On The Mat – The Ultimate Royal Rumble 2017 Preview
January 27, 2017 (No Comments) by Geoff Dorrity

The over the top extravaganza is back and promises to deliver one of its most star-studded shows in many years. We at The Sharpe have put together a breakdown of biblical proportions to celebrate the 30th edition of the Royal Rumble!

The Past

If someone were to ask us what our first memory of the Royal Rumble was, we would probably think back to the days of Doink and Dink pulling off a rakeload of cheeseballish antics, Yokozuna flat lining half a dozen wrestlers or maybe ‘Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel landing his massive boot into some poor huers face!

Ask us what our favourite memory of the Rumble is and it’s quite simply a no contest, the 1997 edition in the Alamodome, headlined by Pyscho Sid and Shawn Michaels for the, then, World Wrestling Federation Championship. The match itself was not a technical masterclass and it definitely did not make any stops at Suplex City but the show, overall, was something of a turning point in wrestling.

This event marked another step away from the New Generation Era and on towards the Attitude Era, primarily due to a Rumble result that seen the good guy (the face) and the bad guy (the heel) take on a complete role reversal through Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

stone-cold-steve-austin-royal-rumble-97

The Present

It is fitting then that this year’s 30th instalment of one of the most recognisable events in professional wrestling takes place back at the Alamodome, where history is sure to be made again. Fast-forward 20 years and there is no Heart Break Kid, no Rattlesnake and most definitely no Hitman, but what there is, is a feeling of nostalgia through the return of a few high profile names like The Undertaker and Bill Goldberg which many fans of the Attitude Era will revel in.

Who Started the Rumble?

The Royal Rumble was devised by a good buddy of the WWE’s main gaffer and owner Vince McMahon, way back in the 80’s, probably before the majority of those reading this were even a mere twinkle in their father’s eye! Pat Patterson holds responsibility for the brainchild and used the traditional Battle Royal as his blueprint for the new match up. Don’t the lads look dashing in their lavender power suits below!

pat-patterson-vince-mcmahon-wwf

One thing is for sure about the past 29 Rumbles, none of them have been predictable, one year had 20, another had 40 and it wasn’t until 1993 that it became an automatic qualification for a Wrestlemania title shot. Some companies tried to mimic the concept but essentially fell flat on their faces. WCW’s World War 3 was the closest anyone came, except there were twice the amount of wrestlers and three times the amount of rings; seems you didn’t entirely get the full picture there lads.

We know, we know, they had to be different to avoid any multimillion dollar lawsuits for copyright, but hey at least it looked the part, didn’t it!? Eh yeah, let’s never speak of this abomination again.

wcw-world-war-3

Isn’t it Just a Numbers Game?

Looking back at the last 10 editions of the Rumble, the majority of wins have come from late entrants; only once during this timeframe has there been a winner that entered between 1 and 10, Randy Orton back in ‘09. Even more interestingly, there have been 3 Rumble winners who drew the much sought after number 30, Undertaker in ‘07, Cena in ‘08 and HHH last year in Florida.

From 1 to Win

Going further back, we haven’t seen any wrestler go the distance by winning it from start to finish since 2004 when Chris Benoit had his hand raised. On a side note, is it wrong to mention his name, does it test your nerve? We see it as a professional tragedy that the man was erased from WWE’s record books but there are many varied opinions on the matter and we won’t delve too far into them here today.

This year may see the trend continue and I would predict that the majority of big names like Goldberg and the Undertaker will enter in the second half of the Rumble due to their lack of ring time in recent months. A winner who draws a late number can take from the overall creditability of winning a Rumble so don’t be surprised if we see an early entrant buck the trend and do the business in the Alamodome.

The 27 Club

Finally, let us not forget about the 27 club! The highest winning entrant number in the event’s history, could this be the fifth time it goes to the number 27? Who knows, literally anything can happen at the Rumble, sure didn’t your man who got flung off the Cell enter 3 times back in ’98!

the-three-faces-of-foley

What Does the Card Look Like?

