In years gone by, it’s been a bit of a stereotype – you can’t bet on wrestling, it’s fixed! Well, in recent times, bookmakers have been offering odds for pay-per-views for several months now, with those odds usually shifting at the last minute (particularly if a certain dolphin-themed Redditer has his say!)

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In amongst the responses to my “Royal Stumble” column over the weekend, there was an interesting alternative viewpoint to “why WWE has a dearth of credible championship challengers”, and the answer is simple: they’ve sacrificed everyone in an attempt to build up Roman Reigns. Although WWE did ultimately achieve their end goal of getting the fans to accept Reigns, ironically, it was at last year’s Rumble where the signs were clearly displayed that this was the wrong time to push Reigns.

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Next Sunday sees the WWE kick off 2016 with its first pay-per-view of the year; the 29th Royal Rumble event. Traditionally, this is the first major sign-post on the road to WrestleMania, and the start of three months of segments ending with wrestlers pointing to a sign.

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In June 1993, the WWE was forced into a complete rethink of their main event babyface scene. Having seen Bret Hart drop the company’s main title to Yokozuna at WrestleMania 9 (for a massive 22 seconds before that was passed onto Hulk Hogan), it was clear that the company didn’t think that the “Hitman” was their man. Unfortunately, by the time summer came calling, Hogan had left for WCW, dropping the title back to Yokozuna on the way. For the first time in almost a decade, WWE didn’t have a patriotic babyface around their main events.

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Owen Hart’s passing in May 1999 stunned the wrestling world. To the wider world, the attention came as this was the first time in a long long time that a wrestler had died without it being the traditional “wrestler’s death”. It robbed fans of a talented, yet under-appreciated performer, and caused reverberations that tore a grieving family apart.

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As part of my informal new year’s resolution to be more diverse with my wrestling watching, I’ve taken the plunge and have signed up for New Japan World – the NJPW version of the WWE Network, for the uninitiated. This past Monday saw New Japan’s version of WrestleMania – WrestleKingdom 10 – and with all of the buzz around WWE’s raid of New Japan, this was as good a time as any to start.

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With WWE now reporting on the strong rumours of signing the New Japan foursome of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson and Doc Galloway, thoughts now turn to what WWE will actually do with their new arrivals. Now, I can only suggest that these are “Triple H signings”, given that these fit the template of the signings that he’s been credited with to date. So, with that preemptive idea in mind, here are a few “good idea, bad idea” suggestions for WWE and their newbies.

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