Royal Rumble 2015 Promotional Poster. All photos courtesy of WWE Inc.

On Sunday, January 25, 2015, WWE descends upon the City of Brotherly Love where no love is lost as 30 men via for the chance of a lifetime, the chance to main event Wrestlemania 31 as they challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Before this annual contest, there is plenty more to discuss including two title matches and three tag team matches. One of these tag team matches fits the theme of the Royal Rumble: Elimination. The 6 man elimination match is the one that will be featured on the one-hour kickoff pre-show, so it is the first match that I will discuss in this blog.

In the one hour pre-show kickoff beginning at 7pm eastern, The New Day face off in an Elimination Tag Team match against Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Adam Rose

KICKOFF: ELIMINATION TAG TEAM MATCH:
Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Adam Rose vs. The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston)

I believe this match will be pretty straightforward. The New Day are still on the up and I think they will become bad guys before too long, but for now they have to gain more and more momentum against the current good guys. I’d love to see Cesaro, Rose, and Kidd win this, but the vibe I’m getting is leaning toward The New Day. Plus, showing them work in tandem and leading toward some Royal Rumble in-fighting if not simply to stress the idea that tag teams can both succeed and fail under the free-for-all environment of the Royal Rumble. That’s not to say New Day won’t clean house in this one. I predict that if New Day loses anyone at all, they’ll definitely lose Xavier Woods. I’d also add that of those three Big E will get his time to shine in this match because Kofi will need to save his stamina for the Rumble match itself, which will be discussed later.

WINNERS: THE NEW DAY (BIG E & KOFI KINGSTON)

Paige and Natalya look to take their combined submission prowess to the Divas Champion Nikki Bella and her sister Brie in a non-title tag team match at the Royal Rumble.

Paige/Natalya vs. The Bella Twins

This match is something of interest to me because I really feel like with the way things have been going for the Divas division, both of these pairs will end up in matches against one another at the Showcase of the Immortals. By pairs, I mean the people who are working as partners in this match at the 2015 Royal Rumble. I firmly believe, without a shadow of a doubt that Natalya will face Paige in non-title action and Nikki Bella will defend her title against her sister Brie at the Show of Shows on March 29, 2015.

With those predictions in mind, I’m going to say that either side of this match could see the partner abandon someone else. Brie has to be the one to step out from Nikki because of the idea that Brie never really explained how they became friends again after Brie became Nikki’s servant for a month in October. In November, she helped her sister to become champion, but it hasn’t really been addressed as to why. I think that Brie is simply hiding her true intentions until the time is right. When the time is right, Brie will not only distance herself from Nikki, but also stake her claim at a shot at Nikki’s championship, which could easily be decided in a battle royal or some women’s tournament in the coming weeks on Raw. If Brie finds herself in position for the title, then a separation before or after she becomes official #1 contender could also add some legitimacy to the Bella Twins. To ask many fans, particularly males who don’t watch Total Divas, the Bela Twins need to leave, but I’m glad to have them around. The characters have evolved immensely over the past few years and they’ve come long enough to earn and deserve a wonderful sisterly “Wrestlemania moment”.

Between Natalya and Paige, I could easily see Paige dumping Natalya. With Brie seeming to be the more covert in her effort to usurp her sister, I could see a Paige/Natalya split taking center stage at the Royal Rumble. With Natalya laid out by Paige or even just left to the Bella wolves, Natalya wouldn’t last long…unless Brie chose that moment to also leave Nikki high and dry.

(SIDENOTE: Natalya vs. Brie in a tournament final or a one-off #1 contender’s match would be great to see and be open to so many options for storytelling.)

I have so many things that I THINK could happen in this match that to expect all of them would just be really crazy and have way too many moving parts. Taking in everything I expect to come out in the end, and everything that has brought us to this moment. I’d say that Nikki and Brie will win. If Brie does try to become #1 Contender going into Wrestlemania, the story might take some time, but a win under their belt as a team prior to a split would tell the best story. No idea what will happen, but my eyes will be on this Divas match. I just hope they don’t put this one in the ‘pee break” spot before the WWE World Title match and the Royal Rumble.

WINNERS: THE BELLA TWINS

The New Age Outlaws return to the event where they won the tag team titles one year ago to challenge the newest tag team to join the roster, The Ascension. Can Road Dogg and Billy Gunn put the rookies in their place or will The Ascension rise up to their match their boasts? Find out this Sunday January 25 LIVE on the WWE Network.

