Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollings are considered the favorites to win this year’s Royal Rumble to earn to right to fight Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. Thirty wrestlers will battle in the free for all match, where the last man in the ring wins the title.
Both have significant support among the fans and in the WWE booking office as the latest challenger is sought to attempt to dethrone Universal champion Brock Lesnar. Twelve months ago it appeared Braun Strowman would be the man to take down the Beast. He was destroying everything in his path and an analysis piece on this very platform stated: “WWE has made it clear over the past few weeks that Strowman is fully capable of taking out Lesnar and that a title change is a very real possibility.” Of course, said title change did not come to fruition, at least not at the Royal Rumble. And so Lesnar retained the championship and maintained his grip until it was – sadly, briefly – taken from him by Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns will be absent from the Rumble, and Strowman could be too; the Monster Among Men was originally slated to face Lesnar in a singles match but saw that opportunity vanish among the debris of a temper-dissolving destruction of Vince McMahon’s limousine. Away from storyline, Strowman continues to struggle with his recovery from the elbow surgery he underwent in November. He is down to compete in the Rumble, but we may not actually see him in action.
His absence has had a knock-on effect on another Rumble contender, Finn Balor, who will now face Lesnar and therefore is unlikely to compete in the 30-man match.
Balor could beat Lesnar – especially if he emerges as the Demon, who has only ever lost once – but it seems unlikely and therefore the conversation regarding the Rumble winner is really a conversation about who will face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. There is a logic to it being John Cena. He is a 16-time world champion and only needs one more reign to eclipse the great Ric Flair. Cena could undertake a cathartic journey to Mania as “one last shot at (a unique) greatness” which culminates in him beating Brock Lesnar.
There are some other options, albeit slightly lukewarm ones. Bobby Lashley may decide the Intercontinental title is not enough for him. There could be a shock winner such as a returning Kevin Owens. A SmackDown cBut the stand-out candidates are the two long-haired, bearded ones known to their friends as Seth and Drew.
Competitor such as Andrade could win it as the start of something huge. And then there’s McIntyre: A walking advertisement for the benefits of realising how good life is in WWE – and why such an honour should never be taken for granted – and a man with a phenomenal look.
Strong cases can be made for either of them to win it. By breakfast time on Sunday night, we will know which one is about to be made into a WrestleMania star.