Brian Damage, Jamie Lithgow, John Carbery and Earl Marx
Tonight the road to WrestleMania officially kicks off with Royal Rumble, the event which will decide who goes to the grandest stage of them all to challenge for the title. As well as the 30-man battle royal, AJ Styles defends the WWE title against John Cena, Charlotte faces Bayley, Roman Reigns vies to win the Universal title from Kevin Owens and more. Today on the blog the team share their predictions for tonight’s event.
Pre-show WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match
Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Brian: I want to say that Gallows and Anderson will beat Cesaro and Sheamus for the tag team titles here but I feel that Cesaro and Sheamus will head into WrestleMania as the tag team champions. Anderson and Gallows will get their due…just not yet.
Winners: Cesaro and Sheamus
Jamie: I really don’t like the team of Cesaro and Sheamus. They are clearly two guys WWE do not intend to use at the top of the card and in order to give them something to do they are now a team, and champions at that. All the while, Raw has numerous actual tag-teams. Even worse, I don’t see the actual team of Gallows and Anderson succeeding here.
Winners: Cesaro and Sheamus
John: I would hope if they’re going to do a tag title switch they wouldn’t do it on a pre-show. Should be a decent match but I see the champions retaining.
Winner: Cesaro and Sheamus
Earl: Though I can’t admit to being the biggest fan of this feud in general, I do think it’s been a change of pace from the last few New Day defenses. I almost think one could argue for the G&A win, since they ALMOST got it done on Raw. I’m going to take the opposite path here, though. I don’t think this feud is over, but let’s go with the heel/face combo this time.
Winner: Cesaro and Sheamus (c)
Pre-show singles match
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Brian: From WWE Women’s champion to a pre-show match at the Royal Rumble? Sasha Banks is better than that…but I guess as long as she is on the card, right? With that said, I think she puts over Nia Jax in this match to help Nia be built up as a monster.
Winner: Nia Jax
Jamie: So much for the women’s division. If not fighting for the title I guess Nia Jax is all Sasha Banks has. I’m thinking an inconclusive finish in order to drag this feud out a bit longer.
Winner: Nia Jax
John: Can’t say I have much interest in this, Banks is great but Jax is a waste at this point. It must be disappointing for Banks to be demoted from the title picture to the pre-show and sadly I can see her staring at the lights on this occasion.
Winner: Nia Jax
Earl: This has been a nice women’s feud that keeps Sasha in the spotlight, but also supports the notion we should remember that Nia is a monster heel. We’ve got some more to get out of this feud, so, unfortunately for Sasha, I think the monster will be just too much to overcome this time.
Winner: Nia Jax
No DQ match for the WWE Universal Championship
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Brian: I really don’t have a problem with Roman Reigns, but we have seen this match what seems like a million times already on Raw and other pay per views. No shock of who I am going to pick in this one…sadly. Reigns beats Owens for the Universal title and it starts to plant the seed for a KO Vs Jericho ‘Mania match.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Jamie: I’m with Brian here, it seems inevitable that Reigns will win. We can already see Owens’ feud with Jericho, probably over the US Title, drawing closer.
Winner, and new Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
John: I don’t really care much for Owens or Reigns but I do think at this point Reigns is a more sensible choice for champion between the two or rather he would be if he wasn’t so toxic with TV audiences. Owens was lacking as a champion for my money and played second fiddle to the much more over Chris Jericho for the majority of his run. Reigns probably won’t be much different from when he last had the title but I see more potential in him as champion out of the two.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Earl: The sexy piñata Chris Jericho will be hanging above the ring. No disqualifications are the rules. I think one could make the case this favors the heel and doesn’t make Roman look weak if he lost. I’d agree, but I just have a feeling Roman will reign this time. His coronation may be in front of a sea of “boos”…but maybe the fans will be chanting “Boo-urns…Boo-urns!” Simpsons humor anyone? I’m just ready for this feud to be over as they have been paired up a little too much for me. Going with the face.
Winner and NEW WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
WWE Raw women’s championship match
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Bayley
Brian: As I stated in another piece, I feel that Charlotte will retain at the Rumble and set up a rematch for both at WrestleMania. That is where Bayley will get the title.
Jamie: Charlotte has never been defeated on pay per view and as I alluded to with the other Raw women’s match; what else is there, beyond Sasha Banks and Nia Jax? If Bayley wins at the Rumble, what the hell do WWE do at WrestleMania? Therefore…
John: I would hope that Bayley doesn’t win the title here and that this match will have a screwy finish that leads to a Mania match between these two for the title with babyface Bayley winning the title when it matters most to a huge reaction. These two have had quality matches in the past though so I hope they can give us a good show regardless.
Earl: This feud is JUST getting started and I have liked it thus far. I think Charlotte is one of WWE’s top heels and Bayley represents the fans who have loved the E for so long. To some extent, I somewhat think the feud tells us what the E thinks of lifelong fans who want to be pro wrestlers, but I digress. Char’s streak should continue until ‘Mania. I think Bayley has earned it. The title is yours Bayley, but not at the Rumble.
