WWE Royal Rumble 2015
January 25, 2015
Wells Fargo Center

One of my personal favorite PPVs each calendar year, WWE’s Royal Rumble, returns this Sunday with a lot of questions regarding the top of the card. The undercard, well, we won’t talk about it because there’s not much there. It may be one of the worst Royal Rumble undercards in history. Regardless, the top two matches — Rumble match itself and WWE World Heavyweight Title three-way — are some of the most important in WWE history. Roman Reigns, the potential next big WWE star, has a chance to win the Rumble and main event WrestleMania 31 but is it too much, too soon? Will WWE be able to avoid a situation like they had at last year’s Rumble with Batista being overshadowed by Daniel Bryan?

The WWE Title triple threat is not without its questions either. Brock Lesnar appeared to turn babyface on RAW, will that bleed into Royal Rumble and will he become a full-fledged babyface? Does his questionable contract situation force WWE to make a change with their top title? Let’s see what our preview panel has to say.

The New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension

Rich Kraetsch: The New Age Outlaws fulfill their yearly Royal Rumble obligations and do so with one of the most talked about teams in WWE right now, The Ascension. Look, they are no good and I’m not a fan so I won’t get worked up about how they are being presented though it does seem counter-productive, but you don’t become a millionaire that should be a billionaire without some un-productive traits. Anyway, this match, holy shit, uh… New Age Outlaws win so they get a big pop and we can continue laughing at The Ascension? I really have no feel for it.

Prediction: The New Age Outlaws

Joe Lanza: I’m fascinated with how fans have reacted to The Ascension. You couldn’t find an Ascension fan with a search party when they were in NXT, but now everybody seems to be annoyed that they’ve been treated badly on the main roster. Did everybody forget that they’re not very good? Why would you want them pushed? I don’t get it. Anyway, I think the RAW angle with the old dudes was a setup for the first big Powers of Lame win. Expect a clean & tidy squash.

Prediction: The team that people seem to have forgotten stinks, The Ascension

Sean Flynn: The Ascension are not very good. Everybody knows this. But the whole reason for bringing a team up with all the hype videos, having them squash an established team they’re first week in, and then turning into a comedy team just reeks of Vince, HHH and Kevin Dunn deciding to get their jollies because they took an ice pack or shook someone’s hand too hard. And that sucks. And it is counterproductive.

Prediction: Might as well go all the way with the joke. New Age Outlaws in a quick one.

Rob Barry: This had a build in that The Ascension were buried more or less by The Outlaws and other teams plus JBL’s godawful commentary. I’m not looking forward to anything in this match, hopefully it’s over quickly and WWE decides to stop giving opportunities to The New Age Outlaws. Have The Ascension win here so maybe you can take them seriously as a tag team hamming on other legendary teams (That will never work, by the way).

Prediction: The Ascension

Alex Giardini: There’s a good possibility The Ascension could be the worst tag team in the past 15 years, and it’s times like these where I wish Deuce & Domino would reign supreme for years to come. The New Age Outlaws are simply there to put the former NXT Tag Team Champions over, and shill The WWE Network, too. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go too long.

Prediction: The Ascension

Paige & Natalya vs. The Bella Twins

Rich Kraetsch: Legitimately looking forward to this, Bellas have improved a lot in the past year and Paige & Natalya are a great little team with a ton of talent. I have no idea how long this will go or where it’ll be positioned on the card but in a perfect world, these ladies get about 8-10 minutes and do some good work here.

Prediction: Paige & Natalya

Joe Lanza: They’ve devoted a ton of TV time to this feud, so good for these ladies earning a high profile match on the second biggest PPV of the year. I, however, happen to be a WWE Divas hipster and prefer my women’s matches to be underground and developmental, so I only care about NXT Divas.

