John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE Royal Rumble preview. The first WWE PPV of the year takes place on the last day of the first month.
I don’t know if you can find a bigger Royal Rumble fan than me. I’ve watched them all so many times even the bad ones. I’ve written detailed reviews of the previous 33 Royal Rumble events. If you’ve been following along all month long, I have re-posted all of those reviews with updated 2021 thoughts because I re-watched all the Rumble matches along with most of the rest of the cards. This year is going to feel weird because of no crowds. We are used to watching WWE shows without fans for over ten months now due to COVID-19, but it’s different with the Rumble. I’m going to miss the crowd chanting down from ten, the buzzer going off and then reactions from fans whether it’s cheering, booing or the shock reaction (like John Cena in 2008 for example). I’m sure WWE will pipe in noise, but it’s not the same. I can’t really blame WWE for it. It’s just the way the world is right now.
For this preview, we are listing the Women’s and Men’s Royal Rumble matches beside eachother. We realize that’s likely not how they are going to go in terms of the order. Ideally, the first Rumble match (let’s say the women go first) would be in the first half of the show and then the second Rumble match (that would be the men) would be in the main event spot. One of the two men’s WWE/Universal Title matches could go last too. Anyway, I just wanted to make that clear in case somebody complains about the order. It’s just how we’re doing this preview.
Joining me for the preview are Alex Podgorski and Lance Augustine. Here are some thoughts from both guys and then we’ll get to the preview.
Alex: If there’s one WWE show per year that’s really worth taking the time to watch, it’s this one. The Royal Rumble is my favorite WWE PPV of the year. I think unpredictability is very important to keep fans excited and guessing about what could happen. And to be honest, the Royal Rumble is the closest thing we get these days to the now-disproven mantra that ‘anything can happen in WWE.’ Most of us know that statement is a bold-faced lie, but we get as close to it as possible with this event and the eponymous rumble match. And for the first time in a long time, I’m actually unsure about who the obvious picks will be. While this show won’t be the same without a live crowd, I still think it’ll close on a (relatively) high note.
Lance: The Rumble, for people that have been fans for a long time, is always the best time of year. It starts the Road to WrestleMania and has some new stars being pushed up the card. I think this year will be no different and the show will have plenty of twists and turns. There will be some stories that see resolution, as well as the possibility of all new people winning the big two matches. Let’s do this!
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.)
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Asuka and Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Alex: Asuka and Charlotte won the titles fairly recently, and I think it’s too early for those titles to change. Now is the perfect time for WWE to elevate those titles to a more prestigious level since they’re held by two of the top women in the entire company. That said, I expect this to be a pretty hard-hitting and competitive match. Three of the four women here have been announced for the women’s Rumble match. They might go into this match with the mindset to win it quickly to save their strength for the rumble, but all of them attempting to do so will only extend this match beyond what any of them would have originally wanted. I predict this match will go around fifteen minutes and will end with Charlotte scoring the deciding fall for her team. And because the champions will retain, Jax and Baszler will beat them both up post-match, leaving Charlotte’s (and possibly Asuka’s) fate in the later Rumble match in question.
Winners and STILL WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions: Charlotte Flair and Asuka
Lance: This match doesn’t really have much heat other than the fact that Baszler and Jax were beaten by these two for the titles. The Women’s Tag Team Titles haven’t been prominently featured, but here’s to its resurgence coming up. Charlotte and Asuka can co-exist as a team and it seems like they were given the belts to try and elevate the division. Jax and Baszler don’t do much for me and it just seems like their breakup is right around the corner.
Winner(s) and STILL Women’s Tag Team Champions: Charlotte Flair and Asuka
John: This match should be okay, but there’s not much build here. Charlotte and Asuka won the titles at TLC last month, then they have gone on to other things with Charlotte feuding with Lacey Evans and then Asuka has had issues with Alexa Bliss. I can see them doing some injury angle where Baszler hurts Flair’s arm or leg and that Flair has to go into the Rumble match with an injury, which is why she doesn’t win. That’s just how WWE books Charlotte these days as a face even though she’s way better as a heel. I also expect Jax and Baszler to have issues as a team, which ends up costing them the win.