With all those damn numbers out of the way, let us take a good look at the event itself. WWE have worked up a strong card for the night and the opening matches are sure to keep fans well entertained.

Sasha Banks and Nia Jax are set to continue their feud at the Rumble with the winner most likely getting a shot at Wrestlemania against whoever comes out victorious in the Raw Women’s Championship match. With Sasha’s current injury status we reckon Jax will clinch it.

Expect a hoopload of highflying from Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann as he puts his title on the line against Neville, the self-proclaimed ‘King of the Cruiserweights’ . There is no denying that Neville is hot property at the minute and even though the belt has changed hands multiple times since its inception, we reckon a new Cruiserweight King is actually coming.

Four time Women’s champion Charlotte Flair squares off against Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship and this one has fans expecting big things. Flair has remarkably defended her belt at 15 pay per views so it would seem unlikely that she will drop the title at the Rumble instead of Mania. Predicting that the champ holds on here but not by much.

Also on the card is a 6-woman tag team match with Dublin’s very own Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi taking on current Smackdown Women’s champ Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya. This match was only announced a week ago so it is unlikely to be the highlight of the night but we predict more good wrestling from James and co with her trio coming out on top.

Aside from the two heavyweight title matches and the Rumble itself, we are most looking forward to the contest, where Cesaro and Sheamus (champions) take on Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the Raw Tag Team Championship titles.

cesaro-and-sheamus-v-luke-gallows-and-karl-anderson

Two referees have been assigned to the match which is basically a statement of intent that there will be a lot of shit going down; expect a good old-fashioned Slobberknocker, had to get one JR line in the mix!

Tough to call, but given that Gallows and Anderson have lost so many high profile matches as of late this really feels like their time for a change of luck, potentially setting the stage for a frustrated bust-up between Cesaro and Sheamus in the Rumble later that night.

WWE Heavyweight Championship Matches

AJ Styles (Champion) V John Cena

This year’s Rumble marks a dominant run of form for AJ spanning back to Backlash, last September, when he captured the title against Dean Ambrose. A solid defence at No Mercy in a triple threat match and another win over Ambrose at TLC meant he has proved himself as an established name in a pond much bigger than that of TNA’s.

Turning our attention to The Cenation Leader and we see an invigorated presence that looks ready to drop back into the torchbearer role at least for the near future. This is another one that matters for the purpose of numbers as it would bring Cena to legend status and allow him to equal ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair’s 16 reigns as World Heavyweight Champion. We envisage a loss for Styles here with a potential rematch at Mania depending on the Rumble winner’s choice of champions.

Kevin Owens (Champion) V Roman Reigns – No Disqualification

Owens or Reigns, Owens or Reigns, this one has serious fight of the night potential if executed correctly! The fans are once again rejoicing in universal hatred for the non-Universal champ that is Roman Reigns. The lad we love to point the finger at, but why is he just so damn hateable?

Can he cut a decent promo? Not a chance in hell! Did we show a vote of confidence after he won the ’15 Rumble? Not even a little bit! So why in the the name of jaysus do WWE script writers still have him stuck in face mode? The answer is simple, for convenience. Writers know that having Reigns in the title chase means he does not have the opportunity to ruin the nights main attraction, the Rumble match itself.

Until a new solid story is developed around his character, this one has the fans, Jericho and the Shark Cage coming up Trumps. Owens for a nice unclean win.

kevin-owens-c-v-roman-reigns-no-disqualifications

The Rumble – Who You Got?

What to Watch Out For?

At the time of writing Randy Orton is the bookies odds on favourite to win the Rumble on Sunday. Goldberg is probably the most expected winner from fans given his utter dominance of Brock Lesnar but we at The Sharpe don’t think old Bill is quite cut out to do the job, nope, not even a little bit actually. His signature head-butt on Monday night Raw did little to reaffirm his status as the big dog in the locker room, instead he looked rattled, confused and a little lost while cutting his promo. Post-show he even took to Instagram to state that it seems the time is right to retire the headbutt. Probably best leaving those moves in the WCW archive for now then Bill!

