It’s January, and for fans of professional wrestling, that means only one thing – it’s Royal Rumble month! For a lot of fans, the Rumble is a bigger event than WrestleMania. Historically it’s been a night full of thrills, spills, and excitement, and it allows us our first hint at what the WrestleMania card might look like when April arrives. In years gone by its already been obvious by this point what the major matches at WrestleMania are going to look like, but this time around we have literally no idea.
Predicting the Royal Rumble winners is a bigger task than it used to be following on from the introduction of the women’s Royal Rumble in 2018. That means not only do we have a men’s main event to think about; we also have a women’s main event. In both cases, there can only be one winner, and therefore the focus will either be on the RAW or SmackDown champions. Which roster will be successful, and which brand’s championship will get the bigger spotlight at the biggest event of the year?
In recent years we’ve seen fans turn heavily against the predicted outcome of Royal Rumble matches when it became obvious that Batista was going to win in 2014, and Roman Reigns was doing to do the same the year after. There’s no standout candidate for either Rumble match this year. It’s only fitting that you can bet on the outcome of the Rumble matches with online bookmakers, because predicting the winners this time around feels a little bit like trying to predict the outcome of the next spin on online slots website such as Dove Casino. WWE has recently announced that it will be releasing a series of character-themed online slots for its adult fans, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see the Royal Rumble used as a concept for at least one of them. Winnings at online slots arrive at random, though, and the winner of the Rumble matches will be anything put – so who’s going to get Vince McMahon’s seal of approval? Let’s look at the possibilities.
The Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Given how hard WWE is pushing ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt now, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the winner of the men’s Rumble coming from the SmackDown side to challenge him at WrestleMania. As much as hardcore fans might hate it, that means Roman Reigns must be considered a strong candidate to walk away with the victory at the end of the night. The Fiend has been pushed as an unstoppable wrecking machine, and it would suit McMahon’s style of storytelling perfectly to have Reigns be the man to strike him down on the biggest night of the wrestling year. There would be boos in the arena, but Roman Reigns vs. The Fiend has the potential to headline an event the size of WrestleMania and would sell tickets. In our eyes, that makes the Big Dog the favorite.
If we think outside the box, though, Brock Lesnar also needs a WrestleMania opponent for the WWE Championship, and it’s unlike WWE not to give Lesnar a huge focus when WrestleMania comes around. There have been rumors in some newspapers that British boxing star Tyson Fury might make a surprise Rumble appearance and win the match, heading on to face Lesnar at ‘Mania in a one-off match that would make headlines around the world. Since Fury is facing Deontay Wilder in a huge boxing heavyweight world championship fight early in 2020, this seems unlikely. That means, as underwhelming as the match was last time, we might be looking at a second bout between Lesnar and his UFC nemesis Cain Velasquez in a match that’s unlikely to excite the live crowd.
We should pick an outside chance, and so we’ll give a possible nod to the Undertaker. Taker’s career has been coming to an end for a long time now, and the WWE legend deserves to go out on the biggest stage possible. A shock Rumble win followed by a crushing defeat to either Lesnar (who he has a history with) or the Fiend (who’s his logical successor) would fit the bill.
The Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Last year, history was made when women headlined WrestleMania for the first time ever, with Ronda Rousey defending her RAW Women’s Championship against the red-hot Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair needlessly shoehorned into the match. We don’t think the women will go on last this time around, but there will still be a major women’s main event, and it will almost certainly involve Becky Lynch.
The seeds were sown in November at Survivor Series for Lynch to enter a program with NXT’s dominant champion Shayna Baszler. Baszler recently dropped the NXT Women’s Championship to Rhea Ripley, which suggests that’s she’s headed for RAW or SmackDown in the very near future. RAW would make the most sense as a destination, with a ready-made program with Lynch waiting for her. Given that Becky will have held her title for a full year by that point (barring a surprise loss to Asuka at the Rumble), Baszler winning the women’s Rumble and then dethroning Lynch at WrestleMania is our prediction for the next few months.
There’s an outside chance that WWE could shock us all and switch the focus to SmackDown instead, where Bayley is having an underwhelming run with the championship. The only possible candidate for a WrestleMania-worthy match with Bayley is her current best friend, Sasha Banks. WWE has danced around the idea of a Bayley vs. Sasha feud numerous times over the past two years, only to back away from it at the last moment. The match would still have appeal as a spectacle, but it would necessitate either Bayley or Sasha turning face. Given that both have only recently turned heel, such a move would likely hurt their characters – not that WWE tends to worry too much about such things.
Just as we did with the men’s main event, we should identify a dark horse, and we think there’s an obvious one here. After 2019’s WrestleMania, Ronda Rousey disappeared from wrestling. A lot of news outlets at the time said she was taking time off to start a family, but she hasn’t done so. In theory, that means she could be ready to return to the ring at any time. There would be some interest in seeing her enter the Rumble as a surprise, win the match, and have the one on one battle with Lynch that she should have had last time. Given her close friendship with Shayna Baszler, Becky could even end up facing a Baszler-Rousey combination to give her a huge obstacle to overcome.
That’s what we think, but what do you think? Have we overlooked an obvious candidate? Keith Lee to storm the men’s Rumble and win? Dana Brooke to shock the world and win the women’s match? Give us your hot take down in the comments!