As of now, WWE has only announced 12 participants in Sunday's Women's Royal Rumble match. This all but guarantees there will be some surprises along with a few appearances from the NXT Women's Division. That would include Rhea Ripley, who despite still being on the Black & Gold brand is one of the odds-on favorites to win on Sunday and try and avenge her loss against Charlotte Flair from WrestleMania 36. Dave Meltzer's latest report on Wrestling Observer Radio supports that idea, stating that Ripley has already been internally moved off the NXT roster.
For what it's worth, Ripley has not competed in a match since losing the Last Woman Standing match against Raquel Gonzalez at NXT's New Year's Evil on Jan. 6.
"Rhea Ripley is on the main roster," Meltzer said (h/t WrestlingNews.co). "She was gonna debut a couple of weeks ago and they put it off for a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks is now. Debuting her as a surprise in the Rumble and winning the Rumble, that just makes sense."
WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley took to Facebook earlier this week and made a strong case for a Ripley win and a WrestleMania rematch with Flair.
"Momentum is everything in #WWE and the ability for those rare Superstars to transcend the world of professional wrestling, and appeal to a larger audience, is based in large part on maintaining and increasing that momentum. I really felt that when Ripley was crowned WWE NXT champion that she had the capacity to do what few before her had been able to accomplish - bring in new fans to see a very different face of WWE," Foley wrote. "In retrospect, Ripley may have been a casualty of the Wednesday night war. Going head-to-head with the high-quality AEW on TNT product on a weekly basis meant recruiting proven draws to the brand - which 10-time champion Charlotte Flair certainly is. There is no question that Charlotte delivered as a rating draw - a study of 2020 #NXT viewership bears that out - but when the time seemed right to place the crown on a new and very different queen, WWE dropped the ball.
"Despite having an outstanding match at WWE WrestleMania, the loss to Charlotte greatly slowed the young Australian's momentum - and with it, the opportunity to be on the major face of her brand, and that rare transformative wrestler who can attract new fans to the product," he continued. "I have read and heard that WWE had some big post-Mania plans for Ripley, but ultimately, those plans just never came to fruition."
How would you feel about Ripley winning the Rumble? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!