This week, Robert DeFelice, Jordan Chaffiotte, and Jonathan Maldonado will be giving their thoughts on this Friday's WWE Greatest Royal Rumble!
What a card! We've got ladders, caskets, cages, and a 50-man melee! Does it all make sense? Does any of it need to in order to be fun? Let’s discuss…
Question 1: Which of these special attraction matches appeals to you more: John Cena vs. Triple H or The Undertaker vs. Rusev in a Casket Match?
MALDONADO: Leaning toward Cena vs. Papa Haitch here. Contrary to the trending sentiment, I love the randomness of the matches on this card with no stories attached and this match here takes the cake for me. While Undertaker and Rusev should be somewhat fun, and is even more random, I see that bout being an extended squash.
Cena vs. Triple H will probably end in a Cena victory, by the match itself should be a lot of fun. Here’s two prominent veterans with a rich history who will have near total control of the way the match is called and paced, and that’s a recipe for an entertaining show.
CHAFFIOTTE: Definitely Cena and Triple H. Here's the thing I've noticed with Triple H, he sometimes seems to be making his opponents work for it. Take the match he had with Roman Reigns and WrestleMania compared to the one he had just a month before with Dean Ambrose at Fastlane. He made both of them come and get it. Ambrose seems to have taken well to the challenge, Reigns, in that match, not so much. H doesn't hand out good matches just because you're in the ring with him. When you're a company guy like Cena, I don't see this being a problem. So even though H has put on his fair share of stinkers in the last few years, I think this will impress.
When it comes to The Undertaker, I believe they should let him RIP- Retire In Peace. I imagine it's hard to give up the thing you've done with your whole life but we all have to move on a certain point. His match with Cena at WrestleMania was so underwhelming, I'm just not pumped about this. Rusev is always a good time but he deserves the US title, not this.
DEFELICE: Cena vs. Hunter is the more attractive match for a multitude of reasons. First, since neither man is really full time, this match can go either way and allow us to show our brains off and enjoy an inconsequential meeting of two modern legends. Secondly, it's not a Casket Match. This means they will actually be able to work in some fun false finishes. Third and most personal, I really came into my own as a fan during the middle of the Ruthless Aggression era, which was almost highlighted and dominated by this matchup. So, the twelve-year-old in me is really looking forward to this one.
Words cannot describe how much I wanted Chris Jericho to be the one facing The Undertaker. If that match had stayed scheduled, I may have a different answer for you here. I just think that Undertaker vs. Rusev means another modern-day star has to fall to a star of yesteryear and he will likely fall quite easily and quite quickly. I'm happy Undertaker feels good enough to go but it's unfortunate for Rusev.
For whatever it's worth, I see Hunter beating John here.
Question 2: So we're back at it again with Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a Steel Cage Match for the Universal Championship. How do you see this match ending? Also, what do you want to see Roman Reigns do coming out of this?
DeFELICE: I hate that I have to talk about this match. We need to move on from the idea that part-time guys and guys from the past are always going up to appear better than the superstars that are working their asses off day in and day out. I don't think Roman is the guy to beat Lesnar, but he should be. Don't get me wrong, Roman doesn't need a crowning achievement, he's been crowned twice already. However, I think Roman should be established as the badass of this generation who is man enough to take Lesnar down. Unfortunately, at Wrestlemania Brock Lesnar destroyed Roman Reigns and it doesn't leave me very hopeful for a different result here, or at least it leaves me confused as to why Roman Reigns would get another chance to begin with.
Let's just get on with it: Samoa Joe costs Roman Reigns this match, Roman and Joe punctuate their situation at Backlash, and Roman moves on to the Money In The Bank Ladder Match, where he will tease that he's going to use the briefcase to cash in on Brock. Then, when he's on the ladder, he will be thwarted by whoever he will feud with for the next few months and he may not get this Universal Championship victory until 2018. Sigh, I just want to get this over with. We know Roman is supposed to be the guy, so let's just get there already.
MALDONADO: I want to see Roman Reigns annihilate Brock Lesnar and come out of this as champ. Unfortunately that won’t happen because Brock isn’t signing a contract to not be champion. We’ll probably get more of them same with Brock tossing around Roman like a ragged doll, maybe a spot where Roman seems like he might actually pull this out, only for Brock to suppress the rally and retain once again. Following the Mania shocker, I’m not sold on a title switch any time soon.
The only way I see Reigns walking out as champ is with Paul Heyman turn that many assumed would happen at Mania, but at this point that wouldn’t make any sense. Brock is the attraction, the beast, the conqueror and all that other nonsense and Heyman isn’t letting that go following the thrashing at Mania.
You’re going to have to Wait until SummerSlam if you want to see a title switch.
CHAFFIOTTE: So one of the podcasts I like to listen to started to call the WWE Championship the Legacy title, and while that's a little off considering that belt itself was only a few years old, it does make me feel better about the Universal Championship. The WWE Championship is a title belt. The Universal Championship is more of an abstract concept. That makes me feel better.
