POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: WWE Royal Rumble Preview, John Cena off the show

John Pollock previews the Royal Rumble tonight, Dolph Ziggler discusses his future and being on "hiatus", TakeOver notes, Jake Hager wins his Bellator debut & lots more.

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I will have a WWE Royal Rumble POST Show tonight on the site. If you are a Double Double, Iced Capp or Espresso member of the POST Wrestling Café, you can watch the show LIVE immediately after the Rumble ends and we will be taking phone calls and Skype calls with your reactions to the show.

The free podcast version will be up immediately after we finish the live show for everyone.

**Braden Herrington and Davie Portman of upNXT have an NXT TakeOver: Phoenix POST Show on the site with an extensive review of Saturday’s card. You can listen to the show on the upNXT or regular POST Wrestling feed wherever you listen to podcasts and available on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play etc.

**Below is our Royal Rumble Preview edition of the Café Hangout with Jimmy Korderas joining us to chat the entire card:

WRESTLING NEWS

**Earlier in the day, the WWE officially announced John Cena was off tonight’s show citing the ankle injury, which is the storyline reason. As we reported, Cena was never available for tonight’s show and was originally scheduled to be taken out on television by Lars Sullivan. With Sullivan unavailable for the angle, they came up with the ankle lock spot from Drew McIntyre and promoted him this week as “questionable” for the show. They have added that Braun Strowman will be taking Cena’s spot in the Royal Rumble match.

**Tonight, is the WWE’s Royal Rumble event from Chase Field in Phoenix as the build to WrestleMania starts taking shape. While booking a baseball stadium for the show has not resulted in a sellout, it will still be among the largest WWE events of the year when the paid attendance is revealed. On paper, this looks like a very good show highlighted by the two Royal Rumble matches that have many directions and surprises they can go with resulting in the key players being established for the WrestleMania title matches.

Here is a full preview of the card:

30-man Royal Rumble

Announced: Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Bobby Lashley, Elias, Baron Corbin, Jinder Mahal, Apollo Crews, Titus O’Neil, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Mustafa Ali, Andrade, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, New Day, R-Truth at #30.

The favorites are Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre on Raw and for SmackDown, you have Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, and Jeff Hardy. Listing off those names, this match is primed for a surprise and giving the audience a satisfactory outcome. Internally, people putting the show together are optimistic about this event and believe the fans will leave happy for whatever that means. They are aware of the issues of some talent being unhappy, the television viewership and knowing they need a strong build up for WrestleMania.

I expect some surprise entrants from NXT and NXT UK as one-off appearances like Adam Cole and Andrade had last year. Naturally, people are speculating about Roman Reigns after the Hobbs & Shaw announcement Friday, which would be an unbelievable moment if it happened, but I have no insight on that.

I would go with Rollins as he is the best candidate regardless of being predictable, this is a show that should be predictable as it means the direction is clear. They have two pay-per-views to play around with the WrestleMania build, so it gives them leeway at the Rumble to go wherever they want. I prefer making the Rumble important and the winner is the person you are going with for ‘Mania season.

30-woman Royal Rumble

Announced: Charlotte Flair, Lana, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Naomi, Zelina Vega, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Ember Moon, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross, Natalya, Bayley, The Riott Squad, Tamina, Dana Brooke, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella at #30.

I think this is the match that has more interest because of Charlotte Flair and the expectation that Becky Lynch will be with her at the end. They are the only two you can believe are winning this match as anyone else if a left-field pick and I think would be a letdown.

The idea of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch recreating the Bret Hart and Lex Luger spot from the 1994 match has been thrown out there and is one way to get to the three-way at WrestleMania. Either woman could win and the other gets into the match through the February or March pay-per-view.

There are several open slots and you can fill them with some of the women from NXT and NXT UK, but they have used a lot of women from the past between last year’s Rumble and the Evolution show but you can find people that will get reactions just because it’s a surprise.

I’m optimistic both Rumble matches are going to have a lot of strong elements.

Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor for the Universal title

This should be a solid match with Balor an upgrade over Braun Strowman for match quality. They are pushing the underdog story with Balor, although I found it contradicted Balor’s win over John Cena, which wasn’t presented as a fluke and only minimized its impact. The struggle of this match is no one believing Balor is winning the title, but they will get behind a hot match if the drama is created. It’s Balor’s biggest match in a long time and Lesnar shines in these styles of matches. Everyone assumes Braun Strowman will be on the show, it’s only a question if it’s in the Rumble, this match, or both (UPDATE: Strowman has been announced for the Rumble match). Lesnar retains and will probably be a hell of a match.

Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE title

This is the one expected to steal the show and after the bar is high after TakeOver for match-of-the-weekend with Ricochet and Johnny Gargano setting the mark. I could see this one going on early to space out the title matches as well as the two Rumble matches. If this were the first or second match on the main show it would not shock me. They had a killer match at TLC and this one should wrap the feud for the time being. Bryan is doing fantastic in the new role and there are several babyface options after this, but no one stands head-and-shoulders above the rest. I’m curious how Bryan is received as this is the first big event since his turn where you have a lot of hardcore fans mixed with casuals in the market, which is the city where Bryan resides.

Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw women’s title

This is the same dynamic as the Universal title match with a champion everyone knows is retaining their title. Banks has not had a big stage like this since her series of matches with Charlotte Flair in 2016 and is poised to have a big outing. Rousey’s pay-per-view matches always deliver and have a unique flavor that separates them from the rest of the card. The build has been rushed but the promos on Raw getting the personal grudge element through to the audience. I expect this to be a higher quality version of Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair’s match where Banks takes Rousey to the limit and is given a lot before losing.

Asuka vs. Becky Lynch for the SmackDown women’s title

I wasn’t crazy about this announcement for a match but I’m keeping an open mind until we see how Becky Lynch comes out of this show. I would not want to defeat Lynch at all or present her as failing. There are lots of ways to get out of this match keeping Lynch strong but not holding the title. Lynch should be the most popular character tonight and if she isn’t winning the title, it would be insane not having a return for the Rumble later in the show. If Asuka retains the title, she is in a tough spot going into WrestleMania where this version of the women’s title is very much the secondary women’s title and the key women are fighting for Rousey’s version. I do expect the scenario of Lynch losing this match by DQ or countout, perhaps from a run-in, and lands herself in the Rumble.

The Bar vs. Shane McMahon and The Miz for the SmackDown tag titles

Shane McMahon and The Miz have been an effective part of SmackDown building this up where fans are behind them and rooting for their success. The assumption is that McMahon will end up as Sting with his perceived friend turning on him and sets up a WrestleMania match. To get there, they could win the titles first and then lose them with Miz blaming McMahon for the loss, or they could do the Bret and Owen Hart scenario where they fail to win the titles at the Rumble and Miz “kicks his leg out of his leg”. I expect this match to be good but more focused on the chemistry of Miz and McMahon and how the audience backs them.

Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the United States title

It’s on the kickoff show, so the positive is that means more time allotted but will also have the possible issues of fans filing in late, interruptions to promote the main show and typically, not observed with the same enthusiasm as the main show. That said, these two had a pretty good match at Crown Jewel, which is a show that didn’t have an abundance of, and this could be a sleeper match to look out for. It’s a big fall from Nakamura winning the Rumble last year and may not even be in the match this year much less considered a candidate to repeat. I see Rusev retaining the title and I don’t know if either guy will have anything substantial for WrestleMania season.

Buddy Murphy vs. Hideo Itami vs. Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa for a Cruiserweight title

They will have the same factors working against them as I listed above for the kickoff portion. These are four excellent performers that are hampered by a brand that is not over to the general audience. If there is a decision to go with someone new, Itami would be my choice but it never feels important to have a title switch on the pre-show and is forgotten within an hour. I’d rather the save their “moments” for the television show to educate people to tune in for those events. This should be a great match and maybe be out first with their style of a match will result in a hungry crowd reacting well.

**Sean Ross Sapp at Fightful.com reported that as of Sunday afternoon the plan was to put the men’s Royal Rumble match on last.

