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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Picks His Favorite for the Men's Royal Rumble....and it's FRIGHTENING.
By Dave Fenichel
Jan 5, 2018 - 11:35:23 PM

Question of the Day: What is Your Worst Case Scenario for the 2017 Men’s Royal Rumble?

Hi kids.

You aren’t going to like this one. There. I warned you. This is your last chance to turn away. This column is going to make you want to drink heavily by the time you’re done reading it.

Still here? Ok then. I guess you’re a glutton for punishment. Fair enough, onto the column.

It’s Royal Rumble season. One of my staple columns over the past couple of years has been one in which I fantasy book the Royal Rumble from soup to nuts. I go entrant by entrant and provide a detailed look at the action I want to see. Since there are two Rumbles this year, I’ll have my work cut out for me.

Those are future columns though. Today’s column isn’t about what I’d LIKE to see happen. Today’s column is about what I THINK will ACTUALLY happen. I’ve been taking a long and hard look at the male version of the 2018 Royal Rumble and the possible winners. After much consideration, I’ve come up with a prohibitive favorite to win.

Being the Eternal Optimist, I try to paint everything and everyone in the most positive light that I can. Unfortunately, I just can’t do it when it comes to the man that I think is likeliest to win. The thought of this man emerging victorious and headlining Wrestlemania is absolutely horrific to me. I suspect that you will feel the same way.

Nonetheless, I think the WWE is dangerously close to making a catastrophic mistake. Without further ado:

The Eternal Optimist Presents: The Male Royal Rumble – A Terrifying Prediction.

Before I can tell you about who I think will WIN the Men’s Royal Rumble, I need to explain how I came to this conclusion. In order to understand how I came to repugnant realization, I first need to talk about who WON’T win the Royal Rumble.

Roman Reigns will NOT win the Royal Rumble.

Roman Reigns is the runaway no-brainer choice to win the Rumble. Many of you think that this is the worst thing that could possibly happen. It isn’t. Just wait until you get the end of this column and want to throw yourself off of the nearest bridge.

It is without question that Roman Reigns is going to dethrone Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title in the main event of Wrestlemania 34. You can put that in pen. It’s a stone cold lock. It is completely understandable for someone to think that he’s going to win Rumble #2. Having your number one baby-face win the Rumble and challenge for the title at Wrestlemania is a time-tested formula that works.
However, it’s not going to happen this year. He’s not going to win for two reasons.

Reason #1 – He wrestles for the wrong brand. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that this is the first year that there will be two Royal Rumble matches. There is absolutely NO chance that the winners of the two Royal Rumble matches are going to come from the same brand. We are going to get one winner from Raw and one winner from Smackdown.

Asuka is going to win the Women’s Royal Rumble. Her reign is inevitable, the WWE isn’t going to tarnish her undefeated streak and there’s no way that the Raw Women’s Title match at Wrestlemania is going to be anything other than her coronation. Thus, the winner of the Men’s Royal Rumble MUST come from Smackdown.

Reason #2 – Brock Lesnar isn’t wrestling in the Elimination Chamber. EC is a Raw-branded Pay Per View centered around a gimmick match. 2017 Brock Lesnar doesn’t do gimmick matches. He’s not putting his body through that when his star power and standing within the company dictate that he doesn’t have to.

As such, The Elimination Pay Per View will need a big time main event, and the ONLY reasonable option is to have the Wrestlemania Universal Title shot on the line inside of the Chamber. I fully expect Roman to earn his title shot by winning the Elimination Chamber match, NOT by winning the Royal Rumble.

For both of the reasons above, Roman Reigns will NOT win the Royal Rumble. In fact, both of the abovementioned reasons disqualify ANY Raw wrestler from winning. With that said, it’s time to take a look at why any of the potentially obvious choices from Smackdown aren’t going to get it done either.

John Cena will NOT win the Royal Rumble.

None of the Smackdown crew require the depth and length of explanation as to why they won’t win that Roman did. For Cena, the case is simple. If Cena wins, who is he going to wrestle? Logic states that A.J. Styles is going to be the WWE Champion going into Wrestlemania. If the WWE wanted to go down the Cena v Styles at Wrestlemania path, last year would have been the year to do it. If they didn’t pull the trigger then, they sure aren’t doing it now.

The only plausible scenario that allows for Cena to win the Royal Rumble is if Kevin Owens beats A.J. for the belt. I don’t see this happening for a couple of reasons. First, KO v Cena doesn’t feel like a big enough match to warrant Cena’s 17th title reign. Second, KO looks to be firmly entrenched with the Shane/Bryan storyline leading into Mania.

This isn’t Cena’s year. If it was, the WWE would have kept the title on Jinder Mahal and ensured that Cena’s 17th title reign was as well received as they would hope it to be. Cross him off the list.

Daniel Bryan will NOT win the Royal Rumble.

