The Royal Rumble is one of WWE's biggest shows of the year, only second to the extravaganza known as WrestleMania. This is mainly because of the main event of the show which includes a 30-man over-the-top-rope Battle Royal that usually includes a host of surprise entrants.
Next year's event is now less than four months away and it is already setting up to be one of the most anticipated Rumble events in recent memory. Following this year's event where the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was on the line in the 30-man Battle Royal, WWE knows they have to step it up to be able to follow on from such an unpredictable scenario.
Now that WWE has reverted back to having two main champions and two brands, it means that once again the winner of the Royal Rumble will be able to choose the person that they challenge in WrestleMania's main event.
The Universal Champion and the WWE World Championship will potentially be held by AJ Styles and Kevin Owens at this point, which means that neither Superstar will be in this match, but they will be watching closely as a way to scout their next challenge.
The return of the Brand Split also means that both Raw and SmackDown will have to divide the number of entrants between them, as well as factoring in any surprise NXT additions. Raw could also offer up places to their new Cruiserweight contenders if they feel they have shown enough promise ahead of the event.
The following is a fantasy list of entrants including surprise entrants, they are listed by the number which they will enter the match.
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30 Seth Rollins
If WWE were to continue their on-going rivalry between Triple H and Seth Rollins into the new year and finally allow them to have their marquee match at WrestleMania 33 then it would make sense for Triple H to continue to test his rival at the Royal Rumble.
Despite the fact that Rollins has been in WWE now for almost four years, he has only ever been in one Royal Rumble match, a match back in 2014 where was drawn in at number two and managed to last until almost the final few before he was eliminated by his teammate Roman Reigns. Having an authority figure place a Superstar at the number one position as a way to screw them over is nothing new (Stone Cold Steve Austin and Roman Reigns) but always make for an interesting angle. Plus, the fans would love watching Rollins go on a deep run in the Rumble.
29 Dean Ambrose
The current WWE World Champion, Dean Ambrose (AJ Styles should take his title away at some point and remain the main SmackDown champion through to WrestleMania season) will enter yet another Rumble match at this time from the number two position.
Last year's historic edition of the match saw Ambrose last until the final two when he was heartbreakingly eliminated by Triple H to allow The Game to walk into WrestleMania 32 as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Ambrose could easily go one step further this time and come out at number two to face his former Shield stablemate. This would provide an amazing start to the match as the top two draft picks of the WWE Brand Extension Draft would kick-off one of the biggest matches of the year and set the stage for the remainder of the contest.
28 Chris Jericho
Jericho has become one of the stand out wrestlers on the Raw roster since the Draft and his alliance with Kevin Owens has become one of the most interesting pairings in recent WWE memory. The two Superstars do not look like they will co-exist but only time will tell.
This could easily be Jericho's final Rumble match and if it is then he will want to leave a lasting impression. Coming in at number three and making a huge impact against two of the biggest stars in the company would be a fantastic way to do it. Jericho is no stranger to the Rumble match or an early entry. Back in 2003, Chris Jericho entered the Royal Rumble match from the number two position in an attempt to best Shawn Michaels.
27 Heath Slater
The former 3MB front-man has found a new lease on life since the WWE Draft back in July. It seems he has become one of the most over Superstars on the roster under his new 'Free Agent' gimmick, with fans chanting for him at live shows and Pay-Per-View events that he isn't even a part of.
Slater and Rhyno have a real shot at winning the Tag Team Championships at Backlash and securing Slater's contract as part of the SmackDown brand, which would ensure that he has a regular income and money to support his ever growing family. Adding him to the Rumble as another comedy entrant would be a step backwards. This needs to be a legitimate entry that sees Slater remain in the match for some time if there is any hope for Slater and a future push.
26 Big Cass
Colin Cassidy has come a long way since his days in NXT and it seems that in the near future WWE and Vince McMahon have big plans to push him forward as their next giant on the roster. The could all begin in 2017 for the Brooklyn native and it could start out with a fantastic showing in one of the biggest matches of the year at the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View event.
Roman Reigns made a huge impact in his first Royal Rumble match and managed to break Kane's elimination record. Cass could easily make as much of a statement in the match as Roman did and set up a year that would see him become another Superstar destined for a main event push. The Royal Rumble has served as a launching pad in the past for WWE Superstars and this January, Big Cass could shine in the match.
25 Bray Wyatt
The Eater of Worlds hasn't had a great time in WWE since the Draft. Bray Wyatt has lost the most dominant member of his group and seemingly left Erick Rowan behind not long after. The means that The Wyatt Family is now officially over and Bray can look for a future for himself alone on the SmackDown brand.
Wyatt has always been destined for much better than WWE have given him. He could easily go on to win this match if WWE allowed it and fans would accept him in the main event of WrestleMania without question. Coming in after Big Cass would allow him to make a statement with another hungry Superstar and even though they are on separate brands, they could come together to prove that they both have what it takes to win this match. In the past, the Rumble has produced some strange, short-lived alliances.
