Ahh, the Rumble. From the first time I ever saw it, it's been my favorite wrestling pay-per-view. The drama is fantastic, the matches are always full of action, and since like 1998, you get to hear 30 entrance songs in one match, which is basically the whole reason I watch wrestling in the first place.
After watching NXT Takeover Philadelphia tonight (which was fantastic as usual), I'm ready to make predictions for what will no doubt be a disappointment top-to-bottom in this year's WWE Royal Rumble. The Rumble match itself has a lot of possible stuff to predict, so I'll use some of the scoresheet categories from one of my favorite podcasts, What's Wrong With Wrestling.
Here we go!
RAW Tag Team Championship Match - Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan (c) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro
In-ring, these guys are all really accomplished performers. Sheamus is probably the weakest of the four, but even he can put on a good match, and the rest are exceptional entertainers in the ring. I'm looking forward to the match, even though the build-up has been ho-hum.
I'd be surprised if this match ended clean, but I think in order to set up Wrestlemania season, you need the tag team titles on a true "tag team." Maybe that happens later, but since I do expect Rollins and Jordan to lose the titles between now and March, I'll just predict it here.
My prediction: Sheamus via pinfall over Rollins
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable
I think with the XFL's recent announcement and how Vince McMahon is selling it as a family-oriented product, and how the WWE has been PG-rated content for a while, the WWE is probably pretty pissed at Jey Uso for his DWI arrest. The most frequent punishment for misbehavior is to have the performer's on-air character get time off, but you can't do that if the Usos are tag team champions.
So, naturally, that means Benjamin and Gable ought to win this match. It's also like their tenth try at the titles, so for the love of god, let's get them the titles. It can also set up a really awkward backstage segment later in the night where Gable runs up to Jordan and says, "Dude, look! I won the tag titles!...oh...right...sorry dude..."
My prediction: Shelton Benjamin via pinfall over Jey Uso
Universal Title Triple Threat Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane
I would looooove if they found a way to give Kane the Universal title here, but there's really just no chance of that. The most likely result is that Kane takes the fall for Lesnar, with the second-most-likely result being Strowman pinning Kane for the title. The chances of the WWE putting Kane over on either of the other two guys is infinitesimal.
I think Lesnar is most likely to retain the title through Wrestlemania, since it looks like their plan all year has been to set up Roman Reigns versus Brock Lesnar at Mania. It's possible there's some roundabout adjustments, where Lesnar loses to Strowman, then Strowman loses it to Lesnar or Reigns at Elimination Chamber, meaning you can still have Lesnar and Reigns fight for the title as the main event.
Still, most likely result is most likely.
My prediction: Brock Lesnar via pinfall over Kane
WWE Title Handicap Match: A.J. Styles (c) versus Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
What a weird match. The insanity of trying to figure out what would happen if Sami and Kevin win makes me wish that happens. If it happens, SmackDown will be a must-see event, which to me is a great reason to do that. But I think usually stuff like this is an indicator of some haphazard planning, with the knowledge that they'll just have the champion retain so they don't have to figure out what happens in the weird circumstance.
So I expect Styles to pull out the win.
My prediction: A.J. Styles via pinfall over Sami Zayn
Women's Royal Rumble Match
I expect it to not be nearly as good as a men's Royal Rumble, just based on the logistics of smaller people having more trouble going over the top rope with natural movement. So I think we'll get a lot of the women sort of noticeably "throwing themselves" over the top rope. Still, there are enough good workers that the actual in-ring competition should be fun.
The smart money is on Asuka, as it seems like everything is setting up for her to be in the premier women's match at Wrestlemania. But that's putting a lot of eggs into the basket of someone whose English is still unexceptional. I think the WWE is more interested in playing it safe here, and they'll go with one of the most reliable, well-liked, and talented women they've got under contract: Becky Lynch. Asuka can get screwed over by another competitor to set up her own rivalry moving forward.
Longest time in match: Sasha Banks
Final four competitors: Nikki Cross, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella
Winner: Becky Lynch
Men's Royal Rumble Match
The big mamma jamma, the main event, the Royal Rumble. I have such high hopes, as always; hopefully they're not misplaced.
I'd love to be surprised by something amazing like Chris Jericho winning the Rumble, but I don't think that's likely. The most likely result, again, is something that works to set up one of the two matches built up so far for Wrestlemania: Styles v. Nakamura or Reigns v. Lesnar. That means the two most likely victors are Nakamura and Reigns.
I go back and forth on it. Nakamura has certainly put in his time and his losses, losing his title matches against Jinder Mahal. But Reigns is just so obviously going to be in the main event once again at Wrestlemania, he's just an easy pick.
I'm gonna go off the board, since I can't pick between those two guys, and pick a guy who could win any match, any night: John Cena. You can definitely work him into any main event feud, he's as popular as he's ever been, and he's taken some lumps this year. He could use a lift, and if he eliminates Roman to win, he'll even get some more cheers than usual.
Longest time in match: The Miz
Final four competitors: The Miz, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Rusev
Winner: John Cena
Please, please, please be a good show.
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