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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Who Will Win the 2017 WWE Royal Rumble Match? RAW/Smackdown Thoughts, More
By Mr. Tito
Jan 12, 2017 - 12:06:46 AM
Welcome back to Mr. Tito Land here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Ah yes, it's that time of the year... January. You know, that one month where that HUGE wrestling occurs that everybody looks forward to and anticipates. Hell, the whole wrestling world looks forward to seeing this event each and every year...
I'm talking about the Royal Rumble... You know, that longtime WWE event that hosts that 6-Star gimmick bout known as the 30 Man Elimination Rumble Match? Yeah, that one... All other events during this month pale in comparison.
Following SummerSlam, it's rough to be a wrestling fan in this post-Monday Night Wars world. It's as if the WWE has given up on Monday Nights during the Fall season with NFL's Monday Night Football and VH1's Love & Hip Hop as highly rated competitors. The Pay Per Views of September through December aren't the best that the WWE has to offer. Some good here and there, but nothing consistently strong compared to the build up to Wrestlemania and SummerSlam. Just when you've lost hope as a WWE fan, January arrives... And that means ROYAL RUMBLE time. No matter how weak the roster may be, how bad the storylines are, or the wrestlers that are being pushed... When that timed 30 Man Elimination Match starts, you're excited! Even during the years when WWE tried to shove Batista (2014) and Roman Reigns (2015) down our throats, it was still the Rumble. And then you get CRAZY surprises like the return of Mr. Perfect one year and then debut of AJ Styles another year.
WWE doesn't have a Playoff System but in my opinion, the Royal Rumble match is the closest thing to "playoffs" that we see from the WWE. Technically speaking, Money in the Bank is starting to feel like that as well. The result of the Royal Rumble Match determines the #1 Contendership for the Wrestlemania event, the biggest night of the year for pro wrestling. It's like an AFC/NFC Championship for the WWE and the winner gets to go to pro wrestling's Super Bowl called Wrestlemania. Between Wrestlemania and the next Royal Rumble, it's like the regular season for the WWE. Then, the Rumble arrives and it's Playoff time again and the winners get the top matches at Wrestlemania. That simple... That's my perspective on the Royal Rumble and why I appreciate it so much. Plus, the 30 Man Rumble Match is soooooooooo much fun to watch! That too.
So... Who is going to win the 2017 Royal Rumble MATCH?
To answer that, you must first project the Wrestlemania 33 card while also considering the results of John Cena vs. AJ Styles and Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for each brands' World Titles. While BOTH RAW and Smackdown could milk both match-ups for 1-2 more events following Rumble before Wrestlemania 33, there's a good chance that the champions walking from the Rumble will defend at Wrestlemania... UNLESS Undertaker wins the Rumble Match. If so and AJ Styles retains that WWE Title, you can bet that John Cena will win the WWE Title at a Smackdown exclusive Pay Per View before Wrestlemania 33.
Here's what I project for Wrestlemania 33 and I'm doing this based on the news we've seen reported from the leaky WWE backstage area AND from my own personal assessment based on trends that I see.
- John Cena (c) vs. Undertaker for the WWE Title
- Roman Reigns (c) vs. Braun Strowman
- Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
- Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
- If Miz vs. Daniel Bryan doesn't happen... Miz/Maryse vs. Dean Ambrose/Renee Young
- Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the United States Title
That's what I believe is in concrete in some form... I could guess Tag Teams or Women's Division matches but I figure Triple Threat or Fatal Four Way matches will form for those. I'm also curious about how AJ Styles will be used, maybe he's used to help someone like Apollo Crews. I'd saw off an arm to see AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels... That HBK promo from RAW was interesting to say the least... Rumble participant?
I like what former LoP Columnist Hustle predicted on the Undertaker and John Cena. Cena wins the WWE Title and Undertaker wins the Rumble Match to set up their HUGE Wrestlemania 33 match. Why else would the Undertaker even enter the Rumble? It just feels like a big long-term Vince McMahon prepared storyline. I can definitely see that happening... But, Cena can lose the match and Undertaker can fail to win the Rumble... It could still happen. As Triple H and Undertaker found out years ago, they can just look at the "WRESTLEMANIA" sign and fans get it. Whether it's for the WWE title or just pride, wrestling fans just want to see John Cena vs. Undertaker on a BIG STAGE while both wrestlers are still in their drawing prime. I know that they've fought in the past, but John Cena wasn't the mega star that he is now.
Besides the Undertaker, which feels obvious, predicting the 2017 Rumble Match is not easy... Why? It's hard to see what wrestler deserves it. WWE had many NXT call-ups during 2016 but are any of them ready for a World Championship run? I don't think so... Furthermore, 2016 had some World Title inflation. All 3 members of the Shield were champions (Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose), AJ Styles, and Kevin Owens were champions during 2016 and in my opinion, those guys are the Main Eventers. What else do they have to prove other than accumulating title reigns or holding extensive reigns?
