The Royal Rumble is one of the most highly anticipated events on the WWE calendar and unlike the last few years, the 2017 installment looks to be one of the most unpredictable Rumbles of all time. There are multiple wrestlers who have a legitimate shot at winning the Royal Rumble. From part-timers Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker, to current stars Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Braun Strowman etc. this Rumble field is one of the most stacked in a long time. So how will the Rumble match play out? Who should headline Wrestlemania 33? Here’s my prediction of the Royal Rumble match from start-to-finish, highlighting every entrant, elimination and surprise.
ENTRANT #1 – SAMI ZAYN
ENTRANT #2 – DOLPH ZIGGLER
The first two entrants are usually two upper-mid card stars who are the ironmen of this match, meaning they should last the longest in the Rumble. Zayn has had the odds stacked against him his entire career, especially recently with his rivalry with Braun Strowman. Sami should have the underdog story told throughout this match and putting him at #1, where only two people in history have won the match from this position (Shawn Michael in 1995 and Chris Benoit in 2004) makes sense. Zayn should be paired up with Smackdown Live star Dolph Ziggler, who has a history of beginning the Royal Rumble match and has put on some great performances over the years, including a 49 minute ironman showing in the 2013 Royal Rumble match.
ENTRANT #3 – HIDEO ITAMI
The first surprise of this match and one that many may be overlooking. The #3 entrant over the last couple of years has been the most exciting of the match (the return of Bubba Ray Dudley in 2015, the debut of AJ Styles in 2016) and this year Itami takes this year’s honor. It may not be as exciting as Dudley and Styles, but it’s a main roster debut that’s long overdue. The man formerly known as KENTA has had his career disrupted by numerous injuries. To put into perspective how overdue this debut is, Hideo Itami debuted in NXT before Finn Balor! Itami comes in and hits a GTS on Ziggler which should get a huge pop.
ENTRANT #4 – RUSEV
The Bulgarian Brute is one of my favourite superstars in the WWE but unfortunately this won’t be a memorable Rumble for him (then again, neither was last year’s). Rusev should come in and deliver some thrust kicks to each superstar in the ring. Rusev stands tall in the ring until…
ENTRANT #5 – BIG CASS
Rusev’s biggest rival enters the match one spot after him. Cass and Rusev have a square-up and go back and forth until Cass delivers a big boot. Ziggler takes on Cass for a bit and goes for a Zig Zag. Cass avoids Ziggler’s finisher by clutching the ropes and as Rusev tries to clothesline Cass over the rope, the 7-foot-tall superstar pulls down the ropes, eliminating Rusev as he goes over the top.
ENTRANT #6 – XAVIER WOODS
The first member of The New Day makes his way to the Rumble and delivers some dropkicks, getting hyped up before the next entrant enters…
ENTRANT #7 – TITUS O’NEIL
It makes sense to have some interaction between Titus and The New Day due to their mini-rivalry as of late. Titus goes straight for Xavier and starts clobbering him. Meanwhile, outside the ring Rusev attacks Enzo which catches Big Cass’ attention. Cass goes out through the middle ropes and fights off Rusev, keeping him out of the Rumble match for the time being.
ENTRANT #8 – CHRIS JERICHO
Time for a big name to enter the Rumble and it’s Y2J. He goes straight for Hideo Itami and the two have a nice sequence, with Itami going for a GTS and Jericho ultimately catching the knee and turning it into the Walls of Jericho. Cass and Rusev continue fighting until Jinder Mahal appears and Rusev quickly gets the upper hand, before locking The Acolade on Cass.
ENTRANT #9 – BIG E
Big E enters and immediately helps out Xavier Woods, who is struggling against Titus. E and Woods then team up and get some double teams moves on Titus, Ziggler and Jericho. Rusev continues beating up on Cass and Enzo, with help from Jinder Mahal, leaving the certified G’s laying outside of the ring. Remember, Cass is still in this match. The crowd at this point seems a little bit dead but they know who to expect at entry #10. The internet fans have been waiting for this moment. The countdown goes 3…2…1… The buzzer sounds. His music is playing. Could it be?
