The Best Opening Matches in WWE Pay-Per-View History

“If you can’t go on last, go on first”

The opening match of any wrestling show is arguably the most important of the whole night, while the main event is almost always the biggest, most important match of the show that everyone will be talking about the next day, the opening match is what sets the tone for the show going forward and often decides whether or not any given individual will keep watching the show the whole way through. As such, there have been plenty of absolute barn-burners and all-time classic matches that held the prestigious spot of being the first thing the live audience got to see.

To be clear here, I am not counting pre-show or dark matches in this list as these are usually put on before the full crowd has even entered the building and a large portion of the home viewing audience haven’t switched on. I’m instead referring to the first match to take place on the main portion of a WWE Pay-Per-View. This also means NXT Takeovers don’t count because let’s be honest, that wouldn’t be fair.

With that clarification made, let’s take a look at the best of these show openers.

10 – Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler – Bragging Rights 2010

Trust me, this isn’t the last time Daniel Bryan is going to appear on this list.

While the concept of Bragging Rights was one that would eventually bleed over into the annual Survivor Series event – and be much better off for it – looking back at the history of the two incarnations of the event, there was only ever one great match between the two of them and this was it.

Although the IWC (myself included) have all gotten a bit bored with Dolph Ziggler as a wrestler, there was once a time where he was one of the only bright stars in a sea of boring characters and dull wrestling matches. In fact, with the exception of CM Punk, it’s arguable that Bryan & Ziggler were the only two “internet darlings” in the company at the time so naturally, a clash between the two of them was always going to be something special.

What this match is, is two brilliant wrestlers that have flamboyant and exciting wrestling styles going at each other in a match that very rarely lets up to catch its breath. There are some slightly wonky elements, with Vickie Guerrero’s presence at ringside occasionally causing a break in the action and a weird non-finish where Ziggler got a three-count because the referee didn’t see Bryan’s foot on the rope, only for the decision to be waived off and the match continued.

Luckily, none of those issues stopped the match from having a healthy serving of quick back-and-forth action and near falls to ramp up the excitement and get the crowd on their feet for a show that, in the grand scheme of things, really wasn’t much to write home about.

9 – Brock Lesnar(c) vs Seth Rollins –   Wrestlemania 35
(Universal Championship)

This was more of a great moment than a match, however, a bell did ring, so it counts.

Wrestlemania 35 was a show full of crowd please, triumphant moments for the babyfaces and it made sure to spread them evenly throughout the show, this meant that when the show was just starting, we already had ourselves an exciting moment. After the US National Anthem played and Hulk Hogan was…there, Paul Heyman stormed to the ring and declared that if Brock Lesnar wasn’t going to be in the main event, then he was going to have his match now and get an early night.

It’s easy to forget now, but at this point, just about everyone was fully behind Seth Rollins as a babyface who was ready to slay the beast and finally take the Universal Championship away from Lesnar. WWE managed to not only pull it off brilliantly but do it in perhaps the most exciting way possible, with Lesnar beating down Rollins before he made a sudden comeback to pin the beast and win the title in just two and a half minutes.

Paralleling the moment from Wrestlemania 31 where he swiped the WWE Championship from under Brock Lesnar’s nose, Wrestlemania 35 opened up with Rollins swinging world title gold above his head in a moment that had me on my feet with excitement at home.

8 – The Miz(c) vs Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor – Wrestlemania 34
(Intercontinental Championship)

Triple threat matches on WWE PPVs can be a bit hit and miss depending on the participants involved. These kinds of matches need to be fast-paced and varied in their action, so when you’ve got a bunch of slow, lumbering guys in there it just doesn’t work, luckily, the three men in this match were quite the opposite. Rollins & Balor were allowed to completely let loose here, flying all over the place, keeping the excitement flowing the whole time.

The Miz couldn’t keep up with the pace of the other two, but he didn’t need to. Instead, The Miz was the perfect person to provide much more grounded action, stopping the whole thing from spiralling out of control with non-stop dives. The action between the three men had a nice sense of flow, with each combination of men in the ring had a slightly different feel to their fighting style.

There was a nice helping of storytelling in there too as The Miz attempted to renounce his evil ways (even if it didn’t last) sparing us from any interference by The Miztourage. As well as Balor & Rollins being so determined to one-up each other that at several occasions it almost allowed The Miz to slip away with the win. That didn’t happen though as eventually Seth Rollins came out the victor and spent the rest of 2018 in what I believe – from an in-ring standpoint at least – was the best year of his career so far.

7 – The Usos(c) vs The Wyatt Family – Battleground 2014
(WWE Tag Team Championships)
(2 out of 3 Falls)

A match that has been largely forgotten by time here and I can’t exactly say I blame people for that, I sure as shit can’t remember a single other thing that happened at Battleground 2014.

Looking back at 2014 today feels like looking into an alternate dimension, it’s all the wrestlers we know and love today, but not quite as we know them; case in point, The Usos. By mid-2014 I was fully into the world of WWE and I very vividly remember not giving much of a shit about The Usos. Their “tribal chanting” thing sat on the wrong side of goofy to me and, in all honesty, I didn’t see their appeal as wrestlers at all. This was the match that woke me up to the fact that these guys might actually be the amazing tag team we’ve seen over the past few years.

Pretty much everything I love about modern tag-team wrestling features in this match, the early stages where one team isolates the other didn’t last too long and once the match descended into chaos, it ebbed and flowed in such a way that allowed for natural peaks and troughs in the action that aligned with my energy levels as a viewer. The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation did wonders for the pace, allowing the action to slow all the way down at certain points before slowly building the energy and excitement up again.

