Who Will, Who Won’t, & Who Might Win The 2017 Royal Rumble

royal-rumbleFor years now, the Royal Rumble has been one of my favourite events of the wrestling calendar. There’s just something about the format that keeps me on the edge of my seat. Whether it’s the surprise debuts, the surprise returns, the great performances for either lasting the longest or eliminating the most, or simply the idea of not knowing who will be going to WrestleMania to “main event” a WWE championship match…it’s almost always exciting and unpredictable.

reigns-wins-rumbleOf course, it’s not ALWAYS unpredictable. When Roman Reigns won two years ago, it was absolutely predicted and people shit all over it. But for the most part, you never really know for sure what’s going to happen at the Rumble and/or who is going to win.

That has never been more apparent that the 2017 Royal Rumble.

While there are currently a couple of front-runners, there is a legitimate possibility that up to SIX different individuals could realistically win the Rumble this year. I think it’s only fair to review those options here (and, really, it’s the point of this whole post):

Braun Strowmanbraun-strowman

braun-strowman-3It pains me to say this, but Strowman is the odds-on favourite at this point to win it all. After initially coming to RAW, Vince’s new favourite performer was initially given a gimmick of “unstoppable monster defeating local jobbers” on a weekly basis (helping to give James Ellsworth a job on Smackdown Live, actually). But then, all of a sudden, he “graduated” to main event player in Survivor Series and has been dabbling with the likes of Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, & Roman Reigns on a weekly basis. They are obviously getting him ready for a main-event run, so having him win the Royal Rumble makes sense.

The (very tentative) plan would to have Strowman win the Rumble, Roman Reigns beat Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal championship at the Rumble, and then for the two of them to meet in a “main event championship match” at WrestleMania. But here’s the rub…

braun-strowman-2They would NEVER be allowed to go on last. In fact, with potential match-ups of Cena vs. Taker, Goldberg vs Lesnar, and Triple H vs Rollins…the “main event championship match” could be placed anywhere else on the card without any pressure. This is a PERFECT opportunity for Vince & Company to see what Strowman can do on the biggest show of the year against his “top guy”. If Strowman sucks ass, then khali-vs-undertakerhe’ll be relegated to Great Khali territory by the end of the year (remember Khali being World champion and even pinning Undertaker at one point??). If Strowman performs at or above expectations, then you can count on seeing a LOT more of the guy over the summer months. It’s really a win-win situation for WWE because even if the match sucks ass (which it will), nobody will remember it when Mania is over.

braun-strowman-4Of course, this all might be incredibly insane to believe if the next opponent lined-up for Strowman is Big Show, who made it a point to say he was gunning for Strowman at the Rumble on this week’s RAW. In fact, Strowman wasn’t even included in the main event portion of the show, as WWE insinuated that Undertaker, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar were the three biggest stars with potential to win it all.

The Undertakerundertaker-1

taker-vs-shane-mcmahonThe original plan (and has been for awhile now) was to have Undertaker face off against John Cena in a big-name, marquee match-up (assuming Cena wins the WWE World Heavyweight championship from AJ Styles). Last year’s injury to Cena meant that Taker had to face Shane McMahon in a major gimmick match in order to give him something to do. Having him wrestle his last WrestleMania match against “The Face That Runs The Place” would make sense, helping to set-up Cena as truly one of the best in WWE history.

taker-1Lately, though, the suggestion is that the Taker/Cena match is (again) off the table…perhaps saving it for when Taker really wants to retire. At this point, though, it looks like he’s prepared to do the part-time wrestling thing (similar to Brock Lesnar’s schedule, but a bit heavier) and after appearing on both Smackdown Live and RAW recently, the number of possible opponents for Taker to take on is quite large. He doesn’t need to win the Rumble to have a different, marquee match-up at Mania…but him winning a championship opportunity would certainly be an intriguing choice.

Chris Jerichochris-jericho-2

chris-jericho-1Let’s assume that Kevin Owens sneaks past Roman Reigns on Sunday. This means that Jericho would have a championship opportunity at WrestleMania against his “best friend”. And much to the chagrin of Owens, this is something Jericho has mentioned in promos lately as being a distinct possibility. The storyline of “Jeri-KO” has gone on a lot longer than most anticipated, which means that their WrestleMania match could mean that much more if Jericho were to go after Owens’ title.

jeri-ko-1On the other hand, Jericho just won the United States championship from Roman Reigns on RAW. This allows Reigns the “freedom” to win the WWE Universal championship from Kevin Owens at the Rumble and for Jericho to be the one defending his title against (former) BFF at Mania.

Jericho has won everything there is to win in WWE…except the Royal Rumble match itself. Will this be his year?

Bill Goldberggoldberg-2

goldberg-1I never thought I would have even suggested that Bill Goldberg had the potential to win the Royal Rumble until his post-Brock Lesnar-victory speech on RAW, where he suggested that Stephanie McMahon had asked him if he still had one more title run in him. And you can’t watch Goldberg on television and think the guy isn’t “over” anymore. The chants of “GOOOOLD-BERRRG!!” are loud and constant. Hell, even Paul Heyman is getting those chants goldberg-3without Lesnar by his side. This says that Goldberg is still uber-popular and with his quick victory over Lesnar, a win at the Rumble (which doesn’t take a ton of stamina to perform in as compared to a normal match) would cement him as a legitimate championship contender for the WWE Universal championship at WrestleMania.