ENTRANT #10 – THE MIZ
Nope. The Miz shows the world why he’s the best heel in the WWE by coming out to Tye Dillinger’s music and trolling the wrestling community. Instead of Miz coming out to Daniel Bryan’s music, why not do it to someone who can wrestle the Miz inside of the ring, not the retired Bryan. Fans have been asking for the Perfect 10 to make his main roster debut as entry #10 in the Rumble since NXT Takeover: Toronto. There is a little spark to a potential feud as Miz and Dillinger went at it on Twitter, but having The Miz come out to Dillinger’s music will sure add fuel to the fire. The move will also question whether Dillinger will actually make his main roster debut. Well…
ENTRANT #11 – TYE DILLINGER
The Perfect 10 finally makes his long-awaited main roster debut in the Royal Rumble match. He goes straight for The Miz for obvious reasons, before giving superkicks to Sami Zayn, Big E and Xavier Woods. He gives the crowd a ten pose and proceeds to beat up on Miz. The Miz would be a great rivalry for Tye Dillinger to start his main roster career on. This would also mean that the Perfect Ten would be wrestling on Tuesday nights.
ENTRANT #12 – KOFI KINGSTON
The final member of the longest-reigning tag team champions in WWE history makes his way and together, The New Day starts asserting their dominance. They give a Unicorn Stampede to Titus before all three lift up Titus and toss him outside of the ring.
TITUS O’NEIL ELIMINATED.
The New Day proceeds to celebrate with the booty-shaking or whatever Big E does. The ring is filling up and someone may want to clear the ring…
ENTRANT #13 – BRAUN STROWMAN
The number 13 seems like an appropriate entry number for Strowman as it signals bad luck for the rest of the competitors in the ring. Strowman enters and immediately throws Hideo Itami outside of the ring.
HIDEO ITAMI ELIMINATED.
He then beats up on Tye Dillinger before tossing him over the top rope, drawing loud boos from the crowd.
TYE DILLINGER ELIMINATED.
All three members of the New Day then go after Braun, before Strowman shows off his strength by pushing all three to the ground. He then clothelines both Woods and Big E out of the ring.
XAVIER WOODS ELIMINATED.
BIG E ELIMINATED.
Titus is still outside for some reason and laughing in their faces and three start arguing outside of the ring. Meanwhile, Kofi is trying to fight off Braun and goes for a crossbody. However, Braun catches Kofi and tosses him outside to where Titus, Big E and Woods are. All three catch Kofi, even Titus, who is surprised to be holding him. Titus, who is holding Kofi’s legs, lets go and his feet almost touch the floor, but Kofi cling onto Big E like a koala. Now Titus tries everything he can to bring Kofi’s feet down to the floor, but Woods manages to fight off Titus, allowing E to safely put Kofi back in the ring. This effort completely goes useless once Kofi re-enters the ring and is superkicked over the top rope by Ziggler.
KOFI KINGSTON ELIMINATED.
ENTRANT #14 – APOLLO CREWS
Crews, who has had beef with Ziggler as of late, goes straight for him and unloads some punches on Ziggler, before Braun grabs Apollo and powerslams him on the floor. Braun continues being his dominant self, knocking down everyone in sight. Big Cass then gets back up from his beating at the hands of Rusev. He stands face to face with Braun Strowman in the middle of the ring. The two throw some punches, but it’s clear the beating from Rusev has taken it’s toll. Strowman quickly gets the upper hand and eliminates Cass.
BIG CASS ELIMINATED.
ENTRANT #15 – BRAY WYATT
Bray enters and we get a staredown between Bray and Braun, before Bray goes on to attack Apollo Crews, eliminating him in the process.
APOLLO CREWS ELIMINATED.
Braun turns around and standing in front of him is Sami Zayn. Zayn remembers everything Strowman has done to him during their rivalry and proceeds to attack Strowman. Braun catches Sami flying through the air and tries to throw him over the rope. Sami locks Braun in a tight headlock and slowly his momentum starts to tilt Braun (e.g. similar to what Chris Benoit did to the Big Show in the 2004 Rumble). It looks as though the underdog will eliminate the Monster Among Men, but Braun finds his feet, has him on his shoulders and powerslams Zayn to the mat. Strowman stands in the ring as he awaits the next entrant.
ENTRANT #16 – BIG SHOW
Show and Strowman face off in a repeat of what happened on Monday Night Raw. Chris Jericho tries to interrupt the staredown, before Show knocks out Jericho. Ziggler tries to ruin the staredown and Strowman responds by grabbing Ziggler and throwing him over the top rope.
DOLPH ZIGGLER ELIMINATED.
Show and Strowman continue to face off before eventually coming to blows.
ENTRANT #17 – CESARO
Cesaro enters and gives uppercuts to everyone in the ring, leading to a Cesaro Swing for The Miz.
ENTRANT #18 – LUKE HARPER
Harper helps out Bray Wyatt despite what happened on Smackdown Live this past week. Wyatt gives orders to Harper, who delivers discus clotheslines to Sami Zayn and Cesaro.