Prediction: Hyped for the 4-way on 2/11

Sean Flynn: In a perfect world Natalya and to a lesser extent Paige would create a 9-12 minute match that helps cover up the many weaknesses of the Bellas and lets everyone do the things they do best. On the other hand in our world it will be 6-8 sloppy minutes, the announcers will call everyone crazy at some point, and fans won’t care. Such is the way of things in WWE.

Prediction: Since this is a meaningless match go for a feel good ending. Simultaneous Sharpshooter and Scorpion Crosslocks give Paige/Natalya the win.

Rob Barry: Hey let’s throw something together and see if it fits, WWE logic friends. The build to this is what exactly, Paige has Natalya as her concubine and no one else can have her? They never even explored The Bellas breaking up or that 30 day servitude thing. I really don’t care, let’s give the ladies who are part of Total Divas some kind of promotion right? Does it even matter who wins this?

Prediction: Paige & Natalya

Alex Giardini: I guess this contest revolves around the happenings of Total Divas, and what’s to come on the show. It’s weird to see Natalya and Paige on the same end, since these two wrestlers have succumbed to the ways of glitz and glamour, when they could easily put on matches that set them apart from the rest of the division. I don’t see a breakup, which means I don’t see a point in having this contest on the PPV, either.

Prediction: Paige & Natalya

WWE Tag Team Championship
The Usos (c) vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow

Rich Kraetsch: Since the beginning of November, The Miz has had 26 matches involving an Uso. Filtering that through just tag matches on TV/PPV, we’re at 9 since November. Yes, this match has absolutely been done to death and I really have no interest in seeing it anymore. Both teams have talents that go beyond the running in place they’ve been doing as of late. I’d have to think we start seeing the seeds planted for a Miz/Mizdow breakup but who the hell knows. Change it up a bit, guys.

Prediction: The Usos

Joe Lanza: The WWE tag division reminds me of the New Japan junior tag division circa 2013. The difference is NJPW has about 40 dudes on the roster at a given time, and WWE has over 100 contracted talents.

Prediction: Why do I feel like we’ve seen this before?

Sean Flynn: This event feels like it has to be shit or get off the pot time for the whole Mizdow thing. While the fireworks factory is still a few matches farther down the card, I think Miz and Mizdow will be seeing it looming in the distance by this point. As for the Usos, they just keep USing.

Prediction: Usos as Mizdow begins the final stage of their partnership.

Rob Barry: Again, why is this match happening? Miz offers nothing to anyone. “Hey, he helped Mizdow, Rob!” No, Mizdow got himself over but WWE will quickly stop that and blame that on us fans. The Usos need to reinvent themselves, they have gotten stale, predictable and old. You have to put the titles on them because this division is sorely lacking in any challengers or title holders. Hey, expect superkicks, dives and you say “US” I say “snooze.”

Prediction: The Usos

Alex Giardini: It seems like The Miz and Mizdow are going to disband any moment now, and truth be told, their partnership could go on much longer based on the reception they’ve generated. This feud is extremely tiresome, though, and goes to show the WWE seriously need to consider adding more depth to the division, when tag team wrestling is thriving in almost every other promotion that comes to mind.

Prediction: The Usos

Six-Man Elimination Match
The New Day vs. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose

Rich Kraetsch: The build sucks but who cares, this will be a lot of fun as The New Day is supremely talented and it goes without saying that Kidd, Cesaro and to a much lesser extent (but still) Rose. Here’s to The New Day finally cutting out a niche in this company.

Prediction: Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose

Joe Lanza: I called it several weeks ago, and I’ll call it again. Adam Rose with a little bit of Leo Krueger edge will make for a very interesting WWE heel, and he’ll be a cult favorite by this time next year if they stick with the plan. I also like how they haven’t rushed into that, and have done a very un-WWE-like slow burn with his turn. The New Day isn’t working. Big E is too good for this shit. All three of them are, actually.