And as much as it sounds crazy to write down, there is very much a possibility of Goldberg taking on either Roman Reigns or Kevin Owens for the title at Mania, as both possibilities have been teased on recent editions of RAW.

Samoa Joesamoa-joe-3

samoa-joe-1Honestly, I wouldn’t have even thought this was possible until realizing that the betting odds on the Rumble, as of this writing, have Samoa Joe listed at just 6-1 odds. Why in the world would they have him that high considering the fact that he hasn’t even debuted on the main roster yet??

joe-vs-stylesWWE reportedly has BIG plans for the Samoan Submission Machine, which includes a marquee matchup at WrestleMania. There are rumblings that the WWE wants to match Wrestle Kingdom 11’s stellar “six-star match” between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. One match that has the potential to reach the same type of rating is one that has been done before to five-star results: Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles.

samoa-joe-2So if WWE is as big on Joe as the rumours have it, then having him be a surprise debut at the Royal Rumble and then going on to win the whole thing would certainly be an incredible way to make a massively large statement. It sounds insane when you write it down, but when you think about it (and assuming the rumors on backstage thoughts on him are true), this is extremely feasible.

Finn BálorFinn Balor

No, Finn Bálor’s shoulder isn’t quite ready for a comeback yet. It’s better, for sure, but he’ll be defying the odds in a Cena-esque way by making it back to WrestleMania, much less the Royal Rumble. So realistically speaking, Balor probably won’t even show up in the Rumble match.

Finn Balor 3But here’s the thing: you don’t need to do much to participate in a battle royal. There’s not usually a ton of bumps or injuries that take place inside of the ring (the injuries happen once you’re thrown over the top rope). So I suppose if you put it into that type of perspective, it’s entirely possible that Bálor (currently sitting at 5-1 odds) could make his surprise return as a late-Rumble entrant.

If he does, the first-ever WWE Universal champion has as good a chance as anybody at winning the whole thing…especially if the “WWE machine” wants to get behind “The Demon” one more time and try to push him to the moon again.

There are a few dark-horses to win it all, too…

  • sami-zaynSami Zayn – Yes, there’s been talk of backstage heat and yes, he’s been getting his ass handed to him as of late, but Zayn is the perennial underdog favourite of the fans for a reason. I honestly don’t see this happening, but if he were to win then he’d probably lose his shot at Mania to Braun Strowman who would then face Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal championship. See? There are multiple ways to get to the finish line here…all while still putting over one of their most popular superstars in the process.
  • dolph-zigglerDolph Ziggler – After his recent heel turn, it’s still unlikely that Ziggler will be put into a position to actually win the Rumble, but if AJ Styles somehow gets past John Cena and retains the WWE World Heavyweight championship, then we could be in for a hella-great match between the two of them on the “Grandest Stage of Them All”. Of course, with Jerry Lawler doing commentary for the Rumble, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Lawler somehow costs Ziggler by eliminating him (or at the very least, causing a distraction that leads to his elimination). I’m hoping that’s not the case, but this is WWE we’re talking about here.
  • randy-ortonRandy Orton – I’m not exactly sure how “Orton in the main event title picture” goes with his current storyline as a member of the Wyatt Family, but his current odds are at 3-1 (just behind Goldberg!), so I suppose it’s a distinct possibility. Somebody may have to explain his odds to me, though…I just don’t understand the rationale of him winning given his past few months of storyline progression.
  • rusevRusev – I’m admittedly a huge mark for “The Bulgarian Brute” and, quite frankly, he’s not been pushed in the best spot since dropping the United States championship to Roman Reigns awhile back. But Rusev continues to turn chicken shit into chicken salad…even out-promo-ing Shawn Michaels on a recent RAW live in-ring segment. Vince & Company are still very high on Rusev’s future, as the package deal of he and Lana are great both in the ring and outside of the ring. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll win, but there’s still a chance given how Triple H says the winner will surprise most fans.

Finally, in terms of those who could still potentially win the Royal Rumble but probably WON’T…

  • NO.gifBrock Lesnar – I don’t see the benefit of Lesnar being in a championship match at Mania when there are other stars who can carry the show. What’s scary is that outside of Goldberg, there is actually serious talk of putting Lesnar in the ring with Braun Strowman as a way to really test him out.
  • no-4The Miz – No, Miz had his shot at being the face of the company and it worked for a bit before he was pushed back down the card. Now he’s seemingly poised to eventually beat Chris Jericho’s record of being a nine-time Intercontinental champion. It doesn’t make sense to suddenly thrust him into the main title picture, even if his gimmick with wife Maryse is making him a super-hot heel on Smackdown Live right now.
  • NO.gifBaron Corbin – I know the guy won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in his main roster debut at WrestleMania last year, but I just don’t see “the machine” getting behind Corbin on Smackdown Live. At least not yet, anyway. Corbin still has a ways to go before being considered a legitimate threat at any major title, so I can’t see him being put into that type of position with a Rumble victory at this point in his career.
  • Kenny Omega – It’s highly doubtful that Omega is even going to make a surprise debut at the Royal Rumble, much less win the damn thing.

no-2

All told, the 2017 Royal Rumble looks to be an incredibly entertaining event. There are so many surprises that could take place and, really, the end result is still completely up in the air. Because of that, I’m absolutely STOKED to watch it.

