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Thirty Superstars. One winner. One ticket to the main event of WrestleMania.
The Royal Rumble Match is here once again, and the frenzy for it is completely over the top.
The reward: a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31 against the person who leaves the Royal Rumble pay-per-view with the title belt, as current champ Brock Lesnar faces John Cena and Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat Match.
At the end of the night, who will point to the WrestleMania sign hanging above the Wells Fargo Center? Who will raise the WWE World Title belt up in the air in Philadelphia?
The road to WrestleMania kicks off… and all bets are off! Joe “The gRappler” Marsalis, Nissi Icasiano, and Michael Bueza join in on the fun with their picks and predictions for the WWE Royal Rumble PPV this Sunday (Monday in the Philippines).
Who will win the 2015 Royal Rumble Match?
Joe picks: Roman Reigns
I’m not even going to deny it. Yes, this is highly unpopular, but it’’s the realistic pick. It’s easy to name favorites like Daniel Bryan or Dolph Ziggler and hope they’ll go all the way, but with Vince McMahon still so intent on presenting Reigns as the star of the future, I’d rather not hope too much just for them to shatter my wrestling fan heart into a million pieces. (I’m still holding out some hope, but I just can’t expect.)
Michael picks: Dean Ambrose
A wildcard pick this one is. There are rumors of a Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Title at WrestleMania 31 with Ambrose and former Shield brethren Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. A victory for him would be a huge boost to his career, as well as to that of his two ex-comrades, if the rumor is true.
It would also be a sign that WWE is ready and confident enough to pass the torch to a new generation of Superstars, after previous WrestleMania main events featuring part-timers and ring veterans like John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple H.
I initially rooted for Daniel Bryan, as the WWE couldn’t make the same mistake twice. Remember, he was left off last year’s Rumble match, only to be included in the WWE Title Triple Threat match at WrestleMania XXX after intense negative fan reaction. But I realized that the story arc of Bryan’s triumph against all odds has run its course. The injuries that sidelined him for the majority of 2014 also affected his chances to return as a regular player in the main event scene.
Of course, he’s still the thrilling “YES!” man. He’ll get back to the top soon enough, just not yet in this year’s Royal Rumble match.
Nissi picks: Dolph Ziggler
I know it’s not realistic as Joe’s pick, but I would love to put my money on this guy once again (for the third-straight year in fact). Since Survivor Series, Dolph Ziggler has broken out of WWE’s jam-packed midcard to become a staple on every WWE show, despite the poor booking he received in the past. He was the sole survivor of the Team Cena vs Team Authority Survivor Series Match, and followed that stellar performance by recapturing the WWE Intercontinental championship belt from Luke Harper in a show-stealing Ladder Match at December’s TLC PPV.
Continuing with this resurgence would deliver the most sense from a WrestleMania moment standpoint. For sure, Roman Reigns is the obvious choice to win it. But I can’t keep myself from looking at the downside of it. WWE may want Roman Reigns in the main event scene, but his lukewarm reception since he and his buddies Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose broke up has proven that he is not ready to take the mantle.
Ziggler is tested and well-accomplished of running with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In addition, the audience believed in him, trusted in his ability to deliver a great match, and appreciated how much work he put into ensuring they got their money’s worth.
Who should win the WWE Title Triple Threat Match?
Joe picks: Seth Rollins
If this question is a matter of who should win, then Rollins is the man. I’d like to see it happen just to see how they’d book ‘Mania around him. Have John Cena go up against Brock Lesnar, or maybe even do Cena and Sting vs. Lesnar and Triple H (even if that sounds more of a Fast Lane PPV match than a WrestleMania match) and have Rollins square off against Reigns and Ambrose for the championship. Or maybe even Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose, and Bryan. Or maybe even… okay, sorry, my fantasy booking is getting out of hand. Very few of those things will happen, but I like entertaining the thought.
Michael picks: Seth Rollins
John Cena may be the man in big-money matches like this and Brock Lesnar one hell of a monster in the ring, but come on, having either of them in another WrestleMania main event?
“If Plan A fails, there is always a Plan B,” The Authority always says. They might be right this Sunday. Rollins might not win the triple threat battle, but his Money in the Bank briefcase might win him the war and the WWE Title.
Like what Joe said in a previous Raw Deal column, Seth Rollins has proven to be an effective heel or bad guy. I’ve been a big fan of his work since the breakup of the Shield, but boy, can he annoy even me in his promos!
Nissi picks: Brock Lesnar
Whether you like it or not, Brock Lesnar is going to headline WrestleMania as WWE Champion. With his current contract due to expire 3 months from now and numerous speculations that Lesnar might return to MMA, WWE will obviously grab to opportunity to make the most money out of it and stretch out his remaining appearances on his deal.
Lesnar is still being portrayed as an unstoppable force and a vicious villain. Having a high-profile heel in the main event of WrestleMania 31 is a good scenery as a top bill. Moreover, allowing him to win at this pay-per-view event and pass the torch to the eventual Royal Rumble winner would provide a tear-jerking WrestleMania moment. If you have Roman Reigns and Dolph Ziggler as favorites to win the Rumble match, a victory over Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 could instantly catapult them to an elite status.
Four tag team matches complete Sunday’s Royal Rumble PPV. (We wouldn’t be surprised if Teddy Long actually booked this, playa!)
There would be a WWE Tag Team Title rematch between champs The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) and The Miz & Damien Sandow.
Plus, Paige & Natalya square off against Brie Bella & WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella, while a newcomers-versus-legends bout will unfold as The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) battles The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & The Road Dogg).
Finally, on the pre-show, it’s a six-man tag team match featuring The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods) and the trio of Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Adam Rose. – Rappler.com