One thing that you should know about me is that I love the Royal Rumble. To prepare for Sunday’s event, I watched an unhealthy number of Royal Rumble matches (read: all the Royal Rumble matches) over the past 30 days. At this point I pretty much view all situations as 30 man over-the-top battles royale.
I’ve even started to compare real life situations to past Royal Rumbles in ways that make no sense to the listener. Example: I referred to someone’s holiday card as having “a real 1993 Royal Rumble vibe”. The hell of it is, I thought it was a succinct and damning insult. So I appear to be losing touch with reality. But my Royal Rumble knowledge is on point.
In the big picture, my research indicates that the Royal Rumble is great, and you should be excited about it. On a more granular level, there are several Rumble moments you can expect to see based on tropes that appear throughout Rumble history:
1) You can expect to see at least one guy throw out his own tag team partner, which only makes sense when you embrace the fact that the Rumble match instills a heightened level of paranoia in its competitors (awesome!). A corollary: one Rhodes brother will throw out the other. This happens every year.
2) Kofi Kingston will avoid elimination in a contrived and completely absurd manner (I predict he gets tossed onto a stretcher (but his feet don’t touch the floor!), carried out of the arena, then repels back into the ring a la Sting in 1997).
3) A young upstart will enter, get savagely beaten by veterans who have “paid their dues”, and get unceremoniously tossed out of the ring. This sequence will ultimately ruin said upstart’s career. It happened to Daniel Puder and Muhammad Hassan, and it will likely happen to an NXT guy on Sunday. Tyler Breeze, I’m sorry, buddy.
These moments will be fun window dressing, but don’t let them distract you from the real prize on Sunday. The Royal Rumble starts the road to Wrestlemania and gives us our first real insight into who WWE plans to build around in the coming year. Since it is such a critical event on the WWE calendar, there are only a handful of guys that could win it.
Sadly, WWE has managed to effectively neuter Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt over the past month, leaving only Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan as credible threats to win. Problem: in an effort to build Reigns into the company’s next mega star, WWE gave him a lot of microphone time. Turns out that Roman Reigns and the “Boom goes the dynamite” guy have a little too much in common.
So will Daniel Bryan win the Royal Rumble and face Brock Lesnar in a David v. Goliath showdown or Seth Rollins in the modern day Savage v. Steamboat? I would enjoy it, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Bryan spent the last year out with a mysterious nerve injury, which sort of proved the Authority’s on-screen point that Bryan is too diminutive to be the face of the company.
So if Reigns is too rigid, Bryan is too fragile,and everyone else has been emasculated beyond credibility, who’s left?
That’s right, in a near exact replica of John Cena’s win in 2008 and Edge’s win in 2010, I predict that Orton will be the surprise number (29 or) 30 entrant in the Rumble and will win, setting up a Beauty v. Beast main event against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31.
While this Rumble won’t match 1992 as the greatest of all-time, we have a lot to be excited about. Could we see Orton and Bryan repeat of the Undertaker–Shawn Michaels showdown that closed out the 2007 Rumble? Could Rusev enter early and dominate for an hour like Kane in 2001? We will find out on Sunday, the kickoff to the greatest season of them all: Wrestlemania Season.
FYI: The following Superstars are signed on for the Rumble Match so far:
- Roman Reigns
- Daniel Bryan
- United States Champion Rusev
- Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett
- Bray Wyatt
- Dean Ambrose
- Big Show
- The Miz
- Damien Mizdow
- Dolph Ziggler
- Luke Harper
– Mike Purtill