AS I SEE IT: 2016 Royal Rumble Predictions
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Fox Sports announced earlier this week that WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross has signed a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling and AXS TV to be the play-by-play commentator starting in March.
JR will be taking over from current Smackdown announcer Mauro Ranallo and will be paired with Josh Barnett from the March 4 show.
“This opportunity to work with AXS TV is attractive on many fronts,” Ross said. “The travel won’t be weekly but approximately 8-10 trips to Los Angeles in a year’s time. While there, in a two-day, voice-over session, we will hammer out up to six shows. I’m happy OKC now has non-stop flights to LAX.”
JR said that he’s been a big fan of New Japan for decades and the business philosophy behind NJPW reminds him of his early years in wrestling.
“I’ve had numerous other offers, some serious and others just flirting to return to TV Wrestling broadcasting but none have had the appeal that AXS TV offered me. We think my style will fit the NJPW in-ring presentation well,” Ross added.
Now…to Sunday’s Royal Rumble, and my guesses:
* Pre-show match
Darren Young and Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger in a fatal four-way tag team match for two spots in the Royal Rumble match
Not thrilled with seeing The Dudleys stuck on the pre-show. Maybe it’s being an old ECW fan, but why did WWE bring them back just to put over the Wyatts
* WWE Divas Championship
Charlotte (with Ric Flair) will successfully defend against Becky Lynch, more than likely by some sort of screw finish involved Ric Flair. If WWE was serious about the women’s (cough…Diva’s) division and their “revolution”, they’d have Becky Lynch win, somehow getting past Ric Flair’s interference/distraction.
* Tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) take the belts from The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods). This pairing needs a jolt, and what better way to do it than for the Usos to take it…leading to a potential Wrestlemania rematch.
* WWE United States Championship
I think Alberto Del Rio will successfully defend against Kalisto, even though it’d be great to see WWE elevate Kalisto by putting the belt back on him again. But WWE will probably not want to flip-flop the belt yet again.
* Last Man Standing match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dean Ambrose will probably successfully defend against Kevin Owens. Letting Owens heel his way to a title win would be “better for business”, and allow for rematches between now and Wrestlemania..allowing Ambrose to get the belt back at Wrestlemania perhaps.
* 2016 Royal Rumble match
30-man Royal Rumble match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (with Roman Reigns defending) .
There are two stories here: one, who will win, and two what unannounced talent will appear.
Who will appear? Everyone expects AJ Styles to make his debut Sunday night. If he doesn’t, there are going to be a lot of unhappy fans. If WWE really is serious and not just teasing the Balor Club (or a similar name) influx of the New Japan 4…he HAS to appear.
Who do fans WANT to appear? Daniel Bryan. Bryan has been cleared by more doctors than an average big-city hospital…but not by WWE. He wants to come. The question is…at least for the Rumble…is WWE afraid he’d overshadow the Rumble? If they DON’T have him appear, and the others who do come in as surprises aren’t blow away, a Bryan non-appearance might well overshadow the Rumble…though not on the level that it did in Philadelphia last year.
For the winner: WWE goes one of two ways, either to continue the mega-push of Roman Reigns (perhaps with the anti-authority assistance of The Wyatts), or have what many expect to happen…HHH announced as number 30 (or close) and throw out Reigns to set up a Wrestlemania main event. My bet is the latter: HHH goes over…and we have to see more and more of The Authority against Reigns (see: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon v 2.0) between now and Wrestlemania.
Until next time…