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usa womens team
Football

Women’s World Cup 2019 – Can the USA win?

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off on 7th June in Japan and with the popularity of women’s sport soaring, the tournament promises to be one of the best yet.

Favourites

USA (7/2)

The number one ranked side in the world and current holders, USA will be the team to beat. They also have history on their side having won 3 of the 7 Women’s World Cup tournaments to date. Recent draws against England and Japan in the SheBelieves Cup and a friendly loss to France show that this American side are beatable though.

France (7/2)

The hosts are ranked 4th in the world and with home advantage, they will be confident of going far in the tournament. Back in January, France defeated co-favourites USA 3-1 which may give them the edge should they face the USA in the latter stages.

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Best Outside Bet

Japan (12/1)

Considering Japan qualified for the final of the last World Cup and have drawn with number one side USA recently and beat Brazil with World Player of the Year Marta, 12/1 is a massive price for the Asian side. Bookies may have factored in their disappointing 3-0 loss to England in the SheBelieves Cup but that could well prove to be a one-off.

England’s Chances?

Phil Neville’s side overcame the odds to win the SheBelieves Cup building on their 3rd place finish at the last World Cup. Odds of 13/2 suggest they have a good chance of going one further this year. To win the whole tournament may be a step too far but with the growing popularity and attendances across the country, another good showing should boost England’s chances in the long run.

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Female Horse Racing Jockeys
Horse Racing

Female Horse Racing Jockeys

Horse Racing has been a sport dominated by men since the day it began. This has certainly changed over the last decade with many extremely talented female jockeys getting the chance to shine. Here are just a few female horse racing jockeys that have been making waves over the last few years.

Bryony Frost (National Hunt)

Bryony Frost certainly has all to credentials to become a top jockey, with her father Jimmy winning the 1989 Grand National on Little Polvier.

As an amateur jockey, she won the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham on board the great Pacha Du Polder. Then as a pro, she became only the second female jockey to win a Grade One when winning the Kauto Star Novices Chase in 2017, on boxing day.

Since then, Bryony has gone from strength to strength, most recently at Cheltenham becoming the first female jockey to win a Grade One at the Cheltenham Festival with Frodon. At just the age of 24, I expect Bryony to be breaking more records in the near future, paving the way for more female horse racing jockeys.

Rachael Blackmore (National Hunt)

Blackmore is a jockey on the rise at the moment, she has had such a wonderful season nearly becoming the first female to win the Irish jockeys’ championship currently in 2nd to Paul Townend. In the 2016/17 season, Rachael did become the first female jockey to win the Irish Conditional Jockeys title.

She is currently ahead of true greats like Ruby Walsh and Davy Russell in the race for the title, which on its own is a huge accolade. One thing is for sure the 29-year-old has a huge future ahead of her.

rachael blackmore

Hayley Turner (Flat)

Hayley Turner has been a stalwart in the British flat racing game for the last decade. Not only has she been the best female jockey, but she has also simply been one of the best jockeys of the last decade. She became the first female jockey to have 100 winners in a calendar year in 2008. Her most significant wins came in 2011 when winning the Nunthorpe Stakes & July Cup. Hayley temporarily retired from the saddle in 2015. She made many TV appearances over the year with At The Races and became a regular on ITV Racing. In 2018, she came out of retirement.

Josephine Gordon (Flat)

Josephine hit the headlines when winning the British flat racing Champion Apprentice title in 2016, she really was fantastic that year. In 2017, she won her first big race the Victoria Cup at Ascot for William Haggas. Gordon rode her first Group race winner in July 2017, winning the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle. In September that year, Josephine had another group winner on board Apphia in the Princess Royal Stakes. Following in Hayley Turner’s footsteps she became only the second female jockey to have over 100 winners in a calendar year.

josephine gordon

Female Horse Racing Trainers
Horse Racing

Top 3 Female National Hunt Horse Racing Trainers

With the National Hunt season starting let’s take a look at some of the best female horse racing trainers in the game today!

Jessica Harrington

Jessica Harrington is one of the top dual purpose leading Trainers in Ireland. Commonstown Stables is the home of Jessica Harrington who is one of Ireland’s most successful dual-purpose trainers. She has over 80 horses in training and some of them are absolute stars.

