Royal Rumble is only a few hours away which means a lot of over-talked about rumors will be put to the test.
Which ones were bluffs and which were legit?
It will all come to a head this evening when the men and women have their respective Rumble matches.
The following wrestlers are potential surprise entrants categorized by ‘Legit’, ‘Toss Up’ and ‘Longshot’ so that you can differentiate between the most and least likely names to appear.
Lashley is heading back to WWE, you can put that in the bank, but the question remains whether Lashley makes his return at the Rumble or RAW the next night.
While WrestleMania plans have Reigns/Lesnar long-rumored for a showdown for the Universal Title, WWE is also interested in a Lashley/Lesnar showdown, which may be more likely for SummerSlam and doesn’t necessarily need a title on the line.
My sources say Lashley is in WWE’s plans and tonight is considered their best shot to create a “wow” moment with his return.
She made an appearance at RAW25 and she is in incredible shape, as always. Don’t be shocked if Stratus, who has long said she would like to step through the ropes again, make a surprise entrance in the women’s Rumble.
WWE wants the first women’s Royal Rumble to be memorable, so they will stack the card with surprise entrants. Expect Stratus to be one.
What would a Stratus entry be without Lita right behind her? Lita and Stratus had one of the most memorable feuds during their time in WWE and the moment of one more showdown between the two in the middle of the ring at the Rumble is too good to pass up.
That alone would make the women’s Rumble memorable.
Make no mistake about it, Ronda Rousey is WWE bound and WWE has been very smart with the recent media coverage Rousey has received in relation to her potential entry at the Rumble.
WWE also knows how to distract, which is what they may have done, along with Rousey, to keep fans off the scent of her debut.
Rousey is currently out of the country shooting a film, as her “chance” encounter with TMZ recently indicated, but don’t be fooled, an appearance at the Rumble is exactly what WWE wants and what their women’s Rumble match needs.
A Rousey entrance instantly trends worldwide, instantly makes the women’s Rumble match a potential show-stealing match, instantly brings new eyes to the WWE product and will instantly drive up interest in WrestleMania.
It’s too good NOT to happen.
HHH is a solid entrant but shouldn’t surprise anyone.
WWE needs to get the ball rolling for WrestleMania 34 and HHH will certainly be competing on the card, so the Rumble will be utilized to set his match up.
The next name will have a lot to do with that.
Angle’s GM role has been better than a lot of those before him, mainly because Angle mostly stays out of the mix, while also playing an important role that is seen as “fair”.
But, WWE planted the seeds of an Angle/Triple H match at Survivor Series and WWE definitely has an Angle/HHH match in mind.
So, Angle enters, AFTER Triple H and costs him the Rumble match.
It’s the road to WrestleMania and the Undertaker is definitely in WWE’s plans.
If he wasn’t, Undertaker would have been the headline name in the WWE Hall of Fame this year. He isn’t.
Undertaker vs. John Cena will happen and an Undertaker appearance at the Rumble, to cost Cena, would be the perfect setup.
Mysterio’s name has been buried among the bigger names, but there is mutual interest in one last WWE run.
Mysterio would be perfect for a shaky 205 Live roster, and his surprise return in the Rumble can help bring some name value to the Cruiserweight division.
There is also the possibility that Mysterio will be the new 205 Live general manager and a potential Rumble appearance will be a one-off.
Kharma has been a name tossed around over the past several weeks and for good reason. With her performance in the Netflix original ‘Glow’ which also showed her in solid ring shape, Kharma is also one of the few women to ever step foot in the men’s Rumble match.
A showdown with Nia Jax makes the most sense and a Kharma/Jax stare-down is another moment that WWE is going to want.
The WWE Hall of Famer has resurfaced on WWE programming as of late, as a broadcaster, but WWE definitely wants to have her enter the first ever women’s Rumble for the “wow” moment alone.
Kelly Kelly made an appearance at RAW25 and she has hinted at a WWE return in the past few years.
The Rumble seems like the perfect time to re-introduce her to the crowd.
His movie career is blossoming but he was unhappy with how his last run ended. Batista has said that he would like to have one final run, but has specified that he wants that to culminate in a match against Triple H.
With HHH slated to fight Angle at WrestleMania, it leaves Batista/HHH for one of the other big 4 events.
