January 21, 2016 by Joey Keogh
This is the first year in recent memory that the Royal Rumble isn’t one of the most exciting prospects on the calendar. As sad as it sounds, we all know who’s going to win this year (er, again) but even if he doesn’t he will eventually at Wrestlemania (which would sting more? You decide). The rumours circulating that current golden boy Roman Reigns is set to face Triple H at the biggest event of the year notwithstanding, this is the worst Rumble card in a while. It doesn’t help that most of the main roster is injured. Or that there are no decent story-line angles or feuds going on right now. Maybe it’ll somehow be genius, because expectations are so low? Sometimes the worst prospects work out the best. Just take, er, I dunno, Bo Dallas or someone. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s to come on Sunday:
Fatal Four-way Tag Team Match for two spots in the Royal Rumble Match: Darren Young & Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger
Is there any sadder stipulation than the chance to be involved in another match later that same night? This lot already had to go through hell to get here and now they’re relegated to warming up for the Main Event, of which they might be a part? This pre-show bout should be quick and painless, but given how many people are involved, they might stretch it out to give everyone their chance to…shine feels like the wrong word here…get a second of TV time? There’s a lot of talent involved in this match, but it’s doubtful anything noteworthy is going to come out of it. Fun fact: The Ascension were part of the first match on the main show last year. Keep reaching for that brass ring, boys.
Predicted winners: The Dudley Boyz (’cause why not?)
30-man Royal Rumble Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Everyone
Props to the still-relevant Mr. Mc Mahon for making the goddamn Rumble match itself the least enticing prospect of the entire PPV from which it takes its name. There’s room for some surprises here – even, dare we say it, some shocks – and deep down most us are probably still naive and hopeful enough to wish for Lesnar to storm the boards and steal Reigns’ (undeserved but guaranteed) win from him. But this is WWE, and the likelihood is Reigns emerging from the Royal Rumble in a blaze of triumphant glory. Hell, even if he does end up losing to Lesnar, it won’t be a clean loss, which means we’ll have to suffer through even more of his ill-advised underdog hero push before Wrestlemania inevitably crowns him champ yet again.
Predicted winner: Roman Reigns
Last Man Standing match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens
This feud (the only decent one going on right now) has endeared me to the IC title again, which is something I wouldn’t even have thought possible around this time last year (there was no match for this belt at last year’s Rumble, or at any other PPV I can remember off the top of my head). This has all the necessary ingredients to be the match of the night and, if it isn’t, we can all seriously start questioning where the fuck this is all going. These two are equally great, both in the ring and on the mic, so prepare for the spots of the night to take place during this match. Whether the title changes hands or not is inconsequential. Anything to keep this feud going; it’s arguably the best we’ve got right now.
Predicted winner: Dean Ambrose (retaining)
United States Championship: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto
The degree of legitimacy recently afforded the intercontinental championship has, sadly, not translated to that of the US title. Plainly speaking, this is a RAW calibre match added to the PPV to kill time because of that stupid Rumble stipulation. Now, these two kind of made headlines the other week when the title changed hands between them twice within the same seven days of TV, but any good work done on RAW was undone by the time Smackdown rolled around, so wash. I’m not saying ADR and Kalisto aren’t capable of putting on a good show, or even that they don’t have any in-ring chemistry, but since Del Rio’s return he’s been stuck on two modes; either completely disinterested or just a botchamaniac. At least we’ll get some decent, high-flying spots from Kalisto to tide us over until they meet again next week on RAW.
Predicted winner: Alberto Del Rio (retaining)
Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch
This is my second most anticipated match after the IC title bout. I can’t even explain how cool it is to see a chick from my hometown getting a massive PPV title match on one of the most-watched shows of the year, but it’s only part of what makes this so exciting. Hopefully, these two will get the required time to show off what they can do, but suffice to say, the very presence of this match on the card gives me hope for the future of the women’s division. Sure, the Total Divas had their little bullshit moment on the RAW go-home show, but Charlotte and Becky have been doing consistently great work for weeks on end and this match will, with any luck, be the culmination of all that. If Becky wins, even better. She’s more than earned it and the change will give some gas to this fledgling feud too, which can only be a good thing.
Predicted winner: Becky Lynch
Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Usos
The New Day have been the best, and most fun, element of the WWE for months now, and even though it’s a pain to see them stuck in a match against the meathead Usos, at least we get a chance to watch them in action at the Rumble. Considering this is set to be a bit of a disappointment, Pay-Per-View wise, we can be safe in the knowledge that The New Day will at least be livening our spirits for a little bit. They should retain here, mostly because The Usos are insufferable as champs. And they suck at life. But either way, prepare for some ringside hilarity and likely the most cutting, heat-garnering promos of the night.
Predicted winners: The New Day (retaining)
Catch the 2016 Royal Rumble LIVE om January 24th @ 8E / 5P. Stay tuned to Gorilla Press for our must-read report immediately after it airs.