The Ascension vs. New Age Outlaws

If any match on the card could serve as a “pee break,” it might be this one. That’s not to say that the story has not been told well by any means. This has been a tremendous story. The Ascension debuted to the main roster against Miz and Mizdow, which made them seem somewhat “good guy,” however, over the next few weeks, The Ascension began to get a little arrogant on the microphone before facing off against local talent tag teams. They trashed some of the all-time greats in their division, most notably LOD, the Road Warriors. This led to actual social media outrage that I witnessed firsthand. The heat they got in real life further fueled the disdain for them as characters both onscreen and off. At Raw Reunion, these newcomers tried stepping up on the NWO only to be put in their place by JBL of the APA and both members of the New Age Outlaws. It was the perfect time and place to add yet one more match to a stellar Royal Rumble card. This match will most likely be quick and early because I expect The Ascension to be a part of the Royal Rumble match, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t. As for the Outlaws, this match seems to be a chance for The Ascension to look strong and build more momentum on their way to The Usos by taking out at least one well-established team on a grand stage such as the Royal Rumble. While it may not take much thought to process the ending of this one, the story has been told to near-perfection and I look forward to seeing the conclusion – or at least this end of the current chapter…

WINNERS: THE ASCENSION

The team of The Miz and his stunt double Damien Mizdow get their 2-on-2 fair and square rematch against The Usos LIVE in Philadelphia. Can they set aside their differences long enough to re-secure the tag team championships or will Uso Crazy persevere once again?

WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Usos vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow

As a fan of The Miz since his debut in 2006, I have enjoyed watching him change with the times. He has become something of a Jericho in that regard. First he was the host of Smackdown, then he became the Chick Magnet, after that he led Extreme Expose and teamed with John Morrison. Today he is a self-professed “movie star” who is the complete real deal with his own stunt double to protect his “moneymaker” – aka his face. Mizdow has also become someone who is able to roll with the punches. The Savior of the Unwashed Masses started to stagnate, but he has proven his longevity by establishing himself as a stuntman in the downtime. I’ve loved watching these guys fool around in the ring. They are a comedy act that takes themselves seriously, which makes it that much funnier. I love what I have seen so far and depending on how things go, I believe I’m going to love it even more.

The Usos have become more or less John Cena like in the tag team division. They always find their ways back to the championships somehow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Once Miz and Mizdow face what I believe to be their eventual implosion, The Usos next great challenge will be The Ascension. The Ascension is being groomed to earn their title shot against The New Age Outlaws, and in the meantime, The Usos are getting rid of Miz and Mizdow in their penultimate match together as a team (more on that later). The cracks are starting to show between Miz and Mizdow, between this Tag Team Championship match and the Royal Rumble match, I think we will see Miz and Mizdow leaving the tag team division very soon, but they will go out in a blaze of glory and we will all be left laughing and cheering the entire time.

WINNERS and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: JIMMY AND JEY, THE USOS!

In the co-main event of the Royal Rumble PPV, John Cena and Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins both look to take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship away from Brock Lesnar in a match contested under Triple Threat rules, where all men are legal and virtually anything goes.

WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TRIPLE THREAT MATCH:
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins

Normally Mr. Money in the Bank has to give up his briefcase in order to get a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, but when the Authority got back in power, Seth Rollins was awarded with such a position as a thank you for forcing Cena’s hand to bring them back. I like the inclusion of Rollins because as far as my pick is concerned, the winner of this match will NOT be leaving  the Wells Fargo Center with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

The following prediction has nothing to do with me not liking Brock Lesnar or wishing he (and the title) could be around more often. I actually like Brock Lesnar and I’ve appreciated the marquee title being kept away until either or both were necessary for inclusion. So, nevertheless, this is what I expect to see happen at conclusion of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at the 2015 Royal Rumble.

I imagine that John Cena will win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble by pinning Seth Rollins (unless something absolutely CRAZY happens). If he pins Rollins, Brock doesn’t take the fall, which keeps him looking strong while still losing the championship. Cena will only briefly celebrate his tying of Ric Flair’s 16 World Championship victories before someone attacks.

WINNER and NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion: JOHN CENA

WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP:
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

Reports from dirt sheets would have smarks believe that Rusev will attack Cena, but I would not be surprised if an irate Lesnar, the entire Authority, an upset/downtrodden Eric Rowan, or a combination of circumstances could lead to Cena’s shortened celebration. In whatever melee occurs, J & J may try to help rouse Rollins or Rollins might get up on his own and avenge the pinfall by cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on John Cena and taking the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the process.

WINNER and NEW WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: SETH ROLLINS

THE ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH

So I’ve tossed around ideas for all those other matches, but the real reason anyone reads a Royal Rumble preview blog is to find out who the writer thinks will win the Royal Rumble Match! The way I want to address this is a little different yet probably similar to the way I’ve addressed the other matches through the night. First I’ll drop a name who I think could stand a great chance of winning, then I’ll consider the possible repercussions of that as a reality and then I’ll pick my winner, or the reality in which I would feel most comfortable living. Sound good? Great! Let’s get started:

Roman Reigns: From what I hear, this guy is probably one of two with the greatest chance of winning, depending on who you ask. His star has risen very high in the past few months, even during his injury over the summer. He has the look and feel of a solid breakout star. I haven’t been completely enthralled by him but overall, he hits chords with fans in all demographics. His charisma is not glaring like that of Dolph Ziggler. He’s a fresh face, and it shows, but that doesn’t take anything away from what he brings to the table. Roman Reigns ignites the crowd about as well as Cena can, so that’s definitely a plus toward him in the long run, and with Seth Rollins as my pick to leave the Royal Rumble with the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the rivalry that never ended could start right back up again at the most prestigious event of the year with the most prestigious title on the line.

