As a service to fans who have a general interest in WWE but might not have watched a match in months, we're happy to provide this FAQ as a guide to Royal Rumble 2023, scheduled for the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday.
Who's going to win the men's Royal Rumble?
We don't know! Isn't that incredible? WWE, this paragon of predictability, has become decidedly unpredictable in the past several weeks. We don't know who will win the Rumble to take on Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. We don't know whether Reigns will still have both titles by then or whether his dominant faction, The Bloodline, will remain intact.
It goes beyond the mat too. Heck, until this month, we didn't even know Vince McMahon was returning as WWE chairman. We haven't seen something this tumultuous since RETRIBUTION took over the production truck on RAW. It's been that chaotic!
Question withdrawn and restated: Who could win the men's Royal Rumble?
As a reminder: The Royal Rumble is a 30-participant match in which new wrestlers join the fray every 90 seconds. Wrestlers are eliminated by being thrown over the top rope and with both feet hitting the floor. Yes, you're out even if you botch your spot, Kofi Kingston.
As of Monday, there were 15 entrants announced for the 30-man Rumble match: Austin Theory, Baron (or Happy or King or whatever) Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman (Yup, he's back!), Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre, Gunther, Karrion Kross, Kofi Kingston, Omos, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, Santos Escobar, Seth Rollins and Sheamus.
Look at those names. What a Rumble we have already. ("They've got more beef in there than a steakhouse in Laredo!" -- Jim Ross, probably).
The most notable one would be Rhodes, a guy we haven't seen since he defeated Rollins in Hell in a Cell with a bruise so large it looks as if someone had painted a map of Kazakhstan on his chest with grape jelly. He underwent surgery to repair a torn right pectoral tendon and will make his return in the Rumble. It should be said that, at offshore books, Cody is the betting favorite, and it's no secret why: His stated goal since returning to WWE was winning the world title that eluded father Dusty and brother Dustin. He also would be a fresh matchup for Reigns.
OK, based on that and their placement on the official poster for the Royal Rumble, which is a bit of a giveaway.
Are we expecting big surprises for the Rumble?
Again, our word of the day is "unpredictable." The surprises could be an NXT star or an injured wrestler returning. It could be something greater, like a free agent joining WWE like AJ Styles' memorable debut.
Or it could simply be The Great One.
Ever since WrestleMania was announced for SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, there has been speculation that Hollywood's own Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, would battle Reigns to determine the true "tribal chief" in one of the two main events. But he's not the only star in the rumor mill. There were multiple reports this week that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had been offered multiple matches at WrestleMania, including against Reigns -- and the Rumble is in Texas -- after his multiple appearances at last year's Mania stole the show. John Cena returned on the final SmackDown of 2022 for a tag team match and has been revealed as the "WWE 2K23" cover athlete.
Thinking of someone a little less nostalgia-driven: Could WWE darling Logan Paul earn a rematch with Reigns after a star-establishing battle with him at Crown Jewel? Sure, he suffered an injury during that match, but timelines and injuries in WWE are ... let's just say ... never certain. You'll notice the list of initial entrants didn't include the rest of The Bloodline -- Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa and "Honorary Uce" Sami Zayn. And they could end up being the story of the Rumble.
What's going on with The Bloodline?
Let's first reiterate that this storyline is the most compelling thing currently playing out in professional wrestling. Specifically, the drama over if and when Zayn will split with this Reigns-led faction, either because he chooses to reunite with frenemy Kevin Owens or because he gets excommunicated from the group.
On Monday, Zayn was put "on trial" as manager Paul Heyman presented evidence -- circumstantial and otherwise -- that Zayn was traitorous. He was saved from Sikoa's Samoan Spike by Jey Uso of all people, who presented counterevidence that Zayn was loyal to The Bloodline. That led Reigns to rule Zayn was "not guilty" before claiming that he had a "final test" at the Rumble.
Could that be in the match itself? Or could that be in the undisputed championship match between Reigns and Owens?
Does Owens have a shot at beating Reigns?
Unless this is the moment when Zayn turns on the Tribal Chief, we're guessing not. But Owens and Reigns have combined for a couple of really strong matches -- remember the 2017 Rumble when they fought with Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage? Even if the outcome might seem inevitable this close to WrestleMania, it'll be worth the time ... especially if it's the next chapter in the Zayn soap opera.
What about the women's championships?
Formerly the Harley Quinn to Bray Wyatt's Joker, Bliss started to move back to the realm of demonic dolls and vomitous black goo when Wyatt returned. Rather than Wyatt, the figure haunting this feud with Belair is the mysterious Uncle Howdy, a creature of dry ice and backlighting who recently appeared during an out-of-ring fight between Alexa and Bianca.
From the Dungeon of Doom to the Firefly FunHouse, wrestling has always had its goofy supernatural side. Lean into the cringe for this one. And for whatever it is Wyatt is up to in his ... sigh ... Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match.
What exactly is a Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match?
First, a definition of terms.
A Dark Match is a match held without TV cameras on. If it's before the show, it might feature talents getting their reps in and warming up the crowd. If it's after the show, it's usually some awesome match featuring top-tier stars held for the benefit of the arena crowd rather than the advancement of a storyline. Those types of matches are usually used to send everyone home happy.
A Lights Out Match is an unsanctioned match between two wrestlers where rules don't apply and the result isn't affixed to their overall record. This is symbolized by the arena lights being turned off and on before the violence begins.
A Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match is ... a soda advertisement. Do they spray each other with Dew? Is it some sort of belching contest? Is there a 2-liter bottle of carbonated black grape beverage strapped to a pole? Is this the start of sponsored theme matches in WWE? How close are we to getting Babybel in a Cell, in which two wrestlers battle in a cage made of mild snackable cheese?
It's really anyone's guess what this match between Wyatt and the verbose LA Knight is going to look like. We've heard there are some kind of neon elements. We assume it'll be loud and EXTREME because of the Mountain Dew of it all.
There are echoes of the Bliss storyline here, where Wyatt is trying to avoid slipping into his Fiendish past despite the malevolent presence of one Uncle Howdy. Will he show up here as Wyatt takes on the former Max Dupri? Does he even like Mountain Dew? He strikes us more like a sweet tea man.
Does the women's Royal Rumble also involve beverages?
Well, it will have Shotz-i! (Holds for applause that never arrives.) The women's Royal Rumble also has 30 competitors, although the list of official entrants was much smaller than the men's one week before the event: Candice LeRae, Emma, Liv Morgan, Raquel Rodriguez, Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler and Zelina Vega.
One assumes the majority of the roster will take part in the event, with Becky Lynch, Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky), Sonya Deville, Asuka, the aforementioned Shotzi, Ronda Rousey and WWE SmackDown champion Charlotte Flair yet to be announced. The women's Rumble has become as famous as the men's edition for its surprise entrants -- remember Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox and Mickey James last year?
Unlike the men's Rumble, there's a prohibitive favorite on the women's side in Ripley, who has never won the Rumble and is part of a heavily pushed faction in The Judgment Day. But again, it's the Royal Rumble. Surprises are what it's built on, whether it's whose music is going to hit next, who will be standing in the ring last ... or whether Vince just declares himself the winner of both Rumbles and the soda match because ... he's back. And of course he'll reveal himself to be Uncle Howdy. ... "IT WAS ME ALL ALONG, BRAY!"
Enjoy the Rumble!