Winners: Asuka and Charlotte Flair
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Carmella
Alex: Carmella just doesn’t do it for me as a challenger for the title. No matter what she does I just can’t guy her as someone on Sasha’s level. Unless this somehow transforms into some wacky stipulation match by Sunday, I can’t see Sasha losing her title. She is far more capable as a champion and as the ace of her division. To that end, this will probably go ten minutes max with Sasha getting a dominant and decisive win. It’s too bad WWE doesn’t to a better job of making title challengers credible and convincing. If they did better in that role, I might actually be excited for this contest.
Winner and STILL SmackDown Women’s Champion: Sasha Banks
Lance: I am a fan of both of these women, but I am not a fan of this match. Carmella was off TV for an extended period of time and I almost think she might have gotten lost in the shuffle. I don’t mind her in-ring work, but I think Sasha is the better of the two. What a difference a couple of years makes for Banks. Sometimes people just need a recharge, but since she took that break from the company, she has been on fire. Her and Bayley’s matches from last year are well-documented and I am excited to see what she has coming up. This will be competitive, but it’s Banks’ title for now.
Winner and STILL Smackdown Women’s Champion: Sasha Banks
John: They already had a title match with Banks beating Carmella, so why are we doing it again? That’s because Carmella beat Banks in a tag team match. I feel like Banks is going to carry the title into WrestleMania because frankly, she deserves a long title reign after so many short title reigns in her career. Banks is arguably the best women’s wrestler in WWE while Carmella looks the part she is playing, but she’s not at the same level as Banks. I’ll go with Banks winning due to Reginald the sommelier accidentally costing Carmella the win.
Winner: Sasha Banks
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Bill Goldberg
Alex: I was originally going to make this prediction last year when it was clear WWE wanted to do Goldberg vs. Reigns. But when COVID ended those plans, I had to change my predictions as well. Anyways, this year presents WWE with an opportunity to do a war between two wrestlers that use the Spear as their big finisher (leading into the Jackhammer). One of them is Goldberg, a legend that wrestled three-minute squash matches like it’s 1998. There are two others that use the spear: one is also a top champion and the other has announced his participation in the Rumble match. Because of that, I think Goldberg will pull another big surprise and beat Drew for the championship. That way, Goldberg can defend it against the winner of the 2021 Royal Rumble match at WrestleMania.
While I would much rather prefer Drew retain, that would be a likely conclusion if he were facing pretty much anyone else. But this is Goldberg we’re talking about. WWE have had this weird obsession with him since 2016, and now that they have him, they’re making the most of him. And since this company is completely obsessed with digging up and violating the rotting corpse of nostalgia for short-term gains at the expense of creating interesting content that builds for the future, it’s clear to me that someone in WWE wants to use Goldberg to sell more Peacock subscriptions and generate crazy headlines by making him WWE Champion. To achieve that, I predict Goldberg wins on Sunday. It’s not what I want, but it’s what I predict.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Goldberg
Lance: I will start by saying this. I have no desire to see Goldberg in the ring again, let alone winning the title. He came back last year just to squash the Fiend and, in the process, put the brakes on a gimmick that was gaining some steam. I have been pounding the table for McIntyre and think he should be getting the same treatment as his Champion counterpart on Smackdown, and I don’t think that includes losing to Goldberg here. McIntyre has improved so much since we first saw him in the WWE and I think they have a real chance of having a legit top guy on their hands. I wasn’t a fan of him losing the title to Orton, only to win it back a few weeks later. He just has really come into his home and I think that all his matches have been good and he looks like a million bucks. I am all aboard the McIntyre train. Now, do I trust WWE to do the right thing and have McIntyre walk away with the title? Not particularly.
I feel like you don’t put Goldberg in a match like this to have him lose. That will be saved for WrestleMania where I feel like these two are going to collide again with the tables turned. We can only hope that if that’s the road they are going to go down, McIntyre will at least give him a fight and not something that Goldberg just smashes him. I will be optimistic and say this match goes longer than some other Goldberg matches of as late. McIntyre will hit the Claymore at least, but I do think Goldberg is going over. They should really shoot this Goldberg kid to the moon. He’s got potential.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Bill Goldberg
John: Let me begin by saying I really hope that everybody picking Goldberg to win is very wrong and that includes my two good friends up above. I hope you’re so wrong that you never think about doing it again. With that said, I do see the logic in it. I just don’t like it.
