Royal Rumble 2018 Predictions

The road to Wrestlemania starts at the Royal Rumble. 2018 still feels as though it is getting under way and with a new direction in my own life, my viewing habits of the WWE has changed from being able to watch RAW/SD Live regularly. I plan to watch the Royal Rumble and figured I’d give my predictions and see how Wrestlemania will begin to take form.

KICKOFF:

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Here we have another encounter between the Balor Club and the Revival. If given some time, this should could be a dark horse match of the night. The Revival should come out on top and start their chase for the titles and road to Wrestlemania.
WINNER: THE REVIVAL

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Six tremendous athletes in a match that no will care about. This about sums up 205 Live.
WINNER: KALISTO, GRAN METALIK, LINCE DORADO

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The United States Championship Open Challenges returns and is always a fun match to look forward to. Who will respond to the challenge; Ziggler? Mahal? Corbin? Maybe someone from NXT? I think Ziggler is a bit too obvious so perhaps will see the underwhelming Maharajah himself respond and look for one more chance to win gold. If Roode fails to retain, it’ll prove that this title’s existence remains futile.
WINNER: BOBBY ROODE
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Is there a better team on the WWE roster than the Usos? I still believe there should be one tag team champion who defends the titles on both brands and I’d have that team be the Usos. The Usos versus the Revival is the tag match I want at Wrestlemania but I’ll certainly take the Usos versus Gable & Benjamin in a 2/3 Falls match on this night. My hope for this match is that it will be a wrestling masterpiece and a possibly a show stealer. I think the Usos deserve to go into Wrestlemania as champs and anything can happen between now and then but I think Gable & Benjamin will out wrestle the champs on this night and win the belts!
WINNER: GABLE & BENJAMIN

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As mentioned above, there should be only one be one set of tag team champions and that team is the Usos. I understand the story of Jordan and Rollins but can’t say it is a captivating story and I have limited interest in this match. It seems Cesaro and Sheamus are the only team ever in the RAW tag title picture. I don’t see the need in having Rollins and Jordan retain. When this feud is over, I hope to see a revival of the RAW tag team division.
WINNER: SHEAMUS & CESARO

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Is this really the major championship match at the second biggest PPV of the year? We know Kane is here to take the pin but who will walk out with the Universal championship?
WINNER: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAUN

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Once again SD Live offers a better championship match at this year’s Royal Rumble. The Handicap match stipulation does lack some sense but I remain intrigued. Kevin Owens deserves to be WWE Champion but I think the advantageous stip will back fire in some way. What role with Shane and Daniel Bryan play in this one as they’ve surrounded this story as much as the competitors. I have a feeling that a SD Live superstar is winning the men’s Royal Rumble and I see them squaring off against the winner in this one.
WINNER: AJ STYLES

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Two Royal Rumbles on this night! It is one of my favourite matches and so I’m excited for this one. It is hard to predict who will win this one but that is the fun of the Royal Rumble. An equal fun component are the surprises of superstars of the past and the future who may show up in this night. Let’s look at who is in this one and the bolded names are my predictions of who may show up:

  1. Becky Lynch
  2. Liv Morgan
  3. Sarah Logan
  4. Ruby Riott
  5. Nia Jax
  6. Mickie James
  7. Natalya
  8. Lana
  9. Tamina
  10. Carmella
  11. Naomi
  12. Asuka
  13. Sasha Banks
  14. Bayley
  15. Mandy Rose
  16. Sonya Deville
  17. Dana Brooke
  18. Alicia Fox
  19. Billie Kay
  20. Peyton Royce
  21. Nikki Bella
  22. Brie Bella
  23. Ivory
  24. Jacqueline
  25. Beth Phoenix
  26. Alundra Blayze
  27. Michelle McCool
  28. Eve Torres
  29. Trish Stratus
  30. Lita

I’m sure most of these names are wishful thinking and can see some lesser known NXT names get a one-time call up. I really do not want to see Stephanie McMahon in this match and I don’t think this she be the debut scene of Ronda Rousey. I’m most looking forward to the Iconic Duo possibly being in this one and hearing some familiar themes I haven’t heard in a while. As far as my prediction? I’m stuck between Asuka and Becky Lynch. Asuka being eliminated won’t be considered a loss but I see them splitting up the winners by brand and if a SD Live superstar is winning the men’s match, I’ll go with Asuka to be the first ever winner of the women’s Royal Rumble.
WINNER: ASUKA

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Let’s use a similar format to predict the men’s Royal Rumble match.

