WWE will present the Royal Rumble this Sunday live from the Alamo Dome, and officially kick off the Road to Wrestlemania. The Rumble itself is always one of the company’s most anticipated shows each year. With one of the most stacked match cards to date, here’s a look at and prediction for each matchup.
Rich Swan (c) vs Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship: After the spectacle that was the Cruiserweight Classic, the cruiserweight centered show "205 Live" has been less than desired. Things started to look up, however, when superstar Neville made his shocking return from injury, turned heel and made his intentions for the Cruiserweight Championship clear.
A Neville title reign might just be what "205 Live" needs to get back on the up and up.
Charlotte Flair (c) vs Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley will win the Raw Women’s Championship…it just won’t be on Sunday.
This particular feud has been a refreshing change of pace from the back and forth, title flopping debacle that was Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks. Bayley is the lovable fan favorite underdog, and Charlotte Flair has an undefeated title win streak at PPV’s.
This will be an entertaining match for sure. Just don’t expect Bayley to start her title reign until ‘Mania.
Prediction: Charlotte Flair
AJ Styles (c) vs John Cena for the WWE Championship: Last year, the “Phenomenal” AJ Styles shocked the WWE Universe when he entered the Royal Rumble match at number three, effectively debuting in the company and putting the locker room on notice that “They don’t want none.”
It took less than a year for Styles to secure his hold on the WWE’s top prize. The “Champ that runs the camp” now finds himself once again facing the “face that runs the place” John Cena, who seeks his record-tying 16th world championship.
Styles has had a solid reign with the championship for the last several months, but all clues point to that ending here. Look for the Cenation leader to make history
Prediction: John Cena
Kevin Owens (c) vs Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship w/ Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage: Probably the gimmickiest match on the card. Just read the sub-header.
Kevin Owens defends his title with his “best friend” hanging high above his head, seemingly removing any possibility that Jericho could influence the match’s decision. This probably means that Jericho will once again have some impact on the match finish. Unfortunately for Owens, it’s a likely bet that the WWE will give the title to Reigns in an effort to reestablish the push that the company seems so determined to give him. With rumors of a pending Owens / Jericho ‘Mania match up, look for Jericho to wiggle his way out of the cage and cost Owens his title.
Prediction: Roman Reigns
The Royal Rumble: For the last several years, the Rumble has been fairly predictable when determining its winner. This year’s result is much foggier to predict, though it can be narrowed down a little.
The match’s biggest draws are by far Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, however instead of victory it is much more likely that Goldberg and Lesnar eliminate each other from the match in some shape or form, setting up their third and final clash at Wrestlemania. Recent cracks in the Wyatt Family foreshadow a feud between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, so they’re out. Samoa Joe is anticipated to make his call up debut from NXT and receive a major push, but it’s unlikely that he’d get the immediate nod for the title opportunity.
Surprise entrants could include recently announced Hall of Fame Inductee Kurt Angle, NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, or even New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kenny Omega (though the latter is probably unlikely), however surprise entrants usually just serve the purpose of easy crowd pops.
Most likely, it’ll come down to two men: either Braun Stroman or The Undertaker.
A Stroman push has been teased for a while now. Though Stroman is still very obviously green in some areas, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has a reputation for promoting and pushing “big men.”
Undertaker is rumored to retire at the end of the year. This upcoming Wrestlemania will likely be his retirement match. A ‘Mania clash with company face John Cena has been rumored for a few years now, so if the above prediction for the WWE Championship match proves true, it might be safe to expect the Deadman to come out on top.
That being said, with SmackDown exclusive PPV Elimination Chamber being held before ‘Mania and a WWE Title match already announced for the show, expect a Raw Superstar, notably Stroman, to stand victorious in the Rumble.
Prediction: Braun Stroman