Did we do one of these last year? I’m too lazy to google.
Anyway, every year fans spend the month of January wondering which deserving superstar will get tossed unceremoniously over the top rope during the single most fun match (in theory) of the year, and every year fans watch in grim resignation as whatever flavor of the month Vince has a semi-stiffy for wins the thing and goes on to
main-event midcard WrestleMania while the guy he’s got a perpetual, years-long, raging-boner for closes Mania, thus rendering the Royal Rumble winner and thus the Royal Rumble more and more pointless every year.
Aaaaaanyway, let’s not SO OF COURSE this thing just yet; let’s instead look at the roster and examine who the top contenders are to win the Royal Rumble match this year.
THE MEN’S RUMBLE
Samoa Joe winning would not be a total shock, in that there are already seeds in the ground for a Brock Lesnar match. While that might not be the flashiest idea in the world, it would guarantee a hot story and good audience support. That’s a foundation to build on to create a compelling, audience-grabbing storyline. It would require “pro wrestling storytelling” of the old fashioned kind, and not the kind that Vince tends to prefer, but which Paul Heyman can tell (with his trademark trashy flair).
Let’s just hope the ending would be better than the last time(s) Joe and Lesnar faced off. That is to say, let’s hope it doesn’t end in a single F5 and a quick pin.
John Morrison returned to SmackDown and as expected there is a lot of excitement around his comeback. After all, there’s nothing Vince loves more than a new action figure to play with for a month before getting bored of him. Might a SmackDown title main event be in the cards, to give the returning superstar a big push? Maybe, but it would be a mistake. For one, you’re guaranteeing the title match in question would be an afterthought on the show. For another reason (and this is the reason for the first), Morrison is too limited to make it as a main-event performer. He has no mic skills, no believability as a heavyweight competitor, and is mostly a one-trick-pony on offense. He’s Dolph Ziggler 2.0.
Morrison is flash without substance and whatever excitement his return might generation will be completely spent by the time Mania comes around.
The Rock is gearing up for a Black Adam movie and a possible appearance in either Shazam! part 2 or the inevitable Shazam! part 3. Getting him in a ring would require a tremendous paycheck, but if there’s one thing Vince has shown a willingness to do recently, it’s pony up for a big payday. Whether that means Rock vs Brock or Rock vs Reigns, another Mania main-event featuring The Great One would certainly generate all the kind of mainstream excitement that WWE craves every Spring.
All that being said, the odds of this happening? 3%
THE WOMEN’S RUMBLE
Shayna Baszler is the obvious pick; she may be the most obvious pick of anyone in either Rumble. She’s finally unburdened of the NXT Women’s Championship, after dominating with the title for the better part of two years. She’s done all she can in NXT and even though that brand is no longer the “minor leagues” of WWE, there’s still a connotation that comes with moving to Raw or SmackDown and challenging for one of those world titles (men or women). Baszler winning wouldn’t be a shock but it would be the beginning of the right story to tell, with the seemingly dominant Becky Lynch getting a shocking loss and needing to chase the title to win it back from a worthy and powerful challenger. That’s six months of storylines in the right hands.
Goodness knows Raw’s women’s division needs legitimate title challengers.
MANDY ROSE is fine enough; I have nothing against her necessarily, but the buzz (two years in a row) that Vince is enamored with her has me preemptively annoyed. This Rumble has an obvious and right winner on the one hand, and a shocking but still right winner on the other hand. Neither of those hands contains a Mandy Rose. As with last year, the last thing that needs to be done is anyone overthinking things. Typically in WWE, underthinking is the problem. Let’s not do that either.
Mandy Rose doesn’t need this Rumble and her winning it won’t elevate her either; it’ll only bring the Raw Women’s Title (presently the most legitimate title in the company) down to her midcard-at-best level.
I don’t know if Ronda Rousey is ready to come back. I don’t know if she wants to come back. I don’t know if she’s happily retired. I don’t know if she’s still hoping to start a family. I don’t know anything, except I know that she took to 90% of Pro Wrestling like a duck to water. The one thing she needed work on was her mic skills and that comes to most with experience. Unfortunately, she bounced after a year and so if she did come back she’d probably still be green in that area. On the other hand, she certainly wouldn’t come back as a babyface and I don’t think she’ll have to worry about being unable to suppress her smile at hearing the crowd’s reaction.
Cause they’re gonna boo the heck out of her.
Let’s face it, Ronda is a natural heel and a proper face vs heel, Lynch vs Rousey match is exactly what we need. The clunky finish to last year’s main event is the perfect opportunity to bring her back, demand a do-over, and set up the fight the way it was supposed to be last year: one on one, alpha vs alpha, two people who hate each other with a legit claim the gold going at it on the biggest stage. That’s when pro wrestling is at its best. Shayna Baszler would be a great story too, but if Ronda is ready and willing, that’s the story I want to see.
Those are the names for this year. Who are you looking at as a potential winner? Let us know in the comments below!