Rejoice one and all! It’s Royal Rumble time again!
I don’t think it would be surprising for me to say that the Royal Rumble is perhaps my favourite Pay-Per-View of the year. The nature of the stipulation means that it’s always a really fun match to watch, even when it’s not actually all that good in terms of quality. It also means we’re going to finally start to get an idea of where the company is headed for Wrestlemania this year, as it seems management is leaving their decisions a lot later than usual this year.
As it stands, I’ve not been following the world of wrestling as closely as I normally do this past month; and that goes double for Raw & Smackdown. I don’t know whether it’s just the hecticness that comes with restarting everything following the holiday season, but either way, I’ve done my best to catch myself up so I can get predicting!
Shorty G vs Sheamus
It’s been a little while since his return now and I still can’t work out if I’m excited to see Sheamus or not.
I thought he was absolutely fantastic with Cesaro as one half of The Bar and absence does make the heart grow fonder, but I’ve never really cared for him as a singles star, especially when he’s running through guys I enjoy watching more, which is unfortunately where I think this one is going.
I think this match has the potential to be a fun one though, Gable tends to have great chemistry with bigger guys and as long as he’s not booked to be totally annihilated by Sheamus here, he should look pretty impressive in defeat. I think I’ve made it pretty clear already, but I’m picking Sheamus to win here. Sheamus has just returned and looks to be starting out a tear, it’s possible that Shorty G could sneak a rollup win and enrage Sheamus, but that just seems like taking the long way round to the same destination.
Andrade(c) vs Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)
As was expected when Lesnar moved over to Raw, the United States title has suddenly become a much more heavily featured title on the red brand, however, I can’t say I’m thrilled by this being the match that makes it onto Pay-Per-View.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Humberto Carrillo, but we saw him unsuccessfully fight Styles for the title so recently that I don’t feel like he’s built up enough credibility in order to be challenging for the title again and I highly doubt he’ll be winning it. I’m confident it’ll be a fairly enjoyable watch, since these are two guys that have similar styles, unfortunately, I think it’s probably going to land on the pre-show, meaning it likely won’t get the time it needs to be properly special.
Either way, Andrade is leaving with the title in tow, he just had a big (but rather condensed) feud for it with Mysterio and I think doing a quick switch over to Carrillo would squander this new-found credibility Andrade has built up for himself; and ultimately, I value Andrade’s credibility more than I do Carrillo’s at this point.
Roman Reigns vs King Corbin
(Falls Count Anywhere)
Oh yeah, this feud.
After TLC gave us exactly the crap we expected, I can’t say I’m all that optimistic about this match’s prospects. With The Usos recent return and Reigns & Corbin’s entries in the Royal Rumble match later in the night, I would’ve preferred to see some sort of 6-man tag match instead of another one on one affair. That said, if TV this month is anything to go by, it’s likely this will devolve into another clusterfuck anyway.
After Corbin got the win last month, I’d like to say picking Reigns to win here was an easy decision, but given that Reigns is one of the top contenders to win the Rumble this year, WWE might want to cast doubt on his ability to compete before appearing in the match; not to mention, if anyone’s going to inexplicably win for no real reason, it’s King Corbin. I’m sticking to my guns though and saying Roman Reigns picks up the win here, perhaps with a post-match beatdown in order to cast that doubt I was talking about.
Bayley(c) vs Lacey Evans
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
Wait really? A heel vs heel ma- wait, what do you mean Lacey Evans is a face now, that can’t be right…*furiously checks notes* Well I’ll be…
Having watched a lot of Lacey’s efforts as a face, I can’t say I’m all that convinced and neither are the crowds. Bayley & Sasha have done as good a job as they can to get heat by going after Lacey’s daughter, but I just don’t have any motivation to care about Lacey after spending most of the year as a heel who always loses and turning face without anyone even realising it for a couple of weeks.
Lacey’s definitely improved as a performer since her matches with Becky earlier in the year, but I’m still not overly confident this match is going to be all that great. Bayley’s title matches always tend to be the ones that get cut short and on a PPV like the Rumble, where we’ve got to squeeze in two separate hour-long matches, I don’t think this one is going to get the time it really needs to be more than mediocre.
