FanPost

Where are they now? Comparing the 2016 and 2017 Royal Rumbles (Part 1)

About half a year ago, right before the draft, I decided to take a snapshot of WWE's curent roster, for an annual comparison to see who's heading into the draft hot, and who is not. The idea was to show how much can change within just one year, and even after just half a year, there are already a few notable changes. It'll be interesting to see where we'll be in another 6 months.

But that's not what I want to talk/write about here today. I recently wrote a fanpost analysis about the Royal Rumble, and couldn't help but remembering last year's version while doing so. On the previous Sunday, we saw many faces that were among the 30 one year ago as well, while others were replaced by new faces. I asked myself: where are those 30 men from last year now? What are they doing right now, and what did they do over the course of that one year? I decided to take a closer look at the combined 60 names from both Royal Rumble matches, to examine the new ones, the recurring ones, and those who were left behind.

As the title implies, I will not do this in one go. Today, I'm writing about the last of those three groups, the guys who didn't make it to the Rumble this year. The other two articles about the new entrants and the one who came back this year will follow soon.

For now, let's take a look at both years rosters first:

Talent

Entrance Number 2016

Entrance Number 2017

AJ Styles
3
-
Alberto Del Rio
26
-
Apollo Crews
-
22
Baron Corbin
-
13
Big Cass
-
1
Big E
-
17
Big Show
15
9
Braun Strowman
17
7
Bray Wyatt
27
21
Brock Lesnar
23
26
Cesaro
-
19
Curtis Axel
5
-
Dean Ambrose
19
12
Dolph Ziggler
28
24
Enzo Amore
-
27
Erick Rowan
22
-
Goldberg
-
28
Goldust
8
-
Jack Gallagher
-
5
Jack Swagger
24
-
James Elsworth
-
11
Jericho
6
2
Kalisto
-
3
Kane
7
-
Kevin Owens
18
-
Kofi Kingston
10
14
Luke Harper
13
25
Mark Henry
22
6
Mojo Rowley
-
4
Neville
16
-
R-Truth
12
-
Randy Orton
-
23
Roman Reigns
1
30
Rusev
2
18
Ryback
9
-
Sami Zayn
20
8
Sheamus
29
16
Stardust
14
-
The Miz
25
15
The Undertaker
-
29
Titus O'Neil
11
-
Triple H
30
-
Tye Dillinger
-
10
Tyler Breeze
4
-
Xavier Woods
-
20

Now, let's check out the names who got a number in the left column only, by alphabetical order, and see why they were too busy to join the Rumble this year.

AJ Styles:

  • A lot has already been said about the tremendous year The Phenomenal One had in 2016, so I'll try to sum it up as short as possible: He had a feud with Jericho which led to a short-lived tag team which in turn lead to another feud, ending at Wrestlemania 32 in Jerichos favor. Styles then went on to have a much acclaimed feud with Reigns for the title until losing that one, too, at Extreme Rules. When Cena came back shortly after that, he turned heel and proceeded to "beat up John Cena" for a couple months, creating even more popular matches at Money in the Bank and Summerslam. Following the Brand Split, he eventually feuded with Ambrose to take the WWE World Champion belt from him at TLC. Technically, he had the best excuse not to be in the Rumble, as he defended his title just before that match, but since he lost it he may have entered anyway like Reigns did, but...well, details.

Alberto Del Rio:

  • His year wasn't quite as good as that of Styles...to say the least. He got nowhere as part of the League of Nations, aside from a weird win over the New Day at Mania (followed by a beatdown by three legends), and even after the stable disolved, he only managed to qualify for the MITB match, were he wasn't exactlly memorable...when you ask people what they will remember of ADR from 2016, it will mostly be his scandels, involving a suspension, no-showing at shows, real-life quarrels with thugs and somehow influencing Paige during a period in which she was suspended twice...he's not with the E anymore, which is almost as good a reason to not be in the Rumble as holding a title is.

Curtis Axel:

  • After the Social Outcast just withered away in silence, he wasn't really seen much. He was the last pick in the draft, going to Raw, where he was labeled "Mr. Irrelevant" before being defeated by a returning Neville. Apparently he turned face and on his former teammate Bo Dallas, but that was months ago. They probably just forgot about him when handing out entrance numbers for the Rumble...