So is the Viper the man to beat, certainly one of them but not the winner in our opinion. His former Evolution buddy Triple H also looks likely to appear as a surprise entrant but he hasn’t had enough exposure in recent times for a credible win, plus he looks likely to run a spot with Seth Rollins at Mania, so that rules him out too. Undoubtedly, the guy to watch out for in this match is Braun Strowman who is being dubbed as WWE’s new Goliath! Expect a boatload of eliminations from the former strongman champion but not a win, which we feel, would be premature at this early stage in his career.

Any Surprises?

One thing is for sure, there will be no surprise entry from Jake The Snake Roberts, despite his best efforts and a solid social petition to get him inside the squared circle again. The master of the DDT has confirmed that he instead will be delivering a show at the Laughing Gas Comedy Club in North Carolina, you can see his short video message on the Facebook fan page. This leaves the door open for a whole host of other legends if the WWE choose to go down that well traveled road.

jake-the-snake-roberts-royal-rumble-petition

So surely Brock is in with a shout? The lad could just slide out from under the bottom rope, suplex the entire ring and angrily trot on to the grandest stage of them all in April to claim his fifth heavyweight title, right? Hmmm, seems a bit of a stretch even for the Beasts biggest fans! So who is left? We can’t help but hope that Irishman Finn Ballor is one of the surprise entrants in this year’s Rumble. While we can expect the spectacular from the Bray Native as well as Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, we think a win for any of the 3 is improbable.

What’s left to say, don’t act so surprised! The Phenom is a native of the Lone Star State, his last Rumble win came 10 years ago and his next and possibly last title run looks imminent at Wrestlemania 34. Your 2017 Royal Rumble Winner…. The Undertaker.

the-undertaker-wwe

Royal Rumble Betting

We are tipping four of our predicted results which we think are pretty safe bets, all things considered, what with the results being pre-determined and everything!

  1. Royal Rumble 2017 Outright Winner – Undertaker 4/1
  2. AJ Styles v John Cena (WWE Championship) – John Cena 8/13
  3. Kevin Owens v Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship) – Kevin Owens 11/10
  4. Rich Swann v Neville (Cruiserweight Championship) – Neville 1/3

The Paddy Power Royal Rumble Fantasy Game is a lot of fun and definitely deserves a shout here. If you are as finicky as we are when it comes to making one weekly Fantasy Football switch every weekend, then you may clear an afternoon, this could take a while!

paddy-power-royal-rumble-fantasy-game

How to Watch

Sky Sports customers can watch the show live on Sky Box Office, the event will cost €24.95 and start airing at midnight on Sunday. There are of course a few alternatives to the high price of Sky Box Office. By singing up to the WWE Network (priced at €12.99 per month) you can access this event and every pay per view throughout the year as well as a massive archive of WWE, WCW, and ECW footage!

Planning to stream it on the cheap? Be warned, this will be a highly viewed event and even your most reliable links may end up giving you more grief than they’re worth!

If you’re looking for something a little different then why not head down to the Woolshed Baa and Grill on Parnell Street where they will be hosting a Royal Rumble extravaganza of their own. Tickets are priced at €8.50 and fans will be able to enjoy the card in full on a super-sized screen, take park in WWE theme-song karaoke and win prizes in a Rumble drinking game and raffle. Sounds like a no brainer to us at The Sharpe and if the video below doesn’t entice you we don’t know what will!

We hope you have enjoyed our first foray into the world of wrestling writing! Watch out for the next post in our series of event previews which will look at WWE’s Elimination Chamber, taking place on February 12th at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Until then, keep it On The Mat people!

Geoff Dorrity
Runs long distances and enjoys a good Digital chinwag. Loves well proportioned burritos and pretty much any sport (aside from cricket). Pub quiz speciality topic would be 90’s professional wrestling.

