Royal Rumble 2016 Preview


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For the first time since 1992, the WWE World Title is on the line in the Royal Rumble match. After trying and failing to prevent Roman Reigns from winning the Title, Vince McMahon decided to have Reigns defend the belt in a match currently hailed “One vs. All.” Besides that, all of the other titles are on the line. So, lets get into the matches and see what we have in store this Sunday:

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PRESHOW MATCH (THE WINNING TEAM GETS TO ENTER THE ROYAL RUMBLE): DARREN YOUNG & DAMIEN SANDOW VS. THE DUDLEY BOYZ VS. THE ASCENSION VS. JACK SWAGGER & MARK HENRY

Talk about a match slapped together without any rhyme or reason. This was is filled with wrestlers that the company does not seem to have any plans for at all. The Dudley Boyz are at least regularly featured, even if its mostly losing to the Wyatt Family. The Ascension might or might not still be affiliated with Stardust as part of the Cosmic Wasteland. They were featured together for a few weeks and were seen recently together as part of an eight-man tag on RAW. They are not with Stardust when he has been feuding with Titus O’Neill. Jack Swagger was briefly seen feuding with Alberto Del Rio as they had a match at the TLC PPV but since the failed MexAmerica stable ended, Zeb Colter has been off of TV and Swagger has not been featured. Mark Henry has been on TV occasionally but without any direction. Darren Young has not been doing anything since the Prime Time Players are no longer as Titus is now featured as a singles wrestler. And Damien Sandow, who hasnt been seen on TV since his team with Curtis Axel as the Meta Powers, is now just back to his Damien Sandow persona I assume. That is a heel gimmick and if he is keeping that, then maybe he turns on Young at some point and gets focused on TV again? I suspect that the team of Mark Henry & Jack Swagger win this match. Plus, it’s likely the last Rumble match for Henry, who stated in an interview two years ago that he is set to retire when his deal ends in mid-2016. They are both bigger guys and that fits in with the theme of the Royal Rumble match. I’m shocked they did not go with a women’s match in this spot but with some of them currently out with injury, there are not many left to choose from to have a match run several minutes long. Regardless, I would have gone that route. This might be the single least exciting Kickoff Show match of all-time. Neither of these guys have a prayer at winning the WWE World Title. BAYLESS’ PICK: MARK HENRY & JACK SWAGGER

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WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: THE NEW DAY (C) VS. THE USOS

These teams have faced off for what has seemed like a million times over the past few months. Then again, the tag team division is in poor shape and the Usos are really the only team to be in this spot. Ever since Jey Uso has returned from injury, the Usos as a whole have been getting less reaction than since their early run in the company. The act is starting to get stale and I cannot see any scenario in which the Usos win this match. The New Day are a much hotter act and I assume at some point the WWE finally brings up a team from NXT to push and eventually take the belts off of them. I also think the New Day continue their beef with the Lucha Dragons upon the return of Sin Cara. With that being said, these guys do work well together and I suspect the match to be solid. I BAYLESS’ PICK: THE NEW DAY

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WWE DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: CHARLOTTE (C) W/ RIC FLAIR VS. BECKY LYNCH

Since turning on Becky, Charlotte has embraced the heel role. The addition of her father as her manager helps and Charlotte seems more comfortable in the ring and on the microphone, even if it is still a work in progress. Her facial expressions have greatly improved as well. Becky, the least featured of the NXT callups during the “Divas Revolution” angle, has proven at this stage to be the most ready for the main roster. She has risen above the material given to her and has been delivering some great performances on the microphone, including this past RAW. She is by far and away the most likable character among the Divas. These two have had some solid bouts on TV leading up to this match and I suspect the same will occur here. I see Charlotte retaining (possibly until WrestleMania) through cheating/interference. I just have a feeling that the WWE wants Charlotte to be the focus of the division at the moment. But part of me also thinks that the WWE wants to give a feel-good moment here in case the crowd turns on the Royal Rumble match and has Becky win the title. You know what, I’ll go with the latter here and as a fan, I want Becky to win then Charlotte can argue with her dad for putting her into the match on TV the next night as they can play up their split. BAYLESS’ PICK: BECKY LYNCH

