So this Sunday will be the Royal Rumble. The past two years, WWE has made an absolute farce of the match, both times having to do with Daniel Bryan, the second time also having partially to do with Roman Reigns. So with this year’s Rumble not only being for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but the match that will truly show us just how Roman Reigns is going to be booked for the rest of his career, I figured I’d answer a bunch of questions I’ve seen asked and I’d like to answer about the match itself.
Question #1: Should Roman Reigns win the Royal Rumble?
Answer: No, absolutely not. This also has nothing to do with me not liking Reigns, this is purely to save him from becoming John Cena 2.0. Personally, if you really want to get the fans behind him again, don’t have him be the last person eliminated, don’t have him even in the final four. Give him the same spot Daniel Bryan got, but y’know what? Let’s do it even better. Have him eliminated right away by entrant #2, Brock Lesnar. That way when they fight next, Roman’s beyond an underdog in the match, Brock took him out of the Rumble before he even got his feet wet.
Question #2: So if Roman’s not winning the Rumble, who should?
Answer: Easy. Brock Lesnar. Ideally, you set up their second match at Wrestlemania 32, a la Tanahashi/Okada at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom. Have Roman come out after the Rumble and admit he got cocky last year, thought he was invincible and would’ve easily won. This year however will be different, he knows he had to work harder and now that he won the championship (twice too already…), he understands the responsibility of being the man. Should he bet Lesnar this Wrestlemania? I say no, but that’s another day of booking.
Question #3: Should Daniel Bryan be in the Rumble?
Answer: If Roman exits early, yes. If he is planned to be at the very end and win it though, not a chance and I’m positive WWE knows this now (if they don’t, they’re fucking idiots). The whole “Is Daniel Bryan Healthy?” situation aside, if he is cleared to compete, he should only be in the match if Roman’s not the focus at the end (which he will be) and if you’re setting up a feud, perhaps with someone like an AJ Styles? Speaking of…
Question #4: Should AJ Styles be in the Rumble?
Answer: Abso-fucking-lutely! I don’t give a fuck about it not being a surprise, you could tell me he’s coming out at #24, I’m still marking the hell out at #24! If you want to make this guy a serious competitor on the roster, debut him in the Rumble and actually have Cole/JBL put him over, none of this “Oh my!” crap either (I’ll get to more of this later). Make Styles look important, he’s such a key player, he deserves to be in the Rumble match even though he’s never wrestled a match in WWE yet (not counting Velocity). And not only that, have the wrestlers look at him as if to say “Ohhh shit…”, because THEY SHOULD KNOW WHO HE IS! He’s one of the best wrestlers in the world currently, who gives a flying fuck that he hasn’t been in WWE, where apparently everywhere else doesn’t exist.
Question #5: Should there be any not-serious surprise entrants in this year’s Rumble?
Answer: Like the Boogeyman? No. I don’t want to see any comedy names like Santino, I don’t want any legends that are too old to be considered a threat like say Scott Hall or Jake Roberts. This Rumble is for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, if anyone’s going to make a surprise debut or return, it needs to be someone who we can consider having some sort of chance to win it.
Question #6: Should any NXT stars be in the Rumble?
Answer: There are a couple I could conceivably accept being in the Rumble. Finn Balor, but only if you’re debuting the Balor Club, which honestly would make zero sense to me. So that leaves one person and that’s Samoa Joe. No one else in NXT right now can be considered a threat in the match, not Apollo Crews, not Baron Corbin, not any other NXT talent. Except one name you wouldn’t expect.
Question #7: Should any female talent be in this year’s Rumble?
Answer: There’s only one name right now that could work in this match and that’s Asuka. There’s zero chance of it happening, let’s be honest, but if there’s any female talent that could do something in the match, it’s the woman who we believe could actually knock a couple guys out. Can you imagine Asuka kicking the shit out of Tyler Breeze, or anyone in the Social Outcasts? That would be an incredible moment! But as far as we know, she may only be an NXT talent during her time here in WWE, so that possibility is extremely unlikely to ever happen, let alone this year’s Rumble.
Question #8: Should Mauro Ranallo be calling his first WWE pay-per-view at the Rumble?
