Royal Rumble 2017 Preview and Predictions

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The Royal Rumble marks the start of the road to Wrestlemania and is, for many, their favourite event of the year. The 2017 Rumble match has a list of entrants packed with big names and seems to be one of the more unpredictable matches in recent memory. Add to that the usual potential mix of surprise entrants, be it debuting talent or those making nostalgia appearances, and our expectations for this one are pretty high. Kayfabe Today contributors Robbie Radford (@robbieradford) and Nick Dutton (@nickgrapples) are on hand for the preview and predictions this time around.

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: Cesaro & Sheamus (c) Vs Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

@robbieradford

Two good teams here. The Club have been in and around the tag title scene since their debut in April last year. Sheamus & Cesaro were the team that actually dethroned the new longest reigning tag team of all time, New Day. Despite their initial differences that couldn’t be settled in a Best-Of-7 series, Mick Foley paired the unlikely duo of Sheamus & Cesaro together and it paid off big time. Both Gallows & Anderson have defeated Sheamus & Cesaro in singles action, leading to this tag match. Prediction wise, I can see Sheamus & Cesaro retaining but I certainly wouldn’t say no to The Club winning this.
Winners: Sheamus & Cesaro

@nickgrapples

The champions, Cesaro and Sheamus are pulling double duty on Sunday, having declared for the Rumble match itself as well as defending their titles on the pre-show. The inescapable championship reign of the New Day was effective only at emasculating every other team that they came into contact with so efforts to rebuild and retool partnerships such as these four have fallen flat to date given their previous portrayals as perennial losers against the previous champions. In a gimmick that surely impresses no one, there will be two referees on hand to officiate the bout given the questionable finish to the last match between these duos on Raw. Having said all that, this should be a decent enough match to kick things off, I see no reason to switch the titles at this stage and Sheamus & Cesaro Vs Enzo & Cass seems like a fun match to put on the Wrestlemania card in a couple of months’ time.

Winners: Cesaro & Sheamus

 

Sasha Banks Vs Nia Jax

@robbieradford

Two stars that have rightfully earned their place on the preshow, engaging in a fairly lacklustre feud that came off the back of Sasha Banks losing to Charlotte in another RAW Women’s Championship match. When Sasha summoned Charlotte to the ring, Nia Jax emerged instead, laying the beatdown on Sasha Banks more than once in recent weeks. This lead to their differences hopefully being settled on the preshow. I don’t think a loss harms Sasha Banks here, considering she was in the title picture for well over a year. Nia Jax could really do with a big victory for her to stake any claim in the title scene.

Winner: Nia Jax

 

@nickgrapples

The other pre-show match of the night will not get much of a reaction live nor be one that lives long in the memory. The question is, do WWE see this as a rebuild for Sasha following her defeat in the long-term rivalry against Charlotte, or is it part of trying to push Nia Jax forward? Sasha hasn’t been booked strongly in her time on the main roster but her popularity doesn’t seem to have taken a hit despite that. Jax would benefit more from a strong win here.

Winner: Nia Jax

 

Becky Lynch; Nikki Bella & Naomi Vs Alexa Bliss; Mickie James & Natalya

@robbieradford

Rivalries and feuds aplenty in this tag match, this should be, based on the calibre of the stars featuring here, a pretty good tag match. I don’t want to grace over the past few weeks of each individual feud, although I’m well invested in this tag match. Prediction wise, I’d both like and hope that the heel team come away with this one. The tandem of Alexa Bliss and Mickie James have looked real strong in recent weeks and Smackdown have been good with their booking, so I bet the team continues its good work.
Winners: Alexa Bliss, Natalya & Mickie James

@nickgrapples

WWEs “women’s revolution” continues apace with 3 of the 8 announced Royal Rumble matches coming from those divisions and this 6-woman tag could be a lot of fun. Mickie James returns to the main roster and will be looking to leave a mark on her re-debut. Becky Lynch has been bested by Alexa Bliss so often over the past couple of months that I am leaning toward her team getting the win here as a modicum of revenge as long as James doesn’t take the pinfall.

Winners: Becky Lynch; Nikki Bella & Naomi

 

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann (c) Vs Neville

@robbieradford

The repackaged Neville has been one of the more enjoyable aspects of weekly WWE programming as of late. The gargantuan Geordie has bullied his way through a plethora of opponents in recent weeks, whether it’s Tommy End or Cedric Alexander. Rich Swann has had a fairly lacklustre run as champion and I think it’s time to strike whilst the iron is hot and give the title to Neville.
Winner: Neville

@nickgrapples

There is no doubt that the launch of the Cruiserweight Division has fallen flat, TJ Perkins; Brian Kendrick and now Rich Swann have all been set up to fail as Champions. Swann is a case in point, the sum total that we know of his character being that he likes to dance. WWE has barely touched on Swann’s real life struggles to make it to the top which would drive a much more compelling narrative for him. Given enough time Swann and Neville could put on a show stealer here. Neville has been revitalised in his heel incarnation and it feels like we could see a title change here as WWE takes a short cut to try and spark some life into the division.