The best part of Raw in the last ten months of empty arena shows has been the booking of Drew McIntyre. I think WWE has done a fantastic job of presenting McIntyre as a serious, likable and credible WWE Champion the likes of which they don’t always have. When Drew lost to Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell, he got the title back a few weeks later. Drew also lost to Roman Reigns at Survivor Series, but that was a cheap shot. Other than that, McIntyre has won most of the matches he has had against all of the top names on Raw. Bill Goldberg, who is 54 years old with a WWE deal that sees him wrestling at least twice per year, is a guy that should put over McIntyre just like all of the other guys have done.
I predict they go under seven minutes, McIntyre will kick out of the Spear-Jackhammer combo and then beat Goldberg with a Claymore Kick. It’s as simple as that. Would I be upset about a Goldberg win? Sure I would, but then it’s onto the next day. I just don’t think it’s a smart business move to have Goldberg win another title in 2021. McIntyre deserves to walk into WrestleMania 37 with fans in the crowd as the WWE Champion so they can give him the loud ovation that he deserves.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Alex: Originally, this was supposed to be Reigns versus Adam Pearce, a producer that hasn’t wrestled in over a decade. Then cooler heads prevailed and they managed to change it to Reigns vs. Owens. And while that’s definitely an improvement, by no means does it change the outcome of Reign’s title defense.
Make no mistake about it: Roman Reigns is in the midst of his greatest championship run right now. He is white-hot as an on-paper villain that oozes this badassery that makes him less overly-evil and more of a shade of grey. I think it’s way too early for him to lose, especially to someone like Kevin Owens. Don’t get me wrong; Kevin Owens is a great wrestler. But nothing Owens does now or has done recently has made him look like he’s on Reigns’ level. Reigns’ gimmick as the ‘tribal chief’ is solid and interesting. Meanwhile, Owens’s central gimmick right now is pretending he’s Steve Austin, which is a not-so-subtle way of saying ‘we have to rely on the past to make the present any decent’.
As such, I think this will be the best match on the show from a match quality standpoint. It will feature all the trademarks of a WWE LMS match: chair-shots to the back, a ladder will be introduced, someone will be smashed through the Spanish Announce Table, and a dozen finishers will be kicked out of. Yeah, it’s formulaic. But this formula has worked in the past; and if these two try hard enough, they’ll make it work once again.
Winner and STILL WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
Lance: I have been a fan of this feud. My recent admiration for Reigns is something I thought I would never feel. He has busted his ass and it has shown. The “Head of the Table” gimmick is cool and it gives reigns an opportunity to be an asshole every chance he can. He beat up on his own flesh in blood for a while before setting his sights on Kevin Owens. I have said it before and I will reiterate it here, I think Kevin Owens is one of the most underused guys in a long time. He has shown that he can have great matches and has had a run with The Universal Title to pad the resume.
The Last Man Standing stipulation adds a little something extra to this match, and I think both men will utilize it. Obviously, they will probably take things outside of the ring and spend the majority of their time on the floor. The one silver lining in all of this is the fact that they can be creative with being in such a big venue. The writing is on the wall with who is going to win, but I like Kevin Owens being the guy challenge before WrestleMania. He deserves it about as much as anyone else. This will be a brawl and both men will get ample time to show why they deserve to be champion. It’s a moot point though because we all know how this is going to end.
Winner and STILL Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
John: I don’t think they ever intended on doing Roman Reigns vs. Adam Pearce. I think it was just part of the storyline because Reigns has been a dominant, controlling heel champion for months now and by having Pearce outsmart Reigns with Kevin Owens coming back, that was done to piss off Reigns. It makes the feud feel more personal, so I’m for all that. Owens is such a likable babyface that delivers some of the best promos in the company. Reigns is terrific as the overconfident heel champion that is also insecure because he wins matches in a cheap manner.
I have really liked this rivalry from the TLC Match last month to the Steel Cage Match that aired on Smackdown on Christmas Day. The huge bump that Owens did the next week was impressive too. The Last Man Standing stipulation is going to allow them to use a lot of weapons and have them doing a lot of school stuff in the match. I expect Jey Uso to interfere in the match and maybe we’ll see Jimmy Uso return here because it’s been about eight months since his ACL injury, so he should be ready to go any time now. I think I have mentioned Jimmy before, but it’s only because we know Reigns tends to win these matches in a cheap way, so that’s a way to do it. Anyway, I fully expect this to be an awesome match in that four-star range (out of five) and it certainly might be the best match of the night. With that said, if Reigns doesn’t win here I would be surprised.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Women's Royal Rumble Match
(Announced entrants via WWE.com are: Shayna Baszler, Alexa Bliss, Peyton Royce, Bianca Belair, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Tamina, Natalya and more.)
