And just like that, we’re in a new year and the Royal Rumble event is upon us! As you might expect, despite the amount of the time the WWE has had to build up to this event, Vince McMahon’s little party house has hedged most of the build around the ludicrous idea that nobody is good enough, or willing, to step up and challenge Brock Lesnar at the event so Lesnar is set to enter the Royal Rumble, at number one, and has promised to win the whole thing.
Is he defending the WWE Championship in the match, like Roman Reigns did a while ago? Apparently not, as it’s not been confirmed either way, so we could, conceivably, see Lesnar win the Royal Rumble and go on to either challenge himself or the Universal Champion at WrestleMania. However, I think it’s more likely that we’ll see Lesnar’s WrestleMania challenger emerge in the match.
Meanwhile, over on Friday Night SmackDown, John Morrison retruned recently so I look forward to seeing him buried or mishandled over the next year or so and Daniel Bryan has been continuing his feud with the Fiend, Bray Wyatt, with some brief help from the Miz before the status quo forced him back into his traditional heel role and even from Kane, which was a nice surprise. Braun Strowman has also been tied up with Shinsuke Nakaumra and the Intercontinental Championship, meaning that it’s actually quite difficult to pick a winner of the men’s Royal Rumble.
Yet, here we are; the Royal Rumble is upon us so let’s get down to some predictions…
Yikes, well, here’s a match no one really asked for and that has no place on the main card so I’m fairly confidant that we’ll see this on the kickoff show (if this makes it on to the main card and the Cruiserweight Championship is still on the pre-show, I won’t be too impressed).
Anyway, yeah, Sheamus made a big comeback recently and immediately set out making a name for himself by…attacking and bullying the “shortest” guy on SmackDown; truly he is the World Champion we deserve.
Logic dictates that this should be a simply David vs. Goliath story that sees “Shorty G” triumph over adversity…so obviously I’m going to pick the exact opposite because that is exactly what will happen…
My prediction: Sheamus to win.
Yeah, so, Andrade won the United States Championship a while back and has since been once again embroiled in a seemingly never-ending feud with Rey Mysterio. However, Humberto Carrillo saved Mysterio’s ass this week on Raw, which apparently is enough to earn him a shot at the belt.
It should be a good thing that these guys are vying for the mid-card championship but it still feels like they’re all just spinning their wheels; Humberto feels like he’s just getting a “flavour of the month” babyface push that isn’t really going to lead to much except, maybe, a random tag team with Apollo Crews.
For that reason, and the suddenness of this match, I’m fairly certain we won’t be seeing the belt change hands here but, hopefully, it’ll extend Andrade’s reach past Mysterio for once and lead to something a bit more meaningful.
My prediction: Andrade to win and retain the championship.
So, randomly, we’ve seen Lacey Evans turn face in recent weeks and make a play for the Blue Brand’s women’s championship, which is really a feud against both Bayley and Sasha Banks as they seem largely inseparable.
That, to me, is half of the problem with anyone challenging Bayley at this point, let alone Lacey; it’s that the WWE is so obviously going to have Sasha, or Bayley, do a turn and fight for the belt at some point because they are simply incapable of keeping the gold off of their golden girls (Sasha and Charlotte Flair) for too long.
Add to that the fact that Lacey is about as bad a fit for a face as the Miz or Baron Corbin and you have a decidedly lukewarm match that can surely only go one way…
My prediction: Bayley to win and retain the championship.
There was probably some debate about this match prior to Charlotte Flair’s announcement earlier this month that she was going to be taking part in the Royal Rumble but, as she’s in the match, I’m pretty sure that this one is going to go to Charlotte Flair.
That is, of course, unless Shayna Baszler shows up; if that is the case, I think we’re probably on track to see Shayna win the thing and face Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. As this is the much more attractive scenario (at least for me), I’m going to pick this as the preferred result because we get a new face in the women’s main event scene and it (hopefully) keeps Charlotte away from any more unnecessary title wins.
My prediction: Shayna Baszler to win.
This feud took a bit of an odd turn when Daniel Bryan returned after the Fiend kidnapped him; I thought we’d see Bryan come back as one of Wyatt’s acolytes but, instead, he’s slid quite comfortably back into a familiar babyface role while the Miz has, inexplicably, turned back into a self-entitled heel. Because who doesn’t like the status quo?
For me, Wyatt’s run with the belt has been quite strong and pretty entertaining; I may not be a fan of how he seems to be the one who picks his challengers but going up against the likes of Bryan is a great way to build some legitimacy for your heel run and I think we’re going to see more of that here.
While I think Bryan will put in a good effort to help get Wyatt over, especially given the unique stipulation this match carries, by no means do I expect to see him walking away with the Universal Championship, mainly because I’m still holding out the hope that Braun Strowman will course correct towards his former mentor after he’s done with Shinsuke Nakamura.
My prediction: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, to win and retain the championship.
This is an interesting feud as it seems to have come at the expense of focusing on the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships; it’s a good look for Asuka to pursue a double championship win but, in this day and age, given where Asuka is and how the WWE have treated her, does anyone really think that Asuka has a chance at beating Becky Lynch?
It’s interesting how perceptions can so fundamentally change due to bad booking as Asuka used to have this bad-ass, dangerous vibe to her but she’s fallen at the hurdle before when given championship opportunities and I don’t expect to see her emerge victorious here. The best we can hope for is that Asuka comes out of this looking strong and a legitimate threat but she won’t be a double champion any time soon.
My prediction: Becky Lynch to win and retain the championship.
So, this feud seems to be purposely made to help push Roman Reigns back up the card and towards a main event position; I mean, what better way to do that than have him punch in the face of one of the WWE’s top heels? The irony of that is that Reigns has bested Corbin before, and in decisive fashion as I recall, but the WWE have done a relatively decent job in giving Corbin the edge time and time again in their reignited feud thanks to his cronies, underhanded tactics, and, of course, dog food.
Regardless, though, this will most likely be the standard fair for a Reigns match: he’ll start out hot, then Corbin will either take over or Roman will fall victim to outside interference and take an extended beating, before shrugging it all off and taking out Corbin and all of his cronies in decisive fashion so he can look like an all-conquering hero…and most likely be met with boos as a sizeable contingent of the audience is starting to recognize Corbin’s heel work and will probably cheer him just to be assholes.
My prediction: Roman Reigns to win.
This is actually quite a difficult one to predict; surely the WWE cannot be stupid enough to have Brock Lesnar enter and win while he’s holding the damn belt? But, at the same time, who is there to challenge him? Drew McIntyre is a heel and turning him face, or even face/tweener, probably wouldn’t work too well and would lead to a rushed build; Roman Reigns is a good choice, sure, but I don’t think he’s ready to be main eventing WrestleMania (…again) just yet.
So I’m going to guess that someone (hopefully not some UFC guy…) will toss Lesnar out at some point to setup his challenger at WrestleMania and we’ll get an actual winner who will challenge the Fiend, Bray Wyatt, instead.
And who should that be, you ask? The only logical choice: Braun Strowman. Seriously, the mentor/student storyline tells itself and, if Strowman also captures the Intercontinental Championship on the same night, it could be the start of a massive championship run for a guy who is long, long overdue.
My prediction: Braun Strowman to win.
What are your thoughts on this year’s Royal Rumble? Do you have your own predictions? Weigh in below and come back next week to see how my predictions turned out.