Prediction: Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose

Sean Flynn: I’m actually looking forward to this match. Both of these teams (minus Rose) have been actually doing tag team things in the ring. I love tag team wrestling done well. Cesaro and Kidd have been really applying themselves, and New Day has been adding to their repertoire every week. Triple team moves are worth extra points in my book. Hence my prediction…

Prediction: New Day via some wacky triple team manuver

Rob Barry: Is this really happening? The New Day are a great trio to me and could go far if the fans and WWE put some faith in them. Cesaro and Kidd are solid, but I’m soured on Rose. Guess I’m a lemon, Bub. I don’t see The New Day losing here and hey if The Bunny is Darren Young then we get a distraction finish and more developments. Sounds friggin’ exciting!

Prediction: The New Day

Alex Giardini: While I couldn’t care less about this match and the feud in general, it’s hard to envision New Day losing here, considering they aren’t quite gelling with the audience yet. That said, I’m not sure if The Bunny is a thing anymore, but Darren Young emerging in this match as the animal and then newest member of the faction would be satisfying.

Prediction: The New Day

2015 Royal Rumble Match

Rich Kraetsch: The logical choice if WWE doesn’t want a mutiny on their hands is Daniel Bryan but I see no signs of that. This is Roman Reigns’ match to lose, now it’s on WWE to do it in a way that doesn’t cause chaos.

  • Who will draw #1: Dean Ambrose
  • Who will draw #30: Rey Myst…Big Show
  • Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns, I’d bet my house on it. (I don’t own a house)
  • Shortest Time In Match: One of J&J Security, let’s say Joey Mercury
  • Kofi Spot: Hmmm, I’m not sure he’s going to be in it this year which would be super disappointing. Maybe it’s time for Dolph Ziggler to try something cool but I’m not sure he has the athletic or jumping ability to do it. Dolph will do something crazy, maybe a leap onto the guardrail then back to the ring.

Joe Lanza: An entertaining crowd that’ll be in no mood for spoonfed shit

  • Who will draw #1: Ziggler. Is he unfired yet?
  • Who will draw #30: The Ryback
  • Most Eliminations: Reigns. Derp.
  • Shortest Time In Match: Jamie Noble
  • Kofi Spot: He won’t be in it.

Sean Flynn: There are a handful of people who could theoretically win this match. In order of likelihood to win (with % chance):

  1. Roman Reigns – This seems to be the obvious choice. (50%)
  2. Daniel Bryan – Still draws biggest reactions. (35%)
  3. Dean Ambrose – If they really want to swerve us. (5%)
  4. Bray Wyatt – The heel ranks have been depleted, so he is one of the few heel options still at all viable. (5%)
  5. Dolph Ziggler – All but forgotten since Survivor Series, but still loved. (3%)
  6. Rusev – Tell me the thought of Rusev vs. Lesnar at Mania doesn’t make you a bit happy. (2%)

After all that though, I’m going with Reigns, but swerving to turn not heel. But no longer pure face either.

  • Who will draw #1: Daniel Bryan
  • Who will draw #30: Big Show
  • Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns
  • Shortest Time In Match: Santino Marella
  • Kofi Spot: I know usually people don’t enter after they wrestle, but Kofi is a Rumble icon at this point. Not sure what it will be, but somehow he’ll end up stranded and need his New Day partners to come down and give him a hand. Hopefully somehow involving him ending up all the way backstage without ever touching both feet to the ground.

Rob Barry: In a match where some already know the outcome before the 30 men are announced, matter of fact very few people outside of Ambrose, Reigns, Wyatt and Bryan have been announced. This could have some surprises, but it’s been ages since WWE has surprised me. Will it happen here? Who knows? Daniel Bryan wins The 2015 Royal Rumble setting up the inevitable main event for WM 31.

  • Who will draw #1: Dean Ambrose
  • Who will draw #30: Sting
  • Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns
  • Shortest Time In Match: Torito
  • Kofi Spot: This always goes to Kofi but let’s give this to Adrian Neville, at least get 1 NXT guy in the Rumble, right? He will do a Shooting Star Press into the crowd and have his feet land on the barricade and then enter on the backs of Cesaro, Kidd and Rose. It sounds great, can’t wait to see it.

