We're inching closer to one of the biggest pro wrestling events of the year — the WWE Royal Rumble.
The 30-man match is always fun to watch. You're bound to see some history made. And how the crowd reacts to the winner usually sets the tone for the road to WrestleMania.
This year's Royal Rumble match is intriguing. It's the first since the brand split, which means WWE could go in a lot of different directions. Either way, the winner will get a title shot. (If the winner is from Raw, they'll battle for the WWE Universal Championship. If he's from Smackdown, the winner will vie for the WWE World Championship.)
Here are seven possible winners of the 2017 WWE Royal Rumble:
(1) Chris Jericho. Jericho's rumored WrestleMania 33 opponent is Kevin Owens, the current WWE Universal Champion. Why not raise the stakes for this match? It not only helps WWE avoid the disaster that would be a Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman match, but it provides an opportunity to have a really great wrestling match in a main event slot at WrestleMania. What a crazy idea, right?
Another factor that's worth considering: Jericho has done virtually everything in his storied career. He's a sure-fire WWE Hall of Famer. One thing he hasn't done, though, is win the Royal Rumble. He came close. He was the last man eliminated in the 2012 Royal Rumble. But he's never won the match.
(2) Finn Balor. Balor has been coy about a possible return at the Royal Rumble. He won the inaugural WWE Universal Championship in late August at Summerslam, but had to give up the belt the next day because he injured his shoulder. He was initially scheduled to return in four to six months, which means he's right in the middle of that timeline.
Balor coming back, winning the Royal Rumble and getting a chance to wrestle for the title he never lost would be a huge moment.
(3) Braun Strowman. WWE's next Big Guy is one of the favorites to win the Royal Rumble. His chances will increase if Roman Reigns beats Kevin Owens for the WWE title at Royal Rumble.
Is Strowman the best choice to win the Royal Rumble? Probably not. But WWE seems invested in him and a win at Royal Rumble could give him a much-needed boost.
(4) Samoa Joe. What if Finn Balor comes back and appears to be on track to win the Royal Rumble ... until Samoa Joe walks out and eliminates him? Samoa Joe is expected to make his main roster debut soon and the Royal Rumble would be the perfect time to make the jump. He'll surely have a role in WrestleMania, so why not have him win the Royal Rumble?
(5) The Undertaker. The Undertaker is a Smackdown guy, which means he would face the winner of the AJ Styles-John Cena match for the WWE title. If Cena wins, WWE has the (rumored) match it wanted at last year's WrestleMania. Cena vs. The Undertaker was reportedly in the works until Cena got hurt and couldn't compete at WrestleMania. Even if it's Styles vs. The Undertaker, it's a great matchup. WWE can't go wrong either way. And having the belt on the line in either match will raise the stakes.
(6) Brock Lesnar. Because why not? Lesnar has won the Royal Rumble before, but that was during his first run with the company. A win now would make things interesting going into WrestleMania. A match between Lesnar and Owens at WrestleMania would be a fun one.
(7) The Miz. If there's one guy who's stock has risen over the past year, it's The Miz. He was a phenomenal Intercontinental Champion and has been one of the best characters on television. It's not crazy to think that he can make the jump to the main event scene. On a Smackdown roster that doesn't have a lot of depth in the title picture, he could make things interesting. It's possible the Intercontinental title loss was a precursor to having him move on to bigger and better things.
(8) Goldberg. Like Lesnar, why not? Everyone thought his match with Lesnar was going to be a one-and-done. And then he won and the chatter about him sticking around began. Here we are with Royal Rumble looming and many possible winners. He's certainly one of them. The thing with Goldberg is that WWE could be flexible. If he wins, he could decide to take on Cena for the WWE title — if Cena defeats Styles. That's the advantage of being a part-timer. No one really knows how WWE will use him.