It’s fairly standard protocol for the WWE to tell you that their annual Royal Rumble event is “anyone’s for the taking” and that everyone has an equal one in thirty shot, however, that is never ever the reality, with the Rumble usually being between two or three guys at best, and often it’s simply a predictable one horse race.
This year appears to be a massive exception to the norm, with the number of potential winners now exceeding double figures and with no clear betting favorite. In addition to that, the betting favourite has changed six times since SummerSlam.
Let’s have a look at the changes in favouritism.
Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins: Lesnar and Seth Rollins were originally was installed as joint 4/1 favourites. As it became clear that both were pencilled in for matches against Shane McMahon and Triple H, their odds plummeted.
For those not clued up about what these odds mean, they mean a $100 bet on either would return $500 ($400 profit and the $100 stake returned).
Finn Balor: Finn spent a large amount of time as the favourite, with rumours indicating that he would be fit to return by the Royal Rumble. Having vacated the Universal Title after SummerSlam, Finn Balor seemed like the logical favourite.
Goldberg: After his win over Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, Goldberg extended his deal with WWE and announced his entry into the Royal Rumble. The bookmakers reacted and instantly installed Goldberg as the favourite. He has since drifted out to 14/1.
Chris Jericho: Jericho spent a short time as the favourite after Roadblock, with the belief obviously being that Owens and Jericho would square off at WrestleMania, with the WWE Universal Title on the line.
Although the pair will certainly face at WrestleMania, it looks unlikely to be for the Universal Title, after Jericho captured the US Title. It’s highly unlikely that WWE would book the match as Champion vs Champion and bookmakers agree, with Jericho now out to 12/1.
The Undertaker: This is an extremely interesting one and demonstrates the current power of internet rumours. Many assumed that The Undertaker would simply win the Rumble and face John Cena.
However, Undertaker’s odds ironically drifted out after him announcing his involvement in the Rumble on RAW, as Dave Meltzer reported that Vince McMahon had cancelled the Cena vs Undertaker match and that Undertaker had been moved onto Raw.
This has not been confirmed by WWE whatsoever, however, this story was picked up by every major internet wrestling site, resulting in Undertaker no longer being the favourite.
Braun Strowman: For weeks on my podcast, I have ridiculed any possibility of the WWE actually booking Roman Reigns vs Strowman for the WWE Universal Title at WrestleMania, despite it looking like the direction that the company’s taking on TV.
I can not fathom that WWE would be so blind as to book a match in a such a high profile spot, that will be undoubtedly booed by 70,000 people. However, as it stands, Strowman is currently the favorite to win the Rumble at 2/1.
He is also the odds-on favourite to eliminate the most men (odds-on means you have to bet more than your actual possible profit. He is currently 4/5, so you would have to bet $100 to win $180, so only an $80 profit from your $100 bet).
As I mentioned earlier, the Royal Rumble is wide open. I initially favored a Raw participant to win the Rumble, believing that Smackdown Live would use the Elimination Chamber (the next Smackdown PPV), to crown their No.1 contender.
I believed that the company would have Brock Lesnar win the Royal Rumble and Goldberg win the WWE Universal Title at WWE Fastlane on Sunday 5th March. It would be a great way to rebuild Brock after his 86 second loss and It would be a chance to get the Title onto Goldberg, which is something I believe the fans would like to see.
It would also raise the stakes for the final match between Goldberg vs Lesnar, making Lesnar’s two losses irrelevant, as he would win the final and most significant match of their trilogy.
The only problem with doing this is that the Universal Title would belong to a part-timer for several months, possibly up to SummerSlam in August.
However, my theory was thrown out the window last Tuesday when Shane McMahon announced that the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match would simply be a WWE Title defence by the Champion (AJ or Cena).
This now means that neither Raw or Smackdown have a clear way of crowning their own No.1 Contender, should the winner come from the opposing brand.
This opens the door wide open to both brands housing the Rumble winner, and a whole host of options, where even a debutante like Samoa Joe is being talked about as a contender.
Be it by accident or by design, the WWE have done a great job in making this year’s Royal Rumble genuinely unpredictable and must-see. Stay tuned to my Podcast, The Dirty Sheets, as we will continue to speculate who will win the 2017 Royal Rumble.
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