In this edition of The Wrestling Estate roundtable, the gang gives their Royal Rumble picks.
Do you like the Seth Rollins-Jason Jordan team?
Calvin Gibbon: Not as much as Ambrose and Rollins, but I enjoyed the path they set up on the 25th anniversary for their eventual break up. Jason Jordan is over as a heel and will have a fine match or two against Seth. It’s all okay by me.
Anthony Mahalis: As a matter of fact, I hate it. Jason Jordan, while really talented in the ring, is relentlessly corny. I hate that Seth even has to be associated with this cheeseball.
David Gibb: I like the pairing in as much as ultimately feuding with Seth Rollins is probably the best way for WWE (and fans) to figure out if Jason Jordan is really someone they see in main events.
John Corrigan: Yes, because Jordan excels as the clueless, dorky friend that always tags along, yet nobody ever invites him. Rollins has nothing else going on, anyway.
Evan Cross: Not really. I can’t be too mad about it because Jordan was an emergency replacement for Dean Ambrose, but there’s not much to this duo that intrigues me.
Troy Taroff: It’s not that I don’t like the team – it just doesn’t really make any sense. It’s almost like WWE just put a bunch of names in a hat and picked out two random ones.
Jack Goodwillie: In the ring, I think Rollins and Jordan’s styles mesh well just because both guys are used to working next to partners who bring similar skills to the table (Ambrose’s brawling, Gable’s chain wrestling, etc.) Personality-wise, it’s a really odd fit. Rollins is as over as he’s been as a babyface, and they are by all accounts a babyface team, but when The Bar came out on Raw 25 it was almost as if the heels became the defacto faces and the faces became something else entirely. Of course, this may be all moot if the two dissolve this weekend and have a match at WrestleMania (gulp).
What shenanigans will happen in the WWE Championship Handicap Match?
Gibbon: All the shenanigans. I’m expecting appearances by Shane-O and D-Bry, false finishes, stipulation changes, and possible betrayals teased. This match will be the craziest thing on the card. I can’t wait.
Mahalis: I don’t think it will be anything crazy. We will get the inevitable Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan run-ins, but I think AJ ultimately retains.
Gibb: I would assume Zayn and Owens dominate until they get cut off by the righteous fury of AJ Styles and lose clean. I really don’t see any successful shenanigans, since it makes too much sense to keep the title on Styles and pivot toward his WrestleMania opponent afterward.
Corrigan: If this was 1998, I could see Owens and Zayn both pinning Styles at the same time, then Shane O’Mac stealing the title and driving away in a limo, flipping off both men while cackling. But that was 20 years ago and awesome, so no shenanigans and Styles retains.
Cross: Everyone would love for the Balor Club to play a part, but I don’t think it’s going to be any more complicated than a rift between Owens and Zayn widening.
Taroff: Oh, you know I love me some shenanigans. I expect Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan to get involved. That’s an automatic FACT. Don’t be surprised, though, if they plant the seeds for another Sami/KO feud in the future.
Goodwillie: If we are to believe Roman Reigns is winning the Rumble, then I could absolutely see a scenario where Owens or Zayn beat down A.J. and the other steals the cover, thus creating dissolution in the ranks that concludes in a triple-threat match at WrestleMania (or another scenario which I will reveal on the next The Wrestling Estate Podcast). At the same time, run-ins from both Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon could set up a different kind of match at Mania.
Who will last the longest in the men’s Rumble?
Gibbon: Roman Reigns will have a long night of action. He’ll be the villain the Philadelphia crowd loves to boo and they’ll get to boo him all night long. I’m expecting the Big Dog to last north of forty minutes.
Mahalis: I am going to go with Finn Balor. I think he will enter early and be one of the final four or five competitors.
Corrigan: Xavier Woods
Cross: Generally this goes to a younger competitor who the company is trying to establish with a good showing, but I’m going to guess The Miz has a fairly early entry and lasts until the last six competitors.
Taroff: Since all the participants haven’t been announced yet, it’s tough to say. But of the ones that have been announced, I would have to say Finn Balor. I expect him to be of the first ten into the Rumble and expect him to last until the final four.
