For the first time since 1992, the WWE World Title will be up for grabs in the Royal Rumble match. I like the idea as it freshens things up and opens a few different doors. And it also gives us a year off from the usual story we have been reading for the last 23 years. Of course, the concept may have been more shrewd in a year where there was actual depth with star power and believable contenders as opposed to the paper thin superstar bucket we have to chose from now. It would be neat if we got an influx of past stars desperate for a shot at the Title and relevance (we already got Chris Jericho, let’s get a few more). Now, due to that lack of depth, we aren’t left with too many possibilities…leading me to thinking a probable path could be…
…the WrestleMania 30 redux we have been hearing about for weeks now. Triple H returns to TV by showing up and costing Roman Reigns the Rumble match and his title. Brock Lesnar goes on to win the bout and the strap because he is unstoppable. Reigns and Hunter then wrestle at WrestleMania with the winner earning a title bout with Brock Lesnar to close the show. If they are hellbent on making Reigns THE top guy, having him beat Hunter and Lesnar in one night to win the title is a pretty strong hack.
Another time they could have done this concept was 2006. Batista was reigning World Heavyweight Champion on Smackdown but had just gone down to injury and was forced to forfeit the strap weeks before the Rumble match. Many thought they should put the belt on the line there but they instead threw together a hasty battle royal the night Batista relinquished that Kurt Angle won. The Rumble show ended up being a dud and that stipulation could have made it more memorable.
Shortly before Raw on 1/4, major news broke that shook up the wrestling world when Dave Meltzer gave a major update (originally hinted at by Court Bauer) that AJ Styles, Nakamura, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows had all given their notice to New Japan Pro Wrestling, just hours after Wrestle Kingdom 10. It was then revealed that they were all very likely headed to NXT. It also leaked out that Tama Tonga was also part of the exodus. It felt like 1984 all over again for some. With WWE Network launching in Japan around the same time, WWE certainly made big time waves in the Land of the Rising Sun. Styles is rumored to be done with all his commitments and many think he could show up at the Royal Rumble in Orlando, where he is bound to get a very warm reception. Word is Nakamura will remain with NJPW to fulfill dates into the early Spring. WWE is in desperate need of a talent refresh so it will be interesting how they take advantage of this coup.
And speaking of NXT… what will it be in 2016? If these talents are assigned there are we officially now calling it a brand instead of a developmental program? Will the lines continue to blur? Will they outdraw the main brand at some point when it comes to house shows? That may be one of the most interesting stories to follow in the new year.
Not sure what to think about the Social Outcasts. But I am all for giving these guys a shot to get something over and for everyone crapping on it out of the gate, we only need to look back twelve months to the debut of the New Day.They were dumped on hard for months until they found their groove and became the hottest act on Raw in the back end of the year.
Quick NFL Wild Card predictions: Steelers over Bengals, Chiefs over Texans, Redskins over Packers, Seahawks over Vikings
Be sure to check out last week’s Kevin Kelly Show for our full 2015 Year in Review and a bunch of predictions for 2016 and WrestleMania 32! Until next time…