WWE World Heavyweight Championship to be decided in Royal Rumble match!
In a shocking development on the first Monday Night Raw of 2016, Chairman of the Board and CEO of WWE Vincent K. McMahon announced that Roman Reigns would defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against 29 other competitors in the Royal Rumble match.
The spiteful move came after Reigns fought Sheamus in the main event. In an attempt to ensure a title change, McMahon inserted himself as special guest referee. Despite the deck stacked in the Authority’s favour, Reigns was able to get the win.
McMahon’s surprise stipulation changes not only the face of the Royal Rumble match, but the entire Road to WrestleMania.
The last time the WWE title was decided in the Rumble was twenty-four years ago, back in 1992. After a series of controversial title-changes between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker, then WWF president Jack Tunney vacated the championship and put it up for grabs in the battle royal main event.
In the end it was Federation newcomer, Nature Boy Ric Flair, who won the title. It was his first of many reigns.
Reigns vs The Authority has been the engine driving the World Heavyweight Championship scene since Seth Rollins was forced to vacate the title due to injury.
The question remains how WWE will determine the main event picture for WrestleMania 32, which is usually decided by the Rumble.
Fastlane is the only even occurring between Rumble and ‘Mania, and it’s possible a tournament, fatal four-way, or some other type of gimmicked contest will be contrived to select a number one contender.
Placing the big belt up for grabs in the Rumble match changes the face of the event altogether.
Every participant, from returning Chris Jericho to Brock Lesnar, all the way down the roster to Heath Slater, Bray Wyatt, Ryback and Neville now have the chance to ascend to the top of the WWE ladder in a single night.
One of the hottest rumours circulating around the Rumble predicts Triple H returning to action to steal the match. Under old rule, this would make him number one contender to face Reigns at WrestleMania.
The Game has not been seen on Raw or Smackdown since Reigns attacked him at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.
With this new development, H now has the opportunity to steal not only contendership but the championship itself at the Rumble, occurring January 24th in Orlando, FL.
Bleacher Report’s Alfred Konuwa believes this outcome would be the best move, because it allows the possibility for Reigns and Triple H to face off at WrestleMania in the proper dynamic. He sites that the challenger baby-face chasing the heel champion is the most dramatic scenario for the main event.
Ryan Dilbert, also of Bleacher Report, shares the view that whether H wins the Rumble or not, the company would benefit from Reigns coming up short.
“The surprise change to the Rumble should be used to keep fans guessing and shine the spotlight on another superstar in addition to Reigns,” Dilbert writes.
Brock Lesnar, who much like Seth Rollins, was never beaten for his WWE World Heavyweight Championship, returns to Raw next Monday. It will be interesting to hear his reactions, as well as the reactions of the entire roster, to the Rumble stipulation.