Answer: That is a stupid question, of course he should. Take out Saxton or Lawler, whoever the third would have been, and stick Mauro in there. Yes, he’ll have to somehow mesh with Cole/JBL, but if there’s anyone who could make those two bearable, it’s Mauro. And you know he’d get a surprise entrant like AJ Styles over.
Question #9: Who will be have the most memorable spot in the Rumble?
Answer: I think this year may be the first year we get two unique elimination avoidances. One of course from Kofi Kingston, who may employ the New Day as help with it. The other could be Kallisto, who I think should have that memorable spot. We know they need a Latino star to get going and they’ve been trying to push him as of late (when not having him lose the title the same week he won it), so it makes sense to give him a special moment in the match.
Question #10: Who will get the most eliminations in the Rumble?
Answer: If it’s Reigns, I will cringe. He’ll have already surpassed John Cena in eliminations if he does. It should be Brock Lesnar, let’s be honest, but that all depends on the number he draws. With Reigns at #1, the chances of him getting the most eliminations increases tenfold and with WWE/Vince’s current booking of him, you know they figure if he breaks his won record, the fans (for some strange reason) will get behind him even more.
Question #11: Will the entry order seem fixed against Roman Reigns?
Answer: I imagine so. The League of Nations will all come out closely together and I still have a feeling Triple H will be #30 and possibly win the title. I want them to not do this, but I know they’re going to book the entire Rumble around Roman trying to beat 29 other men. It makes sense, right? The one match where it’s supposed to be every man for himself and it’s become everyone against Roman. Because that’s how you get someone over, you make them beat 29 men in the same night. Yeah, that’ll get the smart crowd to like him, make everyone else on the roster look incompetent.
Question #12: What do you think is going to happen at the Rumble?
Answer: Whatever I don’t want to happen. I’m willing to bet the entire match will be exactly this, except one of three endings. Roman will spend the entire match barely hanging on. The League of Nations will come out in the early, mid 20-s spots all in a row to constantly wear him down after he’s already gassed and somehow Reigns will eliminate them all. Lesnar will be somewhere between #25-27 and will destroy everyone else to the point that it’s just the two of them when #30 comes out: Triple H. Whether Reigns just eliminates Lesnar or not depends on the ending. So here’s the 3 possible endings
Roman somehow beats the odds. *vomits*
Brock Lesnar eliminates him to win (Triple H will not be in the Rumble).
Triple H comes out at #30 or better yet, after Roman perceivably wins the Rumble, there’s a special #31 entrant unbeknownst to everyone and it’s Trips. He beats Roman to win the title.
Either way, we have Roman in the main event at Wrestlemania 32 whether we like it or not. It’s a matter of whether his opponent for the championship is Brock Lesnar, or Triple H.
So there you have it! That’s what I think we’ll be seeing in the Royal Rumble this Sunday? Got any thoughts? Leave ’em in the comments below!
Anyone who gets in the habit of keeping up with all the behind-the-scenes action of professional wrestling has by now heard of the crazy news of four major stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling coming to WWE: Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows.
The last three names all have something in common, they were all a part of the New Japan stable, the Bullet Club. Who was the founder of that stable? None other than the current NXT Champion, Finn Balor, formerly Prince Devitt in NJPW. So it’s not out of the question, hell it’s almost a guarantee that we will be seeing WWE’s version of Bullet Club, aptly named ‘Balor Club’ after Finn Balor. But the real question is what does the debut of Balor Club entail?
For starters, AJ Styles should not under any circumstance be in the Balor Club, at least not until Balor and the rest make the jump to the main roster. I fully expect AJ Styles to be a main roster debut, I do not want to see him debut in NXT. Maybe if the NXT Brand was in the Smackdown slot, but it’s not and he is a main eventer, not a developmental talent. Maybe when AJ is possibly in the world title hunt and you need a shocking way to have him defeat Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (because let’s be honest, that’s who the champion would be at that time), so then you would debut the Balor club to help him win the match and you have a strong main event stable.
But for now, let’s get to how the group should debut.