I highlighted The Uso’s performance, but Harper & Rowan’s contributions to the match cannot be understated either. I know it’s common knowledge now, but at the time I didn’t realise how brilliant of a wrestler Luke Harper could be and Erick Rowan served his purpose as a slower big-guy too. The chemistry between the two teams was near-flawless and it’s one of those situations where everything came together to create a match that had just about all you could want from pure tag team wrestling.

6 – Bad News Barrett(c) vs Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan vs R-Truth vs Luke Harper vs Stardust – Wrestlemania 31
(Intercontinental Championship)
(Ladder)

Wrestlemania needs more of these, I mean, what else is the Cruiserweight title for these days?

Multi-man ladder matches are always pretty solid bets to get a crowd excited, but this one went above and beyond in terms of pure entertainment value. Everyone in this match served their own unique role that contributed to the break-neck pace of this match. You had Barrett coming in as the heel champion, Ambrose as the hungry challenger that isn’t afraid to get violent, Ziggler a face-technician that can bump like no-one else, Bryan who was making his big return and was beloved by everyone, Truth who was the comedy, Harper who was an all-rounder that could fill any role he needed to in the match and Stardust…who…well, let’s not talk about that.

When you’ve got such a huge variety of characters & wrestling styles colliding like this it’s always going to be an interesting watch and the action in this match was constant. There was very little room to breathe, but the amount of variety of people constantly coming in and out of the ring meant that it constantly felt like the match was being refreshed and doing something different. Just about everyone got a moment where they almost won the match and they were scattered through the match in just the right way to keep the tension rolling over with every single spot.

Speaking of spots, there’s just about every kind of ladder match spot you could want. We had people doing dives onto people and ladders; ladders would be sung around and smack people in the face; there was a big dive onto a sea of people and there was even a brutal looking powerbomb from the ring, to the outside, through a ladder. The finish was extremely crowd-pleasing, with Ziggler & Bryan fighting it out on the top until one of them fell to their doom and it kicked off Wrestlemania 31 with a massively crowd-pleasing win in the form of Daniel Bryan claiming his first reign with the Intercontinental Championship.

5 – Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt – Royal Rumble 2014

While this match is generally remembered as a great one, I think the feud surrounding it is incredibly strange. This feud happened slap-bang in the middle of Bryan’s ascension to the top of WWE and was very much during the phase where WWE was trying everything they could to make sure it didn’t happen. After Bryan suffered yet another disappointing loss to Randy Orton, he found himself under attack from The Wyatt Family. For some reason, CM Punk decided he’d help out and they got the win…so feud over right? Well, apparently not as Wyatt continued their assault, focusing on Bryan as CM Punk had to deal with The Shield.

This led to a 3 on 1 match at TLC where Bryan got destroyed and eventually a slightly interesting, but also slightly bungled, storyline developed where Bryan seemed to join the Wyatt Family. While the moment where Bryan finally broke free from Wyatt was fantastic and led to arguably the best “Yes!” chant in history, it was a bit weird how the entire thing just consisted of Bryan & Bray losing to The Usos for 3 weeks.

Regardless of that, it brought us to this match. A match that was fantastic.  Bray’s style at the time was less of the slow & brutal that we see with The Fiend nowadays, instead, being a lot more frantic and fast-paced; he would still take his time when he got the opportunity to pick his opponent apart, but there was a much greater feeling of urgency to things. This played perfectly for Bryan’s style which was also pretty fast but focussed more on being plucky than being heavy-handed.

On top of the action being top-notch, they hit on some great story beats referencing the entirety of their rivalry up until that point. It had so many of those little touches that we only ever expect to see in NXT Takeover matches these days. Not only did this match help the rise of Bryan’s popularity amongst the fanbase, but it also put Bray Wyatt on the map in terms of the fans seeing him as a brilliant wrestler that could hang with all of their indie darlings.

4 – The New Day(c) vs The Usos – Hell in a Cell 2017
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Hell in a Cell)

Easily one of the best feuds of the past five years, this match was just one of the series of incredible bouts these two teams put on throughout 2017 and into early 2018 and this was arguably the best of the bunch.

By this point in 2017, The New Day and The Usos had wrestled each other on TV & PPV countless times and at face value, it would seem like that’s a recipe for disaster. Normally in WWE, when a feud lasts as long as this one did, people get bored of it and their later matches are met with indifference regardless of how good they actually are (see the Reigns vs Corbin feud from late 2019/early 2020 for proof of this). So, these two teams had to find a way to get p[eople to turn their heads and care about the fact that they’re fighting on PPV for the 4th time in the past year. Luckily, they were absolutely up to the task.

Up until this point in their feud, the two teams had done a great job of making each match feel slightly different in terms of its flow and rhythm, while still keeping up incredible action that got fans onto their feet. After rocking pre-shows and midcards for the better part of 6 months, these two teams were finally rewarded for their stellar work by getting the opportunity to create absolute magic, climaxing their now legendary feud in a Tag Team Hell in a Cell match for the ages.

Needless the say the action was damn-near flawless. Every movement in the match felt like it had so much thought and purpose behind it from the competitors. I often decry weapons matches as being boring, but the two teams here put the tools at their disposal to good use, scattering weapons in as exclamation points for the match, but never making them the focal point. Every inch of the cell was used to full effect and we saw some genuinely new and innovative spots like The New Day trapping one of the Usos in the corner of the cell by building a mini-prison out of kendo sticks. The Hell in a Cell stipulation is one that I think had been extremely played out at this point, but these guys did a fantastic job of finding fresh and interesting things to do with it.

The drama was also through the roof. From the moment the bell rang and the two teams start absolutely wailing on each other, there was so much intensity that absolutely did the epic scale of their feud justice. There were some truly ludicrous kickouts (in a good way) and the final segment where Xavier Woods tried his damndest to fend off both Usos while handcuffed is just brilliant and forged a sense of respect between the two teams that has lasted for years after the fact. Not to mention cemented both of these teams as two of the best tag teams on the planet.

