The Royal Rumble match is often best known for its surprise entrants; whether they be returning legends or genuinely shocking appearances, they can make for some of the most exciting moments in the annual 30-man match. Last year’s Rumble saw the surprise main roster debut of Damian Priest and the returns of Carlito, Kane, Hurricane Helms and Christian. Royal Rumble 2022 could be even more surprising, considering the diminished roster thanks to the slew of releases from last year.
So let’s run down five possible surprise entrants in this year’s Men’s Royal Rumble match. These could of course be surprise cameos from the NXT 2.0 roster or even some returning faces that we may not expect to be emerging after the 90 second buzzer.
1. Tommaso Ciampa
Former NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa has been making some brief appearances for the main roster on episodes of Main Event. He’s picked up some wins in the process, defeating the likes of Akira Tozawa and T-Bar in curtain-jerker matches that barely interested the crowd. If WWE are serious about calling-up ‘The Blackheart’, then a Rumble appearance is an absolute must to get him some momentum.
Ciampa may not be well-known by every member of the WWE audience, but he has more than enough potential to strike a great first impression when the mainstream spotlight of a Royal Rumble event is fixed solely on him. Ciampa’s look, his intensity and his legacy as one of NXT’s top stars should be enough to propel him to some success on either RAW or SmackDown Live.
If any NXT stars are going to show up this year, I’d hedge my bets on Tommaso.
2. Pete Dunne
Another NXT 2.0 star that has sporadically appeared on Main Event is ‘The Bruiserweight’. There must be some faith backstage in the Brummy, as much like his NXT colleague, he’s scored a few victories against undercard fodder. Dunne has previously appeared in the Rumble as a surprise entrant in 2019, garnering quite the pop from the live audience. I suspect he’d receive the same reception if he were to be featured in the Men’s Rumble this year as well.
Pete Dunne is a rare talent who is not only young but also incredibly well-versed in the squared circle. His unique style will allow him to stand out amongst the bloated roster, although his chances are admittedly slim due to his stature and WWE’s incessant need to put over everyone over 500lbs. Nevertheless, Pete has won over many audiences in the past, including the US NXT fanbase.
As a huge fan of ‘The Bruiserweight’, I really hope we get to see him shine as part of this year’s Royal Rumble. He’s put in the work in NXT and deserves at least a small run on the main roster.
3. Corey Graves
It was recently reported that perennial WWE commentator, Corey Graves, has been cleared for in-ring competition. Graves was unfortunately forced into an early retirement due to serious injuries during his initial run in NXT, however before this, WWE high-ups were incredibly interested in making Graves a top star.
Not only does Corey have the ‘different’ aesthetic, but he’s also ridiculously charismatic, if his commentary work didn’t give that away. His adaptability within the company and loyalty must surely keep him in high regards still, despite being kept away from competition for as long as he has. Perhaps Graves won’t make it as far as originally intended, but a shot at recovering his former momentum and maybe even making it to regular in-ring action would be a fantastic way to tie up some loose ends.
This would be a real heart-string moments if Corey did emerge from behind the commentary booth, take off the questionable jackets and storm the ring to lock in the Lucky 13. It may not rank up there with the likes of Edge and Christian, but it’ll certainly be a moment to remember from 2022.
4. Bron Breakker
Out of all the newcomers in NXT 2.0, Bron Breakker has been ‘the guy’ that seems to be pencilled for a huge run upon his main roster debut. The son of Rick Steiner has already proven himself to many of the superstars as part of the 2021 UK Tour, soaking up the knowledge and experience of those around him and delivering some high-octane performances. Fans are steadily getting behind Breakker as the next big thing, so why not capitalise on that by having him show up as part of this year’s Royal Rumble.
This shouldn’t lead to a victory, nor even a place in the final few, but Breakker could certainly launch a few schmucks over the top rope in the early stages of the match. This could not only give NXT 2.0 a little bit of buzz but also set Breakker up for a huge main roster debut before the end of the year.
In the past, NXT Champions have been utilised well as part of the Rumble, giving them that bit of exposure necessary for their eventual main roster run. Bron Breakker could be one of the most impressive to date.
5. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt
Okay, so let’s face it, this is very ambitious of me to even suggest we might see a returning Wyatt in this year’s Rumble. But come on, WWE must surely know the huge ball they dropped by letting go of Bray in 2021.
Rumours have already started to surface of certain released wrestlers being welcomed back to the company for a surprise return at the Royal Rumble. Names such as Wyatt and Braun Strowman are a few examples of huge hits that would genuinely stun the worldwide fans, hopefully clawing back a bit of faith and momentum in the process.
If ‘The Fiend’ were to return this year, then a win is absolutely necessary. After the heinous treatment his character was given towards the start of 2021, in order for fans to start believing in Bray once more, a big victory at the Rumble is a must.
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