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On The Mat – The Ultimate Royal Rumble 2017 Preview
January 27, 2017 (No Comments) by Geoff Dorrity

The over the top extravaganza is back and promises to deliver one of its most star-studded shows in many years. We at The Sharpe have put together a breakdown of biblical proportions to celebrate the 30th edition of the Royal Rumble!

The Past

If someone were to ask us what our first memory of the Royal Rumble was, we would probably think back to the days of Doink and Dink pulling off a rakeload of cheeseballish antics, Yokozuna flat lining half a dozen wrestlers or maybe ‘Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel landing his massive boot into some poor huers face!

Ask us what our favourite memory of the Rumble is and it’s quite simply a no contest, the 1997 edition in the Alamodome, headlined by Pyscho Sid and Shawn Michaels for the, then, World Wrestling Federation Championship. The match itself was not a technical masterclass and it definitely did not make any stops at Suplex City but the show, overall, was something of a turning point in wrestling.

This event marked another step away from the New Generation Era and on towards the Attitude Era, primarily due to a Rumble result that seen the good guy (the face) and the bad guy (the heel) take on a complete role reversal through Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

stone-cold-steve-austin-royal-rumble-97

The Present

It is fitting then that this year’s 30th instalment of one of the most recognisable events in professional wrestling takes place back at the Alamodome, where history is sure to be made again. Fast-forward 20 years and there is no Heart Break Kid, no Rattlesnake and most definitely no Hitman, but what there is, is a feeling of nostalgia through the return of a few high profile names like The Undertaker and Bill Goldberg which many fans of the Attitude Era will revel in.

Who Started the Rumble?

The Royal Rumble was devised by a good buddy of the WWE’s main gaffer and owner Vince McMahon, way back in the 80’s, probably before the majority of those reading this were even a mere twinkle in their father’s eye! Pat Patterson holds responsibility for the brainchild and used the traditional Battle Royal as his blueprint for the new match up. Don’t the lads look dashing in their lavender power suits below!

pat-patterson-vince-mcmahon-wwf

One thing is for sure about the past 29 Rumbles, none of them have been predictable, one year had 20, another had 40 and it wasn’t until 1993 that it became an automatic qualification for a Wrestlemania title shot. Some companies tried to mimic the concept but essentially fell flat on their faces. WCW’s World War 3 was the closest anyone came, except there were twice the amount of wrestlers and three times the amount of rings; seems you didn’t entirely get the full picture there lads.

We know, we know, they had to be different to avoid any multimillion dollar lawsuits for copyright, but hey at least it looked the part, didn’t it!? Eh yeah, let’s never speak of this abomination again.

wcw-world-war-3

Isn’t it Just a Numbers Game?

Looking back at the last 10 editions of the Rumble, the majority of wins have come from late entrants; only once during this timeframe has there been a winner that entered between 1 and 10, Randy Orton back in ‘09. Even more interestingly, there have been 3 Rumble winners who drew the much sought after number 30, Undertaker in ‘07, Cena in ‘08 and HHH last year in Florida.

From 1 to Win

Going further back, we haven’t seen any wrestler go the distance by winning it from start to finish since 2004 when Chris Benoit had his hand raised. On a side note, is it wrong to mention his name, does it test your nerve? We see it as a professional tragedy that the man was erased from WWE’s record books but there are many varied opinions on the matter and we won’t delve too far into them here today.

This year may see the trend continue and I would predict that the majority of big names like Goldberg and the Undertaker will enter in the second half of the Rumble due to their lack of ring time in recent months. A winner who draws a late number can take from the overall creditability of winning a Rumble so don’t be surprised if we see an early entrant buck the trend and do the business in the Alamodome.

The 27 Club

Finally, let us not forget about the 27 club! The highest winning entrant number in the event’s history, could this be the fifth time it goes to the number 27? Who knows, literally anything can happen at the Rumble, sure didn’t your man who got flung off the Cell enter 3 times back in ’98!

the-three-faces-of-foley

What Does the Card Look Like?

