In just a few short days, one of the most exciting events in the WWE will take place. The Royal Rumble has always been a favorite for many fans, as it created unpredictability, starts new feuds, and kicks off the road to WrestleMania. Although 2014-2015 were less than desirable, last year featured the debut of AJ Styles, the kickoff to Sami Zayn’s main roster career, and the dominance of Braun Strowman. This year should be even more exciting, as it features 3 prominent part time stars, a good chunk of the top talent, as well as massive speculation on outside and NXT wrestlers. This Rumble is shaping up to be one of the best of the modern era. Below are the predictions and breakdown of the Royal Rumble match:
Longest Lasting – Sami Zayn
Runners up: Seth Rollins, The Miz
With Daniel Bryan on the shelf for good, Sami Zayn is slowly taking the mantle as the ultimate underdog with the most passion to win. Much like HBK, Benoit and Mysterio, he can start early, and have the stamina to last through the entire match. The way he has been positioned on Raw lately, flirting with the main event, has pointed to him playing a large part in the Rumble.
Rollins will likely end up in the Rumble, and likely due to Triple H, he won’t win. With the ‘authority’ against him, if he does make it in, chances are he is coming out as #1. The Miz always plays the cowardly heel, so having him get knocked out on the 2nd rope and having him hide or join the announce team is something that could definitely happen. He actually did this exact thing last year in a battle royal.
Most Eliminations – Braun Strowman
Runners up: Baron Corbin, Undertaker
It’s safe to say that Strowman is the “guy to beat” in the Rumble. Whoever eliminates him will end up having a very large pop (I would guess Zayn or Joe). With Kane & Big Show on their way out soon enough, Strowman is the clear focus as the next big guy wrestler. An easy way to showcase his power and strength is to give him a mass amount of eliminations. While he may not beat Roman Reigns’ single record of 12 eliminations, he could easily be throwing out double digits by the end.
While a little more unlikely, Smackdown’s big bad wolf should have a strong Rumble showing. He very well could get close, or even surpass Strowman in eliminations if he lasts longer in the match. Undertaker would likely not have the most eliminations, but he is the best person suited to clean house (eliminate everyone in the ring for the moment). That may bring his count up high.
Eliminated the Quickest – Xavier Woods
Runner up: James Ellsworth
Poor Xavier Woods. The third wheel of The New Day generally gets the short end of the stick with regards to these types of matches. With so many prolific superstars in this Rumble, Xavier will likely serve as a quick elimination for someone such as Strowman. The only person to possibly spend less time in the Rumble is James Ellsworth, if he actually gets a spot. With 22 (24 if you count Rollins and Kane who will likely be in) spots, it would be a hard sell to have this guy take a spot of a legitimate fulltime wrestler.
Non-Raw or Smackdown WWE Superstars to Enter – Tye Dillinger & Samoa Joe
Runners up: Tyler Bate, Hideo Itami
10! It would be a shame if Dillinger does not enter the Rumble at the #10 spot. While unlikely to become a main event star, Dillinger is perfect for Smackdown or Raw’s midcard, and the Rumble would be a good way to showcase him. The other clear entrant is Samoa Joe. Joe can come in, destroy, have at least one solid elimination (one of the part timers or Strowman), and jump right into the mix similar to AJ Styles.
Chances are the WWE UK and 205 Live crew will stay separate from the Rumble. That being said, Bate needs to stay fresh in the minds of the people as the UK Champion. This would be a great showcase for him to enter, have an elimination or two, and have his time to shine. Hideo Itami is returning from injury, and sending him back to NXT will do nothing for him. Although he may get lost in the shuffle similar to Crews, he should at least gain some momentum by being a surprise entrant.
Unsigned Superstar to Enter – Kurt Angle
Runners up: Kota Ibushi, Gillberg
Although Angle said he would likely not be in the Rumble, this could be misdirection. Vince is a fan of keeping these entry surprises very concealed. Plus, giving Angle a Rumble showcase and possibly a WrestleMania match is a great way to end his career and join the Hall of Fame. This would also easily be the pop of the night.
The other two are just a complete guess. There were unconfirmed reports months ago about wanting to bring in Ibushi to face Neville. Gillberg would be a bit of a throwaway, but the Gillberg/Goldberg confrontation would be a fun spot.
Sorry kids, Kenny Omega is a longshot at this point.
Royal Rumble Winner – Sami Zayn
Runners up: Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt
To put this in perspective with the betting odds rankings, Sami Zayn is roughly the 10th most likely to win, and Orton is most likely. So Sami Zayn as the winner is not the most logical choice. That being said, over the past few months, Zayn has gone from doing absolutely nothing, to working with Reigns & Rollins and being focused on heavily. It almost feels like 2004 when Benoit was receiving a push after doing months of solid matches. The other reason I chose Zayn is because there were reports about wanting to have a strong match at WrestleMania to rival Okada/Omega. Although rivaling that match is almost impossible, Zayn and someone like AJ styles would be two guys to do that. This then leaves KO/Jericho as the other feud.
The other ones that I would consider are Jericho (vs. Owens), Lesnar (vs. Owens, then Goldberg/Undertaker face off), and Bray Wyatt (vs. Orton who wins the title at the elimination chamber). Although Orton is the favorite, having Bray win makes more sense, as it would vault him into the upper echelon of talent, and make the match have more of a big feel to it. Balor would be another choice, but his injury is still speculative.