maven or Rico just because they mentioned they’d do it in a heartbeat if called upon. But as Matt Striker would say, you neeeeeeeever know!
So let’s break down some of the categories of potential surprises and some standout names that might be worth keeping an eye out for, or to rule out as an unlikely option.
Returns from Injury or M.I.A. Superstars
A good number of injured talent still seems far off from a return. For example, Erik of The Viking Raiders isn’t someone I’d bank on. It’s too early for Giovanni Vinci to return, likely, but it might not be an impossibility. Then again, I don’t think they’d utilize a spot in the match for him, as there are bigger fish to fry.
Dakota Kai seems to not be ready to return, either, sadly, according to her comments while streaming on Twitch.
Braun Strowman only received the green light to start weight training in December. I don’t think that gives him enough time to come back by Royal Rumble.
Sheamus is someone I’d bet heavily on returning, though. Liv Morgan as well. Those two have been missing for quite some time, and by all accounts, could be ready to go.
Rey Mysterio, I’m a little more hesitant to trust will return, but he’s within the time frame. His surgery was over the 6-8 week estimate, so we could certainly see him pop up, eliminate Santos Escobar, and reignite that feud.
Do we count Tamina in this? She hasn’t wrestled since February. Honestly, as mean as it might sound, I don’t think WWE particularly remembers she’s even there most of the time, and she’s been so low on the totem pole for her whole career that I don’t think they’d waste a spot on her even if she was just waiting on the call. But it’s a possibility, for sure.
Dexter Lumis is another that has just been missing in action, but without any public reason. Creative has nothing for him? I still hate that phrasing, when it’s not hard to think of some ideas (which I’ll save for another article another time, rather than diving into here). I don’t think he’ll be in the match, as I don’t get the feeling WWE cares enough to make him some big return that the crowd won’t go particularly nuts over, but he certainly could pop up.
Brock Lesnar is surely a guarantee…right? I’d go so far as to say his inclusion here will set up a match against Gunther for WrestleMania 40 and I’d be surprised if they don’t interact. Lesnar is also one of the go-to options for a Final Four spot in my predictions (along with Cody Rhodes, CM Punk and Drew McIntyre, in my mind).
The big one to me, no pun intended, is whether or not Big E will make an appearance. My skeptical side tells me not to get my hopes up, to be honest. But the more that Imperium has issues with The New Day, the more I’m starting to think Kofi Kingston could be on the verge of being eliminated, only for Big E to make a surprising return to save him and wrestle Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship on the Road to WrestleMania.
She doesn’t fit into any other categories, but she’s worth talking about. Jade Cargill absolutely should be in the Royal Rumble. It gives her an opportunity to shine on a big platform at a huge event, but with a safety net for her performance.
IE, if WWE doesn’t think she’s up to snuff quite yet to do a true one-on-one match to their liking, the Royal Rumble allows her to just do some simpler spots for a shorter time frame, look dominant tossing a few people out, get eliminated by a handful of talent (or a big name like Bianca Belair or Becky Lynch) and come up short, but not in a way that will start her career off with a pinfall loss or anything of that sort.
I’d be shocked if she wasn’t included in this match, and I’ll even toss out a prediction that I think she’ll be one of the 23-30 entrants, and a possible Final Four contender, if not the runner-up, but that might be stretching it.
Superstars from Outside of WWE
Whether they get signed to the company beforehand, right after, or not at all and are just popping up for a guest appearance, Royal Rumbles have been great ways to incorporate talent from outside the roster. This year, I think we have a handful of men and women to look out for.
Andrade feels like a lock to me. His contract is up in AEW. He’s out of the company. Being married to Charlotte Flair greases the wheels easier for his return. He’s familiar with the ins and outs, so WWE doesn’t have to vet him and reassess where he’s at. Plus, he can lose and it’s not a big deal. Consider him a guarantee, in my mind.
I would have said Naomi would be a certainty, too, up until finding out that supposedly, she’s set to still wrestle for TNA for a little while longer. Granted, her commitment could be over with the next set of tapings. She might be free after that, giving her just enough time to appear here. I’d still consider her a strong possibility, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.
Giulia and Kamille, if they even end up getting signed, are not going to appear here. Some people get put straight on the main roster, but I’m expecting them to go to NXT. WWE rarely puts someone on Raw or SmackDown out of the gate.
For that matter, I don’t think QT Marshall is going to get signed to WWE in the meantime, nor would he be in this match even if he did. He’s likely to get more of an offer to be a coach at the Performance Center than to be an on-air Superstar.
And no, I don’t think anyone should get their hopes up that MJF will be here. I’d LOVE to see it, but it’s not happening. He likely re-signed with AEW long ago and is just taking time off to heal from injuries and to let people miss him.
Kazuchika Okada isn’t going to appear, either. I’m assuming he’s sticking with New Japan. It’d be pretty sweet to see him in the match, though, I’ll say that.
Two people I wouldn’t be super shocked for, but I do still think aren’t going to be in this, are Heath Slater and Matt Cardona. They have their history with WWE and a lot of friends there, and aren’t under contract anywhere to my knowledge, so it’s all about whether WWE would be interested. I’m sure both would jump at the chance.
