Bill Goldberg. Braun Strowman. The Wyatt Family. Paul Heyman’s client, the mayor of Suplex City – Brock Lesnar. The Undertaker.
Just these names are enough to tell you that this year’s Royal Rumble – the titular event itself, not counting the other matches on the card – is going to be huge (WWE Network, Astro Ch 820/840, Jan 30).
When Goldberg and Lesnar were the first two names confirmed for the big bout after their Survivor Series clash (which Goldberg won in an astonishing 86 seconds!), it looked like they would dominate the match.
Then the man-mountain Braun Strowman threw his, er, hat in the ring and suddenly, things became a lot less certain. A little later, The Phenom himself, The Undertaker, gave notice to the whole WWE Universe that he was also signing up. (Hey, at least he HAS a hat to throw in the ring.)
With the Wyatts, the New Day, newly-crowned US Champion Chris Jericho, the Lone Wolf Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Sheamus also being named, one thing is pretty certain: people are going to get hit real hard.
And let’s not forget the potential surprise entrants. WWE has always pulled a few of these on Rumble night, and a certain Demon King could be one of those. Sure, Finn Balor – who won the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam and was forced to relinquish it the very next night because of injury – has reportedly said that he’s still a couple of months away from a return, but that could be just a smokescreen.
There’s also the matter of Seth Rollins. The Architect was swindled out of a Royal Rumble spot on this week’s Raw when he was forced to take on Sami Zayn in a Rumble Qualifying Match. Rollins had the match all but won when Triple H’s music hit and Zayn scored the pinfall on the distracted Seth.
Leave it to Rollins to somehow find a way into the match – or perhaps interrupt another “surprise” Triple H return, possibly to get that no-stakes WrestleMania grudge match between them going.
Now that Kurt Angle has been named as the first Hall Of Fame Class Of 2017 inductee, it’s quite possible that this year’s Rumble might also have a long-absent booster shot of Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence.
Don’t count on Goldberg, Undertaker, Rollins or Lesnar getting their WrestleMania title shots from the Rumble, though. If anything, we’ll see a third Goldberg-Lesnar match set up for ’Mania, with Undertaker quite possibly facing someone from Smackdown (since technically he’s still with the blue brand) who will cost him his chance for victory in the Rumble.
Longshot: A Cesaro win. Hey, he’s won over-the-top-rope battle royals before (being the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial tournament winner), is over with most fans and has the showmanship, if not the mic skills, for a title run. Or title shot, at least. Sure, Baron Corbin has similar credentials for a victory, too, but … face it … his ring persona needs work. (yawns)
Speaking of titles, the Rumble will also see Kevin Owens defending his Universal title against a now-titleless Roman Reigns. AJ Styles gets to beat up John Cena some more while fending off the latter’s challenge for his World Heavyweight title. Charlotte puts her Raw Women’s Championship on the line against Bayley (who, frankly, is not ready for a championship reign in the main roster IMHO).
And over in the Cruiserweight division, champion Rich Swann – who gives some strange interviews, I must say; you don’t know if he’s joking or being deadly serious – faces a serious challenge from Neville. Or nEVILle, as his name should be written during his current heel turn.
My money is on Reigns taking the belt from Owens, and then facing Rumble winner Strowman at ’Mania. I hope no one misconstrues that statement as CNY gambling.
Do you feel Lucha, punk?
Fans of the gritty, intense Lucha Underground, take heart! Word has it that S2 of your favourite Mark Burnett-Robert Rodriguez wrestling show is set to return on Feb 20 on Kix HD (Astro Ch 729), in its old 9pm Monday slot.
S1 concluded a short while ago in spectacular fashion with Prince Puma putting his Lucha Underground Championship on the line against the Man Of A Thousand Deaths, Mil Muertes (who, initially, kind of reminded me of a masked Undertaker clone wearing pyjama trousers, but his look became a lot meaner and scarier as the show progressed).
The spectacular, all-stops-pulled-out match ended with Mil Muertes capturing the gold, putting his valet/manager Catrina firmly in charge of the Lucha Underground Temple with her Disciples of Death holding the Trios Championship as well.
Head honcho Dario Cueto went on the run at the end of the first season, but you just know he’ll be back (and indeed, you won’t have to wait long – just about a couple of months into the new season) with a huge surprise for everyone.
Mark that date and let’s get ready to rumble!
Putting the ‘phew’ in feud
Is it just the Dwaynester, or did the feud on Raw between Enzo Amore-Big Cass and Rusev-Jinder Mahal … well, kind of blow?
Really, it harked back to something you might have found, say, Val Venis involved in back in the Attitude Era, and back then at least it would have been R-rated enough to seem worthwhile. But all it amounted to in this PG-13 Era was a whole lot of unfunny and lather-rinse-repeat monotony. Frankly, how many times did we need to see Enzo ambushed and beaten to a pulp? Or watch Big Cass and Jinder’s potential squandered week after week? Or put up with Rusev – the “Bulgarian George Clooney” – and Lana’s mutual declarations of love?
Well, at least the New Day has had some competition of late for “most tedious segment” honours.