But what about you? What are your thoughts on this year’s Royal Rumble? Do you think there’s a heavy favourite to win?

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ZAH Predictions – Who Is Winning At The Royal Rumble?

ZAH Predictions - 2016 Royal RumbleFor over 20 years now, the Royal Rumble has been one of WWE’s “big four” live events and one of the most anticipated shows by fans. This is due to the event being the official “Road to WrestleMania” kickoff and also because of the entire unpredictable nature of the Rumble match itself. It’s definitely one of my favourite pay-per-views, for sure.

So to help you try to wade through the hundred other prediction columns out there, I figure I’d throw my two cents into the mix, too. Let’s go!!

Fatal four-way tag team match to qualify for the Royal Rumble matchRR Kickoff

Darren Young and Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger

First off…Darren Young & Damien Sandow?? What the hell? Whatevs…the fact of the matter is that nobody cares about anybody in this match as potential winners of the Royal Rumble. Where Bubba Ray made his Rumble “surprise appearance” last year in Philadelphia, it wouldn’t make sense for the Dudleyz to enter the Rumble individually. Young & Sandow seem to be a few months away from being released and nobody gives two shits about the Ascension in any way, shape, or form.

WINNERS: Where Mark Henry is probably (quietly) retiring this year and Jack Swagger is still a lower mid-card player with some name credibility (it’s miniscule, but it’s there), I see the make-shift team of Henry & Swagger getting the nod and entering the Rumble.

Last Man Standing match for the Intercontinental Championship

Last Man StandingDean Ambrose © vs Kevin Owens

This should be one hell of a fun hardcore battle. Both men are more than capable of putting on a hellacious fight that looks incredible, so I get the feeling that both men are going to be pulling out all the stops in order to steal the show. Next to the Rumble match itself, this is the one I’m looking forward to seeing the most.

WINNER: My thinking is that whoever loses is the one that WWE has bigger plans for at WrestleMania. So because of that, I’ll say Dean Ambrose takes it.

United States Championship

US titleAlberto Del Rio © vs Kalisto

In WWE’s mind, the fact that they had Kalisto win the U.S. title from Del Rio on RAW means that they’ve “made” Kalisto as the next big thing and the “new Rey Mysterio”. The reality of the situation is that Kalisto was completely dominated in both matches and won each on a roll-up fluke…and Del Rio won the title right back on Smackdown in a match that was barely mentioned the following week on RAW. No, this is NOT how you create new stars, WWE. And sorry, but the matches between these two men have been pretty good so far but not great. I don’t see that changing this time around, nor do I see another “surprise upset” taking place.

WINNER: Alberto Del Rio

WWE Divas Championship

Divas championshipCharlotte © w/ Ric Flair vs Becky Lynch

I’ve loved the matches between these two women so far. They’ve been great back-n-forth battles, but you could tell that they were holding back a little bit. My guess is that they’re both going to go all-out and give us the type of battle that they gave us down in NXT before they were called-up to the main roster. I think Flair will get involved somehow, but I also think Paige will show up and continue her storyline with her Team PCB brethren. I suppose Nikki Bella could get involved, as well…just so she can return before WrestleMania rolls around and get her spot, but I’m hoping that isn’t the case. This should continue the streak of excellent women’s wrestling matches on live WWE/NXT events that has been the case over the past few months. This match will not have a convincing finish, will continue through FastLane, and (hopefully) set-up a 3-way match between Team PCB at Mania.

WINNER: Charlotte

WWE Tag Team Championship

tag title matchNew Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E, & Xavier Woods) vs Jimmy & Jey Uso

I’m of the thought process that it’s still not the right time to take the titles off of New Day (that would be Mania). I’m also of the thought process that the Usos are not the team to take the titles off of them. Who does? I really don’t know. I was hoping it would be the Lucha Dragons but I don’t know if Sin Cara II will be back from injury by then. That doesn’t leave much in terms of established babyface teams for New Day to face at the next two PPV’s, but what’s the alternative if the Usos win? Yeah…exactly.

WINNERS: New Day

Royal Rumble Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Royal_Rumble.0.0Okay…this is the list of “officially announced” participants for the match:

  • WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns: No. 1 entrant
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Sheamus
  • Chris Jericho
  • Stardust
  • Bray Wyatt
  • Erick Rowan
  • Luke Harper
  • Braun Strowman
  • Dolph Ziggler
  • Ryback
  • Big Show
  • Curtis Axel
  • Tyler Breeze
  • Neville

So yeah…needless to say there are a LOT of questions going into this match. The biggest is…just who the hell else is going to enter? I think that’s part of the awesome fun of the match design, though. It’s so much damn fun to sit back and pop at the next surprise who comes through the curtain.

Having said that, who can we realistically expect to be a “surprise entrant” at this year’s Rumble?