The biggest “what if” for me is Sasha Banks. Mercedes Mone could appear on All Elite Wrestling OR WWE at any time now and it wouldn’t shock me, as I’m 50/50 on where we’ll see her next. I do think WWE is trying to get her, and that she’s likely interested in coming back, but that they need to settle on a contract before that happens. Right now, I’d put her chances at competing in the Royal Rumble at something like 40%.
These days, it’s rare that no one from NXT is in the Royal Rumble. At least one talent, even if it’s just one over the two matches, should make an appearance. Most of the time, it isn’t a call-up to the main roster like it used to be. In recent years, it hasn’t even been the top of the card who appears, but sometimes, just totally random wrestlers out of nowhere.
Here’s a list of male Superstars from NXT that I can imagine might get the honor of a guest shot in this year’s Royal Rumble match:
- Bron Breakker wouldn’t shock me at all.
- Carmelo Hayes has been appearing quite often on SmackDown lately. WWE is clearly eager to bring him up, but has to wait until the story with Trick Williams (who could also pop up) is finished, which I’d imagine reaches its conclusion at NXT Stand & Deliver.
- Josh Briggs is getting a lot of attention lately, finally. With JBL’s endorsement, maybe he’s the next spotlight.
- Maybe Lexis King?
- It’s too early for Oba Femi to be seen looking weak, but if they want to really let fans know that he’s a “next big thing” type Superstar, a spot here wouldn’t be too crazy.
- Von Wagner and Xyon Quinn were both drafted to the main roster, but never sent to Raw or SmackDown. I wonder what happened there. I’m inclined to believe neither will be in the match, after all this time, but maybe Wagner has a shot.
Not to be overlooked, here are some of the female Superstars who could appear in the Women’s Royal Rumble:
- Does WWE bite the bullet, put Ava Raine in the match despite how awful she is, and check that off the list to appease The Rock? I’m convinced she’s staying signed just long enough for that match against Roman Reigns to happen and once that’s done, she’s gone in the next set of releases. But since she’s consistently been so bad in the ring, I don’t think she’ll be here. At least, she shouldn’t be.
- Cora Jade would have been a go-to for me had she not gotten injured.
- It’s a random pick, but I could see Kiana James getting her name tossed around for this.
- Tiffany Stratton is the only one high enough on my list to really stand out, though. I definitely think she’s going to be in it.
That might seem like a lot of names, but truthfully, I only expect maybe Carmelo Hayes and Tiffany Stratton to be in it.
Legends Making Guest Appearances
A typical name mentioned almost every year is X-Pac. Sean Waltman denied it would be happening, though, stating that he’s at least a month away from taking his shirt off in public, and there’s “zero chance” he’d be in the match.
There’s a litany of women who have made guest appearances and could be called upon. This year, I’m not expecting them, but always be on the lookout for folks like Lita, Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, Ivory, Torrie Wilson, etc.
One woman I do think will appear to a massive pop is AJ Lee. She’s very high up on my predictions. We know she’s been training for something, CM Punk is here and teasing her eventual return, and it’s a great way to get her feet wet without too big of a commitment, though she could definitely set up something for WrestleMania.
Mickie James isn’t a stranger to this idea, either. With her previous appearance as Knockouts Champion and still showing up, along with Nick Aldis as the SmackDown General Manager, I’d love to see her return.
Any number of legends like Tyler Breeze could show up for a comedic spot.
I’d rule out John Cena, for sure. WWE would want to advertise him to appear on a television episode to boost ratings.
Someone I think could be VERY interesting here is Ken Shamrock. No time has felt like a possibility for his return more so than now, and I think we could see him in this as well as a potential Hall of Fame induction. If I had to bet on only one of those happening, though, it would be the latter, but maybe the former goes along with it?
Miscellaneous Other Surprises
There are three commentators in the WWE family who could be entrants. We’ve seen Pat McAfee wrestle here and there, and he’s overdue for another appearance. But don’t count out Corey Graves or Wade Barrett either. I don’t put their chances particularly high, but we’ve seen Michael Cole, Booker T, JBL, Jerry Lawler and others hop off the announce table to step between the ropes. Maybe it happens again.
Jake Paul is a name I find intriguing, as WWE would love to get that media attention. Logan Paul’s defending the United States Championship, and I don’t expect him to be in the Royal Rumble match, but he certainly could be. It’s a stretch, as he’s more likely to accompany Logan ringside at WrestleMania or something, but he’s expressed interest in wrestling before. Maybe this could be a tryout of sorts?
Sadly, the last name I can think of bringing attention to is Bo Dallas. There’s a clamoring out there for him to bring back the Uncle Howdy character or do something else along those lines. Some even want him to be Bray Wyatt going forward, which I find nuts. I can see why people are getting this idea in their heads, but I don’t think it’s happening. Maybe not at all, but at least not here. Having him compete in the Royal Rumble would cause issues where fans would want to see him win on Bray’s behalf, but there’s no way that’s happening, so upon his elimination, it would feel like a downer.
Final Verdict on Surprise Predictions
As of January 18th, if I had to place money on a top 5 for shocking entrants, I’d bet more so on the following names than anyone else.
For the men’s match:
- Brock Lesnar
- Rey Mysterio
- Carmelo Hayes
For the women’s match:
- Liv Morgan
- Jade Cargill
- AJ Lee
- Tiffany Stratton
Who do you think we’ll see pop up as a surprise entrant in this year’s Royal Rumble? Drop your predictions in the comments below!