It’s January, and for wrestling fans, that means one thing: it’s Royal Rumble season! Kevin Carroll ranks all the entrants we’re aware of at the moment.
Yes, there’s a lot of other stuff to get excited about in wrestling at the moment, and yes the Rumble is still a few weeks away. But I’ve decided to get in the spirit of the event, and power rank EVERY superstar who’s declared for the Rumble’s chances to win, from worst to best. This week, I’ll be breaking down the men’s Rumble, while dedicating next week to the women’s side of things.
At the time of this writing, 20 gentlemen have declared their entry into this year’s Royal Rumble contest. Considering the number of surprise entries and legends that will make up a good chunk of the remaining field, it’s a safe bet to assume that 20 superstars is roughly all we’ll know before the Rumble event itself.
So without further ado, let’s get to it:
20. Jinder Mahal
Remember when Jinder Mahal was WWE Champion for much of the summer of 2017? Me either! No shot for the Modern Day Maharaja to punch his ticket to WrestleMania, I’m afraid.
Truth gets the slight edge over Mahal because of his guaranteed #30 entry, which would technically give him the best odds to win if wrestling weren’t fake. Unfortunately for Truth, this is the case, which means that the co-winner of the Mixed Match Challenge will most likely NOT be the last man left in the ring when it’s all said and done.
Could you imagine that pop though? Gives me chills to think about. Sorry, Truth!
18. Apollo Crews
The last of this tier of talent that I like to think of as the “no-shots” is Apollo Crews, who we last saw picking up a victory in mixed tag action on Monday Night RAW. As it wasn’t even him picking up the pinfall, I think it’s safe to assume that Crews will have a relatively short night in Phoenix, which is a shame because he’s a bundle of talent that needs to break out sometime in the year 2019 if he’s to have any chance in WWE at all.
Look, I love Elias as much as the next guy, I’m a card-carrying member of the Walk With Elias fan club, but could you really see him winning the Rumble? I think somewhere down the line we could see Elias elevated to the title picture, but without much momentum to speak of right now, this year won’t be the year.
16-14: Big E, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston
As much as I enjoy the New Day as a stable, that designation really hurts their chances to make any sort of waves in the Rumble match, beyond Kofi’s usual death-defying save spot, which seems to get better every year. What’s he going to do to top standing on pancakes last year? What props will he use? That’s about as good as it’s going to get for the New Day in this year’s Rumble.
13. Baron Corbin
If the WWE wishes to set Phoenix on literal fire with a riot that no police force can contain, than sure, you could look at Baron Corbin as a legit threat to win the Royal Rumble. But do we think that Vince McMahon and company really want to send the fans home that mad? I can’t see it happening, especially as the idea of a Corbin-Strowman or Corbin-Lesnar WrestleMania main event isn’t exactly appetizing.
12. John Cena
The only free agent on this list, but that tag doesn’t really matter when, by winning the match, you could essentially put yourself on whichever show you see fit. Anyway, you know Cena’s a contender in kayfabe, as a two-time Rumble winner and 16-time world champ. They’re going to build him up as potentially the favorite to win the thing, but you and I know that’s not the case.
The man just isn’t as committed to WWE as he once was, and even though I fully expect him to win world title No. 17 someday, the Rumble is supposed to make a star. They haven’t always adhered to that logic, but I expect them to this year. Another star that will be made? Whoever dumps Cena over the top rope.
11. Randy Orton
He gets the slight nod over Cena because he’s full-time and still being presented as a threat over on SmackDown, but the same logic behind Cena not winning applies to Randy Orton.
He’s already won the match twice, and there’s prestige and expectation that will come with that, but Orton hasn’t really sniffed the world title scene since dropping the belt to Jinder Mahal two years ago, and no one’s exactly clamoring for him to get back into the picture.
Look for him to start a feud off of whoever eliminates him from the match, probably carrying through WrestleMania. It seems like a good way to get someone over.
10. Bobby Lashley
Vince loves heat, but I don’t think he loves it enough to let Bobby Lashley leave Phoenix as the winner of the Royal Rumble. It would be one hell of a troll job though, you gotta admit. I don’t think they have any plans for Lashley beyond this mini-feud he seems to have going with Seth Rollins, and I think he’ll have a quiet Rumble night.
9. Samoa Joe
I’ll be the first to point out that the Samoan Submission Machine should be way, waaaaaay higher up on this list. But what has he done to really enforce that notion? He’s been on the wrong end of so many feuds and matches, and he has yet to capture his first title in the WWE since coming up from NXT, where he was a force to be reckoned with. He’ll be U.S. Champ soon, and maybe WWE champ this year, but not via the Rumble.
8. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose is going to hold onto that Intercontinental strap for a little while, I have a feeling, which almost disqualifies him from having a chance in the Royal Rumble match. But as an upper-midcard guy, you just never know what they might do with him, and I legitimately think he has more of a chance than the other fellas that have appeared on this list so far.
7. Jeff Hardy
I think at some point, we’re going to see Jeff Hardy get one last run with the WWE Championship. Why not start that now? He’s got momentum, he’s got experience, he’s a very real threat.
6. Rey Mysterio
I know, I know, he should be in the same boat as Cena and Orton. But naaaaaaah, I’m a Mysterio guy for life and I believe he presents a legit threat to the rest of the field. He’s been nothing but brilliant since returning to SmackDown, and who wouldn’t want to see Bryan-Mysterio, or maybe even Mysterio-Lesnar? I know I would.
5. Andrade “Cien” Almas
By virtue of a massive pinfall win over Rey Mysterio in tag team action on this week’s SmackDown, I’ve got to give him the edge to win the Rumble over Mysterio, even though his heel alignment doesn’t really play out well with two heel world champions at the moment. But if AJ Styles were to win the WWE Title from Bryan at the Rumble, a Styles-Almas match would be a nice callback to some of Andrade’s an early SmackDown work, and would be a heck of a match, to boot.
4. Mustafa Ali
It’s not too early to put the rocket on Ali’s back and shoot him to the top of the card. He’s already pinned the WWE champ Daniel Bryan once in tag team action, so clearly he’s going to be in the title picture sooner rather than later. Why not get him started with the biggest win of his career?
3. Finn Balor
Balor vs. Lesnar. The Demon vs. The Beast. BOOK IT.
The word is that Finn Balor is set for a big year, and if that’s the case, than a Rumble win would be the perfect way to start off a massive 2019 for him. And if you don’t want him to face Lesnar, than moving him to SmackDown and having him square off with Daniel Bryan would be just as good, if not better.
2. Seth Rollins
My personal pick to win the Rumble, I think Rollins-Lesnar is the best possible match we could have at WrestleMania (it won’t be closing the show, that honor should and will belong to the women, but more on that next week). Rollins is also someone you could move to SmackDown and feud with Bryan if that was the route WWE chose to go.
1. Drew McIntyre
He’s gotta be the favorite, right? The Scottish Psychopath has been on an absolute tear ever since reemerging on Monday Night Raw. He’s destroyed Kurt Angle, Dolph Ziggler, Finn Balor, and just about everyone in his path. Next up? Brock Lesnar.
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy
As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI. Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.
Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.
I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”
Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match
Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!
Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect
On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.
Swanton Bomb From The Heavens
When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.
Hardy Wins The WWE Championship
In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.
Straight Edge Problems For Hardy
The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.
The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE
Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.
Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut
From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.
This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.
As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.
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