In my previous column, I took a look at what I think could be 5 surprise entrants at the Royal Rumble. Today I'll try my hand at picking 5 realistic winners for the upcoming Royal Rumble match in San Antonio, Texas on January 29th, 2017. This will be a fun one to write because there is no clear-cut winner. Everyone on my list could potentially win the Rumble.
5) Samoa Joe - I had him in my surprise column, and not only do I think he'll debut in the match, I also think he's got a shot to win the whole thing. When Joe debuts on the Main Roster, they'll likely will "hot shot" him into the main event scene, whether it be on Raw or Smackdown. If he debuts at the Rumble and wins it, you can play the scenario of "which title is he going to compete for." They can drag it out for a week or two and have him appear on both shows. Plus, if Reigns does beat Owens at the Rumble you can have the Samoan vs Samoan tagline of a Reigns/Joe match.
4) Chris Jericho - In theory, you'd want the Rumble winner to be a younger talent, but I don’t have a problem with an older veteran coming out on top if the story-line is right. It’s very right, right now. I say this because his "best friend" Kevin Owens is the WWE Universal Champion and good things don't last in the WWE. The WWE has been teasing a breakup with him and Owens, including a hilarious "Highlight Reel" segment, with them blaming Roman Reigns for everything. However, I’m only okay with this if they turn Kevin Owens babyface, which he hasn't been since he debuted in the company. I'm much more intrigued by an Owens face run than babyface 46-year-old Chris Jericho and his corny dad-jokes.
3) Bray Wyatt - Bray Wyatt is an interesting pick because he's such a unique character that if they wanted to make an out of the blue choice, he would totally be believable. Bray said recently in interviews that he likes the taste of gold, and he wants more of it. The crowd went insane on Raw last year when he and Triple H had a brief stare down and he eyed the WWE Title. I've been dying for a Wyatt title run ever since that moment. If Cena wins the title at the Rumble, you have a story there with Bray and him. They can go with a story of Bray not being ready for him at Wrestlemania 30 in New Orleans, but now he is more mature and more focused on avenging his loss to Cena. Also, if AJ retains, they can get away with a heel vs heel match at the Rumble, since the crowd will be mostly a "hardcore crowd" and they will likely cheer both. Plus, AJ has a history of making his opponent look great, like he did with Roman Reigns and more recently, Baron Corbin. This could be a show-stealing match if they go this route.
2) Braun Strowman - Ever since the Brand Split back in July, Braun has been one of the few bright spots on Monday Night Raw. They have booked him so perfectly, feeding him jobbers left and right. He has exceeded my expectations of him, both in the ring and on the mic. Vince loves the big boys and I think he found a diamond in the rough with Strowman. By winning the Rumble it could set up the match between him and Reigns, IF Reigns wins the title (sigh) against Kevin Owens at the Rumble in their Shark Cage match.
1) The Undertaker – Personally, I have The Phenom as my number 1 pick to win the 2017 Royal Rumble. We got our first most recent glimpse of Taker on the 900th edition of Smackdown Live, where he made the claim that he was "diggin' holes and taking souls" and that "Wrestlemania will no longer define him." And he’s right. Because he showed up last week on Raw and declared that he’s entering the Rumble, along with giving a formal count of those holes he’s been diggin’. 29 of them to be exact. The last time Taker won a Rumble was ironically was in San Antonio in 2007. Since Undertaker had hip surgery recently, he can enter at #30 and work a very limited style in the match, only having to eliminate the last wrestler or two to win the Rumble. If Cena wins the title at the Rumble he and Taker can have the long awaited match at Wrestlemania 33.
Those are my general thoughts on the winners of the Royal Rumble. Let me read your thoughts down in the comments on your 5 potential winners for this big event. This will be my first Rumble that I am attending live and I'm looking forward to all of these possibilities.