ENTRANT #19 – KANE
Kane returns and goes after Wyatt and Harper due to their unfinished business near the end of 2016. Kane delivers a chokeslam to both Harper and Wyatt and then focuses his attention on The Miz. Big Show and Braun Strowman are still fighting each other, choking each other out as both step over the top rope and end up outside on the apron. Both look like they’re trying to go for a chokeslam on each other, until Sami Zayn out of nowhere delivers a Helluva Kick to Strowman, which knocks him off the mat and eliminates him.
BRAUN STROWMAN ELIMINATED.
ENTRANT #20 – RANDY ORTON
Orton helps out Wyatt and Harper by attacking Kane and delivering an RKO. Orton then throws Kane over the top rope.
The Wyatt Family then turn their attention to the Big Show. Show manages to fight off Orton and Harper, but Wyatt catches Show into Sister Abigail. The three all lift up Show and throw him out of the ring.
BIG SHOW ELIMINATED.
The three Wyatt family members stand tall inside the ring, despite their troubles as of late.
ENTRANT #21 – DEAN AMBROSE
The Intercontinenal Champion runs to the ring and takes it to the Wyatts. He clotheslines Harper and hits Dirty Deeds on Orton. Ambrose and Wyatt then square off before Miz attacks Ambrose. Miz tries to eliminate the Lunatic Fringe, but Ambrose flips Miz over the top rope and eliminates him.
THE MIZ ELIMINATED.
The Wyatts get back on their feet and beat up on Zayn, Cesaro, Ambrose and Jericho, who’s just recovered from the knockout punch. Once again, the Wyatts await the next entrant.
ENTRANT #22 – BROCK LESNAR
Lesnar runs straight for the Wyatts as they have unfinished business from last year’s Rumble, when the Wyatts (without Orton) eliminated Lesnar. Brock takes all three members to Suplex City, before taking the rest of the competitors in the ring to the same destination.
ENTRANT #23 – MARK HENRY
This entry really goes to anyone who’s from Texas e.g. Jake Roberts, JBL, Shawn Michaels etc. to get a nice little hometown crowd pop. I’m going with Henry who’s more likely to compete then the three wrestlers I mentioned aforementioned. Unfortunately, Lesnar also takes Henry on a ride to Suplex City, before hitting an F5 and throwing him over the rope.
MARK HENRY ELIMINATED.
Lesnar looks determined as he awaits the next entrant.
ENTRANT #24 – GOLDBERG
The face off everyone’s been waiting for is here. Goldberg and Lesnar come nose-to-nose but are immediately interrupted by the Wyatts. Goldberg delivers a spear to Harper and Wyatt, while Lesnar hits an F5 on Orton. Goldberg and Lesnar square off again. Until…
ENTRANT #25 – MOJO RAWLEY
Mojo is hyped up as enters the ring until he gets speared straight away by Goldberg. Goldberg then grabs Mojo and tosses him out.
MOJO RAWLEY ELIMINATED.
Lesnar tries to quickly eliminate Goldberg, but Goldberg fights him off. Jericho and Zayn go at it and Jericho throws Zayn over the top rope, but Sami is holding on. Then Jericho ducks and Bray Wyatt knocks Zayn off the apron like a mad truck, ending Zayn’s iron man performance.
SAMI ZAYN ELIMINATED.
ENTRANT #26 – SHEAMUS
The Celtic Warrior helps his tag partner Cesaro fight off the Wyatts. Following that, Sheamus delivers a Brogue Kick to Jericho before eating a spear from Goldberg.
ENTRANT #27 – BARON CORBIN
The man who drew the luckiest number in the Royal Rumble match enters and takes it to everyone in the ring, not afraid of throwing punches at Lesnar and Goldberg. He delivers an End of Days to Dean Ambrose and tries to eliminate the Intercontinental champ.
ENTRANT #28 – THE UNDERTAKER
The gong sounds and everyone is suddenly alert. Undertaker gives a chokeslam to everyone in sight, including Corbin, Lesnar and a double chokeslam for Cesaro and Sheamus. The ring is filling up with competitors as number 29 enters.
ENTRANT #29 – SAMOA JOE
The biggest pop of the night is for Joe, who like Hideo Itami and Tye Dillinger earlier in the match, makes his main roster debut in the Rumble match. His first square off is with The Undertaker and Joe, not afraid of the Deadman, takes it to Taker. He pummels him into a corner before turning around and squaring off with Brock Lesnar. Meanwhile, Orton and Harper grab both Cesaro and Sheamus, who have just been chokeslammed by The Undertaker, and they throw them both over the top rope.
It looks as though Orton and Harper have reconciled, until Harper eliminates Orton!
RANDY ORTON ELIMINATED.
