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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - Previewing the Royal Rumbles: Best & Worst Case Scenarios, Dark Horses & Heavy Favourites
By Super Chrisss
Jan 15, 2018 - 2:31:54 PM

Tom Jenner rocks!

We are on the verge of making history, folks. In less than two weeks, we will have witnessed not one, but two Royal Rumble matches take place on the same night. Whether or not that formula proves to be overkill for both the audience and those watching on the WWE Network remains to be seen. Even though we're being asked to sit through another four-hour plus Pay-Per-View, I think a good pacing and structure will make the time fly by. Obviously, the women's Rumble should kick off the show at 7pm (just like every Hell in a Cell PPV always begins with one of the two - or three - scheduled gimmick matches), but I've seen some people campaign for the women's Rumble to main-event. Ehhh, I'm not so sure about that. In the future, sure (since I can't see this being a one-time only thing, but rather a permanent change), but it would make no sense by putting so much pressure on the ladies by having them go on last. Let them sort out the kinks in two Sundays, develop some Rumble 'veterans' over the next few years, and then give them the spotlight.

Although the Royal Rumble match has produced some very groan-including, head-scratching winners the past seven years or so, one thing this year's Rumbles have going for them is the unpredictability in determining the winners. Before I break everything down, let me state this right away - Roman Reigns is NOT winning the 2018 Royal Rumble. While the dreaded Reigns vs. Lesnar match still seems a lock for WrestleMania 34, Elimination Chamber next month is a Raw PPV that Lesnar is not scheduled for. Therefore, the chamber participants need to fight over something, and I doubt it will be the Intercontinental Championship. Could Lesnar drop the Universal Championship to Kane or Braun Strowman at the Rumble, though? Maybe, but if they didn't put the belt on Braun at No Mercy when he was red-hot, why do it now? And LOL @ Kane winning the title in 2018, let alone Royal Rumble season. Reigns vs. Lesnar will probably still happen, but we won't get there via a(nother) Rumble win for Reigns.

By the way, I've seen some people say things along the lines of, "I really hope Reigns wins the Rumble just so I can see Philly flip out and lose their shit like they did in 2015 - HAHAHAHA!". Look, if that's how you really feel, then you're an asshole who takes enjoyment in watching other people get upset. WWE fans spend a LOT of money to attend shows, especially Big 4 Pay-Per-Views. There will certainly be a small number of fans who attend for the sole reason of trying to 'hijack' the show with their edgy and controversial chants, but most people spend all that money to be entertained. WWE booking Reigns to win the Rumble in Philly again is not only refusing to learn from the past but also slapping their Philly fanbase in the face. WWE knows the audience will be pissed if they pull that shit again. Therefore, there is no way Reigns will win the Rumble - assuming WWE doesn't want to lose a large portion of their Philadelphia market. After all, there's only a certain amount of times you can keep kicking your fans in the balls and expect them to keep giving you money. No one wants a Reigns win, resulting in a paint-by-numbers build to WrestleMania - no one. So please don't ask for trash just so you can relish in other people's displeasure and frustration. That's seriously messed up.

ANYWAYS, let's get ready to...talk about the women's Royal Rumble match!

The 2018 Women's Royal Rumble

Best-Case Scenario: Becky Lynch wins

2017 was a dull, uneventful year for the inaugural SmackDown Women's Champion. Despite being constantly over with the fans, Becky had to take a step back for the first-half of 2017 as WWE decided to push Naomi as SmackDown's top female babyface. Then, when Charlotte came over to the blue brand following the Shake-Up, and WWE decided to stop booking countless Money in the Bank ladder matches, fatal-five-ways and focus more on individual feuds on SmackDown, it was The Queen who became the new focal point of the division. Becky's highlight of 2017 was probably leaving to film The Marine 381, to be honest.

It's time to right the wrongs they did with Becky over the past twelve months and the best way they can do that is by having Becky win the first-ever women's Rumble and challenge Charlotte in a WrestleMania-worthy match in April. That's a match and a feud that I for one would love to see, despite not being a huge Charlotte supporter. I imagine one of them would turn heel before then, but if SmackDown finally starts being creative again, it could be a lot of fun getting there.

