Following reports of staffing concerns for their January premium live event, WWE announced an IMPACT star would be in this year’s Royal Rumble. Plus, other returning Superstars were announced for the show.
IMPACT Star in Royal Rumble
No, there is apparently no misprint…an IMPACT star will be in the 2022 Royal Rumble.
Specifically, an IMPACT Champion.
As in, IMPACT Knockouts Champion, and former WWE Superstar Mickie James. 
The same Mickie James who had her belongings sent to her in a trash bag following her release. 
Charlotte Flair tee’d up the video montage of the entrants being revealed during this week’s SmackDown. 
There were a few notables, but perhaps none more stunning than Mickie James.
Watching it live, I had to rewind my YouTubeTV  feed because I thought I was watching some classic or something.
Nope, it was the real deal. And following the announcement, social media predictably went a bit crazy.
MICKIE JAMES THE CURRENT IMPACT WRESTLING KNOCKOUT’S CHAMPION WILL BE AN ENTRANT ON THE WWE ROYAL RUMBLE…. WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!!
— Denise Salcedo (@_denisesalcedo) January 8, 2022 
— Scott D’Amore (@ScottDAmore) January 8, 2022 
There is a lot to unpack, but it’s certainly a big deal.
Now, is this a response by WWE to quiet concerns that they would have challenges filling out the women’s  Rumble?
Or is this WWE creating their own partnerships with other wrestling organizations?
Of course, this could just be a one-off…
But, for now, I feel like it’s a big deal. One, because WWE has another promotion’s champion in one of the company’s premiere events.
For another…they actually acknowledged that promotion and the title on air.
Other Returning Superstars Announced
As previously mentioned, there were Rumble concerns…but with other returning Superstars announced, maybe not anymore.
During Flair’s segment, in addition to Mickie James, a number of other returning Superstars were announced.
Among the names fans can expect to see in the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble (barring any COVID issues):
Kelly Kelly, Nikki and Brie Bella , Michelle McCool, Summer Rae and Lita.
In addition to these announced returns, much of the known and active rosters of RAW and SmackDown got confirmed as well.
Between the special additions and current Superstars, the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble currently sits at 19 entrants.
When you consider there are still a few notable names nearing returns (such as Bayley and Lacey Evans) , 11 more names suddenly does not seem so hard to reach.
Plus, WWE could always call in a few more favors, as names like Trish Stratus  would easily pop the crowd.
And, as we’ve seen in years past, it would be surprising if we did not get at least a few NXT Superstars.
So, what just a few days ago seemed like a problem? No longer seems like it will be one.
All told, this is quite the 180 for WWE, and a nice way to end the week.
Perhaps it would have been more stunning to have had James be a surprise entrant, but I’m guessing the company expects the move to generate quite the buzz.