Welcome to part 1 of my five-part predictions series breaking down which superstars will be entering the record books when it comes to the 2018 Royal Rumble matches.
This edition will be focusing on the men and women most likely to rack up the highest amount of eliminations during the match.
While we don’t know the full field of competitors for either the men or women’s matches, I’ve narrowed down my picks to the top five superstars I think stand the best chance of standing out as the most dominant wrestlers in the crowd.
In no particular order, let’s start digging…
WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
As an undefeated superstar who often makes short work of her opponents, it makes perfect sense for Asuka to not just win this match, but also potentially do so in a fashion where she really sticks it to the competition and eliminates a good amount of them.
Her track record certainly puts her in the running for this type of accolade, particularly after her sole survivor performance at Survivor Series where she was able to get the necessary eliminations to give Team Raw a victory.
I can definitely see a scenario being booked where Asuka is up against two or three heels in the Final 4, only to somehow manage to overcome the odds, which would already give her three eliminations right there.
The average number of most eliminations is only 7, so four more people tossed out and she reaches the standard amount.
Given her size advantage over the rest of the competition, there’s no doubt Nia Jax will have some kind of impressive performance here in some capacity.
It’s an easy call to make to have her in the running for the most eliminations because of how hard it will be for anybody to get her over the top rope, but I think what helps her out even more as far as that is concerned is how I don’t expect her to win.
Think of Braun Strowman in the 2017 Royal Rumble, who came up short, but needed to be booked strong to offset his eventual loss. The same thing can definitely happen to Nia here, with WWE treating her like a dominating force that tosses people out left and right and can’t be stopped, only for someone to come along and surprise surprise, eliminate her.
We’ll then look back and say how impressive she was for taking five or six women out of the match on her own, even though she didn’t actually win the title shot for herself.
Bayley / Sasha Banks / Becky Lynch
I honestly can’t decide between these three, because they’re all in a similar boat as women who WWE would push, but I don’t think are going to win the match when it’s all said and done.
They’re all babyfaces and even though they aren’t dominant monsters or anything, it isn’t always the most physically intimidating wrestlers who eliminate the most people. Sometimes, it’s about finesse like when Shawn Michaels pulled this off, or it’s just pure popularity like with Steve Austin.
All three of the horsewomen could represent themselves well in this match, possibly even leading to a scenario where the three of them are the only ones in the ring and they all have to square off.
MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
Boy, what a surprise, right? This surely would change the landscape of WWE if this were to happen.
From experience, Reigns has thrice been the person to achieve this accolade, setting the all-time record in 2014 with 12 eliminations, following it up with 6 in 2015 and 4 in 2016. Last year, Braun Strowman took the spot away from him, but Reigns was the 30th entrant, so he had nowhere near as much time to rack up the points.
Even though he was the last entrant and only had 5:05 in the match, he still got 3 eliminations, meaning no matter what, if Reigns is in this match, he’s damn sure going to be one of the heavy-hitters, particularly as he should be everyone’s #1 or #2 pick to win the entire thing.
For anyone asking, though, I don’t think we’ll see him hit 13 eliminations or anything like that. I’m anticipating a more modest number of five or six.
I was very tempted to give this spot to The Balor Club as a whole, since stables can dominate Royal Rumbles and use the numbers advantage to double (or in this case, triple) team against their opponents, but I felt like that was a cop-out answer since it would be technically 3 people sharing the spotlight.
If you’re looking for someone who can handle that kind of responsibility on his own without needing extra help, The Viper is someone who can definitely fit the bill.
Of course, he’s done exactly that in the past with some help from Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in 2009 when he won the match as part of the Legacy faction, but in 2018, I expect Orton to simply be one of the go-to top guys who makes it feel like a big match.
Without someone like Orton, the field looks weak. The Apex Predator isn’t someone I think will win, but he proved as recently as last year that while he might not be the absolute top priority, he can still pull out a Royal Rumble victory, so WWE does take his credibility seriously.
With that in mind, I can definitely see Orton going on a crazy spree, eliminating a handful of people left and right in a short time frame before eventually being tossed out toward the last remaining few competitors.
It will be even easier to achieve the “most eliminations” accolade if it’s another year where multiple people only reach 4, as that’s an easy number to share with one or two other men.
Just like with Randy Orton, I don’t think Cena will be winning this year, so to counterbalance this, I could see WWE allowing him to play the part of “the house-cleaner” where his entrance is a huge deal midway through the match in order to thin out the herd.
Basically, Cena would be coming in around the 15th spot range and tossing people out left and right so when some of the bigger talent comes in the latter half of the match, you don’t have to still be dealing with the midcarders lingering around.
Over the course of the next 10 competitors, Cena would find himself eliminated—possibly by Samoa Joe, if the Raw promo was any indication—but not without racking up a score of 5 eliminations or so, which is the peak of what anybody was able to accomplish in 2005, 2012 and 2013, as well as one more than the 2016 record.