This shock elimination makes Wyatt furious and Bray yells at Harper about what’s just transpired. As this is going on, Lesnar lifts both Wyatt and Harper and eliminates the two as revenge for last year.
LUKE HARPER ELIMINATED.
BRAY WYATT ELIMINATED.
Everyone expected in the Royal Rumble match has appeared but there’s still one entrant left. Who could it be?
ENTRANT #30 – FINN BALOR
This spot is for any big star making their return or debut (e.g. Kurt Angle or Kenny Omega). But I’m going out on a limb here and saying Balor will pull a John Cena 2008 Royal Rumble moment and miraculously return from his serious shoulder injury. Balor is back on the road to get back his Universal Championship and takes out everyone in the ring. He comes face to face with The Undertaker and the crowd gives a huge pop. That moment is ruined by Samoa Joe, who attacks Balor and the two former NXT rivals go at it.
Baron Corbin tries to eliminate The Undertaker but Taker ducks and low-bridges Corbin over the top rope.
BARON CORBIN ELIMINATED.
The Undertaker turns around and eats a spear from Goldberg. Goldberg then hits a jackhammer on Taker! Goldberg is now on a roll and looks to spear Chris Jericho, but Jericho dodges and instead Dean Ambrose takes the spear. Brock Lesnar becomes the ultimate opportunist, lifting up Ambrose and tossing him over the rope.
DEAN AMBROSE ELIMINATED.
We’re down to our final six and Goldberg and Lesnar are at it again. Meanwhile, Samoa Joe is trying to eliminate The Undertaker, while Jericho and Balor go at it. Balor is trying to eliminate Jericho, as Kevin Owens arrives with his Universal Championship and enters the ring. He tries to hit Balor from behind, but Balor ducks and Owens hits Jericho instead, knocking him over the top rope.
CHRIS JERICHO ELIMINATED.
Jericho looks disgusted at Owens as Balor smirks. Balor then turns around and eats an spear from Goldberg. Goldberg looks to set up for a jackhammer but Lesnar eliminates Goldberg from behind!
Lesnar smiles, but Samoa Joe comes from behind and eliminates Lesnar, with help from Goldberg, who’s on the outside.
BROCK LESNAR ELIMINATED.
The final three remain. Would it be Samoa Joe, making an impact in his WWE main roster debut? Would it be The Undertaker, looking to main event Wrestlemania in possibly his final match? Or would it be Finn Balor, coming back from a devastating injury to claim the Universal Championship he never lost? Joe and Balor go at it, delivering a nice sequence before Joe takes down Balor with some suplexes. Joe then runs into a chokeslam attempt from The Undertaker, who is countered into the Coquina Clutch from Joe. Taker is knocked unconscious and then Joe goes on to eliminate Taker.
THE UNDERTAKER ELIMINATED.
The final two are Joe and Balor. Two former rivals from NXT doing battle in the Royal Rumble. The two go at it for a while, similar to the finale between Chris Jericho and Sheamus. After going at it for five minutes, Joe looks to lock Balor in a Coquina Clutch and although it’s locked on, Balor manages to run Joe towards the ropes as both flip over the top rope. Here, Joe flips over, losing his grip on the Coquina Clutch and landing on the floor, while Balor somehow manages to hang onto the ropes.
SAMOA JOE ELIMINATED.
THE WINNER OF THE 2017 ROYAL RUMBLE: FINN BALOR!
Now, unfortunately it’s highly unlikely that Balor will return at the Rumble, although he is getting tests to see if he can be medically cleared to compete. With this Balor win, he’ll go on to challenge Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship. But with the Jericho/Owens saga, Balor may get caught in the middle of it all, making it a triple threat match at Wrestlemania between Balor, Owens and Jericho. I’m not a fan of part-timers winning the Royal Rumble, so I ruled out Goldberg and Lesnar since they are set to face off at Wrestlemania. I also ruled out Undertaker since he doesn’t need the Rumble win to elevate his Wrestlemania match. The only way I would book an Undertaker victory is if he’s taking on Cena at Mania for the WWE Championship and that may not end up happening. It’d be awesome to see Balor and Joe as the final two. It would help the whole New Era thing WWE is going on about and the two already have a cool story behind them, making this Rumble matchup important.
However, if Balor is unable to compete, my alternative pick for the Rumble winner would be Chris Jericho. Obviously things would play out differently in the Royal Rumble, but there’s a great story being told between Owens and Jericho and Jericho’s Rumble win would drive a wedge between the two and create an awesome contest between Owens and Jericho at Mania. Maybe after one of them wins, Balor could return at the RAW after Wrestlemania and challenge for the belt?