As explained in part 1, the possibility of this Rumble being build around Reigns, Lesnar an nobody else are very real. But that doesn’t mean there is absolutely no room for WWE to do something else, on the contrary. So in part 2 we will explore which wrestlers not named reigns and Lesnar have a chance of winning the Rumble, or, at least, play a role in it. We will also look at who might make a surprise appearance and who is less likely to.
Before I start, let’s get some names out of he way. While we all know by now that Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are indeed on their way to WWE, there is little chance of them appearing in the Rumble. Nakamura is still under contract with NJPW (for a few days) and is only expected to report at WWE’s Performance Center in early February. Anderson is more or less in the same situation, but, interestingly, he and Gallows are still scheduled to participate in NJPW’s New beginnings in Niigata (facing GBH in a re-match from WK10). That would confirm the rumors that the Bullet Club boys will only join WWE in March. So none of them are actually eligible to participate in the Rumble, not even Gallows if he has accepted said bookings.
That being said, the situation is quite different for the fourth member of that little group so let’s start with:
Probably one of the most cited names when it comes to surprise RR appearances, AJ has no obligation left towards NJPW so, essentially, if he and WWE wants this to happen, it very well could happen. There are still uncertainties surrounding Styles future though with several news sites claiming ROH had made one more attempt to sign Styles by offering him a six-figures contract. An offer that was easily topped by WWE’s offer, still according to those sources. Personally, I don’t pay much attention anymore to such claims as my gut feeling tells me the deal between WWE and Styles is already made and signed. So, If I’m right, that measn AJ will appear at the Rumble, right? Well, not necessarily. WWE medical first gets a say and with Styles’ history of back injuries, that might take awhile. Furthermore, one has to wonder if AJ appearing at the Rumble makes much sense. There is no chance in hell of AJ wining the WWE Title on his first appearance. Such things simply d not happen in WWE, especially not with someone who has Indie Star written all over him. So let’s say Styles does make an appearance, we all go YEAY and then he gets eliminated by, say, The Big Show. What then? What would that have accomplished? Unless WWE wants to test AJ’s popularity before a “mainstream wrestling audience”, because that’s really the only reason they would have to make AJ appear. If that happens, then the audience’s reaction will be interesting to analyze. If Styles gets a huge pop, some WWE plans might change. If he only gets a polite applause, next time we will see him will be in NXT.
I’ve said this before, it’s completely impossible to make a list of potential surprise appearances in WWE without mentioning Daniel Bryan nowadays. The Bearded One’s popularity remains un-rivaled in WWE so speculations about a potential return at the Rumble are normal. But are they realistic, that’s the real question. The situation between WWE and Bryan hasn’t evolved much in recent weeks, and several backstage reports have claimed that WWE is not expecting Bryan to return for the time being. Some have even stated that it’s already a given Bryan won’t be at WM. Besides, in the event Bryan does make a surprise appearance, then WWE creates essentially the same kind of situation as the one they had at last year’s Rumble. If Bryan is there, everyone will expect him to win or at least play an important role. If he just appears and gets eliminated, that you basically have the Reigns scenario all over again with whomever wins. I simply don’t think WWE would take that risk even if Bryan was available. As for letting him win the Rumble on his (hypothetical) return, as is being suggested here and there, that seems even more improbable to me for the simple reason WWE will not want to put the title on Bryan and run the risk of him being sidelined again a couple of weeks later. Remember, that has already happened twice (once with the World title, once with the IC title) so mark my words, whether we like it or not, when Bryan’s return does happen, it will be handled with kid’s glove by WWE so no rushing towards the main event scene.
I’m pretty sure Triple H winning this year’s RR started life on the internet as a rib. Now that we draw closer to the even though, we must consider the possibility of that actually happening. Or at least that HHH might be one of the Rumble’s surprise appearances. Indeed, given WWE’s current lack of what they call “stars”, Triple H is one of the few old-guard guys left that is readily available. It has even been said in recent months that Mr Levesque was actively preparing for an in-ring return. Add to that the fact, whether we like it or not, the war between reigns and The Authority is still very much alive and all of a sudden, HHH being played out as The Authority’s trump card becomes a possibility. Does that mean that WWE would go so far as to have HHH win the title? Well, HHH sitting on the title while Reigns tries to crawl his way back into the WM main event doesn’t sound as ludicrous as it should when you consider the fact WWE has completely neglected (again) to push anyone else into a possible main event position. Another possibility is HHH being responsible for Reigns’ elimination or both eliminating each-other, setting up their match at WM. But then the question becomes, who else (aside from Lesnar) has a chance to win the title? I’ll try to answer that question below, but, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Hunter was involved in some way this year.