**Dolph Ziggler spoke with Chris Van Vliet and stated he was on “hiatus” from the WWE. He stated he was still under contract and did not give a specific date when his deal ends. Ziggler did state he would not be at the Royal Rumble tonight, although he is doing a comedy show tonight after the Rumble two blocks away from Chase Field. He stated that he is not interested in being a producer and a role like that would be something he would consider ten years down the road but not when he is the best shape of his life.

**A new WWE “24” will be airing after the Royal Rumble tonight on the WWE Network on last year’s WrestleMania event from New Orleans.

**Total Bellas airs tonight at 9 pm Eastern on E!

**Cody and Hangman Page appeared on Saturday’s Northeast Wrestling event in Waterbury, Connecticut. Both teased their appearances on Twitter earlier in the day.

**On the post-TakeOver conference call with the media, Paul Levesque confirmed that Sonjay Dutt and Abyss are coming into the company with roles behind-the-scenes. They do not have a start date.

**Daniel Bryan spoke to the State of Combat Podcast about his heel turn in November and the decision being made on the same day.

**The Hollywood Reporter announced that John Cena will be starring in an action comedy project for Netflix that will be directed by Jason Bateman.

**Ring of Honor’s Tag Wars tournament ended with PCO and Brody King defeated Juice Robinson and David Finlay in the finals Saturday in San Antonio, Texas. PCO and King will receive a tag title shot against The Briscoes at the next pay-per-view on March 15th in Las Vegas.

**MVP was Kenny King’s mystery partner in the Tag Wars tournament on Friday night’s Ring of Honor card in Houston. The team defeated Colt Cabana and Willie Mack advancing to Saturday’s show in San Antonio.

**They shot two matches before TakeOver at the Talking Stick Resort Arena with The Forgotten Sons defeating The Street Profits and Kairi Sane & Io Shirai defeating Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir with those matches airing this Wednesday.

**After TakeOver, they shot a brawl involving Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole on one side and Velveteen Dream, Aleister Black, and Ricochet on the other end. They brawled to the back with Triple H getting in the middle of them.

PAY-PER-VIEW REWIND

WWE Royal Rumble
Sunday, January 28th, 2018
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

*Kalisto, Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado over Drew Gulak, TJP & Jack Gallagher
*The Revival over Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
*Bobby Roode over Mojo Rawley to retain the United States title
*AJ Styles over Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a handicap match to retain the WWE title
*The Usos over Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable in a 2-of-3 falls match to retain the SmackDown tag titles
*Shinsuke Nakamura won the 30-man Royal Rumble
*Sheamus and Cesaro over Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan to win the Raw tag titles
*Brock Lesnar over Braun Strowman and Kane to retain the Universal title
*Asuka won the 30-woman Royal Rumble

MMA NEWS

**Bellator 214 was an entertaining show with a quick series of fights on the main card. The show featured Ryan Bader stopping Fedor Emelianenko in 35 seconds to win the Heavyweight World Grand Prix and become a dual champion at heavyweight and light heavyweight. Bader ran the table defeating Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal, Matt Mitrione, and Emelinaneko while taking no damage in these three fights. Bader made a great career choice going to Bellator after being in a position in the UFC where he didn’t seem to be any closer to receiving a title fight. It would make sense that Bader would fight the winner of Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov, who are fighting February 16th as there are not a lot of options for Bader at light heavyweight.

The card also saw Jake Hager make his debut and make short work of J.W. Kiser. Hager ate a punch at the start, took Kiser down and then worked in his half-guard with several big elbows before the fight-ending arm-triangle choke. Hager said after the fight that he saw Bellator being his home for the next ten years, which is a hell of a plan when Hager is 36 years old. Hager came to the cage with Ron Killings performing while Hager was screaming “We the People”. It was noteworthy that on DAZN and during his entrance video, there was WWE footage. Between the footage, Ron Killings being approved to appear, and WWE promoting Hager’s win that the company was totally on board with supporting Bellator. Hager teased entering the Royal Rumble tonight, which would be a fine surprise and Hager can do pro wrestling with his Bellator deal.

