We’re a little over two months away from arguably WWE’s second biggest show of the year, the Royal Rumble, and there’s already a ton of speculation surrounding the event. Will Steve Austin show up? What about The Undertaker? Will Shawn Michaels return for one more match against AJ Styles? Those are just a few of the big questions that WWE fans have about the event.
One thing that’s a complete mystery is who will end up winning the Royal Rumble match. Usually, by this time of the year, we have a pretty good idea who will win the annual 30-man match and claim their spot in the main event of WWE’s biggest show of the year at WrestleMania.
After looking at both the Raw and SmackDown rosters, it’s hard to say who will end up challenging for the main title on their respective brand on WWE’s grandest stage. But, there are three names that stand out, two from Raw and one from SmackDown, as potential Royal Rumble winners.
- Roman Reigns
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE is planning on reinserting Roman Reigns into the Universal Championship picture at the beginning of next year. Does that mean he’ll win the Royal Rumble match for the second time in three years? Not necessarily. But he’ll definitely be one of the favorites.
WWE has kept Reigns out of the main event picture over the last couple of months, because, in their mind, keeping him in the mid card will get some of the heat off of him, so fans will finally accept him as the new face of the company once he reemerges as a title contender. Will it work? Probably not. But you can’t fault WWE for trying.
Reigns has been in the main event of the last two WrestleMania events, and he’s been booed out of the building in both of them. If he wins the Royal Rumble, and he main events WWE’s biggest show of the year for the third year in a row, expect more of the same. For whatever reason, WWE fans just don’t want to accept him as the new top guy.
- John Cena
John Cena’s quest for his sixteenth WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign has been a two-year storyline, and it could finally come to an end at WrestleMania 33. Of course, that would mean that he’d have to win the 2017 Royal Rumble match, and if he does, he’ll tie Steve Austin for the most Rumble wins in WWE history with three.
According to Cageside Seats, Cena isn’t expected to return to WWE until after the first of the year, as he’s off filming the second season of the Fox reality show American Grit. But, he won’t be a surprise in the Rumble match like he was in 2008 because he’s currently scheduled to appear on SmackDown leading up to the event.
If Cena wins the Rumble match, he could very well end up wrestling AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship next spring. Styles has been Cena’s biggest nemesis of 2016, so WWE booking their feud to end at their biggest show of the year would be fitting. It would also give Cena a chance to finally defeat “The Phenomenal One” in a singles match.
- Finn Balor
Finn Balor’s push to WWE’s main event scene ended almost as soon as it started, as he ended up suffering a significant shoulder injury during his Universal Championship match with Seth Rollins. But, according to Ringside News, Balor’s rehab is ahead of schedule, and he could return a lot sooner than expected.
The original prognosis for Balor’s recovery was five months, which means that, if he was on schedule, he’d return to the ring in February or March. But, now that he’s ahead of schedule, he could return as a surprise entrant in the 2017 Royal Rumble.
Before his injury, it was quite clear that WWE wanted to make Finn Balor the face of Monday Night Raw, and there’s no better way for them to do that than to have him return as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, have him win the Rumble, and then have him go on to win the Universal Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 33.
[Featured Image by WWE]