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The Royal Rumble is a magical time of year. The beginning of WrestleMania season seems to always rejuvenate the fanbase so that no other event can. The Royal Rumble match also presents a fun challenge to the WWE creative team, one match featuring at least 30 wrestlers. Due to the large number of competitors, there is often room to feature some of the upcoming talents from NXT in the match.  The question is, which wrestlers should get the nod and make their way to the ring at the end of that 10-second countdown? Well, here are my top 5 picks for NXT talents that should appear in the 2021 Men's Royal Rumble.

Tommaso Ciampa


As of writing, Ciampa is scheduled to take on Timothy Thatcher in the Fight Pit on this week's episode of NXT. I expect this Fight Pit match to serve a very similar purpose that the last installment of this stipulation did and that we will see Ciampa written off of NXT and sent on to Raw or SmackDown. Well, what better way to debut Ciampa on the main roster than to put him in the main event and set up his first feud on the main roster? 

Ciampa has accomplished all that he really can on NXT, and it is time to give him some new opponents and opportunities. While I don't see Ciampa walking away with the Royal Rumble win, there are ways to set him up with a fantastic initial run on the main roster by debuting him here at the Rumble. 

Santos Escobar 

Santos Escobar

The interim NXT Cruiserweight Champion is one of the most dynamic wrestlers on NXT currently, and unlike Ciampa, I don't see this being the end of his run on the black and gold brand. However, Escobar's mission statement, as well as his recent run-in with Gran Metalik of Lucha House party, works incredibly well with the larger WWE roster. I'd love to see Escobar face-off with Rey Mysterio and Dominik or Lince Dorado.

In addition to the fantastic matchups that could happen in the ring, this could be a huge win for both NXT and 205 live, which need more exposure to the larger WWE Universe. Also, a loss in the rumble wouldn't hurt his status as cruiserweight champion, as I can already think of several acceptable ways for the former El Hijo Del Fantasma to leave the match. 

Karrion Kross


This is mostly an aesthetic choice. The tick-tock motif in Kross's gimmick works too well with the 10-second countdown. I also think that Kross has a unique opportunity with the Thunderdome to control his first appearance at a major WWE event fully. Not to mention that his brutal in-ring style would work super well in the rumble match. 

The biggest issue I could see with Kross making his presence felt at the Rumble is that he would either have to win the Rumble (which likely won't happen for any NXT entrant), or he has to receive his first loss. Unlike Escobar, I don't think there is a way for that loss to not feel like a cheap moment. That being said, I think that the pros of the Thunderdome outweigh the cons of having to find the perfect finish for him. 

Finn Balor

balor too sweet

Finn Balor is a huge name in WWE, and while his time with NXT has been a lot of fun, it might be time to bring the prince back to the main roster. A reintroduction to Balor at the Royal Rumble would be a huge moment for both NXT and main roster fans. Not to mention that out of all of the potential entrants from NXT, I think that Finn actually has a shot at winning the whole thing. 

Finn is the first Universal Champion, and other than The Rock, Balor might be the best choice to have go after Roman Reigns. The biggest issue I see coming from this booking is that WWE might be reluctant to have Finn be a double champion on NXT and SmackDown, and there isn't much time to have Finn lose the NXT belt and build him as a threat to Reigns before Mania. 

Raquel Gonzalez

raquel gonzalez

Maybe it is too soon after Nia Jax entered the 2019 Men's Royal Rumble for WWE to pull this stunt again, but if there is any women's wrestler on the current WWE roster, that could pull off a surprise entrance into the men's rumble, it is Raquel Gonzalez. 

WWE reportedly has big plans for Gonzalez, and she has really developed in the ring over the last year. This might be a long shot considering that she doesn't have a huge following outside of the NXT faithful, but this could make a massive first impression on the WWE Universe. 

So that is my list. Did I miss anyone? Who do you want to see in the 2021 Royal Rumble? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer

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