The second year of the WWE Network era begins this Sunday with the Royal Rumble! I freaking LOVED the Royal Rumble as a kid and I’m very excited to see how this year’s event will play out. After the hot crowd derailed the event last year, will they be happier this year? Will the show live up to the nostalgia-fueled expectations that I have for the first Royal Rumble that I’ve watched live since the mid-1990s? Find out this Sunday and remember to follow me on Twitter for the live tweets, but in the meantime, check out my picks for the show!
THE NEW DAY vs CESARO, TYSON KIDD, and ADAM ROSE
I remain bummed that the crowd simply does not care about The New Day. Kofi, Big E, and Xavier are amongst my favorite wrestlers and I think this gimmick could be really cool, but only if the crowd gets behind it. Sadly, they have not. Likewise, I’m really bummed that Cesaro remains floundering in the lower midcard despite the fact that he is crazy talented. The only good thing about his floundering is that he has pulled Tyson Kidd up from the void. The two of them are an AMAZING team, though. Adam Rose is…well, he is Adam Rose and he has lost all of the momentum that he had going when he made his debut on NXT earlier this year. I feel that Cesaro and Kidd will wow the crowd with their wrestling prowess even if they lose here, but the New Day really, really, really need something to get over with the crowd and so they have to win here. I’m usually busy during the pre-show, but given that five of the six dudes in this match are amongst my favorites, I will try my best not to miss this one.
Prediction: THE NEW DAY
THE BELLA TWINS vs PAIGE and NATALYA
I have absolutely no idea why this match is on the card. The team of Paige and Nattie is awesome, but were really thrown together without explanation, then forced into this mini-feud that doesn’t appear to have an endgame in mind. Similarly, I have no idea what is going on with the Bellas. They hated each other right up until Nikki won the title and no explanation was ever given for their reconciliation. Given that there are so many tag team matches at the Royal Rumble this year, it would make much more sense to have Nikki defend her title but there is very little about the Divas division that makes sense to me. I would really like to see Paige and Nattie win here, but the Bellas really need some credibility and a win against this ridiculously talented team would be a step in the right direction on that point anyway. Paige and Nattie should bring out the best in the Bellas here, so I’m hoping that this will be a solid match, with the twins picking up the win. Maybe this match makes more sense if you watch Total Divas, but I do not and so it does not.
Prediction: THE BELLA TWINS
THE ASCENSION vs THE NEW AGE OUTLAWS
A lot of fans have complained about the disconnect in product between NXT and the main roster, which has derailed a number of wrestlers that made the jump to Raw and Smackdown. This has forced Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, and Xavier Woods to flounder, but it has completely killed the debut of the Ascension. They were silent badasses in NXT, steamrolling over the competition and getting really over as a monstrous force. When they were brought up to the main roster, they were tweaked and forced onto the mic, which certainly isn’t their strongpoint. After weeks of weak squash matches and poor promos, we are now getting a Hail Mary to get them over—pitting them against one of the most popular tag teams in WWE history. After being beat down by the NWO, the APA, and the New Age Outlaws on Raw this week, the Ascension really needs a big win here, otherwise they have no chance of ever getting over with the crowd. What they really need is a win against the legends and a manager that can handle the promos for them. The less Konnor and Viktor talk, the better off they will be. The only problem is that the WWE would need to hire someone from outside the company, as they have no managers in their system. I wonder what the Sinister Minister James Mitchell is up to these days? How cool would that be?
Prediction: THE ASCENSION
MIZ and MIZDOW vs THE USOS ©
WWE Tag Team Championship
Damien Mizdow was one of the highlights of WWE in 2014, but I believe that this is the beginning of the end for his team-up with the Miz. He has been an absolute riot and is super-hot with the crowd, so I think now is the perfect time for him to finally break away from the villainous Miz, as I see the payoff match between these two happening at Wrestlemania 31. These teams have great chemistry, so wrestling-wise this should be great to watch. I see miscommunication costing Miz and Mizdow the match, with Miz then turning on his stunt double and setting up their feud while the Usos move onto the next contender (probably Stardust and Goldust as the Ascension work their way up the ranks).
Prediction: THE USOS
SETH ROLLINS vs JOHN CENA vs BROCK LESNAR ©
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
I wasn’t terribly excited when this match was first announced as John Cena vs Brock Lesnar only, as they have already had two matches in the past year and I think it’s time for someone that isn’t Cena to be pushed into the title scene. Adding Seth Rollins to the mix was a cool move, though, and completely revitalized my interest in the match. Lesnar is always exciting to watch and though he tires out faster than he did in his first WWE run, he can still put on a great show. Cena works hard but is too formulaic. The combo can put on a decent match (though I will say that the Summer Slam massacre completely exceed my expectations), but having one of the best athletes in the company as a third member of the fight should make this one very entertaining to watch. Rollins has the speed and technical ability to make every single match a “must see,” so I’m really interested to see him work his magic in this match. There are two things in particular that I think we’ll see in this match. First, Lesnar will retain the title and carry it into WrestleMania where he’ll drop the belt to whomever wins the Royal Rumble. It’ll be a huge star-making moment if done correctly. Secondly, I think we’ll see the return of Randy Orton. When we last saw him (before he took off to film a movie), Rollins put him “out of commission” with a brutal curb stomp. I suspect that we’ll see him cost Rollins the chance to win the title, possibly even ruining Rollins’s attempt to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase, leading to their epic confrontation at WrestleMania 31.
Prediction: BROCK LESNAR
2015 ROYAL RUMBLE
#1 Contender for WrestleMania 31
The Royal Rumble has always been one of my favorite events in the WWE calendar because of the exciting namesake match. With 30 wrestlers battling for a chance to headline WrestleMania against the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, it is one night that can really make a superstar’s career. Often times it is pretty clear who is going to win (like last year with Batista) but many years, like this year, it isn’t clear who will win the match. For most of the fall, all signs were pointing towards Roman Reigns, but in the past few weeks it really seems that it could with any number of stars. Obviously guys like Los Matadores or Fandango have no chance of winning, but it wouldn’t be completely unexpected for someone like Dean Ambrose, Big Show, Ryback, or Dolph Ziggler picking up the win. My gut is saying that you shouldn’t count out the possibility of Reigns winning, but Daniel Bryan’s big return has me thinking (and hoping) that he’ll out last the 29 other superstars to take the top spot. Bryan vs Lesnar would undoubtedly be a classic for WrestleMania 31 and would be a great way to close out this “season” of WWE.
Prediction: DANIEL BRYAN
What are your thoughts? Share them here or tweet them to me at @RyanSchrodt!