WWE Royal Rumble 2017: The Brand Split Adds Excitement to the Battle Royal


The WWE brand split adds an extra dimension of unpredictability to the 2017 Royal Rumble match.

The Royal Rumble is often referred to as the “Wrestlemania for the Hardcore Fans”. The main reason for the moniker is that speculation and anticipation is at it’s zenith during rumble season. Fans everywhere are speculating who’s going to leave as champion and who will win the rumble. The stakes are always high since the results of the Royal Rumble sets up the main event for Wrestlemania (well…usually). Once the event is over, the excitement inevitably lessens due to the impossibility for every fan to get what they want. But before the rumble, anything is possible and all fans get fired up.

One of the biggest criticisms of the rumble match is that there are usually only a few superstars with a realistic chance to win. With the guaranteed mania title match stipulation, it wasn’t difficult to narrow the field with only the WWE World Title in play. This made the rumble match subject to ridicule on some years for its predictable booking. With the creation of the WWE Universal title for the brand split, the number of viable contenders to win the rumble match increases significantly. Now there are two major titles being defended in main event matches at Wrestlemania 33. This gives us the possibility for several guys from both brands to have a legitimate shot of winning the match.

On the Raw roster there are several superstars that could win the rumble match this year. It’s not controversial to say that Brock Lesnar, along with Bill Goldberg, are top favorites. In fact, early rumors have him facing Goldberg at mania, and winning the rumble could set that up. Assuming Goldberg wins the WWE Universal Title at Fastlane, Lesnar and Goldberg for the title adds hype to an already big time main event match. Now this scenario also works in reverse where Goldberg wins the rumble and challenges Lesnar for the championship.

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Another legitimate contender to win the rumble is Braun Stroman. It’s very conceivable to see Stroman win and face Roman Reigns at mania for the title. A dark horse could be Chris Jericho. With his friendship angle with Kevin Owens, it’s reasonable to think that he could win. With the win leading to animosity between the two culminating in a mania title match. Plus we can’t forget Seth Rollins, yes I know, he’s not in the match. But do we really think this match will end without him being in it?

On the Smackdown side, the Undertaker (Yes, I still count him as a Smackdown guy) is an obvious favorite.  Rumor has it he face either AJ Styles or John Cena at Wrestlemania. So whoever wins the WWE World Title at the rumble may have the Deadman waiting for them.  In addition Dean Ambrose had a big year and he could have an outside shot at winning. Baron Corbin’s position as a top guy on Smackdown makes him challenging Cena for the title at mania a possibility. The Miz is doing the best work of his career and can’t be ruled out as a contender to win the rumble.

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Now speculation on the rumble match isn’t complete without discussion on possible surprise return winners. With that in mind Finn Balor is a legitimate sleeper to win the rumble. He would have a built-in angle for a Universal title match at mania since he never lost the title. How about the winner of last year’s rumble? Can we really count out Triple H as a possible back-to-back winner? There is a deep pool of WWE superstars that have a reasonable shot at winning the rumble. Not to mention NXT stars like Shinsuke Nakumura and Somoa Joe. The brand split creates new possibilities and now the match becomes more unpredictable. That unpredictability is a cornerstone in developing a riveting Royal Rumble event that lives up to fan’s expectations.