Unbelievably, the 2018 Royal Rumble is only six months away. It doesn’t feel all that long ago since John Cena ended AJ Styles’ incredible WWE title reign and Randy Orton won the big one, but a lot’s happened since then, from unexpected title changes to amazing returns.
Though the event has seen a decline in quality in recent years, the Rumble is always one of WWE’s most exciting events. Despite predictable winners and vocally unhappy crowds, there are always unusual matchups, surprise entrants and a general sense of fun that you don’t find in a lot of WWE’s pay-per-views.
Predicting anything in professional wrestling is a thankless task. Just a few months ago, who would have guessed that Austin Aries would leave the company, the Hardy Boyz would return in such spectacular fashion, or that Jinder Mahal would somehow become WWE Champion?
Having said that, being blindsided by the twists of fate never stopped us, not even with something as ambitious as predicting every entrant in the 2018 Royal Rumble match. Certain superstars, who could well be title holders by January, have been excluded, and while there may be some wishful thinking involved, this is hopefully a realistic idea of what WWE might have in store for us.
It’s post-SummerSlam season which, not to be too cynical about things, means we’re probably in for some dire television in the coming months. With WWE, it’s best to use past performance as an indicator of the future – as opposed to cruel, cruel optimism.
AJ Styles survived it – he’s AJ Styles – but an otherwise sterling SmackDown suffered when James Ellsworth gurned his way through the autumn months. The Kevin Owens/Chris Jericho bromance was overcooked on RAW. Clash of Champions, Hell In A Cell, and Roadblock: End of the Line were all tainted by the same old cheap heat shenanigans, which only really work when used sparingly. WWE set up residence at the well – and because we’ve been conditioned to expect little major movement as the year draws to an often agonising close, those matches were bereft of drama and heat. So it’s perhaps little wonder that the promised land of WrestleMania season is always something to daydream over, like the summer sun in the face of relentless, gloomy winter showers.
Things can change in a click of the fingers in WWE. Injuries derail plans. Pushes don’t pan out. Bray Wyatt didn’t even get to May before he was shot down in the embarrassing House Of Horrors match at Payback.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same.