Tag Archives: Roman Reigns Royal Rumble

WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Predictions, Plus Ponderings From Raw

seth-rollins-wwe-raw-january-23-2017By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As Raw has been…less than thrilling lately, I’ve opted to emphasize on Royal Rumble predictions this week, and scale back on Raw coverage. Looking at the results, I didn’t miss much anyway.

Our most notable news item is that Seth Rollins is no longer in the Royal Rumble Match, having lost it to Sami Zayn. Triple H’s music played, and he got beat off the distraction. I assume he’ll find his way back into the Rumble somehow, most likely by beating somebody up and taking their spot. Other than some small updates to the Royal Rumble card, that’s about it.

It looks like they’re doing an extra-long pre-show, with Raw putting in two matches. I imagine Smackdown will put in at least one. For my purposes, I’m sticking to the stuff that’s been announced for the main show.

So let’s dive in!

Rich Swann vs. Neville, WWE Royal Rumble 2017WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville

On paper, this is the strongest pay per view match we’ve seen from the Cruiserweights, as it features the two strongest personalities in the division. Neville’s heel turn has been a very pleasant surprise. So pleasant in fact, that I think he needs to take the belt here. Outside of Neville, the Cruiserweight Division doesn’t have any really strong heels. So if you make him the centerpiece to the division, you can put him with the various babyfaces like Swann, Cedric Alexander, TJ Perkins, and Jack Gallagher. All the while, they can keep building their other heels. To me, it makes all the sense in the world.

PREDICTION: Neville

WWE Royal Rumble 2017, Charlotte Flair, BayleyWWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Bayley

As much as I liked the Raw segment with all of Bayley’s poems, this program is sort of…meh. When Bayley wins her first championship on the main roster, it needs to be a big moment. We’re not primed for a big moment yet. So Charlotte needs to win here.

If they want to keep this going until Wrestlemania, which they very well could, I want to hear more about the differences between these two. The genetically superior athlete vs the die-hard fan from San Jose. I liked Charlotte’s line last week about when Bayley was being a fangirl, she was winning state volleyball championships, or something like that. More of that, please. As Bayley has already pinned Charlotte a few times, we can’t make this that much of an underdog story. But we can make it a good childhood dream story. I’d certainly rather see this match in Orlando than a multi-woman match of some sort.

PREDICTION: Charlotte Flair

Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns, WWE Royal Rumble 2017NO DISQUALIFICATION MATCH FOR WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE:
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Chris Jericho will be above the ring in a shark cage.

People got pretty excited when Owens won the Universal Title in August. Rightfully so, as he’s a hell of a talent. But the five months Owens has spent with the title haven’t exactly represented a creative high for Raw. The opposite, actually.

It’s not his fault, of course. He’s made the best of his situation, turning his partnership with Chris Jericho into a highlight of Raw each week. But his programs with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have been tepid at best, because neither of them are particularly hot as babyfaces. Reigns is loathed by much of the audience, and Rollins was awkwardly turned face after Finn Balor went down with his injury. That damn injury threw a serious monkey wrench into Raw‘s main event scene.

I say we give the belt to Reigns. Like him or not, he’s the man in that company right now. So he may as well have it, especially as we get closer to Wrestlemania. Taking the spotlight off Owens will give him something fresh to do creatively, and it’ll likely give us our long awaited Owens/Jericho feud. Despite losing the belt, this is a good move for Owens.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

AJ Styles vs. John Cena, WWE Royal Rumble 2017WWE HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena

This one can go either way, as you’ve got the Elimination Chamber Match next month. If they want to put the belt on Cena, they can do it here or they can wait a month.

I think they’ll probably give it to him here, so he can avenge his loss to Styles at Summerslam. As is the case with Reigns, a lot of people aren’t going to like that. Especially because this win allows Cena to tie Ric Flair’s record of 16 Heavyweight Titles. But let’s be honest: We know he’s going to do it eventually. At least this way he’ll get a hell of a match out of it. And it will be a hell of a match, folks.

Allegedly, the John Cena vs. Undertaker match is now off the books for Wrestlemania. So the direction for both these men heading into that show is largely unknown. But I can’t bring myself to complain much about that. The element of surprise is something the wrestling industry misses badly. All I can say is, they’d better have something good cooked up for these two.

PREDICTION: John Cena

Royal Rumble Match 20172017 ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH:

This match is always best when you don’t have an obvious winner. Not only do we not have one this year, but this is the most stacked Rumble Match we’ve had in quite some time. The Undertaker, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar by themselves make this a hell of an attraction. Throw in the full-timers like Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, and Randy Orton, and this could be really good.

Want some statistics? As of this writing, the 2017 Royal Rumble Match features four previous Rumble winners. We also have 10 former Heavyweight Champions. Those 10 men have held a combined 45 Heavyweight Championships in WWE and WCW.

