Talking Points From The 2016 Royal Rumble match

Like most WWE PPVs of late, the Royal Rumble had its ups and downs. Let’s talk about some of the biggest issues and incidents.

Royal Rumble 2016 talking points

Your winner…and new WWE Champion

Roman Reigns went in at number one, and not many thought he’d be capable of wrestling more than hour in order to retain his title. So when Vince McMahon sicced his League of Nations (minus King Barrett) on Reigns, and Rusev sent him crashing through a table, Reigns received the stretcher job treatment – meaning it was only a matter of time until he returned to win.

So as Reigns began his comeback out of nowhere against the incoming number 29 entrant, Sheamus, the fix appeared to be in. That is, until Triple H entered the Rumble at number 30 and duly took the title. Reigns was actually the second-to-last man to be eliminated from the match, leaving Triple H in the ring against an absolutely fantastic Dean Ambrose, who the crowd got behind fiercely.

The art of salesmanship

Speaking of fierce, the reaction to both Ambrose and Kevin Owens’ Rumble entrances following their absolutely fantastic Last Man Standing match was something to behold. Meanwhile, after taking a particularly intense beating himself, Reigns sprang as if out of nowhere to surprise Sheamus with a Superman Punch in the aisle, later in the very same match.

It reminded me very much of the events of the 1994 Royal Rumble, in which co-winners Bret Hart and Lex Luger were both subjected to some rough treatment. Earlier in the night, Bret was attacked by his brother Owen, who took his frustrations out on Bret’s leg. The image of Kevin Owens’ entry into the Rumble last night was almost identical – maybe even in homage – to Bret, as both men dragged a bad leg behind them on the way into the ring to equally big pops from the crowd.

bretrumble

Luger, like Reigns, was jumped and beaten by two assailants before he could enter the match – but as soon as his number came up, Luger hit the ring like a house on fire, with absolutely no regard for selling the condition he’d been put in. Reigns’ entrance and subsequent domination of those in the ring was equally far-fetched.

I get that last night was all about defying the odds, but Reigns’ sudden revitalisation as he re-entered the match came off as so clumsy.

Brock vs Bray

It’s looking likely that a match between Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt is set to happen at Wrestlemania 32. This after Lesnar’s impact in the ring was dampened by the members of the Wyatt Family, whose leader Bray oversaw Brock’s elimination by his loyal subjects. The Wyatt Family put on a great performance in the ring – well, Luke Harper did at least but that’s nothing new – and may be on their way to establishing themselves as the big deal fans always thought they could be.

It’s just a shame Lesnar will go over at Mania – and that their big green giant of a man, Braun Strowman, continues to receive any prominent focus.

Chris Jericho – iron man?

I always liked Chris Jericho – he’s had some fantastic wrestling matches in his time, and can always be relied upon to put in a great performance and help put over young talent.

Which is why it’s so baffling to me that Jericho went more than 50 minutes – only Reigns ‘went’ longer. All that and with only one elimination to his name, I found it kind of strange that Chris Jericho was portrayed in the Rumble run-up as one of the frontrunners to win the match. But with the depleted roster, and the resultant need for a big name, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he’d been offered a big deal to be portrayed as a big deal in return.

Standouts and surprises

What with the match being for the World title rather than a shot at Wrestlemania, it made sense not to rely on the surprise guests and comedy spots – but that doesn’t mean we weren’t treated to some excellent Royal Rumble surprises.

AJ Styles WWE

Image by Zohyo

 

The worst-kept secret in professional wrestling was revealed, as the number three entrant turned out to be AJ Styles, fresh from NJPW and a bona fide wrestling star. His entrance was somewhat tainted as we couldn’t see the reveal of ‘The Phenomenal One’ on the Titantron – the TV cameras were trained on Reigns. And while it was too much to ask to have a debuting Styles go deep into the match, he still put on a great showing in his debut match.

The chain of events around this time were especially great. It was left to the other indie darling, Kevin Owens to eliminate Styles, who’d gone nearly half an hour in the match – only to be dumped out by his former friend and NXT Championship rival, Sami Zayn.

All in all I quite enjoyed the Rumble event – it certainly an improvement on the last two – but once again it’s been a case of making the best of what they had instead of planning ahead a little more. Assuming Roman Reigns is going to get his crowning moment at Wrestlemania once again – and assuming as well they don’t have an emergency ripcord to pull like they did last year – it could be an interesting few weeks ahead.