3 – Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio – Summerslam 2002

See? I have watched wrestling outside of the past decade. Admittedly, it would’ve been hard to justify missing out what is undoubtedly an all-time classic Summerslam match.

Rey Mysterio had been in WWE for less than a month at this point and while the majority of the audience at the time knew who he was from his time at the forefront of WCW’s Cruiserweight Division, this was his first major opportunity to make a huge impact on the WWE and show that he was here to stay and hadn’t missed a beat since the WCW days. So, if you’ve got a highly-skilled technical wrestler who needs an opportunity to look great showing off everything they can do, who do you put them with? How about the greatest technical wrestler of the generation? Enter Kurt Angle.

Angle was coming off the back of an excellent feud with The Rock and The Undertaker going into Summerslam 2002 where he had often found himself the butt of the joke. He still got ample opportunity to look like a legitimate competitor, but the match at Vengeance treated him more like a third wheel, where his character elements are what really made him shine. So, this felt like a bit of a reset for his character, a newcomer had just shown up and handed him a loss and it was going to be his job to teach Mysterio a serious lesson, using his entire arsenal of fantastic wrestling.

It was a very simple story but it’s all the match needed. Mysterio was looking to prove himself against one of the best, while Angle was looking to protect his position in the company against a newcomer. What they put together in the match can only be described as a technical masterpiece. I used the term “back-and-forth” in my reviews a lot but this match really was the epitome of the term, as outside of Mysterio’s flurry at the beginning, neither man spent more than 90 seconds or so getting in offence at any single point in the match. There were constant counters, reversals and all kinds of interesting escapes that showed the full spectrum of what both men were capable of in the ring.

While it’s arguable that Mysterio should’ve won as he was the debuting superstar, as we can now say with the power of hindsight, the loss didn’t affect Mysterio’s star power at all in the long-run and the sheer quality of the match was enough to convince all of the fans who were still unconvinced that Mysterio was a top-tier competitor.

2 – Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – Wrestlemania 10

Even though Wrestlemania 10 ended with Bret Hart toppling Yokozuna to become WWF Champion, the moment that was ultimately be most remembered from that night is his loss in the opening contest to his brother Owen.

There was a lot of hype surrounding this match at the time of Wrestlemania 10. Things had been slowly building since the previous November, where Owen became distracted after accidentally knocking his brother off of the Apron in a Survivor Series elimination tag match, causing him to get eliminated. Owen would continuously ask his brother to face him in a match, but Bret kept refusing, not wanting to fight his brother. Eventually, Owen took matters into his own hands and attacked Bret at the Royal Rumble 1994 after the duo lost to The Quebecers.

After both Lex Luger and Bret Hart were declared joint winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble, a coin was tossed and it was determined that Luger would get his match with Yokozuna first at Wrestlemania 10, with Bret fighting the champion later in the night. In order to make it fair, Bret was forced to wrestle another match earlier on in the night and Owen was selected as his opponent.

As you’d imagine from wrestlers the calibre of Bret and Owen, two wrestlers who quite literally grew up training together, this match was virtually flawless. While it doesn’t look as flashy or as exciting as the kind of “masterpiece” matches we’ve come to expect today, I didn’t feel any less invested in this match than I do any NXT title bout. The psychology of the match is simple but incredibly effective as both of the brothers seem to have an answer for just about everything the other can throw at them. It’s so clear that they know each other in the ring better than any other wrestler ever possibly could.

The sly brutality of Owen as he maliciously targets Bret’s injured leg is just wonderfully horrible, made all the better by the way he seems to showboat after every little advantage he gets over Bret. He knows that no-one thinks he’ll be able to beat Bret and he’s relishing every moment he can show people how wrong they are. Then, he only went and bloody won the thing. Catching Bret out and rolling him after following Bret’s attempt at a Hurricanrana, Owen walked away with the shocking win, putting Bret on the back foot for his title match later in the night and triggering a feud with Bret that extended into the summer and brought us some equally brilliant matches.

Wrestlemania 10 is remembered fondly as a Mania with several iconic moments, but when it comes to pure-wrestling, nothing else that happened on the night could top this match.

1 – Daniel Bryan vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 30

Who would’ve guessed that a Triple H match would’ve been the one to top this list?

As I’ve covered before, Wrestlemania 30 is the best incarnation of the show of shows to happen over the past decade (and is also my personal favourite Wrestlemania) and a huge part of that is down to this fantastic opening contest. The story of the rise of Daniel Bryan going into Wrestlemania 30 is still one that’s relatively fresh in the minds of WWE fans the world over and this match was where we would finally see whether or not WWE were serious about giving the fans what they wanted.

Every second of this match was meticulously crafted to milk every last drop of drama and intensity out of the storyline. From the moment the bell rings, the crowd are a huge factor of what makes this match so brilliant. The sight of the crowd going nuts as Triple H and Bryan stare each other down in so incredibly emotional knowing everything that went into it and they are on tenterhooks for absolutely every moment of this match.

The opening few minutes of this match are absolutely fire as Bryan comes out of the gate with the kind of babyface intensity that makes him the most lovable babyface ever before the pace switches and there’s a good 8 minutes or so of Triple H dominating the match and doing everything in his power to put Bryan away. That would normally be boring, but a combination of pacing, variety and Bryan’s selling ability made it gripping stuff to watch. Bryan scattered in a couple of hope spots throughout to keep things ticking over too. The moments where Triple H drops Bryan down on the announce table, or the ring apron, or even locks in the Yes! Lock plays the live crowd and everyone watching at home into the hands of the drama of the match. Even watching it back now I still feel that pit of despair, with the thought that maybe Triple H really is going to win and all our dreams will be crushed.

