The 2023 Royal Rumble shed some interesting light on the relationship between ‘main roster’ WWE and NXT.
While NXT wrestlers had appeared in more pronounced positions in previous Rumble matches, the yellow brand had a much more muted presence this year, only three women from NXT took part in the Rumble this year while the Men’s Royal Rumble didn’t have any NXT wrestlers at all.
According to Fightful Select, there’s a good reason for this, and it has to do with how NXT and the main roster relate to each other in 2023.
Fightful Select spoke with NXT’s Shawn Michaels and he explained that the main roster higher-ups knew exactly who they wanted and made it clear that this year they only wanted women.
Michaels further revealed that the plan for this year’s Royal Rumble was for the surprises to focus on “unconventional” wrestlers instead of the returning legends.
Furthermore, there was a key policy change made last year that has affected Royal Rumble matches going forward. That being that WWE doesn’t want NXT and main roster wrestlers interacting unless said NXT wrestler is “being called up.”
This is why the last male NXT wrestler to appear in a Royal Rumble match was Damian Priest, and that appearance served as his official call-up to the main roster.