Oh, the joys of fantasy booking. As I'm sure you know by now, the 2016 Royal Rumble will be contested for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. While technically it is a title defense for Roman Reigns against 29 other superstars, the title might as well be vacant like it was back at the Survivor Series. Now, I'm in the group that thinks they should have not rushed with that awful tournament that was held after Seth Rollins went down, but waited until the Royal Rumble to decide a new champion anyway. So here we are in basically the scenario that I wanted anyway, but I suppose now with Mr. McMahon involved, the storyline has somewhat evolved. Granted, it's a bit of a rehash from the Daniel Bryan saga from two years ago where it's now Roman Reigns vs. The Authority, but with a twist.
What we have now is very similar to what we had going in 1992, which turned out to be one of the best Royal Rumble matches in history (I had it no.1 in my recent countdown). If you recall, the title had been vacated after a series of Hulk Hogan vs. Undertaker had controversial finishes. Ric Flair had come to the company and he would end up walking out of that Royal Rumble as the champion in a final four that included him, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Sid Justice.
The final four for this match will probably have a lot of star power, but obviously only one man can win...maybe (we'll get to that in a moment). There are a lot of different ways this match could go, so with the Royal Rumble only a short time away, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the scenarios that could play out at this historic pay-per-view. Let's get to it.
12 Roman Reigns Retains
Let's just go ahead and get this one out of the way early. Now, this is a real possibility. They've been building Roman Reigns up for a long time and the crowd reaction is finally at least getting close to where the company really wants it to be. The cheers are getting louder, the boos are diminishing, and with John Cena now on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Roman Reigns is the biggest babyface that WWE has.
Sure, the odds are stacked against him, but a win for Roman could set up a no.1 contender's match between a number of different guys at Fastlane. A win for Roman would also further the storyline with The Authority trying to stick it to him at that pay-per-view as well with another title defense. That gives them two marquee matches for a February pay-per-view.
11 There's A Tie
This has been done before. In 1994, Bret Hart and Lex Luger went over at the same time, leading to both of them getting a chance at Yokozuna's title at WrestleMania X. It also gave us the Bret-Owen match. There was also the controversial finish in 2000 when The Rock was declared the winner (not sure if this was the plan or not) when a replay later revealed his feet had actually hit first. Nevertheless, I could see them doing this again to set up a title match between two guys that tie to get more subscriptions to the WWE Network for Fastlane. Once again, you could have two big matches at the event, one being the title match and the other the aforementioned no.1 contender's match. The two winners would meet at WrestleMania.
10 The Rock enters and wins the title
Okay, this may be more improbable than the Sheamus win, but we do know that he will be at WrestleMania in some capacity. There's the report that the insurance from his movie won't allow him to get physical at the show, but there's been nothing that I've seen that confirms that to be 100% true. But just for kicks, let's look at it anyway. The Rock and Reigns are legitimate family, which always makes for a good storyline.
Could you imagine a heel turn that saw The Great One turn on Roman to once again win the title? That would set up a HUGE main event for WrestleMania. If they're looking to fill 100,000 seats, this would be one way to help that along, wouldn't it?
9 Kevin Owens
Well, this would certainly be a big swerve, but I don't think I'm alone when I say it would be a welcome one. Kevin Owens' debut in WWE saw him defeat John Cena when I think most of us thought he would be buried. Well, I guess Cena still beat him the next two times and knocked him down to the mid-card, but as of late, Owens has been a big part of RAW in the IC title feud with Dean Ambrose. His in-ring work has been stellar, his Twitter updates are epic, and he still gives one of the best promos in the business. He embraces his heel status maybe more than anyone and aligning with The Authority to better his own interests is right up his character's alley. I'd still call this a long shot, but this is one I'm rooting for.
8 AJ Styles makes his WWE debut
Okay, we don't know exactly when A.J. Styles will be debuting with WWE. All reports seem to indicate that he will not be going to NXT upon his arrival and will be on the main roster, so the Royal Rumble would be a great place to introduce him as one of the surprise entrants. His debut would be a big story, and making his debut in a Royal Rumble match would be one of the better ones in WWE history. Him winning the match wouldn't really be in the cards, but his debut could set up an immediate feud, perhaps with a heel costing him the match late.
