As the Royal Rumble season approaches, speculation about WWE’s surprises grows. Fans always look forward to WWE’s Royal Rumble PPV because both the men’s and women’s matches always have a surprise twist. Since the Women’s Royal Rumble ended in 2018, there have been a few years of surprise entrants that can now be rated. These are the 10 best surprise entrants in the history of the women’s Royal Rumble.
10. Kacy Catanzaro – 2019
Even though she has a different name in NXT and is one half of the longest-reigning NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions with Kayden Carter, Kacy Catanzaro will make a surprise entrance at the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble. Catanzaro, Kairi Sane, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Chelsea Green, and Rhea Ripley were among the NXT entrants who dominated that year’s Rumble. Kacy’s only Royal Rumble appearance impressed fans with her acrobatics.
9. Ronda Rousey – 2022
Ronda Rousey’s WWE comeback was at the 2022 Royal Rumble. Since she was miscast as a babyface and didn’t perform well this year, fans have turned against her. After 2021’s Thunderdome show, this would be the Rumble’s first fan-facing appearance since January 2020. The Baddest Woman on Earth started the match at 28 and won with four eliminations. While Rousey’s return was polarizing, it helped kickstart WWE’s year.
8. Michelle McCool – 2022
In 2018, Michelle McCool competed in the first Women’s Royal Rumble. A few years later, she would outdo herself again. Michelle McCool showed she still has it at the 2022 Women’s Rumble. McCool had the longest run of any unsigned talent or WWE legend in the match, tossing out Dana Brooke before being eliminated by Mickie James, the then-Knockouts Champion.
7. Beth Phoenix – 2020
Since her first retirement, Beth Phoenix has wrestled a few one-off matches for WWE, but fans want a proper farewell. The Glamazon’s 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble appearance gave fans hope of a final run on the main roster, but it has yet to happen. Beth Phoenix entered the Rumble 19th. Fans were surprised that she lasted almost 30 minutes and beat her Diva of Doom teammate Natalya before being eliminated by Shayna Baszler, who beat eight people before losing to Charlotte Flair.
6. Ivory – 2022
Many fans were disappointed that the 2022 Royal Rumble didn’t feature any NXT surprise entrants, but it was packed with WWE Legends. After a great return at WWE Evolution a few years prior and returning to the ring, Ivory was invited to the 2022 Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant. In a comedy cameo, Ivory would play her Right to Censor character. She was quickly eliminated by Rhea Ripley.
5. Melina – 2022
Melina would return to WWE for the first time in 11 years. She was thrown out after 53 seconds by Sasha Banks. “The Queen of Splitville” hinted at a WWE return in 2023, and I hope she does because she can still go in the ring and elevate new stars and show everyone who didn’t watch her in WWE what she’s capable of.
4. Victoria – 2021
Even though the WWE Thunderdome has issues, the company would do well with the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble. Bianca Belair won the match, which entertained fans as she tore down the house. The biggest surprise was women’s wrestling. Fans were excited to see Victoria back in a WWE ring after so long, but she would retire from in-ring action shortly after the PPV.
3. Mickie James – 2022
Mickie James’ 2022 Royal Rumble entrance was one of the biggest surprises in women’s professional wrestling. WWE surprised fans when they said that Mickie James, the champion of Impact Wrestling Knockouts, would join the match during SmackDown. At the PPV, James would wear the Knockouts Championship and enter the ring to Impact’s “Hardcore Country” instead of WWE’s. James lasted almost 12 minutes before Lita eliminated her.
2. Rhea Ripley – 2021
In 2021, another NXT Women’s Superstar will follow Bianca Belair’s incredible run in the 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble Match. In January 2021, Rhea Ripley shocked the Royal Rumble. She entered 14th and played just under 40 minutes. Ripley stole the show with a gutsy 39:06 performance that helped her build her main roster fanbase, as she had done in previous Royal Rumble matches. She and Bianca Belair were the final two, with Belair winning and heading to WrestleMania 37 to face Sasha Banks. Rhea Ripley could make it up to Bianca if she won the Royal Rumble Match in 2023 and challenged her for Belair.
1. Bianca Belair – 2020
Bianca Belair surprised everyone in WWE by lasting more than 33:20 and becoming the match’s “iron woman.” In her first Royal Rumble match, Belair eliminated Alexa Bliss, Mighty Molly, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville. Charlotte Flair eliminated Belair’s Royal Rumble hopes after 33 minutes. Flair won and challenged Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 36. The following year, Belair won the Royal Rumble and headlined WrestleMania 37 as the Iron Woman, lasting over an hour and winning from the #3 spot.