This week, Jordan Chaffiotte, Cadyen Parkhurst, and Ben Guest will be giving their opinions on the 2017 Royal Rumble. This Sunday marks the beginning of the road to WrestleMania, it's the Thanksgiving, if you will, to WrestleMania's Christmas.This year is quite possibly one of the most stacked matches in history. The best part about the Royal Rumble, what makes it my personal favorite night of the year, is the sense of unpredictability. Even if you think you 100% know what's going to happen, there are so many moving parts that any number of things could happen to mess that up. Let's see what twists and turns these Smark Out Moment writers are anticipating and look back on some past years.
Question 1: Some low hanging fruit for everyone to start: Who will and who should win the 2017 Royal Rumble? Keep in mind that these can be two different people if your heart and head can't agree.
CHAFFIOTTE: Guys, I definitely did not write in that stipulation for the sake of my own answer. Okay, maybe I did, because if I were a betting woman, I'd put my money on Bruan Strowman. Betting odds have proven to be pretty reliable and Bruan is a heavy favorite. Yawn. It's not that I don't like Bruan, I do, I just want to be careful about his booking. I think what he did with Sami Zayn this year was transcendent and I don't think it should be over. Having him lose to Sami at WrestleMania would be huge, and while it might set him back slightly in terms of title chasing, it would make his character so much more dynamic. Not to mention, give him a clear path to win Money in the Bank and get his revenge on plucky Sami Zayn in the process.
Oh and speaking of Sami Zayn…
My should win is a dark horse pick, Sami Zayn for the Royal Rumble winner. I am sticking to it. Like I said, it's not lip service to call his feud with Bruan "transcendent," especially the parts with Mick Foley. This is a performer who knows how to make magic. That's been true since his NXT feud with Neville, all the way up to his most recent Kevin Owens feud that included a finish that was possibly one of the best storytelling moments in a long time. That being said, I'd like to see Finn Balor regain his gold at WrestleMania, so instead, Sami should chase the WWE World title to get himself to SmackDown.
PARKHURST: This may seem like the most obvious question, but at the same time the most complicated. There are a lot of working parts in the Rumble this year. Lesnar and Goldberg are both practically already eliminated as it is fairly obvious those two are set to rumble at WrestleMania. As for who WILL win, The Undertaker. Who SHOULD win? Bray Wyatt.
It seems kind of clear, but at the same time a little foggy that Undertaker wins the Rumble and has the WrestleMania showdown with John Cena to end his HOF career. Jordan had a good point in her answer that Strowman could very well win too, but I'm still putting my money on The Deadman and his last hurrah.
However, Bray Wyatt should win. He deserves a major push and the potential to main even the show of shows in April. I'm guessing that we will see some sort of Wyatt Family triple threat at WrestleMania between Orton, Harper, and Wyatt but I would much rather see an AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt match since we have already seen Cena vs. Wyatt at Mania. Nonetheless, the fact that Wyatt, one of the true great characters WWE has ever had, has yet to taste singles gold is a crime in my opinion. This is WWE's chance to make it all right, but I'm not expecting it.
GUEST: I've been really struggling to work out who I think will win the Royal Rumble this year, a number of people could have a good chance (and that's a very good thing). The Undertaker and Braun Strowman are the current favourites and I think they are going to give the win to The Undertaker. The fact that he has appeared on Raw and SmackDown means that it won't be obvious who he is going to face at WrestleMania and I think it is too early to push Braun Strowman to this level, although I wouldn't be surprised if they did it anyway.
As for who should win the Rumble, I would love to see the Rumble used to push someone to the next level. Having The Miz enter at number 10, instead of Tye Dillinger and maybe even show him swapping numbers behind Dillinger's back, then have him outside of the ring for a majority of the match before stealing a win could be incredible!
Question 2: The Rumble has brought some iconic moments over the years. What has been your favorite memory from this show?
CHAFFIOTTE: Fun fact: The Royal Rumble 2014 was the night that I decided I liked wrestling, really liked it. I remember sitting in my college living room and all of us cracking up as El Torito came out to the ring. The Rumble is a great reminder that really anything can happen in wrestling (even if it doesn't feel that way sometimes) and that it's supposed to bring a smile to your face.
A less smile-bringing moment came later that night when #30 arrived and it was not, in fact, Daniel Bryan like we were all holding our breath for. Rey Mysterio came out and there was a collective deflation in the room. It was disappointing, to say the least, but at the same time, isn't that incredible? That a piece of fiction can get you so invested that the wind is completely taken out of your sails when it doesn't go your way? That's what it's about, that's what makes wrestling special.
