The Royal Rumble comes once a year and is what most believe to be the start of the Road to Wrestlemania; WWE’s flagship event where most figurehead storylines come to a close and most impactful memories are made. The Rumble is what begins this road because of its’ namesake match: The Royal Rumble. In a Royal Rumble, two superstars start in the ring. The only way to eliminate another man is to throw him over the top rope (very difficult) and have both of his feet hit the floor (even more difficult). Every 2 minutes (sometimes a minute and 30, sometimes longer) another superstar comes out all the way up until 30. The winner is the last man standing and that winner gets to go to the Main Event of Wrestlemania to fight the World Champion (of their brand). It’s huge. Every year, a few superstars declare their entrance into the Rumble — usually for marketing purposes — but it’s almost guaranteed that one of the announced superstars is going to be the one to take it home. Which one, though? There’s tons of parameters to decide who’s going to win: Betting Odds, Storyline Leaks, and even outright “oh, well it’s obvious!” moments. I want to decide who’s got the best storyline odds of winning this Rumble based on who has declared their participation.
As of right now (1/22/18) there’s 17 entrants announced for the Royal Rumble, seven of which are technically one entity (Rusev Day, The New Day + Titus Worldwide) leaving us with 13 possible options for a winner. We’ll start with the lowest.
#13: TITUS o’NEILL or APOLLO CREWS (Titus Worldwide)
This one was obvious.
- Whatever Dana Brooke is writing down on her legal pad is probably helping Titus and Apollo do way better in the ring. Her notes have led to two wins against The Bar.
- Apollo (and Titus, but mostly Apollo) is freakishly athletic. He’s like John Morrison and Kofi Kingston athletic which is great, because it means Apollo is super capable of doing all those “not this time!” elimination saves.
- They’re a team! Teams in Royal Rumbles usually do pretty good for a while, assuming those on the team draw numbers close to eachother. With Dana Brooke’s statistician prowess, she probably found a way to get them right next to each other.
- Titus and Apollo both aren’t seasoned to main event Wrestlemania. They’re good talent, but they’ve yet to see a taste of the top of the card, and so pressure might mount near the end.
- It’s very hectic; Dana Brooke might not be able to direct traffic like usual (or at all, because ringside valets during Royal Rumbles are few and far between.) and so the brand might fall apart.
- Titus and Apollo can’t both win the Royal Rumble and so one of them has to lose, and Titus Worldwide is all about everyone in the brand winning, and so they can’t have one lose and one win. I had Dana Brooke do the math on that. Just doesn’t fly.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: DANA BROOKE CRUNCHED THE NUMBERS AND THEY DON’T LOOK GOOD 😦
OVERALL CHANCE of DANA BROOKE LOOKING INCREDIBLE: 50.00% (either she’s there, or she’s not)
#12: TYE DILLINGER
You’re not getting #10 today, Tye.
- The crowd loves him!
- 0 of the 29 other people in the Royal Rumble are from the crowd.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: LESS THAN 10%
OVERALL CHANCE of COMING OUT at #10: 0.00% (they did it last year, surely they wouldn’t overdo something like that again, right?)
#11: #WOKEN MATT HARDY
It hurts to put Matt so low on the list because he’s very, very good but within the context of a Rumble, he doesn’t have a lot of room to shine. He’s not particularly big, he’s getting relatively old (in ring years) and he’s got an enormous adversary in a much bigger, much younger Bray Wyatt. However, he does have his perks.
- Being WOKEN has made Matt incrementally stronger.
- He’s been in like every Royal Rumble, ever.
- He laughs really, really creepily. Might fend off prospective attackers.
- Being WOKEN is a result of a feud with Bray Wyatt, which pretty much means Bray and him are going to bump heads mid-match, which doesn’t look good for Matt.
- He’s been in like, every Royal Rumble, ever, and has never gotten to the end.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
OVERALL CHANCE of a CREEPY LAUGH: 100.00%
#10: RUSEV & AIDEN ENGLISH (Rusev Day)
Aiden English is only above anyone on this list by virtue of Rusev and, so befitting as it is to write this on Rusev Day, it’d be criminal not to give the Bulgarian Brute some shine near the middle of the pack. The duo’s shined well in the limelight of Tuesday Nights, breathing new life into Rusev with an arrogant mouthpiece and giving Aiden English something to do other than get steamrolled by Mike Bennett. There’s really not much to say about the duo in the ring, but they do have their pro
s and con s.
- Aiden English.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: BAD ON RUSEV DAY, BUT GOOD ON OTHER DAYS
OVERALL CHANCE of an AIDEN ENGLISH WIN: 0.00%
#9: BIG E and XAVIER WOODS (2/3 of the New Day)
I excluded Kofi Kingston for my own reasons — mostly because he comprises most of the number of the New Day’s win chance% and he’s basically the only one who’s capable of winning it. That isn’t to discredit Big E or Xavier Woods, it’s just to say Kofi’s incredible.
