Foe the second part of my Royal Rumble preview, I’ve decided to go for my very own top 10 favorite list to win the whole thing. For this, I’ve taken a look at Internet’s favorites, the most relevant backstage talk and the rumored WrestleMania matches that are, in my opinion, most likely to happen. So, who is my favorite to win this year’s 30-man, over-the-top extravaganza? The answer might surprise you…
10 and 9. Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar:
You will find Goldberg much higher on most Internet lists, and that’s basically the only reason he’s on my list to begin with, but I deem Goldberg’s chances to win this very slim indeed. And basically the same goes for Lesnar. Why? Simply because Goldberg vs Lesnar is set in stone for WM, and, whether we want to or not, that’s what we’re going to get. Now, there is a scenario floating around that Goldberg could win this and Lesnar would then win the Elimination Chamber match, but I think that’s very unlikely to happen. Lesnar winning this and Goldberg somehow winning the Elimination Chamber is even less likely. WWE already has the star-power they want for WM with those two and the continued build-up to their feud will spark the desired mainstream attention. In other words, there is no reason whatsoever to add the Universal title to that mix. Goldberg and Lesnar will eliminate each-other, and that will be that.
8. Randy Orton:
That Orton is cited among the favorites shouldn’t be a surprise, he also fits into WWE’s rumored desire of wanting a big name to win this year’s RR. The fact that The Viper’s career has been revitalized by the Wyatt storyline is, of course, also a factor that plays into this. But the Wyatt story is also why I think this won’t happen. Bray Wyatt vs Orton at WM seems more than likely at this point, and, there would be ways to put the title on the Eater of Worlds between now and WM, but why bother? The whole story has worked like a charm until now and it’s likely Harper and the (reportedly) soon returning Rowan will also play a role so why put the title in that particular mix? This feud doesn’t need a RR win or a title run. I have no doubt Orton will be back in the title mix soon enough, but not right now.
7. Samoa Joe:
There is indeed an insistent rumor that Samoa Joe will be not only one of the surprise entrants in the Rumble (which I deem likely) but also that he could win the Rumble Match (which I have some reservations about). The base for that rumor is backstage talk involving Joe being called up to the main roster and receiving a big push towards WM, where he would face none other than John Cena. Now it’s very possible Cena indeed wins the WWE Title at RR, but, to have someone Vince was, by his own admission, never really interested in all of a sudden win the Rumble and be in one of the biggest matches at WM, that I find something of a stretch. Joe being part of the Rumble, yes. Joe receiving some sort of a push, OK. But I don’t think WWE will go beyond that for the time being.
6. Shinsuke Nakamura:
There is actually less internet buzz about Nakamura being part of the RR match, and possibly winning it, than about Joe. But that might change as, yesterday, HHH confirmed that Nakamura would become part of the main roster sooner rather than later (his words). Does that mean as soon as Sunday? Could very well happen, it has been confirmed the whole NXT roster will be backstage at the RR. But win? Well, honestly, if this year’s Rumble is about having a NXT top star pulling off the upset, then I think The King of Strong Style has more chances to be put in that role than Joe, simply because Nakamura is more charismatic and marketable than Joe. Furthermore, WWE has shown much interest in the Japanese market during 2016 and probably has every intention to intensify those efforts in 2017. Can you imagine what effect a Nakamura win would have over there? As for the US market, Nakamura already has every wrestling fan and NXT fan in his pocket and with his natural charisma it would probably not take him that much time to get the casual audience behind him also. Lot of things have to align for this to happen, but, I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.
5. Sami Zayn:
Might be a surprise to some to see Sami this high up this list, but, if WWE wants to revive the ultimate underdog thing that worked so well for one Daniel Bryan, ten who better than Sami. He’s hugely over, can have great matches with just about anyone and could easily rally any crowd behind him on his way to WM. With most of the “big names” currently involved or soon to be involved in feuds with other “big names”, this could be exactly the right spot for someone like Zayn to make a run for super-stardom. Plus he has a natural feud with Owens (assuming Owens retains of course). Again, lots of things have to happen, but…
4. Braun Strowman:
It doesn’t matter how much Strowman tries to come over as a really scary dude, for me he will always be Big Bad BabyBeard. That said, I must admit WWE has done a fine job with him booking-wise. Enough for him to win? Well, in a way, yes but, what happens next? Strowman vs Reigns? How the hell do you book that as your Universal title match at WM? The crowd will simply boo both of them. Or somehow turn Strowman face. No, I think Strowman will make a big splash in this rumble, but to actually win it seems a bit early to me.
3. Chris Jericho:
There is a rather good chance that Chris Jericho’s prophecy actually becomes reality. Indeed, Jericho has said that he would win the Rumble and then go on to face his “best friend” Kevin Owens at WM. Owens seemed less than enthused by the idea, which, in the crazy world of wrestling, means that there is indeed a possibility of this happening. And why not? The Jericho and Owens pairing has been mostly entertaining and their inevitable break-up will be the perfect illustration of the “good friends, better enemies” adage. This is also a good example of an on-going storyline benefiting from having the Universal title thrown in the mix. Jericho’s popularity is undeniable and Owens would be the perfect heel for him. So, one last shot at title glory for Jericho? I wouldn’t that be surprised.
2. The Undertaker:
Don’t worry, I won’t go into a rant about how I dislike having the Undertaker be one of the big favorites to win the RR in 2017, because, well, it’s WrestleMania season, the part-timers are coming back whether I want to or not. That said, I get why some are firmly behind Taker on this one. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. The only thing I don’t get is people saying it will be Roman Reigns vs Undertaker at WM. Again, how the hell do you book that? WWE still has no (apparent) intention of turning Reigns, and the idea of having Taker turn heel against Reigns is just laughable. So you’re left with your top babyface getting boo-ed out of the building every time he even frowns at the Unholy One. No,if Taker indeed wins this, then you have to look at the other WM possibilities, Cena, Owens and Styles. The Cena/Taker match has been discussed for some time now, and it might indeed be something WWE is interested in. Taker/Owens has been suggested by Owens himself and Taker/Styles is something that would certainly generate interest. So can this happen? I deem it likely, not in the least because, like said above, this might be WWE’s last chance to promote their Undertake/Cena “dream match”.
1. Finn Balor:
I know, I know, I’m taking a big risk by putting Balor on top of my list, but, it’s my list so I can do whatever want, right? The rationale behind this should be obvious. Just before his injury, Balor was the recipient a of big, and very well received, main event push. And he should have recovered from said injury right about… now. So, instead of doing big, sometimes convoluted storylines involving part-timers, why not pick up the Balor push where it left of and have The Demon King do an Edge and come back from injury to win the whole thing? Of course, if Balor hasn’t recovered yet, then I’m going to look very silly on Sunday, but, the fact it has been very quiet around Balor in recent week is, in wrestling, often the sign something is up. Add to that the fact that Balor has unfinished business with just about everyone in RAW’s title picture and you can see why I’m firmly going with this possibility. Plus, I simply like this idea much better than some of the other ones, so…
And there you have it. Agree with this list, disagree? Don’t hesitate to sound off in the comment section and I will be happy to listen to your picks and defend mine. Also, stay tuned for more RR news this weekend and I will see you all this Sunday for my Takeover review. Until then, have fun!
Tags: Bill Goldberg, Braun Strowman, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Finn Balor, Randy Orton, sami zayn, Samoa Joe, shinsuke nakamura, The Undertaker