BUT... WWE is in the process of pushing 1 guy hard on the RAW brand and that's Braun Strowman. He's a Vince McMahon pet project and I wouldn't doubt that Vince is pushing for Roman Reigns as WWE Universal Champion losing to Braun Strowman at Wrestlemania 33. Of the "up-and-comer" wrestlers, Strowman has the best chance of winning in my opinion. If Roman Reigns wins that match before the Rumble match happens, the odds of Strowman win shoot through the roof.
If Kevin Owens retains the WWE Universal Title and keeps it through Wrestlemania, I believe that Chris Jericho has a shot at actually winning the Rumble match. It will cause tension and allow there to be drama between the 2 former friends. However, I think that Jericho's newly won United States Title can accomplish the same thing. Just having the match between Jericho and Owens will work regardless of the title.
I'll give you a DARK HORSE candidate... The Miz. He's RED HOT and if AJ Styles happens to retain the WWE Title at Rumble and Pay Per Views thereafter, I wouldn't doubt that the WWE turns Styles into a babyface immediately. Then, that could set up Miz vs. AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 33 for the WWE Title. It's a longshot, in my opinion, but I could see it happening. Miz is red hot as a heel and WWE, thanks to their past issues getting Miz over, might want to try striking when the iron is hot.
If I were to rank the possibilities in terms of probability...
4) The Miz (dark horse)
3) Chris Jericho (distant 3rd)
2) Braun Strowman (2nd highest)
1) Undertaker (highest)
But damn, we have Brock Lesnar AND Bill Goldberg in this thing... That's CRAZY to think about. I just don't see the WWE lasting long with the 50 year old man, but damn do they like the numbers that Goldberg draws for RAW.
THE RAW SMACKDOWN
Can someone please remove the chalkboard scratching sound effect that is hurting my ears on Monday Night RAW. It seems that every other segment, this foul sounding voice appears and ridicules any wrestler in front of them. What hell? Oh, that's a human being on the television screen talking and a McMahon at that? Yeah, Stephanie McMahon. She is adding ZERO value to Monday Night RAW and we've seen these same Authority figure act for 5 years now on RAW since her full-time return. And we've seen this authority figure character many times during the 2000s. Could someone at the Corporate WWE show me where her draw as a character has actually increased viewership or attendance for RAW? I don't quite see the reports... She's a freakin' bully. Why doesn't those Anti-Bullying charity organizations call out Stephanie for her character? Oh that's right... She hands them a big fat check. Stephanie bullied and tore into the entire RAW roster from her General Manager, Women's wrestlers, and to her main event wrestlers. Owned them all... When will the redemption occur? Drunk with power over her stupid character.
LOVED the Undertaker's appearance and then announcing his Royal Rumble match appearance... That's awesome. Full mouthfuls of 'Member Berries occurring now with Undertaker, Goldberg, and Lesnar possibly in the ring at the same time... Wow... And if Shawn Michaels appears in that Rumble, HOLY COW. I think that Michaels will be appearing...
I LOVE the Dean Ambrose vs. Miz feud... They work perfectly together as you can tell by body language, they're having fun out there... Gotta love that Participation Award. What I want is for Renee Young and Maryse to roll around the ring like a true ECW Cat Fight. I think that the WWE has real money in a Miz/Maryse vs. Dean Amborse/Renee Young mixed tag match. That's the kind of quirky match that often makes a Wrestlemania event.
As I watch Roman Reigns, I'm shocked that the WWE doesn't incorporate more MMA style brawling into his style. What Reigns does well is PUNCH... Some guys can swing their arms convincingly and some can't. Reigns looks like he really punches you! If they could figure that out while GIVING HIM A SUBMISSION HOLD, he could improve as an in-ring performer. Let me give Mr. Reigns a GIFT and actually this is a move that my brother invented... It's like a Camel Clutch but with a Full Nelson instead of lucking your arms underneath the chin. Try it on your little brother or friends... It is DEVASTATING, especially when I you sit back. I once slapped a 350 pound kid in that move and he was paralyzed by much smaller body size. He could not move once I sat back. So, for much of the match, Reigns could work on the back and shoulders and then execute that Full Nelson Camel Clutch. Problem solved.
Just seems awkward to see heavyweights who competed in the main event, Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt, wrestling against American Alpha. Nothing against Alpha, as I've HEAVILY praised that team... But Orton and Wyatt are large human beings and they're towering over Chad Gable. That's NOT a knock on Gable either, but just that Wyatt and Orton should be taken OUT of the Tag Team scene and placed into the WWE Title scene. I would LOVE to see AJ Styles versus Randy Orton or Bray Wyatt. Yes please. And then American Alpha can work great tag matches against the many teams that aren't being built up on the Smackdown roster.
Congrats to Chris Jericho on becoming new US Champion. Happy for the guy, but it was fairly obvious that Roman Reigns was just a placeholder for that US Title. I think that Jericho winning the US Title greatly reduces his possible Rumble match win.
