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WWE Royal Rumble 2017 full match preview: The Royal Rumble Match

The Royal Rumble

Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Handsome Rusev, Cesaro, Big Show, Dean Ambrose, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, Mojo Rawley, Big Cass, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, The Miz, Luke Harper, & 8 more wrestlers.

The road to WrestleMania 33 officially begins tonight with the 2017 Royal Rumble match! 30 superstars will go to war in an over-the-top rope battle royal for the right to compete in the main event of the biggest wrestling show of the year.

The official rules of the match are simple. 2 superstars will start the match. A new superstar will enter the ring every 90 seconds, and elimination occurs when a superstar goes over the top rope, with both feet touching the floor. The last man standing in the ring when all 29 other superstars have been eliminated will be declared the winner and will go on to battle for championship gold in Orlando on April 2, 2017.

The unofficial rules are a little more complicated than that. Some waiting periods will probably last longer than 90 seconds because why not? If a superstar spams 4 or 5 finishing moves in a row, they will probably be eliminated soon. Hiding under the ring for 30 minutes is totally cool, and not enough superstars take advantage of this loophole. If you see someone in a corner, you must go and hug them against the rope or buckle for a while without trying to actually toss them out of the ring. If you are the Undertaker or Big Show, commit unspeakable acts of dumbassery. And the most important unofficial rule of them all is that the winner must stand on the buckle and point at that WrestleMania 33 sign for an uncomfortably long time; if Braun Strowman happens to be that guy, he might just go ahead and suplex that damn sign into tiny pieces of rubble.

Here is a full breakdown of the match:

The Favorites: Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Braun Strowman

WrestleMania season means that it’s time for part-timers to run wild for a couple of months. Triple H won the Royal Rumble in 2016 and Batista won it in 2014. That’s just sort of how it goes recently. Full-time guys not named Roman Reigns don’t stand much of a chance.

Goldberg and Brock Lesnar are on a collision course for a potentially headlining rematch at WrestleMania 33, and for that match to have appropriate main event stakes, it would make sense for one of those men to win the Royal Rumble match.

The Undertaker’s match at WrestleMania is always a prime focus on the show. Undertaker has not competed in a Royal Rumble match since 2009, and a victory could put him on a path towards challenging one of John Cena, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, or Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33.

But then there’s Braun Strowman, who might have something to say about this annual obsession with part-timers. Braun has been pushed super hard since the brand split in late July, 2016. Strowman rarely ever loses a match and he always looks like a monster or a mountain or whatever other buzz word WWE is using for him this week. These signs indicate that WWE probably has something big planned for him at WrestleMania 33, and it could very well be a Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns.

Though considering Braun Strowman’s unwavering focus on a backstage monitor during the Undertaker's return to Raw a few weeks ago, perhaps it’s time for the Dead Man to go back to his WrestleMania roots and do battle on the grandest stage of them all against large dudes in really bad matches. Either way, Strowman is the one full-timer who has a chance to bust the part-timer monopoly on this year’s Royal Rumble match.

The Best of the Rest: Chris Jericho, The Miz, Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton

This section could alternatively be called "Chris Jericho and the SmackDown pretenders." There’s really no single person on the SmackDown roster who qualifies for the list of favorites, so that means there’s a cluster of top SmackDown stars who by default fall into this category. These guys have all been given a strong push over the last 6 months and so they at least have a slim chance to win, but it would have to be a case where WWE is looking for a believable swerve.

Chris Jericho has competed in many Royal Rumble matches and has never won it all. His long-term storyline with Kevin Owens means that it’s at least possible that Jericho wins here and this leads to a match at WrestleMania 33 against his best buddy.

It’s not clear who John Cena’s opponent will be at WrestleMania 33, but there’s at least a small chance that it ends up being someone from the SmackDown foursome of Miz, Ambrose, Corbin, and Wyatt. Corbin seems like a less likely opponent for John considering how easily Cena dispatched of him on SmackDown recently, but a lot can change between now and April.

I’ll be honest with you, I only included Randy Orton here because he used to be a top guy, but he probably should be dropped down a tier. I can’t see too many scenarios where he is wrestling in the main event of WrestleMania 33. But he did wrestle in the main event of WrestleMania 30, and there's this rumor about him wrestling against Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship in Orlando, so I won’t completely rule him out just yet.

Everybody else: Rusev, Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Big E, Sheamus, Mojo Rawley, Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Big Cass, Luke Harper, Big Show

These 12 guys are the remaining names out of the 22 official participants who didn’t fit into the above two groups. These folks collectively have almost no chance to win the Royal Rumble match unless something seriously goes wrong with the match or WWE is looking for a hugely surprising swerve.

Rusev is rugged and handsome, obviously, but that might not be enough to lead him to a victory.

