It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a couple faint years since the landmark announcement was made, but indeed we are now into year three of the Women’s Royal Rumble Match.
Taking place this Sunday, 30 of some of the top female competitors in WWE and NXT will contest for the opportunity to gain a Championship shot at WrestleMania.
For the first time since its inception, the match will not include one of the premier women to ever grace the WWE ring - Mickie James. Still rehabilitating from her ACL tear, the multi-time Women’s Champion will be sitting on the sidelines, watching the action unfold.
“I’m honestly heartbroken,” James said. “I came back to WWE with a clear intent on headlining WrestleMania one more time and yo remind everyone why I helped not only raise the bar, but reduced doing an era & set a new standard for women in this industry. I have yet to do that and it eats away at me.”
James’ history in the match follows an interesting trek that the Women’s Royal Rumble has had.
First, Mickie was in the ring on December 18, 2017, when the proclamation was made that the women were indeed getting their opportunity to be part of what many consider to be the most highly anticipated match on the WWE calendar. James remembers the moment extremely well, particularly since she and her fellow female Superstars only got the official word that night in the ring!
“They kept it secret from us," James recalled. "They wanted to get genuine reactions from the girls. We all are privy to the chatter, so there's always rumors and speculation but no one knew for sure until we were out there.”
Roughly a month later, the match unfolded and James was called to the ring at number 26. She lasted more than eight minutes in the ring before an old adversary, Trish Stratus, joined the fray. As one may expect, the rivalry was renewed, with James ultimately being eliminated by the WWE Hall of Famer.
“it’s always an honor to step on the ring with a friend, a sister, and to gentle reminded of the story you’ve told," James said, "even more so when that moment is genuinely so beloved that it gets a reaction for the ages. We must’ve done something right after all.”
Flash forward to 2019 and the landscape of the Royal Rumble Women’s Match changed drastically. Whereas 2018’s bout included several alumnae like Stratus, Lita, Michelle McCool and Molly Holly, 2019 was all current-roster Superstars, including more NXT members than the year prior. Among those making their Royal Rumble debut were Xia Li, Kacy Catanzaro and current NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley.
James once again entered the match, this time at a more unenviable position - number five. James lasted nearly 12 minutes this time around before she was tossed out by second-generation Superstar Tamina.
“I’ve always loved working with Tamina,” James remarked. “We seem to always click in the ring. She got the better of me that time, but there are still many matches between us to come. I’ll get my revenge!”
Now, James bides her time and waits to see who will come out the winner, just like millions of fans around the globe.
“The Royal Rumble is so iconic. It’s the real start to the Road to WrestleMania,” James said. “I’ll be watching with great interest - you never know who’s going to come out on top, and be my first target when I come back."