Why Finn Balor Will Win the Royal Rumble

Now hear me out! I know based just on that headline you're already firing up the pitchforks and cranking out a Facebook comment about how Finn Balor is too small and isn't "over enough" for a match with Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 34.

And you would be right. Except that's not who he'd be facing for a world title.

But first, it's time for a little history lesson. Back in the mid-2000s WWE was structured similarly to how things are now: two weekly televised shows with two separated rosters and two world championships. And when the Royal Rumble came around, the winner actually had the choice to take on either world champ at the upcoming WrestleMania.

Remember that famous "thumbs down" moment Batista gave Tripe H leading into WrestleMania 21? That actually came from a segment where he was presented with two contracts; one to take on Hunter for the World Heavyweight Championship and one to face JBL and John Cena in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship. We're all pretty familiar with how that turned out.

Fast forward two years later. After being an icon for nearly 20 years, The Undertaker won his first Royal Rumble in 2007. Since ECW had been revived, the Deadman had three world champs to pick from as a WrestleMania 23 opponent - Cena (WWE Champ), Batista (World Heavyweight Champ) and Bobby Lashley (ECW Champ). The writers even went so far as to have him face off with each world champ before finally choosing Big Dave.

Now each time the winner had the choice, they ended up picking the champ of the show they were already on. But still, the opportunity is there. And these days WWE just can't get enough of having things happen "for the first time ever."

Which brings us back to now. Balor wins the Rumble in January and comes out on Raw the next night to start the show. Lesnar and Paul Heyman walk out and interrupt, saying Balor winning is a waste because now Brock has an easy match at Mania. Balor retorts, saying he'd gladly take "The Beast" on, but he knows somebody else on the roster has some unfinished business and he doesn't want to get in the way. Out walks Roman Reigns, kicking off the feud we've been expecting for the past year.

Fast forward to a night later on Smackdown Live. AJ Styles, still the WWE Champion, is in the ring talking about Mania plans. Balor makes a surprise appearance and says when he won on Sunday, he had two world champions to pick from. And the choice was obvious - pick the man he already has a pinfall win over back at TLC.

Picking Balor actually solves a couple of problems WWE has headed into next year's WrestleMania. They want Reigns vs. Lesnar, but know that Roman still isn't as universally loved by fans as Vince McMahon would hope. This helps set that match up without having Roman win the Rumble and getting booed out of the building in Philadelphia - again.

It also gives the Styles, who WWE is so high on right now they're willing to call him "the best in-ring worker of this generation," an intriguing matchup. He won't be carrying this match like he did last year with Shane McMahon or at Clash of Champions with Jinder Mahal. He'll be in the ring with somebody who can match him in both moves and speed. Give them 25 minutes and fans will be in for a showstopper.


Let's make it happen!

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