With WWE’s prestigious Royal Rumble less than 24 hours away, the buzz is in the air and every wrestling fan has a theory on who will be the last one standing and getting their title shot at WrestleMania.
In most years, it’s predictable on who will win. In recent history, fans knew John Cena was winning in 2013 to set up the rematch with The Rock.
In 2014, fans knew Batista was coming back and winning. In 2015, the rumors Roman Reigns winning the rumble were known for months and the fans in Philadelphia went nuts and hijacked it once Daniel Bryan was an option.
In 2016, it was pretty clear that they were setting up Reigns vs Triple H for WrestleMania so his win wasn’t shocking but was the right call. And one could say last year’s rumble with Randy Orton was a bit of a surprise but was also leaked.
But this year is different. There are a lot of different names thrown around as possibilities. Some are as crazy as Daniel Bryan coming out of retirement and winning or even Shane McMahon.
However, the one that is pitched the most is Reigns due to WWE mapping out the inevitable Brock Lesnar vs Reigns Universal Championship match as a follow-up to their incredible match at WrestleMania 31.
It’s not as clear cut as that. Will WWE seriously do a complete remake of 2015 where Philadelphia fans hijack the event and boo Reigns? Reigns doesn’t need to win the rumble with the Raw brand having the Elimination Chamber PPV in February.
That’s where you could get Reigns named as Lesnar’s challenger at WrestleMana. So who is going to win, you ask? Well, here are the most candidates to get their championship spot at WrestleMania.
This one is the safest bet especially if A.J. Styles retains the WWE Championship earlier in the night. It has been the match that a huge portion of the WWE Universe has wanted.
It was foreshadowed a bit during last year’s Money in the Bank PPV where they had their first showdown since NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom.
The only drawback could be whether Nakamura can carry a two month program with doing very little promos due to the language barrier. He has enough charisma to offset it though and this would be a good mix to go along with Lesnar versus Reigns in New Orleans.
Not too far fetched. The former Universal Champion never got his rematch and it feels like Balor has been showcased a lot more with his pairing of former Bullet Club members Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
If Balor wins though, that’s a huge size discrepancy going up against Lesnar with Balor only being 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. Would WWE do something as crazy as have Balor switch brands to face another former Bullet Club member in A.J. Styles? They tore the house down at No Mercy last October so many would be all about it.
Balor is a star and giving him this honor could propel him to his proper level of stardom. Given his gimmick, moving merchandise shouldn’t be too difficult. Plus, facing either Styles or Lesnar for Balor’s first appearance ever at WrestleMania, would be incredible either way.
Yes, he’s the favorite and fans are expecting it and we’ve already given reasons why they shouldn’t do it. Nonetheless, Reigns is Raw’s biggest full-time star and winning the rumble to get a main event spot at WrestleMania is a top star move.
Does WWE want Reigns in the main event at WrestleMania for the fourth straight year? If he wins, do they make this the main event or do they make the WWE Championship the main event? That’s a toss up.
If Reigns is the way they want to go, which I don’t believe he is, they should just straight embrace the heat. Have Reigns throw on a Patriots Tom Brady jersey on or something to troll. Or have him rock some Philadelphia Eagles gear to confuse the fans on how they should react.
Final verdict: Shinsuke Nakamira
It’s a close one between Nakamura and Balor. If Balor wins and chooses to switch brands, it could be a great way to make the storyline for Elimination Chamber be about determining Lesnar’s opponent.
But that’s too out there…Nakamura.