This year’s lineup is stacked! The 2017 Royal Rumble match itself features major contenders such as Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, Big Show, Braun Strowman and many more Superstars.
Raw and SmackDown Live’s major championships will also be up for grabs – Kevin Owens will face off with Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship, plus AJ Styles will take on John Cena for the WWE World Championship. WWE’s other major championships will be up for grabs during an evening that will definitely be unforgettable.
One of the funnest things for pro wrestling fans to do is speculate about which stars will return or debut in WWE’s biggest and often most entertaining match of the year. This year is no different as the 2017 Royal Rumble match is primed to feature a shocking comeback or a memorable debut or two, much like last year’s did.
After all, a surprise Royal Rumble appearance could be the catalyst for a main event run, like it was for Styles, or a main event spot at the highest grossing and most attended WrestleMania in history, like it was for Triple H.
Will we see a returning marquee star win the Rumble like John Cena did in 2008 or Triple H did last year? Could we see a surprising debut like we saw with AJ Styles in 2016? You bet we will.
Back in November, he indicated on Twitter that he could return to WWE in four to six months, but it’s unclear whether he meant another half a year or that he’d be able to return four to six months after his surgery date:
For the record. I will make moves to return to @WWE when I am back to 110% physically. Anywhere from 4 to 6 months by my doc calculation.
— Shelton J. Benjamin (@Sheltyb803) November 22, 2016
That’s why things could get interesting because a four-to-six month time frame from early September would put him right on target for a Royal Rumble return. Will it happen? Perhaps not, but if WWE had interest in Benjamin as recently as last summer, the interest figures to still be there. It’s simply a matter of the dominoes falling the right way.
Benjamin recently took to Twitter to deny any rumors about a potential Royal Rumble return. But come on, this is pro wrestling, where that means little to nothing.
Since parting ways with TNA last year, Kurt Angle has hinted time and time again at a WWE return, and he even recently listed a number of WWE stars he’d like to wrestle.
Now that he has been announced as the headliner for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017, speculation about a return to the ring has grown to its highest level yet. However, questions remain about whether that is a legitimate possibility or not.
There are, after all, a number of issues that could prevent Angle from ever wrestling again, including his age and his health. But perhaps the desire among fans to see Angle return to action will ultimately override those concerns, much like it did for Goldberg and Lesnar, as WWE decides to do what’s “best for business.”
Angle is arguably the biggest available free agent who hasn’t recently wrestled for WWE, and of all the countless former WWE stars out there, there is no one who would make a more substantial impact than Angle would upon his return to the ring. He has revealed that he signed a contract that will take him through WrestleMania 33, opening up the possibility of an in-ring return during that span.
Like Benjamin, Angle has denied that he has any chance of competing in the Rumble, but if he was scheduled to be in it, would he really tell us? Of course not.
In a pro wrestling world where the line between truth and fiction is often blurred beyond distinction, there really is no way to tell whether Balor’s comments are meant to be a red herring or if they’re based in truth. Although Balor returning at The Royal Rumble would put him well ahead of the average recovery schedule, that’s happened plenty of times in the past (think John Cena) and can certainly happen again.
Balor figures to be back within the first few months of 2017, but at The Royal Rumble? Don’t count him out. PWInsider.com (h/t WrestleZone) reported last week that Balor “is slated to undergo medical testing this week that could clear him to return to the ring.”
In other words, we may see “The Demon King” make his triumphant return when the clock strikes one.
Here are five possible surprise entrants in the 2017 Royal Rumble match.
So let’s get into all the results and highlights that occurred during the 2017 Royal Rumble.