So who’s probably not winning? Goldberg and Lesnar jump out immediately, as they’re working each other at Wrestlemania. Chris Jericho is in that same category, as he’ll likely work with Kevin Owens. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton are likely out of the running as well, as they’re almost certainly working together. Granted, you can put a title in any of those programs. But you don’t need to.

They could easily give this to the Undertaker. But again, does Undertaker need a Royal Rumble win? Not really. He’s the Undertaker. He’s one of the few who could credibly and believably get a title shot simply because of who he is. Though they could go for a feel-good moment anyway.

So who does that leave? Baron Corbin is a dark horse candidate, but I don’t think he’s ready. Ambrose? Probably not. Miz? No. Finn Balor’s name is out there. But I’m not ready to get my hopes up for him. Ditto for Samoa Joe. So who does that leave?

Braun Strowmann, WWE RawHere’s an answer that may divide the fanbase: Braun Strowman.

WWE likes Braun Strowman. They always have. I can see why. He’s big,  he’s credible, and he’s got a very distinct look. He’s like giant monster with a face like a small child. He’s a monster-baby. More importantly, they’ve done a great job with him since the brand split. He’s been destroying everyone. He has yet to be pinned. It took a combined spear from Roman Reigns and Bill Goldberg to take him down.

The downside? He’s green. He made his wrestling debut in late 2014. While he’s been improving as of late, he’s still very much in the learning phase of his career.

But there was once another man who came in with relatively little experience, destroyed everyone, and shot to the top. That man’s name is Bill Goldberg, and he became a bonafide superstar.

Look at the three biggest stars in this match: Goldberg, Lesnar, and Undertaker. They’re all part-timers who will never again be on TV regularly. Strowman, on the other hand, is one of the only full-time Raw guys that isn’t in that tepid category. If they get behind him and protect him, he can really be somebody.

If I knew for sure Finn Balor was going to be in this match, I’d go with him. But without confirmation, I’ve got to go with Strowman. He’s an investment their future. And keep in mind, just because they go with him here, doesn’t mean he has to win the title. There are ways they can get around that…

PREDICTION: Braun Strowman

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Kurt Angle’s HOF Shocker, Plus Ponderings From WWE Raw

Jimmy SnukaBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

We’ll get to Kurt Angle in a bit. But first, a more somber note…

A matter of days after being cleared of murder charges, Jimmy Snuka passed away on Sunday at 73 years old. He’d been battling stomach cancer for quite some time.

It seems like how you remember Jimmy Snuka largely depends on when you became a wrestling fan. If you were a fan in the ’80s, you probably remember him as one of the first true WWF superstars. He obviously had a very distinct look, and his Superfly Splash from the top rope is one of the most fondly remembered finishes in history. He actually came into the company as a heel, managed by Captain Lou Albano. In a precursor to what we’d see generations later with guys like Steve Austin, he won fans over to the point that they had to turn him babyface. He’d go on to have a very famous Steel Cage Match with Don Muraco in Madison Square Garden that people talk about to this day.

But then there’s the other side of Snuka’s legacy, and the Nancy Argentino story. I invite you to check the story out for yourself. (Here’s Dave Meltzer and Jim Cornette discussing it in detail on Cornette’s podcast.) But to make a long story short, in 1983 Argentino, Snuka’s girlfriend at the time, died of traumatic brain injuries. There were suspicions against Snuka at the time, but he was never charged. When the case was re-examined in 2013, it was revealed that the coroner report detailed Nancy had injuries that were consistent with an abusive relationship. Snuka was later indicted on charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. But on January 3 of this year, the charges were dismissed, as Snuka was deemed unfit to stand trial. That’s a controversial topic in and of itself. Over the years, he also reportedly told several stories as to how Argentino allegedly died.

jimmy-snuka-2010s

Whether or not you believe Snuka was responsible, there’s a large number of people out there that essentially see him as the OJ Simpson of professional wrestling.

Mick Foley, who was famously inspired by Snuka’s leap off the cage in Madison Square Garden, wrote a lengthy message on Snuka this week. He said he was finding comfort in the words of Bruce Springsteen: “Trust the art, not the artist.” I’m not sure how much I buy that notion. But the fact is, Snuka’s art and his legacy will stand the test of time. He inspired and opened doors for a great many. Whether he deserves all of he adulation he’s getting right now is a matter far bigger than any pro wrestling show.

Ponderings From Raw:

Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar vie for dominance before Wrestlemania. Sami Zayn ambushes Strowman. Roman says he isn’t complaining about losing the US Title. Why not? You lost your belt, man! Get pissed off! That’s a page out of the John Cena playbook.

