Historically, WWE does not announce surprise entrants for the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches in advance, but the company took a different direction at least with the women’s bout this year.
Last Friday on SmackDown, WWE announced several returning stars such as The Bella Twins, Summer Rae, Lita, and even Mickie James with the company recognizing that James is the current Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion.
Fightful Select reports WWE started reaching out to talent earlier than usual. In recent years, legends would be asked about nine days before the show whether they would be interested.
The wrestlers that were contacted were under the impression their participation wouldn’t be announced ahead of time. This is something that Summer Rae confirmed on Instagram this past Saturday.
The reason for the surprises being announced was done to help boost ticket sales and increase buzz for the show. It was added that there is “plenty of room for more surprises, and likely will be.” The report stated not everyone WWE contacted has committed to the match, but WWE will have backup names in mind.
The early SmackDown script on Friday noted there would be the announcement, but it wasn’t until later scripts came out that revealed the names. According to WrestleTix, WWE has sold over 26,000 tickets for the Royal Rumble:
WWE Royal Rumble
Sat • Jan 29 • 6:30 PM
The Dome at America's Center, St Louis, MO
Available Tickets => 3,329
Current Setup/Capacity => 29,976
Tickets Distributed => 26,647 (88.9%)
— WrestleTix (@WrestleTix) January 10, 2022