With all those damn numbers out of the way, let us take a good look at the event itself. WWE have worked up a strong card for the night and the opening matches are sure to keep fans well entertained.

Sasha Banks and Nia Jax are set to continue their feud at the Rumble with the winner most likely getting a shot at Wrestlemania against whoever comes out victorious in the Raw Women’s Championship match. With Sasha’s current injury status we reckon Jax will clinch it.

Expect a hoopload of highflying from Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann as he puts his title on the line against Neville, the self-proclaimed ‘King of the Cruiserweights’ . There is no denying that Neville is hot property at the minute and even though the belt has changed hands multiple times since its inception, we reckon a new Cruiserweight King is actually coming.

Four time Women’s champion Charlotte Flair squares off against Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship and this one has fans expecting big things. Flair has remarkably defended her belt at 15 pay per views so it would seem unlikely that she will drop the title at the Rumble instead of Mania. Predicting that the champ holds on here but not by much.

Also on the card is a 6-woman tag team match with Dublin’s very own Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi taking on current Smackdown Women’s champ Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya. This match was only announced a week ago so it is unlikely to be the highlight of the night but we predict more good wrestling from James and co with her trio coming out on top.

Aside from the two heavyweight title matches and the Rumble itself, we are most looking forward to the contest, where Cesaro and Sheamus (champions) take on Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the Raw Tag Team Championship titles.

cesaro-and-sheamus-v-luke-gallows-and-karl-anderson

Two referees have been assigned to the match which is basically a statement of intent that there will be a lot of shit going down; expect a good old-fashioned Slobberknocker, had to get one JR line in the mix!

Tough to call, but given that Gallows and Anderson have lost so many high profile matches as of late this really feels like their time for a change of luck, potentially setting the stage for a frustrated bust-up between Cesaro and Sheamus in the Rumble later that night.

WWE Heavyweight Championship Matches

AJ Styles (Champion) V John Cena

This year’s Rumble marks a dominant run of form for AJ spanning back to Backlash, last September, when he captured the title against Dean Ambrose. A solid defence at No Mercy in a triple threat match and another win over Ambrose at TLC meant he has proved himself as an established name in a pond much bigger than that of TNA’s.

Turning our attention to The Cenation Leader and we see an invigorated presence that looks ready to drop back into the torchbearer role at least for the near future. This is another one that matters for the purpose of numbers as it would bring Cena to legend status and allow him to equal ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair’s 16 reigns as World Heavyweight Champion. We envisage a loss for Styles here with a potential rematch at Mania depending on the Rumble winner’s choice of champions.

Kevin Owens (Champion) V Roman Reigns – No Disqualification

Owens or Reigns, Owens or Reigns, this one has serious fight of the night potential if executed correctly! The fans are once again rejoicing in universal hatred for the non-Universal champ that is Roman Reigns. The lad we love to point the finger at, but why is he just so damn hateable?

Can he cut a decent promo? Not a chance in hell! Did we show a vote of confidence after he won the ’15 Rumble? Not even a little bit! So why in the the name of jaysus do WWE script writers still have him stuck in face mode? The answer is simple, for convenience. Writers know that having Reigns in the title chase means he does not have the opportunity to ruin the nights main attraction, the Rumble match itself.

Until a new solid story is developed around his character, this one has the fans, Jericho and the Shark Cage coming up Trumps. Owens for a nice unclean win.

kevin-owens-c-v-roman-reigns-no-disqualifications

The Rumble – Who You Got?

What to Watch Out For?

At the time of writing Randy Orton is the bookies odds on favourite to win the Rumble on Sunday. Goldberg is probably the most expected winner from fans given his utter dominance of Brock Lesnar but we at The Sharpe don’t think old Bill is quite cut out to do the job, nope, not even a little bit actually. His signature head-butt on Monday night Raw did little to reaffirm his status as the big dog in the locker room, instead he looked rattled, confused and a little lost while cutting his promo. Post-show he even took to Instagram to state that it seems the time is right to retire the headbutt. Probably best leaving those moves in the WCW archive for now then Bill!