If we need to debut this stable as soon as possible then let’s get this ball rolling! The next possible title match should be BEFORE the NXT Takeover show before Wrestlemania, this is super important! The match is Apollo Crews challenging Finn Balor for the NXT Championship. No bullshit interference from Baron Corbin and no Samoa Joe heel turn, it’s a uninterrupted match. And Crews wins, convincingly so, like Balor has a bit of a run in the match, but Crews dominates the second half of the match and wins the title.
The following show, Balor should be coming out, calling out Crews and shaking his hand, congratulating him on besting him. But he wants his rematch and he wants it right now. They set it as the main event and once again Crews dominates him and wins. Make it look like a big deal that Balor lost again, almost as if he’s going to the main roster. Play on the idea of the Balor Club stable beginning, make people believe “Holy shit! He’s going to Raw (or Smackdown)! And they’re gonna debut Balor Club then!”.
He disappears, not a word from him. A month or so should pass and we get to the NXT Takeover show before Wrestlemania. The main event is Baron Corbin challenging Apollo Crews for the NXT Championship. I know people are still a bit unenthusiastic about Corbin, but it makes sense, he beat Crews at Takeover: London so he should have the first shot at Crews’ title post-Balor. And in the end, while it’s a hard fought battle, Crews manages to pull out the win and retain the title. Celebrating his victory, Crews is in the ring when suddenly the lights go out. And on the screen you see this:
“We are dominant, we are strong. We are one, we are…for life.”
New music hits, something as slow and heavy as Balor’s music, but less of the orchestral backing, just slow, methodical hard rock. If you can make it close to Bullet Club’s music without being a carbon copy, then do it. Balor walks out, holding up the ‘Too Sweet’ gestures, wearing his Balor Club t-shirt when two men walk out from behind him, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. And they surround Crews and put a giant beatdown on him, leaving him dead as can be in the ring. Balor walks over, grabs a mic and simply says. “We’re here.” and leaves.
Crews does not appear the next week. Have William Regal come out and announce at the beginning of NXT that Apollo Crews will be out injured the next two weeks, but wants to let Finn Balor know, that when he returns, he’ll be getting his revenge. Balor interrupts Regal’s speech and officially introduces Anderson and Gallows. And says to the NXT crowd and all those watching on the WWE Network (cause you know that’s how they’d script it) that fun and games are over for everyone else except Balor Club. They run NXT now and will take out anyone who disagrees.
If Sami Zayn is still in NXT after Wrestlemania, then he should be the Balor Club’s first target. You need to go after the favourites to get them over as heels (as if Balor Club needs any help getting over in NXT). But if Zayn is not in NXT anymore, then move to the next best thing, Enzo & Cass. If they’re all not in NXT then uh…Bull Dempsey? Because if I’m booking this, I’m not having Gable & Jordan get destroyed, they’re too precious a commodity, gotta keep them on fire. And we don’t know at this time if Hideo Itami will be back yet. Regardless, whoever it may be, depending on the pecking order, the story will remain the same.
Later in the same show Balor Club interrupts Regal, the main event is Sami Zayn vs Baron Corbin (or Cass & Enzo vs Joe & Corbin). The match doesn’t even get anywhere, the bell rings and as they’re about to lock up, lights go out again and the Balor Club entrance begins, the three of them walking out to the ring. They slaughter the babyface(s) in the ring, while the heel(s) retreat, wanting zero part of it. After decimating those in question, Balor takes the mic again and says the following:
“Apollo Crews! We haven’t settled our little rivalry just yet. I want my NXT Championship back! So when you come back from the beatdown I put on you…I’ll be waiting.”
And I can’t stress enough how important it is that every promo Balor does, he talks like he’s the only one doing the damage, not acknowledging Anderson/Gallows’ interference. Why would they not turn on Balor then? A very good reason. Balor got into WWE, he got friendly with the boss and got his buddies a fat contract. So regardless of Balor’s words, the boys love him, they’re still best buddies, they’re in the big time, making big money!
If they can stew this all the way until the next Takeover special, do it. Otherwise, the next NXT Championship match will be Finn Balor vs Apollo Crews. Balor will win a Battle Royal to win the #1 contendership when the entire trio are the final three in the battle royal and they all ‘Too Sweet’ and Anderson/Gallows eliminate themselves. So the main event is set, Balor vs Crews.