  • AJ StylesAJ Styles – After a couple of weeks of “Styles will debut at the Rumble”, we’ve been bombarded with “Styles will NOT debut at the Rumble” over the past week. That tells me that it’s a distinct possibility, in spite of the bullshit TNA decided to pull this week by releasing their statement about the contract negotiations between them and the Bullet Club members (but that’s a whole other column for another day). The fact of the matter is that Styles is a realistic possibility.
  • The GodfatherCharles Wright – While he has already made a surprise entrance at the Rumble under his Godfather gimmick, the rumors of him being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year would make his appearance one that makes sense…just so people can be reminded of who the guy is. He could appear as Papa Shango, Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine, Kama Mustafa from the Nation of Domination, or everybody’s favourite…the Godfather (accompanied to the ring by a “ho train”, of course). He wouldn’t last long, but don’t be shocked if it happens.
  • Daniel BryanDaniel Bryan – While WWE has been steadfastly opposed to Bryan returning to in-ring competition due to their fears about his health (and rightfully so), having another doctor give his “seal of approval” this week could be the final catalyst that Bryan needs to convince WWE that he’s good to go. Listen…this isn’t Vince trying to hold Bryan back or hold him down. Daniel Bryan is a man who has had multiple concussions (at least seven that have been documented) and with concussions being front and center in today’s sporting world (similar to how steroids were front and center a few years ago), it’d be extremely risky for WWE to allow Bryan to compete only to have him suffer ANOTHER concussion. It’s not out of the question, though. Injuries have made McMahon desperate.
  • X-PacX-Pac – Sean Waltman isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame as of yet primarily because they didn’t want a Cliq member to be inducted every single year. But believe it…it’ll happen. And to the best of my knowledge, Waltman has never done a Rumble one-off yet. He still wrestles, is still in great shape, and has been working hard to be on the straight-and-narrow. I think it would be great to see Waltman make one more in-ring appearance for WWE before his eventual Hall of Fame induction.
  • Undertaker wins the battleThe Undertaker – I know that John Cena’s injuries have put their scheduled WrestleMania match on the shelf, but I still think that Taker would like to retire in Texas at the biggest Mania of all time. In order to kick off the “Undertaker Retirement Tour”, a surprise return to the Rumble would be the perfect way to re-introduce himself.
  • Kane – This shouldn’t really be a “surprise” entrant, but where he hasn’t officially been listed as a participant and hasn’t been on television lately, I guess it makes sense to throw him in there.
  • Randy Orton – Nobody is talking about Orton returning, and that tells me that he’s probably ready to come back. He’s a non-issue when it comes to winning it all, but it’d be a nice surprise to see him return.
  • Finn Balor 2Finn Bálor – There are a TON of NXT guys who are ready for the main roster, but I just don’t see any of them being called-up just two months before the biggest show of the year. That is, none of them except for the NXT champion. If anybody has earned a spot, it’s Bálor. It’s also the perfect way to introduce him to the WWE Universe and let those unfamiliar with him experience the massive roof-blowing pop that will happen once his music hits.
  • The RockThe Rock – It’s insane to think that a part-timer like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can walk off the street and think he can still hang with the WWE roster, but that’s the type of athlete that Johnson is. He has already confirmed his involvement with WrestleMania (though he hasn’t confirmed in what capacity). Where he isn’t currently shooting a movie (as of Friday morning, he was on the set of his HBO show Ballers) and there is precedent for a part-time WWE champion (with both him and Brock Lesnar doing it in previous years), it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that he could, at the very least, appear in the Rumble match itself.
  • triple HTriple H – This is probably the worst-kept WWE secret of the past few weeks. The odds-on favourite to win the whole thing isn’t an official entrant as of this morning. Having said that, Vince LOVES to screw with dirtsheets and fans who think they know what’s going on…so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him not participate in the Rumble itself, but still cost Reigns the title and set-up their feud for FastLane and the blow-off at WrestleMania.

So who the hell is going to win the whole thing?