Alex Giardini: Roman Reigns

  • Who will draw #1: Daniel Bryan
  • Who will draw #30: Dolph Ziggler
  • Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns
  • Shortest Time In Match: Fandango
  • Kofi Spot: Not sure if he’ll be in it, since recent history suggests those with matches on the card aren’t included in the Royal Rumble. If he is in it, something like jumping from the announce table to the stairs, or maybe head-walking on three or four people that have been eliminated from the guard rail.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Brock Lesnar © vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

Rich Kraetsch: All signs on RAW pointed to Lesnar dropping the title here: the face turn, the dominance over his opponents and what we presumably know about his WWE future (or the questions surrounding it). I think Seth Rollins, whether Money in the Bank cash-in or in the match itself, walks out as champ. I’m not sure if he’s a transitional champ who drops it in February or if he goes into ‘Mania as champ but I just can’t see them sticking with Lesnar here. Brock gets to be a special attraction without the title at Mania, has his babyface send off and rides off into the sunset. They could surprise you and the odds certainly haven’t moved but I can’t fathom Brock walking out as champion.

Prediction: Seth Rollins

Joe Lanza: The early odds on the betting sites like Lesnar. I think babyfacing him to some extent on TV over the last few weeks is setting up a title loss. It is questionable at this point whether they can re-sign him, so it might be better to get the title off of him now instead of doing it at Mania, because if he’s leaving everybody will know by then and the outcome of his match won’t be in doubt. They can’t risk the crowd turning on a predictable Mania main event. With all of that said, i’m going out on a limb with this pick.

Prediction: Rollins comes out of this as champ, one way (traditional) or another (MITB cash-in).

Sean Flynn: The only thing I feel certain about with this match is that Lesnar does not leave with the belt. They’re not going to let another WM 20 happen where the crowd knows he’s leaving and craps all over him and his match. At least not for a title. And I think they’ve soured on their idea of Lesnar vs. Reigns for the belt. I don’t think they trust Bryan’s health enough to center Mania around him for a second year in a row. So what’s going to happen?

Prediction: Cena scores the win. Lesnar gets pissed off so he can be re-heeled and destroys Cena. As Rollins recovers to cash in, That Vigilante Sting appears in the ring for the first time to stop it from happening. Rollins cashes in to make the WM31 main event a triple threat with him, Reigns, Cena. HHH gets Sting, and Bryan gets Lesnar.

Rob Barry: Baby, I’m partially excited about this one baby. It’s business baby. I will never tire of Brock Lesnar saying “baby,” whether in a sweet or threatening manner. John Cena will perform feats of strength and never give up. Seth Rollins will show off his incredible athleticism and Lesnar will suplex people 1,000 times. Sounds like a great recipe for a main event. The build to this has been decent as we know Lesnar and Cena are main event material, but this match will prove if Rollins can hang with the big dogs and grab the proverbial brass ring for all of us pesky Millennials. I’m not looking forward to another Cena reign, Lesnar is hardly in the picture as is so process of elimination would leave Rollins to walk out of the Rumble as champ. I still think the money match is still on the table with Lesnar vs. Bryan at WM 31 however so that throws a monkey wrench into everything.

Prediction: Brock “The Conqueror, BABY” Lesnar

Alex Giardini: The 12-year-old fan inside me truly wants Seth Rollins to take it home, yet I don’t envision it happening. Lesnar’s future plans are more or less unknown at this time, yet him retaining the title isn’t farfetched. If Cena wins, it would set up a face vs. face encounter at WrestleMania 31, despite plans not being set in stone until then. As much as I’d like to see Bryan in the main event, WWE might not want to for the second year in a row. The safest bet here would be for Lesnar to retain, and then with the inclusion of Fastlane and the multiple Raw shows we’ll have to suffer through, something can be reworked.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar