Hello AW Universe,
There have already been *27 entrants announced for the men’s Royal Rumble match, to the annoyance of some fans as it appears that this signals a lack of NXT talent and surprise entrants. Regardless, let’s take a look at the wrestlers who have been announced– in the order that they declared for the match– and the chances they have of winning the Royal Rumble, earning the opportunity to challenge for either the WWE or Universal Championship at WrestleMania 36.
There are some early dirt sheet reports that suggest that the first wrestler who declared for the match is the one who’s booked to win it. Reigns’ storyline against King Corbin has been one of perseverance and redemption, and has put him in a place Vince McMahon always wanted him to be with the fans. The problem to me is that it seems that this new acceptance by the WWE Universe is somewhat tenuous, and shotgunning him back into the WrestleMania main event might snap it, leading to a replay of that ugly end to 2015 event. But, a program with “The Fiend” seems like the natural progression for SmackDown so there’s little reason to think that Reigns won’t be the last man standing on Sunday night, not to mention that his singles match against Corbin earlier on the card is likely a blow off to the feud.
The WWE Champion not only declared for the Rumble, but voluntarily elected to enter as the #1 entrant as a means of solidifying his legacy of domination by lasting the entire way. This is setting up to go one of maybe four ways: 1) Lesnar does, in fact, last the entire match and wins the thing, setting up an Undisputed World title match at WrestleMania; 2) Like Maven did to Undertaker in the 2002 match, a younger talent who’s primed to take a huge step, shocks everyone and eliminates him suddenly somewhere in the middle of it; 3) Whoever enters as the #2 entrant is also a destructive force– some rumours suggest a returning Cain Velasquez– and upsets Lesnar by eliminating him immediately for another swerve; 4) Lesnar makes it all the way to the end, only to be upset by a unexpected winner.
Personally, it seems that the best and most impactful use of Lesnar at this point is to use his heat to put someone else over, and this offers a huge opportunity to do so. Having Lesnar win, as much of a spectacle it would be to see– certainly if he also leads the match in eliminations– it appears that the lustre of Brock Lesnar has been fading for fans for awhile, now so it wouldn’t be ideal. But having the person who eliminates him, also end up challenging him for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania feels exactly like what all this is setting up for.
For all that the “Phenomenal” AJ Styles has accomplished in his relatively brief time with WWE, winning the Royal Rumble match as eluded him. The 2016 match was Styles’ debut in WWE, a surprise entrant that no doubt received the biggest pop of the night. The problem with the 2020 version of Styles is that he’s a heel, and not only a heel but one who is sort of buried in the midcard, engaged in a weird three-way feud with Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre. This year’s match seems to be angling towards a babyface winner so, unfortunately, 2020 just doesn’t seem to be AJ’s year.
Alright, so is the Rumble where we finally get the cage reveal and it’s what costs him the match? Oh. What’s that? You don’t care? Neither do I.
Randy Orton is doing some of his best work as of late right now– with his knee injury fake-out on AJ Styles already legendary– but again, he’s embroiled in a feud with Styles, so that’s likely going to play into his elimination. Orton was also already the surprise 2017 winner, so re-treading that seems unlikely… But, this is also WWE, so never count anything out. Especially when it involves a trusted hand like Orton. We should get some sweet RKOs outta nowhere, though.
He went through a hellish Ladder match with Andrade on this past episode of Monday Night Raw, so even at 45 years-old Rey Mysterio can still go. He’s one of four wrestlers to enter as one of the opening pair and win the damn thing (although WWE will have you believe it was only three), so he has pedigree in this match. But, the days of Rey main eventing WrestleMania are likely over. Although, he could have a deep run in the match, popping the crowd with some cool spots.
He’ll probably be too pre-occupied covering his crotch, fearing another dick kick, to have any chance of winning this match. Oh, and also because he’s practically at jobber status at this point.
Now, here’s a compelling case. McIntyre was weirdly inserted into the Styles/Orton feud, but was the one to come out with the win. He’s also been given what appears to be a lot of free rein on the mic, and is making a bit of a face turn, with the crowd getting behind him; checking all the boxes of this year’s likely winner. The question that comes to mind, though, is whether McIntyre is a big enough star yet to carry a WrestleMania main event. But, if he wins this match by squaring up and conquering Brock Lesnar, then it could be the sort of star-making moment that will launch him to the top.
So Elias is a babyface now and actually sings songs, usually with disparaging lyrics towards chickenshit heels (although he was briefly involved in the Mandy Rose/Otis love angle). Though quite a talented guitar player, Elias is boring. So. Boring. I can only imagine that he’s involved in a Jeff Jarrett/Honky Tonk Man angle that sees a guitar getting smashed over someone’s head at some point in the match.
Ugh. No more. The angle was fine after the King of the Ring tournament, but Corbin is so bad. Yes, the argument is “any heat is good heat,” but this gimmick is just all used up. Hopefully Reigns Superman Punches him over the top rope and eliminates him faster than it takes him to get to the ring on his litter. Actually, I hope Reigns kicks his ass so thoroughly in their singles match that he can’t even make it into the Rumble.
I’ve always wanted bigger things for Dolph. The pop he received on the Raw after WrestleMania 29 when he cashed in on Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship seemed to signal a permanent entry into the main event for him. But despite World and Intercontinental title reigns, it just hasn’t been the career many have expected– or wanted, quite frankly– for The Showoff. In another timeline, Ziggler’s the babyface overcoming Lesnar and going on to main event WrestleMania 36, but in this one, he’s just one of Corbin’s cronies, with a possible shot at the Tag Team Championship with Robert Roode. Which is fine, it’s just not what you really want to see.