Worst-Case Scenario: Ronda Rousey wins

I've heard the rumours. You've heard the rumours. We've all heard the rumours of former UFC fighter Ronda Rousey signing a WWE deal and making her debut at this year's Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant. While I'm totally fine with that happening, I am far from being on board with the possibility of Rousey actually winning the Rumble. Didn't WWE get tons of backlash last summer when they had James Ellsworth more or less win the women's Money in the Bank? Why would they risk pissing off even more fans by having a non-wrestler show up and win the first-ever female Royal Rumble on her very first night? It would be akin to Floyd Mayweather showing up in 2008 and winning the Rumble instead of facing Big Show that year in an expectations-exceeding match at WrestleMania - it wouldn't make sense!

Sure, one of the allures of the Rumble is that anyone can show up which means any of them can win, but is the extra media attention worth shitting on of all your full-time female talent (again)? To make matters worse, if Ronda does enter and win, chances are her first-ever singles match would take place at WrestleMania 34, not before then. Even if she's in the ring with an experienced worker like a Charlotte, that doesn't guarantee we'll get a decent match, either. Let's just hope Rousey doesn't win, ok?

Darkhorse Pick: An NXT Call-Up* wins

*Writer's Note: I have no idea who this call-up would, could or should be. Due to it being a 30-woman Rumble, and there only being 20 or active talents on the main roster, it's virtually a guarantee we'll be seeing some NXT faces help round out the remaining field. Although most of them will likely be one-night-only deals (like Rusev, Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger in past years), what if they flip the script by having the NXT superstar actually win the Rumble? It wouldn't be the first time they gave someone from NXT a big push on the big stage. Look at Paige winning the Divas Championship her first night on Raw, or Kevin Owens feuding with and defeating John Cena whilst NXT Champion.

Going by that logic, can we really rule out someone like NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon shocking the world and winning the Rumble? She's clearly well-liked by WWE management based on her booking from 2017. It could happen. Maybe even Nikki Cross? That would make for a chaotic and fun Road to 'Mania, as the unhinged one chases after and haunts the Raw Women's Champion, be it Alexa Bliss, Asuka or whoever. With NXT still rebuilding its roster, losing another name would't be ideal, but with WWE, you never know.

Heavy Favourite: Asuka wins

All it takes is watching a little bit of NXT and a little bit of Raw plus a Survivor Series 2017 to realize that WWE wants Asuka to be a big deal. She is the only wrestler in the company to be undefeated - her streak even surpassed Goldberg's! It seems like WWE tested out the waters two weeks ago by booking Asuka vs. Alexa on the first Raw of 2018. I saw a lot of people hating on their match, but I enjoyed it, bar the obvious outcome. I cannot wait for them to be given fifteen-twenty minutes on a major stage like WrestleMania to show us what they can do.

An Asuka win may seem predictable, as I would prefer to see Becky win the Rumble, but The Empress of Tomorrow adding another accolade to her extensive resume isn't the worst thing in the world. I can live with an Asuka victory.

The 2018 Men's Royal Rumble

Best-Case Scenario: Shinsuke Nakamura wins

It amuses me to no end how quickly the Internet Wrestling Community turns on its heroes. It wasn't that long ago The King of Strong Style was being pegged as the next big thing who everyone wanted to see be the focal point of SmackDown. But now, you'll see a lot more slander for Nakamura than you will praise. It seems like a lot of people still want to see Nakamura vs. Styles at WrestleMania 34, but no longer to the point where they'll riot if they don't get it. Then again, unless you are The Phenomenal One, the IWC will turn on you eventually.