Once Bryan breaks free of the beat down, the match moves at a mile a minute. Once again, the intensity shoots through the ceiling and the whole match becomes a fever-pitch, back-and-forth contest that doesn’t let up for a moment. Every strike from both men feels weighty and impactful, both in the physical and dramatical sense of the phrase. Even on a rewatch I find myself falling for every near fall and every kickout, remembering the desperation in every fan’s mind at the time, just praying that Daniel Bryan got his time to shine.

The sheer explosion of emotion from both the crowd and Bryan himself when he blindsides Triple H with the Running Knee and gets the pin is absolutely euphoric and makes this a match that I was always connect with emotionally and was the perfect opener for the biggest show of the year.

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020: Every Match Ranked

The final PPV before Wrestlemania (I fucking hope) is finally in the books and…yeah, it was alright, I guess. It pretty much exactly met my expectations, most of the matches that I thought would be good were good and the ones that I thought would be boring were boring and in the end, I think the show came out at about 50/50 in terms of quality and ultimately, I don’t think it was a necessary stop on the way to Wrestlemania.

Let’s look at the matches then.

8 – The Viking Raiders def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins
(Kickoff Show)

Remember every pre-show tag team match from the past two years? Yeah, this was one of those only slightly shorter.

It honestly blows my mind who in WWE took a look at the Viking Raiders and thought “yeah, let’s have Hawkins & Ryder get in loads of offence against them”, so what if they’re former Raw Tag Champions? I bet most people didn’t even remember that was a thing until I just said it right then. I don’t want to be that guy who sits around and moans about how Raw & Smackdown “bury” NXT talent, but I think the sheer lack of interest whoever’s running Raw is showing the Viking Raiders is an absolutely huge waste.

Yes, I know, they won the match, but this should’ve been a 2-minute squash at best, but whatever, not like anyone’s going to remember or care about it by the time Raw airs.

7 – Sami Zayn & Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro def. Braun Strowman(c)
(Intercontinental Championship)
(3 on 1 Handicap)

Oh…well ok then.

I don’t quite know how to feel about this if I’m honest. I mean, the match was an absolute bore, hence why it’s placed this low but in terms of the result, I can see both sides. On the one hand, it’s a disaster for Strowman, not just the result, but how he looked throughout the match too. This is a man we’ve seen get up from just about anything, he spent months getting beaten down by Roman Reigns and continuously getting back up, for God’s sake, this is the guy who was in the back of an ambulance as it crashed, at speed, into a wall and WALKED AWAY, but apparently, Nakamura stomping him in the corner 2 minutes into the match is enough to keep him down.

I mentioned in my predictions that any result other than Strowman winning would be a massive anti-climax and to a certain extent, I stand by that. The whole match felt so desperately like it was building to Strowman coming back and wiping the floor with all three of them, but that never came to pass. Instead, they did that weird-ass looking suplex/kick to the head that honestly looks so weak and Sami Zayn won the Intercontinental Championship.

Now…

Sami Zayn winning the Intercontinental Championship is a good thing, of course it is. Zayn’s been so undervalued for so long and to see him finally win a title is brilliant. However. I think Strowman retaining would’ve been a better option, especially if the result of this is just going to be Strowman squashing Zayn at Mania, which it probably will be. Maybe I’m wrong and if this turns into a really entertaining heel reign as champion then I’ll hold my hands up and admit it, but I’m not optimistic.

6 – Aleister Black def. AJ Styles
(No Disqualification)

It pains me to do this, it really does, but this match sucked.

While I understand the no DQ stipulation was necessary to tell the story they wanted to tell, but it totally screwed the match in terms of quality. I know that these two could put on a fever-pitched classic if they were given the opportunity, but instead, this started slow and got slower as it went on. It wasn’t all boring, I did enjoy the focus on the leg because it makes perfect sense when fighting a guy like Black and it led to a rather tense spot as Styles locked in the Calf Crusher.

This match certainly wasn’t helped by a completely dead crowd. I understand why though. They’d just watched a rather tiring Chamber match and they were waiting for The Undertaker to show up, but it definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the match and likely contributed to the slow pace. Speaking of The Undertaker, although his appearance was predictable, it was still exciting and was absolutely the right move for both the story and the general context of both guy’s strength on the current roster.

While I would’ve liked Black to win without any assists, it wasn’t feasible when Styles had to be kept strong for The Undertaker. I’d rather they hadn’t booked this match at all, but since they did, I think this was the best way to get out of it. Doesn’t make it interesting to watch though.

5 – The Steet Profits(c) def. Seth Rollins & Murphy
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

I’ll be honest, I was quite disappointed with how this one turned out.

After their entertaining showing at Super ShowDown, I was expecting this match to build off of that and put on a really fun tag match, but instead, I don’t think it ever quite got going. Things were nice and fast out of the gate and I thought that everyone involved here had a strong sense of character and it made all of the story beats – including Viking Raiders showing up to deal with AOP – quite entertaining and I continue to become more and more involved in this story as a whole.

After Rollins & Murphy took control towards the middle, I thought we were building to somewhat of an explosive final 5 minutes once Ford got the hot-tag, but it just didn’t happen. There were hints of it in there, but I didn’t find any of the action all the engaging and then Kevin Owens showed up (with some top-notch acting to be fair) and the whole match just sort of stopped to focus on that instead. The finish that came immediately after it felt quite sudden too and I was left feeling quite deflated by the end of it all.

4 – Shayna Baszler def. Sarah Logan & Ruby Riott & Natalya & Liv Morgan & Asuka
(Winner faces Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania)

Ok, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, they didn’t fuck it up.