As for a winner, it’s gonna be Bayley, I’d say this was an easy pick regardless because I don’t see Lacey Evans picking up a title this close to Wrestlemania. Additionally, there’s the fact to consider that Lacey beat Bayley clean on Smackdown in a non-title match and wrestling logic dictates there’s absolutely no way she’s winning on Sunday.
Becky Lynch(c) vs Asuka
(Raw Women’s Championship)
Ok, so apparently Royal Rumble 2020, just copied Royal Rumble 2019’s homework.
Not that I’m complaining though, this match was brilliant last year and I expect it to be brilliant this year too. I also think there’s a much better story going into the match this year, the whole thread of Asuka being the one person Becky’s never beat is something I wasn’t expecting to come up but they’ve used it to good effect and manages to make Becky seem like an underdog, which is something I haven’t felt about her since this time last year.
Unfortunately, the outcome of this match is a lot more predictable than last year, since it’s pretty clear that whatever the planned match is for Wrestlemania, it involved Becky Lynch going in as champion. As I said, I’m sure this match will be great and give us that reminder of why we all route so hard for Asuka to succeed, but I would be very surprised if Lynch didn’t get her win back in this one.
The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) vs Daniel Bryan
Oh, so Royal Rumble 2020 also copied Royal Rumble 2014’s homework? I guess there are worse events to copy.
While I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of their Survivor Series match, I found the action itself to be a bit disappointing. I know now that it was necessary to tell this story to its full potential, but it felt quite one-sided and boring until The Fiend suddenly won out of nowhere. However, now that the story has been told, I’m confident this match will be different from the previous one.
In the past month, Daniel Bryan has once again been able to evolve his character even further than he did in 2018 and despite being the underdog babyface again, he feels like a very different person to the one that faced off against Wyatt before, both in 2014 and from a couple of months ago. As such, I’m hoping that this match will be a lot more competitive, creating a feeling of two equals competing, instead of one man kicking ass until he suddenly gets murdered.
A strap match is a bit of a weird wrinkle to add to the feud. I get why thematically it makes sense, but it still feels a bit out of nowhere and I can’t help but feel like it will hamper both men’s ability to person at their best. I know there’s plenty that can still be done with the formula, but it’s one of those matches where pretty much every spot needs to involve the strap in some way because WWE thinks we’re idiots.
That said, I don’t think the outcome is going to be any different from the previous two times we saw this match. The Fiend is still easily the most popular male wrestler in WWE right now and for him to be defeated here would feel like a huge anti-climax to its story. The match might be a lot closer than last time, but the outcome will be the same, with The Fiend Bray Wyatt holding the Universal Championship aloft.
Women’s Royal Rumble
This is the first women’s Rumble without a clear cut story going into it. With Asuka’s win, it was pretty obvious to most people that she was going to win and last year, although we weren’t sure whether it would actually BE Becky, we knew that story would be a huge factor in the winner of the match. This year though, there’s no such speculation to be found and it’s a bit of an open field in regards to who could win.
Since it would be a waste of everyone’s time for me to rundown all 30 entrants, I’m going to cover the 4 or 5 names that are currently being thrown around the IWC as potential winners and comment on what I think of their chances.
Sasha Banks – One of the longest standing rumours for Wrestlemania matches this year has been a 4-way match between all of the 4 horsewomen, which is something I definitely want to soo and Sasha winning the Rumble would certainly get us on that road. However, given how Sasha has been booked since her return, I’m not sure it would work, Sasha could easily go after Becky, with Bayley backing her up, but given that Charlotte is currently a face, I can’t see how she’d force her way into the match, so I’m saying no to Sasha winning.
Ronda Rousey – This one is pretty unlikely, but more unlikely things have happened in Royal Rumbles before. Ever since she left last April, people have been trying to anticipate when Rousey will return to get her rematch with Becky and this seems as good of a place as any. Given what Rousey has been saying in recent interviews about trying to organise a work/family balance it seems like she’s still in a stage of working out what she wants to do, so I think it’s going to be at least another 6 months or so before we see her back in WWE, but you never know…
Becky Lynch OR Bayley – Ok, this one is actually just me throwing my own theory out there, but hey, why not? Becky has all the motivation in the world to want to go after Bayley’s Smackdown women’s title, since Becky never got her rematch when Charlotte took the title from her in May, not to mention Bayley attacked Becky a few months ago when she officially turned heel. As for Bayley, it makes all the sense in the world for her to try and go for the double gold in order to prove she’s just as good of a champion as Becky, that was the whole theme of their Survivor Series feud.
