Becky Lynch and Natalya vs. Charlotte (c) and Brie Bella
The Setup: Getting the Divas on the card… The Charlotte/Becky Lynch storyline is hot right now, but I don’t think Charlotte needs to drop the title to Lynch (despite Lynch showing signs of being a star). I’d save the title change for a bigger stage…
Winner: Becky Lynch/Natalya
Stardust vs. R-Truth
The Setup: This is just a fun match to get the crowd excited to see some wrestling. There is, however, a post match segment with some importance…
**Cuts a promo afterward saying he loves working house shows, announces that he is going to win the Royal Rumble next Sunday (leads to him not coming out when his music plays during the Rumble; a surprise entrant takes that spot instead)
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto
United States Championship Match
The Setup: I’m not really a fan of anything the WWE has done with the United States Championship since John Cena dropped the title to Alberto Del Rio at Hell in a Cell. I thought that the person who finally beat John Cena in the United States Open Challenge would be made for life, and someone like Alberto Del Rio did not need that spot (nor did the fans want him to be in that spot). I eventually got on board with it (ADR is an incredible talent) and was somewhat pleased with ADR’s US Championship run before the loss to Kalisto on the January 11th episode of Monday Night Raw. While that had shock value, and helped establish Kalisto as a legitimate competitor, I can’t help but notice that the WWE doesn’t have anywhere to go now with Kalisto or the United States Championship. Who does Kalisto feud with now? Which heels are left for him to work with? How far is has the United States Championship fallen since John Cena elevated it in 2015? Going forward, I think your best bet is to have Del Rio win the title back on the January 14th episode of Smackdown and then announce this match on Twitter, the final encounter between the two men, for the Royal Rumble. Kalisto, and the United States Championship, would have been far better off if he was the man to originally beat John Cena for the title, keeping the “open challenge” aspect of the championship (and one of the more exciting things going on in the WWE) alive. For now, Del Rio ends this feud and proves he is the better singles competitor and champion.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos and Chris Jericho
The Setup: This match will probably happen on the January 18th episode of Monday Night Raw, but I think the WWE should hold off for a few days and have Chris Jericho (w/ The Usos) face off with Xavier Woods (w/ The New Day) instead (Jericho broke Wood’s trombone, he has a legit beef). Save this six-man tag for the Royal Rumble because there is not a legitimate threat to The New Day or their Tag Team Championships as of January 12th. I know The Usos recorded a pinfall victory over The New Day on the January 11th episode of Raw, but rushing this feud (and likely title change) makes the moment feel less important. I’d hold off on the championship match until Fastlane, giving this feud a chance to build.
Winner: The Usos and Chris Jericho
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Intercontinental Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match
The Setup: Ambrose and Owens have been feuding for quite some time now, and the blow-off to the feud should be at the Royal Rumble. It seems the WWE may have been doing some foreshadowing when the two men brawled throughout the arena on the January 7th episode of Smackdown, as I think this one will be a “Falls Count Anywhere” match in Orlando. These two men brawl all over the arena, with Ambrose getting the win after some crazy spot near the stage (we haven’t seen a stage dive in quite some time).
Winner: Dean Ambrose
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
The Setup: I’m not going to book the entire match (I actually did do that, but it was a bit daunting to look at); I will, however, go over some of the key points. I think you announce on the January 18th episode of Raw that Roman Reigns is the No. 1 entrant for the match (announce the Big Show as No. 2 to clear up that confusion), further stacking the odds against the champion. They have 29 guys announced, but I’m sure that list won’t be accurate when all is said and done due to some surprise entrants. As much fun as surprise entrants are, I think that they should only have former World Champions as surprises (WCW World Champion is fine — sorry, Jamie Noble). Guys like Rob Van Dam and Vader would be a nice for those spots. The only exception to the rule would be AJ Styles, who should (and probably will) make his debut with a strong showing in the Rumble match (his debut probably won’t be as strong as I’d like to imagine, but I hope he lasts at least 30 minutes or so and eliminates a few guys). I’d have a final four of Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, and Bray Wyatt. I think Reigns throws a few Superman punches at Lesnar, followed by a spear, and gets close to eliminating him before Triple H comes out and attacks him. He rips Reigns’ vest off, breaks a chair over his back, eliminates him, and pedigrees him through the announce table. Lesnar then eliminates Wyatt after a nice brawl, with Styles resting on the apron (I’d have Styles come out around 5th or so). After that, you have Lesnar and Styles stare each other down for a few seconds with Paul Heyman yelling at ringside. After they go at it for a few minutes, Lesnar attempts a german suplex, but Styles lands on his feet and dropkicks Lesnar in the back, eliminating him. AJ Styles, after a phenomenal (pun intended) performance in the Royal Rumble match, wins the WWE Championship in his debut match. As much as this feels like unrealistic fantasy booking, it really isn’t that crazy of an idea. I imagine they spent a nice chunk of change purchasing arguably the greatest wrestler in the world right now. Styles is 38 years old, so if they want to see a return on that investment, they need to work fast. I think HHH/Reigns is most likely your Wrestlemania main event, with Styles/Nakamura (and possibly Daniel Bryan) having a match for an undercard championship (hopefully the United States championship, it needs the hype most). That being said, I think this would lead to a 4 million+ viewership number for Monday Night Raw the next night, with WWE fans being excited for the road to Wrestlemania for the first time in years.
Winner: AJ Styles
Overall Thoughts: There are not a lot of matches on this card; the card is timed out similar to the 2011 Royal Rumble. You could perhaps move the Divas’ tag to the semi-main event, giving the crowd a chance to breathe after the IC Championship match and before the Royal Rumble, but I like the way it is set up currently. The US and IC title matches should be about 15-20 minutes apiece, with the six-man tag match going for about 10 minutes. This gives the Rumble match, and all of the storylines based around it, plenty of time to play out. I like the direction this would put the WWE heading into WM32. Your WWE Champion is a new star in AJ Styles. Dean Ambrose is the Intercontinental Champion (and actually looks like a lunatic for once). Alberto Del Rio is holding on to the United States Championship for now, but it looks like his days are numbered. The New Day are your Tag Team Champions, but they too appear to be losing their grip on the titles. Finally, Charlotte is your Diva’s Champion, after taking down everyone she’s come in contact with. You’ve got a solid base to build up your WM32 storylines and work with the pieces you have left after a plethora of injuries.