Predicting the Surprise Entrants of the 2022 WWE Royal Rumble Matches
The Royal Rumble is traditionally one of WWE's biggest, most exciting and highly anticipated pay-per-views of the year. Part of that is because of the surprises that occur throughout the broadcast, but primarily in the show's namesake matches.
The suspense ahead of each entrant into the Rumble match is already high, but when a surprise competitor steps through the curtain and the fans in the arena erupt, it makes for an unforgettable moment worth revisiting every year.
Which Superstars should fans expect to help make this year's event that much more memorable?
Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select recently reported that Raw commentator Corey Graves has been cleared to compete for the first time since 2012, when he was forced into retirement after suffering several concussions.
The news opens up the opportunity for the former NXT tag team champion to re-enter the squared circle and chase dreams that were taken from him prematurely, including an appearance in the annual 30-man over-the-top-rope extravaganza.
Graves was once considered one of the more promising NXT stars thanks to his unique look and ability to talk. The second aspect of his performance has done him well, as he has carved out a role as one of the voices of WWE over the past decade.
While it remains to be seen whether a Rumble entry would lead to a full-time return or just in-ring appearances here and there, the opportunity to jump back into the squared circle and remind fans that he was a wrestler long before he put on a headset has to be something Graves is eager to take.
How the fans react will be the bigger question. There is an entire generation who know him only as a commentator. How would they respond to the snarky color guy entering the fray to face off against the elite WWE Superstars?
Bayley suffered an ACL tear in July, and she has been sidelined ever since. During that time, the women's division has not been the same. Her in-ring performances are sorely missed, but even more, shows have been missing her sarcastic, witty, sometimes over-the-top personality.
That should change at the Royal Rumble when the three-time women's champion returns and instantly reinvigorates women's wrestling in WWE.
Bayley is one of the original Four Horsewomen of NXT and would elevate a SmackDown roster in desperate need of stars. She has a connection with fans, prior history with several competitors, including blue brand women's champion Charlotte Flair, and could slide right into any feud and make it better.
The question is whether she does it as a babyface or heel.
She was the latter when she left, but one would have to imagine the fans will be eager to have her back, presumably greeting her with a thunderous ovation when she steps out from behind the curtain for the first time in several months.
What she does and the women she targets in the match will establish what role WWE wants her to play on the Road to WrestleMania 38.
WALTER is one of the most dominant, destructive forces in WWE history.
The Austrian ruled over the NXT UK brand for 870 days, obliterating any opponent put before him. An intense, aggressive, unapologetically physical professional wrestler, he caves in opponents' chests with punishing chops and then puts them away with powerbombs or a top-rope splash.
WWE fans have gotten a brief taste of what WALTER is capable of before but never in his truest form.
The Ring General is the sort of competitor who could immediately step in, assume a main event role and, most importantly, be believable in it.
Whether WWE officials are willing to push him that strongly right out of the gate remains to be seen, but he is one of those rare stars whose presence alone captivates audiences.
Given the lack of depth on both the Raw and SmackDown rosters, it behooves WWE officials to take advantage of what he brings to the table and enter him into a men's Rumble match that could use all the star power it can get.
Asuka has not competed in a WWE ring since July's Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Her absence has certainly been felt.
The Empress of Tomorrow brought consistency to the women's division, even when she was not afforded the same by the creative team. Regardless of the role she was playing, fans and management alike could expect a good-to-great match out of the three-time women's champion.
Look no further than her run as women's champion from 2020-21, during which she became the centerpiece of women's wrestling in the absence of Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, carrying the Raw brand's division on her back.
She became lost in the shuffle following her loss to Rhea Ripley at last year's WrestleMania, but a reinvigorated Asuka, with a crowd excited to see her back, should spark a push that puts her right back into contention for either the Raw or SmackDown women's title.
If WWE still intends to run with Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania in April, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for The Beast Incarnate to drop the WWE title to Bobby Lashley early on in the Royal Rumble show and then enter and win the men's match in the night's main event.
Maybe Reigns even costs Lesnar the title, putting the former MMA star in a position where he's not only looking for revenge but also to take the universal title from The Head of the Table on wrestling's grandest stage.
The Beast winning the men's match may not be the most appealing option for fans who would like to see the unexpected or a fresh face cement their status as a top dog entering WrestleMania season, but it does get us to the contest WWE seems intent on pushing as the main event of this year's Showcase of the Immortals.
And after a title defense early on, Lesnar would be one star fans presumably would not expect to see in the event's titular match.