No one will ever forget the great Moscow Flyer, a horse of a lifetime. While the 2017 threesome of Cheltenham winners Sizing John, Supasundae & Rock The World will never be forgotten and how about Alpha Centauri exploits in the summer of 2018.

Harrington simply thrives over both codes, the last ten years has seen her firmly establish herself as one of the leading lights of dual-purpose trainers in the whole of Ireland. A Group 1 winner with Pathfork in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes was an unforgettable occasion in the summer of 2010.

That’s not all, several successes at Group level on the Flat have followed, were to start with regarding the magnificent Alpha Centauri and now with a yard split almost in half between the jumps and on the flat, it’s exhilarating times all year round for the talented Jessica, her owners and the ever-present and dedicated staff.

When a horse called Sizing John arrived at Jessica’s yard Commonstown Stables, he was a two-miler chaser who had chased the mighty Willie Mullins trained once in a lifetime racehorse Douvan around Irish racetracks but to no avail. However, Jessica being Jessica and stable jockey Robert “Puppy” Power had other ideas for the potentially brilliant Sizing John. He was Jessica Harrington’s first ever runner in the Irish Gold Cup at Fairyhouse and following that in a Cheltenham Gold Cup, on both occasions, he flew home and duly collected the honours.

What a week that was in March 2017 with Supasundae and Rock The World also winning at the 2017 Festival for her. As a result, Jessica is now recognised as the winning most female trainer at
Cheltenham of all time. An incredible feat to say the least.

With three of the four most prestigious races of Cheltenham them being the Champion Chase, Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle all won by horses under her guidance, it’s proof that if the ability is present, Jessica will unlock this each and every time whether on the flat or over jumps.

All us here at UncleSamBets feel the Stayers Hurdle is just around the corner for the talented Jessica Harrington. She was quite unlucky in 2018 with Supasundae filling the runner-up spot from Penhill.

Let’s not forget in Ireland with Punchestown, Leopardstown, Galway and Fairyhouse always on the agenda, success is ever far. She has also enjoyed many other memorable days in National Hunt racing but notably, in recent years, her attentions to high-class Flat racing have also reaped remarkable success notably in the summer of 2018 with the powerful Alpha Centauri.

Venetia Williams

Where to start with regarding the resourceful and talented Venetia Williams. A model of consistency to say the least since becoming a Horse Racing trainer. Throughout the years, Venetia has maintained her lofty position as one of the top ten trainers in the UK, and even often regularly reaching the top five which is an astounding feat in itself.

She learnt her impressive skills understudying some of the best trainers throughout the globe, with experience in France, the United States of America and not least in Australia. Along with additional experience as an immense amateur jockey and riding in the great spectacle that is The Grand National, has resulted in her exceptional and utterly unique approach to the challenges of National Hunt training.

All those years ago, Venetia started from scratch with a mere six horses, within three years of this the mighty Venetia Williams was training the favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the highlight of the Cheltenham festival. Sadly, it wasn’t to be for the enigmatic and unknown quantity Teeton Mill.

Lest we forget the multiple Graded winners and truly rags to riches filly, Lady Rebecca. A mere four hundred pound purchase Lady Rebecca like her trainer reached sturdy heights. Lady Rebecca is a prime example of how Venetia Williams can get the best out of any horse if the potential is there.

Since the above days, Venetia’s career has flourished and gone from strength to strength. Venetia is renowned with the big Saturday winners during the core National Hunt season especially when the ground is as soft as soft can be.

Racing is a tough and an ultra-competitive industry and training racehorses is one of the most challenging profession out there, it requires skill, dedication and patience hence why Venetia Williams is so successful.

Being a successful horse racing trainer is an all-consuming occupation, to say the least, and Venetia is well known for her dire commitment to her horses, staff and owners. She regular works around the clock throughout the season and as a result, she’s in a deserving place in our list of top 3 female horse racing trainers.

Throughout her career, Venetia has won many accolades in the Horse Racing world but the highlight of the lot was in 2009. During this successful year, Mon Mome triumphed in The Grand National for Venetia. In doing so she became only the second woman in history to achieve such a feat.

