This year’s match looks like it could be the most exciting yet with a line up teeming with potential winners. The fact that we’re going into the match with 5 or 6 serious potential winners makes it all that more exciting. Big name part-timers, legendary performers, surprise returns, new signings and the now traditional nostalgia pop make for a unique match. And much like Christmas, made all that more special that it only comes round once a year. Here we take a look at the what-ifs and could-bes for this Sunday’s event in San Antonio.
First we’ll take a look at the potential winners:
Undertaker: The Deadman is back again for the run in to Wrasslemania folks. Now obviously they’ve booked him for a match at the showcase of the immortals. A win at the rumble could be an easy way to set up the long touted match vs Cena. And why not chuck in a shot for a last title run before he leaves. Maybe even a title VS career match? This is assuming Cena wins. A match against AJ Styles might not have as big a fanfare around it but could produce a better in ring end-product.
Goldberg/Lesnar: Bill vs Brock seems to be all but confirmed for ‘Mania. Goldberg has only seen 1 minute 24 seconds of in ring competition since returning so I wouldn’t be so sure of Vince booking a 30 minute main event match out of him. It makes sense for them to finish off their rivalry in Orlando. Rather than one of them winning the Rumble, look for them to eliminate each other.
Chris Jericho: Back to his best after his heel turn and pairing up with best friend Kevin Owens. He’s managed to get a bit of paper more over than three quarters of the roster too! Speaking of best friends, they’ve been teasing a split between these two since the angle started way back when. Could it come to a head at Wrestlemania in a title vs title match? They could do a lot better for their main event, but they do a lot lot worse. Which brings me to…
Seth Rollins. They’ve had him in holding without a decent feud for so long, his character has really suffered. Obviously they’re setting up the revenge match against Triple h. And just as well. A Seth Rollins main event against Roman or KO would be the just about the blandest thing going and a match we’ve seen about 200 times already. This isn’t a slight on Rollins, he’s a great performer, but he’s been booked so badly I just don’t care anymore. Alan Swoonsome goes into that in more detail here… http://www.imaintainthedoublefootstompissilly.com/25-matches-that-defined-2016-kevin-ovens-vs-roman-reigns-roadblock-end-of-the-line/ .
I’ve just realised at the time of writing that Seth Rollins lost his place in the match to…
Sami Zayn: He and Kevin Owens are so good together that, despite having seen the fight numerous times already in ROH, NXT and on the main roster, I would still be massively into a Zayn vs Owens title match at ‘Mania. It has to happen one year so why not this year? Or should they let it stew some more? Zayn winning such a stacked Rumble match would also be a great story for his ultimate underdog character.
Braun Strowman: The big man is a lot of people’s dark horse to win. From a Kayfabe perspective it would make sense for him to totally obliterate the field and go on to the big one. However, for someone who’s had limited in ring time and is still learning the trade (albeit learning very quickly!) I can’t see him in a main event match just yet. One of the few successes in terms of booking on the Raw roster, hopefully they hold his big push for while yet while he hones his craft and gets a couple of big name feuds under his belt first.
Baron Corbin: The bolter from the Smackdown roster. Still relatively green but a far more polished product than Strowman. His time in NXT served him. Looking for him to build on his Andre the Giant Battle Royal win a bit further before a serious main event push. Maybe the Rumble could his way into an Intercontinental Championship feud against…
Dean Ambrose: He’s recently become Intercontinental Champion and I see him defending at mania so a Rumble win seems unlikely at this point. Whether they use the Rumble to set up a fresh feud for his belt or go down the multi-man-ladder-match-spot-fest-opener route again remains to be seen.
Bray Wyatt: The Orton/Wyatt family feud looks like it’ll come to a head just in time for Mania, so another unlikely winner at this stage.
Randy Orton: See above and also, just no.
Or maybe the winner won’t be someone from the current roster at all. Maybe it will be a surprise entrant like…
Finn Balor: Injured at Summerslam while winning the newly-minted WWE Universal Championship, he had to vacate the title the next night. The powers that be were willing to push him straight into the main event after the move up from NXT, they may well do the same again on his return from injury. IF he has recovered ahead of time.
Samoa Joe: Wrestling’s worst kept secret is Joe making his main-roster debut at the Rumble. He has dropped the NXT title to Nakamura, been off TV for weeks and is not currently engaged in another feud. The potential matches Joe could have off the back of a Rumble win are mouth watering; Joe vs Cena, Joe vs Styles, Joe vs Kevin Owens, Joe vs Reigns even! And hey, even if he doesn’t win, who wouldn’t watch Joe vs Lesnar? Or Joe vs Ambrose? Or Joe vs Undertaker? Or Joe vs Stroman? Or Joe vs just about anyone!
Kurt Angle: POTENTIAL SPOILER BASED PURELY ON RUMOUR AND FANTASY BOOKING. Recently announced as the headline Hall of Fame entrant this year, Your Olympic Hero was supposed to be doing commentary for 5 Star Wrestling at their televised show in Dundee on Saturday night. 5 Star recently confirmed that he has cancelled that show which leads me to think he could be making an appearance. Now that could be just an appearance to recognise his HoF induction, maybe he’ll join the rumble for the nostalgia pop or maybe, just maybe, he wins the Rumble? Angle goes onto the Main Event on the biggest show of them all in his last match before retiring whilst entering the Hall of Fame on the same weekend. It would be a goodbye worthy of one of the all time greats. And who better to see him off than John Cena, the face of the company who challenged the Angle in his first ever match as a young and hungry rookie back in 2002. It would bring his story full circle. Retiring the man he couldn’t beat on his debut and equalling Ric Flair’s record in the same night.
Now that we’ve looked at the potential winners, now who could we be seeing in the now traditional surprise pop segment:
Rob Van Dam: He hasn’t made an appearance for the WWE since 2014, seems to be on good terms with the company. And hey, those dimebags aren’t going to pay for themselves, right?
Shawn Michaels: The San Antonio native would get an incredible reception in his hometown. If his physique at his Wrestlemania 32 appearance was anything to go by, he’s been keeping fit too!
Triple H: He hasn’t buried anyone in a wee while, he could make his comeback here and do just that, only to be eliminated by Seth Rollins to get their Wrestlemania feud going.
Kenny Omega: AJ Styles made his debut at the Rumble off the back of a MOTY performance in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom against the top Japanese face… sound familiar?
D’Lo Brown: The company’s best ever mid-carder and my all time boy, D’Lo. You better recognise! The fed has always been hot for an attitude era star returning for a pop to be quickly eliminated by a current star. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let it be D’Lo!
Jake the Snake: His boat might already have sailed in terms of an in ring return, but what a moment it would be to complete his return from the wilderness after conquering his personal demons. With DDP going into the Hall of Fame it would be the icing on the cake for his achievements too if Jake were to make an appearance. As an aside, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake is still on Netflix and well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.
Kota Ibushi/Zack Sabre Jr: One of these lads would get a massive reaction from fans in Japan and the UK respectively. They both worked short term for the company during the excellent Cruiserweight Classic so why not bring one of them in for a one off Rumble performance?
Whatever happens this has to be the most stacked Rumble since, my all time favourite, 2001. If this match even gets close to that then we’re in for a good one maintainers! All the pieces have been set up for a classic, now it’s just a case of whether they deliver the goods on the night…