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WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: ALBERTO DEL RIO (C) VS. KALISTO

When Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio on RAW to become the United States just over one week ago, it was a feel-good moment. The next day at the Smackdown tapings, Alberto Del Rio won the belt back via submission when his fellow League of Nations member, Wade Barrett, provided a distraction. Kalisto’s win has been made to look like a fluke since his loss, something they even are using in storyline with Del Rio calling the win a “fluke” on this past edition of Smackdown. Changing the belt back again makes little sense (well, neither the three-day reign of Kalisto) here and I suspect that Del Rio retains here while Kalisto waits for Sin Cara to return from injury so they can continue teaming up and challenge the New Day for the tag team titles. BAYLESS’ PICK: ALBERTO DEL RIO

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LAST MAN STANDING MATCH FOR THE WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP:  DEAN AMBROSE (C) VS. KEVIN OWENS

For me, and others, this is currently the most exciting program on WWE TV. These two just hate each other, with Owens vowing to do whatever it takes in order to get back the Intercontinental Title (keeping his prizefighter gimmick) yet acting cowardly when push comes to shove. The Last Man Standing stipulation can sometimes put a damper on a match but these guys can brawl, a style that definitely suits Ambrose the best, but they have proven that they can wrestle good matches together. With the Royal Rumble field as shallow as it is, I still do not suspect that these two guys would enter after this type of match. It makes little sense. Even though the title fits in with Owens’ gimmick, he just lost the belt six weeks ago so I think Ambrose retains here as these two likely “blow-off” their feud and go on to battle¬†with others. BAYLESS’ PICK: DEAN AMBROSE

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30 MAN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH (CONFIRMED COMPETITORS AS OF 1/21: ROMAN REIGNS, BROCK LESNAR, SHEAMUS, CHRIS JERICHO, STARDUST, WYATT FAMILY, DOLPH ZIGGLER, RYBACK, BIG SHOW, CURTIS AXEL)

As I see it, there are three possible winners of this match. The first is Roman Reigns. After finally becoming the World Champion the RAW following the TLC PPV, Reigns has been starting to shred his label as someone who always falls short. However, having him lose the title here, screwjob or not, is something I think will cause a lot of damage to Reigns. His crowd reactions, while improving on TV and PPVs, are still not at the level you would expect for your Champion and future of the WWE. The second choice is Brock Lesnar. They can have him win and set up for a rematch against Reigns at WrestleMania. However, with the rumors of Lesnar possibly facing members of the Wyatt Family at WrestleMania, I cannot see Lesnar vs. Wyatt or anyone else in the group being the World Title match at WrestleMania. After what we saw on RAW this past week, I can see the Wyatts costing Lesnar this match. The third choice is Triple H. According to Dave Meltzer of the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter,” the plan as of one week ago was for a Triple H vs. Roman Reigns match at WrestleMania. Triple H can somehow screw over Reigns to become the Champion, possibly being the “31st entrant” or something like that. Other things to look out for in this match are the possibility of AJ Styles making his WWE debut, as there is a lot of speculation he will be at the show or someone from NXT being called up (maybe someone like Baron Corbin who can toss a few guys before elimination and go back down to NXT for several more months) and maybe another creative spot by Kofi Kingston in order to avoid elimination. I think Reigns wins here as you cannot let the fans perceive Reigns as a guy who always comes up short when his back is against the wall. Fans want to cheer guys who overcome that, not fail. And selling WrestleMania on the idea that you can see Reigns get the belt back from the Authority is probably not going to excite fans all that much. BAYLESS’ PICK: ROMAN REIGNS

Be sure to check out all of our other Royal Rumble week coverage, including our Main Event podcast preview as well as our Royal Rumble Rebook!