by Frank Lucci
The Royal Rumble is once again upon us, this time with the special twist that Roman Reigns will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the Royal Rumble match.
As discussed on the Manopera podcast, the WWE has actually put in an effort to make this year’s Rumble match seem more unpredictable, which should help make the Pay-Per-View better than last year. Throw in a solid undercard and this could be the year the Rumble gets back on track. And with that here are Spaceman Frank’s Royal Rumble 2016 predictions.
Kickoff Match: Darren Young and Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger (Winning team gets into the Royal Rumble Match)
This is pretty much a throwaway match as none of these guys have a shot of doing anything significant in the Rumble. Does Darren Young teaming with Damien Sandow mean Titus O’neil is in the Rumble already? Hopefully we get Sandow doing his stunt double stuff again otherwise this will be an even bigger waste of time. Also, the Dudley Boyz have really fallen off the map after coming in hot as hell this summer. Honestly, I see Mark Henry (who I thought was already confirmed for the Rumble) and Jack Swagger winning as they are both veterans and can operate separately once the Rumble match actually starts.
Alberto Del Rio (C) vs. Kalisto (US Championship Match)
Boy has the WWE screwed this one up. After a meaningful title change to Kalisto that was immediately followed up with Del Rio winning the championship back I could not care less about this match. I would rather have John Cena show up in a sling to defend the belt over this match. While both men are talented, this has “filler” written all over it as Del Rio also has the Rumble later and Kalisto is killing time until Sin Cara comes back. What a wasted opportunity to elevate Kalisto, who could be the next Rey Mysterio if given the chance. Del Rio wins and everyone else loses.
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) (Tag Title Match)
Despite having a war of words with Chris Jericho for several weeks, it looks like the New Day will be facing off against The Usos at the PPV. My guess is “cool dad Jericho” couldn’t find a partner to tolerate his bumbling ways and will instead focus on ruining the Rumble instead of The New Day. While this matchup has potential, the WWE has not given fans much to buy into this storyline besides The Usos being the choice of the people while The New Day is the choice of the IWC (who don’t count as people). The New Day need to refocus after a few on and off weeks and while this should be a fun match, the trio also has the Rumble later on. I see them winning via DQ and this feud dragging for months on end.
Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch (Divas Title Match)
Simply put, this is the best feud going on in the WWE right now. An easy to follow storyline with Charlotte embracing her inner Flair (minus the part where she elbow drops sport coats and starts bleeding during the match) and turning on her friend. Becky Lynch, once an afterthought of the Divas Revolution, has nailed everything given to her by the WWE and has shown why she was called up over other NXT divas. In particular, she plays the fiery babyface very well in promos, and acts very much like Ricky Steamboat, another famous Flair rival. Hopefully these two women get a shot at delivering in the ring after a solid build. With Charlotte having her dad in the corner I expect her to cheat to win, or perhaps Sasha Banks and Team Bad will reintroduce themselves by interrupting the match to set up future storylines.
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose (c) (Last Man Standing Match for the Intercontinental Championship)
Another feud with a good storyline. These two outstanding grapplers have a chance to steal the show (as always), especially if the Royal Rumble match fails to deliver. Owens has gotten back on track after some lackluster feuds as with Ambrose breaking away from just being Reigns super rad friend and coming into his own as champ. Last Man Standing fits these two so well and I expect an epic brawl between them. While I see Ambrose retaining, I also see Owens keeping his vicious streak alive by taking out Ambrose afterwards and preventing him from helping his buddy Reigns in the Rumble. This will also keep Owens’ status as the Authority’s off the books boy (as he always seems to be going along with their plans but has yet to join them) and make him look strong despite the loss.
Royal Rumble Match (Winner is WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
This match was discussed at great length on the Manopera podcast, so I will hit the main bullet points here. In essence, this match boils down to a handful of wrestlers and what sort of surprises the WWE has in store. I joked that Reigns will win if given the number one spot in the Rumble and lo and behold they did it. This makes me think that Reigns is walking out as champ, but WWE has been overdue for a real swerve.
The only other outcome I can see is Triple H entering himself at number 30 and winning the championship due to the rumored Reigns vs Triple H main event for Wrestlemania. Brock Lesnar figures to be a big factor as well, but I feel as though he will end up being eliminated by Bray Wyatt to set up a match between the two. As for AJ Styles and the other New Japan wrestlers who may be heading to the WWE, I can only see Styles debuting at the Rumble (as he is the most well known) and doing fairly well. In addition, I hope to see at least one NXT wrestler show up as well as a couple of cool legends (but we will probably get Kevin Nash since he always seems to show up at the Rumble).