(Editor’s Note: I was going to wait to do this until the day before the Rumble to do this but since we’ve had both the “Go Home” shows already, now seems as good a time as any.)
The WWE is back on pay-per view. It feels like forever since Roadblock: End of the Line. I’m not complaining, big shows every 2-3 weeks doesn’t really give stories a lot of time to develop but that is definitely not something you can say for the majority of the matches on this year’s Rumble card. I’m not going to talk about the pre-show matches between Sasha Banks and Nia Jax or Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Gallows and Anderson but instead I’ll focus on the rest of the matches, and there are surprisingly a lot of them.
Neville vs. Rich Swann (Cruiserweight Championship)
Ever since Neville made his surprise return back at Roadblock he has made it clear that he wants to be the “King of the Cruiserweights. I still say that Neville is over 205 pounds, but that is neither here nor there. Swann is the longest reigning Cruiserweight champ since winning the title back in November from Brian Kendrick on the premier episode of 205 Live. I hope that they actually give these guys time for a match and not the 7 minutes that the triple-threat match got back at Roadblock. Honestly, there are enough “good guys” on 205 Live and in the Cruiserweight division as a whole that I think they will likely put the title on Neville and have some of the others come after him for a while. This needs to be a good match to get people excited about the Cruiserweights again and these two can definitely deliver.
Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natayla
This match was just announced on Samckdown this week and is a great way to advance all of the storylines currently happening in the Smakcdown women’s division. Becky has beef with both Alexa and Mickie. Nikki and Natayla are still in the middle of their feud, and Naomi who is just returning from injury looks like she’s going to start feuding with Alexa. I doubt that they are going to give the ladies a lot of time here, especially as 6-man tags are usually a bit of a cluster-fu** but I like that this match got added not only to the show but to the main card. This could have very easily have been on the pre-show, but it seems like this is the WWE’S way of rewarding the Smackdown ladies for all the great work they’ve been putting in.
Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley (Raw Women’s Championship)
The build to this match has been Charlotte making fun of Bayley’s life-long love of pro wrestiling and Bayley talking about how she’s actually had to work and fight for everything she’s gotten unlike Charlotte. Sasha Banks was instramental in helping her bestie Bayley get the title shot, and Charlotte is undefeated in singles matches on pay-per view. As much as many people want the “Hugster” to win, Raw’s women’s division is a bit lacking on storylines at the moment and this feud is just getting going. They seem to be building towards Bayley winning at Mania, so I wouldn’t get my hope up. This one will be interesting to see how much time they are given.
AJ Styles vs. John Cena (WWE Championship)
I said on the capes,cages, chairs podcast that I think AJ Styles had the best 2016 of any wrestler in the WWE. John Cena, in turn, has become a bit of a part-timer with his TV and movie projects keeping him away from the ring for a lot of 2016. Styles has 3 victories over Cena, two of which were clean, and Cena kind of jumped the line to getting a title shot after Styles’ feud with Ambrose wrapped up. The back and forth verbal bashing between these two has been excellent, second only to anything the Miz has been doing. There have been too many rumors to count in regards to what the WWE has planned for these two going into Wrestlemania that the outcome of this match should help to shed some light on where things are going.
Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship)
For the what feels like 1000th time. These two have been going at it for months. Owens helped Chris Jericho to win the U.S. Championship off of Reigns a few weeks back, which answered the question for me of how the hell they were going to take the title off of Roman. This match now has two stipulations, one I like one is dumb. Chris Jericho will be above the ring in a Shark Cage, which is just being used for a tie-in with the new toy set the WWE put out. Also this will be a No DQ match. I like that they added the no DQ part as Owens has been using DQ”s to hold onto the title in recent matches. I think K.O is currently the longest-reigning champ so it could be time to take the belt off him, but there is also a good case being made for Jericho to win the rumble and finally set up the Jericho vs. Owens feud that we’ve been waiting a long time for. Aside from the Rumble match, my guess is this one gets the most time and has some sort of screwy finish involving Jericho.
The Royal Rumble Match
As of right now we know 22 of the 30 competitors that will be in this years rumble. Probably the biggest name that we know won’t be part is Seth Rollins who lost his spot in a match with Sami Zayn on RAW this week. Here’s a list of who we know will be competing.
- Big Cass
- Chris Jericho
- Brock Lesnar
- Big Show
- Dean Ambrose
- The Miz
- Sami Zayn
- Big E
- Xavier Woods
- Kofi Kingston
- Bray Wyatt
- Randy Orton
- Dolph Ziggler
- Luke Harper
- Mojo Rawley
- Braun Strowman
- Baron Corbin
- The Undertaker
This leaves a lot of rooms for surprises to happen. James Ellsworth. Kane and a lot of other tag-teams and cruiserweights aren’t listed. There’s also a lot of talk about Samoa Joe making his debut. We’ll have to wait and see. For the first time in a long time there isn’t a clear favorite to win this year which makes this year’s Rumble one of the most exciting in years. I can’t wait.
You watching? Who’s your pick to win it all? Let us know in the comments.
Image from WWE.com