It is almost the WWE‘s Royal Rumble season, and while insane predictions are always fun, we rank the six semi-realistic men we want to see emerge from Philadelphia as one half of WrestleMania’s main event.
6. John Cena
The fear of another Roman Reigns victory is so strong that this author would kill to see Cena steal it and chase world title No. 17.
Cena also gives us the intrigue. As a daywalker that roves between RAW and Smackdown Live, who does Cena challenge? How do the respective commissioners and general managers try to recruit (or scare off) Cena from their championship matches at WrestleMania? This was normally a fun part of the first brand split that did not exist with Randy Orton’s focus on the Wyatt Family storyline last year. Cena and AJ Styles would be a spectacular main event, while Cena and Lesnar are always fun to watch smash into each other.
5. Chris Jericho
An absolute, borderline lunatic longshot, but “what if” is what makes wrestling fun. Jericho is the master of surprise, and knows what is best for business. Imagine the shock of a Jericho return in Philadelphia. If AJ Styles can go from Wrestlekingdom to the Royal Rumble in one year, why can’t the best in the world at what he does do the same?
4. Sami Zayn
For one, we have not had the fun of a little guy gutting out a Royal Rumble among monsters since Rey Mysterio did it 12 years ago. Imagine the reaction in a building like Philadelphia to see El Generico get his moment. Not only that, imagine the great villain reactions Zayn can get on the way to a WrestleMania main event with Kevin Owens in his corner. If AJ Styles is still the champion, we get a great wrestling match to counteract what we all assume will be Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar on the other side. But what if Shinsuke Nakamura wins the title and we get a rematch of the NXT debut that was good enough to main event any WrestleMania?
3. Samoa Joe
This one is simple. Think about the way Brock Lesnar presented Joe as a legitimate threat this summer. Then add the legitimacy of Joe slaughtering his way through the Royal Rumble. Sprinkle in some Paul Heyman microphone dust, and you have a big-fight feel in New Orleans. Fewer men present more believable threats to Lesnar’s title, and Joe also fits the “anyone but you, Roman” theme of when Brock eventually loses his championship.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura
Forget the WWE match we all crave, a Royal Rumble win is exactly what Nakamura needs as a character. There is no doubt that Nakamura is a main event star, but casual WWE fans have not had a chance to see it. A strange back-and-forth with Dolph Ziggler did nothing for him, nor did a pedestrian loss to Jinder Mahal for the championship. Nakamura’s brief moments against Triple H and Finn Balor were electric, but “the Artist” faded away at Survivor Series. Give this man his moment.
Sometimes cliché and predictable can still be great. If you don’t want to see Nakamura vs. Styles at the Super Dome then I have two words for you…
1. Braun Strowman
Let’s face it: watching Braun Strowman destroy things is as fun as it gets. It is crazy to think that Strowman has still not had any sort of WrestleMania moment. Braun’s two Wrestlemania appearances have been as cannon fodder – the strange Rock vs Wyatt moment in 2016 and a failed Andre the Giant contestant last year.
It is time for Strowman to make a real WrestleMania debut, and a rematch against Brock Lesnar is inevitable. Unlike the louder cheers for Reigns over recent weeks because of his Shield affiliations, Strowman’s growing reactions are all about his ability, his character and his path of destruction.
Similarly to Samoa Joe, Strowman’s rematch with Lesnar is one we actually want to see. The moment Strowman becomes world champion will be the closest feeling to the first time Lesnar won gold over the Rock in 2002.