Tag Archives: WWE Royal Rumble 2016

Undertaker vs. Braun Strowman? Five Alternatives For Taker’s Wrestlemania Rival

Braun Strowmann, WWE RawBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Braun Strowman. That‘s their plan for The Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXXII? It’s supposed to be the highest attended Wrestlemania of all time, in ‘Taker’s home state no less, and they’re putting him with Braun Strowman. He (allegedly) went from being pencilled in with Brock Lesnar, to John Cena…to Braun Strowman?

This is wrong for a variety of reasons. While he’s been put over as a monster since his debut, Braun Strowman is still relatively green, and not ready, or qualified to be in a match of this magnitude. Also, given time and experience, Strowman could indeed be a money opponent for ‘Taker. They’d be shooting their wad too soon by putting them together here. Hell, they need to build up not only Strowman, but The Wyatt Family in general.

Also, Brock Lesnar is apparently facing Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania. With Braun Strowman, they’d essentially be giving Undertaker one of Bray’s henchmen, while Brock takes on the big dog.

But mores than anything else, even with so many marquee stars on the injured list right now (Cena, Randy Orton, Sting, Seth Rollins), there are so many wrestlers better suited to face The Undertaker than Braun Strowman. Cast in point, the five names I’ve assembled.

Obviously, none of these men have the marquee value of a Brock Lesnar or a John Cena. But let’s go into this under the assumption that the allure of this match is seeing The Undertaker in action at Wrestlemania, and we’re simply trying to give the fans a match worth their money. I don’t think Braun Strowman can do that. But these five can.

Luke Harper, WWE1. Luke Harper

Assuming we must go to The Wyatt Family for an Undertaker opponent, we need to pick a different Wyatt. Luke Harper has over a decade of experience under his belt. Yes, we still have the issue of ‘Taker facing one of Bray Wyatt’s henchmen. But it was Harper who was pinned by Undertaker in the tag match at Survivor Series. Who’s to say Harper, looking to bring glory to The Wyatt Family, doesn’t strike out on his own in the hope of ending The Undertaker’s legacy once and or all. WWE has tried to break Harper out as a singles star before. As it turned out, they jumped the gun, and ultimately ended up putting The Wyatt Family back together. I’m certainly not advocating breaking the Wyatts up again, but a program like this could help Harper establish a persona of his own. Thus, if/when he does break out on his own again, it could mean more. Plus, he’d give ‘Taker a solid match.

Samoa Joe, NXT2. Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe is easily NXT’s best heel right now. And WWE desperately needs good heels. They had to play the Mr. McMahon card to get the fans to cheer Roman Reigns. But in 2016, Vince McMahon is hardly an ideal ongoing bad guy for television. Samoa Joe on the other hand…

Joe’s in-ring skills speak for themselves. This would simply be a matter of getting him on television and ready for The Undertaker. The Royal Rumble would have been a great opportunity, but that ship has sailed. If this is the direction they’re inclined to go in, I say bring up up at Fastlane, and simply say he’s come to take out the best WWE has to offer (or something like that). Bing bang boom, instant Undertaker match It’s not the most convenient option from a storytelling standpoint, but it would make for a hell of a Wrestlemania match, and add a strong heel to the main roster.

Chris Jericho, Raw, January 4, 20163. Chris Jericho

Jericho’s heel run in 2008 was the stuff of legends, and in a company currently devoid of hot heels, an evil Chris Jericho could reap more benefits than ever for WWE. And who better to put him with at Wrestlemania XXXII in Texas than The Undertaker?

For a heel Chris Jericho, a program with The Undertaker would be all about ego. Jericho has never had a Wrestlemania match with the Dead Man. Ergo, in his mind, The Undertaker has been disrespecting him for years by never standing across from him at Wrestlemania. A challenge is laid down, and ‘Taker accepts. From there, it’s all about the promos. And in terms of the match, Jericho could potentially help ‘Taker give a performance league with his bouts with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk.

WWE Raw, June 15, 2015, Sheamus4. Sheamus

Despite winning the Money in the Bank briefcase, and the WWE Championship, Sheamus didn’t have a great 2015. He was a lame duck heel, and as such a lame duck champion. Fans were desperate to see somebody take the belt off of him, which is one of the reasons Roman’s title win on Raw was so well received. People just don’t like Sheamus…

So what do they have to lose by having The Undertaker kick the crap out of him at Wrestlemania? He might even establish some credibility along the way. Sheamus was an annoying braggart during his brief run with the title last year. He’d be able to draw plenty of ire by challenging The Undertaker in an attempt to redeem himself after his failure as champion. And if we needed them, the League of Nations could be involved at ringside. Supposedly, Sheamus is currently sidelined with tendonitis in his arm. But I’d wager we’d be able to get him back for at least one big match. And it doesn’t get any bigger than The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.

AJ Styles, Royal Rumble 20165. AJ Styles

The Phenom vs. The Phenomenal One. AJ might not have been our first choice for The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania opponent. But he might be the one we need right now.

To their credit, WWE is making a big deal out of AJ Styles. They played him up on their website before he showed up at the Rumble, reacted appropriately when he made his debut, and then let him show off in a match with Chris Jericho the following night on Raw. WWE needs new stars, and they seem to recognize one in the making. And what better way to indicate that AJ Styles is a must-see superstar than putting him in the ring with another must-see superstar at the biggest event of the year?

The story more or less writes itself. AJ wants to take full advantage of signing with WWE by doing something he can only do in WWE: Facing The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. He’s certainly got momentum on his side, and he may only get hotter as we go through Fastlane. And Styles, like Jericho, is one of the few wrestlers in that company capable of giving ‘Taker one more Wrestlemania show-stealer.

The Undertaker, 2015So come on, WWE. We just celebrated The Undertaker’s 25th anniversary. So how about we give the guy somebody he doesn’t have to carry through a Wrestlemania match? In 2017, maybe Undertaker/Braun Strowman will be a viable Wrestlemania match (assuming ‘Taker can still go at that point). But this year? To paraphrase Bray Wyatt: “Anyone but you Strowman.”

Images courtesy of wwe.com.

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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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