Royal Rumble 2016 predictions

In which Roman Reigns is made to look really strong.

We’re under a week away from what’s probably my favourite WWE event of the year, but at the time of writing I can’t even decide if I want to take the next morning off work to watch it.

Normally going into a Royal Rumble match there’s a large enough degree of uncertainty about what’s going to happen to keep it interesting – but in the company’s latest mission to make Roman Reigns look like an unstoppable superhuman it’s verging on the incredible. And not in a good way.

Royal Rumble 2016 predictions

For the first time ever, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be defended in the actual Royal Rumble match. Unlike previous years where the winner gets the World title shot at Wrestlemania, this year they’ve decided to lob in the actual belt instead.

At the 1992 Royal Rumble, Ric Flair won the vacant World title thanks to some screwery involving Sid Justice, but this year there’s going to be a defending champion; it’s an awful lot of pressure on Roman Reigns in both kayfabe and real-life terms.

The odds. The stacking. The againstness. The adversity. The overcoming: all things which we’re being treated to in the story of Reigns’ upcoming title defence. And while that worked for a little bloke like Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX, I don’t know why Reigns has ever been portrayed as the underdog when he’s chiselled from granite and one of the most powerful men in the game today.

Forcing him into the Rumble with his title on the line – you can thank a returning Vince McMahon for that, who at 70 years of age deserves a big hand for bumping around like he has in the last few weeks – is a compelling enough storyline to keep me interested, but what happens at the end of the night is where it really gets interesting.

The way I see it, the Rumble’s going to go one of two ways; one of them only slightly less offensive than the other.

If Reigns retains

If Roman Reigns is going to make history by defending his Royal Rumble title, then for the sake of credibility he needs not to be in the first five, or even ten entries. The match has been won from an early position before – Shawn Michaels won it from the number one spot in 1995, but wrestled for less than 40 minutes. Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble in 2004, clocking in a more impressive 61 minutes. But both men were a lot more capable workers than Reigns is now.

Not that any of that matters, because this is Superman we’re talking about. For Reigns not to be booed out of the building in winning his second consecutive Royal Rumble match – for all the marbles this time – the order of entry will be key; the later, the better. For the sake of believability – and of the WWE not ramming him down fans’ throats for the second year in a row – Reigns must enter later if he’s really going to win it all, despite it seeming like less of an achievement.

If Reigns loses

On the other hand, if it’s decided that someone else will be walking out of the Rumble as world champion, the likely scenario seems to be that Reigns – on the verge of victory and achieving the impossible – will be screwed by some Authority…screwery.

With the McMahon family seething, as well as Triple H seeking revenge for Reigns’ attack at TLC, we can expect even more of the deck-stacking as the Authority sends out stooge after stooge in an attempt to take out Reigns. Sheamus, Del Rio – even Bad News Barrett and Rusev who are sadly injured at last count – will be set to take out the champ as soon as possible.

Reigns, naturally, will overcome – but you can expect some last-minute tomfoolery to put down the champion if they decide not to go with Reigns as the champion heading out of the 2016 Rumble. Of course, that will be immediately remedied with a Wrestlemania main event against whoever does win that match – let’s not pretend that Fastlane is important enough to see a title change – so Reigns fans need not despair if he does lose the title at the Royal Rumble.

So if Reigns does give up the prize, who can we expect to take the belt?

Sadly, there are whispers that if you want the job done right, you’ve got to do it yourself – which is why it could be Triple H closing out the night as Royal Rumble winner 2016. Outside of that, the usual suspects would be Brock Lesnar, or…actually, there isn’t really anyone else is there?

Last Man Standing

Who would I like to see win? Dean Ambrose. Kevin Owens. Two hugely popular wrestlers, so popular in fact that WWE have already taken measures to ensure it won’t be either of them – by booking them opposite each other in a Last Man Standing match for the Intercontinental Title. So bizarre is this booking, in fact, that it’s the champion Ambrose who issued the challenge rather than the prizefighter Owens.

So with those two outside hopes swiftly taken care of, it’s going to be a matter of how badly WWE wants to get Roman Reigns, supreme champion, over at the Rumble. It’s strange that they can’t even wait for that Mania moment to ensure that Reigns gets the glory – or at least enough of the rub to get some sympathy via villainous interference – but I suppose we’ll see what they have in store for us.

