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The Royal Rumble is a lot of fun for a lot of reasons. One source of pleasure comes from the endless amount of speculation it allows for. During the one-hour match fans can speculate about superstar entrance orders, how the final four will be booked, who might be this year’s iron man, who might snag the most eliminations, and more.

But easily the most-discussed aspect of the match is also the most important: Who’s going to win? Let’s be honest, looking at the last several Royal Rumbles, the winners have been—for one reason or another—disappointing.

Last year, Randy Orton’s win might have been a surprise to many but it didn’t receive more than tepid reaction.

2016 saw Triple H win in the most “I guess it makes sense, but why...” moment in recent WWE history.

2015 saw Roman Reigns win in the midst of fan revolt.

2014 saw Batista win in the midst of fan revolt.

2013 saw John Cena win the most predictable (in an uninspiring way) Rumble since Randy Orton in 2009.

2012 was the year Jericho should have won but instead Sheamus was the swerve choice, making everyone do a “thumbs down raspberries.”

2011 was the year of the perpetually lukewarm Alberto Del Rio, who won the forty-man Rumble after almost convincing us Santino was about to become a thing.

You have to go back to 2010 to get a Rumble winner that everyone was excited about, and even then it was more about Edge’s surprise comeback from injury than a more traditional win, which either escalated a hot storyline (Austin in 1998) or kick-started a hot feud (Batista in 2005).

It’s been eight years of sad trombones. Hopefully this year rectifies things.

The way I see it there are several potential winners to choose from but only six categories in which they can be slotted. Let’s break them down…


Roman Reigns lost the Intercontinental Championship on Raw25, paving the way for him to slide back into the main-event scene. Will the fans continue their slow acceptance of him or will they revert to their 2015 state and reject him soundly as a “not as good as ______” successor to John Cena’s throne? One good way to push fans toward the latter direction is to repeat the 2015 Royal Rumble finish.

Lookit, Reigns vs Lesnar is all but written in stone. It’s going to happen. Fans seem to have accepted it, some with anticipation and some with anxiety. Fine. But it would be a terrible idea to “waste” the Royal Rumble on Roman Reigns again. The man has main-evented three Manias in a row, including last year when he was supposedly “out of the main-event scene.” Giving him four Mania main-events (which seems certain) and two of the past three Royal Rumbles is overkill. Do you want fans to revert to 2015 mode and hate Roman Reigns? Revert back to 2015 booking for Roman Reigns. See how that goes.

And yet, I can easily see it happening, terrible though it may be.


Does John Cena need to win a third Royal Rumble? Yes there is a lot of potential in Cena chasing the record-breaking seventeenth world championship, but does it need the Royal Rumble? Wouldn’t this be only slightly less terrible than giving it to Roman Reigns? It would only be less terrible due to the fans coming around and loving John Cena over the past few years. As with Roman, a Rumble win might just turn the WWE Universe decidedly against him in the twilight of his career.

And yet, I can easily see it happening, bad though it may be.


If Nakamura walks out of Philly as the number-one contender the only talk of “surprise” you’ll hear out of the WWE fanbase is surprise that they didn’t overthink things and just went with the simple, obvious choice. Nakamura vs AJ Styles seems like an easy WrestleMania match to book. Toss in the WWE Title, even though it’s almost certainly not going to close out the show, and you’ve got a match and feud that could elevate Nakamura to the level he always ought to have been (as one of the anchors of SmackDown).

I can easily see it happen, simply because it makes sense. It would be predictable, but good.

So those are the predictable finishes I can conceive in my mind. What about the crazier ideas…


AJ Styles is easily the most popular superstar on SmackDown and among full-timers he’s arguably the most universally-popular superstar on the roster. He’s exactly the kind of superstar you can book multiple segments and major happenings around and not have to worry about the WWE Universe saying “him again?” or “more of him?”

So imagine a crazy scenario where AJ wrestles Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the title, as expected, only instead of the predictable finish (AJ retains and heads to Mania as champ), he instead loses the title to “Team Heck Yep, Eh” then enters the Rumble as a surprise competitor and wins.

Now there are the usual flies in the storyline-ointment that fans would raise issue with. For one, “whose place did AJ take to enter the Rumble after losing?” The answer would be “Obviously he took either KO or Sami’s.” The other question would be “why does AJ have to win the Rumble when he’s entitled to a rematch anyway after dropping the belt?” The answer would be “Because he doesn’t want his rematch just anywhere, he wants it at WrestleMania.”

AJ loses the title but wins the Rumble. Crazy? Sure. But Crazy good!


You wanna get nuts? C’mon: Let’s get nuts.

I’ve been on the “give New day a run with the WWE Championship” bandwagon for a while now; this would be the next best thing. Let New Day—not Kofi or Big E or Xavier, but New Day—be the first team to win the Royal Rumble. Work out the details about who competes for the title later. That alone offers up enough material for segments to last till April anyway.

Crazy? Yes. But so crazy it just might work!

Demons v Xtreme X


That is to say, Vince announces he’s bringing back the XFL and—in the most boneheaded cross-promotion idea since Jeremy Piven touted about SummerFest—hires some ex-football players to invade the Rumble, leading to a faction that helps He Hate Me win and challenge Big Show in a Mania main-event that will make the eleventh WrestleMania look like the nineteenth.

Oh baby imagine the reactions. Philly would be so bewildered I bet they wouldn’t even riot.


There’s my predictions, Cagesiders: The good, the bad and the utterly insane.

What are yours? Let us know in the comments below.

See you Sunday!

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