The annual WWE Royal Rumble is set to take place on Saturday night. Every year, this premium live event marks the start of the road to WrestleMania. The winner of the Royal Rumble 2023 will earn the opportunity to challenge for the championship of his choosing at the biggest event in sports entertainment. In addition to the high stakes, the element of surprise is another component that makes the Royal Rumble one of the most exciting WWE events on an annual basis.
Coming into this year’s WWE Royal Rumble, the booking picture is perhaps cloudier than ever. Roman Reigns continues to sit atop the mountain as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. However, the belts will have to be split eventually. Could the results of the Royal Rumble 2023 pave the way for this to happen? Perhaps it will even be a surprise participant who has a hand in ending The Bloodline’s historic run of dominance!
The following looks at five potential surprise entrants for the WWE Royal Rumble 2023. Needless to say, the roof may blow right off the Alamodome if any of these superstars’ entrance music hits over the course of the evening.
5 Possible Surprise WWE Royal Rumble Entrants 2023
The last time Pat McAfee appeared in a WWE ring was at SummerSlam when he defeated Baron Corbin. After returning to his commentary role alongside Michael Cole on Friday Night SmackDown for several months, McAfee stepped away from the WWE in order to cover the college football season at ESPN. Well, college football is now in the rearview mirror, which makes the Royal Rumble the perfect time for McAfee to return to the WWE.
Given his draw, one has to believe that McAfee will be involved somehow at WrestleMania. What better event than the Royal Rumble 2023 for a storyline to begin taking shape? Knowing that Corbin has already declared for the rumble adds another intriguing element. Imagine the fit JBL will throw at ringside if McAfee is the one to eliminate “The Modern Day Wrestling God”!
Matt Cardona is currently signed by both Impact Wrestling and NWA. Ever since being released from the WWE as part of the company’s budget cuts in 20220, Cardona has enjoyed a great deal of success in other promotions. He has captured championship gold in multiple disciplines, a far cry from his previous stint with WWE in which he was largely viewed as a joke and afterthought.
While it may not be anything more than a one-off appearance at Royal Rumble 2023, there’s good reason to believe that Cardona will be a surprise entrant on Saturday night. For starters, he has repeatedly teased a WWE return and Royal Rumble appearance on social media. Cardona also recently applied to trademark his former WWE ring name, “Zack Ryder”. Woo, woo woo on that!
The last we saw of Edge, both he and his wife, Beth Phoenix, were at the mercy of The Judgement Day. Edge lost his “I Quit” match against Finn Balor at Extreme Rules. Of course, Rhea Ripley didn’t quit her attack on Phoenix even after the WWE Hall of Famer uttered the words of defeat. Extreme Rules was nearly four months ago at this point. With the road to WrestleMania looming, it’s high time that Edge gets back in the picture.
As far as storylines, Edge’s unfinished business with The Judgement Day, the faction that he created at WrestleMania last year, is an easy place to start. Although no members of the group have yet to officially enter into the Royal Rumble, none of them have yet to be booked for an alternative match at the event. Edge will likely have the opportunity to eliminate Balor and/or Damian Priest in his return to action.
According to reports, Logan Paul suffered a minor injury in his title match against Roman Reigns at WWE Crown Jewel last fall. Now, the legitimacy of these claims can be questioned. Regardless of whether Paul was truly sidelined or the injury was an excuse to remove him from immediate booking, it’s been a few months since he was last in the ring. Paul will no doubt be on the card at WrestleMania, so the Royal Rumble would be a great place for him to make a surprise return.
Now, the author of this article could care less whether or not Paul shows up at the Royal Rumble 2023 or in the WWE ever again for that matter. However, his presence could be made more interesting if the company does a better job of booking him in the lead-up to WrestleMania. Babyface Logan is nauseating, but taking on the role of an outsider heel type could be a bit more compelling.
Booker T hasn’t competed in the Royal Rumble, let alone a WWE match, since 2012. However, the current NXT commentator is still in competition shape, evidenced by the fact that he made an in-ring appearance for his own Reality of Wrestling promotion just last year. The fact that the Royal Rumble 2023 takes place in his home state of Texas would seem to only increase the likelihood that Booker T is a surprise entrant.
For the past few years, Booker T has been a commentator on the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show. He has already confirmed that he will be in San Antonio for this weekend’s event. Whether his presence is once again limited to being a commentator remains to be seen. The WWE Hall of Famer has publicly stated that he has continued to uphold his training regimens and stay prepared should he receive an invitation to enter the Royal Rumble Match.