Out of all of the candidates I’m discussing, this is the one I think is the least likely, but I’d certainly be excited if it happened.
Shayna Baszler – This is the most popular theory currently going around and if we’re speaking purely in terms of what I want to happen, I’m fully behind it. Baszler proved that she’s a big deal at Survivor Series and it’s clear that she and Becky still have unfinished business from that match. In addition to this, Baszler is a ready-made star from her run in NXT and this would launch her right into the main event scene.
Charlotte Flair –It’s going to be this one isn’t it? I don’t think many people will disagree with me that Charlotte Flair is bound to win a Royal Rumble at some point in her career, so why not this year? If the horsewomen 4 way is going to be the Mania match, then I think Charlotte winning the Rumble is the best way to go about setting it up. Have Charlotte go after Becky, only for Bayley and Sasha to heelishly get themselves involved, or something along those lines.
I really hope that Shayna is the one to win, but I don’t have the confidence to pick her, so I’m choosing the safe option and picking Charlotte Flair to win her first Royal Rumble.
Men’s Royal Rumble
My view on this match is much the opposite to the women’s Rumble because as much as there are a couple of people with an outside chance, I honestly think there’s only one real candidate to win this match, still, let’s discuss some others anyway.
Kevin Owens – While I think the chances of Owens winning this match are basically zero, I think it would be the most interesting person to win. Lesnar vs Owens is a money match and you’ve already got a match with Rollins lined up so that he doesn’t have to sit around a twiddle his thumbs because Lesnar refuses to do the February Pay-Per-View. It’s a massive shot in the dark, but if I had to pick who I wanted to win, Owens is my guy.
Seth Rollins – Pretty much just the flipside of the Owens argument, things going into Mania would look pretty similar, only with Rollins coming out victorious instead of Owens. I know we’ve already seen Lesnar vs Rollins twice, with Rollins winning both times, but if the dirt sheets are to be believed, WWE still doesn’t have much of an idea as who Lesnar’s opponent is going to be, so it’s all still up in the air as far as I’m concerned.
Cain Velasquez – Unfortunately, I think his match against Lesnar at Crown Jewel did some irreversible damage to Velasquez, at least in the short term, because I honestly don’t see him as any kind of threat. However, this is WWE and it wouldn’t surprise me if a full-length Lesnar vs Velasquez match ended up being the Wrestlemania plan and having a cross-over star, like Velasquez winning the Royal Rumble, would certainly make some headlines.
Brock Lesnar – Yeah, like Lesnar’s going to work a full hour. As he’s the WWE Champion, it would be just a tad counterproductive for him to win the Rumble, unless of course Lesnar vs The Fiend is what they have in mind, which I don’t think would be all that good of an idea. The general consensus from the IWC is that Lesnar is just in this match to set up a potential Mania match via whoever eliminates him from the match, which is a consensus that I agree with, there’s just no rationale for him winning.
Roman Reigns – It’s gotta be Reigns, right? What else is there for him to at Mania? The Fiend vs Reigns is a match that’s been rumoured since about September and it makes the most sense from a story perspective. Reigns is really the only face on Smackdown that’s higher up the totem pole that Daniel Bryan, so having The Fiend face anyone else would seem like an anti-climax. Not to mention, Reigns hasn’t even sniffed the world title scene since his triumphant return from his leukaemia in February, so I think it would be a great story to tell.
As for how the fans will react, it’s honestly hard to tell. Personally, I’ll be cheering if he wins, but the wrestling fan-base is a fickle one, so even if they’ve been pretty consistently cheering Roman Reigns since his return, they may suddenly turn on him if he’s going for a world title. I hope that doesn’t happen though because I think Reigns winning is the right move in the long-term.
So there you have it, those are my predictions for WWE’s Royal Rumble 2020! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please feel free to let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time next week, where I’ll be running down my rankings of Doctor Who Series 5! (For real this time, I promise).