I’ve got a few possibilities…

  • Bray Wyatt 5Bray Wyatt – Don’t think that his recent insertion into the main event is by chance. And yes, I fully understand that WWE has booked Wyatt to lose 99% of his feuds since coming to the main event roster, but I’m hoping against all hope that this latest push is legitimate. Wyatt deserves to be in the main event. The guy can totally run with the ball and be the sinister devil champion that the company hasn’t had in a VERY long time.
  • Roman Reigns 2Roman Reigns – Being the first overall pick doesn’t mean that he’s not going to win. There have been two other participants who have entered the Rumble at #1 and have gone on to win the whole damn thing (Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit both accomplished that feat), so don’t be shocked to see him “cement” his status as being “THE NEW MAN” in WWE so John Cena can fade away into the shadows of Hollywood.
  • Triple HTriple H – Ugh. Here’s the thing…I *LOVE* Triple H. I’ve been a fan of his since his debut in WWE and through all the years when he was on top and people shit all over him, I was his biggest defender. Even now, this is the guy who has lost almost every major match he’s had over the past decade to help put over other talent. He’s the guy who has put NXT on the map because he knows what wrestling fans SHOULD be watching. He’s not the guy who is putting himself in the main event storylines now…he’s the guy who will happily step back into the spotlight because he’s been asked. So while I don’t think it’s “best for business” to have him be the WWE champion heading into WrestleMania, I know that he’s the odds-on favourite right now to win it all.
  • Daniel BryanDaniel Bryan – If he did, in fact, pass another doctor’s examination and then, as a result, get the green light by WWE’s physician…then you have to believe that Vince realizes that box office potential of having Daniel Bryan live another WrestleMania dream by defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (the one he never lost, by the way) against an opponent like, say, Brock Lesnar. No…fans aren’t the only ones who are drooling at the potential of this match. You better believe that Vince, Stephanie, and the entire WWE staff (both inside and outside the ring) know that money that can be made by Bryan vs Lesnar.
  • Brock LesnarBrock Lesnar – This goes to add to the above possibility. Even if Bryan doesn’t return tonight, don’t be shocked to see Lesnar walk out of the Rumble as the new champion. He’s been a part-time champion previously (and a successful draw, at that) and could easily be inserted into the main event of WrestleMania without hesitation. Without question, Brock Lesnar is the biggest HEALTHY draw on the entire roster right now…so imagine the headlines if they set-up Lesnar as a defending champion against somebody like the Rock or Daniel Bryan or even Kevin Owens

But the eventual winner is going to be booed out of the building for winning. Not only that, but the fact that he’ll be defending the WWE title against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania will go to ensure he’s the most hated man in the entire stadium and Lesnar’s victory is the loudest cheer you’ve heard in a very long time.

Yes, I am predicting (wildly) that Sheamus is going to win the Rumble.

Sheamus 1People are ignoring the fact that he is still in a storyline with Reigns. The entire League of Nations were decimated on RAW last Monday night, and if we’ve learned anything by decades of WWE booking is that 99% of the time the person laid out on RAW is the person winning the following Sunday.

Sheamus is a capable transitional champion. He’s hated because he’s “boring”…something that Vince et all don’t really care about. They love his size, his look, his ability, and the fact that he can handle the promotion leading up to the big event. Having the League of Nations in Lesnar’s corner as he battles against the odds to win the championship in front of 100,000 fans is the only match that, to me, makes the most sense from a business point of view. Add to the fact that they’ve already had a one-match “try-out” at a recent house show, and I think I’ve got a better than 50/50 chance of being right.

Triple H vs Roman ReignsYes, I realize that I’m simply hoping against hope that Vince doesn’t think Triple H vs Roman Reigns is the only main event possible at WrestleMania at this point. I totally realize that Reigns winning the title against Trips is what Vince firmly believes the match that finally “makes” Reigns. I don’t think that will help Roman immediately, though. It’ll be great to look back on his career in 15 years’ time and use the moment in montages for his Hall of Fame induction, but he’s still going to be booed for the rest of his career until he turns heel again and THE FANS turn him babyface.

Sheamus 3So I’m hoping that WWE finally realizes that and goes with a swerve that fans will get behind (please…try convincing me that Sheamus and Lesnar beating the shit out of each other for 20 minutes wouldn’t be entertaining as hell). Hell…Triple H vs Roman Reigns could still be the primary selling point of the show without needing the title to make it interesting.

But these are just my thoughts. Who do YOU think will win the Royal Rumble?

The World According to ZAH

What a crazy week. Again. I can’t complain, though…that’s what keeps me writing. And for the thousands of you wondering (cause…y’know), I will be having my Royal Rumble predictions up on Sunday morning, but there are still some big-time rumors going into the big PPV show…

  • AJ StylesOn the heels of people hinting that AJ Styles would, in fact, debut at the Royal Rumble this Sunday (including his own hints at indie shows last weekend), it was reported that he WASN’T going to be in the Rumble and, instead, the creative team was coming up with something big for his debut on RAW the following night. At this point, if he debuts is anybody’s guess…which is pretty much what WWE wants right now. Stephanie McMahon hinted at “someone who had never competed in WWE before” possibly winning the Rumble, so it’s not like they’re shying away from the possibility of Styles debuting. But as I mentioned in Monday’s column, WWE likes to swerve the internet faithful…so if people believe he’ll show up, he won’t. If people believe he’ll debut on Monday, he’ll show up on Sunday. To me, it just makes for a more intriguing PPV.

Daniel BryanThe big rumor this week is that Daniel Bryan is scheduled to meet with the head of WWE’s Talent Wellness Program, Dr. Joseph Maroon, in Pittsburgh this week. From everything being suggested, this could bring the long-reported story to a head. Bryan, obviously, wants to participate in the Royal Rumble and come back full-time to the roster. The problem, however, is that Bryan has a long history of concussions (at least seven are known of) and is risking further injury to his well-being if he hurts himself in the ring yet again. From Bryan’s point of view, though, he’s missing out on the biggest opportunity of his entire life to make the most money of his career. If he doesn’t take advantage of Bryan WrestleManiathe situation, he feels that he’ll be out a LOT of money. Plus he absolutely loves to wrestle and doesn’t want to quit now or do something else full time (ex: train). Of course, there were follow-up reports stating that Bryan was NOT meeting with a WWE doctor and yet MORE reports stating that he was recently cleared by a UCLA doctor in preparation for another meeting with a WWE doctor.  Regardless of the actual situation, with lawsuits going on against WWE alleging that they hid the dangers of concussions and head trauma, this could absolutely be a political reason to keep Bryan grounded and out of the squared circle. Why should WWE risk his health and have fingers pointed at them saying, “SEE? This is what we were talking about!” My fear is that Bryan will disappear from WWE and hit the independent circuit again, further risking his health as indy matches (or even Japanese matches) are a LOT stiffer and dangerous than WWE matches. I guess we’ll all be finding out soon enough if he was cleared or not, but I really think Bryan needs to realize his career is done and find another avenue that can make him happy.

