For my money, there is no better single PPV concept than the Royal Rumble. It’s the perfect event for a culture with short attention spans. Every 60-120 seconds (depending on the year) another superstar enters the mix, leaving a seemingly endless number of possibilities. There’s always some surprise returns (at least there have been these last few years), some feuds continue while others begin and inevitably Kofi Kingston does something ridiculous, thereby leaving him free to languish in glorified jobber squalor for the next 364 days. . .
Sorry, was I really bitter just then?
Recently it was “officially” announced that this year’s Rumble would feature 40 participants, which I believe is only the second time in history that has happened. This has only added to the Twit-splosion of predictions, conjectures and fantasy booking as to what’s going to happen, even though we have 3 more PPV’s to go before we get to the ‘start of Wrestlemania season’.
This decision, along with some other nuggets of info I’ve gleaned in the past 24 hours or so, has set my own creative juices flowing. Therefore, let’s take a look into our collective Crystal Ballz Mahoney and see what the future may hold for our Rumble experience.
By my calculations and creations, there are about 75 possible wrestlers who could be a part of the Royal Rumble. Let’s break them into groups for easier viewing.
Current WWE Superstars
For this section I am not counting anyone who is currently on the shelf - that will be a separate category altogether.
Now, in past Rumbles, a lot of talents have “doubled up”, wrestling in an early singles or tag match and then coming back for the Rumble. The only exception we can safely make here is the main event, since I doubt either the champ or his opponent will take part in the battle royal.
Provided Brock Lesnar’s heart conditions aren’t more serious than we are being led to believe, we’ll assume he’s going to be defending his title. Honestly, I think we’re going to see Lesnar vs. John Cena, part III (or IV, depending on how you look at it). Barring a certain Galactic Destroyer’s return (more on Blue-tista later) or a random Triple H match, there just doesn’t seem to be any other viable opponents.
Honestly, that’s probably the best scenario. Cena in the main event means Cena isn’t in the Rumble, and as we all know, half the Twitter-verse would up and quit watching WWE if that happens.
So if Cena is out, we can pretty safely fill just about 75% of the rest of the participants. I don’t want this to turn into a laundry list, so let’s just focus on the ones who have at least a puncher’s chance of winning the darn thing.
Obviously we’ll see both healthy ex-Shield brothers. (Shh, stop saying all 3, I’m getting to that!) We’ll see everyone currently involved in the mid-card title picture, including the newly renamed Damien Mizdow. I expect we’ll see the recently dismantled Wyatt Family, and possibly Bray Wyatt’s new charges, provided everyone is right in assuming The Ascension is heading Bray’s way.
We usually see the members of the tag title picture in, especially since “anything can happen” and “it’s every man for himself”. Fans will be clamoring to see Goldust and Stardust at odds in the annual “Hope for a Rhodes Brothers match” telethon. We’ll also likely see The Usos. Thus ends the “top tier” tag title picture. . . How sad is that?
Rusev, Big Show, Mark Henry. . . Actually, lets save me the trouble of typing. Go to WWE.com, click on the roster and scroll through. Pretty much everybody is fair game, though if we see a Bull, a Bunny or a “Mini-Gator” in this Rumble, something bad has happened.
Ok, that brings us to the. . .
Forty participants increases the odds of seeing a larger number of these folks back, which is lucky for us, since most of them are the favorites to win the entire event.
Let me state that again. The likeliest winners of the Royal Rumble are those who are currently on the disabled list. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2014 WWE!
Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns top the list of guys whose names you can probably write down in pen for the Rumble, as well as those most likely to be in the final four, though also don’t count out Bad News Barrett, who might be ready for a main event boost when he returns.
Christian, Ryback and Darren Young are the other injured members of the roster, though depending on what article you read on any given day, their return dates are much more tentative.
That takes us through the injuries, so now let’s move to the . . .
“One Night Only” / Expected Returns
This category is two-fold and frankly, doesn’t need any more explanation.
With 40 men participating, we could definitely see Booker T, Jerry Lawler, JBL, Billy Gunn or Road Dogg making a cameo. Also don’t count out either Alex Riley or Lord Prince J-Train Albert, though they are far less likely. Depending on how The Authority storyline plays out a Jamie Noble or Joey Mercury appearance isn’t completely out of the question. And finally, it’s the Rumble, so that means Kevin Nash is never far away, even if he tore his quad. . . Again. . . filming the sequel to the stripper movie.
Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam are the final names in this category as we could see them make a return for the ‘Mania season. They also fit into our next category, as we enter the realm of…
As soon as I heard that the Rumble was in Philly this year, I knew there would have to be some ‘Extreme’ representation at the Rumble, and even Tommy Dreamer’s somewhat desperate tweet didn’t dissuade me. It’s a foregone conclusion in my mind that RVD takes part next year, and if TNA folds like many people expect it to, then the floodgates are opened.
Bubba / Brother / Bully Ray has long said he wants one more WWE run before he’s through, so he and his brothers (Just D-Von and Spike, sorry Sign Guy) could make an appearance. Dreamer is the likeliest other candidate, though I’m sure Vince and Triple H still have Raven, Stevie Richards and The Sandman’s number somewhere in their Rolodex.
What’s that? Oh. . .Yes. . .Of course. . . See kids, back before we had these cellular telephones, you actually had to write down a telephone number if you wanted to remember it. One way of keeping track of them all was to use a. . . . Forget it.
Speaking of ECW, let’s head even further South and talk about the diamond in the rough of 2014…
I have to believe that there will be an NXT presence at the Royal Rumble. In fact, I imagine we’re going to see a mini-Rumble of sorts at the December PPV (Takeover 3: INNNN SPACCCEEEEE!!!) in order to determine which developmental stars make it to Philadelphia.
The usual cast of characters are obviously highly likely (Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Tyler Breeze, etc.). However, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the new “Big 3” might sneak their way in as a “let’s test the water and see how over they are” move. Of the three (KenTami, Prince Balor and as the New Age Insiders have dubbed him, Brawny Beluga), I think Finn Devitt is the likeliest choice.
This takes us to our last category, and next to a face-painted Balor stealing the show at the Rumble, obviously the most exciting one.
The Big Returns
Rumors abound that Sting is starting with WWE in January. . . The Rumble is in January. Can we slot “The Icon” into the number 40 slot? Perhaps.
Everyone’s favorite giant Smurf is also supposed to be coming back to WWE, so let’s give a spot to Batista as well.
Could we see a Hardy Boyz return? Doubtful, but worth mentioning.
I am also legally required to include The Undertaker in this section, though I think we can all agree that’s, thank you Gorilla, “Highly Unlikely”.
That brings us to our last two names. One of them is someone that we just saw a few days ago, setting off wildfire speculation that he was setting up some sort of Wrestlemania moment. I’m not buying it, though. I don’t think we see The Rock at The Rumble. As much as Vince fantasizes about a Rock vs. Lesnar main event, he has a number of more viable options that he can more easily control.
Which brings us to my guy. The man whom I believe is going to win the Royal Rumble and go on to face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. Sing it with me, folks.
Baaaa BaBaBa BaBaBa Ba Ba Ba Buh Baaa BaBaBa BaBaBa Ba Ba Ba Buh!
What? You don’t recognize the Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle’s music when its typed out like that?
Now that you know who it is, go back and read it. . . It TOTALLY works, doesn’t it? Gonna be stuck in your head all day now. . .
Why do I think Angle is the guy to come back and challenge Lesnar? Couple reasons.
First, he and Lesnar have history. There’s lots to build off of in a feud, and as long as Brock doesn’t climb to the top turnbuckle, we can safely be assured of a quality title match.
Second, despite what you’ve read about Vince or Triple H’s feelings toward Kurt, both know when they have good opportunities in front of them, so that won’t be a factor.
Third, and don’t count this factor out, Kurt Angle is desperate. He wants to come back to WWE and have another main event run and he knows he doesn’t have a whole lot of bargaining chips in his corner. I imagine he’d be willing to sign a very WWE friendly deal in order to get a chance to end his career in the way he wants to.
So there you have it, friends. We’re 3 months and likely 25,000 variables away, but that’s my thinking for the Royal Rumble. I’ll even go ahead and make my official 40 man prediction at the end here. Agree? Disagree? Hate me for getting the Angle theme in your head? You know where to reach me.
2015 Royal Rumble Entrants, in no particular order, as of 10/8/14