Posted January 29th, 2017 by 1Wrestling News Team

By Don Murphy

We’re hours away from my favorite event of the year, the WWE’s annual Royal Rumble event, coming from the Alamodome, in the San Antonio, Texas. Arguably, this is the show that drives the direction of the storylines for the entire year. It’s also the starting point for the build to WrestleMania, and this year’s Rumble event is particularly intriguing as we set things in motion for the big show in April. For one thing, the Rumble match is loaded with star power and we really don’t have a sense of who the winner might be. Second, this is the first Rumble since the brand split and it’s not clear which title the winner is going to challenge for at WrestleMania. Will it depend on which show the winner competes on? Will the winner get to choose the title he competes for? These questions will be answered at the end of the night. In addition, the show features five title matches, featuring two potential milestones. With a win tomorrow night, John Cena can tie Ric Flair’s historic sixteen world championships. In addition, with a win, Flair’s daughter Charlotte can continue her streak of being undefeated on pay-per-view events. This all adds up to what should be a great show. Let’s run down the card….

Main Event: The 30-Man Royal Rumble Match

Analysis: I spent a lot of time thinking about how this match might play out, given the main event-caliber talent appearing. Ultimately, I based my pick on what I am hearing will be the eventual card for WrestleMania. Before I get to the winner, however, let’s talk about some spots that we usually see. First, there’s the monster heel that eliminates a lot of entrants. I see that honor going to Braun Strowman. Then, there’s the competitor that enters the match early and lasts a really long time, rallying the crowd behind him. That role sounds perfect for Sami Zayn. There’s usually a very quick elimination, via a comedy spot. That distinction will go to James Ellsworth. There’s also always a surprise or two. I think one surprise we’ll likely see is a call-up from NXT. The odds-on-favorite to fill that role is Samoa Joe, as he’ll likely join the main roster shortly.. Then, there’s the intrigue of Goldberg and Brock Lesnar appearing. I see both of them having a short interaction and eliminating each other. I also see a development that spells the end for the Wyatt Family, as the group will go its separate ways. Ultimately, as I’ve heard Roman Reigns will be meeting the Undertaker at WrestleMania, I’m calling for the Undertaker to be the last man standing to start building this story. More insight on this in the next section…..

Murphy Predicts: The Undertaker wins the 30-man Royal Rumble

WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens defends the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a No-Disqualification Match (Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring in a shark cage)

Analysis: I feel that this program has run its course and wouldn’t have been my top choice. However, with a lack of credible contenders and the eventual Owens-Jericho match being saved for Mania, this makes sense. It’s a bit over-stipulated and I would have liked to have seen Jericho show a little more concern about being locked in the cage. And, the recently added “no-DQ” stipulation seemingly gives the advantage back to the heels, as historically, the person locked in the cage could easily throw something down to his partner. However, given what I said above about Roman Reigns going on to WrestleMania to meet the Undertaker, I see Reigns getting the win here, with some help from Seth Rollins. With Rollins losing his Rumble spot, thanks to Stephanie McMahon, they’ll have him play a role in the finish to prevent the Authority’s champion from walking away with the title.

Murphy Predicts: Roman Reigns wins the WWE Universal Championship

WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against John Cena

Analysis: Is it me or did John Cena’s promo on last Tuesday’s Smackdown Live sound slightly heelish? He passively knocked AJ’s time on the independent scene, while placing Styles below his level, despite being beaten by Styles every time they’ve met. Regardless, these two have had great matches and this one won’t disappoint. There’s the anticipation of Cena winning to tie Ric Flair’s record, but I see them holding on to that for a bit longer. I also don’t see them turning Cena into a full-fledged heel, but it certainly seems like his character is getting edgier as we head towards Mania.

Murphy Predicts: AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship

WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair defends the WWE Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley

Analysis: They’re finally telling the story right. When Bayley was first called up, that underdog “fangirl” quality that endeared her to the NXT audience was missing. After scaling back for a bit, they’re back on track. I’ve enjoyed the build to this match – the arrogant, world-class heel against the underdog, who’s waited her whole career for a shot at the title. If they tell the story right, Bayley doesn’t come away with the title, but leaves the fans anticipating her next shot. And, when the moment comes where she finally wins the title, it will be something to see.

Murphy Predicts: Charlotte Flair retains the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rich Swann defends the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Neville

Analysis: While the Cruiserweight division has fallen a bit flat since its debut, the Neville heel turn was the right move. He was being wasted on the main roster and he just “feels” like a big deal with the Cruiserweights. Swann’s character hasn’t been fully baked and I’m not really sure who he is. I do like the video montages they’ve showed, detailing the history between the two, and the in-ring product will be a nice payoff. I see Neville getting the title, as there are several good programs they could build with Neville at the helm.

Murphy Predicts: Neville wins the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

Pre-Show/Singles Match: Sasha Banks meets Nia Jax

Analysis: With the Charlotte/Banks program running its course, this was the logical storyline to pursue. Jax is still green but she plays the monster heel role well. Admittedly, Banks has been better as a heel, but she’s still over with the audience and her current role as a vulnerable, injured former champion has been well-received. I don’t think we’ll get a resolution here, as the two will likely meet again in the coming months to settle the feud.

Murphy Predicts: No Contest/Double Disqualification

Pre-Show/WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Sheamus and Cesaro defend the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship against Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Two Referees Have Been Assigned)

Analysis: After a successful run with New Japan Pro Wrestling, the first year of Gallows and Anderson’s WWE run has been underwhelming, largely due to how they’ve been booked. That’s recently changed and they’ve slowly become credible again. The Cesaro/Sheamus pairing has been a pleasant surprise. Luckily, they’ve evolved from the “bickering partners” act to become a formidable team. I don’t see the “two referee” stipulation playing a large role in the outcome. While Sheamus and Cesaro will likely go over, my hope is that they find a way to keep Gallows and Anderson strong.

Murphy Predicts: Sheamus and Cesaro retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

Pre-Show/Six Woman Tag Team Match: Naomi, Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch meet Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya

Analysis: I’m actually looking forward to this match and it’s refreshing that there are storylines, involving the women, beyond the title picture. Mickie James adds some needed star power to the division. Her promo last week around her motivation to attack Lynch was well done. Alexa Bliss continues to improve every week. Naomi isn’t the best choice to be a contender, but given the limited roster, it’s acceptable. The Nikki Bella-Natalya storyline is mainly there for the benefit of the “Total Divas” fans, but it’s had its moments. The heels go over in this one.

Murphy Predicts: Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya defeat Naomi, Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch
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Category: Wrestling.

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