  1. Titus O’Neill
  2. Bray Wyatt
  3. Rusev
  4. Baron Corbin
  5. Matt Hardy
  6. Aiden English
  7. Elias
  8. Tye Dillinger
  9. The Miz
  10. Shinsuke Nakamura
  11. Randy Orton
  12. John Cena
  13. Finn Balor
  14. Apollo Crews
  15. Roman Reigns
  16. Seth Rollins
  17. Jason Jordan
  18. Big E
  19. Xavier Woods
  20. Kofi Kingston
  21. Bobby Roode
  22. Jinder Mahal
  23. Dolph Ziggler
  24. Mojo Rawley
  25. Goldust
  26. Sami Zayn
  27. Killiain Dain
  28. No Way Jose
  29. X-Pac
  30. Bobby Lashley

Some of the bold names aren’t necessarily bold predictions. There is usually a name or two from NXT. Last year there were no surprise returns but there was nostalgia in seeing the Undertaker and Goldberg. I can’t think of a past legend that may be a realistic entrant. It would be great to see Razor Ramon compete but I don’t see that happening. Lashley came to mind and although it is unlikely, I think seeing him return in this match could elicit a great response. The most important question; who is going to the Main Event? Roman Reigns is the easy pick but I’m going with the man I want in my Wrestlemania main event.
WINNER: SHINSUKE NAKAMURA

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Worst Male Wrestler of 2017

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NOMINEES:

  • Baron Corbin
  • Jason Jordan
  • Jinder Mahal
  • Bray Wyatt

 

AND THE WINNER IS…

JINDER MAHAL

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The four men nominated certainly had a difficult go at it in 2017. Corbin looked to be headed for a mega push and be SmackDown’s counterpart to RAW’s Braun Strowman. Unfortunately, at some point Corbin failed to impress and so led to failures like his Money in the Bank cash-in and his US title reign and feuds. Bray Wyatt’s name has been brought up in several other categories and has had his fair share of bad matches and feuds. Jason Jordan who is far from the worst wrestler was given a bizarre storyline and character and simply and it appears a bit soon for the young man. His promo skills have failed to deliver and with his character he is in need of more personality rather than his in-ring prowess. Nonetheless, there seems to be improvement but fans have the expectation of wrestlers to fulfill the responsibilities of a major push.

With that in mind, this is why Jinder Mahal has to be the worst male wrestler of 2017. Mahal went from barely being on RAW television and never having a meaningful feud or pay-per-view appearance to becoming the #1 contender for the WWE Championship. It seemed obvious that Mahal might do the unthinkable and capture the title. What I did not expect was for his boring reign to last as long as it did. What I did expect was improvement both on the mic and in the ring. I expected Mahal to deliver and at least show a hint of main eventer talents. Mahal, unfortunately was rather basic in all departments compared to that of other guys not in his position like Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe or Rusev. Mahal had really boring matches that were formulaic and lacked anything resembling a big fight feel for the title. The defense of he is a “heel” so if you hate him he’s doing his job simply does not apply because I did not hate the character, I felt it was poor selection on the real life actor for the role. Mahal really hurt the image of the title and failed to elevate himself to a main event status. A reason for his reign was to impact India where they couldn’t even sell tickets to two shows and were forced to reduce it to one and to make matters worse Mahal lost the title prior to the show and ended up doing the job to Triple H. It seems WWE has learned and is giving Mahal a chance to shine at a more appropriate level for Jinder.

I don’t enjoy doing Worst of the Year for superstars who work hard night in and night out, but in 2017 I felt no other option. I will post some predictions I have for 2018 and hopes of a more captivating year for WWE programming.

