The WWE Royal Rumble is the kickoff point for WrestleMania season. Even though 2021 is still marred by the COVID-19 pandemic that has left fans mostly absent from wrestling events, there is still excitement around what will happen during both the men’s and women’s rumbles this year. Looking forward to the major match, here are five things that must go down to build intrigue into the angles that lead into WrestleMania.
The Women’s Rumble Must Build A New Star
The women’s rumble has an opportunity in 2021 to elevate a new name to the top of the women’s roster. Yes, the WWE has a super-deep women’s division across all three brands, one that cannot really be touched name-for-name by other promotions. Unfortunately, that depth of talent does not translate well into how those ladies are utilized to build interesting feuds and showcase what they can do in the ring. Instead, the top storylines continue to be built around a few, select names leaving many others off the television. The Rumble must change that.
This is the year in which a woman not associated with the Four Horsewomen should win the match. Charlotte Flair and Bayley are two of the four members scheduled to be in the event and while they should have an impact on the outcome, they should not be the last ones left standing. Instead, there are names like Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, or even Io Shirai (if she were to lose the NXT championship) that could be elevated with a big win on January 31. A victory by someone that fans are not excited about immediately kills the momentum that is supposed to come with this time of year.
Call Up Number One: Damian Priest
One way or another, Damian Priest must make his main roster debuts either at Royal Rumble or immediately after.
The setup for the match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens leaves room to see Priest interfere in the match. Prior reports across wrestling media pointed out that Priest was scheduled to be called up and inserted into the main event storyline of SmackDown. That did not happen back then but would still work if he makes his presence felt during the Owens versus Reigns main event. His interference gives a route for another Roman victory, closing out the feud with Owens. While giving Owens another interesting feud going forward and elevating Priest high up the roster right from the start of his call up.
Call Up Number Two: Rhea Ripley
Rhea Ripley should also finally get her call up to the main roster. She was last seen losing the Last Woman Standing match to Raquel Gonzalez. Booking on NXT built her back up as the main event star on that brand, even though she was unable to regain the NXT championship. This is the perfect time to move her to Monday Night Raw which is in dire need of new talent in the women’s division.
Ripley should be the person to eliminate Charlotte Flair from the Rumble, furthering their angle that ended after WrestleMania in 2020. Even if she were not to win the title, putting her on the red brand creates the opportunity to insert her right into big angles and perhaps directly into the title picture against Asuka. Either way, Ripley must take part in the Rumble, signifying that she is left NXT and is joining the Raw roster.
The Men’s Rumble Needs A First-Time Winner
Heading into the 2021 Royal Rumble there’s no telling who is going to come out on top. WWE has done a good job of building momentum behind both Daniel Bryan and Cesaro in a way that makes it feel like either one of those two men can have a major career moment at the end of the night. Just like with the women’s rumble, if a person who has won past rumbles – such as Randy Orton – were to win again, that would immediately deflate the momentum heading into WrestleMania.
Fans want to be excited about wrestling in general and the Royal Rumble is an opportunity to help build that excitement. Giving the opportunity to someone new would be a boost that WWE needs at this time, as their content tends to disappoint more than not lately. Imagine the response if someone like Cesaro or a Mustafa Ali pulled out a victory in one of the most important annual events on the WWE calendar. 2021 is the time to give fans a moment like that.
Sasha Banks Has to Retain
At the Royal Rumble Carmella is getting her third shot at the SmackDown women’s title currently held by Sasha Banks. Everyone holds their breath whenever Banks has a title around her waist because it seems like WWE leadership likes to snatch the title off just as fast. She is 90 days into this run as champion, almost three times longer than she is held any other singles title on the main roster.
Everyone knows that Banks is a star, with crossover appeal that no other woman on the roster has currently. Does that mean Carmella will not get the victory at the Rumble, not? While Carmella is a strong character and worker, there is not an excitement around her current character such as that which comes with Banks. There is a reason why she was apart of some of the highest rated television segments during the COVID-Era of wrestling. At some point, she is going to drop that title – hopefully, it will be to Bianca Belair at WrestleMania. Either way, she needs to walk out of the Royal Rumble with the belt still around her waist.