The former WCW World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Superstar (World Champion in WWE as well) has been talking about a return to WWE now for sometime and has stupidly decided to call out Brock Lesnar as a way to further annoy The Beast Incarnate and force him to challenge for a match.
Brock is yet to react to his recent insults that have included him blowing his nose into a Lesnar shirt, but a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble wouldn't be out of the question. He would slot into the match a lot earlier than most surprise entrants because he is one that fans would be least surprised about given the 2k17 cover and the recent talk on social media. Of course, that doesn't mean that the arena wouldn't explode from the site of Goldberg back in WWE.
23 Braun Strowman
Having Brawn enter the match after Goldberg would be a fantastic way for the man mountain to prove his worth against someone who is more than a hired jobber on Monday Night Raw. Braun has shown that he has what it takes to be the next monster in WWE but as of yet he hasn't truly been tested.
Goldberg would be the perfect person to test him and if he manages to throw him around the same way he has so many other men then it will be proof that he has what it takes to be a main event player in the company. Otherwise it will prove that he should have remained where he was as part of The Wyatt Family. It is going to take a lot of effort to get Braun Strowman over with the crowd but WWE will need to start somewhere if this is their chosen direction.
22 John Cena
John Cena hasn't been in a lot of Royal Rumble matches, because more often than not he was always a part of the World Title matches that would take place at the annual Pay-Per-View event. Cena shockingly returned from injury at the 2008 Royal Rumble and went on to win the match but he seems much more unlikely to be the victor this year.
Cena has mentioned many times that he wants to become a part-time Superstar and be less and less involved with WWE and their hectic travelling schedule so it would be interesting to see how long he remains in the match here because whoever eliminates the 15-time Champion will gain a huge amount of respect from the WWE Universe. No mater what, Cena will remain a huge target in the Royal Rumble match.
21 Samoa Joe
In at number ten is the first entrant from NXT, former NXT Champion Samoa Joe. This would be the perfect match for the former TNA wrestler to make a huge impact and a great way from him to show the WWE Universe his style of wrestling.
Many NXT stars like Bo Dallas and Sami Zayn have taken part in the Royal Rumble in the past and were then sent back down to NXT afterwards. This would be the perfect opportunity for Joe to test the WWE crowd before a huge debut further down the line. It is obvious that Samoa Joe will make his debut on the main roster at some point in the near future, it just depends when WWE decides the right time is for the Samoan submission machine. A strong showing in the Rumble match could be exactly what Joe needs to make a statement on the main roster.
20 Kofi Kingston
There can no Royal Rumble without Kofi Kingston. The New Day member has become famous over the past few years for the antics he manages to overcome in order to remain in the Royal Rumble match every year. In the past Kofi has amazed the crowd with his ability to not be eliminated form the match and each year fans expect more.
Previous years have seen Kofi jump from the barricade back into the ring, use a chair as a pogo stick, and even walk around the ring on his hands in order to ensure that both of his feet do not touch the ground and force him to be eliminated. This Rumble will see him come up with another unique way to continue this tradition hopefully with the help of his fellow New Day teammates.
19 Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews will be making his debut in the Royal Rumble match after he was called up to the main roster earlier this year. Apollo doesn't have a gimmick that allows him to stand out like many other Superstars who have come up from NXT recently so it will be interesting to see how he continues to progress on the main roster moving forward towards the new year.
As part of the SmackDown brand, he has already challenged The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship in an incredible match at SummerSlam. The could be another notch for Apollo if he manages to make an impact in one of the biggest matches of the year and would allow him to gain a huge push heading into WrestleMania. WWE would not allow Apollo Crews to win the Royal Rumble but they could allow him to put on an excellent effort during the match.
18 Dolph Ziggler
The self-proclaimed Show Off has had a great last few months in WWE. Following the WWE Draft he was the first SmackDown Superstar to challenge Dean Ambrose for his WWE World Championship before he was then placed into a feud with The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship.
Despite the fact that Ziggler has been with WWE now for more than a decade, he has yet to taste victory in a Royal Rumble match and he has yet to be pushed towards a WrestleMania main event with the backing of the company even though he has always had the backing of the fans. Dolph Ziggler always puts on a fantastic show in his Rumble matches and it would be incredible to see him walk out with the win in 2017. It may seem unlikely to many but we never know which way the company will go come January.
17 Jeff Hardy
The Charismatic Enigma made a name for himself in WWE along with his brother Matt during the Attitude Era and regardless of the things he has done in his personal life, the WWE Universe would always welcome The Rainbow Haired Warrior back to a WWE ring.
