WWE presents Royal Rumble this Sunday, live from the Thunderdome in the Tropicana Field. The highly anticipated marquee pay-per-view event will be the 11th straight event to take place without fans, and the second to take place from the new Thunderdome.
Royal Rumble is considered the start of the Wrestlemania season, with the main event of Wrestlemania getting set in stone at the show. It is hard to find a Royal Rumble PPV with negative reviews (2015?), as it is usually the finest show with intrigue, surprise, and excitement for all kinds of wrestling fans.
This year’s show has three matches announced so far apart from the two Royal Rumble bouts, and without live fans in attendance, the Rumble will surely be a completely different ballgame this year. Imagine some of the surprises over the years (AJ Styles’ debut, Edge’s return, etc.) taking place in front of no fans.
We look at the card announced so far, and give our thoughts and predictions on how it may go down on Sunday, Jan 31st.
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship | Sasha Banks(c) vs. Carmella
After weeks of feuding with each other, the two stars will once again go head to head at the Rumble event. Banks defeated Carmella’s sommelier Reginald in an intergender match last week, and had previously got a victory over Carmella herself at the TLC event last month.
The duo has provided quality screentime in their feud, but Carmella’s new gimmick couldn’t find as much success as WWE would have hoped. However, Banks has done some fantastic work with the title on her waist and should continue to do so at least until WrestleMania.
Prediction: Sasha Banks retains.
Women’s Tag Team Championship | Asuka and Charlotte Flair(c) vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
The former champions will seek to reclaim the titles which they lost at TLC last month, against the makeshift team of the current RAW Women’s Champion and the Queen. Flair and Asuka are quite surely going to feud over the singles title soon, which makes this a perfect opportunity for the heels to reclaim the titles.
Although Alexa Bliss is currently in a mini-feud of sorts with Asuka, expect Flair to turn on as soon as possible, leading to a matchup for the top title for the women on the red brand quite soon.
Prediction: Jax and Baszler win
WWE Championship | Drew McIntyre(c) vs. Goldberg
Goldberg is back for his yearly Wrestlemania paycheck, and contrary to popular expectations, he went behind McIntyre instead of Roman Reigns. Goldberg was set to defend his Universal Title at Wrestlemania 36 against Reigns, but he ended up fighting Braun Strowman, who dethroned him.
Goldberg is way past his prime, and having him battle McIntyre, who has possibly been the best WWE Champion in years, is a waste of the Scottish star’s talents.
McIntyre should be the one coming out on top in this encounter, which he has dedicated to everyone fighting the deadly COVID-19 disease. However, WWE’s obsession with part-timers at Wrestlemania could very well pave the way for yet another short-term run for the 54-year-old-superstar.
Prediction: Drew McIntyre retains.
Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Universal Championship | Roman Reigns(c) vs. Kevin Owens
Owens and Reigns produced an exceptional TLC match the last time they fought for the title, and this should be another bout filled with crazy moves and action. Adam Pearce saw himself get involved in this rivalry when the Tribal Chief and his associate Paul Heyman coaxed Pearce into the matchup. Owens saved the day and put his name on the contract, but the whole narrative since TLC has been quite fresh and different.
With Smackdown soaring in ratings and widely pinned as the best show on WWE TV currently, the onus will be on the top two stars from the brand to produce yet another noteworthy battle. Reigns is doing the best work of his career and deserves to continue doing it for a long, long time.
Prediction: Roman Reigns wins
Women’s Royal Rumble
It was announced that the Women’s Royal Rumble, currently in its fourth edition, will be opening the show next week. Twelve participants have been announced so far for the event, with most of the RAW and Smackdown Women’s roster signed up to appear in the marquee matchup. Women’s Rumble events have seen the most amount of surprise returns and NXT talents, due to the limited size of the main-roster.
Although it is hard to pick favorites for the event, Bianca Belair, who has got a tremendous push on Smackdown, and Charlotte Flair from RAW, are the prime suspects to be the last women standing.
Prediction: Bianca Belair wins.
Men’s Royal Rumble
Seventeen out of the total 30 participants have been announced for the event so far, with a major update from Edge, who is all set to make his return at the Rumble event next week. Along with Edge, previous winners Randy Orton, Sheamus, Shinsuke Nakamura, have also signed up for the event.
Former World Champions Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, and MITB holder The Miz have also been announced for the event. Rounding up the card so far include the highly talented mid-carders like Cesaro, John Morrison, Bobby Lashley, and Big E
WWE hasn’t done a great job on the red brand to build possible challengers for McIntyre, while Smackdown is brimming with several candidates. Daniel Bryan has often been primed as the one to take down the Tribal Chief, and could finally win the Rumble which he should’ve won six years ago.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro, who recently turned babyfaces again, are also sure to get extended runs in the Rumble event. Big E is a dark-horse candidate for the win, but Bryan should ideally be the winner of the 30-man event.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan wins