WWE Royal Rumble 2016
January 24, 2015
Amway Center
Orlando, Florida
Watch: WWENetwork

Armed with one of the best on-paper undercards we’ve seen in quite some time, WWE Royal Rumble 2016 has the potential to set the standard of WWE PPVs in 2016. Add in the fact that this is our first step on the Road to WrestleMania—a season where WWE creatively and in-ring seems to pick up the pace after their fall malaise—and all signs point to Royal Rumble being both an important and worthwhile show.

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WWE Network Kickoff Show
Fatal 4-Way: Winning team enters the Royal Rumble match
Darren Young & Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger

Ru Gunn (@ru_gunn): I like pre-show matches with main show consequences—or increasingly, anything with any kind of consequence at all in WWE programming. This has a weird jumbled feel for a match, with alliances not even tenuously explained, but sometimes those sorts of encounters end up being unexpectedly fun. Prediction: Mark Henry & Jack Swagger

Sean Flynn (@spiffie6123): I’m surprised given how thin the roster is that all of these guys aren’t in the rumble. I have trouble believing that the most crowd-pleasing team wouldn’t get into the Rumble, and allow them to hit a couple spots. I wouldn’t be shocked by Henry and Swagger, hell, they might just let Henry in anyhow. But I think the Rumble gets a Whazzup?! spot. Prediction: Dudley Boyz

Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): At one point, Mark Henry was already announced as being in the Royal Rumble match. I don’t believe that to be anything other than WWE not knowing they’d do this match, so that fact may be a spoiler alert. Even without knowing this, it seems there are only two winning choices here, and the runner up is Darrien Youngdow. Prediction: Mark Henry & Jack Swagger

Jeff Hawkins (@Crapgame13): Mark Henry and Jack Swagger are big men for someone to “impress” with elimination.  But, I wouldn’t be bowled over if the Dudleyz get a swan song at the Rumble after jobbing to #SocialOutcasts this week on the C show. Prediction:  Mark Henry & Jack Swagger

Last Man Standing – WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dean Ambrose © vs. Kevin Owens

Ru Gunn: Every interaction these two have had lately has eroded the interest and the fire that could have been very real for this match. We need Ranallo here to explain why we should care more than “he’s crazy” or “he’s cowardly”. I hope this stipulation gets creative, though, as neither man is squeamish about bizarre brawls. It may as well be as rambunctious mess. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Sean Flynn: I wish I was more excited about this match’s long term consequences. I am however very excited about the match itself. Dean and Owens both know how to take brawls to the next level where you really feel the hate and anger between them. I feel like both of these guys are destined to end up overshadowed in the next two months, and likely will see each other again in some form at Mania. Dean Ambrose loses all the time at things, and WWE seems to like Owens well enough, so I say the title moves. Hopefully not leading to two months of people pilfering the prize like last year. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Rob McCarron: On Shake Them Ropes this week, our guest (Sean Ross Sapp) thought an Owens win here would lead him into a strong singles match at WrestleMania. While a win by either could potentially do that, I don’t discount a possible multi-man Intercontinental Championship match such as what we had last year happening at WrestleMania. Although, we have a US Title for that, too. I’d like an Owens win, moving him to an important match at WrestleMania. I fear WWE isn’t ready to put Ambrose in a Mania solo match. However, Ambrose just got the title, so to take it off of him right now would just bring us back to loser Ambrose we’ve known and loved for two years running. No buys. Prediction: Dean Ambrose

Jeff Hawkins:  Poorly built feud that I want so bad.  I think they bait and switch, have these two start a match, brawl throughout the show, come out for Rumble, both beat up Curtis Axel and then perhaps someone wins.  Let’s say it’s Ambrose, just for fun. Prediction: Dean Ambrose

