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Let’s talk about who answers the U.S. title open challenge at Royal Rumble

It’s not quite as exciting as a mystery tag partner, but the open challenge gimmick does tantalize wrestling fans. Regardless of who’s holding WWE’s United States championship, it’s become a staple of the title in recent years, and led to some pretty good matches.

They’re keeping it alive for new champ Bobby Roode, as a Glorious Open Challenge was announced for Royal Rumble’s Kickoff show at the last minute on Friday, Jan. 26, two days before the event in Philadelphia.

Who could answer the call? There are three categories of possibilities:

An existing rival

The just completed tournament provides a wealth of possibilities, as Roode defeated Baron Corbin, Mojo Rawley and Jinder Mahal en route to claiming the red, white and blue strap over the last month. His history with The Lone Wolf goes back even farther, too.

Then there are others who fell on the other side of the bracket, or have history with the title. Okay, this is mostly just me hoping for a Rusev Day push, but either Aiden English or his handsome partner could hit the ring Sunday afternoon and it would make sense.

Or... while WWE seems intent on pushing The Glorious One as a babyface, for some reason (I know, it’s that his theme song is over). That’s probably not likely to change as long as he’s in the Mixed Match Challenge, but if they wanted to inform the masses how great he is at playing a heel, they could rekindle one of his NXT feuds by bringing out Tye Dillinger.

A debut

There aren’t any huge names floating around, but there are plenty of mid-size to large ones on the horizon.

Sticking with the NXT theme, Drew McIntyre was rumored to be heading toward a call-up before he suffered an injury on Survivor Series weekend, and he’s been posting workout pics which show him looking pretty darn healthy. The Celtic Collosus defeated Roode for the black-and-yellow brand’s top prize at TakeOver: Brooklyn III, so there’s history to make it a logical way to re-introduce McIntyre to the main roster crowd (if the alignments were better positioned).

A few of the wrestlers rumored to be showing up from TNA/Impact might make sense here, too. EC3 or even WrestleMania 23 star Bobby Lashley probably wouldn’t get an AJ Styles pop debuting in the Rumble itself, but crashing The Glorious One’s parade might be a way to set them on the road to getting one down the line.

A return

The obvious choice here is Dolph Ziggler. The Show-Off’s feuded with Roode since his promotion, and won the U.S. title in a match against him and Corbin at Clash of Champions before walking away. WWE might have bigger plans for him Sunday night, or he could just rejoin the mid-card after a month off.

Maybe we see someone like R-Truth, or Big Show? They’ve been out injured, and are technically assigned to Raw, but the brand split is whatever Vince McMahon and team want it to be, and this could be an easy way to inform us those guys are ready to return before The Rumble starts The Road to WrestleMania...

Let us know what you think, Cagesiders. There’s probably a high likelihood the eventual answer won’t be that exciting, but at least it’s given us a little something to pass the time between now and the start of WWE action this weekend!

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