The Road to Wrestlemania officially begins this weekend in Phoenix, Arizona where the WWE superstars collide in one of the most exciting events of the year: the Royal Rumble.
The namesake 30-man & 30-woman (respectively) battle royals have a rich history of being filled with historic moments, blockbuster returns, and even its fair share of laughs.
Personally, however, this might be the first year that I’m more excited for the “traditional” bouts, than the match in which the PPV is named. After going 3-2 on my NXT TakeOver predictions, I’m hoping to keep my positive record streak on predictions alive. Here’s how I see things playing out:
(*Match on Royal Rumble Kickoff Show)
*Cruiserweight Championship – (C) Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa vs Kalisto vs Hideo Itami
Winner: Hideo Itami
When Itami signed with the WWE it was a big time announcement similar to when Finn Balor & Shinsuke Nakamura made their way to the company from New Japan. After having a fairly underwhelming first few years, it is finally time for him to take hold of the gold! (Bars) To be completely honest, I haven’t been the biggest fan of 205 Live since its inception, but I am very interested in seeing how entertaining this match will be with these top talents in the division.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship – (C) The Bar vs Shane McMahon & The Miz
Winner: The Bar (if McMahon turns heel)
Staying with the theme of matches I’m really not that interested in, the only tag team match on the card isn’t a very good one. But, there is hope in this if done correctly. The Miz has wanted this team to succeed since the completely ridiculous “Best in the World” Tournament. So now that he’s gotten his wish, it is the perfect time for Shane McMahon to turn heel and stop that from happening. Shane has spent every moment since his official return to the company being loved by the WWE Universe, so this is the perfect time to throw a curveball into this whole “Best tag team in the world” nonsense.
*United States Championship – (C) Rusev vs Shinsuke Nakamura
After a very odd and underachieving storyline between these two, I’m not really too interested in this matchup outside of the ring. Once the bell rings however, this should be a very good match technically. At the end however, I expect Lana to come out and help the fan favorite Rusev retain his title.
Smackdown Women’s Championship – (C) Asuka vs Becky Lynch
I chose Asuka to win this against my better judgement, but only because it doesn’t make sense for them to have her lose the title again right after giving her purpose on the Smackdown roster. Before these past few months with her in the title picture, we hardly saw her on TV and when we did it was in awful storylines with Naomi against Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, or the Iconics, that didn’t really make sense. Asuka is right where she’s supposed to be, dominating and winning this match. But Becky’s reinvention of herself is nothing short of entertaining. Not even just on TV, but her talk on Twitter is also hilarious. If Becky takes this one I wouldn’t be upset at all, but I think she doesn’t need the title to stay relevant, unlike Asuka.
Raw Women’s Championship – (C) Ronda Rousey vs Sasha Banks
Winner: Ronda Rousey
It has been great seeing Sasha Banks having such a strong 2019. I think this match will be better than some think because of usually how short Rousey’s matches have been. But, I expect the former UFC star to pick up the victory once again and for Banks to be in the title picture for the newly announced Women’s Tag Team Championships with Bayley.
WWE Championship – (C) Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles
Winner: Daniel Bryan
This is the matchup I’m most torn over because both have proven to be great champions. Both clearly have some of the best promo skills in the business and can stand their ground on the mic against anybody. We’re very familiar with Daniel’s “new” persona, but now adding in Styles’ new aggression and this should wind up being the match of the night. I’ll give the nod to Bryan because of his unpredictability week after week, and having him hold onto the title up until Wrestlemania makes for one hell of an ending to his great comeback year.
Universal Championship – (C) Brock Lesnar vs Finn Balor
Winner: Finn Balor
FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING THAT IS WRESTLING, PLEASE LET THIS BE THE END OF LESNAR AS CHAMPION! After the very sad & shocking news of Roman Reigns having to go away to fight cancer, nobody was expecting for the supposed most important title to fall back into the hands of a king who’s hardly ever been around his own kingdom. This is the perfect person to hand the title over to, as Balor was not only the first ever Universal Champion. But he actually never held it in the first place, instead having to give it up due to injury one night later. Finn has spent the better part of two years since returning from that injury being used in terrible storyline after terrible storyline and never even being remotely close to any gold, let alone the Universal title picture. If the McMahons are serious about “listening to the WWE Universe” then Lesnar’s title reign ends with this match. There’s no need to wait for the Wrestlemania. Let him go back to UFC like we all expect him to. Also when the GOAT John Cena gives you an endorsement live on Raw, that helps just a little bit also.
Royal Rumble Matches:
As I did for the Greatest Royal Rumble last summer, I will give my top five superstars (3 picks & 2 honorable mentions) whom I think will win. There are 30 superstars in each match, so only picking one is nuts!
Men: Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe or Apollo Crews.
Honorable mention: Kevin Owens (returning from injury) or Randy Orton
Women: Ember Moon, Ruby Riott, Charlotte.
Honorable mention: Alexa Bliss (returning from injury) or Bayley