And....... Kalisto defeats Dolph Ziggler. Am I missing something on that guy? Last time I checked, Kalisto wasn't drawing like the great Rey Mysterio. They've TRIED and TRIED to get Kalisto over, at the expense of title belts and other larger wrestlers... But nothing sticks. Sorry, but he's NOT Rey Mysterio. There's more to being a pro wrestler than just hitting spot after spot. Gotta have a magnetic personality.
I like the pairing of Nia Jax with Charlotte. I just don't think that Nia Jax works on RAW as just being a bigger, stronger female than the rest of the division. You cannot just import from NXT and expect said wrestlers to immediately catch on. She was drafted and just appeared without any hype (hence why Crews & Corbin struggle to get over). She can act as Charlotte's muscle and further protect her as champion... Like an "ENFORCER"...
Steel Cage match for Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss next week? That's pretty cool... Like that little feud on Smackdown.
Finally... What is with the INTERNET HATE on John Cena defeating Baron Corbin cleanly on Smackdown? Excuse me, John Cena is just wrestling for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble 2017. Furthermore, Baron Corbin is still under 1 year on the main WWE roster. Just a month ago, many of those same internet fans were calling Corbin a "bust" but suddenly, it's a crime that he lost to the 15 time World Champion John Cena? Are you NUTS?!? At Corbin's stage in his career, it should be considered a good thing that Baron is in the ring with Cena, period. Put up a good fight, get your name out there, and move on. Cena is wrestling for the WWE Title at the Rumble and will possibly wrestle the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 33. It's time for Cena to lose and put over wrestlers? Hating Cena for the wrong reasons... And where were these Corbin fans a month ago?
Smackdown > RAW - Honestly, I don't know how RAW will ever beat Smackdown with Stephanie having so much mic time.
THE LAST WORD
I'm sure that my first few "tongue in cheek" comments have offended several New Japan Pro Wrestling fans or fair-weather ones who watch after hearing Dave Meltzer/Jim Ross praise something. Being honest here, I often follow what Jim Ross suggests so thus you're just taking high valued word-of-mouth. Nothing wrong with that... What I don't like, however, is how "New Japan is BETTER than WWE" crap that happens every January. Right... If New Japan was a superior organization than WWE, it would be on a bigger American channel than AXS TV and it's approximate household count of 35 million (found on one AXS TV Q &A). But of course, New Japan would have to compromise its style that makes it appreciated in Japan and by diehard wrestling fans. Not everyone wants to play the Corporate game in the United States.
I saw the Kenny Omega vs. Okada match and enjoyed it... Was it the BEST match that I've ever seen? No... Definitely a ***** match because it featured 2 guys battling for 50 minutes. The endurance that both had was absurd and everything was executed perfectly. It's the obvious placeholder for "Match of the Year" until something else for the REST of 2017 could beat it. We're on the 11th day of 2017 so far and thus there are plenty of matches that could overcome it.
But it's not the best match that I've ever seen, far from it. That's the point that I want to make today... For non-stop action and some stiff action, that match has it... However, I like a little drama, little theatrics, more selling, and fewer moves that look like finishers in my matches. Those kicks that Kenny Omega delivered should have knocked out someone in a normal fight. However, those hard kicks were just transitional moves and then Okada would execute a move as if he wasn't just kicked in the face hard. Huh? Multiple moves were executed that should be finishers in other matches. They should go lighter on the transitional moves and do things with psychology rather than relying on strikes or finisher looking moves. That's my nitpick with the match and why it's NOT the best match of all time.
Omega vs. Okada was damn good, though... I still gave it 5-stars and it's up to the rest of the wrestling world to put on a better match. But to suggest that Jesus Christ returned to this Earth and gave us that match, that's a bit off... There were a handful of matches from 2016 that I'd rather watch than Okada vs. Omega such as Nakamura vs. Zayn, AJ Styles vs. Cena, some of those Revival NXT tag matches, etc. So they didn't go 50 minutes? Sometimes, less is more... Each of those matches had more theatrics, drama, and something that benefits the characters of those matches other than the pure move for moves hit during the match. The 5-stars from me is as a result of Omega and Okada giving superhuman efforts for 50 minutes and executing well. However, I'm willing to bet that something else during 2017 could impress me more.
Again, I STILL gave the match 5-stars... Just because I didn't call it the "BEST OF ALL TIME", doesn't mean that you share that opinion. Leave your comments below or Tweet me... BUT we can agree that it's a great match and that Omega/Okada have real in-ring talent. If WWE doesn't make a real try at free agent Kenny Omega, then they are missing out on something special.
OK wrestling hipsters? Just because it's January and Wrestle Kingdom seems to becoming a large event, doesn't mean that you have to openly brag about riding that New Japan bandwagon. I'd rather watch the Royal Rumble.
SO JUST CHILL... UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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