The 2017 Royal Rumble is just a few weeks away, with the pay-per-view taking place on January 29th in San Antonio, Texas.
The event will feature a match between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. This week on Raw, Roman Reigns lost the United States Championship in a match against Chris Jericho, which suggests that Roman might win the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble. Also taking place at the pay-per-view will be a Women’s Championship match between Charlotte and Bayley, as well as a World Championship match between AJ Styles and John Cena.
But the main draw, of course, is the 30-man elimination match from which the event gets its name. Over the past few weeks, WWE superstars have slowly been announcing that they will compete in the Royal Rumble match. So far, we know of 13 people who will be competing in the match, and we’ll likely be getting more names on next week’s episodes of Raw and SmackDown.
Here’s a look at everyone who is currently scheduled to compete in 2017’s Royal Rumble match:
The first WWE superstar to join the Royal Rumble match was Bill Goldberg; he was announced as a participant on November 21st.
This comes after Goldberg’s return at Survivor Series, during which he absolutely humiliated Brock Lesnar by defeating his opponent in just 86 seconds. Originally, the idea was that this would be Goldberg’s final match, but on November 21st’s episode of Monday Night Raw, Goldberg revealed that he had changed his mind. He said that he was approached by Stephanie McMahon, who asked if he had one last title run in him, and he decided that he does.
Goldberg’s plan, then, is to win the Royal Rumble and then immediately set his sights on Kevin Owens or Roman Reigns, depending on which one of them wins the Universal Championship match that night. Goldberg would then begin the final title run of his WWE career.
2. Brock Lesnar
Goldberg won’t be winning the Royal Rumble if Brock Lesnar has anything to say about it.
On November 28th’s episode of Monday Night Raw, Paul Heyman revealed that Brock Lesnar would be entering the Royal Rumble match.
For Lesnar, it seems that the primary goal will be to get revenge on Bill Goldberg rather than to actually win the Royal Rumble, although that would be a nice bonus. Lesnar himself has not appeared on WWE programming since Survivor Series, and Heyman only showed his face in a pre-taped interview, but he looked completely devastated and is clearly invested in ensuring that Lesnar takes down Goldberg this time around.
Brock Lesnar previously won the 2003 Royal Rumble.
3-5. Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods
For a few weeks, Goldberg and Lesnar were the only two superstars to be announced for the Royal Rumble. But on January 2nd, The New Day announced that they will be joining the match.
Like Brock Lesnar, Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have something to prove heading into this year’s Royal Rumble. After all, they recently lost their Tag Team Championship title to Cesaro and Sheamus, ending their run at 483 days.
On the first Monday Night Raw of 2017, the tag team said they have a lot of New Year’s resolutions and plan to work their way back to the top.
Recently, The New Day’s storyline has involved fending off Titus O’Neil, who has been desperately trying to join the group.
6. Chris Jericho
Next up for the Royal Rumble is Chris Jericho, whose participation in the event was announced on January 2nd.
When Jericho revealed these plans on Monday Night Raw, Kevin Owens immediately freaked out, asking what would happen if Jericho actually wins and then has to face Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. Jericho responded by saying that if they end up in a match against one another, it won’t matter who wins because they’re best friends. Owens did not seem quite as convinced.
Jericho recently scored a major victory on Monday Night Raw, defeating Roman Reigns on January 9th and becoming the United States Champion.
If Kevin Owens retains his Universal Championship, many fans believe that Chris Jericho will win the Royal Rumble match.
7. Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman was also added to the Royal Rumble on January 2nd.
In recent weeks, Strowman’s storyline has mostly involved storming around angrily and demanding matches with people, which Mick Foley subsequently grants because he’s afraid of Strowman. In particular, Strowman has been targeting Roman Reigns over the past few weeks, although on January 2nd’s show, Roman teamed up with Bill Goldberg to take Strowman down.
Strowman got his revenge the following week, running out to attack Roman Reigns during Roman’s match against Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. Strowman subsequently faced Seth Rollins in a match, but the match ended in a countout when Strowman failed to get Rollins back into the ring in time.
Strowman made his WWE debut in 2015, starting off as a member of the Wyatt Family. After the 2016 draft, he went to Monday Night Raw and spent a few months utterly annihilating local jobbers (including James Ellsworth) before beginning a feud with Sami Zayn.
8. Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin was the first SmackDown Live superstar to be announced for the Royal Rumble.
Corbin made this known on January 3rd’s episode of SmackDown, during which he interrupted an argument between AJ Styles and John Cena. Cena and Corbin began to fight, and that brawl continued on January 11th’s episode, during which Cena defeated Corbin in a match.
Corbin has been eyeing AJ Styles’ World Championship for a few weeks now, and towards the end of December, he fought Dolph Ziggler, who had become the number one contender. That match ended in a double countout. The following week, he faced both AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler in a triple threat match; Styles ultimately won that match when he pinned Dolph Ziggler.
9. Seth Rollins
On January 9th’s episode of Monday Night Raw, Seth Rollins announced his participation in the Royal Rumble match at the very beginning of the show. Rollins later fought Braun Strowman in a match that ended in a double countout.
