Which superstars stand out as realistic candidates for our sports picks to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the 2016 Royal Rumble?
History will be made next Sunday, when the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be defended in the Royal Rumble match for the first time ever. WWE's top title was up for grabs in the 1992 Royal Rumble, when Ric Flair eliminated Sid Justice to win the vacated WWF World Heavyweight Championship, but this will be the first time that a champion will enter the match and put his title on the line against 29 other superstars.
Royal Rumble Rules
In the Royal Rumble match, 30 wrestlers aim at eliminating their competitors by tossing them over the top rope, with both feet touching the floor. The winner is the last wrestler remaining after all others have been eliminated. The participants don't enter the ring at the same time. The match begins with the two superstars who have drawn entry numbers one and two, with the remaining participants entering the ring at 90 second intervals, according to their entry number.
Triple H (+105)
Triple H was attacked by Roman Reigns at the TLC pay-per-view and he hasn't been seen since. He definitely wants to get revenge on Reigns, and what better way than walking out of the Royal Rumble with the title.
Triple H and Roman Reigns will have a match eventually. The only questions are when and if the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be on the line. Triple H could eliminate Reigns in the Royal Rumble and then win the title, setting up a rematch at WrestleMania 32, or he could cost Reigns the title without entering the Royal Rumble, setting up a non-title match in the near future.
Roman Reigns (+225)
Reigns is at +225 to win the match and retain his title. He has been built to replace John Cena as the new face of the WWE but he was heavily booed following his Royal Rumble win last year, so the WWE may not want him to prevail again and become the second wrestler in history to win this match in back-to-back years (Stone Cold Steve Austin did it in 1997 and 1998). Then again, his popularity has increased in recent months and the company might think that having him overcome even more odds would help his future.
Brock Lesnar (+250)
Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE on the January 11 edition of Monday Night Raw and proved his dominance by clearing out a ring full of superstars before giving Roman Reigns an F5 to end the show.
Lesnar was announced as a competitior in the Royal Rumble match and he is listed at +225 betting odds to be the last one standing. Lesnar winning would create an interesting angle for a storyline as him and Reigns battled for the title at last year's WrestleMania before Seth Rollins ultimately cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase and walked out as champion.
Someone could interfere and cause a distraction but it's hard to imagine anyone throwing Lesnar over the top rope. He has been booked as unstoppable since returning to the company in 2012 and he won the 2003 Royal Rumble, which is why he is a valuable sports pick for this match.
Recent rumors suggest that WWE has signed several members of the popular Bullet Club stable from New Japan Pro Wrestling, including AJ Styles, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, as well as one of their rivals in Japan, Shinsuke Nakamura. It would be amazing to see them debut at the Royal Rumble. Keep in mind that Bullet Club founder and former leader, Finn Balor, hasn't made his main roster debut in WWE, so they can form a strong stable and Styles or Balor could win the title. Styles is at +3300 to win the Royal Rumble while Balor is at +5000.
This year's Royal Rumble is one of the most unpredictable and highly interesting events of all-time and it promises to be a must-see match heading into WrestleMania 32.
Triple H +105
Roman Reigns +225
Brock Lesnar +250
Dean Ambrose +1800
Daniel Bryan +1800
The Rock +1800
Kevin Owens +2000
The Undertaker +2000
Bray Wyatt +2500
The Big Show +2500
AJ Styles +3300
Shinsuke Nakamura +3500
Here are some of the 2016 Royal Rumble props, courtesy of 5Dimes:
Rey Mysterio's longest ring time record broke +400
Rey Mysterio's ring time record not broken -600
First time Royal Rumble winner +550
Previous winner wins again -1050
Wrestler eliminated in first 60 seconds -600
All wrestlers last 60.01 seconds or more +400
Entrant #1 wins Royal Rumble +500
Any other entry position wins -900