The match is what you’d expect. Crews is still dominating Balor, but Anderson and Gallows constantly distract Crews, giving Balor plenty of chances to put him away, but can’t. Then the ref gets knocked out and Anderson/Gallows come into the ring to take out Crews. It’s then that Zayn, Enzo & Cass, anyone to even the odds comes out and helps Crews deal with Balor Club. As Crews looks to finish off Balor, from the crowd, comes Baron Corbin. End of Days, Balor hits the Coup de Grace, 1…2…3. And you have your fourth member of Balor Club, Baron Corbin. You’re probably asking why I’m all about Corbin here. Simple, he needs the rub and I do think with the right people with him, you can turn him into a mega-star. He also fits the bill for what WWE likes, so if we can take this guy who they already like and make him into someone who’s over with the fans too, bonus!
The Balor Club should run rampant in NXT all the way until SummerSlam, Balor eventually losing the NXT title to a returning Hideo Itami. By this point, AJ Styles not only has debuted in WWE, but should be constantly pushing for a WWE title match. He finally gets it at SummerSlam against Roman Reigns. When Reigns looks to finally win the match, after another ref bump, the Balor Club suddenly emerges from the crowd, completely flooding the ring and destroying Roman Reigns. Thus, AJ Styles hits whatever his finisher will be (since you know WWE’s not letting him do the Styles Clash) and wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The following night on RAW, you introduce Balor, Anderson, Gallows and Corbin, announcing Balor Club is here in WWE (because NXT doesn’t count as WWE, you know that’s how they’d say it). Over the next 3-4 weeks, Balor Club runs rampant. At the end of SummerSlam, you should have a face run of title holders, minus Styles with the WHC and perhaps the Women’s Divas Championship, since that title doesn’t matter in this storyline. Their targets are all the champions. So that at the next pay-per-view, Vengeance: Night of Champions, what a perfect night for Balor Club to snatch every possible title. Baron Corbin dominates Neville to win the United States championship (if it’s still around), Anderson and Gallows defeat The Usos to win the Tag Team Championships and Finn Balor through all the possible bullshit, beats Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship. AJ Styles obviously retains over Roman Reigns and you have Balor Club holding every male-associated title in the company.
And we end with a return the following night on RAW to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This man:
There you have it. I could go further, but I figure the best way to stop is with Balor Club fully established a major threat in the WWE. You have a bunch of fresh matchups now, especially for the titles. There’s just a few questions left I’ll quickly go through:
What about Shinsuke Nakamura? Where does he fit into all this? – Shinsuke Nakamura (or whatever WWE decides to call him, hopefully the worst is just Nakamura) would’ve by now already had a singles feud with AJ Styles, which in the end has the goal of giving both men credibility but in the end cementing AJ Styles as the next challenger for Reigns’ title. In fact, that should be the #1 contender’s match to set up that SummerSlam match between Styles and Reigns. After that, have Nakamura challenge Balor for the IC title, would it not be amazing to see him prop up a second company’s Intercontinental Championship?
When would you break up Balor Club? – Not until at least 2 Wrestlemania-s after their debut. They should have a good two years together. So when Balor does finally turn babyface, it’s a big deal. And I mean BIG!
Would Finn Balor ever wear his demon paint with the Balor Club? – Absolutely, but at no point is it ever his red and black. Because it’s Balor Club, it should be only black and white. Have an awesome Venom tribute bodypaint getup, that would be fantastic!
Do you bring anyone else into Balor Club? – Unless it’s an original Bullet Club member (Tama Tonga, Cody Hall, etc.) that aren’t the Young Bucks, because let’s face it, they’re probably never coming to WWE, they’re smart enough to know that unless they’re offered the biggest deal in the history of professional wrestling, they can make more money outside of WWE, then no. Unless there’s a massive injury to someone, I would not add a single new member to Balor Club that isn’t already attached to the Bullet Club.
And there you have it, that’s how I’d book the debut of Balor Club. Let me know what you think in the comments below, as well as things you’d do to get the Balor Club gimmick over.
Hey! A show I actually watched! Let’s get right to it then!