Just as an FYI…I’m now on Instagram in addition to Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be posting my favourite wrestling memes and hot chick pics, so why wouldn’t you want to follow?

ZAH Instagram

Suicide SquadDid you see the new Suicide Squad trailer??? It came out late Tuesday evening and sent shockwaves through the internet fans who were already excited based on the first leaked “unofficial” trailer. The use of Bohemian Rhapsody is absolutely brilliant here. I’m thinking this is going to be DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but a bit more on the darker side. I’m just hoping it’s as good as the trailer makes it look.

I’m not a TNA fan (they lost me after multiple “second chances” at winning me back), but there are two things of note that have caught my eye…

  • Hardy new TNA champMatt Hardy (along with his smokin’ hot wife, Reby Sky) joined forces with Tyrus to win the TNA heavyweight championship when Tyrus turned on Ethan Carter III. This makes for an interesting heel champion (Hardy was always best as a heel) and a very interesting challenge for EC3, as he’s now (presumably) a babyface. The problem is that just a week or two ago, EC3 was shooting his mouth off and being about as unlikeable as you can imagine. Simply turning on him won’t be enough to garner cheers. It will be interesting to see how much the EC3 character changes and evolves as his babyface run continues.

  • The Miracle“The Miracle” Mike Bennett debuted along with the First Lady of Professional Wrestling, Maria Kanellis (aka Mrs. Bennett). I was unsure about the move at first (he had one hell of a great year in ROH and New Japan), but once I watched his introductory promo I was sold on the whole “Miracle” gimmick. There is so much that they can do with this and with both of them being solid promos (seriously…Maria’s introduction was fantastic), I see a title run for Bennett before the end of 2016. I love that he’s breaking out like this as I’ve been a fan of his work for some time now. I only wish Maria went back to the outfits that she’s been wearing for the past couple of years. The glittery dresses are nice, but her other outfits were HOT. Either way, I’ll be keeping my eyes on Bennett & Kanellis this year.

  • It’s funny…I’ve been thinking about the Royal Rumble and how there are only a few select options for the eventual winner and new WWE champion, yet Bovada released betting odds and guess who is the favourite to win the whole thing?

TRIPLE H

Like…WTF?? I’ve been telling myself for WEEKS now that Triple H’s involvement with Roman Reigns would NOT include the WWE title. My prediction is that Triple H will COST Reigns the win at the Rumble, not actually win the Rumble itself. I’m actually shocked that the plan is for Triple H to not only enter the Rumble itself but WIN that damn thing and become WWE champion. I’ll talk more about it on Sunday but damn…this throws yet another wrench into the whole Rumble (which is a good thing, actually).

  • deadpool 2Ummm…did anybody see the new Deadpool trailer that was released at Christmas? NEW DEADPOOL TRAILER!!! Listen…if you thought the Suicide Squad trailer was good, you should get a goddamn Viagra boner that doesn’t go away for four hours after watching this one!! Not only that, but movie producers screened the entire film for two events in California recently and the reviews were outstanding. Will this thing make Star Wars money? No, but it should probably end up with near $200 million in domestic gross when all is said and done. Maybe I’m just a fanboy and it’ll barely scratch $100 million…who knows? What I do know is that this movie looks infuckingcredible!!

Mauro RanalloWith the move of Mauro Ranallo to WWE Smackdown, I was concerned about the future of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. As much as I enjoy listening to Josh Barnett give his insights about his time wrestling in Japan, he needed someone to carry the load when it came to calling the action. News came out this week that none other than Jim Ross himself has agreed to be the new voice of the action. I’m absolutely STOKED for this announcement. For those who haven’t had the chance to watch, New Jim Ross on AXSJapan matches from their biggest events over the past year are shown on AXS TV on a weekly basis. They’re normally edited down, but if you want the entire match you can simply go to New Japan World and sign up for about 999 yen (approximately $9 US) to watch a massive collection of puroresu wrestling that will entertain you for a LONG time (not to mention all current New Japan broadcasted events). Anyway, the matches are normally phenomenal and the English commentary really helps you get into the promotion. I’ve been enjoying Ranallo’s commentary so far, but I’ll be SUPER excited for Good Ol’ JR to be back on my television.