Shinsuke, love him, like him, or hate him, really does need the Rumble victory to aid his recovery from the feud with Jinder. I've said it time and time again, but among a series of terrible booing decisions in 2017, Nakamura being pinned by Jinder Mahal at two consecutive Pay-Per-Views pretty much buried the Japanese sensation. He's remained in the upper mid-card since then, but he's lost a lot of momentum, along with the aura that once made him must-see. While winning the Rumble wouldn't solve those issues in one night, it would be a major step in the right direction. Plus, not only does it give us a feel-good moment, but it also sets up a WrestleMania match everyone wants to see in Nakamura vs. Styles. What's not to like?

Worst-Case Scenario: Shane McMahon wins

I don't know what's scarier to a lot of people: the prospect of Shane McMahon entering himself into and winning the Royal Rumble (yay, part-timers!) or that his ongoing storyline with Daniel Bryan will culminate between a match between the two at 'Mania? Since I'll believe the "Daniel Bryan is medically cleared to wrestle" rumours when I see them, I'm leaning more towards a Rumble victory for Shane O' Mac being the likeliest to happen based on the upcoming WWE Championship Match at the Pay-Per-View. Remember, if Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn beat AJ Styles, they will be co-WWE Champion. Since I don't see that match closing the show, would it be impossible to imagine Shane entering the Rumble as an insurance policy should his arch-nemesises win the title?

Another reason I can see this happening is because of all the losses Shane has taken since returning to the company a couple of years ago. I think hes only won one match since then - at Survivor Series 2016 - and even then, he was already eliminated. Could we see Vince McMahon thank his son for coming back and putting his body on the line, time after time? Don't rule it out, folks.

Darkhorse Pick: Dolph Ziggler wins

A lot of people are under the assumption that Dolph Ziggler is going to come back after the Royal Rumble and challenge the winner of the United States Championship tournament to a champion vs. "champion" match. Personally, I'm not buying it. What sense does it make for Ziggler to surprise everybody by winning the U.S. title at Clash of Champions, abdicate it two days later, go M.I.A. for a month, then challenge for the exact same title he willingly forfeited? None of that makes any sense.

Since I strongly believe that this year's Rumble winner is going to come from SmackDown, I think Dolph has as good as chance as anyone from Team Blue to win the Rumble and earn a WWE title shot at WrestleMania. Is it likely, considering there are so many newer stars on the roster? Maybe not, but this is the same company who gave Mark Henry a world title run fifteen years after his debut. In other words - it's never too late if you're a WWE Superstar, and that may hold true in thirteen days for Dolph Ziggler.

Heavy Favourite: John Cena wins

This prediction is 100% reliant on the John Cena vs. The Undertaker rumours being false. Look, guys - I've wanted to see Cena vs. 'Taker at a WrestleMania for a long, long time. But that ship has long sailed. 'Taker shouldn't wrestle any more matches. Not only is his body not up to task, but I assume he main-evented last year's Mania as it was meant to be his last. Besides, it's hard enough for deserving, full-time talent to make the 'Mania card (see Dean Ambrose last year). The Deadman's presence is no longer needed at WrestleMania.

If you ask me, 2018 could be John Cena's last epic year in the WWE. He's already working a part-time schedule, and there's next to no chance of him being on he road 300 days a year again. That being said, it would not surprise me if Vince decides to reward his decade-plus Golden Boy by giving him the one last thing he has left to accomplish - beat Ric Flair's seventeen-times world champion record. As The Doc mentioned in his podcast last week, Cena tying the record at last year's Rumble was a big deal, but not AS big as him actually breaking the record. That's an accomplishment that must be saved for the biggest stage of them all, i.e. WrestleMania.

2019 and onward will be too late: if Cena's going to break the record, it has to happen this year, at WrestleMania 34. If that upsets you, at least find solace in knowing that a Royal Rumble victory for Cena means either a) sparing us from that dreaded Reigns vs. Lesnar match or b) treating us to Cena vs. Styles, one more time. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Just like with the women, Cena isn't exactly my ideal pick, but it's one that will annoy me a lot less than some of the other options on the table (especially with Jinder removed from the title picture, thank God). No matter what happens, I'm anxious to see how everything plays out!


YOUR Two Centsss: Who do you got winning each Royal Rumble?

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