Royal Rumble is around the corner and, despite the Roman Reigns and Ronda Rousey chatter, the winners don’t seem to be shoe-ins.
On the contrary.
Let’s take a look at who should win and who would benefit the most from winning. In no particular order. In truth, my sentimental favorite is the last entry.
With Roman Reigns being such an obvious choice – and not the most crowd-pleasing solution – I feel like the ideal winners are the promising stars that need a big jumpstart moment.
For Finn Balor, maybe that jumpstart is the pop that comes with eliminating the final heel in the Men’s Royal Rumble.
His character has its shortcomings – I’ve gone over his strengths and weaknesses before, the main ones that concern me being his injury proneness and aspects of his in-ring psychology – but there’s no denying he’s one of WWE’s brightest stars.
He can win the Rumble and jump to Smackdown for a clash with AJ Styles (or whoever dethrones AJ until Mania) and carry the blue brand from Wrestlemania onward.
And, should WWE want to commit to Balor as a world champion, it may be the perfect excuse to polish up the remaining holes in Balor’s arsenal.
Nakamura is in a spot very similar to Balor’s. Without the mind-boggling jobs to Kane, to be sure, but he’s been arguably underutilized, considering his connection to the audience and his skills as a performer.
Considering he’s going to be 38 in February, WWE doesn’t have that much time to get their investment back on Nakamura.
To do that, winning the Rumble is a very appropriate springboard. He should challenge the Smackdown champion, as Brock Lesnar seems “promised” to The Big Dog.
On the female end of things, it seems all but assured that Ronda Rousey is not only making an appearance, but she’s winning.
She recently told TMZ she hasn’t even signed her contract, but that can easily be construed as a smart answer from a performer who is savvy enough to know you don’t spoil, or even hint at a groundbreaking surprise.
Should Rousey be in WWE for the medium-long term, she can be a pivotal player for the Women’s Division: she is extremely popular, a crossover star and an immediately credible force inside the ring, in the same vein Brock Lesnar is.
Her aura is arguably diminished by two devastating losses inside the Octagon but, as we saw with Brock, that is easily erased in the 2 minutes after her entrance theme plays and fists start flying.
With no woman (except for the one coming next in the article) placed in a position to capitalize on a big win, it’s easy to slide Ronda into the final entrant position and have her clean house.
At Mania, Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey is a major attraction.
Or, well, the last entrant is Rey Mysterio.
The Japanese phenom has looked so strong that anyone who knows what “50/50 booking” is will immediately conclude she won’t be on the winning end of the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble.
While I don’t strongly believe she will win, from a booker’s perspective, she is the only active female wrestler that has enough of a platform to do so.
And, again, Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka is a meaningful attraction, above Alexa vs. Asuka.
After years of adapting and adjusting his own persona, The Miz has reached the pro wrestling equivalent of Nirvana.
No, he doesn’t smell like teen spirit. But he does smell of success. And a blowout victory has been a long time coming.
While he probably wouldn’t provide AJ Styles with the wrestling clinic Balor or Nakamura could, his charisma, genuine heel heat and ability to carry any storyline to its conclusion with momentum would certainly make up the difference.
I don’t think Miz will win, but – as the old chanted cliche goes – he deserves it.