Probably the only thing on this show to actually matter, this match did everything we wanted it to do for Shayna Baszler. She wiped the floor with absolutely everyone and looked like a monster in the process, a lot of the offence she got in looked absolutely brutal and I’m not entirely sure Liv Morgan is ever going to be able to walk again after Baszler damn near caved her head in at certain points.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most entertaining match to watch. Riott & Natalya started off well enough, but everything they were doing is stuff we’ve seen in Elimination Chamber matches seemingly hundreds of times before and I can’t say I was all that engaged by it. Then, once Baszler got in and had dispatched of everyone, we just had to watch her shouting at the people in the pod for what felt like forever and I just lost interest. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotta have a bit of that to help Baszler look great, but it dragged on for way too long and it’s not like anyone would care if the clock ran down a little faster. I was hoping we’d get a little bit more between Baszler & Asuka at the end, but I’m ok with it going shorter than it could’ve because you don’t want to give that away right now when it could be a big match later down the line.

Although I have my complaints, I’m happy with how this all turned out. It’s a rare case with WWE, where I’m fine with forgiving something not quite as good right now because I’m confident it’s going to lead to something really great in a month or so.

3 – Andrade(c) def. Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

You know, it’s only just dawned on me exactly how long this feud has been going on. No wonder they’re putting on matches like this after so much time together.

After many months of not quite understanding who Carrillo is, the stuff with Garza has helped Carrillo grow a bit of an edge to him as a character and I think it’s helped his in-ring style too. He felt a lot more hard-hitting here and I’m finally getting behind him more as a character than I have been in previous encounters.

This lead to what I thought was quite an entertaining match. It started out fast and furious and it really got the crowd involved for the length of the match. Things slowed in the middle but I think it kept the action fresh for when things eventually began to accelerate again. The finish was a little weird, but I do have a soft spot for spots with constant roll-ups and it’s a rare treat that one of them actually gets the win. I perhaps would’ve preferred a clean finish, but this gives Carrillo a decent enough excuse to get himself in on whatever multi-man affair happens around Mania, so I think it’s fair enough.

2 – The Miz & John Morrison(c) def. Lucha House Party & Heavy Machinery & Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode & The New Day & The Usos
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Elimination Chamber)

Once again, this was about as good as I was expecting it to be, which is pretty nice.

Usos vs New Day was easily the best choice to start things out and it kept the action going for long enough until the ring started to fill up. Each subsequent team that entered each added something new to the action, I was surprised that Lucha House Party looked as good as they did and once Miz & Morrison got involved, it added a lot of great heel work into the action. Heavy Machinery are also on an absolute tear right now. I’m still not entirely behind them as characters, but as wrestlers, I totally get it now.

There were downsides though. For one thing, I don’t think there was enough good use of the time between entrants. There seemed to be a big spot when a team first enters and just before the next team enters, but a lot of the time in between was spent milling around or with some rather boring action, it would’ve been nice to see some actual interesting wrestling while waiting for more entrants.

When I say “interesting wrestling” I don’t mean more dives off the top of the pod because, by my count, there were five of these in this match (six if you count Ziggler being thrown off by Tucker) and it’s just not an impactful spot anymore. Speaking of, Dorado’s Moonsault from the top of the chamber looked cool, although the setup was a bit weird as all of the wrestlers were watching him climb around and we all just had to pretend not to notice until he was in position.

Once things got down to the final three business really picked up and I had a lot of fun watching the action. Miz & Morrison did exactly what they needed to do, picking their spots to get the eliminations at the perfect moments and the final battle between them and The Usos was a magnificent little sequence that whetted my appetite for more of it in the weeks and months to come.

Overall, it won’t go down as one of the best chamber matches ever, but for what it was I really enjoyed it, especially towards the end when the pace accelerated exponentially until the finish.

1 – Daniel Bryan def. Drew Gualk

Oh, so we’re treating Gulak like a real wrestler now? Took you long enough.

This was such an interesting match to watch because it’s not the kind of style we see very often in WWE anymore. This mat-based style of wrestling walks such a fine line between being tense & interesting and slow & boring, luckily, this landed on the better side of that line. It was never a match that was never going to pop a modern American crowd, but I still think it did wonders for Gulak’s credibility.

I really got into the story being told here and I just loved how Gulak seemed to have just about everything in Bryan’s arsenal scouted. It gives the impression of him being the thinking man’s heel, winning matches through actually being smart, rather than cheating. Bryan filled his role here perfectly too, being surprised by Gulak’s competence early on but slowly feeling him out and adapting to his style, eventually getting to the point where Bryan could also counter whatever Gulak was throwing his way.

The finish was brilliant too because it didn’t make Gulak look weak, despite the fact he tapped. The way Bryan so smoothly slipped into the LeBelle lock gives me in the impression that Bryan learnt Gulak’s game and adapted, while Gulak stuck to his gameplan and couldn’t quite out-think Bryan once he started innovating. I’m not sure where this will lead, but I just hope it’s somewhere, I think WWE have stumbled upon a really interesting story here and they shouldn’t let it slip through their fingers.

And there you have it! Those are my thoughts on Elimination Chamber 2020. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and please let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time on Saturday where I’ll be running down my favourite Virtual Reality games!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020: Predictions & Analysis

No rest for the wicked and this is WWE so…

Once again, the Saudi Arabia shows have a weird knock-on effect, because despite the fact that this happens EVERY TIME and we end up building to two PPVs right next to one another, WWE never learn their lesson and schedule their shows just a little bit further apart for once, do they?

As it stands, this is looking up to be a pretty inconsequential show. The only match that promises to have a direct effect on the Wrestlemania card is arguably the easiest to predict on the whole show and everything else is just wheel spinning. At the very least, I’m confident that at least a few of the matches will be good ones to watch, so at least it might not be a total waste of time.

Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gualk

Well, if it gets Gulak on Pay-Per-View, I suppose I can’t argue.

