Please Mr. McMahon Don’t Make This Rumble Predictable – by Hank McAllen

Oh the Royal Rumble!! It used to be my favorite wrestling Pay Per View of the year, until it became maybe the most frustrating Pay Per View of the year. As we embark on this year’s edition, I am hoping that Mr. McMahon will not frustrate the fan base this year and kick off the official “Road to WrestleMania” with a show that will be one for the ages.

With all the rumors running rampant of who will be in the rumble, let alone who will win the event, it is becoming increasingly like old WWE booking practices could be used this Sunday. Please allow me to explain. First, we have the company push guys. In this case it’s Braun Strowman this year. You could see the company push coming a million miles away with this guy due to his size. Strowman has shown signs that he could be a star down the road, but let’s face it, is he really ready to become one of the top guys in the company?

Then we have the guys who won’t go away. Triple H in this case. I know we haven’t seen him officially announced for the Rumble, but if I were a betting man, I’d almost bet the house that he will be one of the contestants again. I mean why wouldn’t a guy, who hasn’t wrestled in almost a year, get a chance at challenging for a WWE Championship? Oh yeah that leads me to my next group, the retired guys coming back for “one more match”. Really? Do we really need these guys in the rumble? I loved Shawn Michaels. He’s in my top 5 of all-time favorite wrestlers. He was maybe the most complete package ever as a wrestler. Note the word “was” in that sentence. I don’t want HBK or Jake Roberts or Booker T in the Rumble because (a) it makes zero sense in what’s left of the kayfabe world that they would be in it, and (b) they are taking the spot of someone who busted their butt all year to be in the event.

Another group is the “old comfortable shoe” gang. This would be the Randy Orton’s of the world. We have been there and done that with this guy so many times. He doesn’t need the title to be important, and it is seeming more and more like he is slipping into the part time category going forward so the long term commitment to him as a winner would be moot. Having him in the match makes complete sense, having him win it, doesn’t.

My final group, and maybe the most controversial group, is the infamous “part-time” talent. We are talking Goldberg and Undertaker in this case. Both guys being in the match will make it extremely special. We are almost guaranteed that Goldberg won’t win the match, as he has a date with destiny and Brock Lesnar at ‘Mania. Undertaker however, is an interesting one. Again, a guy who maybe wrestles a couple of times a year. He’s a legend and it seems like he is becoming a hot pick for some to win it. But, does it make sense for him to do so?

‘Taker looked like he was going to finally meet Cena at WrestleMania, but current rumblings have that match as being squashed. Why it would be makes no sense to me, but that is what we are hearing. Look ‘Taker is a legend and I have nothing against him, but again, like Randy Orton, does it make sense to have him win? What so one or two PPV’s post ‘Mania will have increased viewership? I just don’t see the upside to it happening.

As far as surprises in the match, I’d love to see guys like Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura (especially if he loses to Bobby Roode the night before at Takeover), Finn Balor (if he’s healthy), and Kurt Angle be in the match. Now I realize that Kurt Angle could be considered by some of you as a part timer, but look at the guy’s work schedule this past year. He’s been hitting the ropes with some of the best in the world on the indy scene, so no ring rust there. I’d also like to see maybe Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne (the two finalists in the WWE U.K. Tournament) in the match. It would be a great platform to introduce them to the fans.

To me, and I’ve said this before, WrestleMania is the company’s Super Bowl, with the Royal Rumble being the equivalent to the Conference Championship Games. By this I mean, the best players play. You are rewarded for a season of hard work. Name alone, or ancient history or how you look should play no part in who is (a) in the match, but more importantly (b) who wins the match. Now I get the nostalgic angle, but let’s at least TRY to make the match have a realistic flavor to it. My take on the Rumble I know differs from most, but I’m just sick what’s becoming the usual frustration and blah lead in to WrestleMania based on who the Rumble winner is.

Now let’s look at the two main title matches of the night. Can someone please explain to me the upside to having Roman Reigns and John Cena as the champions heading into WrestleMania should they both win Sunday? Cena is getting a ton of high praise for this promo he cut on Styles this past Tuesday. No offense, but I don’t see what was so special. We got his usual “fake gangsta” shtick after he panders to the crowd with sarcastic facial expressions while AJ is speaking. Folks we see this all the time with this guy. Also, is it me or did anyone else catch his reference to letting Styles win? Really John? Really? You let Styles win every time he’s faced you? Boy that’s quite magnanimous of you. What a guy! Hey listen, I’ll give Cena credit, when credit is due. But, making this promo sound like one of his best ever, just doesn’t cut it for me. This one comes nowhere close to the promo work he did with The Rock.

I get that Cena and Styles was a dream match. It was a dream match that could’ve been booked beautifully heading into WrestleMania as a first time showdown. But, having it happen at Royal Rumble sounds like doom for AJ. Now granted, it could lead to an ultimate matchup at Mania between Undertaker (should he win) and Cena, but that match doesn’t need a title stipulation attached to it, to make it special in some fans eyes.  We’ve seen this match multiple times with AJ winning every match! What more does he need to prove and how does Cena vault over guys like The Miz, who’ve been there all year and has had amazing matches? It just makes no sense to me.

As far as Roman Reigns is concerned, I am a huge fan of the guy. I know I am in the minority here, but I think he is very good in the ring and is treated so unfairly by the fan base. But I get it. Booing him has become the trendy thing to do, so again I ask the question, if you know 80% of your fan base hates this guy, why have him beat one of your more popular wrestlers in Owens? If you keep K.O. as the champ and have Chris Jericho (my personal choice of who I’d like to see win the Rumble), can you imagine the promos and buildup you can have leading into WrestleMania? It would be great. If Reigns wins, who would the company team him up with at a Mania match? To me it’s a no win situation for the guy. He should’ve held on to the United States Championship, while being booked better with it, to give it some juice to where he could have a solid Mania matchup. Instead, most of the ‘WWE Universe” is dreading him winning Sunday night.

In closing, I am begging you Mr. McMahon, please do not let Cena or Reigns win the titles this Sunday night. Also, please give us a Royal Rumble winner that the fans can actually get behind for maybe the first time (Samoa Joe?). Giving the fans championship matches of say Jericho vs. Owens and Styles vs Samoa Joe (hello you’re in TNA’s backyard in Orlando, no better way to take a big swipe at them) could make this WrestleMania one of the best ever. I guarantee you will not be disappointed in the final result.