Worst Female Wrestler of 2017

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NOMINEES:

  • Bayley
  • Lana
  • Alicia Fox
  • Tamina

 

AND THE WINNER IS…

TAMINA

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Let me first say that when I declare someone the worst wrestler it isn’t because they don’t work hard or possess the skills to wrestle in a ring. It often has to do with the booking or portrayal of their character and expectations you have of main roster talent. Bayley for one is a tremendous in-ring competitor and was my NXT Superstar of the Year a few years ago. The booking of Bayley was on display in our Worst Segment of 2017 where Bayley was watered down and made a complete joke. Bayley should be the John Cena/Rey Mysterio of the women’s division being pushed a Make-A-Wish superstar and tons of merchandise. Instead, fans have even turned on Bayley and lost interest in her. There remains time to rehab her character but it seems WWE does not want to go with her as their top star. Alicia Fox has been on WWE television for so long that it is hard to care about her. She was made captain of Team RAW and was among the first eliminated; again not her fault she was booked poorly. Lana is perhaps the worst in-ring wrestler on the main roster but she has delivered in her role as Rusev’s manager and should return to that role. Instead they paired her with Tamina which hurt both superstars. Tamina has been the same stale character almost since day one. Upon her return to the SmackDown Live brand, she was the butt of a joke as they promised a third generation superstar and brought out Tamina as a “wha-wha” prior to the desired Charlotte coming out after. Lana promised a makeover of the monster Tamina and she returned the next week looking exactly the same. This resulted in no one-on-one championship matches. Lastly, she had brief staredown with Nia Jax where Nia proved to be the better Samoan monster of the two; making matters worse, delusional Tamina compared this stare down to Hogan/Andre and Rock/Austin.

Worst WWE Match of 2017

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NOMINEES:

  • Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship, Wrestlemania 33)
  • Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (House of Horrors, Payback)
  • Big Cass vs. Big Show (Enzo in a Shark Tank, Summerslam)
  • Team RAW vs. Team SmackDown (Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag, Survivor Series)

AND YOUR WINNER IS…

BRAY WYATT VS. RANDY ORTON
(WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, WRESTLEMANIA)

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There were some great in-ring matches this year and there were some boring bouts. Big Cass and Big Show was a hard match to get into as it was two giants with basic movesets and Enzo being annoying from a shark cage above. The Survivor Series match was terrible because of the questionable booking. Much like the Royal Rumble, guys like Nakamura, Roode, Samoa Joe and Finn Balor were easily eliminated whereas guys like Triple H, Kurt Angle, Orton and Shane McMahon were made to look strong–this is probably my most hated match.

Now for Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. It is remarkable to be nominated twice for having bad matches. I awarded worst match to the Wrestlemania bout because I anticipated the House of Horrors being dreadful and it was. The Wrestlemania bout was a WWE CHAMPIONSHIP match. As we’ll see in more posts, there is an expectation when it comes to WWE Championship matches. The match was boring but the projector effects of insects just served to take you out of the match each time it happened. What made things even more baffling was that these effects proved to have no impact as Orton won the title anyways. This was certainly the worst match of 2017 and possibly the worst WWE Championship match in Wrestlemania history!

Worst WWE Moment of 2017

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NOMINEES: 
  • Baron Corbin failed cash-in
  • Susan G. Komen Warrior Spirit
  • Triple H defeating Jinder Mahal in India
  • Roman Reigns enters #30

 

AND THE WINNER IS…

SUSAN G. KOMEN WARRIOR SPIRIT

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There were some odd booking moments this year in WWE. The entire Royal Rumble was booked around established stars like Goldberg, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar and ensuring they looked dominant. Also it was bewildering, having Reigns enter number 30 so that fans would accept Orton (another established star) as the winner when eliminating Roman. Baron Corbin was my choice to win the Rumble and seemed like he was on his way to elevate his career in 2017 given he won the Money in the Bank. Unfortunately, Corbin fell out of favour and failed in his cash-in within mere seconds virtually killing any momentum he had. Lastly, in an effort to reach the Indian market, Mahal received an enormous push and was made WWE champion. What impact did this have? Reducing two house shows to one and having Jinder lose his WWE Championship prior to the tour. How did Jinder fair on the tour? He lost to the part-time Game in Triple H.