The Mandy Rose thing with Otis is mostly sweet, but also a little uncomfortable at times, mostly when he’s furious flicking his tongue at her. But it’s a bit of comedy on Friday nights, with some heart added in too, so it’s hard to hate. Rose might somehow be involved in the match, and might cost Otis (maybe due to him flickering his tongue). I dunno, he certainly isn’t winning, I just hope he doesn’t motorboat a cake afterwards.
It’ll be sad to see Tucker wrestling in relative obscurity on Main Event after Otis goes on a weirdly successful singles run. For now, he can start that sad descent as elimination fodder.
Here I was as one of the idiots who thought that the Rusev/Bobby Lashley/Lana storyline was going to be dumb, but in the end worth it for Rusev in putting him over. Yes, he is over– “Rus-ev Day” chants being some of the loudest on Monday nights– but he’s jobbed to Lashley in every match and doesn’t seem to be shaking this feud for whatever reason (what more is there to tell here?).
In my markiest of mark hearts, I want Rusev to win this thing. He’s over as a babyface, with the crowd solidly behind him, and a surprise victory could be what he needs to make all this actually worth something; he is firmly in the position that the winner of the Rumble should be. But, it just seems that the bookers are more into the Attitude Era trash angle than a real competitor’s one for the Bulgarian Brute. Maybe he turns full Brute, goes on a rampage, eliminates Lashley– ending their feud– and storming all the way to WrestleMania 36.
*Sigh* one can dream…
Bobby Lashley can’t cut a promo to save his career, so he needs a mouthpiece. That’s fine. The issue is, of course, is that Lana is over-compensating for Lashley’s shortcomings a hundred-fold right now, and it’s fucking annoying. The Vickie Guerrero “I’m irritating but it’s a heat magnet so it’s my gimmick” is a fine re-tread, but the issue here is that Vickie was concise and organised with her annoyingness, while Lana rambles, and when he’s not stumbling all over her lines, she’s just outright forgetting them. All this is to say that Lashley’s a decent competitor, but he’s getting eliminated by Rusev and that will (hopefully) blow off this feud.
Oh boy, could you imagine. COULD YOU IMAGINE?? Aleister Black hitting Lesnar with a Black Mass, eliminating him, then immediately challenging him for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36?!? Black is clearly being pushed, and with his program with Buddy Murphy finished, he’s looking for a new feud. I’ve been wanting to see Black be the one to step up to be the #2 entrant and take Lesnar on head-to-head. Maybe he still will, but the question remains: is he a big enough star yet? Honestly, probably not.
Great to see Buddy Murphy in a heel faction, but until he changes those stupid dangly trunks and gets a haircut this guy isn’t going to be anywhere near a major PPV main event.
I struggle to understand what WWE thinks of Braun Strowman. One moment he’s going toe-to-toe with Brock Lesnar and winning the Greatest Royal Rumble match, the next he’s tagging with children at WrestleMania and is a comedy act. The thing is, as weird as it is to say, Strowman pursuing Shinsuke Nakamura’s Intercontinental Championship is probably better served for him in the long run, finally giving the Monster Among Men a singles title (something he desperately needs).
Speaking of the reining I.C. champion, does anyone remember that Nakamura won the Royal Rumble match only two years ago? It doesn’t even feel like he’s a title holder sometimes. Shinsuke’s amazing, but there’s no doubt that his badass and enigmatic character from NJPW hasn’t fully found itself in WWE. That being said, Sami Zayn as his mouthpiece is perfect, and a program with Strowman over the (hideous new) Intercontinental title could be brilliant. It just means that he isn’t winning the Rumble for the second time.
Unexpected victor? Does Seth join Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin as the only wrestlers to win back-to-back Rumbles? It doesn’t seem like it, since we’ve probably seen enough of Rollins in the title picture for awhile. He’s a top guy in the company, so he always has to be in consideration, but it appears that “The Messiah of Monday Nights” will be preoccupied with his current feud for awhile.
What is that current feud? First off, for all the main event shine that Owens has received since joining the main roster, he has not won a Rumble match yet, and this year will likely keep that streak alive. The program with Rollins and his faction (they really need a name already) seems to be something that is going to take us all the way to WrestleMania, keeping KO out of the main event.
In my ideal territory, Samoa Joe would be a badass heel on the verge of winning his second Rumble and going head-to-head with a babyface AJ Styles (once again). But in this real-world WWE, Joe will likely never ascend to any place so high, and is instead tagging with KO to try and take down Rollins and his faction and likely becoming reluctant Tag Team champions together.
Is this the moment for Kofi to finally snap out of his denial and turn back into a World title chaser? It would be a nice story, and certainly unexpected, but this new rivalry with the reunited John Morrison and The Mike seems to be what’s in The New Day’s immediate future. But hey, we’re guaranteed to get a cool “I’m eliminated NO I’M NOT I DID SOMETHING WILD TO GET BACK IN THE RING!” spot.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see Big E go on a serious singles run? Absolutely, but winning the Rumble might be in his future at some point, but certainly not yet. Plus, he and Kofi have tag titles to defend!
The real question here is probably how long Truth lasts, and whether or not he’s going to try and win back the 24/7 Championship back from Mojo Rawley. Truth, you’re a treasure, don’t ever change.
It’s great having “The Shaman of Sexy” back in WWE, and we’re sure to get a cool “saves himself from elimination” spot, but that’ll be Morrison’s one and only highlight in this match.
Another great thing about having John Morrison back? The Miz is back to being a shit-talking heel, a role he was born to play. There’s a chance The Miz has another World title run left in him, but it won’t start this Sunday with a Rumble win.
There are five more wrestlers yet to be revealed, although they could very well be announced on the go-home episode of SmackDown tonight. But the rumours of an Edge or CM Punk entry continue to swirl, so there remains a chance for what makes the Royal Rumble match so thrilling: shock and unpredictability.