We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks discussing scenarios for Wrestlemania 31 and examining the arguments for winners of the 2015 Royal Rumble. In fact, there is no way to consider the Royal Rumble without considering what it will mean for Wrestlemania.
In an article first published on Sunday and re-posted on Wednesday here on Wrestling News World, I explained how Roman Reigns was the undisputed favorite to win the match.
Not only have Vince McMahon and Triple Hreportedly agreed on Reigns as the winner but the company has been grooming him for a top spot for over a year.
In last year’s Royal Rumble match, Reigns broke Kane’s record of eliminations (11) set in 2001 with 12.
While doing an interview with Bleacher Report, I was asked who I feel would have the most eliminations this year. Would it be Reigns or would it be someone else?
I answered that I believe Roman Reigns has the most eliminations this year. Why? Because if WWE is going to build Reigns to be the guy to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania, they’re going to have to do everything they can to make him as strong as possible.
After all, assuming that Lesnar retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble and defends it at Wrestlemania 31, he’ll defend it after ending The Undertaker’s streak and taking down the face of the company in John Cena.
One of the things that soured me on the idea of Reigns winning the Royal Rumble was the fact Lesnar has not regularly defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Would you believe me if I told you that Lesnar has only one win since beating Undertaker at Wrestlemania? That one win came at SummerSlam when he destroyed Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The rematch the following month at Night of Champions ended in disqualification, where Cena was technically declared the winner. That means Brock has no successful defenses to his name (which is another reason why I see him coming out of Royal Rumble with the title, but that’s another article).
To effectively promote a Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania 31, the company must book Reigns as strong as possible in the 30-man Royal Rumble. The only way he can become stronger than 12 eliminations is to win it but I don’t think Reigns needs to “just win.” He needs to earn it.
Last year, the fans completely rejected Batista entering at 28 and going on to win the match after 12:52 of ring time.
While Batista had more eliminations (4) than both CM Punk (3) and Seth Rollins (3), who were in the match for nearly 50 minutes, his performance convinced no one and only fueled the angry crowd about the exclusion of Daniel Bryan.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fine line between “earning it” and “looking invincible.” The latter would likely result in the wrestling-savvy crowd in Philadelphia rejecting a Reigns win just as much as they would a late entry and minimal match time.
If WWE is intent on putting Roman Reigns over in the 30-man Royal Rumble match, the story that has to be told is that he “earned it.” As long as WWE does that, I do not believe they’ll lose the crowd like they did last year.
I understand Daniel Bryan is going to be the fan favorite and his story of total redemption is actually one I prefer, but if Reigns is the guy, he’s going to have to have to earn it. That doesn't mean he's going to break the eliminations record, but he needs plenty of them and in-ring time to prove he belongs across the ring from "The Beast" that is Brock Lesnar.