Reasons to watch the Rumble

Despite the lack of intrigue this year surrounding the main event, there’s always a reason to tune into the Royal Rumble match – the surprise returns and debuts. And with the various members of Bullet Club all but confirmed to make their WWE debuts over the next few weeks, it’s going to be well worth tuning in to see which of the talented performers steps out onto the stage in Orlando, Florida, this Sunday night.

 

Who will win the 2015 Royal Rumble?

And who will headline Wrestlemania XXXI?

We’re only a couple of weeks away from this year’s instalment of the WWE Royal Rumble; a unique 30-man match whose winner is guaranteed a World Title match at Wrestlemania XXXI.

With the company’s continued anointing of former Shield member Roman Reigns as The Man, and Brock Lesnar expected to defeat John Cena in their rematch for the title at the Rumble, we should expect Reigns to take not only the WWE title but also the rub from ending the Streak-ender at Wrestlemania.

Roman Reigns WWE 2015 Royal Rumble

Image by Miguel Discart

However, with the addition of Seth Rollins to the Royal Rumble title match and the less-than-stellar response Reigns receives from WWE crowds, for once we’re not completely assured of anything.

It’s still pretty much nailed on that Roman Reigns will take the victory this year, but with the doubt surrounding world champ Brock Lesnar’s immediate future and which MMA company he’ll be returning to, there’s been just a tiny bit of doubt cast on him.

Having received the push towards main event level after The Shield broke up, Reigns worked on combining his toughness with a standard babyface moveset, developing something smarks refer to as the Five Moves of Doom. Reigns’ momentum was cut short before he could face Seth Rollins at September’s Night of Champions due to injury, but was barely off TV in the interim cutting some fairly average promos.

Nonetheless, Reigns has returned and looks likely to win the Royal Rumble match – barring any last-minute developments behind the scenes.

Personally I’d be okay with Reigns taking the win here, but he really needs some earned momentum to get to Wrestlemania and be a credible challenger for whomever he comes up against. A very very strong performance in the Rumble at the very least, followed up by a great match and/or promo every single week in the weeks to follow.

And while I’m disappointed that the likes of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Rusev are going to miss out, hopefully they won’t be entirely out in the cold for the rest of 2015.

WWE: Who Could Win The 2014 Royal Rumble?

Setting out five men who could win the big one at Wrestlemania XXX.

(This post contains spoilers for the 20/12 edition of Friday Night Smackdown.)

Royal Rumble 2014

As the dust settled on another uneven PPV performance at TLC, it was Randy Orton who had unified the WWE title and World Heavyweight Championship, leaving John Cena out in the cold. Now that there is only one title, the focus turns to who will have a shot of winning it at the 30th Wrestlemania event.

30 men enter, one man remains at the Royal Rumble, set to take place in Pittsburgh on January 26, 2014. This iconic event is getting on in years too, as the next one will be the 26th! The Royal Rumble match is probably my personal highlight of the whole wrestling calendar; not only because it’s given fans some of the standout wrestling performances of all time from the likes of Kane and Shawn Michaels, but because of the opportunities that the unique nature of the match gives for storyline development. Alliances are formed and broken in quick time, feuds rage on, and any deserving winner of the match always gets a massive popularity boost from the achievement.

Suffice it to say, whoever will be world champion by then had better be looking over his shoulder between now and Wrestlemania XXX; here are five men who I feel could be his opponent in the big main event by winning the Rumble next month.

John Cena

John Cena Royal Rumble 2014

Cena will probably face Orton in a rematch for the belt at the Royal Rumble itself, and what with the stakes already being raised under TLC rules – not to mention the historic occasion that was the title unification – we might see yet another interesting stipulation added to the match.

If Cena loses – and the fact that a World title has only changed hands four times at the Rumble since 1999 suggests he might – then he could always muscle his way into the Rumble somehow. Personally I hope this won’t be the case; much as I’m starting to actually like the guy I definitely feel like I’d rather see a different guy at the top of the heap. Y’know, a relatively fresh face, I dunno, someone like –

Big E Langston

Big E Langston Royal Rumble 2014

Big E Langston – image by miguel.discart

A surprising pick I know, but Big E’s work and attitude of late have led to a real surge in popularity; enough to see him turn face and capture Intercontinental gold from Curtis “Son of Mr Perfect And That’s All He’s Good For” Axel in recent weeks.

