Welcome to part 2 of my three-part predictions series breaking down which superstars will be entering the record books when it comes to the 2017 WWE Royal Rumble (part 1 here). For this edition, we’ll be examining the wrestlers who could go the distance and last the longest amount of time, otherwise known as the “Iron Man” of the match.
Keep in mind that just because somebody spends the most amount of time in the Royal Rumble match doesn’t necessarily mean they end up winning it. In fact, typically, the man with this distinction doesn’t actually come out on top as they’ve started from the first five entrance spots, making it particularly hard to make it to the very end. Only six times has that happened, so chances are this year’s Iron Man won’t be walking away with the title shot, either.
Factoring in everything from stamina to how the Iron Man is typically someone of importance, I’ve come up with a list of 10 people who I think could potentially be in the 2017 Royal Rumble match the longest amount of time. In no particular order, here are those names:
Kofi Kingston has a habit of not being eliminated when he’s done for, doesn’t he? For the past bunch of years, he’s had spots where it seemed like he was doomed only for him to keep his feet off the ground to evade a loss. The sad realization, though, is in every one of those situations, he’s been eliminated very shortly afterward.
With The New Day having such a great year, maybe this time, they throw him a bone and let him stick around a much longer stretch after performing whatever amazing feat they have in mind. With the help of Xavier Woods and Big E, that could be the difference maker which keeps him from flying too close to the sun and burning up.
Duh. Do I even need to explain this? The guy is enormous, tied for the record for most eliminations last year, looks even more impressive than ever going into 2017, and has been booked like an unstoppable beast. The only question is whether or not he’ll enter early enough to be eligible for outlasting some other people who came before him and didn’t face such stiff competition as he will provide.
Strowman is definitely not being taken lightly in this Royal Rumble and could very well be the standout among them all. If WWE puts him in the first five competitors, then unless something crazy happens with Goldberg and Lesnar, I expect him to take this honor.
Underdog stories are great and the one guy being built up as WWE’s resident long shot is Sami Zayn. Sometimes, it’s incredibly fun to watch a smaller guy perpetually outlast bigger, stronger competition by sheer innovativeness and tenacity. Since the running theme is that nobody has more heart than Sami, he could be a name that pops the crowd in the #2 or #3 spot and goes all the way until the late 20s before someone picks him off and upsets the audience. He’ll have put on a good show he can be proud of but will still not overshadow the more important people involved.
The Miz has been on fire as of late with his two Intercontinental Championship reigns and finding damn near any way he can to succeed. It’s unlikely Maryse will get involved here and The Spirit Squad haven’t shown up to help The Miz since his feud with Dolph Ziggler concluded, so he may be on his own, but he can still get the job done on his own if need be.
In the past, The Miz has fallen victim to the curse of being a jobber who can lose and then bitch and moan before cheating and regaining some credibility, but I don’t think that will happen here. There are plenty of jobbers who can take the comedic quick elimination rather than him, particularly as he’s holding a title belt WWE should try not to devalue.
I don’t think The Miz will be a story thread we’ll spend much time on in the Royal Rumble, but he could sneak his way into lasting the longest amount of time with them simply overlooking that detail.
As a major contender to win the thing, but also someone who realistically doesn’t have much of a shot based on the potential main events of WrestleMania now that he has the Intercontinental Championship, Ambrose needs something to toot his horn about in regards to this match. The longer he stays in, the more it makes sense and the more he looks like he hasn’t lost steam since dropping the WWE Championship to AJ Styles. Yes, winning the Intercontinental Championship acts as a major form of rehab, but we’ve seen him flounder with the United States title before, so there aren’t any guarantees. Assuming some of the bad blood he has with The Miz spills into the Royal Rumble match, I’d imagine one of those two will be in the early numbers and will stick around long enough for the other to eliminate him around the late teens, early twenties to wake the crowd up during the lull period.
Ziggler is the type of guy who continually goes out there, works his ass off, spends a lot of time killing himself to make other people look great, and then comes up short. Carrying others from an early entrance spot until late into the game is exactly the type of job WWE would saddle him with, putting the responsibility on his shoulders to be a thru line in which the audience can follow the action easier. When one person lasts a long time, it’s much easier to keep track of the passage of time, as the Royal Rumbles in the past have felt like resets when there are too many new people in the ring. It’s a thankless job, but somebody has to do it, and Ziggler excels in those environments. Here’s hoping if that’s the case, they find some way to reward him for his efforts. This new heel turn tease could call for him being taken even more seriously with a good showing here until things start winding down. I assume he’ll be taken out of the equation before the final four, but he just may surprise.
Few in this match will have the experience Chris Jericho brings to the table, so if WWE wants to have a ring general dictate the flow of eliminations, he’s a safe bet to go with. He’s competed in multiple Royal Rumbles in the past and knows how they operate, making it to the finals in 2013 before Sheamus was victorious. This might actually be the year Jericho wins, as a match between he and Kevin Owens has to happen down the line, which may very well be WrestleMania. If that’s in the cards, a Jericho victory could easily end up being a year where the Iron Man is also the winner.