Stephanie McMahon announced there will be a Women's Royal Rumble match this year, the first ever in history. Many had felt the company could have done a Women's Rumble match last year, but ultimately the decision was made that the women's talent pool was still a little too shallow for that type of match. Women have participated in the Royal Rumble before but they have always done so against the men. Chyna, Kharma, and Beth Phoenix have all been in a Royal Rumble match previously.
A Women's Royal Rumble match opens up all sorts of possibilities for WWE. In addition to providing an exciting gimmick match, it would help the division feel more on-par with the men's. That the winner gets to then challenge one of the Women's Champions at WrestleMania will also help make those titles feel more important and harder to win.
In celebration of the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble match, we are counting down eight women rumored to be making their WWE returns in the match and seven males who could possibly do the same.
15 The Bellas
We all need to accept that one Bella, if not both, will probably be in the Royal Rumble. Both Nikki and Brie have expressed interest in returning to the ring and it is likely both would want to take part in such a historic match.
The interesting thing will be how fans respond to the Bellas now that the Women's Revolution has turned into the Women's Evolution. The style of wrestling in the Women's Division has evolved so much in the short time the twins have been absent from WWE programming.
Both Bella twins improved their in-ring work drastically in the latter stages of their careers. Perhaps this had something to do with their relationships with John Cena and Daniel Bryan. Brie began utilizing many of Daniel Bryan's moves and Nikki developed a style based more on power moves, similar to Cena's.
WWE and Goldberg were both pleasantly surprised at the reaction the Superstar received upon his return last year. The ratings for Goldberg's return were so great, the company and performer reached an agreement that saw him continue to perform until last WrestleMania.
While the former WCW, World Heavyweight and Universal Champion is now in his 50s, he has clearly taken care of himself and still has an imposing presence in the ring. He fits in perfectly with the current era of part-time stars who come back for big events.
The only reason WWE would not have Goldberg return at the Rumble is if they have an even bigger surprise they don't wish to overshadow.
13 Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly has been rumored to make a WWE return since last WrestleMania, although it has yet to happen.
The 30-year-old had been featured on WAGS, a show dedicated to the lives of the wives and girlfriends of professional athletes. Kelly had been married to the professional hockey player, Sheldon Souray, but they separated earlier this year. The couple were married in 2016 and had been dating since 2014.
Now that she is no longer a WAG, it appears Kelly has interest in once again becoming a Diva, or rather, a Superstar in WWE. Kelly appeared on an episode of Table for 3 earlier this year, alongside Eves Torres and Maryse. She has also appeared at WrestleMania Axxess and could easily be a surprise entrant in the Women's Royal Rumble due to her ongoing connections within the company.
12 Rey Mysterio
43-year-old Rey Mysterio is a free agent and might be a surprise entrance into the 2018 Royal Rumble. Increasing speculation that the luchador could be returning to WWE soon has been the regular mentions of his career as of late by WWE's social media accounts. In particular, a recent edition of WWE's List This featured Mysterio as a performer fans want to return to the company.
At the moment, Mysterio is believed to be sitting out a 90-day no-compete clause in his Lucha Underground contract. That clause should be done with soon. He would then be free to sign a WWE legends deal or return to the company on a part-time basis.
WWE know what a draw Mysterio is with fans and it seems likely they would want to capitalize on that in some way.
11 Michelle McCool
Mrs. Undertaker is rumored to be eyeing a return to WWE television. McCool made some headlines in November when she reacted to a challenge from Charlotte Flair for a match. McCool was the inaugural Divas Champion and once jointly held the title with Layla.
McCool isn't the only member of her family who might return to WWE in 2018. Rumors are circulating The Undertaker could return as well, though it is doubtful WWE would choose the Rumble match for his return.
McCool is only 37 and could easily slide back into things in the Women's Division if she wanted to. She wrestled on the main roster from 2006 to 2011 before retiring. The Undertaker and her welcomed their first child together in 2012.
10 Bobby Lashley
Current rumors suggest Bobby Lashley could be returning to WWE soon and possibly in time to be a surprise entrance in the 2018 Royal Rumble match. With Impact Wrestling looking to rid themselves of several higher-paying contracts, it is believed Lashley is not in the future plans for the company. Speculation is WWE would love to have him back in the fold. For that to happen, however, Lashley would most likely have to give up his MMA career. Lashley would make for an interesting Royal Rumble surprise if he decides WWE is where he wants to be.
The 41-year-old Lashley had been out with an injury in 2008 when he surprisingly asked for his release from WWE. A big reason he chose to do so was because he wanted to attempt a career in MMA. He has a 15-2 MMA record and is currently signed to Bellator.
9 Trish Stratus
The likelihood of Trish Stratus making a surprise return at the Royal Rumble is high. Not long after the announcement was made, Trish commented on how great it was and then asked "where's my boots?", possibly referencing her desire to perform in the match.
Trish Stratus is still only 42 years old, and her years of commitment to yoga have kept her in great condition. She doesn't have any nagging head, neck, or back injuries and there is seemingly nothing stopping her from making the occasional WWE appearance.
Stratus doesn't need money, as she invested what she made in WWE into her yoga business in Toronto. Now a mother of two, she would not be looking at making a full-time return, but she could certainly make an entrance in the Rumble match and receive a huge pop.