 

Sophie Leech

Number three on our list is Sophie Leech and what a talented women she is. Horses have always been fundamental to Sophie’s life. In the saddle from a young age, and surrounding herself with all things equine as a kid growing up, it was only natural to complete a honours degree in Equine Science in 2001.

Having known here port of call for a long time, a career within the horse racing industry followed suit. Sophie first joined the commercial department at the evergreen Warwick racecourse. Here she met her future husband Christian and a match made in heaven commenced.

Sophie first began training on the Point to Point (P2P) circuit. Upon realising she had a natural flair for training horses, she then decided to commence training professionally under rules. At the start, Sophie operated a successful satellite yard for Milton Harris. She undertook this for two years before deciding to take out a license in her own name in the year of 2007.

This full licence was taken out with her husband Christian as Assistant. Christian’s background as a BHA handicapper is an immense asset and this gives Sophie and co the unique competitive edge in the placing of horses through a thorough understanding of the handicapping system. This is vital and essential in converting entries to eventual winners. There is no doubting Sophie is a master at this.

Sophie was initially based in Oxfordshire, England and early success followed with 10 winners from under 100 runners. An outstanding strike rate to say the least. In October of 2011, Sophie and co relocated to Tudor Racing Stables in Gloucestershire, England. This is a fabulous, central location from which to build on their success and they have never looked back.

Honourable Mentions

Rebecca Curtis

Uncle Sam doesn’t easily get excited with matters other than punting and winning you guys some money. However, Rebecca Curtis would get any man excited with her astounding training attributes and here devilish good looks. She’s by far the best looking female trainer out there but her eye for detail in the stables far surpasses her looks. A multiple grade one winner with plenty of Cheltenham festival winners, she really is a talented female trainer.

Lucinda Russell

She’s one of the UK’s most naturally-talented female trainers. Not only this she is amongst the very best National Hunt yard-bosses in the whole of the racing industry. To imagine Lucinda Russell doing anything else than training horses would be very hard to fathom.

US Men's Soccer
Football

US Men’s Soccer – A Step In The Right Direction?

US Men’s Soccer – A step in the right direction?

Its safe to say that after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, US Men’s soccer was at a low point. The US won their group, although they made it look difficult with both Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago within touching distance in the race to finish top. Qualification proved to be more difficult from this point onwards, in the group to determine CONCACAF places the United States were unable to even secure a play-off place against Australia as they were pipped to 4th place by a Honduras side made up of predominantly part-timers.

Even tiny Panama proved too strong as they automatically qualified for their first ever World Cup over The States, their inexperience showing in a 6-1 thumping by England during the World Cup. The United States are usually a staple nation to qualify for the World Cup owing to a relatively straightforward qualifying campaign, so to fail to qualify suggests there needs to be a revolutionary change in the way United States play soccer. Enter Earnest Stewart.

Earnest Stewart

Earnest Stewart may not be the most recognisable name to those who don’t particularly follow MLS but was appointed in June 2018 to shake up a US Men’s Soccer Team off the back of what some analysts described as the worst performance in the history of the national team. Earnie, himself a decorated US Soccer player with over 100 national caps, had the unenviable task of lifting a nation after the World Cup disaster.

The appointment on paper makes sense as he clearly has a hunger for the game and good contacts in MLS circles alongside having experience of the game abroad. The MLS is an improving league and many US Soccer players are choosing to ply their trade domestically as opposed to joining big European sides while they are still young and this shift in mentality can only be good in creating an identity for the national side.

Top European nations typically see the majority of the squad playing soccer in their own countries, most notably Spain, Germany and England. The only real exception to this rule is the Belgium national side, but one could argue that they are in the midst of the finest squad in their history, so this is cannot be seen as something for the US team to mimic.

Out With The Old, In With The New

There is also the small matter of replacing the old guard who failed so spectacularly with new talent emerging through the youth squads. Players such as Michael Bradley, Brad Guzan and Jozy Altidore have never really performed to the potential that was promised, and the talismanic Clint Dempsey retired after the shameful defeat to Trinidad and Tobago.

