I really need to stop doing these when I’m half asleep, causing me to not post them on here on time. Here it is for the sake of completion though.
This might be my favorite show of the year. There’s something so simple about the idea of a bunch of people being in the ring at once and the last person standing wins a big prize. The main event is one of the most anticipated matches of the year and there’s a lot more to it than just who goes on to the World Title match at “Wrestlemania XXXIII”. There’s a full card on top of the main event so let’s get to it.
1. Pre-Show: Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
We’ll start with the three pre-show matches, beginning with Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks. This is your old big vs. little match with Banks coming in with a bad knee and Jax liking the idea of torturing what she sees as the former Boss. Banks is of course ready for a challenge, as she always is.
I think I’m going with Jax here, as it seems that they’re prepping her for a run near the Raw Women’s Title. It’s not the worst idea in the world and Banks is certainly one of those characters who can just talk for all of ten seconds and be back in the fans’ good graces. The match should be entertaining, though I’m not sure how well this is going to go with the size difference.
2. Pre-Show: Raw Tag Team Titles: Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson vs. Sheamus/Cesaro
Oh my goodness I’m already bored just thinking about this match. Anderson and Gallows couldn’t beat New Day for the titles so now we get to watch them chase the belts here even more. Neither team has done anything interesting since they started feuding and I have no real interest in either of them or anything they do.
That being said, I’ll take the champions to retain here because WWE REALLY likes them for reasons that aren’t clear to me in the slightest. Sheamus and Cesaro could be fine as singles wrestlers (as they’ve been for years) while Anderson and Gallows only seem to be better off together. That doesn’t make for a great match but it could make for a rather boring one, which would keep them on the same path they’ve had for months now.
3. Pre-Show: Becky Lynch/Nikki Bella/Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James/Natalya
This is a simple “take everyone and throw them into one match so entrances can take up a bunch of time” match and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like there’s really a big challenger for Bliss’ Smackdown Women’s Title at the moment so it wouldn’t make sense to throw out something like Bliss vs. Naomi here. You also don’t want to blow off Lynch vs. James yet so this makes the most sense.
I’ll take good side winning with Naomi pinning Bliss, likely setting up their title match. Naomi might not be the most interesting character in the world but she’s more than capable of being the #1 contender and maybe even a short term champion. The other four can just be there for the sake of being there and there’s nothing wrong with that.
4. Raw Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Bayley
Somehow, “Monday Night Raw” has managed to botch the most over female since Lita. Bayley should be able to plugged into the title scene, fight against the odds and win the title in a big moment. Somehow though, she’s arguing with Stephanie McMahon about what it means to be a star and reading poetry in a segment that went on far too long. They’ve gotten closer with this “fan vs. star from birth” story but, as usual, it gets bogged down on the main shows.
Charlotte is likely retaining here because for some reason we NEED a four way title match at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” instead of just having Bayley fight against the odds like Daniel Bryan in a sports bra. It’s going to be a big moment when Bayley finally wins the title but it’s just not happening on Sunday.
5. Smackdown World Title: John Cena vs. AJ Styles
Now this is more like it as WWE has managed to turn this into one of the best feuds over the World Title in a long time. Both guys feel like major stars (because they are major stars) and Styles is just beating Cena at every turn. Styles has been Smackdown World Champion since September and has been one of the best performers all year long by miles and miles.
That being said, I think he survives the Cena challenge here, perhaps with someone interfering to set up Cena’s next feud, and allowing Styles to drop the belt inside the Elimination Chamber (Meaning we get STYLES VS. SHANE MCMAHON because we’re just that lucky). Either way, it’s going to be a 20-25 minute classic, as if you would expect it to be anything else.
6. Cruiserweight Title: Rich Swann vs. Neville
Aside from the Royal Rumble itself, this might be the match I’m looking forward to more than anything else. Neville has been on fire since turning heel and Swann has really upped his game in this feud. They’ve made me want to see this match and that’s not something I ever expected to see out of the Cruiserweight Title, either in this generation or in its previous incarnation.
I’ll go with the logical choice and say Neville wins the title here but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them keep the belt on Swann for some reason. Neville has been the better performer in this story and plays his character to perfection but other than Cedric Alexander and maybe the debuting Akira Tozawa, I’m not sure who he could feud again. Neville should win though, and that’s what matters most.
7. Raw World Title: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Let’s get this over with. I don’t remember the last time I was this uninterested in a World Title match and a lot of that comes down to the two stipulations. This match has had a six week build and the big idea is Chris Jericho being locked in a shark cage above the ring. Like really, that’s it. Then, to really hammer the point home, they turned it into a No DQ match, meaning that Jericho would be allowed to interfere anyway. You know, because there’s so much effort and thought put into this thing.
Actually I think Reigns loses here so Owens can drop the belt from a better perspective. Then again, there’s always the chance that WWE will continue to ignore everyone’s feeling on Reigns and set him up for a big face match at “Wrestlemania XXXIII”. I mean, word on the street has him as a face and going over Undertaker there so what do I know? But yeah, Owens keeps the belt here.
8. Royal Rumble
I’m going to get straight to the point here: I have no idea who is winning this thing. It’s very rare that WWE is capable of putting together a match where it really is wide open but they’ve pulled it off here. Looking at the twenty two names currently announced, there are at least seven (Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Baron Corbin, Undertaker, Miz, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton) serious potential winners and you could squint your eyes and get up to more than ten.
There are so many stories going around about what might be happening in Orlando this year and that’s what I love about this year’s Royal Rumble: it feels wide open. How boring is it when you’re just waiting around on the one or two guys who could realistically win and the rest is just seeing spots? You have to go back to 2012 at the very most recent where the winner wasn’t mostly obvious and that’s far too long.
Let’s pull a name out of a hat here and go with….Wyatt winning the thing. I know it’s not likely to happen but it’s not like there’s a dominant option out there this year. Wyatt winning and going on to face Orton for the Smackdown World Title at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” has been rumored so it makes as much sense as anything else. I have no confidence in the pick but it’s the best I’ve got.
As is so often the case, the Royal Rumble is going to come down to its namesake match but it has the potential to be something fun. “Wrestlemania XXXIII” is wide open this year and we’ll know a lot more about it the next twenty four hours. The winner isn’t always even the most important thing and that makes for a very interesting battle royal. If the rest of the show is even better, that’s just a bonus.
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