As the second surprise entry in the match at number fourteen Jeff would ensure that the WWE Universe weren't becoming complacent and thinking that they were already aware of WWE's entrance list. Jeff would legitimately be a huge surprise given that he is still contracted with TNA but WWE could easily negotiate a release to allow him to come back to WWE even if it was just for the one match. Rumours of a Jeff Hardy return seem to circulate every year and hopefully these rumours prove to be true soon enough.
16 Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns walked into his first ever Royal Rumble match at number 15 and broke Kane's elimination record by eliminating 12 Superstars. This was the biggest impact a solo Superstar had ever had on a Royal Rumble and the WWE Universe were behind the Samoan star to win the match that year.
Sadly Batista walked out the victor but Roman won the following year. At this point, the fans had turned on Reigns in favour of Daniel Bryan. This Royal Rumble could be a great way to win the fans back and allow Roman to turn back into the Superstar he once was. Last year, Roman Reigns walked into the Rumble at number one, so this time it would be best to have him appearance fall a little farther down the line.
The Celtic Warrior is having a horrendous time in WWE as a late. He has been placed in a Best-of-Seven series of matches with Cesaro and is currently leading the Swiss Superman. Cesaro looks like he is working at less than a hundred percent and the fans have become bored of the whole match now.
Sheamus won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship less than a year ago and has since dropped off the grid when it comes to the World Title. He needs to find a way to ensure that he is a part of WrestleMania and as sad as it seems, a Rumble win could be his only shot. Sheamus is a former Rumble winner and a second victory would place him into a unique club alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and Batista.
14 Baron Corbin
The winner of The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale Match earlier this year at WrestleMania has made quite the impact in WWE over the past few months. His feud with Dolph Ziggler proved that he was a Superstar destined for great things and after a few weeks off the WWE radar he has come back stronger and better as a part of the SmackDown brand.
Baron Corbin could be a dark horse when it comes to the Rumble match. He is certainly one that no one would bet on to win, but he wasn't in the betting odds to win the Battle Royale either and he still walked out the victor. So it will be interesting to see how he features in WWE's plans for this one. If WWE decided to go with Corbin, fans would likely hate the decision but that has not stopped Vince McMahon in the past.
13 Karl Anderson
One half of The Club and a former NJPW Superstar, Karl Anderson has made statements and won Championships all over the world alongside many of his other Bullet Club counterparts, but in WWE he needs to prove himself once again.
Anderson and Luke Gallows have already failed in their quest for the Tag Team Championship since their arrival in WWE a few months ago so maybe this would be the time where Anderson proves he is destined for solo success instead. Could the seeds be planted here for a break up? The Royal Rumble serves as the perfect match for one Superstar to outshine his tag team partner and lay the foundation for a solo run. Anderson on his own could find some sort of success on the Monday Night Raw brand away from his partner.
12 Curt Hawkins
Curt Hawkins is set to return to WWE in few weeks time and it's hard to see how he would slot into WWE right now without knowing if he will return as a face or a heel character. Many fans are hopeful that his return would mean a reunion with Zack Ryder but that seems unlikely given the success of The Hype Bros.
Instead, his return could see him become the new comedy star of the SmackDown roster now that the WWE Universe and he SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon have begun taking Heath Slater seriously and allowed him a title push. I fully expect a quick exit here from Hawkins but it would be fun to see his participation as every Rumble match requires a comedy entrant. (Reference Bushwacker Luke and Santino Marella.)
11 Randy Orton
The Legend Killer always makes an impact in the Royal Rumble, but he would only take part in this match if it was made obvious that Brock Lesnar did not want another match with him instead.
Much like John Cena, Randy Orton is often a part of the WWE Championship picture instead of the Rumble match so it would be odd seeing The Viper come out after being drawn as a number, but this would be a great way for him to pick up a new rivalry heading into the height of WrestleMania season. Orton has reached the point where he no longer needs big victories and can help get the younger talent over. In the Rumble, Orton could find himself eliminated by an up-and-coming Superstar.
10 Luke Gallows
The other member of The Club and widely considered to be the most dangerous, Luke Gallows is a big man who moves like someone much smaller. He has been in WWE before as Festus and knows exactly how the company works, which makes him much smarter than many of the other stars currently on the roster.
Out of the two members of The Club, Anderson is more likely to be pushed forward so I believe that he could be the one to eliminate Gallows to set up a decent WrestleMania worthy feud going forward. Perhaps the hardcore wrestling community will appreciate a feud between Bullet Club member more than the casual community but it would remain an entertain rivalry between former friends.
9 Kurt Angle
It would be a shock to see the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist approaching a WWE ring to a chorus of 'You Suck' once again, but it would also definitely be something WWE would allow.
