Part of the appeal of Royal Rumble matches is the surprise entrants. Unlike the men’s match, the 2023 edition of the Women’s Rumble had many of these, with fewer than 20 wrestlers announced in advance.
The first unheralded wrestler wasn’t much of a surprise, and Hit Row’s b-fab didn’t last long after placing seventh. We didn’t have to wait a second, but the eighth competitor – NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez – didn’t get a chance to do much more before Damage CTRL sent her over the top rope.
Natalya has been on the road for nose/sinus surgeries since the beginning of November. But when she entered at number 11, she walked right behind the person who broke his nose in the storyline. However, Nattie was unsuccessful in eliminating Shayna Baszler and she was added to Bayley & Company’s elimination count shortly thereafter.
Zoey Stark, another NXT name reportedly flown in for the match, walked in at 11am.
The biggest pop (definitely mine, but I think it’s also fair to say from the Alamodome crowd) came for 2018 Rumble winner Asuka. We haven’t seen her since December, and the last time we saw her she was teasing her old “murder clown” gimmick from Japan. The former Kana came back with the facial pain and made a huge impact on the match. Stay in the last three and tell the difference between winner and runner-up (more here).
The former Doudrop returned after a lack of time with health problems and got her old name back in the process.
After entering at 18, Piper Niven quickly had a duel and teamed up with the unannounced 19th contestant, Tamina.
Both women performed better than the next surprise at 20. Chelsea Green’s return to WWE was record-breaking after Rhea Ripley eliminated her in five seconds.
Earlier in the night we spotted Michelle McCool sitting ringside. She was still there when her music started, and Undertaker’s better half jumped over the barricade in their Uggs to do some work on number 25.
Next came another NXT star, Indi Hartwell turning 26. The unannounced Shotzi was given number 28, but none was as big (literally or surprisingly) as the last contestant – Nia Jax returned after her release in November 2021.
She took a Riptide and then had every wrestler on the ring team come together to knock her out.
Find out all about every Royal Rumble surprise on our live blog here.