It’s arguably the best event of the year. The Royal Rumble is as unique and entertaining as any stipulation match out there. Perfect in its simplicity, nothing compares to the rumble, especially if you’re a betting man...or woman! And with the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble this year, we have two chances to bet. It’s always nice when inclusiveness lends itself to degenerate gambling. In fact, that’s probably the key to world peace.
Between Vince McMahon announcing the return of the XFL, the sexual assault accusation leading to the firing of Enzo Amore, and last night’s NXT event, there was a lot to talk about this week. Andrade Almas and Johnny Gargano put on a perfect match in NXT Takeover’s main event last night, and I’ll be damned if that’s not a match of the year candidate.
But we’ll keep the eye on the prize and discuss the Rumble Rumble match. The roster is stacked and there is just too much main roster talent to allow leeway for novelty acts...as much as I love novelty acts. While I would love to see Brother Love enter the rumble for no good reason, it’s doubtful we’ll see a whole lot of zany characters this year. At most, we can hope for a couple of NXT call-ups. Months ago, I speculated on the possibility of every member of Sanity entering both rumble matches: Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain in the Men’s rumble and Nikki Cross in the Woman’s rumble. But the more I think about it, there just might not be enough room for them. Cross in the women’s rumble is still a possibility, which makes it the more interesting match overall.
As it’s the inaugural match, the women’s rumble with be full of returns and debuts. It’s the highlight of this year’s event, so we can surely look forward to some faces of eras past. Between Trish Stratus and Alundra Blaze, not much is off limits. Even though the women’s division has expanded exponentially in the past couple of years, there will still be some vacant spots in the rumble. Since we haven’t seen them on NXT in some time, The Iconic Duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are in line for a bump up to the main roster. The aussie pair is easily one of the most charismatic teams in NXT, and would flourish on Raw or Smackdown. If there’s anything the women’s division needs right now, it’s solid characters; and the Iconic Duo has plenty of character.
But of course, the elephant in the room is whether or not we’ll see “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey in the Royal Rumble. The alliteration alone is enough to make one’s mouth water. That many “R’s” could give any Bostonian an aneurysm. And despite Rousey’s Horsewoman counterpart, Shayna Baszler being in NXT championship contention, it’s more likely we see the Ronda’s marquee name on the road to WrestleMania. It’s been reported that she’s been in talks with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, even beyond their WrestleMania moment a few years back.
Rumors have swirled about a WrestleMania match between Rousey and Charlotte Flair. While I want to see her enter the Rumble, I don’t want her to win. It would be somewhat of a slap in the face to all of the actual pro wrestling women to see an outsider win this milestone match. Do the match at Mania. That would be just fine. Have The Nature Boy at ringside and everything. Just don’t have Rousey get there by winning the rumble. With the brand split, this can be easily avoided. If Rousey/Flair is the rumored Mania dream match for Raw, expect a Smackdown Superstar to win the women’s rumble.
As it’s been in the brand split years, Smackdown’s roster makes the Rumble more of a wild card. That’s one, if not the only, thing I like about the brand split. On a single roster, one can easily predict who will win and be in the main event at WrestleMania. But as much as Smackdown doesn’t like to be heralded as the B show...it is. So instead of guessing who will face Brock Lesnar (assuming he retains tonight) for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania, we can look forward to a great match with A.J. Styles. Which is why my pick to win the Rumble is Shinsuke Nakamura. It’s a repeat dream match from New Japan that WWE has been teasing since the King of Strong Style has been on the main roster. Styles and Nakamura would tear the house down on the grandest stage of them all, but never forget that anything can happen in the WWE, and remember the rumble. Happy Rumble Day Everybody!
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke