6 WWE Stars Who Would Become a Household Name by Winning a Royal Rumble
A year ago, WWE used the Royal Rumble to shove Drew McIntyre into the spotlight during an instant classic of a match.
The Scot went on to dethrone Brock Lesnar and serve as one of the most memorable singles champions of the modern era, all while thriving during the audience-less pandemic era.
The 2021 Royal Rumble could serve a similar purpose.
While it's easy to think the returning Edge, a surprise return of Lesnar or a dominant showing by a well-known Superstar like Charlotte Flair could end up winning their respective Rumble matches, it could be an underdog stealing the show again too.
Given how successful McIntyre's boost from a regular mid-carder to a main eventer who won't fall back into the muck again was last year, Sunday's Rumble could do the same to breathe new life into the next year of WWE programming.
These are the Superstars who could become household names to the broader WrestleMania audience with an unexpected win.
The favorite to win the women's Royal Rumble last year came up just short, but 2021 feels like the right time.
Shayna Baszler has been in a midcard purgatory of sorts, trading wins with the likes of Dana Brooke while working some tag matches, too. But it wasn't too long ago that she had the look of the next big thing for the women's roster before some odd character decisions and booking seemed to hold her back.
However, hardcore WWE fans know just how dangerous The Queen of Spades can be.
If Baszler gets hot at the right time and runs roughshod over others in the women's Rumble match, it could go down as one of the most impressive performances of the modern era and catapult her to a serious solo push that features her sparring with the company's top names.
Bianca Belair has been riding a slow burn of a push in her budding feud with Bayley on SmackDown.
It's a huge platform for The EST of WWE and almost feels like a launching pad to something so much bigger at the Royal Rumble. After all, Bayley helped carry WWE programming outright during the pandemic era as one of the larger surprises of the stretch.
That's something the uber-talented Belair could do if given the chance. The women's Rumble match is the perfect platform for her to show off in a big way for a large audience before becoming a regular staple of the main event scene.
While a little predictable at this point, there's nothing wrong with a feel-good story that cements a deserving star's status as a permanent contender.
Jey Uso has enjoyed a fun run as a singles star this year, but there is a big difference between impressing casual SmackDown viewers and winning a Royal Rumble before going on to main-event WrestleMania.
He was an incredible foe for the heel Roman Reigns and could be so again on a much bigger stage if he can pull off the upset win on Sunday. Maybe that's with help, maybe not, but the storyline possibilities are hard to ignore.
While it would be a slight rehash, the family feud going to the main event of The Show of Shows would be a reward of sorts for Uso while cementing him as a main event player. If WWE wants to hold off on a Reigns-Lesnar feud or something similar, this is the way to go.
Think of the possibilities such as Reigns helping his cousin win, thinking he'll challenge the Raw champion and not him—and then Uso challenges him anyway.
It will take some creativity and might be a rehash for some fans, but the emotional classics these two served up recently are perfect for a bigger stage.
Mustafa Ali would be one of the bigger underdog winners in recent Royal Rumble history, which is part of what makes the idea so appealing.
The fact that WWE has worked hard to implement long-term storylines into his spot seems to suggest quite a bit.
Ali recently declared himself for the men's Rumble match in place of the injured Kofi Kingston, citing a 2019 series of events in which The New Day star replaced him in an Elimination Chamber match and went on to have a lengthy run as a top guy and WWE champion.
While that's a great way to build the feud between The New Day and Retribution, the solo-minded angle and setup sure makes for an interesting story if Ali can secure himself some, er, retribution by winning the men's Rumble match.
Hardcore fans know what Ali is capable of in the ring and on the mic, so it would be interesting to see him on an even bigger platform.
Keith Lee had an unforgettable role in the men's Rumble match last year, in large part thanks to Lesnar.
When The Limitless One made his long-awaited appearance, it was The Beast Incarnate's shock of his appearance and abilities that really sold things. That Rumble match was earmarked to elevate McIntyre, but Lee almost stole the show.
Maybe 2021 is the Royal Rumble reserved for the former NXT star's ascension.
Lee recently had a title loss against McIntyre but has otherwise floated around in mostly solo competition. As the 2020 Rumble showed, his blend of size and athleticism will shock the broader WWE fanbase and make him an instant star.
And if the company wants to pull another McIntyre while facing another year of the unknown, Lee is one of the best guys to choose.
WWE fans have had a soft spot for Big E for years.
The "I need five" gimmick in NXT, the AJ Lee-Daniel Bryan years all the way to the formation of The New Day have kept him in the hearts and minds of fans, even if the obvious main event potential was never realized via booking.
Big E is currently the intercontinental champion, though even holding a lesser title hasn't yet established him as someone who could be a credible threat in the ring with a Lesnar-type.
But the Royal Rumble has a way of changing those sorts of things.
The men's match would be a good way to show a larger fanbase just how huge and athletic he is compared to other Superstars on the roster. It's also a good storyline way for him to gun for a Paul Heyman client who isn't Apollo Crews: Roman Reigns.
If WWE wants to establish a McIntyre of the SmackDown brand this year, Big E would seemingly be the way to go.