At the 2023 Royal Rumble, WWE will officially kick off the road to WrestleMania 39. This mega pay-per-view will feature Roman Reigns’ most recent defense of the Universal title, a men’s battle royal with the return of Cody Rhodes, and a women’s Rumble that will serve as the foundation for WWE’s signature event.
The Royal Rumble is anticipated to live up to the expectations as a newsworthy event packed with spectacular returns, several shocks, and the foundations of countless WrestleMania feuds, with the largest gate in the event’s history. The men’s and women’s Royal Rumbles, which feature a stacked field full of big names like Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins, are arguably the most eagerly awaited contests on the program.
For one of WWE’s main women’s championships at WrestleMania 39, the Rumble victor will probably face off against either Charlotte Flair or Bianca Belair. In the men’s division, winning the Royal Rumble is crucial since there is only one global championship up for grabs on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.”
Because of this, winning the match is an essential step on the road to WrestleMania 39, and going into the pay-per-view, these six stars—three women and three men—are establishing themselves as the front-runners to win a desired crack at the WrestleMania championship.
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Women’s Honorable Mentions: Ronda Rousey, Asuka, and Naomi
Asuka would be a great possibility to not only receive a huge pop but also win this bout if she returns (likely) or Naomi strikes a new agreement to return to WWE as some business insiders anticipate (less likely).
If Ronda Rousey were to compete in the Royal Rumble, she would be a clear frontrunner, but things have changed and she is no longer anticipated to compete since WWE doesn’t want her in the event if she is just going to lose it, which is the obvious plan. But it’s difficult to ever rule out a change in plans if they do so often.
Men’s Honorable Mentions: Steve Austin, Gunther, Drew McIntyre, and Brock Lesnar
When it comes to Brock Lesnar, you can never rule anything out, can you? He will probably either eliminate or be eliminated by the opponent he will face at WrestleMania if he competes in the Royal Rumble. Gunther is one of his probable WrestleMania opponents, while Steve Austin and Lashley are the other two favorites. Would it be shocking if Lesnar won the bout to build up yet another match with Reigns even though it appears as though he wouldn’t be in the championship picture at WrestleMania? Not now that Vince McMahon has rejoined WWE.
Of course, Gunther would make more sense to win the Rumble, but because he is now the Intercontinental Champion and a villain, a match with Reigns might not take place for some time. Given the contentious conclusion to his battle with Reigns at Clash at the Castle in September and the fact that he has consistently been marketed as one of WWE’s greatest performers, Drew McIntyre seems a more plausible candidate.
And Austin absolutely cannot be written out given that he reportedly received a substantial offer for a match against Reigns.
Raquel Rodriguez, third
Raquel Rodriguez is the clear favorite to win the Royal Rumble if WWE decides to go with a less well-known competitor.
Rodriguez, one of the betting favorites to win the 30-woman battle royal, has been positioned as one of WWE’s most protected talents on SmackDown, where her outstanding programming under Triple H has obviously translated. Rodriguez may be starting too soon, but with Sasha Banks gone and top performers like Bayley appearing to be out of the championship picture heading into WrestleMania, why not?
She has so far shown herself to be an excellent all-around performer and would provide WWE a unique new face in the women’s championship scene.
Sami Zayn 3.
Sami Zayn’s going to get the shaft from the Bloodline. When will happen, not if.
Theoretically, it should result in Zayn vs. Reigns, which is reportedly scheduled for Elimination Chamber. Zayn would then team up with Kevin Owens to face the Usos at WrestleMania. However, it would make for a more compelling narrative if Zayn took against Reigns on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.” Given how outrageously popular Zayn is, that could result in a heated bout with a fantastic WrestleMania finish if Zayn succeeds in ousting Reigns.
Zayn isn’t the odds-on favorite to win the Royal Rumble even if he could be the sentimental favorite because given the course of this story, Owens and Zayn vs. the Usos still feels like the match we’re going to get at WrestleMania.
Becky Lynch 2.
Becky Lynch, one of the top WWE talents, doesn’t seem to have a clear WrestleMania route thus close to the pay-per-view, which is strange. Even though Lynch vs. Rousey is apparently being postponed, WWE may still decide to perform it without a championship fight, or Lynch might win the Royal Rumble again.
Lynch’s triumph in the Rumble isn’t problematic in and of itself. If she does win, there won’t be a new quarrel to pick up. Will WWE truly stage Lynch vs. Belair or Flair once more? There is almost anything that can be done to fan the embers of those feuds in an interesting manner because each of these rivalries have been done again.
Becky Lynch 2.
The fact that Lynch isn’t the obvious favorite in this case actually is the only excuse. She would, however, be the match’s greatest celebrity, so she is still a strong front-runner.
Seth Rollins 2.
Seth Rollins is an obvious candidate to win the men’s Royal Rumble for a second time because he is among WWE’s top performers overall and has a lengthy relationship with Reigns.
Additionally, Rollins is extremely popular with the audience; in fact, WWE lately had no option but to make him the babyface. However, Rollins doesn’t have a straightforward path to WrestleMania for the second consecutive year. In a high-profile non-title bout, he may take on opponents like Logan Paul or even Austin, or he might continue to cause trouble in the midcard title scene.
Although Rollins vs. Reigns has been fought several times previously, the chemistry would be very different if Rollins were the face and Reigns the heel. Most of the WWE fan base wouldn’t protest if Rollins won the Rumble once again given how excellent of a performance he has been over the previous ten years and the fact that he has never truly main-evented WrestleMania.
Rhea Ripley, the clear betting favorite, satisfies every expectation that WWE should have for the winner of the Royal Rumble.
She’s a young, rising star with a marketable appearance and a strong all-around performance. But maybe most significantly, Ripley is connecting with the crowd in a big manner at the ideal time. She’s reaching her stride and eliciting the kinds of responses that justify a Royal Rumble victory, as seen by her fantastic performance with Dominik Mysterio and her most recent staredown with Solo Sikoa.
The women’s Royal Rumble might have easily been won by a well-known celebrity like Lynch if WWE followed tradition, but Ripley has emerged as the best and most apparent choice.
Cody Rhodes, first
What does Cody Rhodes become if Ripley is the apparent option for the women’s side of the Royal Rumble? Rhodes is the man now that it has been revealed that The Rock won’t be competing at WrestleMania.
The only thing working against Rhodes winning the Rumble is how predictable it would be for him to do so. But just because something is predictable doesn’t mean it’s terrible, and Rhodes is a wonderful choice to square off against Reigns at WrestleMania in a field full of stars who have already engaged in a rivalry with or fought him at some time.
With his enormous star power, lack of a world championship, and his extended hiatus, Rhodes will undoubtedly elicit thunderous emotions from the WWE fan base. While there would be fan opposition to this choice just because you can see it coming from a mile away and because he’s not Zayn, that’s a lot better alternative than a swerve just for the sake of a swerve. That is exactly what WWE wants from their WrestleMania challenger for Reigns.