Earnie will surely though be putting his faith in German side Dortmund’s playmaking maestro Christian Pulisic. Hailing from Pennsylvania before moving to Germany as a 16-year-old, Pulisic has already made over 70 appearances in the Bundesliga, scoring 9 goals including becoming the youngest foreigner to score a goal in the competition. He clearly has a bright future and any USMNT future successes will be dependent on himself hitting his potential unlike other young hopes before him (Freddy Adu anyone?). He’s the star of an otherwise promising array of players coming through the ranks, the squad called up for the friendlies of Brazil and Mexico showcasing this talent that’s available.

Recent Friendlies

Despite losing 2-0 to a strong Brazil side, the USMNT put up a good fight and a promising display with Brazil starting with Neymar, Coutinho and Robert Firmino. The back four of Yedlin, Miazga, Brooks and Robinson in particular performed admirably although it was clear that the team was lacking firepower but that can be attributed to missing the aforementioned Pulisic.

Step up Mexico, yesterdays opponents and a long time rivalry. It was a good opportunity for this young US side as matches against Mexico are rarely the friendly in which they’re advertised as. Mexico, to their credit, also fielded a young side and were missing several key players who played at the World Cup. It was a worthy 1-0 win for the Stars and Stripes with the only goal of the game coming from New York Redbull’s promising teenager Tyler Adams. He burst into Mexico’s penalty area to tuck away full-back Antonee Robinson’s cross in the 71st minute to settle the tie shortly after tempers threatened to boil over after Angel’s Zaldivar’s senseless red in the 67th minute.

Earnie would have been delighted that it was two of the youngest starters that combined for the goal, proving that there may be potential in this new focus on the American youngsters. Tyler Adams, in particular, had an eye-catching display, but the game was scrappy and not a full reflection on this sides potential.

Looking Ahead

So after two friendlies down and a whole host of young, hungry soccer players starting to make a breakthrough its safe to say that after the disaster of 2018 World Cup qualifying things are starting to turn around for US Soccer. It wasn’t a vintage display against Mexico by any means but with the youngsters starting to make the breakthrough, and an ambitious manager who clearly knows the game inside out its a good time to start the rebuilding process for US Soccer.

The US has two more friendlies coming up in mid-October against two more sides who qualified for the World Cup in Columbia and Peru. These are two winnable games, and will at the very least show if the step in the right direction is a stride or merely a tiptoe. It’s safe to say that after the Trinidad and Tobago debacle, things can only improve from there.

Grand National Free Bets
Horse Racing

Grand National 2019

What is the Grand National?

The Grand National is a horse race held every year at Aintree. The Grand National was first raced in 1839, run over a distance of 4 miles 514 yards with horses jumping 30 fences. This event resembles British Culture at it’s finest, the Grand National is the race where the whole country will follow the race and have a small wager. Grand National Free Bets.

Grand National Free Bets

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Which horses are running in the Grand National – Top 40?

[table id=44 /]

Current Favourite

TIGER ROLL – Last year’s winner Tiger Roll is the favourite for the Grand National. Currently priced around 5/1 he looks to be going off the shortest priced favourite in the last decade. Since winning the Cross Country at Cheltenham by 22 lengths, Tiger Roll was only put 8lb by the handicapper. There is no such thing as a sure thing in the greatest race in the world, however, Tiger Roll must be close to that. Can Tiger Roll break the chain and emulate the great Red Rum?

Horses that failed to win back to back Grand National’s

BINDAREE 20/1 – 2002 Winner, 2003 Sixth

Nigel Twiston-Davies has had some fantastic chasers in his time, undoubtedly winner of the 2002 Grand National Bindaree is up there. Sadly,  he couldn’t win the next year but did make it round safely in a more than respectable 25-1 sixth, trailing winner Monty’s Pass by 40 lengths.

HEDGEHUNTER 7/1F 2005 Winner, 2006 Second

2005 Winner Hedgehunter nearly prevailed the next year after being gambled into Favouritism. Sadly, for owner Trevor Hemmings, Numbersixvalverde trained by Martin Brassil was much too strong.

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COMPLY OR DIE 7/1JF 2008 Winner, 2009 Second

Rated 139 going into the Grand National, Comply Or Die powered clear under Timmy Murphy. The next year into 2009 Comply or Die would finish second too 100/1 shot Mon Mome.

