Maybe it’s my complete lack of interest in Sunday’s “Clash of Champions 2017” but egads I was excited on Monday when the Royal Rumble was first mentioned. At the moment we’re forty six days away from the show and that’s close enough for me to start thinking about who is going to win one of the most important matches of the year. That’s why today I’m going to break one of my rules and do a little fantasy booking, or in this case fantasy picking as we look at who I have as the favorite to win the 2018 Royal Rumble.

There are several ways to look at a potential winner. Do you go with whoever is hottest at the moment? Maybe the person you want to feature at that year’s Wrestlemania? What about an established name who needs a big win to get back into the swing of things? Or there’s always the option of giving it to a surprise winner to see what they can do with a rocket push. Finally, there’s last year’s option of “well, someone has to win” because whatever match they’re in doesn’t mean anything so you basically punt the whole concept instead of putting in any real thinking.

Hottest At The Moment

I know he’s cool off a bit, but this would be the Braun Strowman spot. No one has rocketed up the card this year like Strowman and that would make him a great candidate to win the major match and move forward towards a potential career making night at “Wrestlemania XXXIV”. The peak time would have been to put the title on him when he fought Brock Lesnar in a singles match but for some reason WWE just had him lose clean to an F5. I’d put some real thinking into giving him the shot though and it’s not completely out of the question.

Strowman is a monster among men and that’s the kind of person who should work best in a Royal Rumble. How cool would it be to see him shrug off everyone ganging up on him for the elimination attempt? This is the match that made Diesel a star and giving Strowman, who is already a main eventer, the big win in this moment could be his ticket to the top. Assuming we don’t get a rather questionable triple threat with Strowman, Kane and Lesnar, this could work like a monstrous charm.

If he can flip an ambulance, he can win a battle royal.

Braun Strowman savagely attacks Roman Reigns: Raw, April 10, 2017

Featured Attraction

This is where I could see a nice twist and the more I think about it, the more confidence I have in it. One of the big matches that has been teased for “Wrestlemania XXXIV” is AJ Styles defending the Smackdown World Title against Shinsuke Nakamura and winning the Royal Rumble would be one way to get there. While Nakamura hasn’t had the best time since showing u in WWE, there’s a very strong chance he wins here.

Nakamura hasn’t had a big win yet on the main roster and I think there’s real potential for him to get that win here. It’s as simple as having him come in, survive a good, then kick the heck out of some people before tossing them out to win. Styles vs. Nakamura is a heck of a dream match and seeing Nakamura as the last man standing before having a staredown with Styles would be an amazing way to end the pay per view. Nakamura is a real option and easily my favorite choice from “Smackdown Live”.

It would be better than his debut.

Two-time NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura debuts on SmackDown LIVE: SmackDown LIVE, April 4, 2017

Established Name

Here’s where we get to the name that could be from either brand. I know it might not be the most popular choice, but you always have to consider John Cena. While he hasn’t had a great number of performances as of late, Cena is a two time winner of the match and there’s the seventeenth World Title reign looming over everything. Having Cena win and go after Styles (or whoever else is Smackdown World Champion in April) wouldn’t be the biggest surprise.

Here’s the thing about Cena: he’s capable of turning it on at a moment’s notice. I can’t imagine the seventeenth title reign would mean all that much or last that long, but if he makes it thirty days it’s longer than Ric Flair’s last three reigns combined. All that matters is the win and that would be a heck of a moment at “Wrestlemania XXXIV”. It may not be everyone’s favorite (or even mine) but it’s something that we might very well be seeing next year.

It worked ten years ago.

WWE Network: John Cena makes a surprise return at Royal Rumble 2008

Surprise Winner

Now this is where you can have some fun. I could probably list close to ten names who could get a heck of a rub and a rocket push towards the top of the card from here. We’re living in a post “JINDER MAHAL JUST WON THE WORLD TITLE” world and that means a lot of people could be in for the run of a lifetime, even if you never would have seen it coming. So who best fits the description here? A cult leader? A lunatic fringe? An architect? Perhaps a demon or someone Broken?

I’m thinking more a Samoan Submission Machine. Samoa Joe debuted on the main roster less than a year ago and hit the ground running. He’s rolled over a lot of names and has shown that he can take Lesnar to his furthest limits. It wouldn’t shock me to see him win the Royal Rumble, which really is suited for a fighter like him. The Philadelphia fans would eat up an indy darling winning such a big match and it could really shake things up on “Monday Night Raw”.

Maybe they’ll all be like Jason Jordan.

Samoa Joe ambushes Jason Jordan in Kurt Angle's office: Raw, Dec. 4, 2017

Well, Someone Has To Win

This is where the fun goes out the window as it could be the pick that offers the least thought. Think back to last year with Randy Orton, who was one of the most uninspired picks in a long time. He was given the win because he was a safe choice and could win the title before handing it off to the person they really wanted to push. That’s always an option and while I don’t think they’ll go here for a second year in a row, you have to consider it.

Therefore, I’ll go with Seth Rollins in this spot, possibly to set up a match against Dean Ambrose in New Orleans (not for the title mind you). Rollins is already a big name and a win wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world. While Rollins might want the title back, Ambrose turning on him for whatever reason could be enough to get him to give it up and go for the personal revenge instead.

If his performance is anything like this one, he’ll be fine.

WWE Network: Lesnar vs. Rollins vs. Cena: WWE World Heavyweight Title Match: Royal Rumble 2015

Who Will Win

So all that said, who wins? Who rises above the rest and….yeah it’s going to be Roman Reigns. WWE has made it pretty clear that we’re getting Reigns vs. Lesnar for the big coronation moment (Part IV: “THIS TIME FOR SURE!”) and this is a way to get him there. Sure there’s the Elimination Chamber in February, but why waste time giving the fans some false hope?

Reigns has gone into the hostile territory that is Philadelphia before and won the Royal Rumble and I can’t imagine them changing their minds this time. Can’t you imagine WWE deciding to give Reigns the win, just for the sake of sticking it to the fans who booed him there a few years back? It’s probably their worst and dumbest available choice which is why I think it’s the most likely. We might not like it, but that’s never stopped WWE with Reigns before.

He’s been here before.

A look at Roman Reigns' record setting Royal Rumble performance

I look forward to the Royal Rumble every year and a lot of that is due to speculating on who might win this time around. There are so many ways that you can go and while it might not be as simple as “anyone can win”, you really could go multiple ways with the winner. While some might not be as fun as others, there’s always the chance that it might be a great surprise that gets you fired up for that year’s Wrestlemania. That’s the idea at least.

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