Home ARTICLES Let’s Get Ready to (Royal) Rumble!

Let’s Get Ready to (Royal) Rumble!

by Spencer Love
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The Road to WrestleMania is upon us, friends, and neither Bruce Buffer nor David Arquette need ask this writer if he’s ready to Rumble. 364 days of the year – 365 in a leap year – are spent preparing myself for the Royal Rumble, the greatest stipulation match of the wrestling calendar. In an average year, 58 people will leave take a trip from inside the squared circle over the top rope as all attempt to solidify their spots in the main event of WrestleMania.

This year, perhaps more than ever, the field of potential winners to pull from is massive. Usually, each match will feature two or three plausible winners, with many of the matches participants amounting to, well, cannon fodder. However, the 2021 Rumble is poised to be the deepest yet, with both the Women’s and Men’s respective matches each featuring more than a handful of viable challengers to Sasha Banks, Asuka, Drew McIntyre or Roman Reigns, respectively.

Today, we’re utilizing our spider-senses to the best of our abilities to take a look at some of the individuals poised to make a giant first step on the Road to ‘Mania.

Men’s Rumble
Edge

How do you top Edge’s Royal Rumble moment from last year? Winning it, of course.

Last year’s Rumble saw the former WWE Champion return to the ring after nine years in a moment that totally didn’t make me cry in public, you guys. Since then, he’s gone on two have a pair of matches against former Rated RKO teammate Randy Orton before unfortunately sustaining the Greatest Triceps Injury Ever®. Prior to his injury, the former Brood star was rumoured to face off with Randall Keith at next year’s Show of Shows; could it be done with wrestling’s greatest prize on the line? WWE’s already teased us with an Orton title reign, and we all know the promotion has a habit of giving it’s legends a lil’ bit extra at WrestleMania. Could Orton win the title back yet again before the Rumble? If so, I don’t see any reason for Edge NOT to win next year’s battle royal and set up another encounter with the Viper at ‘Mania 37.

Feasibility Factor: 30%

Daniel Bryan

‘They deserve it’ isn’t always the best qualifier for winning one of the most prestigious matches on the wrestling calendar, but when you’re talking about Daniel Bryan, is there really another reason needed?

Despite being one of the most well-decorated and highly-respected wrestlers of the past two decades, Daniel Bryan’s frankly been done dirty when it comes to Royal Rumble season. Yes, he’s been part of some truly fantastic singles matches – last year’s Strap Match against The Fiend comes to mind – but when talking about the annual over-the-top battle royale, Bryan’s resume is remarkably average. Is there really any need to cover his disappointing stint in the 2014 match? His infamous non-inclusion in the 2015 tilt? Frankly, when it comes to the Rumble, Bryan simply deserves better, and this year provides the perfect chance to do it.

Of course, that’s all said without considering the potential matches that come with a Daniel Bryan Rumble win, which makes the prospect all the more salivating. The smart money is on Bryan challenging current Universal Champion Roman Reigns at the Show of Shows, and if that isn’t a marquee matchup, folks, I truly don’t know what is. The Tribal Chief versus the person who, ironically, amounts to the People’s Champion of this day and age is perhaps the biggest match any professional wrestling promotion could book right now. Simply put, there’s no reason to me for Bryan NOT to win the 2021 Royal Rumble.

With the leader of the YES! movement stating himself that his full-time wrestling career is nearing a close, it’s time for him to finally capture that elusive Rumble victory.

Feasibility Factor: 35%

The Fiend

Looking for unpredictability at this year’s Rumble? Insert the most unpredictable character in WWE.

Last year’s Rumble saw “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan square off in an aforementioned Strap Match for the Universal Championship. The match, of course, was an absolute slapper, but it did deprive the WWE Universe of the Fiend’s first opportunity in the Royal Rumble match. This year, however, there’s no Universal Championship nor impending match with Goldberg – sorry, Drew! – to impede the Fiend from wreaking havoc on one of the most chaotic matches in professional wrestling.