Big Show will likely be wrestling against Shaquille O’Neal in April, so unless WWE is going to do something insane like have Shaq defeat Roman Reigns or Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship next month, it’s hard to see a case for Big Show here.

Big Cass only has a chance to win if Vince accidentally confuses him for Baron Corbin backstage.

One of these years Kofi Kingston is sure to pull off the greatest Rumble stunt ever and actually win the damn match. My guess is that the entire New Day will be given early entries and they will play a critical role in that portion of the match. Perhaps they will even draw numbers one and two (and three?), just like Demolition did in 1989.

Cesaro and Sheamus are pulling double duty on this card. Sheamus usually does well in Royal Rumble matches, but I think Cesaro will probably be used as a chew toy for one of the giants in the match, which is too bad. Hopefully he can get the spotlight for a minute and spam a few swings before he is tossed out.

Luke Harper will probably enter the ring around the same time that Orton and Bray Wyatt are involved, and while he has no chance to win, he could perhaps do something memorable to get a measure of revenge on Bray Wyatt after last week’s Sister Abigail’s Kiss.

I have no clue what to say about Mojo Rawley. Sorry Mojo, but I wish Fandango, Tyler Breeze, or American Alpha got this spot.

Sami Zayn has a strong chance at being the iron man of this match. But once the giants like Undertaker, Goldberg, Lesnar, and Strowman enter the fray towards the very end, Zayn is getting tossed.

I think there’s a good chance that the announcement of Jerry Lawler as a commentator for the Royal Rumble match means that he’s going to royally screw Dolph Ziggler out of the match.

The Unannounced Entrants: Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Kenny Omega, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tye Dillinger, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Shelton Benjamin, Jack Gallagher, Shane McMahon, James Ellsworth, Apollo Crews, Kalisto, Kane, Mark Henry, RVD, Shaq, Hulk Hogan, CM Punk.

There are 8 spots remaining, and at least a few of them will probably go to some names from the above list.

Samoa Joe and Finn Balor are probably the biggest favorites to actually win the match once you get past Goldberg, Lesnar, Undertaker, and Strowman. At the very least Samoa Joe seems like a good bet to be a surprise entrant, even if he doesn’t win it all.

Kenny Omega has a ton of buzz at the moment even if it seems unlikely that he’ll be there in San Antonio.

Shinsuke Nakamura could very well be losing his NXT Championship to Bobby Roode, and if that happens, a main roster call-up could be imminent.

Jack Gallagher seems like a good option for doing a comedy spot with the New Day.

Kurt Angle made it to the WWE Hall of Fame with a broken freakin’ neck. If Kurt can pass a WWE physical, then it’s at least possible that he appears in the Royal Rumble match to set up a match for WrestleMania 33.

Kane has a history of being one of the most dominant Royal Rumble performers ever and it would be strange to leave him out.

James Ellsworth seems like perfect fodder for someone like Goldberg, Lesnar, Strowman, or Undertaker.

Mark Henry is pretty much a requirement for this match if the goal is to maximize the beef.

I feel like RVD always gets a huge pop when he does these surprise appearances so he can never be ruled out. Maybe Shelton Benjamin is a better fit for that spot this year.

Apollo Crews and Kalisto have some issues with Dolph Ziggler so perhaps one of them will appear and get involved in his business.

Tye Dillinger could possibly appear as entrant number 10. If he appears in any other capacity, it would be a colossal oversight.

Shaq could show up as a surprise entrant to eliminate the Big Show.

Shawn Michaels will be in the building, so that’s enough evidence right there for me to put him on the list of potential surprise entrants.

There’s a rumor that AJ Styles will be facing off with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 33. That means Shane O’Mac has a non-zero chance to go all the way here, as ridiculous as that sounds. Part-timer-mania, baby!

Ok so I admit that I’m just pulling the names Hulk Hogan and CM Punk out of my ass. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Hulk Hogan is brought back in some capacity for WrestleMania season.

And after CM Punk witnessed Batista get the WrestleMania main event spot by disappearing for a few years and then returning to win the Rumble match in 2014, perhaps it has been CM Punk’s plan all along to copy the Batista blueprint for finally getting the WrestleMania main event match that he deserved back in 2011, 2012, and 2013, at the very least. Just leave for a few years and return to win the Royal Rumble match as a part-timer. It worked for Dave, so why not Punk? Yeah I know, it’s not going to happen. But what if it does?

This is one of the most-anticipated matches of the year, even if it does have that awkward "Remember the Rumble" slogan. This year’s Rumble iteration comes with tons of uncertainty and 100% less Roman Reigns, so there’s no telling who’s gonna win this thing. So sit back, count down the clock every 90 seconds, complain on the internet when Sami Zayn is eliminated, and keep it right here on Cageside Seats to see which wrestler overcomes 29 other superstars to win the 2017 Royal Rumble match!

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