It’s almost time for the 2017 Royal Rumble! For a lot of people, myself included, this is the WWE PPV they most look forward too each year. Why? Because it’s exciting and it (as cheesey as it sounds) is the beginning of the road to Wrestlemania. This is the show that shapes Wrestlemania. By the end of the Royal Rumble, you’re either looking forward to Wrestlemania or…well you’re not.
For the past few years, ’14, ’15 and ’16 though I’ve finished the show with a sense of dread about what was to come. Granted ‘Mania’s 30 and 31 were amazing despite bumpy starts. You can’t say the same for Wrestlemania 32 though, but it all started from the Royal Rumble.
What makes this year special is that it is one of the more unpredictable Royal Rumble events. Multiple people could realistically win and I love that. I’m a bit concerned about the WWE and Universal Title matches and potentially rather bland and predictable winners, but I remain mildly hopefully.
Let’s get to the predictions!
Only 5 matches on the main show have been announced as I write this (Friday) and 3 on the pre-show. Not much love for Smackdown it has to be said, only 2 matches in total. 1 being the WWE Title match and the other a completely throw away 6 women tag team match.
There are two women’s matches on the pre-show, Sasha Banks versus Nia Jax and then the aforementioned Smackdown’s 6 women’s tag. I don’t have much interest in either of these, especially the 6 women tag. It’s the definition of lazy, don’t know what to do with you all booking. Also it immediately makes the Raw Women’s Title look more important. Oh well, I expect Nia to beat Sasha and I expect the faces (Becky, Nikki and Naomi to win.
The other match on the pre-show is the Raw Tag Team Title match. Cesaro and Sheamus versus The Club (Gallows and Anderson). The gimmick for this particular match is that a few weeks ago on Raw the referees did an excellent job in screwing The Club out of a clean victory over the champs. Sheamus accidentally hit the referee, The Club pinned Cesaro which was counted by a new referee. Easy, happens all the time. BUT NO! Original referee is a spotlight whore and reverses the decision to disqualify Cesaro and Sheamus.
Useless. You screwed the ‘bad guys’, that makes me feel sorry for the ‘bad guys’. Great job everyone.
So now we get a rematch, with two referees. Because why not. It definitely won’t feature in the finish at all, honest.
I’d like to think The Club will finally win the titles that they’ve deserved for months, but I doubt it. The faces (who I like by the way, I’m not just a heel loving asshole) will win and that will make the entire thing worthwhile and somehow ‘fair’. In WWE’s eyes at least.
Winners: Cesaro and Sheamus
Cruiserweight Title: Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville
I’m going to be completely honest with you. I don’t care.
Raw Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Bayley
It’s a PPV, of course Charlotte wins!
The problem I have with the Charlotte PPV winning streak thing is that she keeps losing the Title on Raw (or at least did to Sasha Banks) so it never felt that impressive. For example, if Manchester United won every home game in the Premier League all season, but lost every away game, they would only end the season on 57 points. That isn’t winning them anything. It’s almost a mute point.
That said I think at this point we’re in for Charlotte holding onto the Raw Women’s Title for a little while as WWE build towards Wrestlemania. I’m assuming that match will be Charlotte versus Bayley and Bayley will win. But to get as much emotion out of the story and the match, she has to lose a few times and I’m fine with that.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Universal Title: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Boy oh boy, WWE are obsessed with selling that shark cage play set aren’t they? First it was an NXT stipulation, now it’s a main roster stipulation. In the mean time it’s been on every episode of Raw for the past (what feels like a) decade.
So let me get this right, it’s a No Disqualification match, with Chris Jericho in a shark cage. I thought the reason for Jericho being in the cage was for a fair fight? Now there is a blatant opportunity for cheating shenanigans!
An opportunity for cheating shenanigans means one of two things. 1. Seth Rollins interferes to save his best buddy Roman Reigns (I still don’t understand why they are friends again, he betrayed you Roman you idiot!). 2. Chris Jericho interferes to help Kevin Owens retain.
I really want to believe that Kevin Owens can win and he won’t just be the worst transitional champion in recent memory. If you work with the regular pattern of ‘whoever stands tall on the go home show will probably lose’ theory, then that means he has a chance. But, it’s Roman Reigns isn’t it. So, sigh, Roman wins. FFS.
It’s not just my dislike for Roman Reigns that I want Owens to win though, I think it’s the better story. More on that, later.
Winner: Roman Reigns
WWE Title: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena
Will John Cena win his 16th title and equally Ric Flair’s record at the rumble? I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Much like with Roman Reigns, it almost feels inevitable.
I think equally the record is a massive moment and I don’t think the WWE have done enough to build into it for the Royal Rumble. If he did come back and win just like that, it would be a massive anti-climax. This 16th title chase needs to last a while. Cena needs to come close a few times and not quite make it. It needs to be a massive deal, it needs to be a Wrestlemania moment.
Plus if Cena just came back, talked Styles down in the way that he has. It would be just awful for Styles. It would make him look like a chump. It would also be classic ‘John Cena always gets his win back lol’. Which I’m fine with him doing as long as the story is told in the right way.
Which means, AJ Styles wins again. It doesn’t have to be clean, but I think it would be better for the story if he did.
Winner: AJ Styles
Royal Rumble Match
You know what? I’m going for it. Finn Balor will return and win the Royal Rumble!
I say this for 2 reasons. The first being that it would be an undeniably awesome moment but also it could set up a match with Kevin Owens for the Universal Title. Which would be an excellent story to tell. The first ever champion who had to relinquish the title due to injury comes back to fight for the belt he never lost! It works even better if the champion is Kevin Owens, a heel, who story line wise can’t win matches on his own and is unjustified in holding the championship.
Granted WWE could decide that it would be a ‘bigger match’ if it was Balor vs Reigns. But then you have the awkward face vs face (even though Reigns would definitely be heel in the eyes of the crowd).
Now, if Balor isn’t actually ready to compete again all I ask is that it isn’t Roman Reigns or The Undertaker. I’d accept Strowman but I know that would lead to Reigns vs Strowman at ‘Mania and I don’t want that.
Ideally if Balor can’t win, I’d like it to be Chris Jericho. Again to set up a feud with Kevin Owens. That story has been building for so long and I’d love to see the blow off at Wrestlemania.
Winner: Finn Balor