Part of the appeal of Royal Rumble matches are the surprise entrants. Unlike the men’s match, the 2023 edition of the women’s Rumble figured to have plenty of them with less than 20 wrestlers announced ahead of time.
The first unannounced wrestler wasn’t much of a surprise, and Hit Row’s B-Fab didn’t last very long after entering seventh. We didn’t have to wait long for a second, but the eighth entrant — NXT Women’s champion Roxanne Perez — didn’t have a chance to do much more before Damage CTRL sent her over the top rope.
Natalya’s been out since early November for nasal/sinus surgery. But when she entered at number 11, she went right after the person who broke her nose in storyline. Nattie wasn’t successful in eliminating Shayna Baszler though, and she was added to Bayley & company’s elimination count shortly thereafter.
Zoey Stark, another NXT name who was rumored to be flown in for the match, came in at 11.
The biggest pop (definitely from me, but I think it’s also fair to say from the Alamodome crowd) came for 2018 Rumble winner Asuka. We haven’t seen her since December, and she was teasing her old “Murder Clown” gimmick from Japan when last we saw her. The former Kana came back with the face pain, and made a major impact on the match. Lasting until the final three and making the difference between the winner and the runner-up (more here).
The former Doudrop returned after missing time with health issues, and she got her old name back in the process.
After entering at 18, Piper Niven quickly had a face-off and team-up with the unannounced 19th entrant, Tamina.
Both women did better than the next surprise at 20. Chelsea Green’s return to WWE was record-setting after Rhea Ripley eliminated her in five seconds.
Earlier in the night, we saw Michelle McCool sitting ringside. She was still there when her music hit, and Undertaker’s better half jumped over the barricade in her Uggs to get in a little work at number 25.
Another NXT star was next, as Indi Hartwell came out 26th. The unannounced Shotzi got number 28, but neither was as big (literally, or as a surprise) as the final entrant — Nia Jax made her return after being released in November of 2021.
She took a Riptide, then had every wrestler in the ring team up to throw her out.
Get the scoop on every Royal Rumble surprise in our live blog here.