So is the Viper the man to beat, certainly one of them but not the winner in our opinion. His former Evolution buddy Triple H also looks likely to appear as a surprise entrant but he hasn’t had enough exposure in recent times for a credible win, plus he looks likely to run a spot with Seth Rollins at Mania, so that rules him out too. Undoubtedly, the guy to watch out for in this match is Braun Strowman who is being dubbed as WWE’s new Goliath! Expect a boatload of eliminations from the former strongman champion but not a win, which we feel, would be premature at this early stage in his career.

Any Surprises?

One thing is for sure, there will be no surprise entry from Jake The Snake Roberts, despite his best efforts and a solid social petition to get him inside the squared circle again. The master of the DDT has confirmed that he instead will be delivering a show at the Laughing Gas Comedy Club in North Carolina, you can see his short video message on the Facebook fan page. This leaves the door open for a whole host of other legends if the WWE choose to go down that well traveled road.

jake-the-snake-roberts-royal-rumble-petition

So surely Brock is in with a shout? The lad could just slide out from under the bottom rope, suplex the entire ring and angrily trot on to the grandest stage of them all in April to claim his fifth heavyweight title, right? Hmmm, seems a bit of a stretch even for the Beasts biggest fans! So who is left? We can’t help but hope that Irishman Finn Ballor is one of the surprise entrants in this year’s Rumble. While we can expect the spectacular from the Bray Native as well as Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, we think a win for any of the 3 is improbable.

What’s left to say, don’t act so surprised! The Phenom is a native of the Lone Star State, his last Rumble win came 10 years ago and his next and possibly last title run looks imminent at Wrestlemania 34. Your 2017 Royal Rumble Winner…. The Undertaker.

the-undertaker-wwe

Royal Rumble Betting

We are tipping four of our predicted results which we think are pretty safe bets, all things considered, what with the results being pre-determined and everything!

  1. Royal Rumble 2017 Outright Winner – Undertaker 4/1
  2. AJ Styles v John Cena (WWE Championship) – John Cena 8/13
  3. Kevin Owens v Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship) – Kevin Owens 11/10
  4. Rich Swann v Neville (Cruiserweight Championship) – Neville 1/3

The Paddy Power Royal Rumble Fantasy Game is a lot of fun and definitely deserves a shout here. If you are as finicky as we are when it comes to making one weekly Fantasy Football switch every weekend, then you may clear an afternoon, this could take a while!

paddy-power-royal-rumble-fantasy-game

How to Watch

Sky Sports customers can watch the show live on Sky Box Office, the event will cost €24.95 and start airing at midnight on Sunday. There are of course a few alternatives to the high price of Sky Box Office. By singing up to the WWE Network (priced at €12.99 per month) you can access this event and every pay per view throughout the year as well as a massive archive of WWE, WCW, and ECW footage!

Planning to stream it on the cheap? Be warned, this will be a highly viewed event and even your most reliable links may end up giving you more grief than they’re worth!

If you’re looking for something a little different then why not head down to the Woolshed Baa and Grill on Parnell Street where they will be hosting a Royal Rumble extravaganza of their own. Tickets are priced at €8.50 and fans will be able to enjoy the card in full on a super-sized screen, take park in WWE theme-song karaoke and win prizes in a Rumble drinking game and raffle. Sounds like a no brainer to us at The Sharpe and if the video below doesn’t entice you we don’t know what will!

We hope you have enjoyed our first foray into the world of wrestling writing! Watch out for the next post in our series of event previews which will look at WWE’s Elimination Chamber, taking place on February 12th at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Until then, keep it On The Mat people!

Geoff Dorrity
Runs long distances and enjoys a good Digital chinwag. Loves well proportioned burritos and pretty much any sport (aside from cricket). Pub quiz speciality topic would be 90’s professional wrestling.

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