The go-home editions of WWE Raw and Smackdown have aired. Next stop: WWE Royal Rumble on Sunday.
The 30-man Royal Rumble match is tough to predict. With the brand split and the involvement of part-timers like Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker, it's anyone's guess who will win this year's Royal Rumble — and a title shot at WrestleMania 33.
Earlier this month, I shared a list of potential Royal Rumble winners. Finn Balor made the cut. So did Chris Jericho. And The Undertaker, a previous Rumble winner, was mentioned.
This is now the moment of truth: Who will win the Royal Rumble? And why?
As of Tuesday night, the odds suggest Goldberg is the favorite. A title match against Kevin Owens or Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 would generate interest. (The quality of such a match is another story.) There's also the possibility John Cena wins the WWE title and Vince McMahon decides to book Goldberg against his top guy. But that's unlikely.
Randy Orton, Braun Strowman and The Undertaker are also in the conversation. Finn Balor, who might return for the Rumble, could win to set the stage for a WWE Universal Championship match at WrestleMania 33. A match against Kevin Owens would be phenomenal. Would Vince go for it? Maybe. The WrestleMania crowd would be into that match.
Samoa Joe is rumored to be one of the entrants in the 30-man match. It would be his main roster debut. He would be an interesting winner, but it's unlikely that Vince would want him to be in that spot. Joe should have a good match at WrestleMania 33 with or without a Royal Rumble win.
It would be easy to pick any of the names mentioned above. But I'm going with a sleeper pick for the WWE Royal Rumble. Someone who hasn't won it before. Someone whose win could set the stage for a great match at WrestleMania.
That someone is Chris Jericho.
A match between Jericho and Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 33 has been rumored for awhile. Jericho will be involved (in a cage) in the match between Owens and Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble. He's also competing in the Royal Rumble match, so he'll be busy Sunday night.
If Owens retains the WWE Universal Championship and Jericho wins the Royal Rumble, it sets up a match between the two "friends" at WrestleMania.
There's a lot of unknowns entering this match. There are a few directions WWE could go in that would please the fans — something they've had difficulty with at recent Royal Rumbles.
A Jericho win would be exciting. It's one of the only things he hasn't done in pro wrestling. And what better time to do it? He's one of the hottest characters in WWE at the moment.
Chris Jericho should win the Royal Rumble on Sunday. If that happens, the build to the Jericho-Owens match at WrestleMania will be fun to watch.