Winner: Neville

 

WWE Raw Womens Championship: Charlotte (c) Vs Bayley

@robbieradford

This match has fallen victim to some detestable booking match wise and segment-wise in recent weeks. Charlotte has really carried this feud, as she has done most feuds in recent history. There’s nothing really to be interested in regarding this feud, the booking of Bayley has seemingly undone everything that made her likeable during her stint in NXT. Charlotte is arguably the only member of the four horsewomen that have progressed during their time on the main roster. Prediction wise, I suspect Charlotte Flair extends her impressive PPV victory streak. Bayley loses but remains in the chase, the payoff of her eventual title win will be big.
Winner: Charlotte Flair

@nickgrapples

The sit-down interview segments with both women on Raw this week were as good as the “poetry” promo segment the week before was bad. Charlotte and Bayley are capable of surpassing the quality of match that Charlotte and Sasha produced through 2016 but it feels like this is merely the opening salvo to a rivalry that will surely culminate at Wrestlemania. It would not behove Bayley’s character to hand Charlotte her first PPV loss at the first time of asking so it makes sense for Charlotte to extend her streak here with Bayley coming “this close” to victory.

Winner: Charlotte

 

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) Vs John Cena

@robbieradford

The complete antithesis of RAW’s top feud, John Cena vs AJ Styles has been widely acclaimed as one of the best WWE feuds in a very long time. Arguably the best Independent wrestler of all time squares off with a WWE Mt. Rushmore figure this Sunday. AJ Styles and John Cena have engaged in some incredible joint and individual promo’s surrounding their past matches and the upcoming title match on Sunday. John Cena brought his promo A-Game and his PWG wrestling style to AJ Styles and it has constantly paid off and I’d expect the same this Sunday. I think AJ Styles retains but this feud has been so good I’m not too bothered who comes away with the win here.
Winner: AJ Styles

@nickgrapples

A rematch some 5 months in the making, expectations are high for this one. Styles has had Cena’s number since arriving in the WWE and the pair had outstanding matches at Money in the Bank and Summerslam in 2016 and should have plenty of time allocated to try to top those bouts here. The narrative behind this clash is Cena’s quest to match Ric Flair’s record 16 World Title reigns and few would bet against that being the outcome here. If Cena does win here then what odds him having a short reign so that he is once again in the number one contender’s spot at  Wrestlemania where he could be in a position to beat Ric Flair’s record, at the same stadium where the Nature Boy was retired by Shawn Michaels…

Winner: John Cena

 

WWE Universal Championship (No Disqualifications): Kevin Owens (c) Vs Roman Reigns

@robbieradford

This is probably one of the most repetitive, tedious feuds in recent memory. Creative have pitted Roman Reigns/Chris Jericho/ Kevin Owens/ Seth Rollins against each other since at least October and it has produced nothing spectacular yet. I for one, like the millions (and millions) of wrestling fans, are more excited for this feud to end than anything. I do think Kevin Owens wins here, I don’t want to see Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens square off again for a long time after this.
Winner: Kevin Owens

@nickgrapples

Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring in a shark cage for this one and although the narrative being pushed is that Kevin Owens is at a disadvantage with the match being no DQ, the stipulation allows plenty of scope for Jericho to drop a foreign object or two into the ring in an attempt to assist his best friend. The Owens/Jericho friendship has been a highlight of Raw since Summerslam but if the plan is to have them face off at Wrestlemania then that friendship needs to come to an end here. The Owens/Jericho Wrestlemania clash doesn’t need to involve a title but if it does; I feel it’s more likely to be the US rather than the Universal. Let’s say that Jericho’s attempt to drop a foreign object into the ring backfires, causing Owens to take his eye off the ball enough for Roman Reigns to grab the win and the Universal Championship. Owens can then turn on Jericho, either in the post-match shenanigans here or as is more likely, during the Royal Rumble, running in to cause the elimination of his now former best friend. For Reigns, the winner of the Royal Rumble awaits.

Winner: Roman Reigns

 

2017 Royal Rumble Match:

@robbieradford

The 2017 Royal Rumble is possibly the most unpredictable rumble yet. With a lot of top guys out of the picture, there’s no definitive favourite. There’s big names in this years Rumble, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Goldberg and plenty more taking part, I believe that there’ll be a few surprises for everyone, some bigger than others. The Royal Rumble is always a great start for debutantes and returnees, so I think a debutant picks up the win this Sunday. I’m currently torn between two names.
Winner: Samoa Joe OR The Miz

@nickgrapples

This year’s Rumble match is wide open and you can make a genuine case for several guys to win it which is more than can be said for recent years. Lesnar; Goldberg; Strowman; Jericho; Undertaker; Wyatt and Orton are all strong candidates. Seth Rollins and/or Triple H may find their way into the match and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Finn Balor and Samoa Joe find a place amongst the entrants too. There are a lot of variables in play here with regards to possible Wrestlemania clashes. The WWE championship doesn’t yet have a challenger on the horizon beyond the Cena/Styles match but it doesn’t feel like Wyatt; Orton or The Miz would make compelling antagonists at this stage. Braun Strowman getting a mega push into the Universal title scene would be a surprise sure but the idea isn’t incomprehensible.  If the WWE is going all in on Goldberg Vs Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania then Goldberg could win the Rumble, take his title shot against the champion at Fastlane in March and head into Orlando as Universal Champion. My pick though, is Finn Balor; if there is a chance that he will be fully fit by Wrestlemania then he can be nursed through the Rumble match as a late entry, taking the win and moving toward a Universal Title match at Wrestlemania against a heel Roman Reigns.

Winner: Finn Balor

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