- Big E? Big boy. Not getting thrown out easily — is going to be doing some throwings-out easily.
- If they’re in the ring at the same time and Big E is being eliminated, he’ll have a backup in the form of Xavier Woods which is unprecedented for big men in the rumble.
- Xavier Woods is very crafty and they have lots of tag moves together to weaken opponents.
- Xavier Woods goes to the top rope a lot in his offense and that’ll probably get him in trouble.
- Big E is a target and smarter superstars are going to eliminate Xavier before Big E to mitigate the risk of eliminating Big E.
- They’re a team, so they have to draw close numbers, which is a low chance.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: NOT LOOKING TOO POSITIVE
OVERALL CHANCE of XAVIER WEARING THOSE STUPID SHOES: 100.00%
Elias has grown a lot within the past year, almost to a fault. He’s got such astronomical growth that now he’s in a place on the card I feel he can’t realistically/consistently live up to because he’s so new to the big leagues, and so he falls pretty low on this card. He’s got a few things swinging in his favor though, albeit a lot against him as well.
- He’s a big boy. Elias is 6’0 and 217 pounds, which aren’t typically impressive numbers, but then you look at him and you realize he’s pretty much all muscle.
- He’s got a prop weapon! Elias’ guitar pretty much knocked 4 years off of Finn Balor’s life in 2017 and the Royal Rumble is a No DQ match, so he can get a couple licks off with that if he can’t find an alliance.
- Elias is completely liable to have traded his number for #1 so he can perform a song before the match, as is tradition with all of his matches. Elias is not very smart, however, because he’d get more mileage out of using his original number and singing in the 2 minutes on the way to the ring.
- As is the same with Titus Worldwide, Elias is new to the big leagues and so he’s gonna have a lot of trouble fighting off the nerves against all sorts of opponents. He’s also a big boy, which makes him a target for those who are littler and in Elias’ case, a large percentage of his competition is littler.
- Elias has storyline feuded with Matt Hardy, John Cena and Finn Balor. Translation: Elias is going to have to fight Matt Hardy, John Cena and Finn Balor.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: STICK TO SINGING
OVERALL CHANCE of a SONG BEING SUNG: 90.00%
#7: BARON CORBIN
The Lone Wolf, within the context of the Royal Rumble is practically just Elias with more experience and so where he places on the list is where Elias would place with more experience. A lot of people forget that Corbin is Smackdown’s more technically sound Strowman and that last year in the Rumble, Corbin actually took Strowman out entirely. He’s obviously capable of making things happen and he’s had lots of chances at the Main Event on Smackdown Live — meaning that the pressure mounting against Corbin is extremely unlikely right now, especially when he’s hot off of a US title loss and a chance at regaining it through the tournament. He’s got his upsides, and some might say they outweigh the downsides.
- Huge athlete, but not so huge that the commentators will ask how anyone will get them over the top rope like they do with the Big Show or The Great Khali. He’s just big enough.
- That awesome Big Boss Slide move he does doesn’t go over the top rope, it goes under the bottom one, so he’s free to use it all he wants.
- My mom loves him.
- If Strowman enters the Rumble, he’s practically guaranteed the hardest road, the darkest timeline, the most bumpy trail through to the end.
- Corbin has feuded with nearly everyone in this Rumble.
- If Dolph comes back, he’s going to get impulsive and make a bad decision to try to chase down a much more agile and much more crafty wrestler, which never ends well in rumbles.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: NOT LOOKING GOOD FOR THE LONE WOLF
OVERALL CHANCE of 5+ ELIMINATIONS: 65.00%
#6: THE MIZ
The Miz sort of sets off the real-chance-of-winning bracket here. Miz is a genius in the ring, pretty much capable of winning matches he’s got no business being in in the first place. Pair this with the fact he’s got two incredibly competent lackies in the Miztourage and he’s got A-List status that would let him put “two free Royal Rumble entries” on his tour rider and you’ve got a mastermind in the ring that has a good chance of taking it all home.
- 3 men in the ring who don’t all want to win; they all want one man to win.
- Miz runs a very survival-heavy style in the ring that helps him win matches like this.
- Miz’s crafty style is definitely going to eliminate one or two unsuspecting entrants that would otherwise cause problems one-on-one.
- There’s a chance Miz doesn’t even get his teammates in with him and that he just goes it alone, which wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’d drop his chances a ton.
- Miz isn’t the strongest guy and sometimes, brute force is what it takes to get someone on the outside.
- Miz got a lot of enemies.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: AWESOME
OVERALL CHANCE of a NON-ENTRANCE (like he just walks around for a while): 40.00%
#5: KOFI KINGSTON
Watch this video:
Kofi Kingston’s definitely nearing the middle-end of his career, and that’s fine, that’s where he should be right now, but it means something for him: he’s a veteran now. Kofi gets closer and closer to the end every year with these saves and if he can pull it off ever, now’s the time with the entire New Day in the Rumble and a ton of veteran experience behind him.