PARKHURST: I'm going all the way back to the iconic 2005 Royal Rumble. A then fifth grade Cayden Parkhurst got a DVD box set of every 2005 WWE pay-per-view in a box decorated with the new John Cena spinner belt that was taking the world by storm at the time. This was my very first Royal Rumble I remember watching, and I watched it nearly 6 or 7 times. Seeing it come down to two new guys who had never tasted world title gold in John Cena and Batista gave this one a special flair that for the first time ever one of these two is main eventing the big show. Batista and Cena traded throwing each other out of the ring after a controversial finish made it hard to tell who won. Then, out comes Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The owner of WWE couldn't allow one of his mainstay pay-per-views to end in controversy between Raw and SmackDown, and boy the boss was heated. Throwing his jacket while doing the classic Vince strut to the ring with his face as red as it gets. Now, fifth grade me was expecting Vince to get in the ring and beat the holy hell out of anyone he could grab, but instead, he gets in the ring and falls straight on his ass. It eventually comes out the boss ending up destroying both of his quads on the way to the ring, and then restarted the match. We end up seeing Batista go on and win, and then see both Cena and Batista take home gold at WrestleMania 21 (one of my all time favorite WrestleMania's). I'll never forget the chaos and confusion a young me felt seeing all this unfold.
GUEST: I have three things in mind for this, the first is CM Punks sermon at the 2010 Royal Rumble, the second is AJ Styles' debut last year, which was the biggest I've marked out in a long time. But, my choice is from the 2008 Royal Rumble. Three months prior the Rumble John Cena had torn his pectoral muscle completely off the bone and was expected to be out for between 7 months and a year. This was a time where John Cena was getting booed at every show and at the height of the "John Cena sucks" 'movement'. So when he came back in such a short time frame, everyone was caught completely off guard. This lead to the one of my favourite moments in all of wrestling as the fans in the arena, and many at home, found themselves cheering and celebrating the return of the man they hated so much, all whilst John Cena himself stopped, posed, gave a smug grin and went on to win the match. Perfect!
Question 3: What would a Royal Rumble be without surprise entrants? Who would you like to see make an appearance this year?
CHAFFIOTTE: First off, and unsurprisingly, I'm really hoping to see Finn Balor. I'm a Balor mark, I know, but it was so cool to see him at the UK Tournament. He has a tendency to be a little troll on social media, so I don't believe anything about whether or not he's healthy enough. It'll be up to fate, but I have high hopes. However, I think a win makes him look unstoppable and while that's great, he possibly has a much better opportunity to work a recovery angle and climb the mountain back to WrestleMania. It'll give his character a lot to really have to fight for it.
Second, an appearance by one or two of the UK Tournament participants would be a welcome surprise.I'm actually expecting to see Tyler Bate, especially considering he's already on their roster on WWE.com, and someone like Trent Seven (at #7?) would be cool to see. Although Monday's Raw threw a wrench in this plan, it would be really compelling Seth Rollins fight his way back into the Rumble earlier on, only to get jumped at the ramp by none other than Pete Dunne. He surprises Seth from behind, low blows him, and stomps on his chest until he's laid out, at which point Triple H comes out. His reward for doing the Game's dirty work is Seth's spot in the Royal Rumble while H drags Seth away. He may not accomplish much in the actual match, but he will, what did Triple H say? "Make a name for yourself?" Yeah. That.
Last, and because a girl can dream, my final pick for a surprise entry is the Empress of Tomorrow: Auska. Talk about a debut! Not only is it her first night on the main roster, she bypasses the women to prove that she can hang with the boys, and can she ever hang. Auska's one of the greatest wrestlers on earth, period, and getting an elimination or two would sky-rocket her stock. She wouldn't have to get far, but it would set up a storyline with say, Natalya, who has also entered the Royal Rumble in the past. Plenty of women have proven they could handle this spot, but Auska is perfect for it.
PARKHURST: This has to be Samoa Joe, right? I've been wanting to see Joe make the jump to SmackDown since the brand split, and this is the perfect spot for his debut. I would love to see Shinsuke as well since I'm a total fanboy, but with him having an NXT Championship match the Saturday before at Takeover: San Antonio I highly doubt we'll see him. Also seeing Tye Dillinger come out at the 10 spot would make me a happy guy too. He has worked his ass off to become something great in NXT, so he deserves this as well.
To echo what Jordan said, I would love to see Finn too. All reports say that he won't be available until around Mania, but to see Demon Balor come out would blow the roof off the building. This isn't really a comeback, but it is obvious Kane is on his career's last leg. He is a legend, but really made his mark at the Rumble with his record eliminations until Roman took that honor. But to see Kane have one last strong showing at the Rumble would be pretty cool too.
GUEST: How can you narrow this down to one or two people? I'm just going to reel off some names then talk about my top choice in more detail. Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Kenny Omega, Tye Dillinger (at number 10, unless The Miz gets it), Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Kurt Angle, Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne and Bob Backlund. But my top pick has to be Ric Flair. Even though I don't feel entirely comfortable watching a 67-year-old man wrestle, it would be amazing to see John Cena level Flair's record, then have Ric himself enter the Rumble, to try and take his record back. Flair has said he would be willing to have a match with Cena when he has leveled or beat the record and this could be an ideal way to set that match up.
Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!