Who are the ‘dark horses’ of Royal Rumble 2016?

Has it really been a year since that disastrous Royal Rumble? And two years since that other disastrous Royal Rumble? Here’s hoping that WWE will get it third time lucky. It is no secret that WWE have a habit of keeping their company favourite minimal. John Cena, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and at the moment… that’s about it. It is for this reason that fans have been taking an almost unanimously shared prediction – that our winner will be either Brock Lesnar or John Cena. Dull, but hey, he needs some way of getting into the Wrestlemania 32 main event, and for once, Paul Heyman’s shouting might not cut it.

However, considering that the spine of the Royal Rumble match is surprise, there will forever be a glimmer of hope for whether a dark horse will clamber through. Here are a few who, for better or for worse, could *actually* work.

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Bray Wyatt: The Eater of Worlds comes across as the most practical choice, although the likelihood is disappointingly slim, on the grounds that after WWE has attempted (and failed) to cheer up a crowd with a face win (Batista and Roman Reigns), WWE might not fancy taking the risk of giving a heel the win. However, were it not for that history, hopes might be far higher. He needs to escape from the tired circle of ‘1. Haunt a random superstar, 2. Feud for a few PPVs, 3. Lose last PPV match, 4. Repeat’, and to be thrown into the championship picture *without* weeks of spooky, yet gibberish promos, would be a great breath of fresh air. The Wyatt Family must exist as a stable, but divide into their own sectors. His minions functioning as a tag team, while he ventures for the belt. After being the man to eliminate Daniel Bryan and last for 45 minutes last year, he would be a great choice.

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Luke Harper: Referring back to the Wyatt Family, this oddball idea makes more sense than it seems to, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Let me refer you back to WWE Fastlane 2015 – remembered as being especially dull. Without a big umbrella gimmick like Survivor Series, Elimination ChamberTLC or Extreme Rules, it exposed its function: to extend the battle for No.1 Contendership, as Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns fought for the contract. Until Dean Ambrose won the Intercontinental Championship, I expected this to be the snap of the Reigns/Ambrose friendship, but with him distracted from the championship, the tightest bond that could break, and for the feud to continue, would be for Luke Harper to turn on his master, presumably for Wyatt to win the contendership at Fastlane. Considering just how imposing Harper is, if only he were booked well enough, he is certainly built for the task.

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Rusev: Facing a similar conundrum as Wyatt as his imposing status in on the wane. Remember when he was the unstoppable force that even John Cena had difficulties with? Whatever happened to the tank? Everyone’s inability to kick out of the deadly Accolade hold? Admittedly, I would not want him to win, due to the inevitability of yet another ‘Save America’ booking (after all, The League of Nations’ heel status is based upon them being foreigners, and not much else). Still, he is in desperate need of a hearty chunk of the elimination count, and although he cheated to get there, he was the last man thrown out last year.

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Kevin Owens: Even Rusev is slightly protected by being part of a stable, but one last heel who is in dangerous limbo without that back-up is Kevin Owens. There is no denying that he is one of the most perfect heel figures that the WWE has seen in a long time. While Seth Rollins had that slimy, cheating and scheming attitude (yet when he chose to, was an amazing technical wrestler), Owens somehow manages to be even *more* insulting and whiney, and in place of cheating, his foul-play takes place in rampages *outside* of matches. One only has to look at his post-match tantrum when defeated by Neville on Raw. At very least for the long absence of Rollins, Owens would be great in his place as a nasty person who for once actually played by the rules. Besides, wouldn’t it be fun to see Reigns vocally drilled into the ground? It’s not like Reigns isn’t going to effectively reply.

 

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Daniel Bryan: Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap. Bryan has been the central catalyst of problem at the past two Royal Rumbles – his no-show in 2014 (albeit after an amazing match with Bray Wyatt) and his ten-minute appearance in 2015. The fact that any actual news on Bryan has slowed recently could mean anything from not being anywhere near to recovery, or that the writers have something to hide. It’ll be a burning question for everyone no matter what. Fans will chant his name, whether he is there or not. If he will be back again (bear in mind that it was announced before last year’s Rumble that he would be in the match), then unless there is an ingenious plan, fans will not accept him being thrown over that top rope again.

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Triple H: This man has become more like The Undertaker than he has Vince McMahon – provoke him for an extended period of time and eventually he will emerge. Conveniently on the Road to Wrestlemania, of course. No, I don’t want to see it happen either, but WWE is currently booked so perfectly for this, that it can’t be ignored. WWE has written itself into a corner yet again by applying both an Authority feud and a championship onto one man – Roman Reigns. As Reigns bickers with the Authority whilst champion, it sadly makes a lot of sense for an Authority figure to fight Reigns for that title. Like the infamous 1999 Royal Rumble win of Mr. McMahon over Steve Austin… just without the entertainment value of McMahon and Austin. Unless The Authority are very fast to employ somebody else, Triple H is the only candidate.

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It worked before. Can it work again?

Who do you think would make sense to win or at least show dominance in the 2016 Royal Rumble? Leave comments below.

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