However, Batista/HHH is a WrestleMania caliber match, so WWE needs to be precise as to when that match, if it happens, takes place.
That’s why Batista appearing at tonight’s Rumble is a toss up.
Bryan is the ‘wild card’ and WWE is being tight lipped about his in-ring future.
Sure, there has been plenty of talk about how WWE has refused to medically clear Bryan for an in-ring return, but if they did, it’s not like they would put out a press release about it.
WWE would want to capitalize on it.
Storyline wise, it seems like Bryan and Shane McMahon are headed to a showdown, perhaps in some form at WrestleMania, but there is also the potential of a showdown with the Miz, who has a storied rivalry with Bryan.
It’s hard to get a read on what exactly going on, but WWE is a business and they know how popular Bryan is, so if he is ever to be cleared by the time his contract expires, the time would be now.
However, there is another way to bring back Bryan without him entering the Rumble. Some sort of physical interference in the Aj Styles/Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn main event can accomplish just that and would be a heck of a curveball for fans expecting Bryan to enter the Rumble.
He is walking and moving without crutches and he doesn’t need to be in the match that long to risk anything, so a Big Cass return at the Rumble is certainly feasible.
However, with a likely stacked WWE Rumble card, WWE may want to keep Cass’ return a surprise until RAW on Monday.
It would be one of the most shocking moments in Rumble history and the arena may not be able to hold the electricity of an Omega appearance.
NJPW is certainly trolling fans as an interesting fueled speculation that Omega may be heading for WWE and the Royal Rumble.
Omega has established a strong reputation as someone who has become a huge global star without WWE and that badge of honor may be too good to pass up.
Keep in mind that recent reports indicated that Omega re-signed with NJPW for one-year, but there is also speculation that the deal did not finalize and his contract is indeed running out at the end of the month.
Omega is also slated for a match against Cody Rhodes at ROH Supercard of Honor XII and is promoted to be involved at Rhodes’ “All In” arena show on September 1st, making his appearance less likely.
However, he remains a slight-possibility because WWE is WWE and they could entice Omega like no other company while allowing him to fulfill his other obligations during his run, which has happened in the past with certain WWE superstars.
Personally, I do not believe Omega appears at this Rumble, but should certainly be on the radar next year.
Rhodes is doing too good out of WWE to make a return now, although it would be one heck of a move for the global superstar.
Jericho is the most interesting name in pro wrestling right now.
He appeared on RAW25 and then made comments after that his role was what he wanted, nothing more and nothing less.
But Jericho, although he sounds a bit jaded, could simply be playing fans who believe he has minimal interest in WWE right now.
It’s assumed that he will return someday, but Jericho could do a one-off appearance to shock the crowd in Philadelphia.
Punk is only on this list because his name has been mentioned in rumors. However, we didn’t have a category for anything below ‘LongShot’.
Punk is not going to appear and the next time you may, if you ever, see Punk on WWE television is likely years down the road at his Hall of Fame induction and/or that of Paul Heyman.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? April 16, 2019
For Raw, they got the best addition from the shakeup to their show, which was AJ Styles. After Styles really made his mark on Smackdown, it seemed like WWE creative was running out of ideas of what to do with Styles on Smackdown. So, having him on Raw is really intriguing now and it should be interesting to see what the future holds for him on Raw.
For Smackdown, their biggest addition from the shakeup was Roman Reigns and the way they introduced him to the show was entertaining. After Vince McMahon announced that the “biggest addition in Smackdown history” was Elias, Roman Reigns interrupted and ended up clearing out the ring and declaring that Smackdown is his yard now. Reigns needed a change of scenery after being on Raw for few years, so this is something the WWE universe should be excited for.
For Raw, while it was great to see an NXT tag team called up, the name they gave him is horrible. Formerly known as the War Raiders, who are the current NXT tag team champions were called up to Monday nights. But, they decided to change their name to the Viking Experience, which is one of the worst name changes in WWE history.
For Smackdown, they had a match between Carmella and Charlotte Flair and this felt like filler. After all the new names that they brought onto Smackdown during the shakeup for the women’s division, they could have had one of them in this match instead of putting them all together in the 8-women tag match that was featured on the show later.
