John: This Sunday night in Orlando it’s the 2016 WWE Royal Rumble. It’s one of the biggest shows of the year. While it’s not as big as WrestleMania, it can be argued that it is in a battle with SummerSlam in terms of being the second most important WWE event of the year.
This year’s Rumble is different than any other version because it’s being headlined by a WWE Title match in the Rumble match itself. That’s never happened before. In 1992, the WWE Title was on the line when Ric Flair won it. The difference is there was no champion going into this match while in this case it’s Roman Reigns in a “One Versus All” type of match with Mr. McMahon making things difficult for him.
Joining me for the preview are Christian Michael, Heather Hickey and Matty J. Douglas. As always, the match order isn't the order that we necessarily think will happen on the show. It's just a format to use for this preview.
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Kickoff Match: Darren Young & Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger (Fatal 4-Way Kickoff Match to qualify for the Royal Rumble Match)
Christian: This reminds me of back in 1996 when Duke “The Dumpster” met Hunter Hearst Helmsley on the preshow before that year’s Royal Rumble. On the line in that match was the number 30 spot in the Rumble Match. If you’re wondering what my point is just hold on a second and I’ll tell you. My point is that match didn’t matter because neither of those men had a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning just like this match doesn’t matter because the eight men in this match have less of a chance of winning the 2016 Royal Rumble than the Garbage Man and Connecticut Blue Blood did back in 1996.
If I have to pick a winner (and I do) I’ll go with Mark Henry and Jack Swagger since this is likely to be Mizark’s last Rumble match and they’ll give him a few power spots in the Rumble Match as his swan song before being bounced in a few minutes.
Prediction- Mark Henry and Jack Swagger
Matt: As presently constituted, this match is obscenely meaningless. Yes I know a spot in the Rumble is supposedly valuable and should be prize worthy of a match like this, but seriously, does it really matter if anybody here is in the Royal Rumble? Outside the Dudley Boyz, everybody in this match has barely been on TV for the last few months. Not to mention that a prize for the winner does not exactly make for a compelling story, especially when the prize is a spot in a match that every fan knows you will not win.
What would have been cool is if instead of the Dudleys and The Ascension, you had four other random superstars vying for their spot in the Rumble. Have a short segment o Raw where Darren Young, Sandow, Mark Henry, Swagger, Fandango, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, and Alex Riley (or any number of un-used guys) are in Stephanie’s office asking for a spot in the Rumble. Have her make this Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match, where two of them can get in but the others are out, and tell them to go figure out who their partners will be. That way none of the teams are established teams, and the combinations are part of a more thorough story. How do they decide the pairs? Which pairings have the best shot? Are there any uneasy alliances formed for the cause? I’ve probably put too much thought into this.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz (because they’re the only ones who are on TV regularly)
Heather: I love the idea of a Kickoff Match having stakes that will come into play later that night. This is the kind of old-school trick that gives the Kickoff value, an incentive to wrestle and to watch. I will make a point of tuning in for this, in hopes that Young and Sandow get the win. Sure, it really doesn’t matter WHO wins this match, as they have no hopes of winning the Rumble. But Young and Sandow deserve the double-shot on the show. It would be disappointing if either the Dudleys or Ascension win this, as they are crappy tag teams that have no business being Rumble filler. And since I see less potential in Henry or Swagger long-term, let’s give Young and Sandow their 15 seconds of fame (the countdown clock plus their run to the ring).
Winners: Darren Young & Damien Sandow
John: I feel bad for the performers because WWE can’t even spend a minute on Raw to actually advertising this. It was only announced on WWE.com a few days. Lame. I’m going with Henry and Swagger just because I think Henry’s going to retire after WrestleMania, so they’ll make a point to put him over for one final Rumble appearance. He’s a threat to win! Um yeah sure he is.
Winners: Mark Henry & Jack Swagger
United States Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto
Christian: These guys had a couple of really good title matches on TV and if they get 12-15 minutes they’ll have another good match. I didn’t mind the “shocking upset” Kalisto had to win the title because WWE needs to do more of that so fans don’t feel like everything on WWE TV is so predictable. What I did mind was Kalisto dropping the title back the very next night at the SmackDown taping. They could have had Kalisto win by DQ and then lose the title back at the Royal Rumble.
Prediction- Alberto Del Rio retains the United States Championship
Matt: I cannot for the life of me understand why they took the title of Kalisto last week. They had a great moment on that week’s Raw when he won it (great moments are hard to come by on Raw these days), and proceeded to squander it mere days later. Some people will say it’s part of a build to more meaningful and fulfilling conclusion; when it doesn’t, I’ll point back to that moment on Raw, where if they were trying to make Kalisto a legitimate star, they executed that perfectly, only to double back to having him be a novelty days later. I hope I’m wrong, but I’d bet I’m right.
Here’s the thing, even if they were to put the belt on Kalisto at Royal Rumble… what does that even accomplish? Will it be a better moment than it was on that Raw where he surprisingly walked away with the title? No. Will it get him more over? No. Does it make the US Title feel special? No. The answer to all those questions further solidifies that taking the title off Kalisto mere days later was a bad decision, and that whatever happens in this match will be a let down coming off what was a rare surprising and positive moment on Raw.
Winner and Still United States Champion: Alberto Del Rio (because if the result is going to be crappy regardless, might as well have its crappyness serve the heel champion)
Heather: Del Rio is Orton-like in his ability to engage with an opponent and put on a stellar match *when his heart is in it*. I will argue with anyone about Del Rio’s match against Reigns at Survivor Series: Alberto may come off as unexciting (and unexcited) himself, but he MADE Roman Reigns that night. Watch that match again, and tell me who did all the work. And it’s not the first time Del Rio’s done that either. He’s like a sleeper agent who, when activated, makes his opponent look like a superstar. ACTIVATE ON SUNDAY, PERRO. The only way to undo the mistake of taking the title so quickly off Kalisto is to put it right back on him…but is that all but closing the casket on Del Rio’s WWE run? They do have him lumped in with the League of Nations, and the company is sure warming up to threesomes and foursomes these days… so not all hope is lost. Alberto could soon be losing to Curtis Axel!
John: This will be their fourth match in the last three weeks. I’ve reviewed the other three and they were all at the three star (out of five) level in that they were very good, but it’s going to be difficult for them to top it. While I’d love for Kalisto to have a decent run with the US Title, the reports are that Sin Cara’s shoulder injury isn’t a major one and he’ll be back within a month. That probably means Kalisto will go back to teaming with him, so they really only did the title change to create some interest to start the year. Kalisto’s future as a singles wrestler is still very bright.
I’m not sure who Del Rio will feud with after this, but I think he’ll keep the title for a little while longer. It should be a solid 10-15 minute match that Del Rio wins to put an end to this rivalry for now.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Tag Team Titles: The New Day vs. The Usos
Christian: Since I said in the 2016 TJR Staff predictions that I thought the Usos would break up in 2016 I think this will be the start of it. It’ll all stem from them not being able to win back the Tag Team Championships. The Royal Rumble could be the start of that.
I think The New Day should hold the Tag Team Championships until after WrestleMania. There really isn’t a team on the Main Roster right now that is ready to dethrone The New Day. Maybe after WrestleMania there will be a call up from NXT that is Ready, Willing and Gable to beat The New Day.
Prediction- The New Day Retains the Tag Team Championship
Matt: This match should be Championships vs. Slammys, winners take all. That would be fun. New Day so desperately wants to be Tag Team of the year that they are willing to put up the Tag Team Titles if The Usos will put their Slammy’s on the line. See that’s a build with a story.
Could you imagine of the Slammys were on the line too? If the WWE were topical, you could have New Day talk about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and compare it to their lack of Slammy award recognition. And then when they win and take The Slammy for Tag Team Of The Year, you could have them come out with the trophies for months and before every match thank the fans for their support and their Slammy Award, despite the fact that they didn’t win the vote but instead strong armed The Usos into putting the Slammys on the line in match. More importantly than any of that, it makes the Slammys seem semi-important and raises the stakes in the match for all parties, which is a good thing.
Instead we get The Usos beating the champions in a non-title match, so now they get a title match at the PPV. That sound you heard in the distance was me yawning while explaining that tired WWE style of making championship matches. The lack of creativity is startling.
Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day (because I see no reason to take the Titles off them yet)
Heather: They must avenge Francesca. I know The Usos were simply present, and not responsible for Chris Jericho smashing the trombone across his leggity-from-Winnipeggity, but some lessons need to be learned the hard way. As someone recently pointed out to me, “If you learned a lesson the easy way, then it wasn’t a lesson, was it? It was just something you did.” I don’t want this match to just be something The Usos did. Let’s make use of the fact that they are a bona fide tag team, as are The New Day. They have lots of opportunities to showcase both zany and hard-hitting partner moves. That dang trombone was more over than half the roster, so I expect to see Xavier still in full bereavement, Kofi at the height of his incredulity, and Big E dishing out Big Endings aplenty. But here’s the thing: their emotions will get the best of them, and The Usos will pull out a win. New Day will get REALLY upset, upping their game in every way, and get the belts back at Mania.
Winners: The Usos
John: It feels like they’ve had a lot of matches together, but they haven’t had a two on two PPV match before. The problem is they’ve had singles matches or non-title matches so many times that it feels repetitive in that sense.
They really haven’t done a great job of building the match up. Chris Jericho seemed to have more of a storyline with The New Day than The Usos have had in the last month, yet here we are. Hopefully the work in the ring makes up for the lack of a story. I think the quality of the match should be very good because both teams are consistently awesome in the ring. Will they get 15 minutes to really have a classic tag match? I hope so. It’ll probably be about 10-12 minutes and I like The New Day to retain. Pick another team to build up for WrestleMania and do a title change there. It makes more sense than doing it here.
Winners: The New Day
Divas Title: Charlotte (with Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch
Christian: We all know from NXT how great this match could be. For whatever reason the Divas haven’t been able to have that blow away awesome match like they have regularly in NXT. Maybe the Royal Rumble will be the night that changes.
I am a big fan of Becky Lynch. I hope WWE realizes how talented she is and doesn’t become the forgotten call up of the Divas Revolution. Charlotte seems to be a much better performer as a heel. I guess it’s in the blood. I’d love the see Becky get the title but I don’t see Charlotte losing the silver butterfly until The Boss is healthy and ready to take it from her.
Prediction- Charlotte retains the Divas Championship
Matt: From a story perspective, this is the best we have on the entire roster. There’s pretty much nothing about the build to this that I’d change. They’ve really done a great job of making Becky look sympathetic yet cool. Her performances these last few weeks have been outstanding in the ring and on the microphone. She’s really sold us on her disappointment in her friend, and her anger heading into this match.
Charlotte in this feud has been hit or miss, but she’s not really had to do much to be honest. She’s great in the ring, and while she’s been spotty in her speaking bits on Raw, Ric Flair and Backy have done more than enough to make up for it and carry her through the build to what is the most emotionally charged match on the entire Royal Rumble card. This feels like more than just a title is at stake. This feels personal, and that both participants will be effected coming out of the match, win or lose. That’s what every big match should feel like. Kudos to everybody involved.
Winner and Still Divas Champion: Charlotte (because it isn’t quite Becky’s time yet, though she has dispelled any doubts I had about her character’s success going forward)
Heather: As sad as I was to read about Sasha’s injury (especially since my 2016 Predictions said she’d win the Divas Title the night after WrestleMania… it could still happen), it may have done wonders for Becky’s transition to the main roster. Becky is a natural on the mic and fantastic in the ring, so it’s great that she gets a little room to shine while crowd-fave Sasha heals up. Becky verbally elbow-dropped Flair this week – scene chewing, WOOO! – so I fear what may happen if she loses to Charlotte on Sunday. Can we find a way to keep the title on Charlotte while still keeping Becky relevant? Charlotte is just finding her groove as a heel, and I think it would be wonderful to have her as the champ going in to Mania. Maybe have Team Flair win by DQ, then thwart Becky’s quest for yet another rematch over and over again, until Mania? That’s like 5 years in WWE time though. If they tread water too much, we’ll all lose interest.
Winner: Charlotte by DQ
John: I’m looking forward to this one. Yes, like the other undercard matches on this show we’ve seen it before pretty recently, but when you get to have the match on a PPV like the Royal Rumble it’s better. After months of poor booking for babyface women like Paige (who turns all the time) and Charlotte (who flopped as a face), they’ve done a good job of actually booking Lynch as a likable babyface. What a concept huh?