In “I can’t believe that woman was so stupid” news, Tamara “Sunny” Sytch was back in the news this week. In fact, she was in the news for THREE reasons…

  • Sytch was noted using the n-word when talking with a friend on Twitter. While the original tweet was deleted (it’s still noted below), her follow-up responses defending her use of the term are still up. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Sunny 1

  • Sunny Days for Vivid & Tammy SytchSytch is also in the news for trying to sell her WWE Hall of Fame ring because she wants to move on from her wrestling past and forge ahead with a new future (yeah…right). Vivid owner Steven Hirsch has offered her $100,000 for the ring and a 90-minute sex video with a partner of her own choosing. On TMZ Live, Sytch didn’t turn down the offer, but rather said she feels that she’s worth more than $100,000. There’s been no update on any negotiations since, but wow…it looks like there will be “Sunny days ahead” in the adult entertainment industry sooner rather than later. Wow.
  • Just when you thought it was impossible to get even more headlines, Sytch was the focal point of a YouPorn.com video starring their only YouPorn Sports signee: Joey Ryan. THIS is interesting…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAJZ85kpcP0Josh 1

In “I can’t believe that guy was so stupid” news, WWE Tough Enough winner and current Performance Center rookie Josh Bredl (now known as Bronson Mathews) tweeted out some live comments while watching RAW on Monday night. The problem was that Bredl thinks that he knows all about the business and that he’s “one of the boys”. The actuality of the situation is that he’s a moron who insulted both the performers he meant to praise and insulted the business with his ignorance.

Yeti is an idiot

So, obviously, the problem is that the boys don’t use that term anymore. The word “jobbers” is an insult to wrestlers and is seen as derogatory. The correct term is “enhancement talent”, and fans who think otherwise simply don’t ‘get it’. Once the boys in the back caught wind of this tweet, the shit hit the fan and the HEAT came down on “The Yeti”…

Yeti is a moron

Bull Dempsey

Adam Rose

Of course, Bredl didn’t help his cause any by continuing to be an arrogant douchebag about it all…

Even Taz and Sean Waltman were discussing the situation…

Taz

I’m telling you…it’s going to take a long-ass time for this fucktard to dig himself out of the hole that he’s now in. I mean…wow…talk about taking a massive step backwards in your career. This is going to haunt him for YEARS. Even if he eventually makes the main roster in five years, he’s going to be shit on by those who remember this type of disrespect. He can apologize all he wants, but his arrogance this past week and lack of giving two shits about what the veterans thought of his comments sums him up quite nicely. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him let go within the next year.

Live from Lexxi's Mom's GarageFinally, my Song of the Week is from one of my favourite bands in the world: Steel Panther. I was fortunate enough to see them live a couple of months ago and now they’re getting ready to release a live DVD…but this one will be slightly different from their The British Invasion DVD as it will be an all-acoustic set in front of a ladies-only audience in the bass player’s garage. Yeah…seriously. This is their new song from that DVD that was released this past week…

RAW Thoughts

We are watching the “go home” show for one of the big four PPV’s in WWE, the Royal Rumble. I’m looking forward to seeing how certain storylines are set-up, because right now the race for the belt is really down to two or three people. Let’s see how they play things out tonight…

Sin Cara said...Roman ReignsI fully realize that WWE is light on babyface stars right now with Randy Orton, John Cena, & Cesaro on the shelf with injuries. But Chris Jericho‘s “routine from the 90’s” is NOT the answer…and neither is his “sport coat with no shirt” look. And now he’s booking matches and making himself the referee?? I mean…what the hell is going on? Why are we just ignoring all common sense in order for this to take place? I’m sorry, but this is LAZY storytelling on behalf of the creative team. Having Rusev vs Roman Reigns with Jericho as the referee with the League of Nations on the outside of the ring is not lazy booking by any stretch, but how we got there was ridiculous. I hate that kind of shit.

"Hi. I'm Chris Jericho. I'm not wearing a shirt with my suit jacket in an attempt to look cool, cutting edge, and relevant. Instead, I look like a douchebag. An extremely out-of-touch mid-life-crisis type of douchebag. I've got my Ford Mustang sitting outside waiting for me to drive it around town with the windows down. Hey gurl...I'm in a band."

“Hi. I’m Chris Jericho. I’m not wearing a shirt with my suit jacket in an attempt to look cool, cutting edge, and relevant. Instead, I look like a douchebag. An extremely out-of-touch mid-life-crisis type of douchebag. I’ve got my Ford Mustang sitting outside waiting for me to drive it around town with the windows down. Oh hey gurl…did you know I’m in a band?”

Jericho as refI didn’t hate the match, but I hated the whole “Referee Jericho throws everybody out from the ringside area while acting like a fucktard” near the end. It took away from the match and it was completely unnecessary. I mean, why did we need to make this about Jericho? Why did we need comedy during this match? Who allowed Jericho to be a goddamn referee to begin with??? I mean, if Stephanie McMahon later confronted Jericho about hijacking the segment and doing things without The Authority‘s approval, then who the hell gave him a goddamn referee shirt?? Why didn’t they cut the segment if the match wasn’t official?? What the hell is going on here???

