Has there yet been a defining terrible women’s Royal Rumble match?
Such a take depends on the eye of the beholder, however, there’s no arguing the steady quality the match has had as, since its humble 2018 beginnings, the thirty-woman field has regularly overshadowed the anticipation of the men’s bout. This goes hand-in-hand with WWE having consistently booked the match to have the correct winner, with only two of the six being the wrong choice (Charlotte Flair in 2020 and Ronda Rousey in 2022).
The 2023 instalment continued this train of thought, offering up much in the way of fan service as, between Liv Morgan’s incredible endurance, Asuka’s reversion back to her demonic roots, and Rhea Ripley’s aura-defining victory, the match was a hoot - and a successful one at that.
Will that feat repeat itself in 2024? Almost definitely.
WWE’s talent pool is vast as it is, but throw in a couple of selections from NXT, the improbable debut of Jade Cargill, and the possibility of at least one major return from Sasha Banks, AJ Lee, Mandy Rose, or Naomi, and the 2024 women’s Royal Rumble could be WWE’s best yet.
Check out the men's version here!
The first to declare themselves for the women’s Rumble was Bayley in what could be her year to finally go all the way. Once again, Damage CTRL’s creator has found herself at the forefront of a well-booked saga, with her looming exile from the group all but expected to lead her to a WrestleMania 40 showdown vs. current Women’s Champion, IYO SKY.
She was the second to confirm their participation in the seventh women’s Royal Rumble, was Nia Jax, and she stands a decent chance of winning the whole thing, too, having reestablished herself as a dominating figure on the red brand. Expect nothing less than a powerful showing from last year’s big surprise.
Becky Lynch came out of a ropey feud vs. Trish Stratus that dragged on - and on and on… - and quickly went back to NXT, redeeming herself instantly with a brilliantly-booked Women’s Championship run that elevated both Tiffany Stratton and Lyra Valkyria in the process. That’s the position she’ll hold in the 2024 Rumble above all else.
That or she’ll set up a WrestleMania angle.
How WWE executes Bianca Belair’s role in the Royal Rumble match will be intriguing to see, given that she isn’t expected to go over in the match, but is expected to remain a focal part of the blue brand. A strong performance akin to her 2020 Rumble appearance will salvage any social media disdain for her eventual elimination.
Jade Cargill is a deadlock for the match; she was from the minute her WWE signing was confirmed. Though still a little rough around the edges in-ring-wise, hence why her work was limited to mostly squash matches in AEW, Cargill’s first WWE outing being in the Rumble allows her to hide any weaknesses, wreck some lesser foes, and set up her first angle in the company.
Natalya is a WWE legend more than she is a current-day Superstar. A constant source of goodwill, the company’s longest-tenured female Superstar will likely enter the Rumble early on to ensure the match runs smoothly, will last a decent amount of time, and will elevate all around her. A class act, as ever.
WWE’s handling of Raquel Rodriguez since her transition to the main roster must be admired as, rather than hotshotting the former NXT Women’s Champion straight to the top as they have done with the likes of Shayna Baszler, they’ve taken their time with her. 2024 should offer her further progress, which begins with another monstrous Royal Rumble run.
WWE may not care about the Women’s Tag Team Championships, but they might as well put the reigning champions in the Royal Rumble match, plus Katana Chance was awesome in the 2019 version. Expect more of the same here.
Well, if Katana’s there…
A huge 2023 for Tiffany Stratton saw her triumph as NXT Women’s Champion, enjoy a celebrated program with Becky Lynch, and outshine her competition with a polished performance in the Iron Survivor Challenge - but what now? She’s spinning her wheels in NXT and likely will do for some time; an urgent main roster call-up via the Royal Rumble will ensure her success continues into 2024.
Unless WWE acts quickly, Ivy Nile will suffer from an age-old WWE trope; the third party who gets left behind. Nile is as much a part of The Creed Brothers’ act as Julius and Brutus themselves are, but is already getting forgotten about on Monday nights. This must change in her debut Royal Rumble. Let her slap a few fools about and she’ll be back on the right track.
WWE has fumbled Nikki Cross one too many times and her ongoing arc where she just stands there isn’t as cool and bada** as Triple H thinks it is, but every Royal Rumble needs a fall gal to do the job for someone higher up the pecking order. It shouldn’t be Nikki, but it will be.
Recent months have been kind to the once-green-haired Shotzi, whose featured presence on SmackDown saw her in a notable premium live event match, that being the women’s WarGames match. She’s a shoo-in for the Royal Rumble, though she won’t come close to winning it.
The saga of Damage CTRL heading into 2024 could make for WWE’s most intriguing women’s storyline in years and it’ll be backed up by Kairi Sane’s first Royal Rumble match since 2020. A uniform performer during her time away from the company, the once-NXT Women’s Champion should play a key role come 27 January.
