Given the nature of the stipulations, a heel wrestler is better suited to holding the MITB briefcase as WWE writers can book them to cash in their contract when a babyface champion is not at their physical best. Likewise, faces make better Royal Rumble winners as it does not just make for a great moment for a likable personality to beat 29 of the best wrestlers to emerge victor, for it also means they would challenge world title holders when they are the most ready.
In this article, we will look at five heels who should lift the MITB briefcase and five faces who should win a Royal Rumble match.
10 MITB: Rhea Ripley
Rhea Ripley has gotten off to a perfect start to her NXT career and she carries a unique aura that is certain to push her to main-event status sooner rather than later. However, given her personality, it is unlikely that she will be a face. She will most likely be a tweener and WWE has not had a tweener MITB winner in a long time.
Whether she would cash in her contract on a tired or beaten up champion or take the John Cena or Braun Strowman route of having a scheduled match is a story in itself. WWE has not had a surprise MITB winner in a long time, so making her win the ladder match would take the fans back to when booking decisions were not predictable.
9 Royal Rumble: Aleister Black
Few wrestlers have been able to pull off characters with some mystique in the age of social media. Aleister Black, however, managed to do just that when he was in NXT. When he held the microphone, there was pin-drop silence at the Full Sail University.
On the main roster, however, he has lost all his aura and his videos on WWE’s YouTube channel are generally among the least watched these days. However, a wrestler of his calibre needs just one big moment to regain his aura, like winning the Royal Rumble match. Imagine his going up against The Fiend for the Universal Championship!
8 MITB: Adam Cole
It takes a lot of talent to be booed by the fans when you are an indie darling. However, Adam Cole has been able to do just that by being an arrogant, hateable figure on the screen, along with his The Undisputed Era brothers.
While last-man standings and hell in a cell matches are tailor-made to put underdogs over, an MITB match win is what you give someone like the current NXT Champion to make him even more “booable.” Having won everything there is to win in NXT, his move to SmackDown or Raw is now only a matter of time, and there are few better ways than booking him to win the MITB on his debut.
7 Royal Rumble: Johnny Gargano
Few moments in wrestling can make the fans feel as good as when a visibly exhausted underdog throws the last wrestler over the top rope. Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio and Chris Benoit are fine examples of a babyface underdog defying the odds to earn a world championship opportunity.
In recent years, however, WWE has only had heavyweights like Randy Orton, Roman Reigns and Batista win the 30-man match. It is about time it handed the fans feel-good moment by handing someone like Johnny Gargano a Royal Rumble match win. Entering him early and making him eliminate someone slightly hateable yet talented like Seth Rollins, who, on paper, would be a favorite, would make the fans go bananas.
6 MITB: Ruby Riott
If you have a unique look, can go in the ring and cut a mean promo, you are certain to make it big in WWE, unless you are Ruby Riott. She joined WWE in 2016 having wrestled all over the world, but is yet to win a title in WWE.
She has not been seen in a WWE ring in over six months because of multiple surgeries but, once she returns, WWE must absolutely go all in on her, especially given that taking some off boost wrestlers’ stocks. Having her throw Liv Morgan off the ladder to win the MITB contract could be the start of the best runs in women’s wrestling in WWE.
5 Royal Rumble: The Fiend
Few NXT wrestlers have gone on to achieve greatness on the main roster. Part of the lack of success is down to their lack of charisma or inability to cut a promo. The list of outlier - Elias, Enzo Amore and Becky Lynch - is small. Joining the list soon would be former NXT Tag Team Champion and one-half of Street Profits: Montez Ford. Indeed, he is the best on the microphone or in the ring, but he has the right mix that will see him achieving greatness.
How often have we seen NXT call-ups have their first main-roster match involving former WWE Champion AJ Styles and former Universal Champion Kevin Owens? He’s primed for greatness and, if he keeps up, it’s only a matter of time before he points at the WrestleMania sign to close the Royal Rumble show.
4 MITB: Tommaso Ciampa
In Tommaso Ciampa, WWE has a wrestler who can not just wrestle but also portray a character. He has already underlined his character work given his fixation on what he fondly calls Goldie: the NXT Championship. Seeing him romanticize the MITB briefcase and terrorize the title holders would make for some top-tier TV.
In addition, his character could also tease fans as one would not be able to guess if he would cash in the contract when the champion is down or challenge him for a match at a pay-per-view. Cowardly heels holding the MITB briefcase is a tired story already; the fans deserve watching someone like the Black Heart holding it for a change.
3 Royal Rumble: Mustafa Ali
Mustafa Ali could become a “what could have been” story in the future. The wrestler himself said on YouTube channel FBE that he was supposed to be in Kofi Kingston’s place in the Elimination Chamber match that ultimately led to KofiMania. However, the takeaway from his statement is that the WWE machine is behind him.
If he can prove his injury is a one-off, there is an opportunity to prove himself. Given his mettle, he would definitely grab it. It must lead to a Royal Rumble match win for him that would highlight the evolution not just WWE but the pro-wrestling as an industry by and large has undergone.
2 MITB: Sonya Deville
MITB matches can make stars. WWE has not been using it to its fullest potential given that the recent winner is Brock Lesnar. However, with WWE now under pressure to impress the Internet fans who, despite being a minority. Have the ability to boost AEW’s stock.
This could force WWE to hand a fan favorite major wins and there is no better candidate for an MITB win in the women’s division than Sonya Deville. She’s a role model and has proved one can master the art if they have the, forgive the pun, desire. She looks like a star, acts a star, has the potential to be a star and all she now needs is a big moment to actually become one.
1 Royal Rumble: The Fiend
Here’s yet another tweener! In fact, he does not come under any bracket. He is a tier of his own, character-wise and kayfabe-wise. When he stood up right after a curb stomp, the fans knew WWE sees a star in him. He is now the Universal Champion and it remains to be seen who dethrones him considering that he has been booked like no one else has ever been, including Reddit’s favorite ‘98 Kane.
WWE could go one step further by making him not just eliminate 11 men in a Royal Rumble match like The Big Red Machine did in 2001 but also win the whole thing. Having The Fiend end the show as the winner of the 30-man match has the potential to be a historic moment.