Daniel Bryan: The goat-faced try-hard also suffered a sidelining health complication over the course of 2014, but that didn’t keep him down, much to what the doctors thought. Daniel Bryan has already had to defend his entry into the rumble against Kane, and in doing so has proven that he still has what it takes to survive and in a match like the Rumble survival is everything.

Dolph Ziggler: Speaking of survival, Dolph Ziggler was the sole survivor of Team Cena at Survivor Series when the Authority was removed from power. He also survived their seemingly endless torture both on the road to Survivor Series and the night they came back into power. He lost his Intercontinental Championship as well as his job that night, but thanks to Cena and Sting was able to come back yet again to fight one more day. On Smackdown, Ziggler got his revenge on Bad News Barrett and also earned himself a shot at the Royal Rumble. If, by chance, Cena won the World Title, but Rollins couldn’t cash in and Rowan (the member of Team Cena to lose his Rumble Qualifying Match on Smackdown) didn’t do anything. I could see Ziggler cutting some deep wordplay against Cena for getting them fired in the first place. Although to look at what his character has become, I don’t see him doing that. Rowan vs. Cena non-title makes a lot of sense for a Wrestlemania match. I’ll be rooting for that one. As for Ziggler himself, I’d say that Ziggler vs. Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the Grandest Stage of Them All is about as marquee as marquee can get.

Dean Ambrose: While entertaining the idea of Seth Rollins winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the 2015 Royal Rumble, it would be ludacris to not even at least consider Mr. Money in the Bank’s rival for the better part of 2014. It would almost make too much sense to put Dean Ambrose or even Roman Reigns in a spot to win the Rumble. I’ve even entertained the idea of Dean AND Roman winning the Rumble in a tie and facing Seth in a Shield Triple Threat at Wrestlemania or split it into two matches at the beginning and the end of the night. Lately, Dean Ambrose has been on quite the losing streak, but as many well-versed fans may know, it’s always the guy who starts on the downward slope who shines the brightest at the best time.

While I deliberate and consider who my pick to win the 2015 Royal Rumble might be, I would like to take a moment to make a few more predictions as to who we might see enter the Rumble. I believe that our safest bets of names unannounced could include returning superstars such as Bo Dallas, Sheamus, RVD, and Randy Orton. The one with the best chance of winning the Rumble out of these names is probably Randy Orton. I would not be surprised to see him in the final 4 either, especially if he comes out at 28 or 30. Sheamus probably has the second best shot, but they’ve rarely had someone win without any kind of build to him at all, which is why the names I’ve discussed above are probably the most likely winners at this event.

Most reports would have you think it will either come down to Daniel Bryan or Roman Reigns. Both options are certainly viable. I would be interested to see how Dean Ambrose makes it to Wrestlemania without winning the Rumble. A Shield triple threat could actually still happen whether Roman or Dean tie or not. I don’t feel like a tie is necessary, so I can safely remove that idea. Dean’s losing streak feels like it might work for him, but also work against him at the same time. In his losing streak, there hasn’t been much talk of him turning it around and it almost seems like his losses just make him more threatening because even in defeat, Dean Ambrose emerges just as crazy as the when he got knocked down. Dolph Ziggler’s spotlight would certainly be highlighted by a Rumble victory, but he has established in-routes to the title picture just as much as Ambrose does through the Authority and Seth Rollins. Daniel Bryan is in the same boat. The story can be told a multitude of ways to send just about everybody into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania 31, but the guy who needs direct elevation the most, the man who can only be officially established when the situation presents itself and sets the man above (at least) 29 other superstars is…Roman Reigns.

Roman Reigns needs to solidify himself as a top dog, if not just so he doesn’t become “the failure of the Shield”. Dean Ambrose lights up a room and brings the masses to their feet just by entering the building or revving up that theme song. Seth Rollins is one of the most hated men on television right now with the Authority ensemble firmly supporting him enough to drop him into triple threat title matches that also feature John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Not to mention the fact that he nearly killed Edge on live television. Seth Rollins, just like “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose, has found a niche and established himself standalone from his days as “The Architect of the Shield.” Today, Roman Reigns still enters through the crowd wearing gear so similar to his days with the shield. A win at an event like the 2015 Royal Rumble would be one more step further in giving him that establishment….provided he can get past the current thorn in his side, The Big Show on his way to the Biggest Show of All Shows: Wrestlemania!

WINNER OF THE 2015 ROYAL RUMBLE: ROMAN REIGNS 

I hope my prediction have entertained you, and I hope you enjoy the 2015 Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View event as it airs LIVE from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA, presented on the WWE Network FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER by Hulu and the new mobile game WWE Immortals beginning at 8pm eastern with a one-hour Kickoff pre-show starting at 7pm.

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