Every year, while we’re all speculating on who will win the Royal Rumble matches, I always like to take some time to focus on some of the other “wins” people can get without being the ultimate victor and earning the title shot at WrestleMania.
Those two are the records for who lasts the longest and who scores the most eliminations. Which, by the way, if you want to take part in my annual Royal Rumble Predictions Contest, have at it!
In part 1 of this two-part series of predictions, (part 2 here) we’ll be taking a look at who I think could have a great showing by being more defensive and sticking around to last the longest. It’s all about staying power in this one.
These are the Iron Man and Iron Woman of the match. Whether they go the distance from the start or not, someone is going to last longer than anyone else by default.
Factoring in everything from stamina to how the Iron Man/Woman is typically someone of importance, but not necessarily the biggest stars or the winners, I’ve got my list for this year of who I think could be given this honor.
In no particular order, here are those names…
WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
The EST of WWE has been in three Royal Rumbles. Her entrances have been #2, #3 and #8. Clearly, WWE likes putting her at the start so she can go a long way. And if you check my Royal Rumble Statistics & Records page, you’ll see that she had set a record for longest time in all three of those appearances, equating to the fourth overall most cumulative total time in Royal Rumbles for women.
That says a lot. And since she’s one of the favorites to win this year, I think she’s not only starting off the match at either #1 or #2, but that she’s going the distance to make it to the Final Four.
If she’s not the Iron Woman, it will only be because she gets a later draw. It certainly won’t be because she has a poor showing.
Another potential favorite to win, if not THE favorite, is Becky Lynch. She’s only been in three Royal Rumbles so far, though, at #2, #15 and #28. That means WWE spreads her around in a role that she’s booked for the match specifically, rather than being someone utilized as a “late entry big name” only, or something of those sorts.
She isn’t my top pick because last year, WWE had Rhea Ripley go the distance. I don’t think that’s happening this year. And since Becky is one of my two main predictions for winning this, I think that puts her at least in the #10 spot or after. That gives a lot of room for someone else (like Belair, mentioned above) to not win the match, but to still walk away with the record time as a pat on the back.
I could certainly see a scenario where Asuka is the one to start off the match against Belair, lasting all the way until the final few participants. Even if she’s not #1 or #2, she might appear at the first five or so spots.
This is a risk for my predictions, as Asuka has only been in two matches, and those were entry #17 and #25. No indication she’s an early entrant. But maybe that’s something WWE wants to offset. Or, maybe WWE just doesn’t care about looking at former years, and they’re booking each year without any reference to what happened before.
Everyone knows Asuka is a beast who could do the whole match. She’s not winning, but she could be entrusted in holding down the fort for a long time.
5 HONORABLE MENTIONS
- Bayley = As another potential favorite to win, I have to put her name in there. Maybe she’s in the spot I think Asuka will be in.
- Kairi Sane = At least one member of Damage CTRL should be in the first 10. Another in the 11-20 spots, and another in the 21-30 spots. Could Kairi be the early entry who lasts until at least the final member is out?
- Liv Morgan = I not only expect her to return here, but I think she’ll be booked like an underdog who is on fire and lasts quite some time, rather than just popping up at the tail end.
- Naomi = Likewise, I’m anticipating Naomi’s return. She’s been #2, as well as lots of spots in the middle range (#14, #16, #18 and #20). I could see her being the “early surprise” within the first 5 people, and lasting quite a while to prove her worth after coming back. She’s reliable and well-liked.
- Natalya = To be honest, I’m struggling to find a fifth honorable mention that I truly believe in. Maybe Nattie gets a high roll this year based on previous lengths?
MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
Clearly, based on 2023’s layout, WWE likes the idea of people “going the distance”, even if they don’t necessarily win. But Ripley won from #1 and Gunther also kicked off the match and lasted until the end.
WWE can’t really do another #1 entrant that wins, but I’m not thinking Cody is walking out with this victory anyway. Therefore, I think there’s a really good chance he starts the match, goes all the way until the Final Four or even the final two, and then loses to CM Punk. The story being that he had an easier road last year at #30, and this time, he put up a good fight, but the numbers just weren’t in his favor.
