As WWE embarks on its annual Road to WrestleMania, the rumor mill runs rampant with speculation of incoming new talent and booking plans for the upcoming Jan. 29 Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
The Undertaker made his Raw return Monday and already has the internet abuzz about his status for WrestleMania 33.
New Japan Pro Wrestling's Kenny Omega wrestled one of the most brilliant matches in years, losing to Kazuchika Okada at the promotion's Wrestle Kingdom 11 spectacular. Now, his contract status has become the hottest topic in sports entertainment.
How did Rob Gronkowski's name come up in the course of conversation ahead of The Showcase of the Immortals?
Undertaker and His Royal Rumble Odds
After announcing his entry into the 2017 Royal Rumble, Undertaker is the favorite to win the annual 30-man contest, per Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats.
Anytime a Superstar with the name value and recognition of The Phenom enters the Rumble match, he is instantly a favorite to win the whole thing.
Speculation among fans persists that Undertaker will face John Cena in one of the last major, money-making matches available to WWE. With Cena challenging AJ Styles for the WWE title at the Jan. 29 show, the potential is there for an even higher-profile bout with the top prize in WWE up for grabs.
Still, it feels a bit premature to label anyone a favorite to win anything at this point when there are still so many weeks in the build to the event.
The Phenom is not a full-time performer, so the idea that he could return, win the Rumble and compete for the WWE Championship seems a bit far-fetched, especially given how long it takes him to recover from his one WrestleMania performance each year.
Kenny Omega to WWE?
Omega is the hottest star in professional wrestling right now, thanks to a five-star classic against Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11, so it was a bit of a surprise when Omega tweeted to the masses that he would be leaving the promotion indefinitely immediately.
Kenny Omega @KennyOmegamanX
I will be stepping away from Japan to reassess my future. The path of my journey may change, but my goals will not. https://t.co/E4vDiGgAwe2017-1-6 10:53:37
The tweet caused speculation that Omega could be on his way to WWE, just in time for Royal Rumble. The leader of The Elite, a splinter group within Bullet Club, he would follow in the footsteps of AJ Styles, who was a member of the faction and debuted at last year's Rumble event.
Voices of Wrestling, though, confirmed that Omega is under contract with NJPW, and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer supported the claim:
Voices of Wrestling @voiceswrestling
Been told by three different people who don't run in the same circles that he's under contract for another year. https://t.co/2mefbFsxZV2017-1-8 17:56:59
Dave Meltzer @davemeltzerWON
If you're asking have I been told that, yes I have. https://t.co/czG5TkWJNI2017-1-8 22:43:43
That contradicts what Meltzer later reported on Wrestling Observer Radio, where he stated Omega's contract ends at the end of January. If true, he would still not be available for the Royal Rumble, but the option to sign with WWE is available to him sooner than it otherwise would have been.
Omega voiced in numerous interviews, including one with Justin Barrasso of SI.com, that he has no desire to join Vince McMahon's company:
I would rather be the legend that never stepped foot in WWE but was better than every single one of them and did something that none of those guys could do in their prime or could ever do if they left WWE and tried. No one is going to win ten "matches of the year" in Japan, no one could. I've already won ten. No one could go from WWE and win one – if you did, you'd have to have a better match than me, and that isn't going to happen. That's the kind of pride I bring to my work.
At this point, it appears as though the only certainty regarding Omega's potential departure from NJPW and arrival in WWE is a great deal of uncertainty.
Gronk-a-Mania at WrestleMania?
Could Rob Gronkowski be part of WrestleMania festivities this year in Orlando, Florida?
Barrasso asked the New England Patriots' star tight end if he has any plans on attending this year's Showcase of the Immortals.
"That's the first time I've heard that. That would be pretty cool, so I don't know," he answered in reply to the question.
The star known to millions of NFL fans as Gronk is a college friend of WWE's Mojo Rawley and has appeared at NXT events. The connection is there and WWE's to take advantage of if it so wished.
Should Gronkowski and the Patriots win the Super Bowl, interest in the player's appearance at the show would increase. Whether his body, often wracked with injury, would allow for it is another question.