Despite having a successful career in Hollywood, Batista has expressed interest in returning to WWE. He still has a great relationship with WWE management and it's believed they would love to have him back if a deal can be reached.
According to Batista, he isn't interested in coming back as a part-timer, however. In an interview he gave in November, Batista stated he has talked with Vince McMahon about a return but said he wasn't interested in coming back just for a few shows, he'd want to go out on tour with the company and perform on live loops and everything in between.
The fans did not respond to Batista's last return as WWE hoped they would. Fans were too invested in Daniel Bryan to cheer for Batista as he was being positioned in the spot they wanted Bryan to be in.
It is very likely the woman once known as Awesome Kong finds her way back to WWE sooner rather than later.
Real name Kia Stevens, she recently played the role of Tamme Dawson in the Netflix series GLOW - which tells the story of the 1980s Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling television show. The exposures she's gained through the show might make her more appealing to WWE. It would also make for a shocking Royal Rumble return.
It wouldn't be her first Royal Rumble match however as Kharma also competed in the 2012 Royal Rumble match, making her just the third female in company history to do so. Kharma was with WWE from 2010 to 2012 but unfortunately unforeseen circumstances prevented her from becoming a big-time player in the Women's Division.
Neville has not been released by WWE and the rumors are the two sides might have reached an agreement for his return. While it appeared back in November he was gone from the company, that does not appear to be the case anymore.
Neville is believed to have asked for his release but, evidently, WWE denied his request. Instead, it is being said they began working through Neville's concerns and were able to make some ground. Neville has been very quiet about the entire process, which probably means the company wants to keep details of his return on the down low. What better place for him to return than in the Royal Rumble match?
The 31-year-old from Newcastle was said to have been frustrated with his role in the company and his rivalry with Enzo Amore. Whether or not Neville returns to the Cruiserweight Division remains to be seen.
Celeste Bonin is better known to wrestling fans as Kaitlyn. The 31-year-old was signed to WWE from 2010 to 2014, won the third season of NXT and is a former Divas Champion. She's still young enough to have a second stint in the company as well.
Kaitlyn was spotted training inside a wrestling ring near her home in Florida back in September, fueling speculation a return to WWE might not be far off. She has opened up about past addictions to drugs and alcohol and stated she is doing better and is in a much better place nowadays.
The fitness buff was popular among WWE executives and rumors surfaced back in November they were interested in bringing her back. The upcoming Women's Royal Rumble sounds like a perfect place for a return.
4 Ethan Carter III
EC3 was under contract to WWE for four years between 2009 till 2013. He competed in NXT and trained in developmental but never could crack the main roster. After making a name for himself in Impact Wrestling from 2013 to 2017, rumors are indicating that WWE is ready to admit they made a mistake by overlooking and then releasing him.
It is believed EC3 is done with Impact Wrestling. As with Bobby Lashley, the company is looking to get rid of high-paying contracts signed under the Dixie Carter regime.
If signed to the WWE he would certainly have to go under a new name in WWE as Vince will want to own the rights to it. Oddly enough, his real name provides an interesting option. EC3's real name is Michael Hunter Hutten. He previously wrestled as Derrick Bateman in NXT.
Lita could possibly be a surprise entrant in the Women's Royal Rumble, though a full-time return to the ring is doubtful for the 42-year-old.
Lita made her first in-ring appearance in five years during March at an indie show in Maryland. It was as part of an eight-person tag match. Lita has made few comments regarding ever returning to the ring, which possibly means the idea doesn't sound too appealing to her. She could certainly make a one-time appearance in the first ever Women's Royal Rumble match, if only to pop the crowd by playing her music and having her do her entrance giving the audience the nostalgia feel.
Lita is one of the most influential female WWE performers of all-time. While Trish Stratus often gets credited as the woman who influenced today's female Superstars, Lita's impact on the current generation shouldn't be understated either.
2 Daniel Bryan
It is entirely possible Daniel Bryan makes his in-ring return at the Royal Rumble. Bryan has been vocal about his desire to return to the ring. So vocal in fact, it raises the suspicion that WWE has already approved his return.
Bryan has been undergoing advanced treatment and testing in regards to his head trauma and his own doctors have cleared him for a return. WWE doctors are more hesitant, however, but the current rumors suggest they are open to the idea. Bryan himself said he believes there's a chance of him wrestling in WWE again. If WWE doctors really were adamant they would never clear him again, Bryan would have listed no shot of a return. That he didn't means there are ongoing discussions regarding the subject.
WWE needs to make a decision on Bryan before his contract is up. If he is cleared to return, the Royal Rumble is the perfect place to make it happen.
1 Ronda Rousey
The last time we saw Ronda Rousey in a WWE ring was WrestleMania 31, but by the sounds of it, we should all expect to see a lot more of Rousey inside a WWE ring.
WWE would probably rather Rousey not be a surprise entrant in the Rumble as they would want her WWE return to be something they can advertise and build up anticipation for. Rousey, on the other hand, is a huge wrestling fan and probably does not want to miss the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble match. Judging by how enthusiastic Rousey is about WWE's product, it seems likely she insists on being in the match.
Rumors are that Rousey's training is ahead of schedule and going quite well. Her background in judo provides a good base for wrestling training. In fact, wrestlers in Japan are often required to have a judo background before they are trained.