I’m not entirely certain what the point of this story is. Are we finally trying to get Gulak over as a serious competitor, or are we just reminding everyone that Daniel Bryan exists ahead of Wrestlemania? I know Bryan has reportedly been pushing for some of the guys lower down the totem pole to get some feature matches, so is this a part of that?

Regardless of the motivation behind it, the match should be brilliant, even if it only lasts 10 minutes or so. I stand firm in the belief that Gulak is the best technical wrestler WWE’s revived Cruiserweight division ever saw and I’ve made my feelings about Daniel Bryan very clear of the years, so these two technical masters meeting in the ring should be a real treat.

Given that it’s a fresh storyline, there’s a chance that some shenanigans will happen here in order to set something up for Wrestlemania, but I’m leaning more towards this being a stop-gap for something bigger that WWE has in store for Bryan, maybe an Intercontinental title match? Please? Either way, I’m pretty confident that Daniel Bryan is going to come away with the win on this one.

Aleister Black vs AJ Styles
(No Disqualification)

This is a bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore both of these wrestlers and I’m sure that given the chance they could put on a match of the year contender, but this is just such a bad time to have them clash like this and I really don’t see a positive outcome here. Styles has a match with The Undertaker on the horizon and needs to look good, but Black has barely had room to breathe on Raw and a loss here could totally destroy his credibility and start a long descent into Cedric Alexander territory.

I’m not even sure they’ll be given all that much of an opportunity to show their stuff in this match either. The no DQ stipulation likely means Black will be fighting off Gallows & Anderson the whole time and the match will be generally much slower than it needs to be in order to play to the strengths of these two.

For a winner, I’m picking Aleister Black, but it’s not going to be clean. I think the most likely scenario is that The Undertaker gets involved somehow, maybe physically, but it’s more likely that towards the end of the match, a gong will go off, which will distract Styles and let Black get the win. This whole thing isn’t an ideal scenario, but I think that’s the circumstance that lets both men get away with as little damage to their credibility as possible.

Andrade(c) vs Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

Want a United States title opportunity? It’s easy! Just lose a match on Pay-Per-View and it’s yours!

I like Humberto Carrillo, I honestly do, but I really think it’d be a mistake to have him win the title here. Not only has Carrillo already lost to Andrade at Royal Rumble, but he also lost just over a week ago to Angel Garza, a wrestler who is much more deserving of this opportunity at the present time.

Hopefully, the match will be pretty good as long as it doesn’t get dumped on the pre-show. These two have proved before that they can work extremely well together and I have every faith in them that they’ll make the most of whatever time they get to put on a compelling contest. I’m not too sure on the winner, but Andrade retaining feels right to me, especially going into Wrestlemania, where I think it’s likely we’ll have some sort of multi-man affair, hopefully in ladder form.

The Street Profits(c) vs Seth Rollins & Murphy
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

Oh…I’ll be honest, I thought the Rollins & Murphy thing was going somewhere.

WWE have really done their job of compressing this feud into basically no time at all. I thought it was likely that we’d see this match again on this show, but I certainly didn’t expect The Street Profits to be walking in as champions. It’s nice that they’ve won the titles, but I’m not entirely sure it was the right move for the story, especially if they’re just going to drop the titles right back again.

As much as I think The Street Profits are great, the story and the momentum is with Rollins & Murphy right now. I know that he’s likely going to finally get his big singles match with Owens going into Wrestlemania, but I thought it would’ve been cool with Rollins & Murphy still had the titles during that time.

If Rollins weren’t about to be fighting Owens, then I’d pick him & Murphy to win, however, I think The Street Profits are going to slip away with the titles in this one. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the belts and I have a horrible feeling that the titles are going to return to their status as the least important belts in the entire company, but at least this match will probably be a good one.

Braun Strowman(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn & Cesaro
(Intercontinental Championship)
(3 on 1 Handicap)

Oh boy, time to make three of the best wrestlers on the planet look totally worthless.

From a story standpoint, I’ve mostly enjoyed this stuff with Nakamura & Zayn. It’s a bit weird how Cesaro had been thrown in with little explanation, but Zayn is easily one of the best managers we’ve seen in WWE for a long time and as for Nakamura, it’s just nice to see him on TV regularly for a change.

In terms of quality, I’m not sure which way this match will go. If it’s a bit of a clusterfuck with Cesaro, Zayn & Nakamura constantly moving in for the kill while Strowman desperately tries to fend them off from all angles, it could actually be a lot of fun and something we don’t see very often. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be that interesting. I think what’s more likely is the trio use the numbers advantage to pummel Strowman for a while until he makes a comeback, destroys all three of them before probably pinning them all at once.

Speaking of, Braun Strowman is absolutely retaining his title here, not only has he not had any chance to do anything with the title yet, but it’s one of those situations where the odds have been stacked SO heavily against him if he didn’t win it’d seem like a gigantic anti-climax. While I’m not happy about having Nakamura, Zayn & Cesaro treated like chumps, if this is what we have to go through in order to get Strowman into a credible position for a great Wrestlemania match (hopefully against Daniel Bryan), then I think I’m willing to make that sacrifice.

The Miz & John Morrison(c) vs The New Day vs The Usos vs Heavy Machinery vs Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode vs Lucha House Party
(Smackdown Tag Tema Championships)
(Elimination Chamber)

I always think these tag team chamber matches are going to be confusing messes, but then they never are.

I’m actually quite excited to see how this one plays out, New Day, Usos and Niz & Morrison are all great in-ring tag teams and the other three teams are certainly nothing to turn your nose up at either. There are a nice few interlinking stories going into this one too. The Usos have been trying to get up in The New Day’s grill the past couple of weeks, while New Day seek revenge for Miz & Morrison stealing their titles. Add on top of that the surprisingly compelling stuff between Otis & Ziggler and we’ve got a recipe for a very entertaining match ahead of us. Oh, and Lucha House Party are also there I guess.

