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The Three Count: Ready to Rumble

The Three Count locks in on the 2024 Royal Rumble taking place this Saturday.

Wrestling: WWE Royal Rumble Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to DraftKings Network’s The Three Count, a weekly column where we answer three questions about the biggest stories in professional wrestling for the week. As you can guess by the title, this edition is all about the 2024 Royal Rumble, which will take place this Saturday from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

The Royal Rumble is an annual staple on the wrestling calendar and whether you’re a diehard fan or a casual who pokes their head in a few times of the year, everyone gets fired up for this show. It is arguably the most unique event in all of pro wrestling, and the two Royal Rumble matches set the stage for what we’ll see at WrestleMania later in the spring.

We’ll go beyond the three-question format here to offer our memories, thoughts, and predictions for this year’s show at the Trop.

Before we get to this year’s show, what are some of your favorite Royal Rumble memories? Any particular match you love? A favorite surprise entrant? Or something that didn’t involve the Rumble itself?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

The 2003 Royal Rumble as a whole is the one I have fond memories of because it took place just a month after I started watching the WWE. Any time I go back and watch this show, I get reminded of everything that was going on at the time and why I became fascinated with this weird past time.

That year’s Rumble match is one of the more forgettable ones in the grand scheme of history, but I love it. I remember Chris Jericho sneak attacking Shawn Michaels at the beginning. I remember Edge accidentally breaking Christopher Nowinski’s nose. I remember John Cena, just weeks into debuting his Dr. of Thuganomics gimmick, rapping during his entire entrance. And I remember being absolutely hyped about Brock Lesnar winning. The show also features one of the worst matches of all time in Triple H vs. Scott Steiner, only to be followed by one of the greatest matches of all time in Kurt Angle vs. (name redacted). I love this show. I’m gonna go watch it right now.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

I don’t think I watched a Royal Rumble live until 2016. I picked a dang good one as it featured the debut of AJ Styles. I grew up with TNA after randomly finding it on cable during the middle of the day and was stunned that he showed up. That was also before I got into wrestling Twitter (now, X), so it was spoiler-free, especially since his debut could also be counted as the single worst camera work in WWE history as they stayed on Roman Reign’s face rather than showing the “I. Am. Phenomenal.” Titantron video that ignited the crowd.

Outside of that, John Cena’s return in 2008 and Edge’s return in 2020 remain top rumble moments that I find myself re-watching as a fan throughout the year. Hindsight is obviously 20/20, but Ronda Rousey’s debut in 2018 will always be a fond memory. I convinced my wife to watch the show, and when Rousey’s music hit, I just couldn’t believe that she actually was there. The super awkward and way too long point at the WrestleMania sign should’ve been a dead give away that the WWE tenure wasn’t going to live up to the initial hype.

What’s your least favorite Royal Rumble memory?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

The 2022 Royal Rumble was absolute garbage. A mediocre women’s Rumble that was won by a returning Ronda Rousey, who the crowd did not care about. A boring men’s Rumble won by Brock Lesnar, who did not need to win to get the WrestleMania main event. The show was so bad that even the WrestleMania sign caught fire. Twice! Just wretched all around.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

I know we don’t like to speak of the dark times that were the 2010s, but I have to. Batista winning in 2014 was absolutely awful. Daniel Bryan was insanely over, and they should’ve strapped the rocket to him then. Unfortunately, this was at the height of The Authority gimmick. The crowd boo’d Batista winning and he even botched a spear on Roman Reigns when it came down to them. It was just all around not a good look. And, fun fact, this was CM Punk’s last WWE appearance before returning at Survivor Series last November.

In your opinion, what makes for a good Royal Rumble match?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

The best rumble matches are ones that : 1. Tells a story that keeps the audience engaged for the entire hour. 2. Launches multiple feuds that carries into Wrestlemania. 3. Has a good mix of surprise entrants sprinkled in. 4. Has a compelling ending.

The 2020 Rumble is one of the better matches in recent history because it accomplishes all of these things. It’s broken up into multiple arcs, beginning with Brock Lesnar dominating everyone for the first half of it. That sets up a memorable moment in Drew McIntyre eliminating him and bridges the audience into the second half of the match. You get a true shocker in Edge’s return shortly afterwards and the ending sequence of Randy Orton, Edge, Roman Reigns, and McIntyre is incredible. Flawless execution.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

100% agree with Nick. Ironically I was fuming during the 2020 Royal Rumble because it felt so boring that Lesnar was just dominating everyone, but looking back I get why it worked. The winner of the match is the focal point, but Nick’s right in saying this is time that you can start laying or furthering the seeds for other matches as we get on the Road to Wrestlemania.

Surprise entrants + creative spot with someone avoiding elimination + a wrestling rival or two coming together + a legend returning for a one-off + a winner that makes sense = great Royal Rumble.

Who are some surprise entrants you could see appearing at this year’s show?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

On the women’s side, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Naomi/Trinity Fatu will make her return to the WWE. She just finished up in TNA and there’s going to be a loud pop when the crowd hears “I’m ama-a-a-a-zin!”

The men’s side is intriguing because Kazuchika Okada just left New Japan Pro Wrestling. Given how Tony Khan is scooping up former NJPW guys as of late, there’s a good chance that he ends up in AEW. But what if the Rainmaker debuts for the WWE in the Rumble? That would be insane.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

I know that Sasha Banks reportedly has a deal with AEW done, but I just don’t understand why they haven’t pulled the trigger on her yet. WWE also just signed a mega deal for the rights to Raw with Netflix, so money isn’t going to be the issue if Banks hadn’t signed on the dotted line with AEW. I think Naomi is expected, AJ Lee would be insane with Punk back with the company, but I just have a gut feeling that Banks either shows up at the Rumble or AEW Collision on Saturday. I also think that Jade Cargill could be a fun entrant.

There’s so much news these days that it is starting to get hard to determine what is kayfabe and what isn’t, which I guess is a good thing. I know that Big E’s injury likely means that he is done for his career, but so were Edge, Daniel Bryan and Paige/Saraya. I think there is a chance that Big E returns, we could see Andrade after his AEW deal ended and after the seeds were planted with the head of the table content I think the Rock’s music hits.

We asked it last week, but we’ll ask it again. Who wins the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches for 2024?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

I said CM Punk for the men’s last week and you know what, I change my mind. It’s gonna be Cody Rhodes. There is no bigger babyface in the company and that was crystallized with him getting the WWE 2K24 cover. We haven’t had back-to-back winners since Stone Cold Steve Austin did it and I think the Codester will join him.

On the women’s side, I’m sticking with Becky Lynch. She’s coming off an incredible year and her vs. Rhea Ripley is the way to go. I also wouldn’t be surprised if it was Bayley, considering the story they have going with her and Damage Control on Smackdown.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

The injury to Seth Rollins likely seals the fate of CM Punk not winning the Rumble. Likely, but not 100%. No superstar has won back-to-back Royal Rumbles since Stone Cold Steve Austin did in 1997-1998. It’s been 25 years, so I can see why Rhodes could pull off the feat. I’m just playing devil’s advocate and wondering if the WWE is really going to give us Rhodes and Lynch winning, as they are by far the favorites. After the promo between the two, I actually like the idea of Punk eliminating Rhodes, then saying that he is going to take on Seth Rollins at WrestleMania. This could give the WWE their Elimination Chamber match of Rhodes, LA Knight, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, plus two more, with the winner getting Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, and Rhodes could win that.

Officially, I think that it will be Rhodes and Lynch. The fan in me that wants to be shocked and have my jaw on the floor when the show ends thinks it’ll be Punk and Banks winning.