Asuka def. Emma – 3.75/5
This match was a great starter to the show. Finally a match for Asuka to really sink her teeth into. But at the same time it was also nice to have a match where Asuka’s vulnerable for the first time. I loved how the more punishment Asuka took, the more she’d shriek and the louder it’d get, as if she wasn’t in pain, just getting more pissed off. They also hook the crowd and the viewers into believing she was going to take her first loss, plenty of interference, including the “she tapped out to her submission hold but the ref never saw it” spot that usually results in the opposing talent winning the match due to bullshit. But instead, Asuka gave Emma a swift kick to the face and victory to my new favourite female wrestler.
Dash & Dawson def. Cass & Enzo to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships – 3.25/5
I think I speak for everyone in saying man do I feel salty about that match. I’m pretty sure we were all in agreement that this is the time to finally give Cass & Enzo the belts, they can’t keep having them lose big matches like this and expect them to still be as popular as they are. The match itself wasn’t all that great, but then again Cass & Enzo aren’t known for their in-ring work as much as their personalities. In the end the flapjack into a codebreaker from the top rope was really badass looking and really it puts a ton of heat on the champs now for beating Cass & Enzo like that. But man, that was really deflating.
Baron Corbin def. Apollo Crews – 2.75/5
I was one of few who called Corbin winning this match actually. At least the poll I did through r/SquaredCircle confirmed that, I was in the 15-20% who had Corbin winning this at the time I voted. The match itself wasn’t that great to me, I have it as the lowest rated match on this card. But in the end, the End of Days strikes, one of the most protected finishers in NXT and Corbin picks up the win. Honestly, I’d say more, but I skipped a bit of this match, I really don’t get too excited about Apollo Crews matches. He’s a tremendous athlete, but his matches so far for me have been really dull.
Bayley def. Nia Jax to retain the NXT Women’s Championship – 3/5
This was a tough one, I had no idea how Bayley would come up with the win in this one. For pretty much the entire match, it was all Nia Jax. I know they’re trying to make Bayley look tough and resilient, but the sheer amount of offense Nia Jax got in should’ve done her in. Bayley was looking Cena-like out there kicking out after a ton of leg drops, samoan drops, etc. to the point I actually got a little annoyed. Not to mention Bayley never went for the Bayley-to-Belly, which can go either way. Most of all though, the finish was terrible to me. Guillotine chokes over and over again, that ending was way too slow and really didn’t do anything for me. I know the crowd popped cause she one, but I doubt the finish itself had much to do with it.
Finn Balor def. Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Championship – 4/5
The Jack the Ripper demon entrance is exactly what we’ve been looking for from Finn as of late. The same entrance style with the demon crawl was getting silly. Now if he could just switch up the color schemes, maybe even a little change of the design every major feud would be nice. The match itself was solid, a few hiccups here and there, but two guys of that level of talent can really make you forget. Joe looked his best since arriving in NXT here, he really came off like the Samoa Joe of old in Ring of Honor here. He was quick, strong and fought like a goddamn monster out there. I was sure Joe was winning this match at the end there, but Balor pulled out all the stops, hit the Coup de Grace and retained the title. Now it sounds like Corbin’s up next and I can actually see him winning. He could really use the belt to propel him up. A side note as well, when Finn’s in his demon form, I don’t want to hear him speak when wrestling. Hearing his not so threatening “No!”s while in submission holds really takes you out of it. I want to hear nothing but grunts, cries, screams, growls and shrieks the entire match, really sell us that a demon has possessed Finn’s body for this match.
In the end, the show was pretty good, though the crowd really helped as well. Hearing “Hey Jude” for Big Cass and “Hey Baby (If You’ll Be My Girl)” for Bayley was fantastic, I loved this crowd. In terms of the matches, it was a solid show, especially when you compare it to the garbage we usually see from the main roster.
The only thing kind of pissing me off is them holding back Sami Zayn till the NXT taping they did either before or after Takeover. You’ve been hyping his return for a month and he’s not worth at least coming out and talking on the big Takeover show? Also, I’m surprised no one either made a surprise appearance, return or debut at the show, even if it wasn’t a big name. Would’ve really meant a lot to that UK crowd.
Regardless, it was a good show, as usual I can’t wait for the next one.