Asuka’s mixed 2023 saw her return in epic fashion in the Royal Rumble, endure a tiresome Women’s Championship reign that concluded unceremoniously, and end the year in Damage CTRL, of which she is the least important factor. 2024 should be a better year for her and a strong showing in the Royal Rumble will go a long way in cementing that.
A torn ACL suffered on the 12 May SmackDown has sidelined Dakota Kai ever since, though the New Zealander has been back on the road ever since stablemate IYO SKY’s Women’s Championship ascendancy. Kai herself, who has been leading Damage CTRL over Bayley, confirmed that she expects to be cleared in January, making a strong chance that she'll return to in-ring competition here.
NXT’s women’s division is about to undergo a mass main roster exodus and it begins at the Royal Rumble. Too many huge names are either not involved in anything of note or are doing some random angle just to prove they’re being utilized. Roxanne Perez is amongst them. A main roster move awaits her as soon as possible.
A Royal Rumble return and rename back to Piper Niven in 2023 saw the once-Doudrop prosper on the main roster, finally, as she brought meaning to the Women’s Tag Team Championships alongside Chelsea Green. History tells us that without the belts, Niven and Green will be without each other, too. Expect that dissolution to come to fruition here.
Chelsea Green perhaps has the worst women’s Royal Rumble record, amassing seventeen seconds across two Rumble entrances. It’s a hilarious gag, but one which must end in 2024 if Green is to be taken seriously and, especially, if she is to form her next aspiring partnership to regain those Women’s Tag Team Championships.
The days of Candice LeRae being a top WWE Superstar are long gone, but the Royal Rumble needs bodies for the Nia Jaxs and Bianca Belairs of the world to toss out, and with LeRae’s petit stance, she’s perfect fodder for being launched from the ring.
Maxxine Dupri’s push as part of Alpha Academy should secure her a spot in the thirty-woman field, though it’s unlikely she’ll have much success in the match. A shock elimination a la Dana Brooke dumping out Kairi Sane in 2018 is as far as she’ll likely get.
Trish Stratus’ disappearance from WWE programming came at the crux of a bomb of a feud vs. Becky Lynch that, outside of their exciting Payback encounter, did little to help either. The WWE Hall of Famer is still listed as a Raw star, though, and a Royal Rumble comeback wouldn’t be out of the question for her.
Diving head-first into the Trish Stratus/Becky Lynch storyline by aiding the former in toppling ‘The Man’ at Night of Champions, Zoey Stark did little thereafter, ultimately turning on Trish four months later. Now aligned with Shayna Baszler, Zoey should expect a semi-decent showing in her first Royal Rumble as a main roster talent.
Shayna Baszler no longer possesses the aura that surrounded her in 2020 when she entered the Royal Rumble to a gigantic reaction and endured a momentous performance, dumping out eight names - and then didn't win. A similar showing should await ‘The Queen of Spades’ here, whose recent run hasn’t been anything to write home about, to reestablish her as an imposing threat on Monday nights.
Expect Cora Jade on the main roster…after WrestleMania. She’s only just returned to NXT at the DEADL1NE special and has set her sights on the Women’s Championship, though she’s unlikely to contend for the belt until February’s Vengeance Day at the earliest. A spot in the Royal Rumble ahead of that potential match would provide her with the necessary main roster experience ahead of a permanent switch.
Were Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn the worst main roster call-up of 2023? Arguably so; it would seem their transition was done solely to unify the WWE and NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships, with the Scottish pair disappearing for months after.
Expect both of them in the Royal Rumble following their recent return, though.
You can’t have one without the other.
2023 saw a ton of focus put into Zelina Vega’s character, with her Puerto Rican heritage making her a fan favourite at Backlash, where she took Rhea Ripley to the limit in an enthralling Women’s Championship clash. Whether WWE continues this push for Vega heading into 2024 remains to be seen, but she just re-signed. She’ll be there. Definitely.
Gone from our screens since being written off by Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan hasn’t been seen for months, having been recuperating from a legitimately separated shoulder. She should be good to go for the Royal Rumble and with reports that there is no internal heat on the popular star following her recent arrest, Liv’s a strong candidate for Rumble inclusion.
WWE has HUGE potential with this year’s women’s Royal Rumble lineup as there are four possible game-changing comebacks they could execute - but it’s not going to Sasha Banks, AJ Lee, or Mandy Rose. Banks is heavily rumoured to be signing with All Elite Wrestling imminently, while both AJ and Mandy are reportedly against making an in-ring comeback right now.
That leaves Naomi.
The current TNA Knockouts World Champion exited WWE in May 2022 alongside Sasha Banks and has since found major success in the now-former IMPACT Wrestling. Per Fightful Select and PWInsider, though, her run in the Anthem-helmed promotion is coming to an end, with the January 19 and 20 Orlando television tapings expected to ber final nights in TNA.
Add in the fact that PWInsider’s Mike Johnson explicitly stated that one WWE source expected Naomi back in WWE by "the end of January” and she’s a deadlock for this year’s big surprise.