It’s been said countless times: anything could happen at the Royal Rumble. Could Jack Swagger make a surprise return, eliminate 29 superstars, and headline Wrestlemania against Brock Lesnar? Absolutely not. But he might. That’s the beauty of the event. It’s what’s so great about the Rumble.
Since all eyes will be on the eponymous 30-man match, the rest of the card can be overlooked. After all, no one really talks about how Braun Strowman interfered in a Universal Championship match between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. Or how Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows became Raw Tag Team champions. Or how Charlotte retained her Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley. And that was all just last year.
In order to avoid wasting potential or creating forgettable booking decisions, here are three things that must happen at the Royal Rumble.
I respect Kane. Really, I do. His run with Hell No was awesome. He’s had so many great matches, and he’s easily a Hall of Famer. All that said, I really hope Kane is the fall guy for this Universal Championship match.
If you had told me a year ago that Kane would be challenging for the Universal Championship, I don’t know what I’d do. I’d probably laugh. Alas, here he is, fighting Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar in a “Beast v. Machine v. Monster” match.
WWE has done so well booking Strowman. His “face turn” was wonderfully executed. He’s pretty much the same guy, but now he wrecks the heels. He’s white hot right now, but it’s highly unlikely that he beats Lesnar for the title. It’s amazing how WWE managed to heat him back up after his snoozer of a match against Brock at No Mercy last year, but the momentum might be wasted again. If WWE wants to damage Strowman as little as possible, then Kane should be the guy to eat the pin.
Benjamin and Gable are on fire now. They put on great match after great match. Shelton Benjamin looks like he hasn’t lost a step, and Gable could be a bonafide superstar. Their character arc has been great as well. Benjamin tells Gable to have a “champion’s mentality”, so they start using dirty tactics to win matches. Also, their “why are they in the match?” shtick is hilarious.
If WWE are serious about Benjamin and Gable becoming top players (holla holla) in the tag team division (holla holla), then they will have the upstart duo dethrone the Usos. The Usos have been putting on fantastic matches, and they have solidified their spot as one of the best tag teams, but now it’s time to let Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin take the throne. Let them prove themselves. Let them become top dogs.
AJ Styles is easily the best part of Smackdown right now. Now that we’ve left Jinder Mahal behind, the future looks bright for the WWE Championship. While the handicap match for the title has all the potential to be great (as evidenced by Sami Zayn’s matches with AJ, and not really evidenced by Kevin Owens’ matches with AJ), if there’s one thing that needs to happen, it’s AJ retaining at the Rumble.
The Kevin Owens – Sami Zayn saga can continue without the title, but AJ absolutely needs to continue being the face of Smackdown. He’s just that good. If Smackdown wants to have a compelling main event at Wrestlemania, then their safest bet to do so is AJ Styles. Think of all the potential WWE Championship matches that could happen. Styles v. Orton. Maybe even something out there like Styles v. Balor. Heck, the match most people want to see is Styles v. Nakamura. Styles needs to retain come Royal Rumble. There’s no doubt about it.