As noted before, WWE announced 19 stars for the 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match during Friday’s SmackDown, including WWE Hall of Famers The Bella Twins and Lita, Kelly Kelly, and Impact Knockouts Champion Mickie James.
It was noted by Fightful Select how WWE started reaching out to talent earlier than usual about appearing in The Rumble this year. In recent years they’ve contacted Legends about appearing as soon as nine days out from the show, to come in after not wrestling for years. However, word is that most contacted this year were under the impression that their participation would not be announced ahead of time. Summer Rae even confirmed this on social media.
The announcements were made ahead of time to boost ticket sales and increase buzz for the show, and word is that there is “plenty of room for more surprises” and likely there will be. Not everyone WWE contacted has committed to The Rumble, and WWE reportedly has back-up names in mind.
Regarding WWE announcing James for the match, her name on the late SmackDown script was preceded with “(?) Impact Knockouts Champion (?),” stylized in that way. The word backstage at Impact Hard To Kill on Saturday was that mentioning the Knockouts Title on SmackDown commentary was part of an agreement for the match. James retained her title over Deonna Purrazzo at Saturday’s pay-per-view.
Impact officials were reportedly happy with the buzz, especially considering that they already had Purrazzo vs. James planned for the main event of Hard To Kill.
There is talk within WWE of pitches for “interesting” and “big” outside names, but there’s no confirmation on who those names might be. It was reported earlier today that WWE is considering at least one “Forbidden Door” name for the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match as well.
Stay tuned for more.