Levin: 5 Favorites to Win the Royal Rumble

David Levin discusses potential scenarios for the most star-studded and unpredictable Royal Rumble ever.

There has been talk about Kenny Omega making a move to WWE. There have been conversations about the return of Shelton Benjamin. There is anticipation over Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura joining the main roster.

Fans can’t wait to see a Royal Rumble match that features The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg and Braun Strowman. It’s safe to say the state of WWE is pretty solid right now heading into the first pay-per-view of the year.

I personally want to see more.

The McMahons made the right move last year by bringing AJ Styles to the main roster, bypassing NXT and taking over Tuesday nights like he owns the place. It was solid footing the business needed while wrestlers moved in and out of the lineup like hot potatoes because of injuries and fatigue. One year later, will there be another Styles-like entrance that shocks everyone and sets the tone for the next 11 months?

There is more star power in this event than WWE has pushed in some time. Now that there appears to be a true direction – with superstars trying to grab the brass ring – who is next on the totem pole?

Braun Strowman – The theory that makes the most sense is somehow Brock Lesnar and Goldberg eliminate each other, setting up the final chapter in their feud at WrestleMania 33. Meanwhile, Undertaker and Strowman face off in the Rumble match, where the neophyte eliminates the Dead Man, setting up a confrontation in Orlando.

Strowman’s size, like Lesnar’s, makes it difficult to book him against legitimate competition. There is a chance he could win the match and go on to WrestleMania 33 to face Roman Reigns. It is also possible he could go on a run much like Mark Henry’s “Hall of Pain” program that was very successful. For now, Strowman should be the odds on favorite to win in San Antonio.

Chris Jericho – Is there anyone out there who sees Kevin Owens retaining his Universal Title and Jericho winning the Rumble match to set up the confrontation in Orlando? I have been playing this one over and over in my mind. It’s perfect and finally breaks up the bromance that is getting a bit stale. Everything Jericho does is solid gold, though. But Owens has become more of a cartoon character since “winning” the title. It’s time to move on from this angle, maybe a babyface turn could make Owens an even better performer. Jericho will be asked once again to put another star over. (Funny how he did this for AJ Styles last year.) It just shows the brilliance of putting the six-time world champion in any situation.

The Undertaker – I really do not want to see this happen. I also might be the only one who is dead set against it. While more Undertaker is a good thing for WWE, it is also an indictment on the company’s continual issue of using part-time veterans as company champions. The move to make Undertaker the main event star in Orlando is solid when you think it could be AJ Styles or John Cena on the other end of the ring. I suspect this happens if Cena beats Styles for the coveted No. 16.

But does Cena drop the belt to ‘Taker? Who beats ‘Taker for the title? How does someone like Strowman play into this equation? Would Samoa Joe then become a potential opponent for Undertaker?

There are way too many issues with this kind of scenario.

The Miz – I think a program with The Miz and Maryse facing John Cena has more value than people think. I also like a program with AJ Styles if the current WWE World Champion turns babyface. The run Mike Mizanin has been on – sans the Intercontinental Title – has been brilliantly written. He and Maryse are truly the modern day Tully Blanchard and Baby Doll combination. The Miz winning the WWE World Title is perfect because there is no one on the SmackDown Live roster who gets as much heat as he does.

WWE can develop many more creative programs with the happy couple on top of the mountain. Nakamura could move into the top contender’s role. So could Barron Corbin. Don’t count out some kind of swerve, where there is a trade from Raw as well.

I like this scenario as a close second to Jericho winning the right to go to WrestleMania.

The Rest of the Field – Sure this looks like the easy way out, but I am left with few other options. There will be 30 wrestlers competing in this event. How WWE plans to promote the main event at WrestleMania 33 is still up in the air. Because it would seem this year’s event is as unpredictable as any in recent memory, it might be better to pick the field and hope for something spectacular.

I know there is some traction for a surprise winner like Samoa Joe or the appearance of Kenny Omega. Let’s all slow that down a bit. While WWE is on the right track with its high-profile event to kick off 2017, there are only so many options that make sense. If you are the kind of fan that wants to see the unthinkable, go against the grain and expect the unexpected.

David Levin
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