This was a nice kick-off to the show, with Lesnar adding some extra oomph. Didn’t expect to see Zayn out there. He was a nice touch.

Big Cass, WWE Raw, January 16, 2017Enzo and Cass def. Rusev and Jinder Mahal. Happy to see Enzo back in the ring. But I wasn’t any more interested in this match than I was the Cass/Jinder match from last week. I zipped through this one.

Lita is highlighted in an “extreme moment” sponsored by XXX: The Return of Xander CageUmmm…didn’t they just fire Lita?

Ariya Daivari def. Lince Dorado. Jack Gallagher joins the announce position. Dorado hits a damn good springboard stunner. Puts Cena’s old attempts at it to shame. Though I suppose it’s an unfair comparison. Cena’s a lot bulkier.

They seem to really be embracing Gallagher. I enjoyed him on commentary here. He could stand to speak up a little. But I expect that will come with time.

Footage is shown of Sasha Banks being ambushed earlier in the day by Nia Jax. I liked this. Something a little different. My only complaint is that Nia was in her ring gear. I’d rather she have been in street clothes or Tap Out gear. Something to make it look a little more spontaneous.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, WWE Raw, January 16, 2017Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson def. Sheamus and Cesaro via disqualification in a Raw Tag Team Titles. The titles do not change hands. So Sheamus knocks the ref out on accident, another ref comes down and counts three for Anderson and Gallows, then the first ref reverses the decision and makes it a DQ. I believe this is a “Dusty finish” (as in Dusty Rhodes), where they reverse the decision after a wrestler has already been declared the winner.

Gallows and Anderson have needed rehabbing for awhile. In theory, they’re the top heel team on Raw. But they’ve been beaten so much they haven’t looked like much of a threat to Sheamus and Cesaro. This was a step in the right direction. But I still don’t see them taking the belts.

Neville attacks Rich Swann before a match. Neville has quickly become the most interesting guy in the Cruiserweight Division. It certainly helps that, unlike most of the wrestlers in that division, he was around beforehand. Decent promo afterward.

WWE Raw, January 16, 2017, Big E., Titus O'NeilBig E. def. Titus O’Neil, retaining his spot in the Royal Rumble Match. In the pre-match skit, Big E actually said to Titus: “No more showing up at our porch with fake mustache and a pizza box with a hole at the bottom.” Holy crap. If he got heat for cracking a joke about all of Charlotte’s title wins, I can’t imagine what he’s going to get for that.

Charlotte digs up Bayley’s old photos and poems. I liked this segment a lot. I feel like we got to know Bayley more here than at any point since her main roster debut. When they brought her up, hey seemed to take for granted that a lot of viewers already knew who she was. They can’t afford to do that. We made up for some lost time here.

Cedric Alexander def. Brian Kendrick. Alicia Fox comes to ringside for the match. What did Graves call that move where Kendrick’s knees went right into Kendrick’s head? A springboard slingshot moonsault? Either way, it looked like it hurt like hell. So Cedric and Alicia are broken up now, which mean she’ll likely end up with Noam Dar at some point. I’m mildly curious to see how they match up as a pair.

Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Braun Strowman def. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Sami Zayn. They’re really struggling with this Raw main event scene right now. There’s this awful, boring, sameness to everything week after week. All I could think of during this match was, who cares? There were no stakes or consequences. It was just another match.

Perhaps this needs to be a rule: Having main event level guys in a match it doesn’t make it a main event.

Kurt Angle, WWEKurt Angle announced for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017. This one came way out of left field. There’d been some buzz about Angle coming in this year. But I think most of us assumed it would be for a big match. But this was a genuine surprise. Kudos to WWE for keeping a lid on it.

While the announcement itself is a shock, Kurt Angle going into the Hall of Fame has been an inevitability for over a decade now. It was just a matter of when. Angle was one of the greatest mat wrestlers the company ever saw. But Michael Cole really nailed it when he called him “one of the great entertainers” in WWE history. I remember watching Kurt’s first nationally televised match at Survivor Series in 1999. He was entertaining from the start. It was plain as day that he had that undefinable “it” factor that you need to be a WWE star. I would estimate he succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination.

Angle had so many great matches in WWE. But off the top of my head, these are a few essentials to check out…

– Summerslam 2001 against Steve Austin.
Wrestlemania XXI against Shawn Michaels (my personal favorite).
– Royal Rumble 2003 against Chris Benoit.
No Way Out 2006 against the Undertaker.

Congratulations, Mr. Angle. It’s an honor you truly deserve.

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Triple H as WWE Champion in 2016, Plus Ponderings From WWE Raw

January 25, 2016, WWE Raw,, Triple HBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I got to watch the Royal Rumble live on the WWE Network this weekend, and on the whole I was very pleased. The undercard was great, and the Rumble Match itself was a lot of fun. It didn’t get hijacked again, which is certainly a plus.

