Vince McMahon made headlines on RAW when he announced the new main-event for the 2016 Royal Rumble. McMahon raised the stakes by not only shaking up the Royal Rumble but shaking up the WrestleMania 32 main-event.
For better or worse, the WWE is at its most predictable time of the year during the WrestleMania season. Predictable Rumble winners and Mania matches generally come to fruition with little curveballs thrown in between. That can’t be said this year as the stipulations assigned to this year’s Rumble match make you question anything you thought was a given for WrestleMania.
In case you missed it, Vince McMahon told Roman Reigns that his WWE world championship will be on the line in the Royal Rumble. Similar to the legendary 1992 Rumble, the winner of this year’s Rumble will be WWE world champion. The new stipulation is a major deviation from the annual process which sees the Rumble winner challenge for the WWE world title at WrestleMania.
The new mandate also throws all potential WrestleMania 32 predictions out the window. The trajectory to that match will be different than any other year. Let’s take a look at the logical scenarios and how they are affected by this year’s Rumble match.
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar – Many predicted that these guys would rematch in this year’s main-event, finally determining a conclusive winner. The expected trajectory was probably the most logical of all. Brock Lesnar wins the Royal Rumble and challenges for the championship. Throw that out the window. I think the possibilities of this match probably diminish more than any other with the new result. I suppose Lesnar could win the Rumble and Reigns could challenge but that just seems anti-climactic to me. What this also means is that Lesnar is probably more in play than before for a big match which could see him face anyone from The Rock to Kevin Owens in Dallas.
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H – All of the sudden this one becomes the leading candidate for your WrestleMania 32 headliner. Let’s be honest. Nothing else makes sense at this point and while you can argue about Triple H being in the spot, it’s the most dramatic storyline the company has for Reigns. While it always seemed logical that these two would wrestle at Mania, the only thing standing in their way was the Rumble. I could not fathom a scenario where Triple H won the Rumble and faced Reigns. Now, he doesn’t have to! I can easily see a scenario where Reigns wins the Rumble and Hunter attacks him from behind after the match, “taking advantage of a tired guy who just fought off 29 WWE superstars”, and laying him out. Quite honestly the only reason to change the Rumble stip is to get Hunter into the Mania title slot without having to give him a Rumble win.
Roman Reigns vs. John Cena – This was reported as the scheduled main-event before Seth Rollins got hurt and plans for Reigns went into a different direction. Without the story of Cena winning the Rumble to earn his shot, I have no idea how you get here. The match seems less likely than ever with the new stipulation in place. However, I will say this. WrestleMania plans rarely change once the main-event is leaked or reported. Even when the match is reported or predictable, the WWE generally proceed with plans. That is why I refuse to completely rule this one out, yet I can’t fathom a logical story here with the Rumble out of play.
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker – I don’t know if this one was fantasy booking or if there is some real smoke here, but there has been some buzz about this one for a few weeks now. Like Cena, the predictable storyline here would be Taker winning the Rumble and challenging for the championship, perhaps putting his career on the line. I will go on record and say that there is probably zero chance of this one happening at 32 after the new Rumble mandate.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins – While I have heard nothing reported on this match, I have always thrown this out there as a possibility. Rollins is supposed to be out six months after tearing his knees up and while that timeline takes him out of WrestleMania, it is not impossible to think that Rollins works his butt off to get to Mania. At this point it would seem like a waste of a good post-Mania feud if that was the road they went. The only logical scenario here would be to have Rollins win the Rumble and settle the score between two guys that were never pinned to lose their championships. Unfortunately that would require a medical miracle by Rollins to be ready for the Rumble. Thus, as much as it makes more sense than anything predicted here, I don’t see it happening.