The Road to Wrestlemania begins… tonight. It’s the Royal Rumble, where 30 men battle to throw each other over an obstacle. There is a rumoured Wrestlemania card out there online right now, but excitingly nobody seems to be sure where the titles will be. So the question on everyone’s lips tonight is, who will stand victorious having won the Royal Rumble match? That’s what I’m focusing on here by picking the Rumble match itself for my PPV Spotlight. And if you ask me…
I have absolutely no earthly idea.
This is the most open Royal Rumble… possibly ever. You actually need two hands to count the potential winners in 2017, instead of there just being two options. Let’s go through the apparent contenders.
Braun Strowman is the guy who seems to be being groomed to win. Kinda like SmackDown’s Baron Corbin, only an actual threat to win this match. Last year as part of the Wyatt Family he helped dominate the Rumble in the third quadrant of the match – and helped eliminate Brock Lesnar. After the draft he split away from Bray et al and embarked on a path of destruction that saw him completely bypass the midcard and become a main event figure. He’s been taking on higher level opponents until now, where he has faced off and been put on a similarly foreboding level as Brock Lesnar and Goldberg. The only place left for Strowman to go is the Championship level, and the way he’s been going, it has to happen soon. The only issue with this is that on the Wrestlemania card floating around, Strowman isn’t in any of the featured matches. That might mean WWE don’t think the other matches need the belt. He’s still a threat, but he wouldn’t be my favourite.
Goldberg. And you know what, let’s deal with Brock Lesnar at the same time. It is pretty much nailed on that these two are facing each other at Wrestlemania. There’s a chance it’s for the title. Lesnar is booked for pretty much every Raw between now and Mania, and Goldberg is booked for Fastlane. So, potentially, Goldberg could win the title there and face the Rumble winner Lesnar, or Lesnar could win the title on a Raw (or he could be added to Fastlane) and defend the title against Rumble winner Goldberg. Both scenarios are absolutely plausible, but the question will undoubtedly be asked about whether the match needs the Universal Title – and whether it being held by potentially two part-timers in a couple of months is a good thing. I don’t know what either man’s schedule is like post-Mania, so there could be an issue getting the belt off of whoever leaves Wrestlemania with it afterwards should they go down this route. I think because of that, it’s unlikely they pick either of these options, but it’s very possible.
Chris Jericho is the man I would’ve liked to have seen WWE go with. It’s one of the few things he hasn’t actually done in his WWE career, and that’s saying something. I think he’s definitely building to a Wrestlemania match with Kevin Owens at this stage, and I think their “friendship” has been so well done, and these two are good enough to make the split fantastic, that they would probably have deserved a world title level match – their match will probably have had the longest build on the Wrestlemania card. However, Jericho winning the United States Championship has thrown a spanner in those works. Now it seems more likely that two Canadian former best friends will battle to determine the champion of the US rather than the Universe. There is always the chance Jericho loses the US Title before Mania, and however slight there is the chance Owens beats Reigns, so it could still happen, but Jericho could be one of the least likely winners I’ve listed.
The Undertaker. Right. Much as it would be cool to see him get one last hurrah, I don’t particularly like the idea of a 52-year-old headlining Wrestlemania as the Rumble winner. And I feel like if he wins the Rumble, it will be obvious he is losing at Wrestlemania. That could be the case anyway based on who he is rumoured to be facing at Wrestlemania (spoiler: it’s not John Cena anymore!) but the title chase will feel too forced for me. Unfortunately for me, I don’t think WWE shares my point of view. If he is going to be in a big match, one way to make people look past his age and lack of matches over the last few years would be to have him beat 29 other men and win the Royal Rumble. I think there is a very decent chance that The Undertaker wins tonight.
Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are another pairing that seems set for Wrestlemania, with another impressively long build by WWE’s standards. And to be honest, I really didn’t think there was a chance this would be for the WWE Championship. But rumours in the last week have surfaced that that is a very real possibility, with one man winning the Rumble and the other winning the Elimination Chamber next month. Who would do which is anyone’s guess, personally I’d probably have Wyatt winning the Rumble because it would be a way to launch him into superstardom, and Orton should easily get a spot in the Chamber match as a former 12-time champion himself. The Rumble should usually be about creating new stars in the same way Money In The Bank is, and there is a chance to shine up the star that is Bray Wyatt better than ever before here.
And all those names don’t even take into account a handful of others. There are eight spots free in the Royal Rumble match. We could see the losers of the WWE and Universal Championship matchups in the Rumble, in which case they would have to be right up there with the favourites. We could also see the return of Finn Balor, who was undergoing tests at the Performance Centre this week, but we don’t know how those went. Or, if WWE really wanted to cash in on someone who’s good enough to be an immediate fixture at the top of the card, we could potentially see Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura make the jump from NXT and win the Royal Rumble in their debut.
There really are so many options. It should be one of the best Rumble matches, well, ever. It’s that good of a field, it is that unpredictable and the talent is that damn good. I’ve been saying for years now WWE is on the brink of something special with it’s roster, and we are seeing the effects of that here. I’m really looking forward to it, and the Road to Wrestlemania beyond, so we’ll just have to wait and see where we go!