The Final Verdict
For these being the superstar shakeup episodes, both shows felt a little underwhelming. While we are able to think of the possibility of matchups that we will see in the future because of this shakeup, the introduction of these new names felt like they should have been a bigger deal. Along with that, it seemed like WWE either was confused on how to handle some of these shakeups or they purposely wanted to confuse the fans. A prime example is how Finn Balor went to Smackdown with the Intercontinental championship. Since this was introduced to us on Smackdown, is there no secondary belt now on Raw? Or did Samoa Joe just automatically move to Raw because he currently was holding the original secondary belt on Smackdown? Overall, as to who had the better show, I will have to say that Raw had the better show. The additions of the Miz, the Usos, Rey Mysterio, Andrade, AJ Styles, and Naomi are all new faces that were due for this. In conclusion, while the shakeup could’ve been handled better, the future should be intriguing as WWE prepares to fully move on from Wrestlemania.
Matt Hardy Responds to John Oliver’s WWE Segment
John Oliver, host of HBO’s popular ‘Last Week Tonight’, took WWE to task in a recent episode over their lack of healthcare for their performers, bringing a dark element of the treatment of WWE superstars to light.
Since then, wrestlers have spoken out, both in support of Oliver’s segment and coming to the defense of WWE.
One of those coming to WWE’s defense is WWE superstar and future Hall of Famer Matt Hardy, who praised WWE and how far they have come over the years.
“When I first started here [1997/1998] the locker room, everything was like the wild wild west then” Hardy said in an interview with FOX Sports (h/t Wrestling Inc). ” The change that has happened in those 20-plus years has been unreal. I mean, now the drug testing is very stringent. … You have to be here, and you have to be good and you have to be on top of your game. You have to be a professional. The physicals they do as far as cardiovascular and just checking you over and over — [there have] been several guys they caught that have had serious [health] issues that could have been life threatening if they didn’t catch it here, and just the way they take care of you. “
“Every surgery I ever had, WWE has paid for. They’re very faithful and very good about that. It’s just some of the stuff that the John talked about was kind of passé, kind of outdated because now they really do [take care of wrestlers’ health]. They take care of everything especially stuff that happens in house. As far as the whole health insurance thing, that’s kind of a different argument, because we do a different gig in many many ways. But WWE has never done anything but be great to me.
“They’ve taking care of me in every capacity, every front. And they’ve given me a great life. I mean one of the characters I play is ‘Big Money’ Matt, who’s like this millionaire that’s been around for a long time, and you know there’s a lot of truth to it in some ways, and I wouldn’t have that persona and I wouldn’t have the great life that I have right now if it wasn’t for WWE.”
WWE Hall of Famer Stevie Ray Talks Not Joining WWE After WCW Buyout
WWE Hall of Famer Stevie Ray, who was inducted as part of Harlem Heat, alongside his brother Booker 2, in this year’s WWE Hall of Fame, recently discussed why he never joined WWE following his career in WCW.
Stevie Ray recently appeared on an episdoe of ‘Conversations with the Big Guy’ with host, and former WWE superstar, Ryback and talked about his thinking when WWE bought WCW.
Although his brother Booker T went on to WWE, Stevie Ray didn’t want to do the same.
“I didn’t want to go to WWF (WWE). As a matter of fact, the last WCW Nitro, I didn’t even attend and they sent me a ticket. Bu,t I was always in the mindset of this is competition to me. This is NFL vs AFL, or National League versus American League in baseball. WCW vs WWF, to be honest with you, bro, I didn’t want to go out like a bitch.”
The Monday Night Wars were hard to get past for Stevie Ray.
“We had been fighting for the team (WCW). But when I heard Vince McMahon had come in, and stuff like that, which I knew was coming, it’s like, you saw the writing on the wall and you put it in the back of your mind.
But at the end of the day I knew it was going to happen. But I didn’t attend the last show because my brother [Booker T] said that they (WWE) are going to be auditioning people. I told him that he should do it, but I’m done.”
Stevie Ray was concerned that WWE would change to Harlem Heat, stripping them of the elements that made that tag team so special.
“I wanted people to remember Harlem Heat as an ass-kicking tag team of color, you see what I’m saying? I didn’t want us to be something else. I didn’t want us to turn into a “Doink the Clown”. So, I’m not saying that they would have done this with Harlem Heat, but, I didn’t want to lose the edge that we once had as Harlem Heat.”
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