Erick Rowan:

  • In real life, he had to get some medical treatment and took a break from Wrestling. In kayfabe, Wyatt lost faith and discarded him. He also had a "match" at Mania where he was squashed by the Rock, and when Wyatt hurt his back, he wasn't seen at all until the Eater of Worlds himself returned. During his hiatus, he tweeted a video of his buried sheep mask, so it's likely he won't be on Brays side once he is cleared to return.

Goldust:

  • Went back and forth with R-Truth, Tyler Breeze and Fandango to finally form the Golden Truth...which for some reason just vanished after a while. He still popped up every now and then, but never in a memorable way.

Jack Swagger:

  • Received some beating from Rusev in a short US title feud. Then switched to Smackdown for obscure reasons to get a similiar treatment from Baron Corbin. Wasn't really used much aside from that.

Kane:

  • I think he showed up three times at best, and mostly just because they needed someone to fill in, which apparently wasn't the case with this years Rumble. He was in a movie with Ziggler, playing two cops who try to solve a ransom case related to a WWE PPV.

Kevin Owens:

  • Another one of the few names who were missing this time for actually having a good year. After reclaiming his IC title shortly after the Rumble, he succesfully defended it at Fastlane, but lost it at Mania as he decided he'd rather keep bashing with Zayn then climbing up that ladder. Their feud continued, as both competed for the IC title and later in the MITB match, and got in each others way on so many different occasions. Still, they produced many great matches during that feud, which finally ended for good at Battleground with Owens losing to Zayn. But things were going up for him when he teamed up with Jericho, followed by him being chosen as Triple H's new No. 1 guy when he was handed the universal title by him. Both Rollins and Reigns tried to take it from him, but he retained every time, and is still the champ today. Like with Styles, a good reason not to enter the Rumble.

Neville:

  • In short: he got injured, and probably lost his shot at an IC title ladder match at Mania. He was mostly forgoten (but not by Stephanie and Mick, who drafted him to Raw) until he returned, now with a beard, but quickly got lost again without any real matches. Following a heel turn and a championship win at the Rumble, though, he is now known as the "King of the Cruiserweights". No need to compete for the big belts there.

R-Truth:

  • See Goldust. There were a few funny bit while they still tried to form the Golden Truth, but nothing since. For some reason, though, he was on the poster for the Royal Rumble...you know, the one with AJ Styles waaaaay in the back. Maybe he was there, and I just missed him? ...No, probably not.

Ryback:

  • The big guy decided to part ways with the company when he was given a new contract right before a show while saying: "Take it or leave it". He chose leaving, and has been making it dificult ever since for fans to decide whether or not he is making sense. His name popped up every now and then, so I guess he isn't forgotten yet, though I'm not sure what exactlly he is doing right now.

Stardust:

  • Another guy who chose to leave the company over a disagreement. Being denied to use his Cody Rhodes persona instead of the Stardust one that was somewhat forced on him in the first place, he left for the independent scene, where he is currently holding two titles. Since his depature from WWE seems to have been on much better terms then those of Ryback, Del Rio or Adam Rose, his chances of returning at some point are not as bad as they are for those three, though.

Titus O'Neil:

  • Well, it's not like he didn't WANT to be in the rumble. He simply wasn't allowed. But 2016 wasn't good to him either. Shortly after the Rumble, he was suspended for a very stupid reason by Vince, and when he returned some time after Mania, he feuded with Rusev for the US title. Which didn't pay of for him. Currently, he is part of some silly bits with the New Day, who for some reason mostly gave up on tag-team wrestling after their title loss, but that's a different story.

Triple H:

  • He seems to have been too busy hiding in plain sight from Rollins to show up at the Rumble. While we saw quite a lot of Trips in 2016, it was mostly pictures of him shaking the hands of new signees and future stars of the company. Since he had no personal beef with anyone in the Rumble this time, the games attention was elsewhere. Completly justified.

Tyler Breeze:

  • Is now an officer of the Fashion Police, the new name of Breezango. Originally just a biproduct of the Golden Truths foundation, they were more popular then expected, and also more frequently used then the original duo of that storyline. Like most of Smackdowns Tag Team Devision, he wasn't busy as much as forgotten.

Those were the names who didn't manage to return for another round this year. While some of them had good reasons, others were just forgotten, and a few didn't even get a chance as they aren't with WWE anymore. Next up are the new faces we saw last Sunday.

UPDATE:

Here are the links to part 2 and part 3

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