Frank Drebin 1

Paige & NatalyaThe divas match didn’t do much but re-introduce Natalya (who was made to look really strong by quickly submitting Brie Bella) and show the world just how incredibly hot Paige is. I’m not a big fan of re-hashing months-old storylines from Total Divas and introducing them to the WWE Universe as if it were something new just because it’s being broadcast on the show now. I just don’t like the tie-in…I don’t believe that the show helps the “Divas Revolution” in any way.

Dudleyz & RybackThe match between the Wyatt Family and the Dudley Boyz & Ryback was about as boring as you would expect it to be. I mean, on one hand I absolutely appreciate the fact that WWE is trying to push a feud for more than just one or two episodes. The problem, though, is that they go backwards instead of forwards when they have a normal 6-man tag match after already having no-DQ matches. The crowd was bored and it dragged the excitement down tremendously. Again…I don’t mind the feud itself, but if you reach a pinnacle then it makes no sense to go back to the well one more time, even if you do replace one person.

Social OutcastsI have NO idea why Big Show was a babyface this week or why they decided to feed the #SocialOutcasts to him. I mean, this crew seems to be getting over ON THEIR OWN by simply being themselves. I love their shtick and their gimmick of being four unique personalities who don’t get along (but kinda do). Their mic work is tremendously entertaining and that, above all else, should be enough to help get them over with the creative team. Unfortunately, they’re simply a new version of 3MB.

And then I pulled out a little bit of a prediction as the McMahons did a segment where they drew for the # 1 spot in the Royal Rumble

Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble…and sure enough, that’s exactly where the segment went. The segment was long and boring and full of mistakes as Vince couldn’t open up some of the balls that he took out. The whole thing was stupid. Just name Reigns the first participant for the Rumble (it’s not as if there isn’t any precedent for that) or pull out that first ball with Reigns’ name on it, then let the audience speculate on whether or not it was rigged. Did you really need to do the segment and “prove” that it was rigged? Who did it get over other? Does it show that Vince & Steph are screwing over Reigns? Sure…but so could simply making an announcement and it wouldn’t have been nearly as boring.

Becky LynchI don’t think I need to recap the Becky Lynch match against Tamina, but I will say that I’m constantly impressed by Becky’s promo ability. She’s got real charisma and personality and can relay that with her promos. That is going to take her a LONG way in the company because she’s also got in-ring skills and beauty on top of everything else. And to be fair, Charlotte is also pretty damn good on the mic. Her facial expression after her father accepted a title match on her behalf was perfect.

Kevin OwensI was a little baffled to see Kevin Owens sitting at ringside when Dean Ambrose was in a tag team match with Kalisto taking on Alberto Del Rio and…Sheamus. I mean, I get the whole “League of Nations” thing, but where Owens and Ambrose are battling on Sunday in a Last Man Standing match for the Intercontinental championship, I’m just a little surprised that they weren’t put in the ring together in a tag match for a “tease”. It’s classic PPV storyline building. I was hoping for a post-match beat-down of some kind, but it never materialized. I don’t think it really matters, though…Kevin Owens vs Dean Ambrose is probably THE match I want to see other than the Rumble match itself. They’re going to kick the living shit out of each other and I cannot wait.

UsosThe match between Jey Uso and Big E was about what you’d expect from them. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything spectacular, either. Thankfully, we had Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods on the outside keeping us all entertained. I appreciate the fact that the babyface team is going up against the heel trio, but I still don’t know if the Usos should be in the title picture prior to WrestleMania. I don’t know who else would challenge for the titles at Mania, but I just don’t think the Usos vs New Day is a WrestleMania match in 2016.

The 8-man “main event” was a joke. I only cared about Neville and Tyler Breeze…everybody else was just filler for me. I can’t believe that this is what they booked to keep viewers before the final segment.

Main event heelsSo the final segment of the night is one to highlight the “main players” that you can expect to win this Sunday’s Royal Rumble match.

Highlight ReelI used to be a huge Chris Jericho mark…I really was. But now, it’s just lame and old and tired and I wish they’d find a way to better utilize younger, newer talent instead of relying on a star of over a decade ago whose best years are far behind him.

Paul Heyman vs Chris JerichoIt was weird because Jericho was trying to be the “insult-throwing babyface” when Paul Heyman made his way to the ring. But the last time I checked, Brock Lesnar and Heyman were babyfaces (or at the very least “Austin-esque” without taking sides). And the longer the segment went, the more Heyman came off like a babyface and Jericho came off like an out-of-touch heel.

Reigns spears LesnarThe brawl at the end of the show was awesome, though. Reigns vs Lesnar. The League of Nations getting involved and getting destroyed because Lesnar was taking on everybody. Reigns ended up giving Lesnar TWO spears. The Wyatt Family got involved and Bray Wyatt hit Sister Abigail on Reigns. Then you had Lesnar get a beatdown from the Wyatts before HE received a Sister Abigail. So now you have Bray Wyatt becoming a last-minute legit contender to win the entire thing on Sunday. He defied the Authority and left ringside during last week’s beatdown of Roman Reigns and took out everybody tonight to end the night the last ones standing. Wyatt Family stands tall

It was a great ending to add speculation and interest to an already interesting PPV.

*****

But these are just my thoughts. What did YOU think of RAW this week? Sound off in the comments below or hit me up on social media…

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