Welcome to part 1 of a 3-part series dedicated to the 5th annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal coming our way for WrestleMania 34.
As it stands right now, the match has only just been announced offhandedly from The Revival, who are currently the only superstars established for it. However, based on previous years, we know this will undoubtedly contain superstars from all three brands of Raw, SmackDown and NXT and pretty much every single person from the two main roster brands will be appearing unless they serve a bigger purpose on the card already or are too injured to be able to step in the ring.
Knowing that, this series will be examining the top potential candidates who could walk away the last man standing and the winner of the trophy this year, with this first edition focusing on the wrestlers from the Monday Night Raw roster.
At this current moment, this is my 3-count of who on the red brand could win this year’s battle royal:
If Elias isn’t Braun Strowman’s partner for the Raw Tag Team Championship match, he’s still going to find his way onto the card in some way that gives him a WrestleMania moment.
My gut reaction tells me that he could very well be relegated to just a musical performance and a brawl with either Jeff Jarrett and/or Kid Rock with no actual match at all, but another part of me is leaning toward his showcase being this match.
To be perfectly honest, I think it’s more of a stretch that he not only competes in, but wins the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal than it would be for someone like Apollo to pull out a random win, because I do feel like Elias is liked well enough that they have some other kind of plan for him, but given the people not currently booked up for WrestleMania, he’s the biggest name that could use this kind of a win as an accolade for his young career, so I have to at least consider the chance this is where WWE is going.
I do think it’s more likely he becomes a tag team champion alongside Strowman, but if someone like Big Show fills that spot, Elias will have no other match that he can be inserted in at the last minute than this battle royal, and if he’s in it, he stands a very good chance at winning it.
2) Bray Wyatt
Having just watched The Ultimate Deletion, I have no idea what is going on, because wrestling is weird. Would anybody have guessed Mojo Rawley would last eliminate Jinder Mahal in the previous battle royal?
Granted, I’m thankful this match wasn’t put on the WrestleMania card as it was, as that would have been a let down, but I’m confused on what direction WWE is going to take Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt’s feud together in the next two weeks.
That qualifier of “two weeks” is really the most important thing here, as that means there are just two episodes of Monday Night Raw to establish a new feud or a different path for both men to go down.
I’m starting to think the card for WrestleMania is far too overpacked to make room for them to face each other again, and with Braun Strowman fighting for the Raw Tag Team Championship, the idea of Wyatt and Hardy teaming up against The Bar seems to be out the window, meaning the only spot for them left would be in this battle royal.
While I don’t fully think either of them are going to be the standout performers more than all of the other candidates on Raw, SmackDown and NXT (including the old rumor of Goldberg winning), I do think the idea of Bray Wyatt falling into the Lake of Reincarnation could potentially spawn a new variation of his character that gets pushed with a win here.
Wyatt has no wins at WrestleMania and since he went into the big event with the WWE Championship last year, it would be such a downfall for him to go into this year’s event as just another loser in the battle royal.
That’s certainly a possibility, but I wouldn’t rule out the idea that he’ll emerge from the Hardy Compound with a newfound energy that will propel him to victory in this match.
1) One of the Returning Injured Stars: Big Cass, Big Show, Dean Ambrose, Jason Jordan, Samoa Joe
Is this cheating a bit by mentioning multiple names here? Sure, if you’re limiting this to 3 and only 3, but we don’t know who—if any—of these names on the injured list are going to be returning, so they’re all standing on equal footing as far as I’m concerned.
Big Cass was supposedly backstage for Raw this week and in the past, we’ve seen that mean anything from absolutely nothing to the biggest indicator that something important is happening soon.
Once in a while, that’s because they’re updating someone’s pictures for the website so they can debut a new look after their return from injury and other times, it’s to go over final medical testing to make sure they are cleared to compete.
I would not put it past this year to showcase Big Cass’s return with a battle royal win, as he’s one of the tallest competitors in WWE and would be a prime choice to take this victory and try to run with it as a new giant.
Then again, with the HBO special coming out, WWE might want to make history with Big Show and have him be the first and likely only ever two-time winner of this match because he’s been the spiritual successor to Andre. I think that’s more of a long shot, but it’s a thought to entertain.
Dean Ambrose’s recovery is something I’m not sure about, and I certainly wouldn’t bet any money that he would be ready to return here, but it could be a well kept secret and a means to give him something to do that didn’t require knowing ahead of time that he could be cleared. He’s a big name and short of randomly throwing him into the Intercontinental Championship match at the last minute, this would be his only potential role he could do if he’s in ring shape.
The same applies to Jason Jordan and Samoa Joe, who have questionable return times up in the air as well, with Joe more than likely being the person who is the most healed and ready to go, as his injury was said to be something that could have been overcome in time for WrestleMania.