Darren Young & Sandow vs. Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Henry & Swagger – Fatal four-way tag match for two spots in the Royal Rumble
Predicted Winner: Mark Henry & Jack Swagger
While this match will be nothing special, it at least has a stipulation attached that makes it interesting. The fact that Mark Henry has stated that this could be his last Royal Rumble is a good indication that the all-American tandem will take the win here. The other good news is that the other 6 men will not be showing up at the rumble, which gives a bit more mystique for the extra spots. Henry to score the pinfall.
The New Day vs. The Usos (Tag Team Championship)
Predicted Winner: The New Day
The New Day has been carrying the division for the majority of 2015 and all of 2016 thus far. There is no reason to have the trio lose the straps before WrestleMania. They have been built up relatively strong in the division, so a title change on the grandest stage of them all may mean a little more. The in ring action should be something similar to what we’ve seen before, especially considering we have seen these teams face each other multiple times. It will be interesting to see what Woods does to help them retain.
Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch (Divas Championship)
Predicted Winner: Charlotte
Similar to the above match, there is no reason for Charlotte to lose this match. She has just begun her heel reign, so they should let that soak in before having her lose. Becky & Charlotte have put on a good show in NXT, but those matches did not seem to translate as well to the main roster. With this being a PPV match, we may get a NXT-quality women’s match. Cross your fingers on this one.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto (US Championship)
Predicted Winner: Alberto Del Rio
It is a shame how Kalisto has been treated in this feud. They should have let him keep the title until this PPV, or never let him win it in the first place. Both men have not been elevated from this, and this match seems like a wash. The in-ring action should be good, but the build-up has been very flat (which has been a trend with ADR’s feuds since returning).
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens – Last Man Standing match (Intercontinental Championship)
Predicted Winner: Dean Ambrose
This match could be the show-stealer for the non-Rumble bouts. Even though we have seen both of them fight on multiple occasions, this does get the benefit of being one of the better gimmick matches for violence. Dean Ambrose has thrived in these types of matches, and Owens can adapt to essentially every match. Expect some broken announce tables, ripped barricades, and a kendo stick or two. The biggest downside to this match is the possibility that these men may not be in the Royal Rumble (which would be a crime, considering they are some of the better performers on the main roster). As of this article, both men are not officially announced in the rumble. If WWE decides to put an exclamation on the fact that the loser was ‘hurt’ too badly, they may not enter. Ideally, both men will be in the rumble for an extended period of time.
Royal Rumble Match (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
Predicted Winner – Roman Reigns
15 Current entrants as of January 20 – Big Show, Curtis Axel, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Stardust, Sheamus, Pre-show winner #1, Pre-show winner #2
13 Likely entrants – Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev, Kalisto, 2 members of The New Day, Kane, Goldust, Heath Slater, R-Truth, Neville, Titus O’Neal
This leaves roughly 1-4 ‘surprise’ spots for the Rumble. The surprise spots could be anyone from Triple H to Vader, and anyone in between. Looking at some of the more probable surprise entrants:
1) AJ Styles – Provided they decide to introduce him on Sunday instead of Monday, AJ would be a welcome addition to the Rumble. He won’t win, but letting him get to the final four will give him a nice initial credibility boost in the biggest promotion in the world.
2) Triple H – Here is a man who has not been on Raw since Reigns took him out, so putting him in the Rumble to try and eliminate Reigns makes the most sense.
3) A NXT Superstar – If this is the case, it will likely be either Finn Balor or Sami Zayn. There is an off chance that Corbin, Crews, or Joe could enter, but the first two definitely are the frontrunners to enter the Rumble.
4) Undertaker – This man does not have a WrestleMania opponent as of yet, so this could be a good start to a feud. It also would provide some fun interaction between him and one of the bigger wrestlers (Kane, Show, Strowman, Brock etc).
5) A returning star – This could literally be anyone. If Sting going into the HOF is going to start a WCW trend, we could possibly see someone such as Vader, DDP, or Sid (It would be hard to see Goldberg show up for a rumble return). If Triple H is looking for some backup, Nash or X-Pac could also be a possible return. Finally, WWE could use their plethora of random comedy nostalgic stars (such as The Boogeyman or The Godfather) for a one-off.
6) Daniel Bryan – Much like the AJ debut, this one has been rumored, but nowhere near confirmed. Provided he will be cleared by the WWE doctor, expect to see him make the biggest impact in the Rumble.
With a roster plagued with injuries, WWE truly has to rely on surprises to keep the Rumble fresh. Not just with stars, but surprise eliminations and other ways to get the crowd on the edge of their seats. The past two years have been less than desirable (at least the ending), so hopefully they have learned from the past. A much-needed saving grace to this Rumble is the fact that Roman may not actually win. If WWE decided to go Reigns vs. Triple H at WrestleMania, that does not necessarily have to be for the title. Whether Triple H enters the rumble, or he sneaks in to eliminate him, that is an easy out to have another take home the prize.
The big players will likely include Ambrose, Sheamus, Jericho, Reigns, Owens, Brock, and possibly Finn or AJ if either of them debuts. With all the fodder included in this year’s rumble, expect the bulk of the actual wrestling to fall in their hands. There should still be some fun showings by the other participants. Big Show showing dominance going into the Rumble once again does provide an opportunity for an underdog to eliminate him and make an impact. Eliminating Show (minus last year) always seems to generate crowd pops. Provided Xavier accompanies Kofi to the ring, a fun new spot could be incorporated into his almost-elimination repertoire. Neville and Kalisto will give some added pace to the match, and R-Truth or Slater should provide the typical comedic spot.