Surprises We Want to See at the 2023 WWE Royal Rumble

Erik BeastonDecember 12, 2022

Surprises We Want to See at the 2023 WWE Royal Rumble

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    Could Sasha Banks make a return to WWE despite rumors of taking her career elsewhere?
    Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

    The 2023 Royal Rumble is on the horizon and as such, speculation among WWE fans will ramp up regarding potential surprises in store for the first premium live event of the new year on Jan. 28.

    Which current Superstars will create buzz with their first appearances in months? What legendary figures can fans expect to see walk the aisle one more time?

    How will all of it impact WrestleMania 39 and the build to that monumental extravaganza in Los Angeles?

    Let's take an early look.

4. Charlotte Flair

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    The Queen has not been seen on television since her WrestleMania Backlash loss to Ronda Rousey, who relieved her of the SmackDown Women's Championship on May 8.

    It feels rather unlikely that Flair will miss her second WrestleMania in three years and not be a part of one of the biggest incarnations of the annual extravaganza ever when the show takes to SoFi Stadium in April.

    Flair returning to the Rumble would be great in that fans despise her and there would be no better way to drum up drama for the 30-woman titular match than by having Flair tease winning it for the second time.

    The question then becomes what does she do at WrestleMania?

    A rematch with Rousey is unlikely since The Baddest Woman on the Planet is now a heel, so look for Flair to challenge Bianca Belair for the Raw Women's Championship.

    The EST has already made a point of expressing her desire to beat all of the Four Horsewomen and is one win against the second-generation competitor away from accomplishing that goal.

3. Cody Rhodes

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    Cody Rhodes was at the center in one of the great moments in 2022: a return at WrestleMania that everyone expected but still went absolutely bonkers for.

    His subsequent matches with Seth Rollins were among the best of the year. His performance inside Hell in a Cell, his pec blackened following a tear while working out in preparation for the match, is one of the gutsiest you will ever see.

    Like WrestleMania, most expect Rhodes to return to the ring at the Royal Rumble, arriving as an unannounced surprise entry and delivering another magical moment in this WWE run.

    Still, despite expectations, it is a moment that will dominate social media discussion and create further buzz about the WWE product entering its most important stretch.

    Furthermore, depending on what the plans actually are for WrestleMania 39, it could plant the seeds for The American Nightmare vs. Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

    All the more reason fans are champing at the bit to see the "grandson of a plumber" back in the squared circle.

2. Sasha Banks and/or Naomi

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    So much has been made of Sasha Banks and her status with WWE that it is has become far too easy to forget that fellow former world champion Naomi also left with The Boss amid backstage frustration over the creative directions of their characters.

    Banks is the bigger star, thanks to her ventures in pop culture away from WWE, and is one-quarter of the famed Four Horsewomen of NXT, so she is always going to steal headlines. She is one of the most influential women in wrestling over the last 20 years, not to mention one of the best in-ring workers, so fans are destined to gravitate to her.

    Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio reported that Banks is done with WWE amid reports of her appearance at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's WrestleKingdom, but we have seen this play out before, where rumors are leaked to create misdirection and strengthen the surprise.

    Who knows if that is what is going on here, but even if it is not and Banks really is finished with the company, Naomi would be a fantastic surprise.

    She may not have the star power of Banks, but Naomi has an impenetrable connection with fans. It is what helped fuel the storyline with Sonya Deville in 2021, her championship chase in 2017 and everything before and after.

    The audience appreciates her effort and the fact that she is the genuine deal. What you see on television is an extension of the woman behind the glow. Her return in the Rumble would be one of the biggest moments on the show and generate one of the loudest reactions of the night, apropos for someone deserving of far more flowers than she has been privy to in her career.

1. The Rock

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    It was almost eight years ago that The Rock made his way to the ring to stand side-by-side with Roman Reigns as the Philadelphia faithful booed The Big Dog out of the ring, rejecting the idea of a Superman-like push that would culminate with his ascension to the top of the business.

    Fast forward and Reigns is the undeniable Tribal Chief, the top star in professional wrestling after finding himself in a heel persona that has captivated fans for over two years. He has defeated every major star that there is, with the exception of one. The one star that would cement his status as The Head of the Table.

    The only star in his own family bigger than him.

    The Rock.

    Rumors have persisted for years that that game plan is and always has been to do Rock vs. Reigns at WrestleMania, but timing and The Great One's film schedule have always been problematic.

    There is no better time to finally bring that match to fruition and ensure the WrestleMania in Los Angeles is the biggest show it can possibly be.

    It starts with the monumental surprise of The Rock entering the Rumble unannounced, eliminating a big, badass heel and cashing his ticket to a showdown with Reigns on the grandest stage of them all.