7 Finn Balor goes for a double
Imagine Finn Balor being the NXT Champion and making a push to hold that and the WWE titles simultaneously. I think we're all in agreement that we want to see Finn Balor at WrestleMania anyway and to my knowledge, I don't think there are current plans for an NXT Championship match at the show. No, I don't think he would win the match, but it is possible he can at least appear in the Rumble and have a strong showing. He's already over like crazy and you would think a jump to the main roster is imminent anyway. This is one way to do it. You could have Balor make a push into the final four, only to have someone from NXT cost him the match, which could lead to a feud.
6 The Undertaker gets one last ride
The plan we heard most for The Undertaker at WrestleMania was a match with John Cena. Well, we know that's not happening now. So what to do with The Deadman? Why not put the belt on him going into Texas? It's no secret that 'Taker's career is coming to a close and WrestleMania may be his final match. Why not make it a title match? He looked better this past year than he did the year before and his last match with Lesnar proved to me that he can still go.
I'm not saying I want another match with Lesnar, but a passing of the torch may be in order and being in the final match of what could be the biggest WrestleMania of all time could be a perfect sendoff for The Undertaker. Or not....my preference is a different type of passing the torch in kind of a demon vs demon thing against Finn Balor.
5 Bray Wyatt
"Anyone but you, Roman." The history between Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt is there to continue this rivalry, and it may be time to finally give Wyatt a real shot. I've been saying for a while that Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns would headline WrestleMania at some point, and the pieces are in place for this to happen. I don't know if Vince wants to jump back into this rivalry so soon, but the feud they had last year was absolutely incredible and I think they could put on a great main event. In all likelihood, this won't happen, but it should.
4 Triple H wins it for The Authority
Surely, Triple H wouldn't win the Royal Rumble and win the title again, would he? Well, I wouldn't bet against it just yet. The buildup started months ago and I think there's a good chance that this could happen. There's also a chance that Triple H could simply cost Reigns the match and they just have a regular match at WrestleMania, but it would not shock me at all to see Triple H walk out of the Royal Rumble as the champion. Just imagine how lengthy those Authority promos would be then. This feud will happen at some point. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is part of it.
3 Daniel Bryan
Okay, maybe this is the longest shot of them all, but imagine the crowd pop if Daniel Bryan returns to win the Royal Rumble. I don't know if anybody knows the real truth with his medical situation at the current time. Perhaps all of this talk of a "third doctor" has been a work all along and they were waiting for the right time to bring him back. The Royal Rumble is known for big surprises, and this one would shock the world. However, putting a title on Daniel Bryan has proven to be a bad idea the past couple of years. But if there's anyone that a lot of the WWE Universe wants to see win this match, it's him.
That could set up a lot of different things on the road to WrestleMania and as the champ, he wouldn't have to get physically involved in a ton of matches over the next few months. It's not my number one choice, but it is for others and would be a huge surprise.
2 Dean Ambrose turns on Reigns
Could we finally see the Dean Ambrose heel turn? I think a lot of us thought something might happen when the two met at Survivor Series in the tournament finals, but they went with the Sheamus storyline instead and put the Intercontinental Championship on Ambrose as somewhat of a consolation prize. They're obviously not opposed to putting two belts on someone (see Seth Rollins) and Ambrose and Reigns have the obvious history to make this work.
You could run the jealousy story very easily in this case, or you could just go with a face vs face story as well. And if you don't want both belts on him, have him win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and just drop the IC belt. Hold qualifying matches for a while and put the vacant belt up in a ladder match at WrestleMania. Yes, I know that's what they did last year, but who's going to argue against having a good ladder match? The one hole in this scenario is that people might just cheer Ambrose more than they would Reigns. Still an option though.
1 Brock Lesnar conquers
This is probably what they'll end up going with. Brock Lesnar is an easy call to win the Royal Rumble, especially with how he dismantled the roster, and Reigns himself, on RAW recently. I don't think too many would fuss over Reigns-Lesnar II at WrestleMania. The match last year was very physical and was very entertaining before Rollins interjected himself into it. They could use the buildup that they never got to finish what they started last year, but this could work another way as well.
If Roman Reigns retains, they put Brock Lesnar in the #1 contender's match at Fastlane (he's already advertised for the show) and he wins there. Most of the signs are pointing to a rematch between these two. It's just a matter of how they want to go about getting there.
These are just a few ideas that I had. What do you see happening at the Royal Rumble?