Goodwillie: I’m actually going to go with Elias, who I think will have something of a starring role, which is astounding considering how terrible I thought he was back in NXT. He’s been sort of a dark horse going back to his Raw debut and I’m truly happy that he’s gotten over. Now I’m at the point where I think he can be a big star, and I think we’ll see the dog and pony show come the Rumble.
Name a surprise entrant in the men’s Rumble.
Gibbon: This one’s kind of a slam dunk given the recent news but I’m saying Ricochet. It’s a great night to make an impression. The master of the 630 senton will delight audiences and have a strong showing on the first stop on the road to WrestleMania.
Mahalis: Well, I was going to say Y2J, but as I was typing this he appeared on Raw 25, so I don’t think that would be much of a surprise anymore. Would Dolph Ziggler be a surprise? Not really. So I am going to go out on a limb and say Rey Mysterio, just for a legend pop.
Gibb: Undertaker. Based on the reaction he got from the hardcores in the Manhattan Center, it’s hard for me to believe that he and WWE don’t find a way for fans to see him in the ring one last time while it’s still possible (even if it means zero bumps and zero hands laid on him).
Corrigan: Tommy Dreamer. After all, House of Hardcore 37 takes place two nights prior.
Cross: Chavo Guerrero. He’s not doing much these days and he’ll get a big pop.
Taroff: Everyone wants to see Daniel Bryan come out at number 30.
Goodwillie: Going against the grain, if AJ Styles drops the title to Owens and Zayn as someone who people don’t expect to enter given his match status, I think he would make a great surprise entrant. Of course, Roman Reigns is a “surprise entrant” every year it seems and always finds a way to finagle his way into the match even when he doesn’t qualify, just as a heel would. Speaking of which, remember when superstars would have to “qualify” for the match and earn their spot? More on that later….
Who is your pick to win the men’s Rumble?
Gibbon: Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s the best pick to have the Philadelphia crowd go wild! It would be a star-making moment that would wipe off all the crummy booking that has plagued his first year thus far. This may be pie in the sky, but I am picking the King of Strong Style.
Mahalis: As much as it will disgust me, I think Cena or Reigns wins the Rumble. My guess is Roman Reigns. Cue the booing now.
Gibb: According to the interweb, we’re supposed to say Nakamura, right? I just don’t see it. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just strap the Rumble Rocket to someone and suddenly act like they’re a title threat after they haven’t been; they move up incrementally and break through at the Rumble (See: Austin, Steve). That said, I’m going to make a total wildcard pick based on my answers to two previous questions: Undertaker enters at 30, wins, and faces Styles at Mania
Corrigan: Even though he’s in the triple threat, Braun Strowman will enter the Rumble at No. 30 and toss carcass after carcass over the top rope.
Cross: I hope John is right and it’s Strowman, but my pick is John Cena. Since he’s a “free agent,” there can be some intrigue regarding which belt he goes after.
Taroff: I’ve been saying it for months now and I won’t back down from it. Ever since they teased AJ and Shinsuke at Money in the Bank, I knew Shinsuke was going to win the Rumble, and I’m sticking to that.
Goodwillie: I would give the build-up to this year’s Rumble match a big fat F, as all of the focus has gone on the women’s match and it seems the men’s match, you know, the one that has made superstar after superstar, has been cast to the side. Still, I’ve got high hopes because even with no build, proper booking within the confines of the match can still make a new star and give the rub to someone who needs it. Randy Orton won the Rumble last year. It didn’t really advance him. John Cena is a rumored name this year. He obviously doesn’t need it, as he can pretty much do whatever he wants these days. Triple H didn’t need to win it the year before that. Shinsuke Nakamura, however, is a guy who can be “made” with a stellar Rumble performance and he’s always been a guy who has the performance gene where he will always rise to the occasion. If WWE wanted to go the safe route, have AJ retain, have Nakamura win the Rumble, and voila! You have roughly two months to build to a WWE Championship match that could rival Steamboat-Savage in terms of match quality.