For the purposes of this preview, we'll make a few assumptions. First, the match will be fifteen competitors, likely distributed six from each Raw and SmackDown and three from NXT. To simplify, in all cases the final four will be Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nikki Bella, and Emmalina. Additionally, we'll assume that there won't be any title changes in the women's division so that going into the Rumble, Charlotte and Alexa Bliss will be champions.
Option 1: The Feel Good Story: Nikki Bella
The most obvious direction for WWE to go is to have a face win in a huge feel-good moment. Sometimes things are obvious because they make sense. With both champions being heels, and two of the best in the company, this is a good opportunity to end the match on a high note. There are plenty of deserving faces to choose from, but a Nikki Bella win would provide a unique moment.
The Story: When Nikki Bella turned on Brie back at SummerSlam 2014, she lost the respect of the rest of the locker room. Even as the longest reigning Divas Champion, she gained a reputation for doing things the wrong way. As she approaches the end of her career, this is her chance at redemption.
The Execution: An important context of this will have to be the fact that her brother-in-law is the General Manager of SmackDown. On Talking Smack after the go-home, Daniel Bryan should make it clear that he will not be giving Nikki any special treatment. She agrees, and even asks to be the number one entrant because she needs to prove that she can weather all 14 competitors. That's a mistake, her neck gets targeted throughout the entire match and someone almost gets an upset by eliminating her. But Nikki survives and makes it all the way to the final four, at which point Sasha and Bayley take each other out, leaving her alone with the devious Emmalina.
The Win: Nikki's victory comes just as it looks like she's through. While she's able to out-muscle Emmalina, she's not fast enough, and Emmalina is a tricky competitor. She could try to clinch a victory by throwing Nikki down by her neck and then running the ropes to knock Nikki over. However, maybe she underestimates Nikki's tenacity, and when she bounces off the rope, Nikki charges her with the Bella Hammer. Emmalina stumbles over the top and hits the floor. As the Bella theme song starts playing, the women's locker room come out to applaud. Commentary can remind us that all Nikki really wanted was the respect of her friends, and now that's exactly what she has. To top it off, Brie can make an appearance at the front of the group. She just points at her sister, who points to the WrestleMania sign, both beaming with pride.
Option 2: Bad Girls Finish First: Emmalina
Who has the most untapped potential in the division? I'd say the one and only Evil Emma, set to return as Emmalina. As the weeks build, it looks more and more likely that this Instagram Girl gimmick is one big swerve and that Emmalina returns badder than ever. With the right character and a proper push, she could be a massive success and maybe even rival Charlotte as the division's top heel (maybe). The Royal Rumble is the perfect opportunity to set that in motion.
The Story: Years ago Emma and Paige battled at NXT Arrival and started the Diva's Revolution. Paige was called up early, Paige became the Diva's Champion on her first night. And what did Emma get? Emma got ignored. No more. This Emmalina isn't waiting to be chosen, she's not letting the Four Horsewomen outshine her, she'll take what she's owed. It's a classic heel vendetta, and it fits the new Emmalina perfectly.
The Execution: Emmalina should premier in the leather and aviators, and mock the WWE Universe for thinking she really was going to come back as a glorified swimsuit model. Prior to the Rumble, her promo skills get to shine. She makes it known that she's more talented than that hack, Sasha Banks, tougher than that child, Bayely, smarter than that loser, Becky Lynch, and at WrestleMania, she'll prove she's just simply better than that little Daddy's Girl, Charlotte Flair. At lucky #18 and with a strong showing from the get-go, it's clear that Emma likes her chances.
The Win: A huge part of the rumble will be about the Boss and Hug Connection, together they eliminate big names like Auska, and Nia Jax. Emmalina doesn't have friends, and she doesn't need them. She bides her time, she's crafty and she's careful. Bayley and Sasha become each other's undoing, as they focus all their attention on working together to eliminate Nikki Bella but miss Emma plotting behind them. As Nikki hits the floor and the two turn around, they're hit with two Clotheslines and are knocked over the top rope at the same time. It's a shocker of a finish, it's over in the blink of an eye. It will leave people saying "did that just happen?" However, the moment of Emmalina's pointing to the WrestleMania sign, an evil grin on her face, as Sasha and Bayley limp away arm in arm, that will be a moment that wrestling never forgets.
Option 3: The Beginning of a Beautiful Rivalry: Bayley
Okay, okay, let's just own it. Charlotte's opponent at WrestleMania 33 will probably be a Horsewoman. Bayley is primed to take Charlotte's perfect pay-per-view streak and be shot to the moon as the division's top baby face. However, the build doesn't have to be been-there-done-that, especially if we interweave the greatest rivalry in the women's division: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley.
The Story: Bayley's story is tied to Sasha Banks. Charlotte and Sasha might be the ones to go down in history, but Sasha's work with Bayley is undeniably some of her absolute best. Sasha's crisis of confidence and Bayley's rise are happening side by side, and these best friends aren't afraid of airing that out. It should be prominently displayed that Sasha is a three-time Women's Champion, and Bayley is not. Their friendship is built on a shared dream and the fact that they've had to claw their way up against the "Naturally Superior" Charlotte. In a backstage segment, we get a moment between the pair where Bayley reminds a nervous Sasha that they were born to do this.
The Execution: Starting with a taste of things to come, Sasha and Bayley enter 1 and 2, and for 90 seconds, they put on a showcase of what they can do. Their Ironman match had hardly any rest holds, so if they hit the ground running, these two can make those 90 seconds count. Throughout the match, Sasha is surviving, not excelling. Bayley claws for them, but gets several big name eliminations until Auska kicks her head off her body and she crumples in the corner. As we near the end, Sasha starts to build momentum, finally getting her first elimination on Emmalina.
The Win: Down to the wire, Nikki Bella and Sasha fight for that last precious elimination, the difference between going to WrestleMania or not. They spill onto the apron in a fierce battle and Nikki's strength gives her the upper hand. However, Sasha manages to be quick enough and leg swipes her, causing her to fall onto the floor. Thinking she's won, Sasha sinks to her knees and begins to cry, just as Bayley comes to, still dazed. Acting on instinct, Bayley charges at Sasha and elbows her down off the apron in an unintentional cheap-shot. Sasha is stunned. Bayley's music starts to play and they make eye contact, she's mortified as she realizes what she's just done. They stare at each other for a beat, and then Sasha wipes her tears and runs into the ring, attacking Bayley for costing her the victory. The Boss is back, and Bayley just got in her path. Sasha Banks is most dangerous but also most vulnerable when she's emotional. It's important that Bayley deeply understand that about her best friend. We may not get a blow off until SummerSlam, but it will be well worth the chase.
Anything could happen, but we think these are three of the most likely winners and the best stories for WWE to tell. Nikki's an established star, Emmalina needs a push in the right direction, and Bayley, well, she's just Bayley. What do you want to see out of a women's Royal Rumble match? Does the Queen of the Divas deserve one more moment in the sun? Are you waiting for Emmalina to get her due? Or, are you a fan of the long-game, giving Sasha a reason to come for blood following a Bayley victory? Let us know in the comments bellow!