Here are the main card results:
*Adel Altamimi def. Brandon McMahan by armbar at 1:16 of Round 1
*Juan Archuleta def. Ricky Bandejas by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Jake Hager def. J.W. Kiser by arm-triangle at 2:09 of Round 1
*Henry Corrales def. Aaron Pico by KO at 1:07 of Round 1
*Ryan Bader def. Fedor Emelianenko by KO at 0:35 of Round 1 to win the Heavyweight World Grand Prix

**Bellator announced a card for April 27th at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The card will be headlined by Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch in the Welterweight Grand Prix where MacDonald’s title is on the line for the tournament fights. The card also features Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defending the flyweight title against Veta Arteaga.

**Bellator’s next event is Saturday, February 9th from Newcastle, England with Patricky “Pitbull” Freire taking on Ryan Scope in the main event. Their next major cards are the back-to-back nights in Uncasville, Connecticut on February 15th and 16th. The first night is headlined by Matt Mitrione fighting Sergei Kharitonov and the second night features Paul Daley vs. Michael “Venom” Page and Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson.

*****
NXT TAKEOVER: PHOENIX POST SHOW
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman have a full review of the NXT TakeOver: Phoenix card going through all the matches, title changes, and future directions.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/27/nxt-takeover-phoenix-post-show/
*****
Café Hangout: Royal Rumble Preview with Jimmy Korderas
John Pollock and Wai Ting are joined by Aftermath TV co-host and former WWE referee, Jimmy Korderas to preview this weekend’s Royal Rumble. Plus, we take your calls and talk Ronda Rousey’s future with WWE, Abyss & Sonjay Dutt joining WWE, NJPW’s US visa issues, Daniel Bryan goes off on Chase Field, NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, and WWE Worlds Collide.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/25/royal-rumble-preview-w-jimmy-korderas-cafe-hangout-live-1-24-19/
*****
ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything (February 2019)

John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions from the POST Wrestling Forum in the February 2018 edition of Ask-A-Wai. In this 107 min podcast, we discuss AEW, Patreon, UFC, Energy Drinks, ASMR, The Undertaker, Impact and more.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/24213974
*****
upNXT 1/24/19: DIY Another Day

Braden Herrington & Davie Portman chat this week’s “Go Home” episode of NXT featuring a huge angle involving DIY, Ricochet and Aleister Black, an amazing sleeper hit tag team match between Lorcan & Burch vs. Aichner & Barthel, Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish, and more!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/24/upnxt-1-24-19-diy-another-day/
*****
BWE 1/23/19: NXT UK, ITV World of Sport Tour, PAC vs. ZSJ

In a packed show, Benno and guests Will Cooling (Fighting Spirit Magazine) and JP Houlihan (Eurograps, The Indy Corner) talk NXT UK’s first TV show since Takeover: Blackpool, ITV World Of Sport’s UK tour, the Zack Sabre Jr. vs. PAC match from Rev Pro, plus the latest news and announcements from Progress, OTT and Fight Club Pro.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/24/bwe-1-23-19-nxt-uk-itv-world-of-sport-tour-pac-vs-zsj-progress-ott-fight-club-pro/
*****
DOUBLE SHOT 1/23: WWF Superstars from 1992, Being the Elite, Total Bellas, Impact Wrestling
John Pollock and Wai Ting review an episode of WWF Superstars from June 1992, and the latest episodes of Impact, Being the Elite & Total Divas.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/23/double-shot-1-23-wwf-superstars-from-1992-bte-total-bellas-impact-wrestling/
*****
RASD 1/22/19: Rey vs. Andrade, Bryan-Styles faceoff, XFL TV talks
On the final show before the Royal Rumble, Rey Mysterio took on Andrade in a 2-of-3 falls match, Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles had a face-to-face, Shane McMahon and The Miz are attacked before Sunday’s tag title match, and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/23/rasd-1-22-19-rey-vs-andrade-bryan-styles-faceoff-xfl-tv-talks/
*****
RAR 1/21/19: David vs. Goliath, John Cena Update, Rumble Go-Home
It’s the final Raw before the Royal Rumble with an update on the status of John Cena, Ronda Rousey teams with Natalya against Sasha Banks and Bayley, Brock Lesnar appears with Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon in the opening segment, Braun Strowman has his first match back against Finn Balor and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/22/rar-1-21-19-david-vs-goliath-john-cena-update-rumble-go-home/
*****

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About John Pollock 825 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.