Although we all speculated that it was a guarantee, it was not made official until this week that the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal would be returning for the third year in a row at WWE WrestleMania 32. Now that it’s been announced, it’s time for us to start speculating on just who might end up picking up the win.
So far, not a single wrestler has been confirmed. However, several people can be excluded because they either already have a match announced or are in the midst of a feud that looks to be going in a different direction from this match, such as Kalisto and Ryback or the people involved in the Intercontinental Championship scene. That leaves a pool of mostly jobbers and afterthoughts mixed with a handful of names who are noteworthy enough to stand out as potential candidates as winners.
With that being said, who are those few people that could actually be victorious this year? Let’s take a look…
The Wyatt Family haven’t had a great year so far in 2016, coming up short in the Royal Rumble, losing at Fastlane, and most recently, Luke Harper being embarrassed in a squash match against Brock Lesnar at Roadblock. Despite this, they are still too big of an entity to just be ignored completely at WrestleMania, and since they don’t have a match announced yet, it seems like this is the only other spot where they can make an impact.
“They” doesn’t include all four members, though. Luke Harper has made it clear that he’s the workhorse of the quartet and is the most trustworthy person to go out there and have a decent match, but he very rarely ever actually gets the win for the team rather than doing all the work and setting up someone else for the credit. Erick Rowan has it even worse, since he’s the guy who takes all of the beatings and gets pinned if they need to lose, so he’s got even less of a chance of winning than a member of The Social Outcasts.
On the other hand, Braun Strowman is a monster WWE wants to build up. He had an impressive showing in the Royal Rumble and it’s likely to continue in this match, since it has such a similar makeup to it and it doesn’t appear that they’ve given up on him just yet. He’s still being protected and if he shows up in this match, I would think he would be the favorite.
Then again, a recurring theme with The Wyatt Family is that the spoils go to the leader himself, Bray Wyatt. Strowman could do the heavy lifting and Wyatt could pick the bones of someone to finish the match off, or the other three members of the squad could all quadruple-team another wrestler to help Bray out. Hell, for that matter, it could come down to Strowman and Wyatt and the former could just willingly eliminate himself to give Bray the win. With reports that he has a back injury, though, this doesn’t seem as likely as Strowman taking the victory with Bray sitting things out.
In any case, if Strowman and Wyatt are involved in this match, they’ve got to be the favorites to win just because of how important they are to the overall roster and how they have nothing else better to do.
The World’s Strongest Man has been absent for the majority of the past year, which is extremely odd considering he’s been saying that this could be his last WrestleMania. One would think if he was on his way out, WWE would want to get the most out of him while they could, using him to put over people, allowing him to wrestle the ones that he hasn’t had a chance to work with yet and so on, rather than just acting like he’s on the injury list.
If it’s true that Henry could be bowing out and not participating in WrestleMania 33, then why not give him a celebratory win here to honor his career? It’s unlikely that he’d be given a title reign at this point with so many other people that need to take those titles for themselves, so even something like Money in the Bank would go over as more of a waste than anything else and King of the Ring just doesn’t suit someone who is retiring, but this match is catered to someone like Mark Henry.
Think about it—how often are we told that in battle royals, the biggest men are the hardest to get over the top rope and should have the best chances to win? This match in particular is named in honor of that very concept with Andre the Giant’s performances and victories and that is part of the reason why Big Show won last year. Mark Henry is the type of guy who has never won the Royal Rumble and yet has consistently been one of the biggest men in the match, so for him to win this would make perfect sense. There are no risks involved with having to do anything with the win afterward (ie, no required title shot to book around, no belt to change hands, etc) and it would just be a WrestleMania moment for him and his fans to remember as something to cap off his career.
Ziggler was unsuccessful in defeating Triple H on Monday Night Raw to guarantee a match of his choosing at WrestleMania, but we all know he’ll be competing in some fashion. With the current number of injuries and how he’s still one of the best of the talent pool despite his character being stagnant, there’s no way WrestleMania goes by without The Show Off stepping in the ring.
Since he can’t pick a match on his own, the two spots left for him to compete are the multi-man Intercontinental Championship bout that WWE seems to be building toward or the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. If it’s the former that he participates in, he’ll just be another cog in the wheel and doesn’t stand much chance to win the title, as the dominant focal points are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. With the battle royal, though, it could be the story of the scrappy guy who doesn’t quit who takes it all despite being on the smaller scale compared to people like Kane, The Wyatt Family, Big Show, Mark Henry and so on.
The very fact that Ziggler was given such a high profile match with Triple H on Raw has convinced some fans that he’s being set up for something big at WrestleMania and could do everything from interfere in the main event to replacing Shane McMahon against The Undertaker, but I personally think none of that has any validity whatsoever. If WWE is building up Ziggler for something, then I have to imagine the most likely outcome would be him standing tall at the end of the battle royal and nothing else.