As entertaining as this should be, I don’t think there’s much argument to be made about the winner. The Miz & John Morrison only won the titles 9 days ago and they’ve still got so much that they can do with the belts going into Wrestlemania. It would make no sense if they lost the titles this soon, so I think they’re going to find a way to sneak of the chamber still champions.

Asuka vs Shayna Baszler vs Liv Morgan vs Ruby Riott vs Natalya vs Sarah Logan
(Winner faces Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania)
(Elimination Chamber)

Look, I know it was always going to be obvious, but it would’ve been nice if WWE had at least pretended someone other than Shayna stands a chance of winning this.

I don’t think many people will disagree with me when I say that this match’s only purpose is to show off how much of a beast Shayna Baszler is ahead of her Wrestlemania match with Becky. Hopefully, we’ll get a little bit of action between the three former Riott Squad members, but the spotlight here should be firmly on Shayna as she rips everyone apart.

In case you hadn’t already worked it out I think Shayna Baszler is going to win this one. As much as I love them, Riott, Morgan & logan just haven’t been built even nearly enough to have a featured Wrestlemania spot against WWE’s most popular star. Natalya & Asuka would both be legitimate contenders, however, they’ve already had big matches with Becky over the past year, so they’re out. Baszler is white-hot, has already started talking to Becky like she’s got the match and still had outstanding beef with Becky from Survivor Series, everything points to her and nothing will convince me otherwise.

So there you have! Thank you very much for taking the time to read these predictions, please, 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 on Monday, where I’ll be recapping the show!

WWE Royal Rumble 2020: Every Match Ranked

The Road to Wrestlemania is officially underway and if it’s going to be anything like this show last night, it’s a road I’m very excited to be going down!

Everyone who’s ever used the internet has said it at some point over the past week, but Royal Rumbles are always so much fun to watch and this year was no exceptions, with two Rumble matches that were among the better ones as far as I’m concerned. Even better than that is that the Rumbles weren’t the only thing to write home about, as many of the other matches on the show were quality watches too.

Let’s not waste any more time getting into it and breakdown Royal Rumble 2020 match-by-match!

8 – Roman Reigns def. King Corbin
(Falls Count Anywhere)

No prizes for guessing this one would be last.

Quite simply, this match had everything that I hate about Falls Count Anywhere matches all rolled into one. The action was extremely samey the whole way through (the portaloo spot notwithstanding) as almost the whole thing consisted of Reigns & Corbin wandering around, occasionally hitting each other and throwing each other into the nearest, vaguely solid object.

Even when Roode, Ziggler & The Usos showed up, I still didn’t find myself getting excited, the spot where one of The Usos launched themselves from one of the stands was cool looking, but given that none of the four men involved in that spot were actually a part of the match, I just couldn’t find a reason to care. Also, the camerawork was just plain awful, I don’t know whether the cameramen were being told to shake the camera vigorously throughout all the action, or whether they were just bad at their jobs, but I almost got motion sickness from watching the action at one point.

It certainly wasn’t the most boring match ever and I’d rank it above the match that these two had at TLC, but that’s not exactly saying much. At least the right man won

7 – Sheamus def. Shorty G
(Kickoff Show)

Not much to say on this one, other than it was a lot more competitive than I was expecting it to be. I have no idea where creative are going with this storyline for Sheamus, but I’m happy to wait and see where it goes and that included not having much worth saying about this match. It’s nice that Shorty G wasn’t just annihilated like I thought he would be, but I honestly think watching him get slaughtered by Sheamus might’ve been a bit more fun to watch.

Like almost any pre-show match, it was perfectly acceptable, but not something I’m going to be talking about for very long after the fact.

6 – Andrade(c) def. Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

Much like Sheamus vs Shorty G, this match was perfectly fine and the only reason this one goes above that match in my rankings is because it lasted slightly longer.

The dynamic between the two was quite different to Sheamus & Shorty G’s though, as these two men have very similar in-ring styles and it felt much more like the new kid on the block trying to get a feel for one of the older fighters, in order to find a weakness. Unfortunately for Carrillo, that weakness never presented itself and while I wouldn’t say Andrade dominated him in this match, he certainly seemed to get a lot more offence in than Carrillo did.

This match wasn’t as exciting as the match these two had at TLC last month, but I still thought it was a decent showing for a pre-show match where, ultimately, everyone knew the outcome going in.

5 –  Bayley(c) def. Lacey Evans
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

I think this is the match that I was the most pleasantly surprised by because, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting much going in.

Bayley’s Pay-Per-View matches this past year have, for the most part, been rather underwhelming and I’m still not much of a Lacey Evans fan, but I think the two did a great job at putting on a well-paced and enjoyable match. For one thing, Lacey’s daughter is ADORABLE and her smile just seemed to instantly brighten my mood, but I also thought there was a lot of good action between the two.

I wouldn’t have thought Lacey could work that well as a face, but I found myself getting behind her as the match went on, thanks in large part to Bayley’s great ability to work as a heel. Watching this match it’s clear just how much Evans has come on as a wrestler, especially when you compare it to something like her matches against Becky Lynch from last May.

Admittedly, this wasn’t some super exciting match to set the world on fire, but I think these two women did an admirable job and made me finally see the potential in Lacey Evans’ new character direction, and more generally as a performer, so I’d rate that a success.

4 – Charlotte Flair won the 30 Woman Royal Rumble Match

With each year that goes by, I think the women’s Royal Rumble match keeps getting better and better. As WWE hires more and more credible female competitors, it no longer feels like the match is relying on the nostalgia pops and thread-bare action in order to get the crowd interested, finally putting it on par with the booking philosophies of the men’s incarnation of the match.