Alex: Whereas most of this show will focus on established talent and stars of the past, I think this rumble match will be the launching pad for a new star. And that star’s name is Bianca Belair.
I am a big fan of her. I like the way she wrestles, she has the look of a star and an athlete, she has a killer finisher, and she looks like she knows what the hell she’s doing way more often than not. In previous Big Four PPVs, Belair was featured prominently and looked good. And I think now’s the time to really pull the trigger on her and elevate her to the main-event level.
Aside from Belair winning, I have a few other predictions:
- Nix Jax will do the typical ‘roar spot’ leading to like seven people eliminating her from the match
- Lita will make a surprise return
- Mickie James will make a surprise appearance and duke it out with (another surprise entrant) Beth Phoenix
- Becky Lynch will show up; not to wrestle, but to call the match
- Five NXT Women will appear, but only to fill out the numbers: Shotzi Blackheart, Raquel Gonzalez, Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, and Io Shirai
- Io will fight with Asuka
- Bianca Belair and Dana Brooke will have a brief ‘competition’ of ‘who can press slam more people’, and Bianca will win
- Bayley will get eliminated by someone and will re-enter illegally and eliminate them
- Charlotte will be #30, because of course she will
- This will be a decent match, provided they don’t pull another stupid swerve at the end because the winner is too predictable.
Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Bianca Belair
Most Eliminations: Bianca Belair
Final Four: Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Beth Phoenix
Winner: Bianca Belair
Lance: My entire prediction section here will be based on the fact that Ronda Rousey doesn’t make an appearance. If she does, she would be my favorite to win. Now, on to the absolutes. I do have a few women that could make the next step and it make sense.
Bianca Belair: I think she has the most to gain from winning this match. Obviously, it does good for anyone, but Belair seems like someone primed to break out. While she hasn’t done a whole bunch on the main roster thus far, I think the company is behind her and the fans would be too if she wins here. She has the look and the mic skills and how the women’s division has evolved, she will be around for the foreseeable future.
Charlotte Flair: What can be said here that hasn’t already been pounded in the ground. She is already going to go down as one of the best women’s wrestlers ever and has a Rumble win under her belt already, but Steve Austin has three so that shouldn’t matter much. I think Charlotte has all the tools to continue to perform at a high level for the foreseeable future and as much flack as she seems to get, I think the product is better when she is there.
Rhea Ripley: Belair and Ripley being a couple of favorites in a Rumble match should show you what the company thinks about them. Ripley was on fire for the last year or so, but did take some time off during the pandemic. A Ripley win would just sort of feel fresh to me, like someone who maybe hasn’t been featured much, but a win shouldn’t shock anyone. Either way, a good finish to this match would do nothing but wonders for her.
Bayley: I put Bayley here because I think she was one of the most protected characters over the past year and WWE has proven that they put a lot of stock into her character. A Bayley win I don’t think would stun anyone, but I think she has the longest shot out of the other three I have covered. Either way, I think Bayley has a real shot to win this thing, and go on to wrestle for the title at WrestleMania.
What I will say with these 4 picks is that all bets are off if Ronda Rousey is actually in the Rumble. I would pick her to win. With that uncertainty though, I think they go with a woman that is on the rise, so for me, it would be down to Ripley or Belair. I will give the nod to Belair because she seems like the more over of the two, though Ripley is right on her heels. Also, if I see a Bella Twin here, I will not be happy about it.
Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Bianca Belair
Most Eliminations: Nia Jax
Final Four: Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, Rhea Ripley, Bayley (Pending no Rousey sighting)
Winner: Bianca Belair
John: I have no idea how many Royal Rumble previews I have written over the last 20 years. It's probably 15 or more. The format I like to use is going with some point form style notes, so that's what I'm doing here as well.
* Rhea Ripley is my pick for the woman that enters at 1 or 2 and also eliminates the most women in the match. I think Ripley could win too, but there are others that make more sense. By putting Ripley in the spot where she lasts the longest and eliminates the most women, it puts her over in a big way without winning the match.