But once again, we have controversy with the winner. Perhaps that’s to be expected at this point. Triple H is the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and will main event Wrestlemania XXXII in Dallas. His opponent is obviously going to be Roman Reigns.

Here’s the bottom line as far as I’m concerned: Triple H vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania? Yes. Triple H defending the WWE Championship against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania? No.

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Triple HI understand they’re making the best of a bad situation. John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, and so many others are out with injuries. Triple H is a big star, and one of the few true heels in WWE right now. But the fact that they had to put the title on Triple H to create a match worthy of a Wrestlemania main event (arguably) is an indictment of WWE’s failure to create new marquee stars. In a perfect world, it would be someone like Dean Ambrose or Bray Wyatt in that main event. Hell, what about Brock Lesnar? Even crowds that sit on their hands will still pop for Brock! They’re damn sure paying him like a main eventer! Why not use him like one?

I’m sure WWE will do their best to build this up. And to their credit, Reigns and Hunter have been able to create a palpable tension, which was on display at the Rumble. But all in all, this match is a disappointment. It shouldn’t have to be Triple H main eventing Wrestlemania again. Someone else should have been groomed to step in. They really chickened out with this one.

Pondering From WWE Raw:

The Rock makes a surprise appearance on Raw, mixes it up with The New Day. It’s always great to see The Rock. And it’s great to see somebody go “off the script” on this show for once. I was wondering why they were chanting “Randy Savage” at him. And of course, he and The New Day were great.

The Rock, WWE Raw, January 25, 2015The buzz surrounding The Rock is that he’s not going to be in the ring at Wrestlemania. That is, simply put, awful. They don’t need Rock quite as bad as they did a few years ago. But they could sure as hell use him. And no, not as a corner man for Roman Reigns. You put Rock in Roman’s corner, and he’ll overshadow him. Rock needs to do his own thing. What that could be at this point, I’ve got no idea. But still, Rock in a non-wrestling role is better than no Rock at all.

Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar announced as the main event for Fastlane. Winner will face Triple H for the title at WrestlemaniaWait…doesn’t Roman have a rematch clause? Wouldn’t that grant him a rematch automatically? Yeah I know, wanting this to make sense is sometimes too much to ask.

They really dangled that Dean Ambrose carrot in the Rumble match, didn’t they? You talk about building new stars, that could have been such a great moment for Dean Ambrose, and for the fans. No one would have seen that coming, and it could have changed the complexion of Wrestlemania completely. But alas, Triple H won. It’s encouraging that he’s still in the title picture, though.

This match is obviously just a formality. Reigns is main eventing Wrestlemania again. They practically spelled it out in the opening segment. The Wyatts will come in and cost Brock the match, and perhaps let Reigns beat Ambrose to earn the spot. Bing bang boom, Wrestlemania main event. Not a great one, mind you. But that’s what they’re going with.

Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, WWE Raw, January 25, 2016AJ Styles def. Chris Jericho. For a lot of fans, AJ Styles’ debut was the highlight of the Royal Rumble, and for good reason. To say the very least, AJ is special, and seeing him lock up with Chris Jericho tonight was special. For a lot of WWE fans, this was their first chance to see AJ wrestle a traditional match. And he couldn’t have had a better opponent than Jericho. Hopefully a win this big means they’re actually going to put some time and effort into him. But then again, Jericho has been generous with a lot of guys in his career, so perhaps hope is the best we can give right now.

I hope we see this match again soon. It seemed like Styles and Jericho were still feeling each other out a little bit, which is to be expected. But for the most part, they were still very smooth. I do wish Styles had sold the effects of the Walls of Jericho, though. A little wince or something is all I’m asking. Also, we haven’t seen the Styles Clash yet, which seems odd. Are the higher-ups afraid it’s going to injure people? I’d have to assume not, or they wouldn’t have let the announcers mention it.

So here’s an idea. They need a Wrestlemania opponent for The Undertaker in his home state. Why not AJ Styles? The Phenom vs. The Phenomenal One. Chances are they’d have a match on par with ‘Taker’s battles with HBK, Triple H, and CM Punk.

The Wyatt Family, Kane, WWE Raw, January 25, 2016Bray Wyatt def. Kane. It’s encouraging to see the Wyatts being rehabbed a bit. As I’ve said before, they spent too much time jobbing to Roman Reigns and The Undertaker last year. These guys can, and should, be the dominant faction in the company right now. But they’re not. I expect that will change as WWE preps Bray Wyatt for a match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, where I expect he will lose. But a win over Brock, by hook or by crook, would go a long way in establishing Bray as one of those marquee stars WWE needs right now…

Also, Braun Strohmann is obviously being built up for something. Please don’t let it be a Wrestlemania match with The Undertaker. Another day? Maybe. But not Wrestlemania.