- Kofi’s the best “The Floor is Lava” player in the world.
- He’s a 10-year-veteran and a 5-year-Rumble-veteran.
- He’s got friends in the Rumble who would undoubtedly give him the late number and who would definitely contribute to Kofi’s saves.
- Admittedly, not very many. He’s athletic as all hell, able to save himself left and right and the crowd is incredibly supportive of him. He’s got a solid chance, but he’s got nothing really extraordinary about him that’s going to put him above the true top tier.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: PRE…TTY GOOD! PRE…TTY GOOD!
OVERALL CHANCE of an OUTLANDISH SAVE: 100.00%
#4: RANDY ORTON
Randy Orton won 2017’s Royal Rumble in a pretty overwhelmingly positive response. Not because fans were happy with Randy winning, but because Roman had entered the match and showed lots of signs of winning after losing earlier in the night, and that’s not fun to watch. Randy’s win led to a dumb culmination of a feud with Bray Wyatt where he won at ‘Mania (not in the Main Event) and then an underwhelming title reign that led to Jinder Mahal. Randy’s win in 2017 is far worse than his win in 2009 (where he ended up losing to HHH at ‘Mania for the big one) but nevertheless, he does have two Rumble wins.
- Two-time Royal Rumble winner.
- One of the greatest wrestlers of his generation.
- Crafty, smooth, capable in the ring.
- It takes a lot to win two Rumbles in a row — especially when you paint a target on your back by turning on your partner-of-a-few-weeks on Smackdown during the go-home show. (see below video @ 2:10 or so)
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: HIGH
OVERALL CHANCE of a BUTTERY SMOOTH SET of RKOS to LIKE, 6 PEOPLE: 73.00%
#3: SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
Shinsuke Nakamura is a master of his craft. It doesn’t do me justice to sit here and try to explain why he’s so good, or what he has to gain from a WWE Championship showdown at Wrestlemania, or why he’s capable of winning the rumble. He just is, okay? I need you to trust me here and if you don’t trust me here, watch this video of Shinsuke getting his entrance done by a virtuoso Violinist and you’ll get it.
- Technical wizard in the ring.
- No high-flying finishers.
- Has no real feuds (other than Orton) that would interfere with his win.
- Striking offense helps him eliminate people on the apron.
- No Rumble experience (which may not be a bad thing.)
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: *flails arms around*
OVERALL CHANCE of the CROWD GOING NUTS ON ARRIVAL: *crowd flailing arms around*
#2: JOHN CENA
Cena is one of the greatest in-ring competitors in WWE history and as we saw last year with his 16th World Championship, Cena is a man who cares about the big one and who cares about his accolades. This means Cena’s probably chasing 17 and what better time to start the road to smashing Flair’s record than the Rumble? Cena’s got two Rumble wins prior (’08 and ’13) and is undoubtedly an all-around safe bet as a winner for a third.
- He’s as strong as the Mark Henrys and Big Shows of the WWE without being so big that he becomes overencumbered by it.
- He’s got two Rumble Wins and two subsequent wins in the matches he earned through those Rumble Wins. He gets things done.
- He’s John Cena.
- While not a big target by virtue of being a big man, he’s a big target because, well, he’s John Cena.
- He was feuding with someone on RAW 25 who could very likely take him out in the Rumble even if it costs him the win; rookie Elias.
OVERALL CHANCES of a WIN: VISIBLE (you can definitely see them, unlike Cena, who you cannot see)
OVERALL CHANCES of FANS BOOING A CENA WIN:
#1: FINN BALOR
It comes from a place of me being an absolute mark for him, but I love Finn Balor and truly do believe he’s got the best shot at winning this Rumble if things go his way. Between his newfound reunion with his two best friends and a general nod toward his more heelish tendencies, Finn’s barreling toward a reprise of The Real Rock n’ Rolla, which is what most thing is the strongest anyone’s ever seen Finn.
- He’s one of the most nimble and on-his-feet competitors in the WWE.
- He wants his Universal Championship back (that he never lost.)
- He likely would like to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, as he’s proven he can beat AJ Styles before.
- He has former Tag Team Champions on his flank usually.
- The Coup de Grace is a top rope finisher, which are risky and wrestlers, for some reason, love doing finishers in Royal Rumbles.
- He’s a small guy — small guys are easy to eliminate.
OVERALL CHANCE of a WIN: BEST CHANCES OUT OF ANYONE (in my opinion)
OVERALL CHANCE of an ARENA-WIDE \o/ CELEBRATION UPON A WIN: 100.00% (\o/)
(this list is just my opinion, please don’t kill me)