It gives him an excuse to not look weak in his loss, allows him to get a true entrance, and makes people think he’s going to run the gauntlet.
If Cody doesn’t start the match, I think an easy early entrant pick that could last quite a while—but won’t make it to the Final Four—is Jey Uso.
He’s someone I see more so popping up at #4 or so, though, rather than #1 or #2. A lot of this depends on what story WWE wants to tell with Jey. Is he going to be doing a great job, only for Jimmy Uso to come out, screw him over, and reignite that feud? Will Jimmy even be in the match? Or will Jey simply have his own thing going on and get eliminated by someone like Gunther?
I’m less confident about this pick than I am Cody, that’s for sure.
While he isn’t a heel, necessarily, he’s as close to a top pick for a heel winning the coveted Iron Man spot that I can think of. Gunther isn’t running the gauntlet this year again. McIntyre needs something to hinge his performance on, and while I do have him down as a potential Most Eliminations option (as you’ll see), I think some other people will take that honor away from him.
Therefore, outside of being in the Final Four (which I think is also an option), lasting the longest is the next best thing. And since he is one of the few guys who could take out Rhodes, Punk, Lesnar, Uso, and pretty much any big name and it wouldn’t seem weird, I think we could see him show up around the #10 spot and last until the end.
5 HONORABLE MENTIONS
- Carmelo Hayes = WWE clearly sees big things in Melo. He’s popping up on SmackDown seemingly as a test run to ease him onto the main roster after WrestleMania. Being in this match isn’t a guarantee, but if he does show up, I think he’ll be an early entrant who sticks around a good 10 or so people. That might be enough to last the longest.
- Chad Gable = Another good stamina guy that has been getting a lot of attention over the past year. I’d bank on him being in this match more than any other member of Alpha Academy, and while I don’t think he’ll come close to winning (as in, not a Final 4 or anything), I do think he could make a decent run within those 1-30 brackets.
- Dominik Mysterio = In some years prior, a Superstar has held onto the bottom rope and stuck around for quite some time. While I don’t think that’s necessarily exactly what Dirty Dom will do, he’s bound to get a lot of boos the longer he stays in there.
- Finn Balor = Judgment Day shouldn’t have any member eliminated until they’re all out there. Therefore, Balor is a guy I’d throw at the beginning of the match to last the longest out of all the other members.
- Sami Zayn = Everyone loves Sami. We haven’t seen him in a little while on television. He returns here, goes after McIntyre (maybe eliminates him and starts a feud to head into Mania?) and sticks around as a potential Final Four guy?
BONUS: WHO WILL HAVE THE SHORTEST TIMES?
I fully expect WWE to keep up the trend of Chelsea Green being the laughing stock of the women’s match. Last year, she only lasted 5 seconds. This time around, she might last longer, but I could still see her being tossed out before the next person comes out, or soon after, and throwing a fit. No one else has a built-in comedic spot, so if it isn’t her, it’ll be someone who is just the shortest time by default without WWE planning on that being the case. In that scenario, it could literally be anyone who isn’t at the top of the list. It won’t be Belair or Lynch, for instance. But it could be Xia Li, Isla Dawn, Shotzi, Tegan Nox, Maxxine Dupri…anyone.
With regards to the men, if they go with a comedic spot, it has to be JD McDonagh in some fashion. Then again, maybe he gets his spot usurped by R-Truth, and that’s the funny moment, rather than a quick elimination. I could see a scenario where guys like Karrion Kross and Bobby Lashley take each other out relatively fast after the second of them comes out, to try to spotlight that feud in its own way. Or maybe Jinder Mahal gets an unfortunate draw, pops up right before a guy like Brock Lesnar appears, and only has about 90 seconds before he gets tossed away like yesterday’s garbage.
Those are my picks, but what do you think? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!
For more information on Royal Rumble statistics, check out my running page of records on Smark Out Moment here: http://www.smarkoutmoment.com/p/wwe-royal-rumble-statistics-records.html