Sasha Banks def. Becky Lynch via disqualification when Charlotte interfered. See what a difference it makes to have a match with a story behind it, rather than just throwing them out there cold? The momentum from the Rumble definitely carried into this match. I’m pleased to see they aren’t casting Becky aside in favor of Sasha. I’m also happy we didn’t see much of Ric Flair when Charlotte came out. You could see him as she was walking back up the ramp, but that was it. They need to be careful about picking their spots with him, so he doesn’t overshadow his daughter. They did that well this week.

Sasha Banks, WWE Raw, January 25, 2016It’s interesting to see Sasha Banks positioned how she is right now. She seems to be cast as an anti-hero. But the “Boss” character is clearly a heel. Sasha hasn’t changed her demeanor at all. I’m curious to see how her character evolves (if at all) heading into Wrestlemania. The fans have been chanting “We want Sasha!” for months now, and thankfully now we have her.

Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler. Really solid match between these two, as always. It’s been a big week for Owens. He and Dean Ambrose had a hell of a fight to start the Royal Rumble, and seeing Owens eliminated by Sami Zayn was one of the highlights of the Rumble Match. They didn’t follow that up on Raw, which was a disappointment. But I do hope we see them get a match at Wrestlemania. They both deserve it.

Also…what exactly did WWE offer Dolph Ziggler when he re-signed last year? It couldn’t have been a singles push. They must be paying him really well.

Kalisto def. The Miz. They corrected a major error at the Rumble, letting Kalisto take the title back. And while a win over The Miz might not mean as much as it used to, it helps solidify Kalisto as a credible United States Champion. Kudos to WWE for righting a wrong.

Bo Dallas, Flo Rida, WWE Raw, January 25, 2016Bo Dallas has a rap battle with Flo Rida…and does pretty well. Did Flo forget his lines or something? Because Bo came off better in that rap battle than the actual rapper. Considering what a big deal WWE makes out of this guy, that’s pretty sad.

Goldust tries to recruit R-Truth as his new tag team partner. In contrast to a lot of WWE’s attempts at comedy, both these guys actually have the potential to be entertaining. They’ve got a great track record in that respect, and I’d love to see what they can bring to the table. I say go for it!

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Preview – Roman Reigns vs. The World

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I have one simple request heading into this show: That the booking doesn’t prompt the fans to hijack the Royal Rumble Match again. Seriously, after two straight years, a third would just be piling on…

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Kickoff MatchFATAL FOUR-WAY TAG TEAM STIPULATION MATCH:
The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger vs. Darren Young & Damien Sandow
Winners earn a guaranteed spot in the Royal Rumble Match. 

Damien Sandow! Damien Sandow! Good God, almighty! It’s Damien Sandow! Yeesh, if you ever needed an indicator that a match has been thrown together to take up space, that’s it. They put Damien Sandow in it. WWE’s most criminally underutilized wrestler not named Cesaro.

I don’t see any reason why the Dudleys shouldn’t win this one. Bubba obviously had a great showing in the Rumble Match last year. And if the rumors are true, and they are looking to give Bubba a singles run, seeing one of the Dudleys eliminate the other would be a great starting point. Either way, the Dudleys have the star power, and they belong in the Rumble.

PREDICTION: The Dudley Boyz

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, The New Day, The UsosWWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

I like the Usos. They’re a fantastic team, they’re believable, they’re a great asset to the roster… But I’m sick of seeing them in the title picture. If The New Day were babyfaces and Jimmy and Jey were heels, it might be a different story. But as far as I’m concerned, The Usos have no business beating The New Day right now.

But my question is, who challenges The New Day once they beat the Usos? The Prime Time Players have apparently broken up. Sin Cara is injured, so it won’t be The Lucha Dragons. It’s too soon for the Dudleys to challenge again. I say it’s time to go to NXT. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassaday seem ready for prime time. And their personalities would clash well with The New Day. Let’s make it happen!

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Alberto Del Rio, KalistoWWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto

This match sucks.

I mean, not really. These guys have plenty of experience working together, and have consistently given us really good matches. I’m sure we’ll get more of the same here. But the title is on the wrong person. After Kalisto won the belt from Del Rio, the was no need for them to switch the title back so quickly. As in, the very next night at the Smackdown tapings. If they wanted to switch the belt back to Del Rio, this would have been the time to do it. Instead, they made Kalisto’s win look like a fluke.

Mind you, they could surprise us and put the belt back on Kalisto. That would be the exciting, compelling thing to do. But as this is WWE booking, I don’t see it happening. Del Rio walks away with the title.

