Making Sense of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at Wrestlemania XXX

When Hulk Hogan first announced the concept of the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal for this year’s Wrestlemania on Monday Night Raw a few weeks back, I was intrigued by the likelihood of what, at first glance, was probably going to be a mix of current and former stars fighting it out in honor of the Eighth Wonder of the World. When the names of midcarder after midcarder kept pouring in, I felt a bit dejected that this could be anything more than a simple reason to get these guys on the show and a “throw you a bone” payday for working the biggest event of the year. But as they’ve put energy into building this and the participants in the match (well, at least some of them), I’ve begun to think that this could be something much more important to those involved, and perhaps should garner a little more of our attention.

We will get to the superstars in a moment, but first, let’s talk about the match itself. Unless he misspoke, or Vince made him say it and decides to do an about-face, Michael Cole referred to the match on commentary as a new “tradition”, leading us to believe that this isn’t a one-off event. If it’s not, that could mean that winning it could have some real bearing going forward, and not just act as an excuse to carry around a trophy or earn a big paycheck.

Personally, and I said so on Doing the Job a couple weeks back, I feel like this should sort of serve a similar purpose as the King of the Ring once did; winning the battle royal could deliver a nice push in status for someone on the rise or perhaps even allow for a future title shot. Andre meant a great deal to the business, so winning something in his memory should carry some significance. I do, however, think that having thirty entrants is a bit much every year, but if they cut it to say about ten, made people have to qualify for it, thus tightening up to match itself, we could really have something here. Although it doesn’t replace having a Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania in terms of the wildness that that match brings, it does however get superstars of the same ilk vying for a similar goal on the card each year. You can’t tell me this is a bad idea. Seriously, who says no to this?

Anyway, let’s bring it back to this year and break down how the participants can affect this match, or more importantly, how this match can affect them. If you look at certain casinos or online sportsbooks, you can find gambling odds for this match, plus the rest of the Wrestlemania card. For the purpose of this article, I am using Bovada’s online odds to analyze the standouts in this match. (You will find these odds in parentheses and they are current at the time of this writing. For those not savvy to how betting odds work, if something is, for example, “2/1”, this means that you win two dollars for every one dollar you bet, “11/4” would net you 11 for every four dollars wagered, and so on and so forth.) There’s a bunch of participants, but I will only list who I think it notable, in order from longest odds to the favorites.

Titus O’Neil  (50/1)
How do you spell darkhorse? T-I-T-U-S! (I swear, that wasn’t meant to be racist). Obviously, he likely won’t win, but I feel the need to point out that he has kinda, sorta been involved when the favorites of the match come out. Out of all the longshots, Titus has the best chance, and definitely the one of this lot that I can see WWE rolling with should they decide to be unpredictable just for the sake of doing so.

Damien Sandow (25/1)
He won Money in the Bank and then they basically did nothing with him after he unsuccessfully cashed in. Maybe a random shot in the dark here, but stranger things have happened. (Editor’s note: Damien Sandow’s odds have fell all the way to 75/1 as of April 3rd.)

Big E (18/1)
Speaking of guys that have been inexplicably buried, they give him the Intercontinental title, made him look unstoppable for a short while…and within a few months, he’s at the point where he can’t beat a ham sandwich (not a Boar’s Head one, at least). Having Big E win at this point would be a little contradictory to their recent booking, but I can’t think of a better way to instantly reverse those decisions than by having him win. In fact, I feel like a good concept for this match, if they were to want to push him again, would have been to make this for his IC title and have him successfully defend it against 29 other guys, gaining massive credibility. But that point is moot now and chances are, he won’t win so it doesn’t really matter.

The Miz (14/1)
Here is where things get interesting. I think that 16/1 odds for The Miz is way too low and if I were betting, I’d throw a few dollars down here. Chances are, a babyface wins this match for the feel good moment, as M2J has pointed out, but if a heel were to win, it almost has to be The Miz, right? He’s been the most outspoken of the heels (hell, probably the most outspoken of anyone in the match, period), so it would make sense to boost him back out of obscurity with a big victory, also allowing him to boast that he would still be undefeated, albeit only 4-0, at Wrestlemania.

Dolph Ziggler (6/1)
See most of what I just wrote for The Miz, but a face version. If you’ve been paying close attention to Michael Cole’s commentary (I never thought that would ever be recommended by anyone, let alone myself), It seems as if Ziggler may finally be getting out of the doghouse and receiving another push, and, like I just said, this is an instant credibility maker.

The Big Show (2/1)
The good: Firstly, the obvious is that it is a tip of the cap to Andre himself, having the memorial in his honor won by the modern day version of him. Also, it’s no secret that Show’s record, and more importantly, his legacy, is downright pitiful at Wrestlemania, so this would finally be a big win for him on the big stage. Finally, and this is the major one in my opinion, a victory here would almost be like a really nice lifetime achievement award for all of the hard work he has put in as a big man over the years; it would be a really cool moment.

The bad: The Big Show wins, none of the younger guys get a push from it, and it goes against everything that I have said this battle royal should represent.

Alexander Rusev (11/4)
Leaving the odds out for a second, I don’t get this at all. First, he hasn’t been announced to even be in this match (and if Daniel Bryan at this year’s Royal Rumble is any indication, just because there is speculation, don’t count on it). Additionally, even if he was in the battle royal, he shouldn’t be in it unless he is winning it, and even so, it doesn’t make sense to waste his debut here; just have him debut the night after Raw in a singles match. Bringing the odds back into play, though, he is the favorite simply because if they put him in the match, you have to believe it’s so they can showcase him winning it, which would be terrible. As Denny and M2J pointed out this past week on the podcast, it will look horrible if/when he becomes a major flop and people look back at Wrestlemania 30 and say, “wait, who the hell was that guy again winning the Andre memorial??”

The pick: Sheamus (6/1)
Here is where my money is going. He is the biggest star on the roster that isn’t in a main match at Wrestlemania. Since returning at the Royal Rumble, he really hasn’t done anything since, aside from defeat Christian 87 weeks in a row (give or take a few weeks), and that’s likely because they already had everything fleshed out going into Mania. You know Sheamus is a guy they want to have towards the top, and as I said earlier, winning this match would be a great shot of credibility for the guys that can really use it. I feel like they want to use that on Sheamus.

The Irishman wins.

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