Reigns probably won't retain. For one he just suffered a fairly decisive loss so he'd have to figure out the key this time around. One thing we know about Reigns, is moveset depth isn't really his thing. Wow I'm really hard on Reigns today, I apologize to the Big Dog. But let's be real, we know his thing, he doesn't have a huge arsenal. That's okay, neither does Brock Lesnar. So how am I supposed to believe the cage is going to change things so much that it alters the very fabric of the match? What is Reigns going to do different this time than all the other times? Work harder? What new mistake is Lesnar going to make? I just don't buy it. Oh, also, Lesnar is reportedly close to breaking CM Punk's record and we all know WWE is petty.
This belt doesn't mean that much to me. It's positioned to look good on posters, not steal shows. The more I accept that, the more enjoyable I find WWE to be. Lesnar can peace out, I'll catch him at SummerSlam.
Question 3: For the first time ever, there will be a 50-Man Royal Rumble Match! With no real prize for the winner, outside of a trophy, who do you see walking away with this historic victory? Also, if you had any creative power, what would you gift the winner of this match?
MALDONADO: Daniel Bryan should win this match. Let’s just strap the rocket to his in-ring career once again because we all want it and his come back as been a lot more action heavy than I anticipated. Jordan says too little, too late to make up for 2013, but I’m cool with this as consolation.
As a prize, I love the idea of a title shot at SummerSlam, another Jordan idea. You’re on a roll! SummerSlam nowadays suffers a bit from a lack of build up for such a hyped show, and this might be the prescription to solve that.
CHAFFIOTTE: We're not really on the Road to SummerSlam yet, but let's say for the purposes of the Greatest Royal Rumble, the road starts early this year. They can announce last minute or afterwards that the winner has a title opportunity at SummerSlam, much like the annual one for WrestleMania. I maintain that to WrestleMania's "Show of Shows," SummerSlam is the "Show of Wrestling." Then the winner should be someone who is a true great wrestler capable of putting on those show stealers, and they probably have to come from SmackDown Live since Lesnar/Reigns isn't over anytime soon. That brings us to a couple top choices.
Number one, The Miz, as he might just be the best champion on the current full time roster. His work over the past few years has earned him a title shot on a major four, if not another world title run. Trade the belt from AJ Styles to Daniel Bryan in the process and we've got ourselves a ball game. The downside is he probably wants to take some time at home with his new baby, and so our fiery Miz promos might be fewer.
Number two, Samoa Joe. This speaks for itself. Or better yet, go watch a Samoa Joe promo and watch him speak for himself. This guy is money. He is doing some of the best character work across the entire company and he is brutal in the ring. As SmackDown Champion he would bring a freshness to it, Styles has held on to it for a while which is fine but I do think it's time. I will admit his NXT run was slightly disappointing but I think that was an outlier. He's a fun heel, the kind I pop for before remembering I'm supposed to be booing. There are probably half a dozen awesome feuds waiting to happen for a champion Samoa Joe.
Number three, Daniel Bryan, for what should be obvious reasons. But if it happens I will pout and stomp my feet and shout "too little too late" at WWE cause I'm still not over the 2013 Royal Rumble.
DeFELICE: An inconsequential Royal Rumble just doesn't feel proper. I agree with Jordan, they could easily make it a number one contender at SummerSlam type of situation, and at this point that's their only viable option. If I was playing Fantasy Booker, I would have made this match for the Universal Championship because not even the mighty Brock Lesnar can take on 49 other competitors successfully. It will be interesting to see if a late stipulation gets added but for now it looks like this match is simply for possession of a trophy.
As far as a winner is concerned, I've narrowed it down to three choices depending on what story they want to tell.
Scenario one, we tell the story of heart and endurance as Daniel Bryan comes out on top and perhaps even wins the match from the number one position. While the number one position idea is a stretch, Bryan winning is not. Maybe with this Royal Rumble being for nothing but a trophy, this could be a way to give Bryan they Rumble victory people have been clamoring for since 2014.
Scenario two is a lot more old school. Size matters in a Battle Royal. If you want to tell a story of a big monster conquering the field, then Braun Strowman is on his way to a major victory here. Again, this falls back on this match being inconsequential. What better way to keep Braun in the spotlight than to have him run roughshod over 49 other individuals? Records can be broken, bodies can be tossed and at the end of the night, The Monster Among Men can stand tall.
Scenario three, we are in fact building to SummerSlam and we need to establish a new main eventer. In this scenario, Bobby Lashley stands tall at the end of the Royal Rumble and he moves forward to build towards a match for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam with Brock Lesnar. Lashley is one of the best pure athletes in company history, and is insanely strong. He can also accomplish both prior scenarios if need be. Gun to my head, this is the guy I'm going with. My official prediction: Bobby Lashley wins it all.
Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!