Tis’ the season, wrestling fans!
It’s a brand new year and we are eleven days into January and all that rests on my mind is my favorite WWE event of the year; The 30 man, over the top, “Royal Rumble”. The last three years have been some of my least favorite and (in my opinion) some of the worst written outcomes to date, leaving the crowd both deflated and baffled, wondering why WWE chose to take the avenues they did en route to “Wrestlemania.” It got me thinking of some better outcomes for this year’s heralded event. Here are 5 scenarios I wish or would love to see happen, but more than likely, will not.
Instead of another episode of “Styles vs. Cena”, I would’ve loved to have seen an ultra cocky Styles boast a title defense in the rumble, making it the second year in a row for a world title rumble defense. You could have Styles eventually win the event, not only retaining his title, but earning a shot at the title he is missing to truly become the face of WWE, RAW’s “Universal Title” at Wrestlemania. This would give us a clear cut championship main event and won’t make one world title seem more important than the other. It also gives WWE time to decide who that champion will be going into ‘Mania, whether it’s still Kevin Owens or a brand new challenger like Finn Balor, Seth Rollins or someone else RAW is able to establish as a contender along the way.
Having Styles win both belts at WrestleMania would be a legendary feat, cementing his place among the “part time” big names and will give him more clout going into main event situations in a company that refuses to create bigger stars like the part timers they seem to prefer. Alternatively, Styles could contend and lose the ‘Mania showdown and the titles could go to their respective shows, meaning AJ would still tout Smackdown’s title and help a RAW guy score a big win, upping his importance, thus helping the show. I could go on for hours about scenarios and situations this could set up, but do I really need to? It basically sells itself. (note: I am not talking title unification, just one guy holding both belts.)
2) “The Demon King” vs. “The Dead Man”
The moment Finn Balor debuted in NXT I salivated at the thought of this potential matchup. Imagine the Undertaker comes down the ramp, enters the Rumble and clears the ring in true taker fashion. He could then, stand alone and toss away the next couple of entrants, remaining “king of the hill” until that lights go out again and the “demon king” enters the fray, beginning with a harsh stare down (minus the pointing at the Wrestlemania banner, please), eventually leading to one eliminating the other, resulting in a potential one on one meeting at Wrestlemania, where they could either give Finn a huge win, or a loss with the huge moral victory, upping his value either way. This matchup is a win/win situation much like Punk vs. Taker was a few years back. With Undertaker up there in age, this could be the last chance for this matchup to ever meet the cards and I for one will be disappointed if we never see it.
3) “Wyatt” Noise
Bray Wyatt should’ve been set up as the companies “monster” heel years ago, as his eerie promos, character development and main event potential seem unscathed and a perfect fit for McMahon’s model. Instead, he has been on the losing end of the spectrum far too many times, yet still possesses believability as a world champion, especially if they keep the “family” in tow. Odds are things are leading to a Wyatt family split and Bray will more than likely end up challenging Randy Orton or a different competitor, but is long overdue for a Rumble win and a Mania title match, especially with good showings over the past couple of years. WWE, it is time to “follow the buzzards” on the road to WrestleMania.
4) The Dark Horse Scenario
We have seen shocking Rumble winners in the past, so why not go the least likely route and truly shock the world? “Heel” Ziggler has returned to the fold with a bad attitude and something to prove. A “Rumble” win could truly catapult his stock through the roof if he is to slay the correct dragons in the process. The right eliminations, plus Ziggler’s cunning “win by any means” mentality could mean the difference between being believable and disappointing the audience. Trust me, there are so many ways this could work that I would be surprised if it isn’t at least on the drawing board.
Another “dark horse” competitor to look out for is Baron Corbin, a man they seem to intend on being the company’s next “big man”. Last year at Wrestlemania, they had him win the Andre The Giant memorial battle royal, but have since put him in feuds with Ziggler and Kalisto that somewhat hurt his stock, as they merely traded victories on multiple occasions and did nothing to further each other. I don’t think its Corbin’s time, nor would I write it to end this way, but it is a definite possibility and still better than a Reigns centric Rumble for the 4th year straight.
Nakamura, Samoa Joe, the “Glorious” Booby Roode; With names like these in the fold, we are bound to get at least one NXT entrant in this year’s Rumble, especially if the company wants to atone for the “sins of rumble’s past” and offer us something new and exciting. Whoever it may be doesn’t necessarily have to win to impact the WrestleMania card and benefit the company. All they have to do is show up and make an impact, setting up a high-caliber showdown. Any of these entrants would be great against top guys like Rollins, Owens, Jericho, etc and could make this year’s WrestleMania card so much more exciting than last years. If not an NXT guy, I hear this guy named “Kenny” was wrestling over in Japan and doing pretty well, why not at least get him on the phone again and see what he’s up to. You saw the reaction for AJ last year, why not Kenny Omega this year?
Inevitably, we seem to be set up for Lesnar/Goldberg III and things are shaping up for a Cena/Taker bout that has seen a lukewarm reaction at best. The WWE needs to embrace their youth this year and not take years to build the next Daniel Bryan when you have at least 6 guys ready to be in that position right now. Will the rumble be worthwhile? Even with the missteps of the last few years, I have faith, especially with the writers who have made Smackdown a fantastic show to watch. Only time will tell, but I for one, sure hope they get it right.
For more stories (or if you have any leads) be sure you follow me @NicholasGrooms on twitter.
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