* Bayley seems like a good choice to last until the final four especially since she has a rivalry with Bianca Belair.
* I expect the great Mickie James to be in the match. I would love to see Melina in the match as well. I'd love to see those two good friends become a regular tag team in WWE moving forward because WWE needs more women tag teams. Beth Phoenix has been in a few of themes women's Rumbles, so maybe she'll be part of this too.
* I don't expect Becky Lynch or Ronda Rousey to be in the match. It wouldn't shock me if one or both of them are wrestling at WrestleMania, though.
* Hopefully Naomi is back here. I know she has been out for a few months with an injury, but I haven't heard much about her progress. Naomi has had plenty of memorable moments in Royal Rumble matches in the past, so I hope she's back out there.
* Lacey Evans will eliminate Charlotte Flair after Ric Flair shows up at ringside to distract his own daughter and maybe even pull on Charlotte's arm to cause the elimination. It's Charlotte Flair. You know they can't book her to lose clean.
* I think Nia Jax will eliminate Shayna Baszler after they work together for part of the match. They shouldn't get along anymore.
* I'm really torn between two women as the winner: Bianca Belair and Alexa Bliss. I was definitely going with Belair as of a few weeks, but then WWE started booking Bliss as something of a no-selling female version of The Fiend. I think Belair makes more sense as the winner, so I'm going with her, but if Bliss wins it wouldn't surprise me. I just think Belair needs it more while a gimmick like Bliss doesn't really need to get this kind of push.
* If Bianca Belair wins then I think she'll get rid of Nia Jax first and then Bayley to win the match. There should be a three-minute showdown between Belair and Bayley as the final two women in the match.
Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Rhea Ripley
Most Eliminations: Rhea Ripley with 6.
Final Four: Bianca Belair, Bayley, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Winner: Bianca Belair
Men's Royal Rumble Match
(Announced entrants via WWE.com are: Edge, Jeff Hardy, Jey Uso, Cesaro, The Miz, Otis, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Big E, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sheamus, John Morrison, Mustafa Ali, Braun Strowman, Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio, King Corbin and more.)
Alex: I think Edge will win the Rumble match. And this is because of WWE’s (in my opinion, twisted) philosophy that emphasizes creating ‘moments’ over matches. Last year we got a pretty exciting and jaw-dropping return from Edge, who then went on to wrestle at least two more matches. Now, there’s a narrow window for Edge to achieve some sort of catharsis by winning the Rumble and main-eventing at WrestleMania. It’s now-or-never for Edge; he has one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything he has ever wanted. WWE will milk this ‘feel-good’ story for all its worth, leading to a heroic comeback that will see Edge face Goldberg in the main-event of WrestleMania in ‘the battle of the Spears’.
Aside from that, here are some additional predictions:
- Daniel Bryan will last until the final two, before being eliminated by Edge
- R-Truth will make a surprise appearance, get eliminated quickly, will lose the 24/7 title as a result, and will then regain it soon after
- The Hurt Business will dominate much of the match until Braun Strowman makes a surprise appearance
- Bobby Lashley, in particular, will shine in this match with many eliminations
- The Fiend will pull a Mick Foley and eliminate Orton (and himself) from the match
- Kofi Kingston will do some crazy stunt to avoid elimination. My guess is it will involve the screens used in the Thunderdome
- Damian Priest will make his main roster debut and will get a handful of early eliminations
- Overall, it will be a good Rumble match, but probably won’t be as good as past Rumbles because it’ll be the first one without Pat Patterson.
Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Daniel Bryan
Most Eliminations: Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley
Final Four: Daniel Bryan, Bobby Lashley, Edge and AJ Styles
Lance: I believe that this will be the coming-out party for Big E. It has been rumored for months that he is in line for a big push and what better way to put a bow on top than with a rumble victory. I think that he would be a great challenger for Reigns at WrestleMania, and that he is ready for the spotlight. I also think there may be some storyline progression, The Fiend and Orton being chief of them, within the match. With that being said, I did have a few other guys to keep our eyes on.
