Shawn Michaels Explains Royal Rumble Selection Process For NXT Talent

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Shawn Michaels has shed some light on how WWE decides what NXT wrestlers get to appear in the Royal Rumble matches every year.

The 2023 Royal Rumble featured the Men’s and Women’s Royal Rumble matches on the show. The Men’s match was won by Cody Rhodes while the Women’s match was won by Rhea Ripley. Both wrestlers were the favorites going into the matches, so it’s not like those results surprised people watching the show.

When it comes to surprises, the Royal Rumble is known for having some competitors in matches that were not originally advertised to appear. That’s where NXT, which is booked by two-time WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, comes in.

There were three NXT women competing in the Women’s Rumble match with NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez at #4, Zoey Stark at #16 and Indi Hartwell at #18. Stark lasted the longest at over 26 minutes while Perez and Hartwell were out in under five minutes.

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As for the Men’s Royal Rumble match, there were no active NXT wrestlers in the match although NXT’s announcer Booker T was a surprise entrant as a two-time Hall of Famer that showed he could still do a Spinarooni.

Shawn Michaels has the official job title of the WWE Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative meaning he is the booker of NXT.

During a recent WWE media conference call talking about NXT Vengeance Day, Shawn Michaels spoke about how it is up to the WWE main roster, led by Chief Content Officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque (who happens to be Shawn’s best friend), to decide what NXT talents are used in the Royal Rumble matches.

“I think they had a pretty good idea of who it was that they wanted this year. Obviously, they asked us our opinions, we certainly gave them, but for this year, it was a matter of who it was that they wanted, and then a couple of backups for alternates in case something were to happen. They only needed women. It was my understanding that they had plenty of the men.”

“For us, it’s a great opportunity for NXT to have anybody up there. I’ll be honest, it’s always the main roster call as far as what it is. Anything that has to do with our talent going up there, it is more often than not a main roster call. When we’re looking for main roster folks to come down here, that’s me making a request and for the most part it usually being granted, other than there being conflicts in talent schedules.”

Later in the call, Shawn Michaels explained that he really doesn’t get any say about how the NXT talent are used in the Rumble matches.

“I have no way in how they determine how long people go in. I supposed if I wanted to be a pain in everybody’s backside and ask, I could find out that stuff. The Rumble is done in advance and they always have their idea of how they want it to go.”

“Pure speculation on my part, they feel like, ‘let’s highlight a couple NXT talent. We can give them each a moment.’ I cannot honestly speak to having any information on how that is decided and how they decide to go about it.”

H/T Fightful