PREDICITON: Alberto Del Rio

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Charlotte, Becky LynchWWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch

This program has been a huge turning point for Becky Lynch. She’s been one of the highlights of Raw for the last two weeks, largely because of her mic work. She’s made herself stand out from the other ladies on the roster, which she desperately needed to do.

That being said, she’s not walking out of the Rumble with the title. Charlotte is walking into Wrestlemania as champion. Ric Flair will undoubtedly play a role in the finish. The only question is, is she wrestling Sasha Banks, or Sasha and Becky in a triple threat match? If I’m booking this? It’s Charlotte and Becky again at Fastlane, and then a triple threat at Wrestlemania. But the good thing about those three ladies is that no matter how you arrange them, chances are they’re going to give you quality wrestling.

PREDICTION: Charlotte

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Dean Ambrose, Kevin OwensLAST MAN STANDING MATCH FOR INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE:
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens

I’m really hoping Kevin Owens gets the IC Title back at some point. But the balance of babyface wins vs. heel wins is pretty lopsided at this point. So I’m guessing Ambrose wins this one. Oddly enough, this is exactly what happened at TLC. That’s certainly not to say he isn’t deserving. But he almost won by attrition.

I’m holding out hope that Sami Zayn somehow ends up in the mix with Owens before Wrestlemania. Even if it’s not for the Intercontinental Title, those two had an amazing rivalry going on NXT, and it would be a great story to continue at Wrestlemania.

PREDICTION: Dean Ambrose

WWE Royal Rumble Match, 2016, Roman ReignsROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FOR WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:

It’s no accident Roman Reigns is the only one in that graphic. Reigns is the centerpiece of WWE right now, and he’s the centerpiece of this match. The big story revolves around him holding on, outlasting all the other wrestlers, and looking strong. And the more star power they can jam into this match, the better he looks if he wins. Especially starting from number 1. That’s why I was hoping The Undertaker would pop up here. Aside from the obvious epic feel he would add to the match, we’ve never seen Reigns toe-to-toe with the Dead Man. There’s potential for a great moment there.

On the subject of greatness, Brock Lesnar is in the Rumble for the first time in over a decade. I don’t see him winning. But I do see him mixing it up with The Wyatt Family, in a fight that culminates in all parties being eliminated. But Brock will go on a violent suplex-spree, make no mistake about it.

AJ StylesAnd then there’s AJ Styles. WWE has gone out of its way to tell us that Styles is on his way. At this point, it’d be a big let-down if he wasn’t in the Rumble Match. Will he win? Probably not. But if he walks out there, it’ll be a magic moment for sure.

I’m of the opinion that one person from NXT should always be in the Rumble Match. Rusev showed up a few years ago and had a decent outing. I’m hoping they do something similar this year. I’m not sure I’d put Finn Balor in the Rumble, because I think he needs a nice build-up before he debuts. But how about Samoa Joe? How about Sami Zayn? Hell, even Apollo Crews. Let’s up the epic!

In the end, I’d be surprised if Roman didn’t win. But the key is how they have him win. Roman Reigns is not Brock Lesnar. They can’t have him destroy everybody. At the end of this match, he needs to be completely spent, having just barely gotten by on the skin of his teeth. Jim Ross actually pitched an interesting scenario on his website in which Reigns gets through the Rumble, only to be presented with a 31st entry…Triple H. Hunter and Roman have to face off eventually. I just hope it’s not in the main event of Wrestlemania. Do it at Fastlane, and let Roman face Brock at ‘Mania.

Either way, Roman becomes a two-time Rumble Match winner here.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

Final image from fansided.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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John Cena’s Injury, Sting in the Hall of Fame, Plus Ponderings From WWE Raw

John Cena, shoulder surgery, January 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So yeah…John Cena went down with a turn rotator cuff last week, and underwent surgery to repair it. He’ll definitely be missing Wrestlemania.

So let’s tally this up. These are the stars who WON’T be competing at Wrestlemania XXXII in Dallas: John Cena, Randy Orton, Sting, Seth Rollins, Cesaro. There’s also been some buzz about Paige and Sasha Banks being hurt. But to my knowledge nothing is confirmed.

The biggest WWE superstar of the last decade being out of what they were hoping to be the most attended Wrestlemania of the last decade is undoubtedly a big deal. But it’s not the end of the world.

Obviously, Wrestlemania isn’t going to be as stacked as anybody hoped it would be. But as was the case when Seth Rollins went down with his injury, WWE simply has to play the best hand they can with the cards they’ve got. And thankfully, they’ve got better cards now than they did at Survivor Series. Thankfully, Roman Reigns seems to have turned the corner as their new top guy. That’s not to say he’s completely out of the woods, but he’s in better shape now than he was in the fall. If they keep his storyline strong, Wrestlemania should at least have a good backbone. A Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar rematch seems to be the likely main event at this point, especially considering how Raw ended. That works for me. They had a really good match last year, and hopefully they can top it this year.