BALLABRIGGS 14/1 2011 Winner, 2012 Sixth

Ballabriggs another Grand National winner owned by Trevor Hemmings. However, his attempt at to emulate Red Rum ended when he was sixth behind Neptune Collonges.

MANY CLOUDS 25/1 2015 Winner, 2016 Sixteenth

Shock winner when winning at 25-1 in the world’s most famous chase. It wasn’t to be in 2016 when Many Clouds was all but pulled up in sixteenth.

Which horse to back in the Grand National 2019

The first ever winner of the Grand National was called Lottery and that is exactly what this race is. Whether you like the name, or it’s your favourite number any horse really can win this race. My advice would be to watch, enjoy, gamble responsibly and hope that every horse and jockey comes back safe and sound in the World’s most famous race.

 

 

royal rumble
WWE

WWE Royal Rumble Q&A + Predictions

The WWE Royal Rumble is just a day away. It’s time for a Q&A as well as Royal Rumble predictions!

Can Finn Balor slay the Beast?

Rob – No chance. Balor is only in this match because Strowman is injured let’s face it. There is no way Brock will lose to Finn. However, I am glad to see Balor finally get a shot at the Universal title that he never lost.

Jack – Would be the biggest shock of the decade. Balor is a worthy opponent for Brock and sure he will have a very good match but this very much feels like a filler feud before the obvious match against Strowman at Mania.

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Will there be any surprise entrants/returns?

Rob – I can see Kevin Owens returning, and doing well in the Rumble match. If he doesn’t then Sami Zayn surely will. As for legends returning, I don’t see it happening in the men’s but in the women’s they will surely have to bring back the likes of Trish or Lita to make up the numbers.

Jack – This is always the expectation with a rumble and part of what makes it so exciting. Like Rob says one of Owens or Zayn will almost certainly return, and I can see EC3 making his debut among others.  There will be one nostalgic entrant and my bold left-field prediction is Lethal Weapon, Steve Blackman. Rob is also right when he says the woman will need to make up the numbers.

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Any outside tips for the Rumble matches?

Rob – The favorites certainly appear to be Rollins and Charlotte. As I said before, I can see KO returning and doing well so he would be an outside tip. I can’t see past Charlotte unless something happens with Becky Lynch. The only other females I could see winning is Alexa Bliss or Shayna Baszler if she was to be called up.

Jack – This one is more in the realms of ‘in your dreams’ but it would be cool for Finn to lose against Lesnar, but then win the Rumble as the Demon Finn. After a couple of years of having a Smackdown winner I’ll be very surprised if the blue brand takes the honor again but it’s not unlikely, with John Cena winning to set up a match with Bryan being my outside tip. For the woman,  I can see either a debuting wrestler winning.

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Apart from the Rumbles, what match are you most and least looking forward to?

Rob – I think The Bar vs Miz/Shane will be highly entertaining and should actually be a good match. Styles vs Bryan the other obvious choice but I will go for the tag match. As for least looking forward to, I’m not really bothered about the Cruiserweights.

Jack – The Cruiserweights consistently put on some really fun matches and the fatal four-way should be no different so I’m looking forward to that. Becky Lynch is also given the performances of her life and will surely impress once again here. For the least, although I believe the match features 3 of the most talented performers in the WWE I’m not a fan of Shane McMahon taking away a spot from others who are arguably more deserving and can see him also winning the match.

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Match predictions

Men’s Royal Rumble

Rob – Seth Rollins

Jack – John Cena

Women’s Royal Rumble

Rob – Charlotte Flair

Jack -Shayna Baszler

Universal Championship – Brock Lesnar vs Finn Balor

Rob – Brock Lesnar

Jack – Brock Lesnar

WWE Championship – Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles

Rob – Daniel Bryan

Jack – Daniel Bryan

Raw Women’s Championship – Ronda Rousey vs Sasha Banks

Rob – Ronda Rousey

Jack – Ronda Rousey

Smackdown Women’s Championship – Asuka vs Becky Lynch

Rob – Becky Lynch

Jack – Asuka

Smackdown Tag Team Championship – The Bar vs The Miz/Shane McMahon

Rob – The Miz/Shane McMahon

Jack – The Miz/Shane McMahon

United States Championship – Rusev vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Rob – Rusev

Jack – Shinsuke Nakamura

Cruiserweight Championship – Buddy Murphy vs Akira Tozawa vs Hideo Itami vs Kalisto

Rob – Buddy Murphy

Jack – Hideo Itami

If your in the mood to watch a Royal Rumble match already. Take a look at the 2018 Royal Rumble!

royal rumble
WWE

Top 10 Worst Royal Rumble Matches

The Royal Rumble is usually one of the most exciting and unpredictable evenings of the year, but not always. Let’s take a look at the worst Rumbles in history.

