This Sunday, the post-shakeup RAW and SmackDown rosters will head into battle at the 32nd annual Royal Rumble PPV.
We’re not paid by the hour so let’s get right to it. Here are our predictions.
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
BUDDY MURPHY (C) Vs AKIRA TOZAWA Vs KALISTO Vs HIDEO ITAMI
Buddy Murphy surprised everyone when he put in the performance of a lifetime in Saudi Arabia to become Cruiserweight Champion, and in fairness, to WWE they’ve kept him looking strong ever since. This is an important time for the flagship belt of 205 Live, especially as there is talk that the show may be dropped after WrestleMania so playing hot potato with the gold will only cheapen it moving forward. At the Royal Rumble, this could be a real show stealer if given the right amount of time. It’s just a shame it’ll likely play out on the pre-show. Our prediction? Murphy retains.
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
THE BAR (C) Vs SHANE MCMAHON & THE MIZ
Let’s be honest. The only reason there’s even a Shane McMahon and Mike ‘The Miz’ tag team right now is so that WWE has a match in place for ‘Shane O’ come WrestleMania. Before the pair can get there though they need to work together as a cohesive unit – otherwise when the split comes a few weeks down the line it’ll flop. Winning (and then losing) the SmackDown Tag Team Championships is inevitable.
WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
RUSEV (C) Vs SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
It’s crazy to think that Nakamura won last years Royal Rumble match. Since then he’s i) beaten Rusev ii) lost repeatedly to AJ Styles iii) turned heel and iv) vanished from television. Oh yeah, he did win the United States title last year too, but it was so forgettable we can’t even remember who he defeated. This is NOT good. Nakamura is excellent, easily one of the very best performers the WWE has on its roster, and we’ll be amazed if he renews his deal when his contract expires.
All that being said, Rusev and Nakamura have heat and work well together so at least he’s in a high profile match, even if he’s guaranteed to lose.
DANIEL BRYAN (C) Vs AJ STYLES
There was a rumour circulating that despite being impressed with Bryan’s recent Heel antics, Vince McMahon was looking to get the WWE Championship back on to AJ Styles. If this happens then the whole Real Daniel Bryan shtick has been for nothing. He needs to retain and then have someone upend him on the big stage of WrestleMania.
SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
ASUKA (C) Vs BECKY LYNCH
WWE finds themselves in an odd predicament here. Firstly, they’ve realised the error of their ways and rebuilt Asuka into a killing machine, but as her first title defence they’ve put her one-on-one with the most popular wrestler in the whole of WWE; Becky freaking Lynch!
This is a lose-lose situation if you ask us. You can either make Asuka look weak (again) or have your hottest act staring at the lights, in spite of her mind-blowing popularity. The only possible outcome must be Asuka retaining just so Lynch can go on to win the Rumble.
BROCK LESNAR (C) Vs FINN BALOR
Our hats are off to WWE for making us care about Finn Balor again these last few weeks. That’s not to say we’re not already card-carrying members of the Balor Club, it’s just that he’s been something of a none-entity for so long it’s almost insane to think he’s in the main event of one of the biggest PPV’s on the WWE calendar.
If WWE is truly going to shake things up this year, then they MUST have Balor go over. He’s going to look like a million dollars even in defeat, but who wants a part-time champion AGAIN in the build to WrestleMania 35?
Hey, if in doubt bring out The Demon!
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
RONDA ROUSEY (C) Vs SASHA BANKS
Let’s be honest. The Ronda Rousey train is losing momentum quickly. She’s a heck of an athlete and can put on some really strong performances inside the ring, but she’s incredibly boring and wooden. If she’s hanging around after WrestleMania then she needs to be put with a serious mouthpiece. For now, though, she’ll just have another great match with Sasha Banks and then head on over to the WrestleMania main event.
30-MAN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
We still don’t know the full list of names entered into the 2019 men’s Royal Rumble, but rest assured there are going to be some surprises. There is absolutely no way that WWE won’t have approached some top names who may just have had their heads turned by AEW, offering them a glimmer of a shot at the big time once more.
These could include Alberto Del Rio, as well as former champions like Kurt Angle, RVD, Dave Batista or The Undertaker. Elsewhere, names like Goldust could be brought off the injury list to compete – even though he must be counting the days until he can work with his little brother. It’s likely too early for either Kevin Owens or Sami Zayn to return, which is a shame.
What about surprises from outside the WWE? Well, it’s strongly rumoured that Kushido is making the leap from New Japan. It’s probably highly unlikely we’ll be seeing Kenny Omega though.
Prediction: It seems fairly obvious. If Balor loses then expect Seth Rollins to win the Rumble and then finally put an end to Lesnar at WrestleMania 35.
30-WOMAN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
Last year’s women’s Royal Rumble was so-much-fun, but there’s only so long WWE can live off the nostalgia pops of former talents. If Trish Stratus comes out again this year for example, yeah she’ll look great, and yeah the audience will cheer, but unless she’s sticking around then the audience will grow to expect it every year.
This year Vince needs to bring back some other former talents that people haven’t seen in a while. Victoria would be a good shout, so would Alundra Blayze! Heck, even Kharma might work.
Prediction: Becky Lynch is a surprise entrant after losing to Asuka. She’ll win to set up the dream main-event against Rousey.
Who are your picks to win this year’s Royal Rumble matches? Let us know in the comments, or over on Twitter and Facebook using the tag #TBGWWE