My question is, who do they put with The Undertaker now? Cena seemed like the man for the job…

Sting, Raw, September 14 ,2015Pondering From WWE Raw:

Sting announced as the first entrant for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Not really a surprise, and he’s definitely deserving. It’s probably been in the works since Sting signed in 2014. But for me, this is a disappointment. Sting never even got to win a one-on-one match in WWE. You’ll notice they didn’t mention THAT in his video package. Ending THAT run with a Hall of Fame induction is about as anticlimactic as it gets. Sting deserved better. The best we can hope for at this point is one more match.

Roman Reigns competes in “One vs. All” Gauntlet Match. Brock Lesnar cleans house, then attacks Reigns. Having Reigns spend most of the ring time with Kevin Owens was a nice spotlight for KO, and hopefully a sign of the faith they have in him.

Obviously this match was done to make Roman look strong. It’s an eye-roller on paper. But at least they didn’t have him lay out all 10 guys before Brock came out.

Paul Heyman’s involvement in this week’s show was sadly limited to backstage segments. That’s disappointing, but fine at this point. We are going to need another classic Heyman promo before the Rumble gets here, however.

The Undertaker, Wrestlemania XXXIAll 30 Royal Rumble Match participants appear at the top of the Raw set to start the show. Conspicuous by their absence among the participants were The Undertaker and Kane. They didn’t have to physically be there, but Vince or Stephanie could have easily mentioned them. While things can certainly change, I can only assume this means they’re not in the match. That’s a downer. Their presence in the match would help make it as special as WWE seems to want it to be. In ‘Taker’s case, one can argue the pros and cons of bringing him in just to be eliminated. But eliminating The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble would be a big deal for somebody, and might even help kick off a program for Wrestlemania. They made sure all the members of The New Day, The Wyatt Family, and The Social Outcasts got in. But they can’t at least bring Kane in? What the hell?

It was interesting to see Vince highlight Dolph Ziggler the way he did, mentioning his 10 years of “reaching for the brass ring.” But one week after losing to Heath Slater, what did it really mean?

Kalisto, Alberto Del Rio, Raw, January 12, 2016Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio to win the United States Championship. I love this. This is something Raw desperately needed. A jumpstart for a new singles star. I’ve been saying for months that Kalisto has what it takes to be the Hispanic star WWE has been looking for. Now he has that opportunity. This is something to look forward to on Raw in the weeks to come.

Becky Lynch attacks Charlotte before her match, cuts an impassioned backstage promo. I’m sure that promo was scripted. But to her credit, Becky made it feel very real. Considering we know so little about her something with such a personal touch, performed that well, really goes a long way.

Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel returns to Raw. At the risk of sounding like every fickle wrestling fan out there, Jericho’s cool factor has, well, cooled. I’m not sure if that’s what he’s going for to lead to an eventual heel turn. But between the vest and the stomach, the stupid “rooty tooty booty” line, the scarf and the jacket this week….I just don’t get it.

Also, Star Wars was number one at the box office before you came back, Chris.

I’m actually really surprised this segment didn’t lead us into a six-man tag between The New Day, Jericho and The Usos. But saving Jericho’s in-ring return for the Rumble, or at the very least advertising it beforehand, is the smarter move.

The Social Outcasts, WWE Raw, January 12, 2016A match between The Wyatt Family vs. The Social Outcasts is interrupted by Ryback. So…are The Social Outcasts babyfaces? Everybody in this group was a heel before, weren’t they? But they acted like underdogs looking for a fight here. Then of course, you had Ryback coming out to attack the Wyatts, following up on an angle last week that no one remembered or cared about. So who benefitted from this segment? Nobody, that’s who.

Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose goes to a double count-out. Kevin Owens attacks Ambrose after the match. Nothing against either man, but this match didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t really do anything for Sheamus either. At least Ambrose and Owens got to further their program. Sheamus simply looks like even more of a lame duck after this one.

Titus O’Neil def. Stardust. I liked this. Pretty basic psychology. Titus wins, celebrates with the fans (including one kid who didn’t seem into it at all), and Stardust is a sore loser and attacks him. Simple, yet effective.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Roman Reigns to Rumble, Chris Jericho Returns (Again), and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Vince McMahon, Roman Reigns, WWE Raw, January 4, 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Roman Reigns def. Sheamus. Vince McMahon announces Reigns will defend WWE Championship in Royal Rumble Match. On paper, this Royal Rumble thing is awesome. It changes the chemistry of the Rumble Match completely. This is bound to draw comparisons to the 1992 Rumble Match, when Flair won the title. But now we actually have an active champion defending his title in the Rumble, which has never been done before. And if WWE does want to take the title off of Reigns, this allows them to do it without him losing much face.