Admittedly, the Fiend winning the Rumble is a purely selfish endeavour. However, Rumble matches of years past have been fraught with predictability, and adding Wyatt to the mix could throw any proverbial armchair booker’s best-laid plans to waste. While his aura may have taken a hit due to some questionable booking decisions in years past, Wyatt still represents a truly unique entity within the WWE in combining supernatural elements with sheer in-ring dominance in a way not seen since the likes of The Undertaker or his brother, Kane. With no clear WrestleMania feud on the horizon for The Fiend and a marquee spot on the card for the taking, a Wyatt Rumble win could be exactly what he and the WWE Universe needs.

Feasibility Factor: 5%

Brock Lesnar

Everyone’s who’s read my writing or listened to a podcast of mine before is well aware of my boundless love for Brock Lesnar. So, why not take a paragraph or two to write about the Mayfield, Saskatchewan resident?

Lesnar hasn’t been on WWE programming since losing to Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 36. Since then, there’s been nary a mention of the Beast Incarnate on WWE programming, with the promotion all-too-conspicuously quiet for a brand that’s all too happy to tout the accomplishments of their former top titleholder. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed whatever plans, if any, there may have been for the three-time Universal Champion to return by this point; however, it opens the door for Lesnar to make a shocking return in the Rumble this year. Of course, few can compete with Lesnar either athletically or at the box office, and there’s a great case to be made for a potential return to face off against Drew McIntyre for the second year in a row or my personal hope, a babyface return to square off against Roman Reigns. Now more than ever, frankly, Lesnar has a myriad of dream opponents feasibly ready for WrestleMania season, making now one of the best times for the Beast Incarnate to step back inside the squared circle.

Perhaps it’s just my bias for our adopted Saskatchewanite, but I’d love a Brock Lesnar rumble return.

Feasibility Factor: 10%

Adam Cole

Just imagine: #30 hits. A packed Thunderdome goes completely black. Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era make their way through the curtain. The WWE Universe goes bananas.

System shocked, old bean.

Admittedly, since winning the War Games match against Pat McAfee and co last month, my thought process on an Undisputed Era call-up has changed a bit. However, that’s not to say that the faction shouldn’t be brought up sooner rather than later: far from it. Their recent victory and Cole’s continuing hot streak on NXT programming has them well-positioned for a strong showing in a marquee matchup, and Cole’s already proven he can hold his own against the best in the world. Look no further than his appearance at the 2020 edition of the battle royale for evidence. Cole’s primed to be a star for WWE for the next decade-plus: why not kickstart it in the biggest possible way?

Want to kick someone’s main roster run off with a bang? Put ’em in the main event of WrestleMania. With a talent like Adam Cole, there may be no better bet.

Feasibility Factor: 20%

WOMEN’S

Sonya DeVille

Daddy’s back.

Smackdown Live kicked off the New Year with a bang on their January 1st episode, delivering a killer two hours of wrasslin’ programming that has the blue brand primed for a few weeks of terrific programming heading into the Rumble.

A major reason that you’ll find few complaints about the January 1st Smackdown was the highly-anticipated return of Sonya DeVille. DeVille hadn’t appeared one iota on WWE programming since losing a ‘No DQ Loser Leaves WWE’ Match to Mandy Rose at the 2020 edition of Summerslam. However, DeVille had unquestionably been one of WWE’s top performers for the better part of a year prior to her departure, and quite literally minutes after losing the Summerslam tilt, DeVille already had fans buzzing about a potential Rumble return.

What previously seemed like a far-fetched piece of fantasy booking took a giant leap towards reality with DeVille’s return. There’s little doubt that on merit alone she’s earned the opportunity to battle for a title at WrestleMania. With WWE essentially gifted an opportunity to make a brand-new superstar in DeVille, in my opinion she’s the most likely pick to win this year’s Rumble.

Feasibility Factor: 30%

Charlotte Flair

Okay, guys, hear me out.

Yes, Charlotte Flair won the 2020 Royal Rumble matchup. Yes, Flair is one-half of the reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Yes, a certain segment of professional wrestling fan would be slightly miffed at the decision.

If we can be honest with ourselves, though, Flair vs. Asuka was the best match on a solid WrestleMania 34 card, and there’s no reason to think that the two wouldn’t be able to deliver another barnburner with their roles reversed. Remember, Asuka came into the 34th Show of Shows as the heel for – reasons? – and while Flair is currently firmly entrenched as a babyface, nothing is more dastardly than, say, turning on your tag team partner? It’s something that her father was known to do once or twice, and while Charlotte’s a solid babyface (and she is, folks), she’s found her true calling as one of WWE’s top rudos. A rematch against Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship is certainly WrestleMania worthy, and Flair earning her way into it via a Rumble win would be a neat piece of storytelling following Asuka’s route to the Smackdown title match at 34.