Lynch is easy to sympathize with as the naïve babyface that got outsmarted by the heel champion with her evil father Ric Flair. Will she be able to overcome their cheap tactics to win or will Charlotte find a way to get the win? What I’m most excited about it is they will get a lot of time to have a great match on a show with only four matches in the undercard. The crowd should be behind them too. This could be the best main roster divas match in a long time.
I’m going with Charlotte to win the match in a mildly cheap manner, but not excessive. It will be something where Lynch is about to finish, Flair visually distracts her in the sense that it causes her to delay a move and Charlotte hits a spear leading to the Figure Eight submission. Something like that. My hope is they build up Sasha Banks (hopefully back in action in early February) as a babyface going into WrestleMania and she’s the one that takes the title off Charlotte there. I just feel like they need to keep the title on Charlotte as the heel Divas Champion because that’s the best thing for the division right now.
Last Man Standing Match for the Intercontinental Title: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
Christian: On the first SmackDown on the USA Network, Mauro Ranallo said this was the best rivalry currently in WWE. He’s right but that has a lot to do with how awful WWE has been at building rivalries although these two have done a great job of beating the crap out of each other making this one of the most highly anticipated Intercontinental Championship matches in a long time.
This is such a tough call for me because these are my two favorite active WWE Superstars right now. Both these guys need to gain momentum heading toward WrestleMania and a Last Man Standing Match leaves little doubt as to who the winner is since you essentially have to knock your opponent out. Since I think this is the feud ending match, I’ll say that Dean Ambrose retains because if he doesn’t then you’d think that there would be a rematch in his future and I think WWE is going to send these two down different paths on the Road to WrestleMania.
Prediction- Dean Ambrose retains the Intercontinental Championship
Matt: We go from a match that has sold the participants hatred and desire to win, to a match that should have similar elements at play. Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose are both great. They are two of my favourite wrestlers and characters on the roster. I’m looking forward to the physical brawl they’ll likely have in this Last Man Standing match.
With all that said… this match lacks an emotional hook. It kind of just feels like they’re mad at each other because that’s what the story requires to get this match booked. I don’t feel the hatred for one another. I don’t feel that the stakes for each man goes beyond the Intercontinental Championship. I just don’t feel like these guys truly despise one another and want to make sure the other can’t stand anymore. I wish I felt those things, but I don’t
The match will be good, it will be physical, and it has a great shot to be the best match on the card. Unfortunately, the stakes of the match aren’t quite high enough to draw me in, although I’d imagine that the loser of this match likely won’t be in the Royal Rumble. The match should be one of the last to take place before the Rumble starts, and the brutality of knocking your opponent out for a 10 count should leave them unable to compete in the Royal Rumble match within the hour. Leaving either guy out seems like a slight, and the fact that one of them almost certainly will be has me feeling down.
Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Kevin Owens (because Owens/Zayn at WM32 for the Intercontinental Championship must happen!)
Heather: I’m going to call this as the opening match of the PPV, which I know isn’t super bold, but I’m just feeling it as the perfect way to whip the fans into a frenzy that they’ll have time to recover from before the lengthy main event. Neither of these guys is afraid to…. well, anything. They’re fearless, and they’re going to want to put on a show. It’s going to garner “Holy Sh-t” chants (I’m predicting 3). You will cringe. You will look down and realize you’ve been standing in front of your couch, but you don’t know for how long. Then you’ll realize you are looking at everything through your fingers, because you’re SCARED. I may start speaking in Paul Bearer’s voice. I may be told that if I keep it up, I’ll be watching the rest of the show by myself. We will all take turns having a favourite to win, and then all agree that it doesn’t matter who wins because even though we’re not supposed to be okay with violence, this is awesome [in Paul Bearer’s voice].
Winner: Kevin Owens, but barely
John: This should be awesome and I’m excited to see what two of my favorite performers do in a match like Last Man Standing. They’re going to use a lot of weapons, they’re going to brawl all around the arena (something they are both good at) and I would expect them to get 15-20 minutes. This is the kind of big match that helps legitimize the IC Title as a valuable prize. I’ve enjoyed the feud a lot.