10 – 2011 (Winner: Alberto Del Rio)

2011 saw the only Rumble to feature 40 men and, whilst it is always nice to try new things, it didn’t really work. Santino Marella ended up as runner up which, for the biggest Royal Rumble ever, is a bit of a letdown. Del Rio ended up losing at Mania in the opening match too.

9 – 1993 (Winner: Yokozuna)

There are 2 main reasons I’m not a fan of this one. Firstly, having never been a fan of Yokozuna, the way he won the match was a joke. Randy Savage went for a pin (why? He has been in Rumbles before) and Yokozuna eliminated him by kicking out of the pin. Secondly, Undertaker was eliminated by Giant Gonzalez which just gives horrible flashbacks of their Wrestlemania match.

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8 – 2013 (Winner: John Cena)

2013 wasn’t necessarily a bad Rumble. We had a great surprise return from Chris Jericho, which received a huge reaction from the crowd. However, the problem was that this match was so predictable. The fact that Cena won also made the title match between The Rock and CM Punk predictable because everyone knew Cena and Rock were heading towards a Mania rematch, which everyone knew Cena would win too.

7 – 2012 (Winner: Sheamus)

Again, this is another match which may be harshly placed but there is a reason. Chris Jericho had recently returned and was claiming that the Royal Rumble would be the end of the world as we know it. And nothing really happened. He just got beat by Sheamus. Massive disappointment.

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6 – 1988 (Winner: Hacksaw Jim Duggan)

The first Royal Rumble deserves credit for being the original and creating a spectacle we still enjoy today. Having said that, this 20 man Rumble was a bit rubbish. No offence to Jim Duggan, but he is not really in the same league as future winners like Stone Cold and The Rock, nor was he in the same league as the likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, who were in WWF at the time.

5 – 1991 (Winner: Hulk Hogan)

Back in the days when Hulk Hogan had to win everything, even if people wanted to see something different. Bret Hart was eliminated early, Randy Savage no-showed and Earthquake finished as runner up. Says it all really.

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4 – 1995 (Winner: Shawn Michaels)

1995 is a Rumble that will always live forever because of the legendary ending with Michaels surviving with 1 foot on the floor. However, when you look at the whole match, you can see why business was in the toilet in 1995. The star power of this Rumble is non-existent and, apart from the ending, the match was awful.

3 – 1999 (Winner: Vince McMahon)

A Rumble where more happened outside the ring than in it. Austin and McMahon were the first 2 in and the final 2, with the Chairman winning after The Rock distracted Austin. However, this was only because they went backstage for most of the match, with Austin being attacked in the ladies toilets. Undertaker abducted Viscera instead of actually being in the match. Kane was the only superstar who could realistically challenge Austin and Vince but he eliminated himself after the Corporation sent down white coats. A mess of a Rumble.

2 – 2014 (Winner: Batista)

In January 2014, the WWE Universe was swept up in the YES! movement. Everyone wanted Daniel Bryan to win and thought he was the final entrant. But no, Rey Mysterio entered to widespread boos. Batista won on his return, which not many people cared about, last eliminating Roman Reigns (who had eliminated 12 men, a new record). ironically, this was one of the last times a WWE crowd were fully behind Roman Reigns at the end.

1 – 2015 (Winner: Roman Reigns)

The good news a year later was that Daniel Bryan was in the Rumble and everyone was excited to see him finally get his victory…. oh no wait he was chucked out halfway through by Bray Wyatt. Not to worry, there was lots of young talent in this match. Oh no wait, Big Show and Kane went around getting rid of all of them. Roman Reigns won but no one wanted him to this time. Even The Rock couldn’t save Roman from getting booed out of the building. Truly horrible Rumble.