First I’ve got to apologize. Well, I’m apologizing to my readers who aren’t wrestling fans. My blog becomes VERY wrestling centric this time of year and that will continue all the way through WrestleMania season in April. You’ve been warned.
Quite frankly, this is the best time of year to be a wrestling fan. The Road to WrestleMania officially kicks off on Sunday evening at the 2016 Royal Rumble. The Rumble is traditionally my second favorite PPV of the year (behind only WrestleMania) and this year will be no different. Not only do I love the Royal Rumble match itself but I get enthralled by the build toward WrestleMania which begins in earnest during the event. And boy is this year’s event shaping up to be… interesting.
You see, the WWE roster has been completely decimated as of late with injuries to the likes of John Cena, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, etc. Many of these are long term injuries putting the Superstar out through Mania season. This means the WWE creative staff is going to put their thinking caps on and really come up with something special. Not only do they need to build to the biggest show of the year, but they need to do it with what essentially is their B team.
Let’s take a look at the announced card and see how things may play out.
Fatal Four-Way Tag Match – Royal Rumble Qualification
This will be on the pre-show (which candidly I probably won’t watch) but it looks promising. Darren Young and Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger. This is a tough one to call as whoever I pick means that 6 other guys won’t make it to the Rumble match. My money is on the Dudley Boyz though WWE may swerve us and put Young and Sandow in there. If that’s the case, look for the Dudleys to interfere with the tag title match later in the night. I still think the New Day / Dudley feud has legs.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens – Last Man Standing Intercontinental Championship
Good God… this is going to be epic. Ambrose is my current fav on the roster and Owens (I believe) is headed for big things. This isn’t really a WrestleMania prediction post but it comes into play here. I’m thinking we may see Owens vs. Brock Lesnar at Mania and I don’t think that match needs the title to up the stakes. I’m going to say Ambrose retains, perhaps with a little help from Lesnar.
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto – US Championship
On paper, this is the low point of the night for me. I can’t stand Del Rio and while he’s an incredible talent I don’t really care much for Kalisto either. This is one that I just don’t really care about. They put the title on Kalisto for like a day recently only to have Del Rio win it back. I’d really like to see they continue to hot potato the belt and give it back to Kalisto.
Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch – Divas Championship
The fact that Ric Flair has been SO involved in this angle leads me to believe there’s a breakup between Charlotte and him coming in the very near future. I would have thought they might keep the title on her until WrestleMania but Becky Lynch is looking very strong and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Flair inadvertently cost his daughter the title leading to massive heat.
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos – Tag Team Championship
This one is interesting. On one hand I’d say it “feels” like time for the Usos to get the titles back. But The New Day are one of the best things going right now and I’m not sure what it would do to them to lose the titles. I’m going to say that New Day holds onto them for a little while longer.
Royal Rumble – WWE World Heavyweight Championship
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be decided on Sunday, with the winner of the Rumble taking home the title. Roman Reigns has got himself into some hot water with the McMahon family recently and he’s being forced to defend his title against incredible odds. Not only is his title on the line, but he’s entering the Rumble at #1. Will he win his second Rumble in a row to retain the title? I’m probably one of the few that would like to see that (I enjoyed and defended last year’s Rumble) but I sort of doubt they’ll go this route. Here’s why…
It’s clear that Roman Reigns is the chosen one to carry the WWE into the future. The current face of the company, John Cena, isn’t going to be around forever and Vince and crew need a new poster child. Reigns fits the bill as he’s big, a hard worker and seems to be a company man. However, that’s the future and this is now. With so many people out of action for WrestleMania the creative folks have got to be scrambling to find enough big time matches to fill 100,000 seats in Arlington for Mania. If they keep the title on Roman he’ll be in the main event. However, if they take the title off him and put Reigns into another premier match they’ve suddenly got TWO marquee matches coming out of Rumble instead of just one. Hmm… who could that be against. My money is on HHH coming out to eliminate Reigns setting up that match for WrestleMania.
So, if we’re going under the assumption that Reigns isn’t going to be able to defend his title, we have to ask ourselves who’s going to be champ? Brock Lesnar is a smart choice, but per the above I think he’s going to be busy with Kevin Owens (Remember, we need a LOT of great matches to fill that much time and that many seats in Texas). What about a surprise return? Apparently Daniel Bryan has been returned to wrestle. And while it would make wrestling hipsters everywhere go nuts, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell WWE is going to put the strap on a returning and injury prone guy like Daniel Bryan.
There’s been a lot of rumbling on the Interwebs lately about some new folks that the WWE just signed. Names like AJ Styles and Austin Aries are swirling around. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see them make their debuts at the Rumble, but I don’t think there’s a chance Vince would put his top strap on a guy from another company.
Nah, my guess would be Bray Wyatt. They’ve built him to be a monster lately and with the Wyatt Family by his side in the Rumble I could absolutely see him walking out with the title on Sunday. I’ve been down on the Wyatt Family as of late, but I’m holding out hope that the WWE will use this rash of injuries and finally figure out what a gem they’ve got in Wyatt. I’m not sure who he’d be paired up with at Mania but it would be an interesting couple of months (at least) with him holding the top title.
But there is another possibility…
What about The Undertaker? And before you laugh hear me out. I think it’s fair to say the The Dead Man is on his last ride. I’d be sort of shocked if WrestleMania WASN’T his final match. It seems to me that WWE is giving him a sort of final tour. He was in the main event at SummerSlam in August. They built Survivor Series around him in November. Would it be so shocking to see them put the title on him at the Rumble and give him one last run through WrestleMania where he retired either losing a retirement match or just retiring with the title setting up some sort of tournament once he vacated it?
The more I type, the more I like this idea. Yes, I’m biased in that Undertaker is my all time favorite. Sure, he’s over the hill and this sort of thing will have legs only based on nostalgia. But I think it just may work. Can you imagine what would happen if we were down to #30 in the Rumble and the lights went out and the gong hit? Holy shit… the roof would come off the building. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
With Sting seemingly out of the picture we’re not going to get the Sting vs. Undertaker match that we’ve dreamed of for years. I don’t think anyone would care about yet ANOTHER Undertaker vs. Kane match. What a better way to give the Phenom the sendoff that he so rightfully deserves than to have him defending the World Title at the Grandaddy of Them All? Win or lose it would be amazing.
What do you think? Am I crazy? Will you be watching the Royal Rumble tomorrow? Leave a comment with your thoughts. Enjoy the Rumble!