At the conclusion of this week’s yet-to-air WWE Smackdown, Langston came to the aid of CM Punk and John Cena during a beatdown from The Shield. Getting Big E out there to back up two of the three biggest stars in the entire company is surely another shot in the arm for his own standing in the WWE. Once he’s dispatched of Fandango in about 27 seconds to retain the IC belt at the Rumble, there’s every chance we could see him again later in the night, turning in a big performance – if not going all the way? Traditionally the Intercontinental title has served as an early sign that its holder has a bright future ahead of them – and hopefully the same will ring true for Big E just as it does for the equivalent US Title, which neatly brings me to hope that the winner of the Rumble will be –

NOT a member of The Shield

The Shield Royal Rumble 2014

The Shield – image by miguel.discart

In the past, the WWE has been guilty of rushing the build-up to a big event. In fact, they do it more often than not. Since Roman Reigns’ MVP performance at Survivor Series for The Shield, taking out four members of the opposing side, the accelerator is very gently being pressed on a Shield split, but I personally think there’s a whole hell of a lot left in their collective tank.

Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose together are an absolutely amazing combination and I don’t think I’ve seen such an all-round talented stable of wrestlers in years. Saying that though, the cracks are already beginning to show since Reigns inadvertently speared Ambrose in The Shield’s losing 3-on-1 effort against CM Punk at TLC last weekend. At the Royal Rumble I can see Reigns putting in a similarly crushing shift; he won’t get the elimination numbers of Kane but the spotlight being on Reigns won’t go down well with the Shield leader Ambrose.

I just hope they don’t blow this; it is quite possible that, if done correctly, a Shield split could see Reigns and Ambrose feuding over Ambrose’s United States title with a massive match at Wrestlemania XXX; hey, now that there’s only one World title they’ve got to give the others a bit more importance too, right?

CM Punk

CM Punk Royal Rumble 2014

AKA my boyfriend, CM Punk is storming the WWE right now – his exceedingly unlikely win against The Shield in a handicap match at TLC shows the faith the company has in booking the big wins for Punk. Along with Cena and Daniel Bryan, Punk is streets ahead of the rest of the locker room right now and the only thing which could top that off is a win at Wrestlemania XXX against Randy Orton which would really be one in the eye for the COO of the WWE, Triple H; it would be the prime example of what the fans want to see which is anti-authority picking up the big win over The Authority.

However, his attack on Triple H during the recent Ascension Ceremony of the two World belts on Raw hints towards a little more towards a match between the two of them at Wrestlemania rather than Punk’s being in the main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. I can easily see HHH or one of his cronies in The Shield screwing Punk out of a victory in the Royal Rumble match next month, meaning Punk would want to settle the matter personally.

All of which leaves one outstanding candidate – really the only man who has something left to prove out of all these other potentials:

Fandango

Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan Royal Rumble 2014

Daniel Bryan – image by Krystal Bogner

Had you going there for a second, didn’t I? No? Fair enough. But the next time you hear his entrance music hitting, just try and strain to hear a single note of it being played above the absolute bedlam that breaks out for Daniel Bryan – my ears were ringing for days after from the crowd’s chanting for him and CM Punk at Leeds Arena last month.

The former Nexus man is so, so over with the fans that I can only believe that WWE is throwing a major swerve on the fans who are baying for this man to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion; having Triple H try so often to bury him on the mic can only be a tactic to draw heat because surely the eventual victory will only be so much sweeter.

Which is why I find it all the more frustrating that he’s in deep with the Wyatt Family. They’re good, but they’re not that good yet. By losing to them in the other 3-on-1 match at TLC Bryan isn’t doing the Wyatts any favours, he’s only hurting his own star power. By all means WWE should try to stall Bryan’s ascension to the big prize, but the rivalry against Wyatt, Harper and Rowan looks to be far from over. The longer it goes on without Bryan getting any back-up – which he’s hard-pressed to receive when Punk and Cena have their hands full with The Authority – will distance him further from the main event, and thus the big title win at Wrestlemania XXX.

 

I know I started off by naming five (four, if you don’t include a Shield member, which I’m not) guys who could feasibly win the Royal Rumble this year in the quest for the WWE World Heavyweight Title, but I’ll say this right now: if Daniel Bryan aka The Man Who Gave Me Tinnitus doesn’t win the Rumble, I riot.

Who’s with me?