The Royal Rumble marks the official start of Wrestlemania season, when the WWE’s storylines kick into high gear in preparation for their biggest event of the year. This year’s Royal Rumble is a particularly loaded card, with Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and the Undertaker all entering this year’s 30 man battle royale.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Cesaro and Sheamus (c) v. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Stipulation: Two referees
Cesaro and Sheamus (6-0)
Torri Yates-Orr: Cesaro & Sheamus retain. They aren’t changing the belts on the opening of the kickoff show. I think The Club will get a title run, just not yet.
Brandon Gnetz: The two referee stipulation seems completely uncalled for, so something tells me a sneaky 2nd ref could lead to The Club taking the championships. They really, really need it, and as good as Cesaro and Sheamus have been, I’m ready for Cesaro to get the singles run he deserves.
Lucas Siegel: Lol, right, they’re going to pass the tag titles off curing the kickoff show. Cesaro and Sheamus went through SO MUCH to get these titles, they’re not losing them yet.
Christian Hoffer: The Club is stuck in storyline limbo until Finn Balor comes back, so expect Cesaro and Sheamus to retain.
Dallas Jackson: I am a unapologetic fan of Cesaro and Sheamus. I want them to win and go on a champ run or I want them to break up and one of them get the jetpack for a real belt — preferably Cesaro, but either will do.
Matthew Mueller: Cesaro and Sheamus retain, but Finn Balor returns to reunite the Bullet Club for a big program going forward. It still gets the big return pop, but doesn’t require him to actually wrestle just yet.
Sasha Banks v. Nia Jax
Nia Jax (5-1)
Matthew Mueller: Nia Jax wins via Disqualification, building to another match between the two at Elimination Chamber.
Brandon Gnetz: NIA SMASH! We need another woman to get in the W column on RAW.
Lan Pitts: The Boss is still pretty banged up so it would be a solid way to keep her out for a while as she recovers and you start the rise of Nia Jax. The Women’s Division needs a powerhouse like her involved.
Dallas Jackson: Sasha is still the draw but she is hurt which means this will be a good match for Sasha to lose as they want to start building Nia Jax. It will be clean because there aren’t enough available — or relevant — women to interfere and it will start a new rivalry storyline for these two.
Torri Yates-Orr: I think Nia takes it. Her disdainful voice and sheer power are something the women’s division needs. If they want to push her as a force, she has to win. Plus it doesn’t hurt The Boss because it’s a preshow match.
Lucas Siegel: You know, because it’s the kick-off I wouldn’t be TOO surprised to see Nia Jax actually get a deserved win here, but I feel like Sasha somehow pulls it off anyway, unless she says “Eff it” and gets DQed.
Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya v. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, and Naomi
Lynch, Bella, and Naomi (5-1)
Christian Hoffer: I’m going with the faces, only because I think Naomi will pick up the pin on Alexa Bliss to start a short program between the pair. I’m expecting this match to be pure chaos, especially as the Nikki/Natalya and Mickie James/Becky Lynch rivalries are kicking into high gear.
Brandon Gnetz: This is a travesty. The Smackdown women have done such a great job building compelling storylines for multiple programs and for their troulbes they get the old school diva treatment of being shoved into a random 6 man match. Babyfaces almost always win these things and I don’t expect that to change tonight.
Matthew Mueller: Becky Lynch, Bella, and Naomi take home the victory, but get beaten down afterwards by Bliss, James, and Natalya to keep their heat.
Lucas Siegel: Team eh vs team huh. It’s hard to get excited about these big 3 on 3 battles when so few of the characters are actually invested. Love Alexa, but team Becky gets the win and whoever gets the pin gets another shot at the title.
Torri Yates-Orr: I think the “good girls” win but I hate that these women are in a simple 6 man tag because Smackdown has been really good about building individual stories.
Lan Pitts: Bliss as champion hasn’t been the worst thing ever, but you have to start utilizing her well and having her team with former bad girl Mickie James and Natty as a recent heel could work well together. I couldn’t care about the face team here any less either. So here’s hoping James can make a great reintroduction and Bliss comes out looking like the slick, cheating minx she is.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rich Swann (c) v. Neville
Dallas Jackson: Never a Rick Swann guy, and liked Neville’s return. Would like to see him get the belt and do some damage.
Brandon Gnetz: The only thing I “can’t handle” is Rich Swann carrying around a belt that belongs to Neville. Neville has shown how easy it is to turn heel in a convincing and effective way. He wins the strap and hopefully saves 205 live in the process.
Lan Pitts: Hail to the King of the Cruiserweights.
Torri Yates-Orr: Honestly, Neville should have every championship. Heel Neville is the best thing of 2017 and we are truly #blessed.
Matthew Mueller: Neville takes the first of several pay-per-view matchups.
Christian Hoffer: Poor Rich Swann never had a chance. Neville starts running roughshod on the division until Austin Aries or Hideo Itami try to stop him.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair (c) v. Bayley
Charlotte Flair (6-0)
Lucas Siegel: The champ is here to stay for awhile this time, but it’s gonna be a great match, and good to see Bayley get the push she should’ve from the moment she came up.
Brandon Gnetz: We’re playing this thing out until Mania. The Queen retains.
Torri Yates-Orr: Bayley isn’t winning until Mania. Charlotte’s PPV streak is a big deal and I don’t think now is the time to take the belt off of her. Plus, she’s doing the best work of her career. Charlotte retains.