All that to say, the worst moment in WWE of 2017 had to have been the pairing of the Ultimate Warrior with the Susan G. Komen foundation. Do your research and form your own opinion on the Komen foundation and their handling of raised funds. These segments are always uncomfortable as is as you have cancer survivors come out. I certainly believe in honouring survivors but the message of the Warrior was very difficult to discern as an authentic message. Unfortunately, the man who portrayed the Ultimate Warrior made many controversial comments and did not abide by wholesome creed we are taught to believe. I just found these segments uncomfortable and think WWE needs to evaluate all the players involved.

 

Worst WWE Tag Team of 2017

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NOMINEES:

  • Titus Brand
  • Gallows & Anderson
  • The Ascension
  • The Colons

AND THE WINNER IS…

TITUS BRAND

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It was a crazy year for a lot of tags in the WWE. Originally, this wasn’t the team I had slated to win worst tag team. The honour was originally for the Hype Bros, but WWE thankfully broke that team up. WWE broke up a lot of teams as mentioned in previous posts: Enzo and Big Cass, American Alpha, Hype Bros, the Golden Truth. Now, of the teams remaining who had a terrible year? It is apparent that teams like the Ascension and the Colons aren’t to be taken serious and just jobber teams for up and coming teams. I nominated Gallows and Anderson because WWE is wasting this team and they have portrayed them so poorly but pairing them with Finn Balor may be the right direction. Therefore worst tag team has to go to the Titus Brand! First, I need to ask what exactly is the Titus Brand? I was once a fan of Titus O’Neil but he has been given opportunities and TV time and hasn’t been impressive. Apollo Crews was a guy I thought had great potential but was perhaps brought up to the main roster too early. I was excited when Tozawa was added because I saw potential in a Crews/Tozawa team. Tozawa appears to be no longer part of the Titus Brand and his replacement? Dana Brooke. It is clear that WWE has no plans for the Titus Brand and it hasn’t had any opportunity to make a impact. Perhaps a move to Smackdown Live could give the Titus brand one more chance to sink or swim but in 2017 they were the worst team/faction of the year!

Worst WWE Feud of 2017

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NOMINEES:

  • Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
  • Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
  • Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor
  • Big Cass vs. Enzo Amore

 

AND THE WINNER IS…

BIG CASS VS. ENZO AMORE

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The break-up that no one wanted has to be the worst feud of the year. I know Bray Wyatt has been the common denominator in making some of his feuds terrible, but there is an expected mystical nature of his character that is hard to suspend belief for–nonetheless he may win a worst of award in another category. Mahal and Nakamura was another bad feud simply because no one wanted to see it and there was zero creativity in making it seem like a meaningful feud for the WWE Championship.

Enzo and Big Cass wins worst feud because it was essentially a feud between a monster heavyweight and a manager. Did we even need a match between the two? It was noticeable WWE thought the same as they inserted the Big Show in this feud which added to awfulness. Cass proved his charisma was built off of Enzo’s and that the team still needed to be together before Cass was ready to break out on his own. The charm of this team was that although Enzo was extremely annoying, even to Big Cass, that if another superstar picked on Enzo, that’s when the muscle stepped in. Enzo could talk all the smack he wanted because he had a 7 foot insurance policy. WWE, like they often do, jumped the gun in breakup an approached it in a terrible angle where Enzo would be found unconscious and Cass would find him moments later–the dreadful “who dunnit?” wrestling storyline. Unfortunately, Big Cass got injured during this feud which put him on the shelf. Now Enzo is a heel and in the Cruiserweight division having bad matches but still cutting great promos. I still think they can undo this and put everyone back together, including bringing Ms. Money in the Bank into the group. This gives Cass and Enzo the option of being a group that goes after tag or single titles and Carmella have some added insurance of her own for when she cashes in!