They can also pack the Rumble with a lot of big names, and dangle the very real possibility of a title change. We know Big Show is in the match, though apparently not number one, as he seemed to indicate last week. I can only assume Brock Lesnar’s return next week will involve him announcing his entrance into the match. I can only assume John Cena will participate. They can even throw The Undertaker in there…

Roman Reigns,  January 4, 2016My question is, what if we get to the Rumble and the fans aren’t behind Reigns? If Brock is in there, they’re bound to side with him. God help them if fans hijack the Rumble for the third year in a row. And whatever they do, they’d better not mention Daniel Bryan’s name. At all. Like, for the entire month.

Also, it must be said that Jason Solomon over at The Solomonster Sounds Off pitched this weeks ago. One of my favorite podcasts, by far.

As far as the match went, it was classic Stone Cold/Attitude Era storytelling. The lead babyface against the ref who won’t count. But in the end, the babyface gets the win. Reigns doesn’t act like Stone Cold, but he’s benefitting from a lot of the same stories Austin did. And of course, the crowd wasn’t even half as hot as the crowds in those days.

Chris Jericho returns to Raw, interrupting The New Day. It’s always nice to see Chris Jericho. But my God, what was the deal with that vest? It made him look like he had a gut. And Chris Jericho does not have a gut. He does DDP Yoga!

Chris Jericho, Raw, January 4, 2016The point of this segment was to announce Jericho’s involvement in the Royal Rumble Match. Now that the title is on the line in the match, the more big name stars they can throw into that match, the more credence it has as perhaps the most must-see Rumble in years. It would be nice for Jericho to stick around until Wrestlemania. But even if he doesn’t, he serves a valuable purpose.

Becky Lynch grabs the tights to get a win over Charlotte. So wait…last week Sasha Banks, a heel, beats Becky with a handful of tights, but the announcers can’t be bothered to mention it. Now this week, Becky beats Charlotte with a handful of tights, and they do acknowledge it. I get what they were doing here with the whole “fighting fire with fire” thing. And if they’re trying to correct last week’s mistake, then good for them. I doubt that’s the case, though. Simply put, it’s backwards to point out when a babyface cheats, but totally ignore it when a heel cheats.

WWE Raw, January 4, 2016, Becky Lynch, CharlotteI’m on the fence about Ric Flair being at ringside with his daughter every week. He’s one of the biggest stars the industry has ever seen. He’s always going to overshadow her on some level. I get that they’re going for a “Daddy’s Girl” type character with Charlotte now. But we understand that Charlotte is Flair’s daughter without him having to physically be there with her every week. Wouldn’t it be more effective for Ric to be with her strictly on special occasions?

Kevin Owens def. Neville, gets elbow dropped through a table by Dean Ambrose. Ambrose came off surprisingly white meat on commentary for this one. It was nice that he put over Neville as well as he did, though.

Kevin Owens continues to be the best heel WWE has. I’ll give Michael Cole and the announcers some credit here, as they told the story about Owens being bitter about losing the title to Ambrose, and beating up Neville as a result. They also gave us a nice image with Ambrose next to Owens on the crushed table. This isn’t a hot feud, necessarily. But the talent of the players involved makes it very intriguing.

WWE Raw, January 4, 2016Titus O’Neil def. Stardust. Obviously, they’re aiming to push Titus as a single star again. But this time they seem to have the right idea, pushing him as a babyface, as opposed to a heel. Titus is extremely likable and charismatic. This feels much more organic.

Heath Slater def. Dolph Ziggler with help from Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, and Bo Dallas. I’m happy for Heath Slater, and for the contingent of fans that have wanted this for him for quite some time. But damn…Dolph Ziggler. This guy is still one of the most dynamic, charismatic performers they have. And he just lost to Heath Slater, and his newest group of jobbers. Terrible. Just terrible.

So we’ve got this new group, the Social Outcasts. We’ve also got the League of Nations and The New Day. That’s a lot of heel factions, and it seems like one of them’s got to go. My vote is for the League of Nations.

In Other News:

AJ StylesWWE reportedly signs AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson away from New Japan Pro Wrestling to compete on NXT. For hardcore fans, this is huge news. Especially in the case of AJ Styles, who is arguably the best wrestler in the world right now, and the biggest name in wrestling never to sign with WWE.  Long time WWE fans will also remember Doc Gallows from his previous run as Festus/Luke Gallows. I hate to admit that I’m pretty ignorant about Nakamura and Anderson, though I’ve heard wonderful things about the former.

This will undoubtedly be a huge shot in the arm for NXT, and hopefully allow names like Finn Balor and Samoa Joe to move up to the main roster in the near future.

Image 6 from pwpix.net. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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