WWE United States Championship
Alberto Del Rio © vs. Kalisto

Ru Gunn: What’s to say: we just saw this match twice last week. Have both men gone home and done some serious soul-searching to uncover why this championship match is going to meaningful, and not just pointless title trading? I fear not. If Del Rio retains then it’s potentially more momentum for the already faltering League Of Nations, but if Kalisto regains then it’s a new lovable babyface to nurture like a precious flower. Hopefully it takes the best parts from their SmackDown match up last week, and Del Rio throws himself into making it look important. Prediction: Kalisto

Sean Flynn: Is WWE willing to run with Kalisto? They can salvage the story of his big win with a clean win at the Rumble. It would validate him as a viable title threat and not just a fluke. However, I don’t think that’s the goal. He was there, he is able to produce a fun match, and he was the kind of surprise champ who they don’t mind burning a one day title reign on. If Del Rio wakes up on the inspired side of the bed this could be a really fun match. Prediction: Alberto Del Rio

Rob McCarron: If Alberto Del Rio loses, he’s winning the Royal Rumble match according to Jeff Hawkins. It’s not a laughable scenario, at all. Not likely, but definitely not laughable. I like Kalisto getting a solo match on the main stage of the Rumble show, whether he wins or loses. Prediction: Alberto Del Rio

Jeff Hawkins: If Alberto Del Rio loses, he’s winning the Royal….HEY!!  *Grumble* Prediction: Alberto Del Rio

WWE Divas Championship
Charlotte © vs. Becky Lynch

Ru Gunn: As is so often the case, I couldn’t disagree more with my colleagues at Shake Them Ropes, and I’m feeling hopelessly distressed by Charlotte’s character and the omnipresent spectre of Ric Flair that haunts her at ringside. Her matches are bad, everything about her unconvincing—and most insidiously of all, this plot is a way to make a women’s story really about the achievements of a man. I don’t want to hear how many times Ric Flair was champion throughout every women’s match in WWE. Becky Lynch is on the rise, though, getting more and more chances to shine—and has been kept relatively unscathed from the poisonous catty tropes that WWE women usually get dumped with. Prediction: Becky Lynch

Sean Flynn: I think this match hinges on whether or not Sasha Banks is recovering well. I could see someone (HHH) thinking that doing another Sasha vs. Becky match at Mania might be the best way to showcase the Divas title and division. On the other hand, Charlotte is a Flair, and Vince McMahon loves Ric Flair in ways even Vince doesn’t fully understand. I’m going to err, possibly for the last time as concerns the women on the main roster, on the side of hope, and say Becky wins, leading to the best WWE Divas match ever at Mania. Prediction: Becky Lynch

Rob McCarron: Charlotte vs Becky has been the strongest female program in a long while. Initially built on random backstabbing and haste character changes, this program now is more about Becky striving to prove she’s a strong single while Charlotte has run with the cocky champ routine. I like the possibilities here, and look forward to the idea that we may see a true one-on-one Divas Championship match on WrestleMania. If not one-on-one, at least something other than a thrown together multi-women match we so often ingest. Prediction: Becky Lynch

Jeff Hawkins: Becky Lynch the past two weeks has been phenomenal.  Charlotte is playing a better heel than she ever played in NXT.  Becky didn’t get a run with the NXT Women’s title.  She gets a run through Wrestlemania now.  Plus we start to see Team Flair continue the split. Prediction: Becky Lynch

WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day © vs. The Usos

Ru Gunn: It’s important to me that the New Day get a proper high-budget WrestleMania entrance, preferably with real unicorns, so I’m invested in this one. The Usos don’t have any character at the moment, apart from occasionally Roman Reigns’ friends, but not even always—so it would seem strange to switch the titles. Prediction: New Day

Sean Flynn: These two teams work very well together, so I have no doubt this will be a fun match full of wacky shenanigans. Outraged and offended New Day is always hilarious, so I figure they change the belts here. This way the Bullet Club has a face team to beat at Mania. Prediction: Usos

