The Royal Rumble may be my favorite of the four big WWE pay-per-views. The unpredictability, the way it kicks off the road to WrestleMania, the Rumble is where anything goes. Part of the appeal of pro wrestling for me are the surprises and with all the dirt sheets out there, you don’t get many of those anymore. AJ Styles showing up at the 2016 Rumble, Daniel Bryan not being a participant in 2014, you never know how things are going to go even if you know what might happen.
Every year we get 30 participants, all vying for a shot at the greatest prize in professional wrestling, a shot at the WWE Championship, or maybe the Universal title. I wish though that WWE would trim the number of entrants down a little bit as there are people we know have no shot to win. Do we need to see Mojo Rawley or Rhyno in there for a few minutes only to get dumped out by Jinder Mahal or Aiden English? Ugh. If they cut it down to 20, the wrestlers could get a little more time in there to do their stuff and I feel it would make it more competitive. But as of now, that isn't likely to happen especially when you consider how large the roster is and the Rumble is a good way to get as many guys as you can involved.
With that in mind, the following is a look at some of the surprises we'd like to see and others that we wouldn't.
15 Want - Dalton Castle
14 Don't - Samoa Joe
I may be in the minority, but I'm not really pining to see Samoa Joe make his way to the main roster. I wouldn't count myself as a huge fan of his and while he's solid in the ring, there are a few guys in his mold already on the main roster. Samoa Joe is basically Rusev with a deeper move set. At the same time, Joe is a veteran who has proven himself to be one of the greats of his generation. What good would it do for Joe to debut at the Royal Rumble?
13 Want - Kazuchika Okada
If you’re reading this blog, you already know that Kazuchika Okada is one of the best in the world and would be a legitimate contender if he showed up at the Royal Rumble. The majority of fans may not know who he is, but it wouldn't take long for that to change once they saw how solid he is in the ring. Seeing as he holds the IWGP championship, one of the most prestigious titles out there, why wouldn't we want to believe that the Rainmaker would want to see how he stacks up with the WWE roster?
12 Don't – Shaquille O’Neal
Look, I get there’s a bunch of buzz about Shaq vs. Big Show at WrestleMania. I actually would probably enjoy the match when you consider that it’s just an attraction. There’s nothing on the line outside of pride in a match like this. And that’s why I don’t wanna see Shaq in the Royal Rumble. That match means something and there’s a real prize on the line. For Shaq to enter, having wrestled basically no matches in his life, and for him to potentially eliminate guys you want me to take seriously spells disaster.
11 Want - Ricochet
There aren't many professional wrestlers in the world today more exciting than Ricochet. The guy puts together strings of high-flying moves and it looks like he's doing them with ease. He's the kind of performer who could carry the Cruiserweight division and put it on the map. He's basically wrestled and won titles for every other promotion in the world and has nothing left to prove outside of making it in WWE. Ricochet is the wrestler that could do the crazy spots we've become accustomed to seeing Kofi Kingston perform to keep from being eliminated.
10 Don't – Shane McMahon
No. Stop. Don’t do it. Enough. Come on already!
Do you think I want to see Shane McMahon in the Royal Rumble? I didn’t care about his match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania. I didn’t watch him as part of Team SmackDown at last year’s Survivor Series. I DON’T CARE ABOUT SHANE MCMAHON! Why does this company keep giving us stupid McMahon storylines all the time? I don’t take Shane seriously against the rest of the roster and he does nothing to garner my attention. He’s never actually participated in the Rumble match which makes me even more leery that he might cross that off the list this year.
9 Want - Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura is a veteran and he isn't getting any younger. He's soon to be 37 years old, has been wrestling and doing MMA for more than 15 years and much of that has been doing strong style. It's time for Nakamura to make his presence known to the wider WWE universe and doing so as the NXT champion, is the perfect introduction. As champ, his coming in and knocking lower tiers guys out is believable and he doesn't have to even stay on the main roster.
8 Don't - Bob Backlund
There's always a few legends who make their way into the Rumble and while we all know they stand no shot to win, it's usually fun to see them. I get a strong feeling that this year Backlund is going to enter the Rumble as he's doing that stupid gimmick with Darren Young. I've never been a Backlund fan and can't understand why he was so over and held the WWE title for nearly six years over the course of two reigns. Some of the nostalgia entrants make sense, others not so much.
7 Want - Nia Jax
Okay, so there have only been three women enter the Rumble (Chyna, Beth Phoenix and Kharma) and Jax should be the next in line. If she only does one thing in the match, can she be the person to eliminate James Ellsworth? Please?! Can we just bury that guy and never see him on the main roster again? WWE has consistently been building Jax as the monster heel of the women's division, why not have her go over some of the guys who you know have no chance to win the Rumble?
6 Don't – Big Show
Would it be a surprise if Show entered the Rumble? Not really. He’s participated in more than a handful of them over the past decade, but has been off WWE TV for an extended period of time. For realsies, I don’t want to see this guy and I can’t imagine anyone else does either. He's flip-flopped between heel and face so many times that he’s impossible to be taken seriously.
5 Want - CM Punk
I don't think there's anyone whose appearance would be more of a surprise at the Rumble than CM Punk. When he left WWE in 2014 Punk basically torched every bridge that that he walked across. Just a couple weeks ago, Stephanie McMahon shut down Punk chants that broke out during RAW live from Chicago and not in a friendly way. But Punk’s return would give WWE an instant draw and another legitimate title contender no matter which brand he ended up with. Punk vs Owens? Punk vs Styles? A Punk return combined with a Reigns heel turn would print money.
4 Don't - Triple H
3 Want - Shawn Michaels
2 Don't - Broken Matt Hardy
1 Want - Kurt Angle
GIVE THIS MAN A FINAL RUN ALREADY, VINCE! Seriously, if there's anyone who needs one last go-round with the WWE it's Angle. The Olympic gold medal winner has done so much in his career and he is sure to end up in the Hall of Fame. As such, let's see what Angle can do one last time. Right now, Rusev is in a terrible storyline with Jinder Mahal. End that garbage with an Angle return in the Rumble to go after the Bulgarian Brute. There's only one place left for Angle to go and it's home to WWE. Sure, this program should have happened a few years ago when Rusev was red-hot instead of the WrestleMania match with John Cena which killed his momentum. It's not like Rusev’s character can get hurt any more than he has in the past couple of years.
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