Daniel Bryan: I think a Rumble win for him is long overdue. If we rewind all the way to the Rumble before WrestleMania XXX, we know that Bryan found his way into the Main Event even though he should have just won the Rumble. He has been bringing up retirement more and moreover the past few months, and this would be a way to send him off on a good note. He still had a lot left in the tank and I think Bryan in another WrestleMania main event would be a great send off to a great career.
Keith Lee: The big man has been getting some love since being brought up to the main roster. He immediately went into a feud with Randy Orton and was on TV regularly ever since, up until recently that is. He is better in the ring than some other guys in the company and it seems like he is getting a full head of steam. The real question with him will be do they believe in him enough to put him in the main event of Mania? I think so, but I don’t work in the creative room either. All of that aside, I think a final four finish still does some good for him.
Edge: He has been sidelined with a torn triceps injury for most of 2020, but it has been announced that he will be back. Should they have kept it a secret? I am in both camps. It’s good to announce it so it has eyes on the show, and he was a surprise last year at the same event. It would have been a nice surprise though for sure. Edge is a veteran of this match, and if the idea is putting him in a title match again, this would be the perfect spot to do it.
Big E: Which brings us to the star of the match. Big E has really cemented his place in WWE and was easily one of the standouts in The New Day. When they broke the team up and Big E was on his own on Smackdown, the writing was on the wall. Big E has arrived as the Intercontinental Champion and I think a Rumble win would be huge for him. He would go on to face Reigns at WrestleMania and I think that match will be epic. I am a big fan of any of these guys winning, but this one makes the most sense.
This match will also have some other spots that will be memorable, like most years. Obviously, we will probably get some surprises. Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman come to mind right off the bat. Will there be some veterans entering? I don’t know if I am willing to go there or not. There are some dark horses as well such as Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, or Bobby Lashley. I love how unpredictable this year might actually be. Let's just hope the story that came out about the “scary” ending to the match won’t be something that turns people away. This has the potential to be a memorable match and with the right pieces falling into place, it could go over huge with the fans. Let’s hope they keep it that way.
Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: AJ Styles
Most Eliminations: Big E
Final Four: Edge, Keith Lee, Daniel Bryan, Big E (I could also see Jeff Hardy)
Winner: Big E
John: This isn't like last year's men's Royal Rumble when Drew McIntyre was an obvious choice and the right choice. There are a lot of options here.The same style for the men's match with the point-form thoughts.
* I would love to see a guy like Intercontinental Champion Big E or Keith Lee win the match. I just don't think they are going to get that kind of push right now. One of them could make it to the final four.
* I don't think John Cena will be in the match or at the show. I think he's a lock for WrestleMania, though.
* Brock Lesnar might be in the match, but I'm not really sure. If I had to guess then I would say no. If he is then he'll be at WrestleMania. However, maybe Lesnar sits out this year. I don't really know.
* The US Champion Bobby Lashley will probably dominate some of the match, but I expect him to be eliminated by Riddle to continue that rivalry.
* There might be some NXT guys in the match. I expect Damian Priest to be in there and to be on Raw or Smackdown regularly after the Royal Rumble as well. Priest will probably get a few eliminations since he's a bigger guy.
* I expect Rey and Dominik Mysterio to eliminate King Corbin together.
* Randy Orton will be one of the final eight guys or so, then the lights will slowly go out in the arena, The Fiend's image will appear on the video screen, Orton will get distracted by it and then Edge will throw Orton out. I expect Orton vs. Fiend in a match at WrestleMania. It's also possible that The Fiend is in the Rumble match too, but I think if he's just there to distract Orton then that's fine too.
* I think Seth Rollins will be in the match as a surprise entrant since he has been off for two months following the birth of his daughter. I'm interested to see if he's still in the heel role or if he might be more of a face. I'm guessing he'll still be a heel. I have Rollins lasting until the final four.
* I want to see Edge vs. AJ Styles at WrestleMania, so I would have Edge eliminate Styles. Moments after, Styles should distract Edge and some heel like Bobby Lashley can eliminate Edge with help from Styles. From there, the issues can build between Edge and Styles, which lead to them having their first match ever at WrestleMania. Sounds good to me.
* Daniel Bryan has had the most promo time out of anybody in this match I think. I expect him to make it to the final four for sure and maybe the final two. If he wins, I'll be genuinely happy for my favorite male wrestler in the company.