For the past two years, the downfall of the women’s Royal Rumble has been the first half but that wasn’t a problem here because I thought the first half of this match was the best portion of the whole thing. I wouldn’t have thought that Bianca Belair would be the one to get the rub of dominating the early portions but I absolutely loved how it played out. There was a good mix of everything in there, from the serious to the comical and it kept the action flowing at a good pace.

From when Charlotte entered through until Shayna Baszler showed up wasn’t all that interesting, but I still had a good time seeing people like Beth Pheonix & Shotzi Blackheart showing up and briefly kicking arse, even if blood somehow started POURING out of the back of Beth’s head.

While I’m a bit disappointed Shayna Baszler didn’t win the match, I’m not mad about it. While she is absolutely a ready-made star, I can understand why people think it might be a bit too early to give her a rub like winning the Royal Rumble and, let’s be honest, Charlotte was always going to have to win one of these eventually. Not to mention that sequence towards the end where Baszler just decided she’d had enough of this shit and eliminated EVERYONE still in the ring in space of about a minute was great to watch.

While it wasn’t perfect, it was undoubtedly the best of the women’s Royal Rumble matches we’ve had so far and I can honestly say I’d happily watch it again and have a good time doing so.

3 – Becky Lynch(c) def. Asuka
(Raw Women’s Championship)

This is one of those situations where I think a disinterested crowd took away from a match that was a lot better than the reactions it was getting. I don’t blame the crowd, however, if I had already gone through 3 hours of action and knew there was a Royal Rumble match immediately after this one, I’d try and conserve my energy too, but it doesn’t stop it taking away from the match somewhat.

Still, there was a lot of solid wrestling to this match and I don’t think we should let a muted crowd take away too much from that fact. These two have clear chemistry in the ring together and if I’m being entirely honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing another clash between them in front of a more lively crowd. Asuka did a good job of striking a balance between heelishly slowing down the action but keeping things relatively exciting and tense as she worked her magic.

Meanwhile, Becky did was Becky does and it was as much fun to watch as it always is. She’s so good at making herself look just about beatable, before striking out with the comebacks and sneaking away with the win. I especially liked the finishing sequence where both women were escaping each other’s submission manoeuvres and I’m happy that Becky finally got her win back.

2 – The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) def. Daniel Bryan
(Universal Championship)
(Strap Match)

Told you they’d make it work.

If I’m being honest, I was starting to lose faith that we’d ever see a really great Fiend match, his character didn’t seem to leave much room for competitive matches, however, I was thankfully proved wrong last night as I thought this was a great way to go about it.

Strap matches usually tend to restrict the performers in the ring, but that wasn’t the case here as they were able to get some really impressive action in and still feature the strap heavily in most of their spots. Throughout the match, I really got the feeling that Daniel Bryan was finally able to get a feel of The Fiend and had plenty of counters prepared for the erratic offence The Fiend threw his way.

It was a little slow to start, but that was necessary to get the damage in on Bryan and lend a lot more drama to his comeback, which definitely worked. Every now and then Bryan would get a little advantage over The Fiend and each time he managed it, he kept the momentum going for just a little bit longer. Unfortunately, the fact that it was extremely obvious going in that Bryan wasn’t going to win sapped a bit of the drama out of the final LeBell Lock, but I still came away from the match having had a great time watching some great wrestling, so I can’t complain.

 1 – Drew McIntyre won the 30 Man Royal Rumble Match

Well, I sure didn’t see that one coming.

This was very clearly a Rumble of two halves and I think that both halves were as entertaining as each other, but in different ways. The first half where Brock was eliminating everyone was so fun to watch, it could’ve lost its novelty pretty quickly, but there was enough variation in both the entrants and the method by which they fought that kept it entertaining and it was clear from his face that Brock was having a great time, which helps LOADS.

My personal favourite moment in that first half was when Shelton Benjamin came out and Brock greeted him as an old friend because we knew that turn was coming, but Brock was so uncharacteristically cheery that I couldn’t help but chuckle. The drama was there too, with Kofi, Big E and Rey did their best to take on the Beast, it’s a bit disappointing that Kofi didn’t get his moment, but when the three of them prepared an attack on the outside, I felt the drama of it. Also, honourable mention to Brock bopping to MVP’s music.

Eventually, Drew came out at 17 and things went off the chain. Ricochet giving Brock the low-blow was a nice bit of poetry and the Claymore Drew hit to eliminate Brock was brilliant and Brock sold it like death to boot. As the ring filled up with people we got the more standard Rumble action and thanks to the calibre of the guys involved it was all great stuff.

Edge’s return was brilliant, even if a lot of us sort of knew it was probably going to happen. I became a wrestling fan not too long after Edge retired, but I’ve seen so much of his stuff since then and that look on his face as he walked out – pumped and ready to fight, but also on the brink of crying tears of joy – that hit me right in the feels and it was a wonderful moment. On top of that, he got a great showing, Spearing everyone in sight and giving us a cheeky little Rated RKO reunion for our troubles.

As I mentioned in my predictions, while Roman wasn’t the person I necessarily wanted to win, I would’ve been happy if he did and I’d come to accept the fact that it was just how it was going to happen. So when Drew threw Roman over the top and won I was genuinely shocked and overjoyed. I never would’ve picked Drew to win, but now the prospect of Drew vs Brock is in front of me I am GAGGING for it, make that man the first-ever UK-Born WWE Champion, I need that in my life.

As far as a Royal Rumble match goes, this was a resounding success on all fronts and it easily up there with many of the better Rumble matches to ever take place.

And that’s it! Those are my thoughts of Royal Rumble 2020! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back on Saturday where I’ll be running down Doctor Who Series 5!

 

WWE Royal Rumble 2020: Predictions & Analysis

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
(Universal Championship)
(Strap Match)

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).