SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
By Pat McNeill, PWTorch columnist
Wake the pets & call the neighbors, it’s time for our exclusive WWE Network pseudo-pay-per-view projections.
DISCLAIMER: Projections are based on what the columnist would do if he were booking this event, instead of Paul “NXT” Levesque, Runjin Singh, Ed Koskey, Road Dogg and Linda McMahon’s husband. Projections are not predictions, because this is the column where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. This preview has been sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall’s porch since noon today. Contestants not appearing on stage will receive a supply of Fig Newtons. (Regular cookies are just cookies, but Newtons are fruit and cake.) Many of our contestants are chosen from our studio audience. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail to “Tickets, CBS Television City, 7800 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90036.” Remember, this is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, please, no wagering. This lineup is based on the best available information as of this writing. These projections are based on what the columnist would do if he had creative control over WWE, unless it’s not funny enough.
I was on the flagship Wednesday edition of the PWTorch Livecast with Wade Keller. If you heard that show, you already heard a good chunk of this article. Seth Rollins confronting Triple H during NXT Takeover last night didn’t go the way I laid it out, but it still happened.
Remember that this year we have two pay-per-views between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, so WWE doesn’t have to forward all of the WrestleMania storylines at once. Also, there are twenty-two wrestlers currently listed in the 2017 Royal Rumble match, and three of them are nicknamed “Big”. Maybe it’s time to get a new booker. I’m just saying.
Before we preview tonight’s show, let’s get to this month’s edition of the Wrestling History Lesson, because that’s why many of you clicked here in the first place.
Twenty years ago, on January 26th, 1997, the World Wrestling Federation presented an episode of WWF Superstars, pretaped in Lafayette, Louisiana. What could possibly be better than a “Raw Bowl” tag team match? How about a “Superstars Bowl” tag team match? It was Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith vs. The Goddwins vs. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. The Nation of Domination. Jim Ross & Jim Cornette had the call.
What was happening in World Wrestling Entertainment fifteen years ago? I’m glad you asked! On January 26, 2002, the World Wrestling Federation presented an episode of WWE Metal, pretaped right here in Greenville, South Carolina. That show saw a match between wily veteran Shane “Hurricane” Helms and rising star AJ Styles. No, really. Kevin Kelly & Jonathan Coachman had the call.
Did you catch this week’s episode of “205 Live”? Well, you can watch part of the main event from this week’s episode right here. It’s Cedric Alexander vs. Adrian Neville and it was actually pretty good. Maura Ranallo, Corey Graves, and Austin Aries have the call.
Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Jerry Lawler will be announcing the show, with Austin Aries sitting in on the cruiserweight bout. Renee Young, Shawn Michaels and Peter Rosenberg will be doing the preshow while Tom Phillips hides in the social media lounge. Mauro Ranallo will be doing the call of the Kickoff show, which is why WWE has moved half its matches to the Kickoff Show. On with the program!
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax (Preshow Pandemonium): Sasha Banks has a bad knee, and rumor has it that she wants off of Raw and onto Smackdown, where she can feud with Alexa Bliss. On the other hand, what can WWE do with Nia Jax, except have her feud with Bayley?Projection? Nia splashes Sasha on her bad knee and gets the victory. We can’t go back to Sasha versus Charlotte again, so the Boss needs a dragon to slay.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows (WWE World Tag Team Titles): These four dudes have the same problem Sasha and Nia do. Who’s waiting in the wings to face the winners? There’s The New Day and…there’s the New Day. Projection? Anderson falls victim to a Giant Swing/Brogue Kick combination, the EuroStars keep the title, and we hope The Revival shows up in time for WrestleMania.
Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & Natalya Wilson vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella & Naomi Fatu (Yes, this is on the Kickoff Show too): Three ladies look for revenge against the three women who have done them wrong. Fortunately, we know where this is heading. Projection? Naomi catches a surprised bliss with the headscissors choke, and the champ taps. This feud must continue.
Also On The Preshow:Our cameras are in the locker room with Shane McMahon, who is wearing what passes for his ring gear. Tye Dillinger walks in.
Tye: Shane, you wanted to see me.
Shane: Yes. I wanted to congratulate you on your match last night. I thought you did a tremendous job fighting three guys. Any time you want to come to Smackdown Live, we’d be happy to have you.
Tye: I really appreciate it. Are you competing tonight?
Shane: I’m supposed to be one of the “surprise entrants” in the Royal Rumble. But I got trapped at JFK yesterday, and I didn’t get here until morning. So I’m feeling under the weather. I don’t think I can be in the match.
Tye: That’s too bad.
Shane: Yeah. (Hands Tye the bingo ball with the slip of paper inside) Would you mind getting this to Daniel Bryan? Maybe he can find…someone else to be in the Rumble.
Tye (looks at the slip of paper and smiles): You got it, Shane.
Rich Swann vs. Adrian Neville (WWE Cruiserweight Title): WWE has done a tremendous job of taking everything the fans enjoyed about the Cruiserweight Classic shows and removing those attributes from the cruiserweight matches on Raw, and from the “205 Live” show. Nice work. Projection? Instead of winning with a splash, the challenger goes to ground and beats Swann senseless. The man from Newcastle takes the title with him to 205 Live on Tuesday. Akira Tozawa can’t show up soon enough.
Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley Martinez (WWE Women’s Title – Submission Match): Remember how long it took for Bayley to crack the NXT main event scene, and then capture the NXT Title? We’re going to get the quick version of that, because WWE needs to cram it all into the next two months. Projection? Charlotte fights nasty, but mostly fights clean, getting the victory with Natural Selection. If Bayley wants a rematch at WrestleMania, she will have to claw her way back into contention.
And, now, it’s time for the Royal Rumble! Let’s meet the participants. We have Baron Corbin, Big E. Langston, The Big Show, Bill Goldberg, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Cesaro, Colin Cassady, Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Luke Harper, Mike Mizanin, Mojo Rawley, Randy Orton, Alexander Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sheamus, The Undertaker and Xavier Woods. I’m going to throw in Chad Gable and Jason Jordan,because leaving them off the show world be dumb. And the only way WWE will have a Royal Rumble match without Kane is if he dies or breaks a leg. So, that makes twenty-five.
Projected Order of Entry: Number 1- Baron Corbin, Number 2 – Big E. Langston, Number 3- Luke Harper , Number 4-Sami Zayn, Number 5- Dr. Xavier Woods, Number 6- Kofi Kingston, Number 7- Dolph Ziggler, Number 8- Chad Gable, Number 9- Brock Lesnar, Number 10-Tye Dillinger, Number 11- Samoa Joe, Number 12- Jason Jordan, Number 13- Braun Strowman, Number 14- Dean Ambrose, Number 15- Bill Goldberg, Number 16- Rusev, Number 17- Kyle O’Reilly, Number 18- Sheamus, Number 19-Bray Wyatt, Number 20- Big Show, Number 21- Antonio Cesaro, Number 22- Wolfgang, Number 23- Colin Cassady, Number 24- Mike Mizanin, Number 25- Mojo Rawley, Number 26- Chris Jericho, Number 27- Randy Orton, Number 28- Hideo Itami, Number 29- The Undertaker, Number 30- Kane.
That’s right. No Rey Mysterio, no Kurt Angle, no Rob Van Dam, no Kenny Omega. Not even a Billy Gunn. But it will all turn out okay. Trust me.
Projection?: The New Day gets all its comedy in early, before the ring starts filling up with bigger guys. Tye Dillinger gets Number 10, obviously. He starts his entrance and is making the “ten” motion in the aisle, when he is blindsided by Samoa Joe. Joe gives Tye a muscle buster on the ramp and maybe uses Tye’s head a battering ram before security breaks it up. Hopefully, this will get the fans to boo Joe.
Goldberg’s entrance leads to a huge brawl with him and Lesnar. Lesnar somehow manages to toss Goldberg, then taunts Bill from inside the ring. Strowman eliminates Brock while he’s distracted, then Goldberg and Lesnar brawl to the back.
Kyle O’Reilly gets a big entrance with a fake Dropkick Murphys song as the announcers gush about what a huge acquisition he is. He gets a decent run during the rumble before Braun eliminates him. Big Show and several others have to eliminate Braun.
Your final four is Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Kane. Kane eliminates Orton, Jericho (with help from the Wyatt Family) eliminates Kane and Undertaker eliminates Chris Jericho. The Dead Man wins the 30th Royal Rumble, just like he won the 20th.
AJ Styles vs. John Cena (Camp WWE World Heavyweight Title): Here we are again. AJ Styles versus John Cena. They know how to talk the talk. They know how to work with each other. So, stay out of their way. Projection? After a really long match, Cena wins with the Attitude Adjustment. Yes, this is a lousy reward for what AJ Styles has accomplished over the past year, but Styles will get the title back if he remains healthy. Big Match John won’t be here forever.
Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Title – Chris Jericho Locked In A Shark Cage): Two things are clear. First, Roman Reigns is going to get booed. Second, since I moved this match to the end of the show, there will be shenanigans. Projection? Jericho drops brass knuckles from the shark cage and they land in the ring. The referee sees Owens pick up the nucs and takes them. While the official takes the nucs over to the timekeeper, Owens knocks Reigns out with the (loaded) List of Jericho and pins Roman to keep the title.
After the match, the Best Friends work over Reigns. Sami Zayn runs in to make the save, failing to see someone else coming from the crowd. Sami is knocked out by the returning Kassius Ohno, wearing his trademarked track suit, who assists Jeri-KO with the beatdown. Seth Rollins is the next one to run in. He makes it as far as the ring before being grabbed by Indy Wrestling Security. Triple H starts making his way to the ring.
The next music you hear belongs to Kyle O’Reilly. O’Reilly, in street clothes, makes it to the ring just as Rollins is shaking free from security. O’Reilly appeals to the crowd, then turns and kicks Rollins in the head. The beatdown continues. Triple H orders security top leave. Kevin Owens has the microphone.
“This meeting of the KO Klub is officially called to order!”
Kyle O’Reilly & Kassius Ohno take off their jackets to reveal their “KO Klub” T-shirts. Hunter takes advantage of the situation to pedigree Rollins. The heels are totally in control.
Then Finn Balor’s music hits. We go off the air as Balor, Reigns & Zayn rally to clear the ring. Rollins is still unconscious from the pedigree.
Aftermath: Undertaker shows up on Raw tomorrow night to tell us he’s coming after Kevin Owens and the Universal Title. Samoa Joe drops by Smackdown on Tuesday night to say hello to his old buddy John Cena. And we’re off.
Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina has been a PWTorch Columnist since 2001. He’d take the Oklahoma City Thunder to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Sunday’s big NBA game. You know, if gambling were legal.