While it may not be the popular opinion, there’s a lot of sense behind a Charlotte Flair win at the Royal Rumble – but does WWE have the courage to pull the trigger?

(Yes, yes they do.)

Feasibility Factor: 25%

Bayley

It’s been an unusually tough couple of months for the Role Model. After losing her Smackdown Women’s Championship to Sasha Banks at last year’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Bayley went on a losing streak stretching a couple of months and settling nicely into a feud with Bianca Belair

While perhaps the past few months haven’t been as strong as her MVP-caliber first three-quarters of the year, there’s no doubting that Bayley’s still one of the foundations of WWE’s women’s division. She’s definitely someone that the promotion will be relying upon heading into WrestleMania, and to be blunt, WWE doesn’t have the ace-in-the-hole of a Sasha Banks match to play should Bayley be in need of one heading into the Show of Shows. The former Hugger’s in need of a soft reset in this writers opinion, and what better way to get her back on the right track with a Royal Rumble victory?

While a few certainly come to mind, there aren’t many individuals in WWE’s pantheon of all-time greats that haven’t won a Rumble match. Flair, Hogan, The Rock, Austin, et al all captured at least a victory in the annual over-the-top-rope battle royale. Though Bayley’s accolades to this point are more than enough evidence to back up her status as one of this generation’s finest, a Rumble win would truly solidify her as one of the greatest women to ever step inside the ring.

Feasibility Factor: 25%

Rhea Ripley

To be blunt, The Nightmare winning the Royal Rumble is a dream scenario for a large part of the WWE Universe.

Ripley, by the looks of it, is seemingly finished up with NXT following her loss to Raquel Gonzalez last Wednesday. It was an incredible run with the black-and-yellow brand for the Adelaide, Australia native; though some may not look back as fondly on her time with the brand following her loss at WrestleMania 36, it’s hard to undersell just how dominant Ripley was over the past two years. Her impressive showing at Survivor Series and feud against Shayna Baszler truly established her as a main-event talent

WWE fans are already familiar with Ripley outside of the cozy confines of NXT, and not only that, but her limited runs on RAW and Smackdown have been praised by both casual and die-hard fans alike. A surprise appearance in the Rumble would only solidify her status as a major player in the Women’s Division, and a win would truly elevate her to the level of Sasha Banks, Asuka, and the rest of the top female stars in WWE.

The Nightmare is obviously someone that WWE sees a ton of potential in; people don’t just get booked against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania for a laugh. At only 24 years old, Ripley is someone that the promotion can build around for the next two decades, and I really can’t see a better way to truly kickstart her main roster run than a win in one of the biggest matches of the year.

Feasibility Factor: 15%

Shotzi Blackheart

Looking for a Ballsy decision? Look no further than Shotzi Blackheart.

The 2020 NXT Breakout Star of the Year has had an incredible year by pretty well every metric. Her matches have been outstanding, her segments consistently entertaining, and she’s beloved by fans around the globe for her sheer love and enthusiasm for professional wrestling that she so often displays on social media. The People’s Champion is a moniker (rightfully) reserved for another fairly charismatic individual, but you’ll find few wrestlers in the world so wholeheartedly beloved as Blackheart.

Admittedly, Blackheart may stand out as a dark horse of sorts when looking at some of the others on this list. The Ballsy Badass doesn’t quite have the resume of the Flair’s and the Bayley’s of the WWE, but that’s no slight on her lack of ability, simply a lack of time. Besides, that opens up the opportunity to truly shock the WWE Universe in a way that an ‘established’ talent like Charlotte or even Blackhart’s NXT cohort Rhea Ripley wouldn’t.

It may be a long shot, it may simply be my selfish hope, but there’d be no reason to be upset with a Shotzi Blackheart win.

Feasibility Factor: 5%

Who’ve you got winning this year’s Rumble? Lemme know @SpennyLove or hit the comments section!

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