John Cena and Stars Most Likely to Steal the Show at 2018 WWE Royal Rumble
The 2018 WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view will officially kick off the Road to WrestleMania 34 and everyone a part of the event will be looking to put their best foot forward.
If history has taught us anything, it's that a strong showing at the Royal Rumble can certainly affect one's WrestleMania plans and where they might ultimately end up on the card. The Rumble typically sets the stage for WWE's Show of Shows and tends to be the most important night of the year for Superstars.
The Rumble matches themselves featuring 60 of Raw and SmackDown Live's finest Superstars are always an exciting tradition, but the rest of the Rumble show this year is equally stacked with star power. Several championships will be up for grabs, including the WWE and Universal titles where the current champions AJ Styles and Brock Lesnar are at a distinct disadvantage in their respective matchups.
When all is said and done, the 30th anniversary of the Royal Rumble could go down in history as one of the most memorable. In order for that to happen, everyone in action at the event must perform exceptionally well.
However, only an elite few will stand above the rest and claim that they stole the show at the Royal Rumble. Based off their Rumble track records and overall abilities to deliver the goods when it matters most, these are the stars most likely to have the greatest outings of the evening.
According to Trevor Dueck of Sports Betting Dime, Shinsuke Nakamura may have the best betting odds of winning the 2018 men's Royal Rumble match with +250 (bet $100 to win $250), but John Cena isn't far behind with +400.
The two-time Rumble winner should be considered a front-runner to come out on top for a third time on Sunday. He has been chasing his historic 17th world championship for the last year and a Rumble victory would earn him the opportunity to break Ric Flair's record in the main event of WrestleMania.
Then again, Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc) reported late last year that Cena will be involved in "a much bigger match than AJ Styles" at WrestleMania 34. Regardless of whether he vies for the Universal Championship or is in another marquee match altogether, WWE obviously has big plans for him moving forward.
Thus, it would not at all be a stretch to say that he will be a major focal point in the Rumble match. He has been a part of many final fours over the years and tends to last longer than most Superstars, so a solid showing for him in the annual Battle Royal is virtually guaranteed.
They call him "Big Match John" for a reason. Cena constantly goes the extra mile to steal the show on the biggest of stages; don't expect Royal Rumble to be any different.
Not much is known about the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match coming up on Sunday night, including who a third of the field will consist of. Virtually anyone from WWE's past or even NXT is eligible to enter the fray if they so wish, but one female star fans can't overlook is Becky Lynch.
After having a breakout year in 2016, 2017 wasn't as kind to The Lasskicker, who spent a majority of the year sitting on the sidelines. If she is primed to turn her luck around in 2018, she must outlast most of her competition and emerge from the Rumble looking better than she did when she entered.
The main reason she hasn't had many classic matches recently is that she hasn't been given a chance to showcase her skills. This women's Rumble is as good of a time as any for her to go all out and take the fight to those who stand in her way of winning it all.
Lynch has proved on countless occasions that she has great chemistry with just about everyone on the Raw and SmackDown Live women's rosters. That said, there's a decent chance she will be the MVP of the women's Rumble and do more to stand out than anyone else.
As WWE's ultimate underdog, Lynch is the master of not losing anything in defeat and having a phenomenal performance that has fans buzzing well after the event has ended.
There aren't many Superstars riding a bigger wave of momentum heading into the Royal Rumble than Braun Strowman.
Not a single soul has been able to stop Strowman from terrorizing Raw in recent weeks, making him a massive threat to Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship in the process. He has vied for the gold before and come up short, but he appears to be more motivated to walk away with the win this time than he was during his last battle with The Beast.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer reports that Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal title is all but set in stone for WrestleMania 34 (h/t Wrestling Inc), so Strowman's chances of capturing the championship at the Rumble aren't too high. Despite that, he can still have an unbelievable outing on Sunday night that will force officials to ensure he remains a mainstay at the top of the card through WrestleMania season.
It was a similar situation at SummerSlam 2016. Lesnar retained the title as expected, but The Monster Among Men stole the show that night by battering Brock like no one else had ever before and destroying everything (and everyone) in sight.
A case can be made for Strowman being WWE's must-see Superstar right now, so it's safe to say he will pull out all the stops in his quest to become champion at the Rumble.
SmackDown's tag team division has experienced a resurgence of sorts in the last year and is firing on all cylinders, largely thanks to The Usos.
Their series of matches with American Alpha helped turned their careers around from stagnant babyfaces to white-hot heels. Then, their unforgettable feud with The New Day in the latter half of 2017 put tag team wrestling back on the map.
Now, as they wage war with Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin over the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, it's all about maintaining their spot at the top. They have knocked down every team that has stepped up to challenge them, and thus they will do whatever it takes to leave the Royal Rumble with those titles intact.
Regardless of what lengths The Usos will go to in order to hold onto the gold, they are determined to have the best bout of the night. That will be a tall task on a card also featuring two Rumble matches, but their 2-out-of-3 Falls clash with Gable and Benjamin has the potential to be something special.
The Usos are no strangers to stealing the show and raising the bar extremely high for everyone else by kicking off pay-per-views on a high note. Look for them to once again solidify their spot as SmackDown's premier tag team with yet another spectacular showing on Sunday.
The 2018 Royal Rumble pay-per-view will mark two years since AJ Styles initially arrived in WWE, and in that time, you'd be hard-pressed to have seen a match of his that was below average.
The current WWE champion has more than earned the nickname of The Phenomenal One by delivering every time he steps between the ropes, especially on special occasions such as the Rumble. In addition to debuting in the 2016 Rumble match, he and John Cena had arguably the greatest match of 2017 for WWE at last year's installment.
Styles is now the only Superstar in history to compete in back-to-back-to-back WWE Championship matches at the Rumble. Although he was unsuccessful in emerging victorious the past two years, the third time might be the charm, despite having the odds stacked against him in the form of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Speaking of whom, Styles has yet to contest a remarkable match with either one of them. Their Handicap match at the Rumble is bound to be watered down with shenanigans and tomfoolery, but if they can overcome those obstacles, they should surprise a lot of people by producing an extremely entertaining championship clash.
As perhaps the best all-around competitor in WWE today, Styles can always be counted on to steal the show, regardless of who he is sharing the ring with. With his WWE Championship up for grabs at the Rumble, there is no doubt he will go above and beyond to kick off his Road to WrestleMania 34 with a tremendous title defense that will eclipse everything else on the card.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.