What sucks about the match is that I don’t expect either guy to be in the Rumble match because of this. That’s been the case in previous years like in 2014 when Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt weren’t in the Rumble. They will both be missed in that Rumble match if they are not in.
I’m not sure what to think about this one in terms of the winner. Ambrose beat Owens at Survivor Series (in the WWE Title tourney) and at TLC when he won the IC Title from him. While WWE hasn’t played up the fact that Owens lost two times on PPVs to him, fans like us remember. My lean for the pick is Ambrose because I feel like WWE took the title off Owens last month as a way to elevate him to a feud with a major face like Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker at WrestleMania. If that happens then Owens doesn’t really need the IC Title going into WrestleMania. The problem is that Owens losing to
Anyway, it should be an awesome match that I’m excited about. I’m going with Ambrose to win a very competitive and physical match. It will be close.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
30 Man Royal Rumble Match for the WWE Title
(Participants include: WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Stardust, Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Big Show, Curtis Axel and many more!)
Christian: I’ve already said that I don’t like that the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line in the Royal Rumble Match but since it is let’s go with it. It’s no surprise that Roman Reigns in the number one entrant in the match as you knew The McMahons would stack the deck against Reigns as much as possible.
Since the Championship is on the line I think only four men can possibly win: Reigns, Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt. I think Wyatt has the longest odds of the four of winning but since they’ve made him look like the dominant force on WWE TV this week you have to at least consider him.
Lesnar is an obvious choice to win because he’s the biggest draw and it would make sense to have him enter WrestleMania as the Champion.
Reigns could always overcome all the odds and retain the title and possible cause a riot in the arena.
Triple H is a favorite in my mind because he might think that the only way to get the title off Reigns is to do it himself and makes himself the 30th entrant in the Rumble. It also makes sense since Triple H vs. Roman Reigns appears to be the Main Event for WrestleMania.
I’ll tell you who I think is going to win in just a second. There are a few other things I need to predict first.
Person who will last the longest: Roman Reigns. He’s entering at number one and obviously will be there at the end so this is an easy one to pick.
Most eliminations: Roman Reigns will have the most eliminations. I don’t think this is a stretch since he’ll likely be booked as dominant in the Rumble.
Wrestler that is eliminated the fastest: Xavier Woods. It’ll be good comedy spot that he can pull off and do little to hurt the value of The New Day.
Will Triple H be in the match? Yes. I fully expect Triple H to be in the Royal Rumble.
Will AJ Styles be in the match? I think AJ Styles will be in the Royal Rumble. I think WWE knows he had a lot of big moments in Orlando and the crowd will be very receptive to him. He has to be booked well though. He’s got to make it at least to the final five. They have one shot to debut Styles and they can’t blow it.
Will The Undertaker be in the match? No.
Roman Reigns is #1 entrant. Who is number 2? I think that some monster will be number two as a way to further stack the deck against Reigns. Since I need to be specific I’ll go with The Big Show.
Who will be the #30 entrant? I said earlier that I think Triple H will make himself #30 when it comes time for that entrant to come out so I’m predicting Triple H will enter at number 30.
Will Daniel Bryan be in the match? As much as I’d like to be shouting YES! this Sunday, Daniel Bryan will not be in the Royal Rumble. I think even if he is cleared to wrestle again if WWE isn’t planning on having him win they are going to keep him away from the match. I think they learned their lesson last year.
Who will be the final four? The Final Four will be Oklahoma, North Carolina…sorry wrong Final Four. Triple H, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles.
Now, it’s time for the big one…
Winner: Brock Lesnar wins the 2016 Royal Rumble and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Matt: Weirdly I don’t have too much to say about the titular match of this event. I kind of like the wrinkle of making the WWE Championship be on the line because it ratchets the stakes in the Rumble up for everybody involved. Also from a story perspective it, it really puts the pressure on Roman Reigns, who within this narrative is meant to be the hero.
On the other hand, I think it unnecessarily removes suspense from the proceedings. Sure the Royal Rumble has been one of the least suspenseful WWE events for the last few years, as the winner is usually easy enough to figure out, but with the championship on the line, what may have been 5 or 6 viable candidates to win has shrunk to 3… 2 if I’m being realistic. Roman Reigns or Triple H will win this match. Brock has an okay shot, but not a great shot.
