It’s WrestleMania season again and this time of year usually starts with the annual Royal Rumble. The yearly pay-per-view features a huge battle royal for both men and women, with the respective genders taking part in a 30-person style over-the-top elimination until the last man or woman is standing. In previous years, the Royal Rumble has created huge stars, with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Bianca Belair, and Asuka to name a few. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, January 29 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. This list will crackdown on five superstars who should go on to WrestleMania to challenge for the main title of their respective brands.
It’s actually baffling that Raquel Gonzalez is still down at NXT as she’s done all that she can do down at the developmental brand. The former NXT Women’s Champion got her chance to shine against Rhea Ripley in 2021 and has consistently proven that she could be a top star within the women’s division. It’s time WWE stop solely focusing on The Four Horsewomen – Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Sasha Banks – and create new stars outside of the group. Bianca Belair is a nice start, and with Raquel’s impressive size, athletic ability, and charisma, then she shouldn’t have a problem getting over on the main roster if the company books her correctly. Either way, she’s no longer needed in NXT, but hopefully, she doesn’t end up becoming the next Rhea Ripley, whose talents continue to be squandered in a division the company clearly doesn’t care too much about.
For some odd reason, the woman formerly known as Shotzi Blackheart has been lost in a division that desperately needs stars. Shotzi and Tegan came up as a tag team to try and boost the women’s tag team division and their start was promising as they consistently beat the then WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. However, the duo never actually got their title shot and Tegan Nox was eventually released. An ill-vised heel turn saw her feud with Sasha Banks for a bit; however, she’s been in the shadows of everyone else despite being a much-needed fresh face. Giving Shotzi the winning can have the company course correct on her heel turn as she didn’t need it in the first. There’s only one babyface on the Smackdown side and Shotzi can easily be the face of the women’s division. The former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion brought a nice energy and charisma to the developmental brand and her unique look stands out in a good way.
It’s odd that Dakota Kai is still down at the developmental brand as she’s more than main roster ready. As I previously stated, the division on Raw and Smackdown is pretty thin and adding Dakota Kai will easily help out either roster. Kai is great as either a babyface or heel, but more importantly, she knows how to cut a promo and can work inside the ring. WWE has all the tools and talent to make a well-rounded division, but their reliance of the Four Horsewomen carrying the entire division isn’t doing wonders for anyone not named Sasha, Becky, Charlotte, or Bayley. Kai will make a great foil for either Becky or Charlotte, and there’s no doubt that if the company properly gets behind the underrated NXT star then she shouldn’t have any issues getting over with the crowd.
Like Raquel and Kai, Io Shirai is more than ready for the main roster; however, the concern is the language barrier that WWE has trouble dealing with when it comes to foreign talent. Asuka has managed to get over thanks to her charisma and tremendous wrestling ability; however, the company clearly didn’t have much faith in her being the face of the division as Asuka’s title reign in 2020/2021 was a joke. There’s plenty of ways to work around this issue, with one of the best solutions is to get a translator for Shirai. Either way, the former NXT Women’s Champion has the charisma and wrestling ability to be the face of the division, it just depends on if WWE can finally figure out how to use foreign talent who isn’t fluent in English.
A top two finalist of the 2021 Royal Rumble. Beating Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Winning The WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships with Nikki A.S.H. That should’ve resulted in Rhea Ripley becoming an instant star. The problem is that the company is terrible at booking babyfaces. Ripley wasn’t given a chance to really sink her teeth into her women’s title reign that was more about Charlotte, to be honest. Since dropping the belt, she hasn’t been showcased as upper card talent in the same way as Bianca Belair has. The story with Charlotte Flair is there, and it’s time that the Smackdown superstar give Ripley her win back. Ripley was the hottest female wrestler in WWE until Flair cut her momentum at WrestleMania 36. It’s not too late to make Ripley a star as she isn’t heavily damaged, but the company will miss the boat big time if they fail to capitalize on Ripley’s talent.