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NXT injuries cast doubt on potential Royal Rumble surprises

With only five women entered in the Royal Rumble, the rumors that NXT and NXT UK wrestlers will be a large part of this Sunday’s 30 person battle royal are kind of a no brainer.

Moves like giving Shayna Baszler a storyline on Wednesday nights, and positioning Toni Storm as a challenger for NXT champion Rhea Ripley, seem designed to make us doubt whether those two former titleholders will show up in Minute Maid Park on Jan. 26. Matt Camp’s weekly Injury Report might be a smoke screen for a couple of others.

If reports Io Shirai wants to go back to Japan are correct, WWE may be looking to use Io Shirai on the main roster while she’s still under contract. A Rumble appearance would be a good way to kick that off. And while nobody’s suggested Shotzi Blackheart is ready for Raw or SmackDown full-time, the Evolve product is clearly someone Triple H & team are very high on. Working the Rumble doesn’t mean a call-up, and having the green-haired Blackheart race to the ring after a countdown would be a great way to signal to the WWE Universe they should expect big things from her in the future.

Saying they’re both dealing with injuries won’t convince a lot of people they aren’t showing up on Sunday night. But it might throw a few off the scent, so why not?

Here’s this week’s video, and a list of what was covered:

  • Io Shirai (day-to-day; sent for precautionary MRI) - “tweaked” knee
  • Shotzi Blackheart (day-to-day) - shoulder & back pain
  • Joaquin Wilde (sent for x-rays) - rib and lower neck pain

For complete results and the live blog for NXT this week click here. To read a recap & review of all the night’s events click here. For a full playlist of the show click here.

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