That kind of certainty in a match whose greatest selling point should be unpredictability is bad for the storytelling. Hopefully a fun spot from New Day, some surprise entrants from NXT and a much anticipated debut can mask the predictability of the match.
Person who will last the longest: Roman Reigns
Most eliminations: Roman Reigns
Wrestler that is eliminated the fastest: Adam Rose
Will Triple H be in the match?: Yes
Will AJ Styles be in the match?: Yes
Will The Undertaker be in the match?: No
Will Daniel Bryan be in the match?: Yes
Roman Reigns is #1 entrant. Who is number 2?: Dean Ambrose. Vince is trying to screw with him, so it would stand to reason that he’d have Roman’s best opportunity for support be 2nd. Even better would be the fact that he’s physically hurting from his match with Owens having finished shortly before the start of the Rumble. It’s probably too logical now that I think about it.
Who will be the #30 entrant?: Triple H
Who will be the final four?: Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt, Triple H
Winner and Still WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns
Heather: The last two Royal Rumble finishes have been notoriously bad, and the three prior to it underwhelming at best. Stats like this haven’t usually swayed WWE to atone for its sins (though I did get the impression that WrestleMania 30 got everything right after a string of horrid Mania disappointments). On one hand, we could say “naturally Reigns is going to win” because that’s been the trend as of late. On the other hand, there are a few factors to consider. Brock Lesnar is going to be involved. Triple H will hitchhike on the road to WrestleMania. And there’s always a chance – no matter how small – that we could be surprised (even if not by the winner). To me, the Rumble has mostly been about the surprises. The comebacks, the debuts, the miraculous recoveries and the token nostalgic entrants. How will Kofi creatively cheat elimination? Will a Diva’s name be called? I can’t wait to sit back and enjoy the ride and yell about it on social media.
Person who will last the longest: Roman Reigns was my initial answer, since he is the #1 entrant and I think he might win. But #2 starts at the same time as Reigns, and in my 2016 Predictions I picked Brock Lesnar to win the Rumble. So if Brock is #2 and wins… this is why I suck at predictions. Because I don’t like to overthink any of this and ruin my own fun. I’m also not fond of all this math. I’ll say Reigns.
Most eliminations: Please. Brock Lesnar.
Wrestler that is eliminated the fastest: Chris Jericho before he can finish saying “Yeah baby!”
Will Triple H be in the match? I think the company might consider him the perfect “surprise” entrant to shake things up. So yes.
Will AJ Styles be in the match? There are plenty of precedents set by WWE for debuts and run-ins without a build. Ordinarily, I’d say this is too much out of left field, even though they’ve publicized AJ’s signing. But given the number of injuries plaguing the roster and AJ’s years of experience, they might just throw him out there to get people talking. I’m all for it.
Will The Undertaker be in the match? No. He needs to save his energy to fight Kevin Owens at WrestleMania so that my prediction can come true. And we can all have an Undertaker match worth looking forward to.
Roman Reigns is #1 entrant. Who is number 2? I’d love to see Dean Ambrose come out. I know I’m throwing away my pick by saying that, but wouldn’t it be fantastic?
Who will be the #30 entrant? Batista. Yeah I know, another throwaway pick. But I think it would get a huge reaction, now that Big Dave has redeemed himself outside of the ring. A hero’s welcome and a one-shot deal. Just leave the skinny jeans at home.
Will Daniel Bryan be in the match? No. But holy cow I just thought of a new opponent for Undertaker at WrestleMania that would be even cooler than Kevin Owens…
Who will be the final four?: Reigns, Triple H, Lesnar, Wyatt.
Winner: Brock Lesnar. First of all, it keeps Lesnar looking like an unstoppable beast. Second of all, it gives Roman Reigns a new obstacle to overcome besides The Authority. And third of all, it gives the fans a Rumble finish worth celebrating… For the first time in a long time.
John: I think there are only three people that have a realistic chance of winning: Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and Triple H.
