The Royal Rumble is less than three weeks away and the WWE is running out of time to amend what was originally planned. Just by looking at their injury report, that will put their struggles into perspective. Within the last three months, the WWE lost Seth Rollins, John Cena and Cesaro to severe injury. Rollins was the first one to go down with a knee injury at a house show overseas. He is expected to miss four-to-five more months.
Then, Cesaro was forced to get surgery on his shoulder. There’s a small chance he can make it to WrestleMania 32, but that remains to be seen. As for Cena, his injury is fresh and won’t be fixed for at least three months. Three of the WWE’s top superstars will not participate at WrestleMania. In fact, every champion that walked out of WrestleMania 31 is on the shelf. This includes Tyson Kidd, Daniel Bryan and Nikki Bella.
Bullet Club’s rumored WWE arrival is all the Internet is talking about and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that one of them could appear in the Royal Rumble match. AJ Styles is already linked to being a surprise entrant. At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise, but rather a great appearance by a spectacular wrestler. Due to the stacked deck the WWE Creative team is set against, how should they book the Royal Rumble match?
The result of that bout will dictate how the rest of the Road to WrestleMania is written. Thinking realistically, there are 10 options to win the WWE World Heavyweight championship and win the Royal Rumble match.
10. Dolph Ziggler
To try and give a logistical reason for this to happen isn’t easy. However, crazier things have taken place at the Royal Rumble. Despite Ziggler’s bad loss to Heath Slater on WWE Raw last Monday, the former-Intercontinental champion is due to a big break before he leaves the company after this current contract expires.
Ziggler’s wrestling skills are far from comparable to anyone in the WWE. Not to mention his selling ability, which is also top notch. There’s just one thing he needs to reach that upper-echelon, and that’s a chance from WWE officials. With a huge win at the Royal Rumble match, Ziggler’s ceiling can break and they can finally realize his true potential.
9. Finn Balor
The Bullet Club arrives in the WWE. Finn Balor has a chance to show the entire WWE Universe who he is and why he’s the best in the world. The NXT champion appears at no. 28. Doc Gallows comes out as no. 29. Karl Anderson runs down that ramp as no. 30. The Bullet Club reunites as a new name and Balor is the new WWE World Heavyweight champion.
It sounds crazy and nonsensical, but with the WWE’s ratings remaining stagnant, something’s got to give. The WWE must make a big statement and take a chance. If they don’t aim big, then the ratings will reflect that. Balor is the man to take that chance with.
8. Shinsuke Nakamura
His adventure to the WWE is already confirmed by Tokyo Sports. Nakamura is leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling to try and get over on a bigger stage. He’s the second Japanese sensation to come to the company. Hideo Itami was obviously the first to come last year that made an immediate impact.
Like it was already mentioned in the post about Balor, the WWE should shock the world and pull off the biggest swerve in the company’s recent history. Nakamura is rumored to come after February. Why not have Nakamura come in and win the championship? It’s another long shot, but the likelihood of it happening is still there. Just like Ziggler and Balor, Nakamura is a top guy to many people. He was Japan’s version of John Cena. Perhaps he can be that big in the WWE. All he needs, like Ziggler and Balor, is a chance.
7. Kevin Owens
Not only is this man fantastic on Twitter, but he’s had one of the best years in 2015 out of the WWE. In his first match on the main roster, he defeated John Cena at the Elimination Chamber WWE Network special. Two months to the day after his NXT debut, he won the NXT Heavyweight championship. Several months into his WWE main roster debut, he won the Intercontinental title.
Even though he didn’t win the Slammy award for Breakout Star of the Year, the WWE Universe truly knows who had the better 2015 than all the rookies. Management may not like his physique, but having Owens win the Royal Rumble match would solidify his career in the WWE and prove that physique isn’t everything.
6. AJ Styles
Even though the proverbial cat may be out of the bag, AJ Styles is rumored to be involved in the Royal Rumble match in a few weeks. Ring of Honor cancelled their advertisement for Styles. His inclusion in the New Japan Pro Wrestling group-departure for the WWE initially sparked the conversation about him appearing at the Royal Rumble
Many examples thus far talk about the WWE taking a chance or making a big splash. Due to the stagnant ratings, WWE officials must consider taking big risks. Big risks reap big rewards, but not all the time. Styles could turn into the big risk that reaped a big reward.
5. Dean Ambrose
This will set the scene quite well. Roman Reigns comes out at no.1 in the Rumble match. Ambrose follows right behind him at no. 2. The best friends battle throughout the match. Both men set records for longest time in a Royal Rumble match. At the end, the two men shake hands and Ambrose turns on his best friend and throws him over the top rope. Ambrose is the new WWE World Heavyweight champion, while Reigns is an even bigger babyface.
WWE fans have called for a heel turn from Ambrose and now they have the perfect opportunity to do so.
4. The Undertaker
This idea was first expressed by a WWE fan, but it doesn’t sound negative. John Cena was rumored to take on The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32. Cena’s out with an injury for several months and will probably miss the gigantic show. If Taker wins the Rumble match, and by proxy the WWE championship, Reigns would want a rematch and having him beat Taker at WrestleMania 32, he would force the Phenom to retire.
A lot of WWE fans would share great disdain for Reigns. If the WWE’s plan for Reigns includes a heel turn, that idea would fit the bill. The only way it would work, is if Reigns does turn heel.
3. Brock Lesnar
These last three men are the most probable to win the Royal Rumble match. Beginning with Lesnar, his return to WWE television will come on Monday Night Raw tomorrow night. There’s no update as to what he’ll be doing on the program. The last time Lesnar was on WWE programming, he faced the Undertaker in their final match together. This will surely lead up to his involvement in the Royal Rumble. Having him capture the WWE championship makes sense, because Lesnar still gets a rematch for the title he lost at WrestleMania 31.
2. Triple H
Many were shocked that he didn’t show up on Monday Night Raw last week to confront Reigns at the end of the show. This is ultimately building up to their clash at the Royal Rumble match. Rumors are already swirling about Triple H winning the WWE championship in two weeks. If he does, then a “Reigns vs. HHH” main event at WrestleMania 32 is nearly guaranteed. If the WWE’s job of building Reigns as the next Stone Cold, then they’re on the right trail. It just may not succeed quite like Austin did.
1. Roman Reigns
The current WWE World Heavyweight champion is the favorite to retain his title and win the Royal Rumble match for the second year in a row. He’d also tie John Cena and Batista with two Rumble match victories. Stone Cold still holds the record with three Rumble victories. This may not be the favorite outcome, but it makes sense if the WWE wants to remain stagnant. That’s the safest route to take and HHH can feud with him post-Royal Rumble for the WWE title.
Will the WWE do anything to change the way things are currently headed?