By Travis Welch
The Royal Rumble is just two days away, and I’m sure you have been speculating just like I have at who are going to be the surprise entrants in this years marquee battle royal. Well I’ve decided to put together a quick list of the 5 guys most likely to show up and what my opinions on it are. without further ado, lets get started.
5. Tye Dillinger
Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first, so obvious that fans are chanting it leading up to the rumble. There’s no reason imaginable the red hot Tye Dillinger shouldn’t be included in the Rumble ,as what other number, but 10! 10! 10! The 10 chant is now showing up everywhere, from NXT to WCPW, making ref counts somewhat annoying. That aside this guy has done a lot for NXT is a solid in ring worker who is organically getting over with the audience. Unfortunately he is still being used as the guy most people beat in NXT before they move up to the main event scene in the brand.
If they pull the trigger on this it will be one of the larger pops on the show, no one expects him to win, but just giving him this moment and, maybe, a shocking elimination to validate a call up to the main roster would be a feel good moment for the more invested fans.
4. Finn Balor
Let’s get this one out of the way, the first Universal Champion Finn Balor has been rehabbing his injured shoulder for months, even going to WWE doctors earlier this week to see if he can be medically cleared for in ring work. As you would expect they aren’t going to announce the results either way, to build suspense for the Rumble. Seeing the Demon King return and go on a tear would be a sight to behold.
I don’t see this happening whether he is cleared or not. If you have him appear, but not win the Rumble, you are risking blow back on whoever wins at a level that will surpass the Reigns and Bautista debacles of years past. At best I’d expect an appearance going after the man who injured him, Seth Rollins, or the man holding the title he never lost, Reigns or Owens, depending on the Universal Title match outcome.
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
The hottest act on NXT, and some would argue the entire WWE roster, could be the entrant that gets the most buzz. His natural charisma would draw in those unfamiliar with him and bring more eyes to NXT. He would be a great spoil to a man roster guy like Braun or Corbin, and a few knees to peoples heads would be a great mark out moment for everyone in attendance. this is actually one of the people that would cause great disappointment if he didn’t show up. YYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!
Listen, I love Nakamura, being a Puroresu mark I have had so many conflicting emotions about his run in NXT. Sure, he’s been booked as a big deal, and been booked dominant as well, but anyone who has followed his career will inevitably have one lingering complaint in the back of their head, he’s main roster, main event material. After recent interviews with HHH though, it seems like that NXT is no longer the developmental brand we treat it as, basically saying that future talents might get called up but wont necessarily stay there, basically doing tours on other brands. Until they find a new face of NXT, which I don’t think Roode is, then he will just fall back down and be used as a selling point for the brand.
2. Kurt Angle
Olympic gold medalist, Attitude Era and Ruthless Aggression Era icon, TNA savior, and all around just the one guy pegged to be a shoe in for an entry, no matter how many times he shoots it down, is our Olympic hero, Kurt Angle. Vince has been gun shy due to the various neck injuries and the possibilities of him being severely injured in the ring and possibly seeing him paralyzed in front of a live obvious, but he has been wrestling plenty of indy days since departing TNA, plus his vehement denial that makes the smark part of my brain go “Oh it’s true, it’s damn true!” that he’ll be in it. Why else put him in the HOF this year? Plus he has been pulled from indy dates the same weekend. Coincidence?
I want this, I NEED this. One of the few guys from the attitude era who can still go in the ring, and if you don’t believe me look up his matches against Cody or Alberto El Patron for proof. I could conceivably see him showing up late in the Rumble and going on a tear, Angleplex’s for everyone!! I’d mark, you’d mark, your fucking cat would mark. Please let this happen.
Before we get to number 1, here’s 2 i think will happen that isn’t that surprising, but will be outside of the main roster.
Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate
Listen, you gotta hype up the new title belt, and also establish the main heel and challenger for it, this would be a quick and easy way to do so. Let bate come out and impress the crowd, then a few entries after that let Dunne come in and eliminate him through dastardly means. It will give both guys a nice platform for those who skipped the UK tournament.
1. Samoa Joe
This one is almost a no-brainer. After losing the NXT title to Nakamura for the final time, he’s had multiple rematches that he has lost. Then next thing you know he’s off TV for an extended time. There is no better time to bring him back then the rumble, and thanks to backstage reports from numerous sources that claim once he gets to the main roster he is receiving a monster push, this not only seems like the most locked in surprise, but one that has a possibility to shape the Rumble, and for Wrestlemania season, the WWE itself.
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe for the World Heavyweight Championship. That’s the mach i think they are trying to put together as a counter to Okada vs Omega. It won’t be the main event, that will still be Lesnar vs. Goldberg, but i think that HHH has enough influence with Vince, and is enough of a competitor that he is upset that a NJPW match is, for the 4th year in a row, being called the match of the year. So he see’s this as a chance to fire back. Why? because Joe, Styles, and Christopher Daniels already have a 5 star match under their belt, and with these raised stakes its going to add to any match you put him and AJ in.