The reason to put over Reigns is because he is the future top guy of the company. That’s the guy that WWE has picked to be in that spot, so if they really want to put him over this is the match where you do it. The danger of that is that he’s been shoved down people’s throats for so long that it may hurt him. If he wins the Rumble to retain the WWE Title he could get booed like last year. He’s my pick to win because he’s going to be WWE Champion at the end of WrestleMania most likely. Why book him to lose it two months before? That would give him three title reigns in five months. It’s better to book him as a stronger champion that doesn’t lose the title.
Brock Lesnar is a smart choice to win since he’s paid so much money by WWE and like his advocate Paul Heyman says, he’s a huge box office draw. With rumors of Lesnar facing Bray Wyatt or Kevin Owens at WrestleMania, that would suggest that he won’t win the title here. They could book him in a way where he is close to winning, gets screwed by Wyatt (and his family) because they attack him and Brock will seek revenge going into WrestleMania. I’d love it if he won the title here leading to Brock vs. Roman in a WM rematch for the WWE Title. I just don’t think that’s going to happen.
The Triple H option is out there because he’s the top heel in the company even though he’s not a full time wrestler. That’s how bad the booking has been without Seth Rollins around. That’s a major problem that needs to be corrected. They could have Triple H win as #30 or go even cheaper by saying he is #31. It would feel too much like Survivor Series, though. They just screwed Reigns over there with the Sheamus cash-in and the guy got the title soon after anyway. I’d save the Triple H appearance for after the match or on Raw in the near future. Have him attack Roman and say that Roman is defending the title against him at WrestleMania. Then they can add another stipulation stating that if Hunter loses at WM then The Authority loses power because that Authority angle really has to end by WM.
While I would love to see the debuting AJ Styles win the WWE Title in his first match as a full time performer, I have my doubts about it. He’ll be in the match, probably get in there for a good amount of time and do well for himself. I just don’t think he’s going to end up the winner. I’d love to be wrong on that.
As for the others, nobody else has a realistic shot of winning although I have set up a poll with other choices. I just don’t think there will be major surprises other than the Styles debut, which his a surprise to the average viewer, but not those of who read about wrestling online.
For even more of my Royal Rumble thoughts, I wrote a really long exclusive article for Comeback Sports breaking down all of the key contenders in the match.
Here are my predictions on the ten specific things that I asked the other writers to also predict and of course my winner as well.
Person who will last the longest: Roman Reigns. He’s #1, so makes sense for him to last the long especially as my winner!
Most eliminations: Brock Lesnar. Reigns could have been an easy pick, but I’ll go Brock.
Wrestler that is eliminated the fastest: Curtis Axel. He bragged about not being tossed out last year. Toss him out in a few seconds this year.
Will Triple H be in the match?: No. I’m sure a lot of people will say yes to that.
Will AJ Styles be in the match?: Yes. I think it’s a lock.
Will The Undertaker be in the match?: No. Would be fun to see him and they could use the Rumble to set up a WM match, but I doubt it.
Will Daniel Bryan be in the match?: No. I hope I’m wrong. I just think if they bring him back it’ll be on another show.
Roman Reigns is #1 entrant. Who is number 2?: Big Show. Random guess.
Who will be the #30 entrant?: Sheamus. If Triple H is in then it’s probably him. They could have Styles at 30 too.
Who will be the final four?: Roman Reigns, Sheamus, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt. Two faces and two heels. Pretty standard.
Winner: Roman Reigns
John: I have high expectations for the show. The good thing about the WWE Title on the line is that it has gotten people talking about the match as a major attraction again. The last few years didn’t have that feeling. With that said, I hope the booking of the Rumble match is better than the last few years because they were underwhelming to say the least. I also think the undercard is strong even though the matches are rematches we have seen before. It looks like some of those feuds will come to a close on Sunday night.
I won't see the Royal Rumble live on Sunday night because I’ll be watching the NFL’s NFC Title game at a family member’s house. The football game may be done at like 9:45pmET, which is around when the Rumble will start, so maybe I can see the Rumble part live. That will be cool. Either way, I’ll have the review up on Sunday night a few hours after the show is over.
Christian - @Christian_973
Heather - @kickyhick
Matt - @MJDP_GSE
John - @johnreport
If you want to send an email, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Thanks for reading.