Over the past few months, Rollins has repeatedly failed to take down Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. At Hell in a Cell in October, Rollins had a title match against Kevin Owens, but he lost due to the interference of Chris Jericho. Rollins later had another Universal Championship match against Kevin Owens, and once again he lost because Chris Jericho interfered. Jericho’s shenanigans have gotten so out of hand that he will have to be locked in a shark cage during the Universal Championship match at Royal Rumble.
If Rollins were to win the Royal Rumble and Kevin Owens were to retain, Rollins would presumably demand that Chris Jericho be prevented from interfering at WrestleMania. But if Rollins were to win and Roman Reigns were to capture the Universal Championship title, this would create an interesting situation considering that Rollins and Roman have been teaming up on numerous occasions over the past few weeks.
10. The Undertaker
The Undertaker appeared on January 9th’s episode of Monday Night Raw after Mick Foley repeatedly begged him to show up so that he wouldn’t get yelled at by Stephanie McMahon.
The Undertaker did indeed appear, but mostly so he could announce his Royal Rumble pursuits. It was not explained why The Undertaker was on Raw when he is a member of the SmackDown Live roster.
Of course, The Undertaker’s winning streak famously came to an end at Wrestlemania XXX, where he lost to Brock Lesnar in New Orleans, Louisiana. That’s where Raw was broadcast from this week, and so The Undertaker brought up this painful loss and said that he is going to go through the Royal Rumble into the main event of WrestleMania, where anyone who stands in his way will rest in peace.
11. Dean Ambrose
On January 10th’s episode of SmackDown Live, Dean Ambrose announced that he is entering the Royal Rumble match.
Ambrose is the current Intercontinental Champion after having defeated The Miz last week. The feud began when The Miz insulted Ambrose’s real life girlfriend, Renee Young, bringing up her relationship with Ambrose.
This makes Ambrose the second member of the SmackDown Live roster to enter the Royal Rumble, and the first SmackDown Live champion to enter.
Dean Ambrose won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank in June 2016. He held on to that title until September 2016, when AJ Styles defeated Ambrose in a title match at the Backlash pay-per-view. Ambrose faced Styles again in a title match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, but AJ Styles held on to the championship that night.
12. The Miz
The Miz also announced his entrance into the 2017 Royal Rumble on January 10th’s show.
Mainly he seems to be entering as a way of getting revenge on Dean Ambrose, who recently took away his Intercontinental Championship title. Whenever someone else holds the Intercontinental Championship, The Miz complains that the championship is now less prestigious, and that’s the same argument he made on SmackDown Live this week.
The Miz also argues that Ambrose’s win is invalid. During the match on SmackDown Live, Maryse interfered and slapped Dean Ambrose. Normally this would cause the match to end in a disqualification, but the referee decided to let it continue, and Ambrose subsequently pinned The Miz and captured the championship.
The Miz held on to the Intercontinental Championship for much of 2016; he briefly lost it to Dolph Ziggler, only to win it back and then lose it in January to Dean Ambrose.
13. Dolph Ziggler
On this week’s episode of Talking Smack, the SmackDown Live aftershow, Dolph Ziggler announced that he would participate in the Royal Rumble match.
This comes right after Ziggler turned heel, attacking Kalisto and Apollo Crews on the January 3rd episode of the show. On Talking Smack, Ziggler expressed frustration over the fact that he has been losing over and over again.
“I need to get out of this funk,” Ziggler said on Talking Smack. “I need to either go away for a year, or some light bulb has to flash in my mind and go, ‘There’s another way to stand out. There’s another way to put people out of your way. And there’s another way to get noticed around here.'”
Ziggler recently completed a feud with The Miz, with the two battling over the Intercontinental Championship. The Miz had been defeating Ziggler again and again, in part due to the interference of Maryse, and so Ziggler challenged Miz to one last match at No Mercy; if Ziggler lost again, he would retire. Ziggler won the title that night, but after a 37 day reign, The Miz earned his championship back in a match on SmackDown Live. Ziggler faced The Miz one last time at TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs, and this was announced as the final match between the two; The Miz won, and that was the end of that.
Dolph Ziggler later became the number one contender for AJ Styles’ World Championship. That match became a triple threat involving Ziggler, Styles and Baron Corbin, and Styles retained his championship after pinning Ziggler.
14 & 15. Cesaro and Sheamus
Both Cesaro and Sheamus announced on January 16th that they would be entering the Royal Rumble match.
After feuding with one another, Cesaro and Sheamus were paired together as a tag team in September 2016. It was an unlikely pairing to say the least, and the two continue to strongly dislike one another and argue in between matches. Still, at Roadblock: End of the Line, they were the ones to finally take down The New Day and end their 483-day long reign. The two remain the Raw Tag Team Champions.
This makes Cesaro and Sheamus the second tag team to enter the Royal Rumble after Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.
16, 17 & 18: Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper
All three members of the Wyatt Family will participate in the Royal Rumble match.
After feuding with them for weeks, Randy Orton joined the Wyatt Family in November. Since then, he seems to have been placed under Bray Wyatt’s spell, but recently, the family has been feuding with one another. Two weeks in a row on SmackDown Live, Harper and Orton had to be separated by Bray Wyatt, and that culminated with the announcement that Orton and Wyatt will fight next week.
We’ll have to see how this situation resolves on next week’s show, but it looks like there’s a solid chance Orton will have broken with Wyatt and Harper by the time the Royal Rumble match begins.