Survivor Series hasn’t rolled around yet but there is a lot of buzz over the famed “Road to Wrestlemania”. The figurative road beginning at the Royal Rumble soon shifts into Fastlane. From there, nothing will stop the momentum as we finally arrive in Orlando, Florida for Wrestlemania. With the “New Era” talent starting to take over and with more veteran wrestlers fighting to keep their place, there are bound to be pleasant and/or shocking surprises as we head towards the granddaddy of them all.
With 30 wrestlers all vying for an opportunity to not only main event Wrestlemania, but challenge for a title, it’s bound to warrant some obvious and interesting questions. For one, with the rumor of John Cena facing off against Baron Corbin, will they be pulling double duty? Or could these spots be taken by a surprise return? Or perhaps…
WHAT IF WWE BRINGS IN AN NXT CALL UP?
This would be a great time to introduce a singles star who has been ready to make the jump to the main roster. However, there are really only two men ready for this call up. One of them is champion and will most likely remain champion to carry the NXT brand. The other is a man who looks revitalized by his move to WWE and has produced very high quality work. And that man is Samoa Joe.
When the countdown hits zero and the Godzilla-inspired horns blare, the die-hard wrestling fan knows that some beatdowns are coming. Watching Joe skulk out of the back down towards the ring is a sight I would love to see in a few months. He’s getting up there in years and it’s clear that he was brought in as a veteran presence, but is still capable of delivering some fantastic matches and should be given a nice run on the main roster. Between him and Shinsuke Nakamura, Joe is the right call-up as it will allow Nakamura to further refine his English Language skills though we all don’t have a problem with it to begin with. As for Samoa Joe in the Royal Rumble, he must receive the same booking that AJ Styles received when he debuted; a lengthy stay and a few eliminations. The Samoan Submission Machine’s debut would easily surprise many people, especially since the last time a true NXT call-up entered, it was Alexander Rusev in 2014. Sami Zayn’s participation doesn’t count since he debuted for John Cena’s United States open title match. But where there’s a WWE rookie…
WHAT IF WWE CONTINUES THE TREND OF ALUMNI PARTICIPATING?
With last year’s event not boasting any alumni due to the WWE World Heavyweight Title being on the line, they passed on the opportunity to have an alumni fight for the title. It was the right call for them to do that. But since there isn’t a title on the line, WWE has the option to go ahead and bring in an alumni. Should they choose to do it, the clear choice has to be Shawn Michaels.
With The Royal Rumble being held in San Antonio, what better way to build up interest and draw fans of all ages than to bring in the hometown boy? He would receive and instant reaction, but more importantly, whoever is lucky enough to eliminate him will gain instant recognition. Guys like AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, or Bray Wyatt would benefit the most from eliminating him. Michaels would receive an elimination or two, especially with his world-famous Sweet Chin Music, but those wrestlers he eliminates will not and should not be major players. Michaels’ appearance will most likely not be a complete “one-off” as he’s bound to get back in the ring on special occasions, but with the brand splits and many returning veterans, maybe there could be more than one alumni returning…
WHAT IF KURT ANGLE RETURNS?
The Royal Rumble is the perfect time and place for the only Olympic gold medalist to return. Although he is nearing the age of 50, Angle is still one of the best wrestling talents in the world. He has that dangerous ability to push himself to the brink of sure injury. He’s man that’s too tough for his own good. After all, he did win that gold medal with a “broken freakin’ neck!” His return would also set the crowd on fire as his return is something that the older WWE universe has been wanting for years. Angle’s inclusion would see him eliminating a wrestler or two. Except his case may be different than Shawn Michaels…
WHAT IF BROCK LESNAR ENTERS THE RUMBLE?
Brock Lesnar’s presence is growing staler by the minute. And it shouldn’t be a surprise. His presence is like his mantra. It’s the same thing over and over again. With the chance that Goldberg’s match is a one-off, Lesnar will need something to do going into the Road to Wrestlemania. He should go on a tear when he enters. Until Kurt Angle returns and eliminates him. From this point on, the feud will be red hot. Triple H and John Cena may hold a clean victory over Lesnar, but Angle has pinned and submitted him cleanly. And also holds three victories over Lesnar to Lesnar’s two victories over him. Rekindling this feud like Lesnar’s current feud with Goldberg will revitalize a stale Lesnar and also heighten his stock in this “New Era”. Speaking of “New Era”…
WHAT IF A WOMAN ENTERS AGAIN?
In a year where the “women’s revolution” has finally started to go somewhere, it should not be a farfetched thought that there would be a woman entering the rumble. Chyna, Beth Phoenix, and Kharma have entered and eliminated one a wrestler during their appearances. Chyna has eliminated two overall. So this year, a female wrestler will make history once more. But it will not be Sasha Banks, Charlotte, or Bayley. Although their talents are undeniable, the honor of making history belongs to Nia Jax.
Nia Jax is the only believable candidate to enter the Royal Rumble. While that’s not to say that Sasha Banks, Charlotte, or Bayley could not eliminate anybody, it’s clear that Nia Jax would be able to conceivably eliminate one of the male wrestlers without some sort of shenanigans. Nia Jax also gets the nod over Dana Brooke due to Dana Brooke’s character being a little too over-the-top. Booking Nia Jax in the Royal Rumble is the right way to go if WWE Creative is looking to insert a woman into the match. But where would history take place? Having Nia Jax eliminate not one, but two wrestlers. That might not be a high bar compared to Kane and Roman Reigns’ double digit eliminations, but for Jax to be able to eliminate two wrestlers based on her strength and skill alone must happen. She must also be booked to last substantially longer than any of the previous female entrants as well. This type of booking would boost her stock and present her as even more of threat than she already is.
Speaking of history…
WHAT IF FINN BALOR RETURNS IN TIME FOR THE ROYAL RUMBLE?
Finn Balor was injured in August and his given recovery time was 4-6 months. With a recent update stating that he was recovering nicely and with The Royal Rumble five months removed from his injury, The Royal Rumble would be a great event to return at. His return would set fire to the WWE universe. Balor, who is still in his rookie year on the main roster, has a chance to make history by being the first person from NXT to win the Royal Rumble. If Balor were to return for the Royal Rumble, he must be booked to win in order to regain the title he never lost. It’s the same narrative that Rollins was given and it must be given to Balor as well.
WHAT IF FINN BALOR DOES NOT WIN?
If Finn Balor is not victorious upon return, than WWE Creative must be careful to not book someone who doesn’t need the victory. Active wrestlers like Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, and Roman Reigns do not and should not win this match or WWE risks a fourth consecutive year of a predictable finish. Guys like Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, or The Miz should be considered among the top contenders to win. Granted the Kevin Owens and AJ Styles are still the champions when the Rumble comes around, any of those choice could believably challenge for their respective brand’s title.