I’ve been watching a lot of wrestling lately; Royal Rumble season is my favorite time of year. There’s a reason I bought the box set with the 1988 – 2007 Rumbles. No, there isn’t suspense of who’s going to win, and they’re not technical masterpieces, but you do get to see undercarders of yore, goofy one-off appearances, and generally get to see “all the guys” from a given time period.
So with wrestling on my mind, I thought I’d post about it for once. On this, the eve of the 2018 Royal Rumble, here are some thoughts and predictions:
Women’s Royal Rumble – Conventional wisdom says Asuka will win. Or Ronda Rousey, apparently, though that seems up in the air. Because it’s WWE and they love to flip the script for no good reason (remember when Bayley won the Women’s title and ended Charlotte’s PPV undefeated streak…at Fastlane? Then just…won…at WrestleMania?), I’ll say Nia Jax wins, Asuka beats Alexa Bliss for the title, and Asuka retains at Mania (and Rousey debuts day after Mania).
Raw Tag Titles – Jordan and Rollins retain, though it should have been a four way with The Club and Titus Worldwide (though I guess eight guys pulling double duty would look kind of dumb if they all entered the Rumble). I think The Club win the titles eventually, and loop in Balor to defend them under “Club rules” to further WWE’s cold war with The Bullet Club.
Smackdown Tag Titles – An Uso got arrested. That makes it a good a time as any to switch the titles to Benjamin and Gable. Plus, spoiler, the only title change on the show to tick that box. For the future, Owens & Zayn will be entertaining as tag champs, maybe winning them in a multi-team match. Perhaps a feud with Rusev Day? Sadly, that means the Bludgeon Brothers will just float in the ether.
WWE Title – Obviously Styles retains. He’ll get a showcase match at Mania and this Sami and KO thing shouldn’t touch the world title (see above for their exploits as Tag Champs).
Universal Title – Brock wins. Conventional wisdom rears its ugly head, as Brock and Roman are rumored to be headed for another WM title match. As far as super-long term booking goes, it’s pretty sound. They are both of the men to have defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania. Roman’s never gotten the big win over Lesnar. Brock having the title for a year builds up the mystique. It seems fine, and WWE is just going to give us Roman whether it works or not. My only real issue is that Roman lost the Intercontinental title. A title vs. title match at Mania, with Reigns claiming to be the real “fighting champion” of Raw, could have made Reigns a more definitive face against part-timer Lesnar. Without that, you’re banking on Reigns being Reigns, which is divisive at best.
Apparently, according to rumors, Roman lost the title to the Miz to set up a Mania title match against Braun Strowman. It seems the WWE is intent of making Strowman the next Ryback rather than the next big star, failing to pull the trigger when he’s hot and eventually ending up with wasted potential (I just watched the 2013 Rumble — Ryback was over, and it went nowhere). The saving grace would be if they had Strowman break Honky Tonk Man’s record for longest IC title reign, demolishing the undercard month after month. It keeps feeding him (more) without having to commit to him as a top top guy.
Oh, and Kane’s there, too. He’ll eat the pin, and this might be his last hurrah. Let’s say he’s the last man eliminated at the Andre The Giant battle royal (by, like, Big E, let’s say).
Men’s Royal Rumble – More conventional wisdom rears its ugly head, as the popular rumor has been Shinsuke Nakamura winning to have an epic match with AJ Styles at WrestleMania. They’ve been doing so little with Nakamura that it almost seems like that’s the direction they’re going, and they’ve been letting Shinsuke kinda lollygag about to “throw us off the trail”.
Then I heard the Vegas line had Dolph Ziggler winning it, which would tie in with the “flipping the script” mentioned in the Women’s Rumble. Maybe this time off after vacating the US title has been about him changing his wardrobe a bit, because 80’s hair band fan Dolph just wasn’t cutting it. Would anybody buy him as a WrestleMania challenger? Only with the aforementioned makeover and a real push with a coherent direction.
I don’t think Raw will win the Rumble. Reigns doesn’t need to; I half expect them to have him just come out and arbitrarily challenge Lesnar while Michael Cole yells “THE BIG DOG HAS LAID DOWN THE CHALLENGE!” and expect us to buy it.
Dolph Ziggler wins. Script…flipped.