* I think the two major title matches at WrestleMania will be Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Title against Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns defending the Universal Title against Daniel Bryan. I think if one of those matches is a multi-man match then maybe Brock Lesnar will be added to the WWE Title match. I thought this before Braun Strowman showed up on Smackdown this week. Look at it from a logical standpoint. Strowman was kept off TV since after Survivor Series in part because of a minor knee injury. They could have brought him back to TV earlier in the month, but they chose to keep him out of action. Strowman signed a huge contract extension less than two years ago and is in the best shape of his life. I can totally see Vince McMahon, a promoter that loves pushing big guys, getting behind Strowman in a major way by putting him in a potential WrestleMania main event against Drew McIntyre. It's a fresh match that could be pretty good too.
Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Daniel Bryan
Most Eliminations: Braun Strowman with 5.
Final Four: Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Keith Lee, Seth Rollins
Winner: Braun Strowman
Before we get to the bonus topics, here's the always awesome Royal Rumble By The Numbers video. It's really good as usual.
The Match I'm Looking Forward To The Most
Alex: The men’s Royal Rumble match. It’s my favorite WWE match of the year.
Lance: Men’s Royal Rumble Match. So many storylines that can be concluded and started just with this match. Always a favorite.
John: Men’s Royal Rumble match for me. I think in past years I might have said the women’s match, but I think the men’s match is more unpredictable this year. I’m intrigued to see who emerges as the stars of that match.
The Match I Care About The Least
Alex: The women’s tag team title match. It’s a tertiary title that just isn’t defended in exciting matches.
Lance: Drew McIntyre vs. Bill Goldberg.
John: Asuka and Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax due to the poor build.
Alex: The men’s Rumble match. Since they can manipulate crowd noise they’ll stretch this one out the most. It’ll probably go around 70 minutes.
Lance: Men’s Royal Rumble.
John: Men’s Royal Rumble match going about 65 minutes.
Alex: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella. I’d be genuinely surprised if this went more than ten minutes.
Lance: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella.
John: Drew McIntyre vs. Bill Goldberg. Whenever there’s a Goldberg match on a card, that’s my answer. He’s old and he’s not having a long match. I’ll go with about seven minutes for it.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
Alex: 8 - I haven’t been this excited for a WWE PPV in months. Unfortunately, my excitement isn’t based on the compelling storylines or interesting rivalries that WWE have produced (since these are virtually non-existent). Instead, I’m excited for the Rumble match itself. It’s the one time per year when my often outlandish and highly unrealistic predictions and ideas come closest to becoming reality. And this year, with WWE’s roster in sore need of a new star to break off from the pack, I think WWE will use this Rumble as a launching pad for at least one of them, just like they did with Drew McIntyre last year.
Lance: I am always going to be high on the Rumble, so I will go with a 7.5 here. I think both Rumble matches have some good potential to be really good. I also think the Reigns and Owens match will be something I will thoroughly enjoy. I really don’t want to see Goldberg back and if what I think will happen actually does, I am not on board. Overall, though, it should be a solid show.
John: I'll go 7.5 because I'm always excited about the Royal Rumble matches and I think Reigns/Owens will be another awesome match between them. My interest level in the McIntyre/Goldberg match is low and if Goldberg wins, that's really going to depress me for a few minutes anyway. I think both women's matches aren't that exciting because they are rematches of matches we have seen recently. I think the Rumble matches are going to be hurt by not having fans in the building, but that isn't the fault of anybody. Blame a f'n virus for that. I like that the men's Rumble match is unpredictable with a lot of winners that make sense. The women's match could be big for somebody like Bianca Belair unless they decide to put a former champion over. I'm intrigued to see how both Rumble matches are booked.
On a final note, if something happens that really upsets you, just remember there is still Elimination Chamber in February and Fastlane in March. There's still a very good chance that somebody that failed to the win Royal Rumble will end up in a huge match at WrestleMania because of a big win at one of those shows. It happens every year, yet fans seem to act like the Rumble is the only show that leads to WrestleMania. Sure, the Rumble means more, but in a company with so many shows and so many titles, there is always another way.
John: I’ll be back with a review of WWE Royal Rumble on TJRWrestling.net on Sunday night. It will be live, so check that out during the show or after it’s over.
You can also tweet me @johnreport or Lance @Collectiveheel with any comments as well.
If you want to send an email, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Thanks for reading.