SK's take on the winner of the 2018 Men's Royal Rumble
There are more realistic contenders to win the WWE Men’s Royal Rumble match in 2018 than any other year in recent memory.
Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Batista and John Cena were overwhelming favourites prior to their victories in the last five years, while Triple H’s triumph in 2016 was less predictable but still wasn’t a huge surprise.
The upcoming Rumble match is the first time in several years that fans don’t know the likely winner weeks in advance of the event actually happening.
Over the last few months, bookmakers have included the likes of Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles in their top five contenders to win the match. However, with the way that storylines have panned out recently, none of those guys are likely to be the last man standing on 28 January.
That only really leaves three serious contenders.
First of all, there’s Roman Reigns – a man who has become synonymous with the Royal Rumble ever since his first appearance in the match in 2014, when he threw 12 people over the top rope to break Kane’s long-standing record of most eliminations in one match.
Since then, he has received hostile receptions in every Rumble he has appeared in: in 2015, when he won the match to a chorus of boos; in 2016, when he put his WWE title on the line in a match built around him; and in 2017, when he was the unwelcome 30th entrant.
Reigns is almost certain to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 34, so he is the only realistic contender to win the Rumble from the Raw brand, but it would be a bold move by WWE to have “The Big Dog” be victorious in Philadelphia – the same city where he was loudly jeered after winning in 2015.
From the SmackDown Live side, AJ Styles will defend his WWE Championship in a 2-on-1 handicap match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at the Royal Rumble but is still expected to walk into WrestleMania 34 with the title.
Assuming “The Phenomenal One” is still champion by then, there are only really two people who he could face: John Cena or Shinsuke Nakamura.
In the case of Cena, there’s a chance he could take on The Undertaker on the grand stage in April. However, if that match doesn’t come to fruition, it’s entirely possible that the 16-time World champion wins the Rumble match and attempts to claim a record 17th World Championship from former rival Styles at WrestleMania.
As for Nakamura, he has had an underwhelming first year on the main roster but is still regarded as one of the biggest Superstars on SmackDown Live.
He is yet to face Styles in a one-on-one match in WWE but the many hints that have been dropped about a potential battle between the two men, most notably when they stood face-to-face at Money In The Bank 2017, went down well with the audience.
Unless there is a major change to storyline plans between now and WrestleMania, which is unlikely but not unheard of in WWE, the most likely contender to win the Rumble is surely Nakamura.
If the dream match between The Undertaker and Cena goes ahead, plus Lesnar vs. Reigns, that leaves Styles needing a high-profile opponent at WrestleMania who he is yet to face in WWE, and the man to fill that gap simply has to be “The King of Strong Style”.
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