Another one of WWE’s dinosaurs, pretty much like with Triple H, his appearance would wake up the crowds, if nothings else. But I have to believe WWE will keep Taker clear of the title scene at this point so he would basically be there to set up his WM program. Question is, against whom? HHH, Roman Reigns, Lesnar and Bray Wyatt will probably be otherwise engaged, all others are either on the injury list, unavailable or nowhere near the level they need to be to propose a viable challenge to the Dead Man. I believe WWE squandered an opportunity here, not that that’s a surprise. If they’re gonna use Taker at WM then they should have thought to build up someone like Luke Harper to the point where Harper would become a genuine threat to Taker. But, no use talking about what WWE has done wrong lately, this column doesn’t have enough room for that.
The Leader of the Wyatt Family doesn’t enter the “surprise participants” category, since we know he’ll be there, but can he be a surprise winner. At first, no. No way in hell. And yet, once the Wyatt Family was done with their jobber-to-Taker/Kane role, WWE have been slowly rebuilding them. In fact, one could argue that, these :last few weeks on RAW, the Wyatt’s were presented as the strongest faction in WWE. Or at least were protected in such a way that one can not help but wonder what WWE’s plans are concerning them. Aside from the rumored addition of a “Sister Abigail” to the group, more and more observers think we will get Lesnar vs Wyatt at WM. If so then we will probably get HHH vs Reigns too ostensibly for the WWE title. But what if WWE reverses that? The main problem of the Wyatt vs Lesnar match is that it doesn’t sound very appealing. So, while Lesnar certainly doesn’t need the title, Wyatt might actually need it more than Reigns, for example. A Lesnar/Wyatt match for the title certainly sounds more appealing the just Lesnar and Wytt going t it just for the hell of it. Furthermore WWWE could have fun using Lesnar’s appearances on RAW to have him go through the remaining Wyatt family members one by one. After all, isn’t that why w like Lesnar? Because he smashes stuff? Here, at least, it would happen for a reason. Here it all depends on if WWE thinks just having Wyatt eliminate Reigns is enough for the feud, if not, then we might have a BIG surprise at this year’s Rumble.
KO is in a pretty strange situation right now. While people were initially expecting much from his feud with Ambrose, the whole thing seems to have lost a lot of steam already. The main reason for that, in my opinion, is that it has essentially been presented as a mid-card feud. And not a )particularly important one at that. It’s always the same thing, isn’t it? If WWE doesn’t seem to care about feud or secondary titles, why should fans? That being said, most wrestling fans still expect big things from Owens. So could that happen at the Rumble? There are a few positive signs for that, not many but still a few. In the “Reigns vs The World” battle a couple of weeks ago, KO was handpicked by Vince McMahon to go first against Reigns. Not only that but Owens was clearly booked as Reigns’ equal in the ring. This might point towards a plan where Owens becomes Champion and then joins the Authority as their “handpicked” champion. This would then lead to Reigns vs Owens at WM where, presumably, Reigns would score the babyface victory. I’m not saying this is very likely, but, if they want an heel champion between RR and WM in order to have that big babyface moment at WM, then there aren’t THAT many choices. It’s either Owens or Wyatt, since Sheamus and Del Rio have already been portrayed as “inferior”. Unless they go with the Triple H thing of course.
Dean Ambrose’s problem is that he is still more popular than Reigns, so it’s very likely WWE will keep him as far from the main event scene as they can. There can only be one top face in WWE after all (not my thinking, but theirs in case you were wondering)
Various NXT names have been dropped but I’m not expecting much from that corner. After all, little would be gained to have, say Samoa Joe or Finn Balor appear just to be eliminated a few minutes later. WWE has enough jobbers for that role, they do not need the NXT guys for that.
Big Show. Well he will be in there. He will, undoubtedly, play a role. We will all ask “Why, WWE, Why???” and then he will, thankfully, be eliminated by whomever WWE wants to receive a huge pop. Because we all know THAT worked so well last year.
League of Nations’ (Sheamus/Del Rio) role will be that of the ineffectual roadblock for Reigns. And that’s it.
AxelMania. Just kidding.
And speaking of that’s it, well, that’s it from me today, don’t forget to check out the TRA open for everybody’s picks for the Rumble and the Rumble Round table later this week for more RR predictions. See you all later and have fun!
Tags: AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Ownes, Royal Rumble 2016, The Undertaker, Triple H