Previously, we covered the five most likely unconventional male winners to stand tall in this year’s Royal Rumble match. It’s only fair that we give the women’s division the same treatment and look through some of the dark horses who could go the distance this year and become the second women’s Royal Rumble victor.
With the women’s roster rather dire compared to the men’s, its a lot easier to pick out the small handful with a legitimate chance of winning the match, as opposed to the many that, despite their individual accomplishments, still aren’t credible enough to be given the honour of outlasting all 29 other competitors.
Nevertheless, these following five superstars strike me as the few that could breakout as a threat to the Charlotte Flairs and Becky Lynches of the wrestling world.
The former SmackDown Women’s Champion doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her in-ring work. Naomi has been the unsung hero of the women’s division, consistently performing to a high standard whilst adapting to several different characters throughout her tenure. Naomi has found herself in a pretty appalling excuse for a feud with Mandy Rose, fighting over the affection of Naomi’s husband – Jimmy Uso. As a reward for having her non-kayfabe relationship abused like this, as well as the years of excellence in the company, perhaps she should qualify as this year’s Rumble winner.
WWE have given Naomi a couple of credentials to her name. A former champion for a start, but also being the winner of the first ever women’s WrestleMania battle royal, so there’s not much holding her back from being considered a top pick for this year’s winner.
Her issue is that they’ve failed to build her as Mania material. As difficult as it is for them to build a structured division with what they have, it seems like Naomi is being kept at a distance from the likes of Becky Lynch, Asuka and Charlotte Flair. I fully believe that Naomi’s name should be in that pool with them, so it’s time for the writers to put in the work to make her a star, and maybe that should start at this year’s Royal Rumble.
4. Zelina Vega
With Andrade making it into my list of potential unconventional male winners, I find it only fitting for his business associate to be included too. Zelina Vega has proven herself to be capable of putting on a match, having some decent bouts against Candice LeRae, Lana and most recently, Becky Lynch. Vega hasn’t quite broken out as a star of her own just yet, but I feel like 2019 will be the year of Tranquilo, allowing both her and Andrade to flourish as top tier talent.
Zelina Vega could be the biggest dark horse for this year’s Rumble match. With very little exposure behind her, it leaves for a lot of potential for whenever she does make an in-ring appearance. Should WWE be serious about wanting to branch into the Latin market, then they need to start building up a few of their Latino stars, Andrade and Zelina being at the forefront of that movement.
Would Zelina be making headlines if she did win this weekend? I could certainly see it shocking the wrestling industry into believing in her and Andrade as the future of the SmackDown Live roster, that’s for sure.
3. Kairi Sane
The former NXT Women’s Champion has been somewhat absent from NXT television as of late, leaving room for Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and Mia Yim to break into the mainstream market. Sane is more than ready to make her jump onto the main roster, and with a Rumble appearance already under her belt, she should make for an interesting addition to this year’s match.
The Pirate Princess has that marketable appeal that Vince and co. are going to love. Giving her a platform to prove herself to the casual audience would go a long way in ensuring that she has a good run on either Raw or SmackDown following her debut.
It would be huge for her to become the first ever woman to win the Royal Rumble on her debut night. With WWE pushing towards bringing in some fresh faces to the main roster, Kairi would be a great addition to that cohort.
2. Lacey Evans
Another NXT alumni, Lacey Evans has yet to make her official in-ring debut for either the red or blue brand. This week, she confirmed that she’ll be debuting as part of the Royal Rumble match this Sunday, which has the fanbase buzzing to see what exactly they should expect from her going forward.
WWE has a golden opportunity to create a new, huge star in their women’s roster. Lacey Evans also has that marketable factor to her that could mean big business, whilst also being able to hang inside the ring, it’s hard to find a reason for her debut not to be a successful one.
Lacey Evans didn’t make too many waves as part of NXT, but I suspect she’ll have a similar rise to fame as that of Elias, her gimmick being tailored for the main roster rather than the less campy developmental brand. I look forward to seeing what Lacey brings to the table at the Rumble, I’d definitely put her high on the list of dark horses with a chance of potentially winning the whole thing.
1. Nikki Bella
I was dangerously close to being right last year in that Nikki Bella made it to the final two of the women’s Rumble match. I had suspicions that WWE would want the title of ‘first ever female winner’ to go to one of the two Bella twins. WWE have this incessant need to keep the Bellas relevant, remaining as their link to pop culture and reality television. Nikki barely lost the chance to go to Mania to challenge the champion of her choosing, so maybe this year she’ll be back with a vengeance.
I hate to sound like I’m criticising her too much for who she is: I actually quite like Nikki’s in-ring work, especially towards the latter end of her full-time career. Whether you love her or hate her, she and Brie are two of the biggest female stars in the industry, and will remain in the WWE’s pocket for as long as they make them money. Nikki is still considered top-tier talent, coming out of a big match with Ronda Rousey at the Evolution pay-per-view. Should they be looking for a WrestleMania sized rematch, then the Rumble is their key to achieving it.
Nikki Bella winning the match wouldn’t anger me as such, but I feel like it would be a massive waste of potential. What with Ember Moon, Ruby Riott and Bayley all constantly on the verge of breaking the ceiling, they should be more concerned with allowing them the chance to add a Rumble victory to their achievements. Nevertheless, if Nikki returns once again to be a part of the Royal Rumble, then my money will sadly have to be on her again.
Have we missed any unconventional winners for this year’s Rumble match? Who are your dark horses for Sunday night? Let us know in the comments below.