Even though the Wrestling Machine has just completed his Farewell Tour, that doesn't mean that if WWE finally agreed to the terms of his contract then he wouldn't return to the place where he found fame. Angle was one of the biggest stars in the company over a decade ago and he could easily come back to WWE to help put over more stars like many other past generation stars have recently. Obviously Angle would not win the Rumble but his presence alone would make this match feel all the more special.
Rhyno returned to WWE a few months ago as part of their NXT brand and has managed to make such a huge impact that WWE brought him up to the main roster as part of the WWE Draft and placed him on the SmackDown brand.
He has recently been teamed up with Heath Slater and the two are currently odds-on favourites to win the Tag Team Championships at Backlash, but that doesn't mean that Rhyno isn't looking for solo accomplishments as well and the Rumble would be the perfect place. Rhyno could enter the ring and Gore everybody in sight. This would be to the delight of the fans who would pop each and every time a Gore was delivered.
7 Enzo Amore
Enzo Amore has been a huge hit with the WWE Universe since his debut on the main roster a few months ago. He is widely considered to be one of the best talkers on the Raw roster currently, but the Royal Rumble would be a fantastic place to prove that his wrestling ability is just as strong as his promo ability.
If Big Cass is still in the match when Enzo arrives then it would also be a great place for WWE to tease a bit of a break up between the two stars as a way to allow Cass to go solo. Enzo would work as the face Superstar and if Cass is heading for a big push then it would make sense for him to be the one to eliminate Enzo. Fans would hate the idea of Enzo's feet hitting the floor but such is the Rumble match.
6 Finn Balor
The Demon was forced out of action the night after SummerSlam a few weeks ago when it was announced that he would require surgery following a tear of his Labrum in his arm. This has been determined to leave him on the shelf for up to six months, but if he is cleared in time then this would be a perfect way for him to get the title back that he never lost.
If Kevin Owens is still Champion and Finn Balor manages to win the Royal Rumble then that would set up a rematch that both men had at Beast in the East last year when Finn walked out with the NXT Championship. If WWE are truly looking for a New Era WrestleMania main event then Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor would be the way to to achieve this.
5 Zack Ryder
Following his Intercontinental Championship win at WrestleMania earlier this year, Zack Ryder has continued to grow in WWE and has more recently found his form alongside his Hype Bros tag team partner Mojo Rawley. The duo was formed down in NXT and have since bene placed together on the main roster as members of the SmackDown brand.
Despite his tag team success, it seems likely that WWE will place Zack in the match again next year as a filler entrant towards the end of the Rumble as they look set to reveal their final few stars. It is highly unlikely that Zack will win the Rumble but he would still be a great addition to the match. Why not? The fans remain kind of behind Ryder, so WWE will likely toss him into this match for a few minutes.
4 The Miz
The Intercontinental Champion has been in WWE for a long time now but a Royal Rumble win is something that he has always been denied. Shockingly though The Miz has already bene in the main event of WrestleMania without the Rumble win and has proved that he can fight it out with the best that WWE has to offer.
His new gimmick has to be one of the best he has been given and he seems to be having a lot of fun with it. It will be interesting to see how long WWE allows Miz to keep his Intercontinental Championship and what role this will allow him to have at WrestleMania. The Miz winning the Rumble match would be an unexpected twist that WWE may want to consider.
3 Bobby Roode
The Glorious NXT Superstar has become an internet sensation following his debut at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II and it seems that is only a sign of things to come for the former TNA Superstar. It has taken some time but Roode has finally found his way to WWE through the NXT brand and should eventually debut on the main roster.
Bobby Roode would be the second NXT addition to the Royal Rumble and at number twenty-eight he would be expected to be one of the final stars in the match and even have a shot at winning it. Roode is a seasoned star so he wouldn't need as long in NXT as many other stars have so a call-up to the main roster should now be imminent. Once his theme music hit, the crowd will erupt.
Neville is billed as 'The Man that Gravity Forgot' so it would make sense to have him in the Royal Rumble match. There would be things in this match that only Neville could do and as the twenty-ninth entrant, he could become a sensation all by himself. Neville would never be considered a favourite to win the Rumble but his inclusion would provide a slight spark of excitement.
Much like Kofi Kingston, many fans would expect Neville to go to certain lengths to ensure he isn't eliminated from the match and he definitely has the ability to do so. He needs to be added to the match for this to happen and despite the fact that he isn't odds on favourite to win, fans would still like him to be a part of the match. If only for one high spot, placing Neville in the Rumble would
1 Hideo Itami
Hideo Itami was one of the hottest stars in NXT when he was signed by the company back in 2014 but a shoulder injury put him on the sidelines for over a year and took the shine away from what could have been an incredible debut year. However, Itami is back and looking to regain that shine.
Itami returned at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II and looks set to pick up where he left. This could include a long overdue call-up to the main roster where he could be the final addition to an incredible Royal Rumble match. Itami has already participated in a Rumble-style main roster match as a participant in the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and would love to see Itami in the Rumble match.
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