Dallas Jackson: Bayley isn’t ready for this push yet. There are also not very many logical arguments as to why it would be time to break Charlotte’s 15-0 PPV title defense streak…
Christian Hoffer: This will be a Dusty Finish of some kind. Bayley gets the pin, but either the ref doesn’t see it or she gets DQed somehow, resulting in Charlotte retaining.
Lan Pitts: Does Charlotte have a title? Is it a pay-per-view? Does Bayley stand a chance? Outlook not so great for the hugger.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) v. John Cena
It’s a tie! (3 for Cena, 3 for Styles)
Lucas Siegel: The champ is here, and Cena gets his tie with Ric Flair. The last time it was a possibility, they hyped the heck out of it and he lost – this time they haven’t hyped it at all and I think that means he takes it.
Brandon Gnetz: I just don’t see AJ getting back to back pay per view wins on Cena without some tomfoolery. Styles retains thanks to the debut and interference of AJ’s former friend and foe, Samoa Joe.
Matthew Mueller: AJ Styles retains vs John Cena, but both are interrupted by the Undertaker, who declares war on John Cena.
Torri Yates-Orr: This is a toss up. They haven’t mentioned Cena tying Flair so that makes me think AJ retains but maybe it’s just to throw me off the trail. WWE is way smarter than me so I’m 51% AJ and 49% Cena. Styles wins.
Dallas Jackson: There are three tremendous plays here: 1) Cena could win because he is the bigger draw and sets up better for Wrestlemania championship match vs the Rumble winner. 2) The slow Cena turn gets accelerated by losing to Styles and then Cena can go full heel. 3) Cena loses here in controversy, but is a surprise entrant to the Royal Rumble, which he wins cuz he is super mad about losing to Styles, which sets up a Wrestlemania run as a heel… MAN, I want that third one.
Lan Pitts: Flair’s world champion record is considered something sacred in the world of professional wrestling, but in an age where the Streak has been broken, maybe it’s time that somebody ties Flair’s record in the modern age. On a personal level, I would have loved to see AJ go into Mania as WWE Champion, but with New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom catching as much buzz as it did, WWE has to step up their game for their biggest show. Who else to lead that charge but Big Match John for maybe one more time.
WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns (6-0)
Christian Hoffer: There is nothing I’d like to see more than Kevin Owens walking out of the Royal Rumble with the Universal Championship, if only to watch Dallas’s head explode. Sadly, it’s not going to happen. It’s Wrestlemania Season, which means Roman needs to look strong, even if it’s in a Shark Cage match where the HEEL ALWAYS WIN.
Brandon Gnetz: Ahahahahahahahaha! Is this really a question? Of course Roman wins this. Of course. Jericho slips out of the shark cage and accidentally costs Owens the belt, thus setting their BFF’s gone bad program for Mania.
Lan Pitts: You’re about to witness the beginning of the falling out of Owens and Jericho. Owens has had a strong run as Champion and has given the WWE Universe a true villain that’s not diabolical, but a jerk amped to 11. Roman has been out of the world title circuit for a minute and it looks like it’s his time to be WrestleMania ready with the Big Red Belt in his hands. I don’t like it, but as we’ve seen already you can’t stop the Reigns Train.
Dallas Jackson: My dislike for Kevin Owens has been well documented. My like for Roman Reigns has as well. My pick here is obvious. Roman.
Torri Yates-Orr: Roman is walking out with Big Red. People can get mad all they want but he’s leaving with that belt.
Lucas Siegel: It’s Roman Reigns with the win, and Dallas can finally be happy. Gotta start building Roman up for Mania sometime, and it might as well be now.
Lucas Siegel: Such a damn crap shoot! I’m gonna go with Braun – they just seem like they want him to be Mr. Powerhouse for them right now.
Christian Hoffer: You don’t put the Undertaker in the Royal Rumble in San Antonio and not have him win this. This still should be an amazing match, I can’t think of a Rumble that’s been more loaded.
Torri Yates-Orr: For the first time in 3 years, I have no idea who’s going to win The Rumble. Part of me thinks there is no way The Undertaker is in a Rumble and not winning. The other part of me thinks it is going to be a complete surprise, possibly a Samoa Joe. Either way, I’m watching 6 hours of wrestling Sunday because the WWE.
Dallas Jackson: My Cena scenario is so fun, but I dont know that I buy it. If WWE sends Undertaker down at 29 or 30 and gifts him a win, I am pissed. I dont think Finn Balor is coming back until Raw, so that kinda stinks. I also dont think they need the Rumble to give Strowman any juice… maybe I do buy my Cena as a surprise entrant. The card being set up the way it is with a break between Cena’s match and the Rumble gives him some time to theoretically rest. JOHN CENA becomes the surprise entrant and Wins! And the crowd goes CRAZY.
Brandon Gnetz: Damn, it. I love Dallas’ prediction so much I can’t even think straight. Let’s see, um, is Curtis Axel still technically not eliminated? Goldberg and Lesnar eliminate each other and Strowman is eliminated by James Ellsworth in a ridiculous fashion that causes the internet to explode. That leaves us with the Undertaker. The Deadman wins one more Rumble on his way out and sends the WWE Universe home happy.
Lan Pitts: It’s such a crapshoot here. With Rollins out, my main pick is already eliminated even before the Rumble began. In my guts, I want Sami Zayn. I want this to be his Shawn Michaels story but with guys like Taker and Goldberg in, Sami is so far down the totem pole it doesn’t seem to be his year. That being said, I’d love to see Goldberg take it and take on Cena. That’s the kind of card WrestleMania should be.