Rob McCarron: The match should be fun, and I like this one to open the show in front of a hot crowd ready for the Rumble. For reasons unbeknownst to me, crowds all over this country seem to like the Usos. If a title change happens here, it could be a nice table-setter for the rest of the show. It’s time, too, for New Day to either chase the title, or be removed from the tag division top spot entirely. Prediction: Usos

Jeff Hawkins: It feels like the wheels are already spinning on this feud.  No change until the multi-team mess at Wrestlemania. Prediction: New Day

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
2016 Royal Rumble Match

Ru Gunn: You know how there’s always a “big man” spot at the Rumble where two large gents will notice each other, and have a staredown, and then decide on a stance of mutual respect briefly to combine forces? It’s usually pretty charming and inoffensive, until last year, Big Show and Kane teamed up to laboriously dump out the last handful of fan favourites like damp kittens. This year I propose something new: the “little girl” spot! Same deal, apart from Joelle Reigns and pint-sized Joshi extraordinaire Haruka enter at numbers 10 and 11, instantly realise that they have something in common, and after some tense side-eyeing, team up to eliminate Big Show. This also builds drama for a Joelle/Roman stand-off later in the match—I’m not unrealistic, I know that Roman needs to look strong here—but I propose Joelle eliminates herself as a mark of respect, after maybe a stoic exchange of nods with her father. Sami Zayn enters at 30, and as he’s shaking his arm worryingly enthusiastically by way of introduction, Roman overshoots on an ambitious clothesline and manages to eliminate himself, Triple H, and Josh from Tough Enough in one fell swoop. This leaves Zayn as our future WrestleMania main eventer, forcing NXT to stage a coup on the grandest stage of them all. Prediction: Sami Zayn

Sean Flynn: Everyone is, in my opinion, overthinking this match way too much. Sure we can speculate on all the possible surprise entrants. My gut says AJ Styles makes an appearance to a solid reaction. I could see HHH entering the Rumble. I have a feeling that a random RVD appearance might be in the offing. But WWE is telling a damn story and they’re going to tell it until you like it. Roman Reigns is entering at #1. Roman Reigns is winning the Rumble. Roman Reigns will overcome odds damn it. Reigns takes out HHH and Fastlane, and ends up facing Brock at Mania. That story starts here. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Rob McCarron: Brock. No, Roman. No, Brock. Wait, Triple H! No, don’t be silly. Roman Reigns. What about Goldberg, though? Or AJ Styles!? Or JOHN CENA!? Unlike last year, where Roman Reigns stood alone on the pedestal of potential winners, this year features a relatively robust grouping. It really could be anyone from Triple H to Roman to Brock to Alberto Del Rio to Chris Jericho to Undertaker. An unknown contestant may step into the ring, as well. Who knows? Vince McMahon himself may not even know as of yet. I can not overstate how excited I am for this match, however. I love the Rumble. It’s my favorite match every year. The surprises, the starpower, the importance of the result… it’s WWE’s kickoff to the best time of the year. Prediction: Triple H

Jeff Hawkins:  The WWE is learning that Roman Reigns will not get sympathy in a situation where even though the heel is being evil, it still follows the parameters set forth in reality.  For example, no one cried that Sheamus took advantage of a situation to cash in Money In the Bank.  Therefore, HHH can’t be #30 and “screw” Roman.  But he can be a special #31 after Roman wins and gets beat down.  Storylines like Brock/Wyatts are set for Fastlane.  If AJ comes in, I certainly hope he’s in the late teens and lasts to the final four.  I predict MVP is a surprise, Byron Saxton is your announcer who gets thrown, and Bo Dallas is your two second special.  But again, if Alberto Del Rio loses the US Title, he’s winning the Rumble. Prediction: Roman Reigns, but then Triple H.



Be sure to catch an all new Shake Them Ropes, streaming live right after the WWE Royal Rumble ends. Watch the show on the Voices of Wrestling YouTube channel, which you can subscribe to for free!