Face it. In a perfect world, this is the story we would want to see told. Daniel Bryan gets cleared for in-ring competition, ends up a surprise entrant in the Rumble and it’s Yesslemania XXX all over again. I come even come up with a plausible storyline to make it work. Shane turns heel and helps KO win the title from Styles. Bryan enters the Rumble, wins and we get Bryan v Owens with Shane in his corner as the Smackdown portion of the main event.

Reality check time. Even if he’s healthy enough to get cleared (a massive if), the WWE isn’t going to build another Wrestlemania around Bryan. They put all of their eggs in that basket four years ago, and it burned them. Bryan got hurt a month later and his entire title reign was a complete dud as a result. With his current health situation, any sign of another concussion would force the WWE to pull the plug on Bryan. It’s time to re-set our expectations. If Bryan gets cleared and works a tag match at Wrestlemania, we’ll call it a win. There will be no Royal Rumble win for Mr. Bella.

Shinsuke Nakamura is NOT winning the Royal Rumble.

There is a major push within our community for Shinsuke Nakamura to emerge victorious in the Royal Rumble Match. The idea is that Styles v Nakamura is a “dream match” and the only worthy stage is at Wrestlemania for the WWE title.

I don’t hate this idea. I think it would be smart booking on the part of the WWE to counter-balance the casual-fan friendly Lesnar v Reigns with a WWE World Title match geared towards the diehards. Nakamura winning the Rumble would send the Philly crowd home happy for the first time years and would add a match that the fans who often travel to Wrestlemania would be excited to see.

I just don’t see it happening. The WWE has consistently shown that they use a different rule book for Wrestlemania than they do with every other show during the year. Wrestlemania is all about pomp and circumstance. At no point during any Wrestlemania have they catered any of the main events to the most passionate portion of the fan base. There’s little to no reason to think they are going to start now.

On top of that, I am fairly certain that the decision makers within the WWE don’t hold Nakamura in the same light as the rabid portion of the fan base. They had a golden opportunity to strap the rocket ship to him at Summerslam. Instead, Jinder Mahal squashed Nak in under ten minutes. Many cite his clean victory over Cena on Smackdown as a sign that the WWE wants him to be their next star. I view this in the opposite direction. If the WWE really felt that way, his victory over Cena would have been built up and occurred on a Network Special.

If Styles v Nakamura is going to happen at Wrestlemania, A.J. is going to lose the title beforehand and it will end up as a mid-card match. For these reasons, Shinsuke Nakamura will NOT be victorious at the Royal Rumble.

So who does that leave us with? One man. One absolutely frightening thought:


Terrible. I know. He’s human cardboard. An absolute dumpster fire. The thought of him winning the Royal Rumble and having his big beautiful skullet on the Wrestlemania 34 poster is unbelievably horrific. It’s such an awful thought that I’m sure you’re reading this and unwilling to believe it to be even a remote possibility. Allow me to present the overwhelming evidence:

Evidence #1: Baron Corbin was pushed immediately upon his arrival in the WWE by winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. This showed that the WWE recognized him as someone with potential and wanted to put him in a position to be successful right away.

Evidence #2: The WWE gave Corbin a MASSIVE moment in the 2017 Royal Rumble. Braun Strowmann was without question the biggest story of the first half of last year’s Rumble. He was booked like the monster that he is. He wrecked anyone and everyone in his path. Generally speaking, wrestlers of his size that go on that kind of a rampage are only eliminated by a large group of wrestlers deciding to gang up on them. Instead, Baron Corbin took him out by himself. This again told me that the WWE was serious about making Corbin a big deal.

Evidence #3: Corbin won Money in the Bank. Wrestlers are not simply given the Money in the Bank Briefcase. Every wrestler that wins that match does so because it is the WWE’s intention to elevate said wrestler to the main event. It didn’t work with Corbin, the fans turned on him and he was fed to Super Cena at Summerslam. However, history has shown that if the WWE powers that be want to push someone, one failed endeavor won’t stop them from trying again.

Evidence #4: An Irrational Title Change. Baron Corbin was just getting started as U.S. champ when the WWE moved the belt to of all people…Dolph Ziggler. Dolph had absolutely no momentum at the time and it didn’t make an ounce of sense to make the switch. Follow along with me. Why would the WWE do this? They cut Baron’s title reign short for a bum, then stripped the bum of his belt and announced a U.S. title tournament completely devoid of any compelling matchups? The answer is so simple that it’s slapping you in the face. They needed to get the U.S. title off Corbin in order for him to win the Royal Rumble.

It’s an absolutely disgusting thought. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see win the Rumble less than Baron Corbin. However, for all of the reasons that I stated above, I believe that he’s the obvious pick. It’s a thought so detestable that I can’t bear to write any more words on the topic. Instead, I’ll spend the rest of my Friday night drowning away my sorrows in cocaine and hookers.

That’s a wrap kids. The era of Corbin is almost upon us. How sick to your stomach does that thought make you? Sound off below!

Facebook: David Fenichel

Twitter: @FFFightLeague

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