A few years back, WWE tried to freshen up the Royal Rumble by making it 40 superstars instead of just 30. That might have allowed more to be in the Rumble but it certainly didn’t develop any new drama or excitement. This year, WWE goes ahead and puts the WWE World Heavyweight champion Roman Reigns into the competition at #1 to force the viewer to ask themselves, “Is Roman Reigns going to lose and we see a new champion?” throughout the match. He’ll likely make it to the final four, creating a situation where even if you don’t like Roman Reigns, you’re intensely invested in what he does at this pay per view. The problem is, what about the other competitors?
Adam Berry wrote on the unique differences between the 1992 Royal Rumble and 2016, with 1992 being the last time a wrestler was crowned champion upon winning the Rumble. One of the big differences he felt was that today, the Royal Rumble is a series of high spots which don’t matter who is involved, while in 1992 there were various storylines interwoven into the rumble match itself. Midcard wrestlers could settle scores or create new adversaries in their eliminations, and everyone brought emotional baggage to the event. Today, aside from Kofi Kingston finding clever ways to avoid elimination, it’s all about the final four. And this year, we know at #1 who the focus is.
That said, WWE has a unique opportunity here. Do they double down on Roman Reigns and give him one of the most epic performances in WWE history? Or do they use this to create a new heel champion for Reigns to chase? And how will the WWE fans react if (or if not) a new superstar emerges from the land of the rising sun? The Royal Rumble has a way of bringing friends together to watch wrestling in a way not even Wrestlemania can compare to, and this Sunday will be no exception.
Royal Rumble 2016 Predictions and Analysis
Royal Rumble Kick-Off
FATAL FOUR-WAY TAG MATCH FOR TWO SPOTS IN THE ROYAL RUMBLE
The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger vs. Darren Young and Damien Sandow
Aaron, Adam Contant, Rich: The Dudley Boyz
Jamie: Mark Henry and Jack Swagger
Thoughts by Aaron Wrotkowski: What a bizarre match. I can understand that The Ascension won’t be in the Royal Rumble so you might as well give them a different match. The teams of Darren Young and Damien Sandow as well as Jack Swagger and Mark Henry sound like perfectly good entrants to the Royal Rumble, especially Mark Henry in what could be his final Royal Rumble. But you also have the Dudley Boyz in this match, and seeing that Bubba made his return to WWE in the Royal Rumble, it only makes sense to have the Dudley Boyz back in. With all of the speculation of “Bully Ray” making an appearance in WWE, the perfect time would be Bubba eliminating D-Von for his own greed.
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The Usos vs. The New Day (c)
Aaron, Jamie, Adam Contant: The Usos
Rich: The New Day
Thoughts by Adam Contant: While I don’t think the New Day has even begun to cool off yet, I do think it’s time to see them lose. The Usos spent a lot of time away while Jimmy healed up, and now that they’re back, I predict WWE will put the straps back on our favorite high flying Samoans. The added bonus is a changed dynamic for the New Day. They have been entertaining as arrogant champions, it might be even more fun to watch them as sore losers back on the hunt.
WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (c)
Aaron, Jamie: Kalisto
Adam Contant, Rich: Alberto Del Rio
WILL THE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP CHANGE HANDS
Aaron, Adam Contant, Rich: No
Thoughts by Rich: Kalisto really should have gotten more time than technically three days with the title. That being said, another title switch would devalue the United States championship again. The company has something special with Kalisto, but he will need to chase for a bit longer to get the fans to a fever pitch where the title change will mean that much more.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
LAST MAN STANDING
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose (c)
Aaron, Jamie, Adam Contant, Rich: Dean Ambrose
WILL ANYONE INTERFERE (YES WHOM, NO LEAVE BLANK)
Aaron: Sami Zayn
Thoughts by Jamie: This feud feels right. It may be the old school in me, but the pacing of this has been great as each encounter gets more and more treacherous, showcasing the madness of both performers. Kevin Owens ruthless aggression in doing whatever it takes to hurt Ambrose and Ambrose’s lunacy in taking anything KO can dish out to prove he’s the better dog in the fight. It reminds me a lot of the classic Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine feud that culminated in the legendary bloodfest of the dog collar match and if this is their dog collar match, these are the two big dogs to bring the fight to the yard. It may also allow both to showcase some of their abilities they showed in previous independent matches that have previously been absent in their WWE runs. I expect Ambrose to retain after a bloody war (or as bloody as WWE will allow) that will lead to a Final Battle at Fastlane.
WWE DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte (c)
Aaron, Jamie: Becky Lynch
Adam Contant, Rich: Charlotte
WILL RIC FLAIR GET INVOLVED
Aaron, Jamie, Adam Contant, Rich: Yes
Thoughts by Adam Contant: Like most of the recent contests for the Divas Championship, the content bell to bell between these two is great, but the fans have been burned too many times by ridiculous story lines and random personality turns to really get invested. While Becky Lynch is beginning to build some momentum, she just doesn’t have enough to carry the division yet. At least Charlotte has her father to lean on for some added relevancy.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
30 MAN ROYAL RUMBLE 2016 MATCH
#1 ENTRANT: Roman Reigns (c)
ANNOUNCED ENTRANTS: Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, Sheamus, Stardust, Dolph Ziggler, The Ryback, The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Braun Strowman, Luke Harper), The Big Show, Curtis “Never Been Eliminated” Axel AND MORE
WHO WILL BE SURPRISE ENTRANTS (WWE Talent under contract that haven’t been active)
Aaron: Randy Orton
Adam Contant: Randy Orton, Kane
WILL ANYONE FROM NXT BE IN THE ROYAL RUMBLE
Aaron: Hideo Itami
Jamie: Sami Zayn
Adam Contant: Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin
WILL ANYONE NOT A CURRENT WWE SUPERSTAR BE IN THE MATCH (Former WWE talent or debuting WWE talent)
Aaron, Jamie: AJ Styles
Adam Contant: MVP, X-Pac
WHO WILL BE #30
Aaron, Jamie, Adam Contant, Rich: Triple H
WHO WILL BE THE FINAL FOUR
Aaron: Triple H, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton
Jamie: Triple H, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt
Adam Contant: Triple H, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Kevin Owens
Rich: Triple H, Roman Reigns, Sheamus, Bray Wyatt
WHO WILL BE THE LAST ELIMINATED
Aaron: Brock Lesnar
Jamie: Triple H and Roman Reigns
Adam Contant, Rich: Roman Reigns
WINNER OF THE ROYAL RUMBLE 2016 AND NEW WWE CHAMPION
Aaron: Roman Reigns
Jamie: Bray Wyatt
Adam Contant, Rich: Triple H
Thoughts by Jamie: Triple H is so obvious that the ideal swerve would be that Lesnar is somehow taken out by outside members of the Wyatt family, while Reigns and Triple H are battling. Oblivious to the removal of the Beast Incarnate, HHH and Reigns continue to dismantle each other. While up against the ropes, Bray could throw both members over the top, winning the title. This would set up Bray vs. Brock at Wrestlemania for the World Title, and a grudge match between Reigns and HHH.