The Royal Rumble is finally almost here, and as my favorite WWE pay per view outside of WrestleMania, I’m excited. This is a wild show where we witness the birth of Mania feuds and surprise returns. I’d like to say anyone can win, but that’s just not true. Here are my predictions for who will win the men’s Royal Rumble match.
Ryan Smith’s Royal Rumble Predictions
Let’s just get this one out of the way. Roman Reigns is going to be the favorite to win every Royal Rumble moving forward. He was the favorite to win a Royal Rumble where he was already the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and came out number one. There’s a good chance that we get a fourth straight Roman Reigns WrestleMania main event, as he challenges for Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship. So yeah, for reasons none of us are excited to discuss, Roman Reigns has to be considered a serious threat to win the battle royal.
Many people would like to see Shinsuke Nakamura challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at this year’s WrestleMania. Nakamura has been booked well since arriving in NXT two years ago, and unless something bizzare comes out of the angle with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, there isn’t another serious number one contender on SmackDown Live. The Royal Rumble is back in Philadelphia, where Roman Reigns was booed out of the building for winning the event, so maybe the WWE will attempt to appease the raucous Philadelphia crowd by giving the blue brand the win.
Just like Roman Reigns is always a threat, so is John Cena. And here’s why. Cena has worked for both brands over the last year, and could reasonably challenge for either. Lesnar is almost definitely wrestling against Reigns, but if WWE don’t want to pull the trigger on Nakamura, they can reignite Cena’s feud with AJ Styles, but only if the dreaded “three years too late” feud with Undertaker doesn’t happen instead.
Dolph Ziggler’s “I quit” storyline is still running, and I’d bet my bottom dollar that he’d show up in the Royal Rumble in one way or another, even if it’s not as a full participant. Maybe he’s just taking time off, but I just feel like this is all a way to build him up. If he returns in the Rumble, wouldn’t it be a bit stupid not to capitalize on it? This is the least likely of all these options, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
This is the idea that I’m the most excited about. Finn Balor is one of the most popular professional wrestlers in the world, and recently he was reunited with his Bullet Club stablemates, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Balor would’ve been a serious threat by himself, but include two teammates that are trying to help him? It could be fun.
Plus, Balor is an interesting option because he could wrestle either champion and there’s a built in story. With Lesnar, there’s the built in story that Finn Balor wasn’t “over enough” to wrestle Lesnar at this event, and Paul Heyman has been singing his praises for months. Finn Balor never really got his rematch for the Universal Title that he never lost, and the David vs. Goliath match is already built in. Then you could put the tag team titles on Gallows and Anderson and let Balor Club run Raw.
And for SmackDown? Hello, AJ Styles? We already got AJ vs. Balor as a throwaway replacement match at TLC, and neither man was aligned with Gallows and Anderson at the time. Have Balor take the good brothers with him to SmackDown and that TV writes itself. Do they stick with Balor or return to AJ’s side? Not to mention you still get a wild title match.
Ready to Rumble
Is it likely? No. But would I like to see it? Absolutely. And I think the rest of the Philadelphia crowd would agree with me. Yes, the rest of, because fellow Sports-Stack writer Conner Fleegle and I will be there in attendance.
But what do you think? Finn? Ziggler? Reigns? Cena? Nakamura? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter (@RyanSmithNFL and @Sports-Stack). Oh, and as for the women’s Royal Rumble match? Nobody. Is. Ready. For. Asuka.