Winner: Charlotte Flair (c)
WWE Cruiserweight Championship match
Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville
Brian: It should be a great match, but a dead crowd will ultimately kill it. Neville needs to be cruiserweight champion because he has name recognition to help this quickly fading division.
Jamie: Neville all day long for me. I agree with Brian’s argument that this division needs a recognisable star. Add to that, Neville has just turned heel and is gathering momentum. A loss here kills all of that good work.
Winner, and new Cruiserweight Champion: Neville
John: The Cruiserweight Championship has been a bit of a let-down so far, especially after the wonderful tournament that birthed it. TJ Perkins wasn’t the first choice and it showed. He was a flat and lifeless champ. Brian Kendrick was a let-down also but that was due to underdeveloped writing as much as anything. I love Rich Swann but the way in which he won the title was unremarkable also. Neville is the first Cruiserweight to have real momentum on main roster television and I hope that the company capitalizes on that by giving him the title here. I’d also hope they have a strong babyface challenger ready for him but that’s probably asking too much from a company that seems to book their shows on the back of a napkin on the day.
Earl: I..have just not been a fan of Rich Swann enough to see him winning the title initially let alone holding it for this long. I guess I still hang on to the hope the train will come back around for TJP. In this case, Neville has had the cruisers number and has been booked as a nice heel. I don’t know how much we need to extend this feud, but I don’t see Swann winning. Maybe I just don’t want to see it…Hmm. Those cruisers need to fear Neville.
Winner and NEW WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Neville
Six-woman tag match
Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya
Brian: Sigh….I really don’t care about this useless mixed matches.
Winners: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi (I guess)
Jamie: The Raw ladies get two singles matches, and this is what Smackdown crew get? I also bet they get even less time that Jax and Banks too. Anyway, this sounds like a way for Bliss to lose without actually doing the job
Winners: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi
John: A fairly worthless piss break match this one, as far as booking is concerned anyway. I’d hope that it’s going to be used to build to a bigger match down the line at WrestleMania. Lynch, Naomi, James and Natalya are all good wrestlers though so I hope it’ll be lively bell to bell if nothing else.
Winner: Bliss, James and Natalya
Earl: This seems somewhat thrown together so I can’t say I expect it to get much time. I welcome Mickie James back into the fold. I predict we will need a feel-good moment and this match will supply that. Faces with the win here I am also happy to see Naomi back in the fold and possibly a contender to Alexa’s title.
Winner: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, and Naomi
WWE Championship match
AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena
Brian: If their previous encounters are any indication…this should be another great match between AJ and Cena. Unfortunately, I think we will indeed see John Cena defeat AJ Styles for the WWE title and become a 16-time champion.
Winner: John Cena
Jamie: If Cena wins he equals Ric Flair’s record of 16 world titles? Sounds like a big deal, which I cannot see happening at a Royal Rumble where I have already predicted a new Universal Champion. There will surely be too much other stuff going on for WWE to dilute this achievement?
Winner: AJ Styles
John: This one kind of feels like a foregone conclusion, which could mean its anything but. These two are great opponents for each other on the microphone and in the ring so I’m predicting this will be the match of the night by a considerable margin. Personally, I’d like to see Styles retain and head into Mania with the title. One of the most intriguing things about the Royal Rumble this year is that it’s hard to predict, making WrestleMania itself more appealing in the process. Something that would add to that mystery and appeal would be Styles unexpectedly retaining his title.
Winner: AJ Styles
Earl: I expect this to be Match of the Night. These guys deliver every time they are in the ring together. I know there is a percentage of the IWC that is ready to riot as Cena captures his 16th title. They do well to prepare, but I do not think it happens here. AJ over Cena AGAIN. I do expect a dirty finish in some way…because that’s what heels do.
Winner: AJ Styles (c)
2017 Royal Rumble match
Brian: I am always super excited for the Royal Rumble match. There is always that unpredictability factor in these matches which is awesome. With all that said, I still feel that the Undertaker will win it and set up John Cena vs the Undertaker. I hope I am wrong, but we shall see.
Winner: The Undertaker
Jamie: This is a tough call because this Rumble match is stacked. On recent history, I think the winner has to be a babyface, and one that is actually cheered. I’d also suggest the winner should be someone who hasn’t already won the Rumble. Last year it was Triple H, before that it was Reigns, then Batista, then Cena, then Sheamus, Then Del Rio. Come on WWE, give fans something to cheer about and something to latch on to going forward. Give them Finn Balor returning to win the Rumble!
Winner: Finn Balor
John: I genuinely can’t call this one. There are a bunch of on screen competitors that would make for believable winners so that’s why I’m hoping it’ll be someone unexpected, the returning Finn Balor. Either way it should be a compelling match.
Winner: Finn Balor
Earl: This has been the most star-studded, unpredictable Rumble I can recall in quite some time. The names in this thing are amazing. I hope they don’t tease us and give us a few iconic moments for the memories. I know we have written about the Rumble winner in another piece, so I won’t recap my theory. Let’s just say….right outside the AlamoDome…I think I saw…29 holes…I wonder what will be occupying them?
Brian: I love the Rumble as it is my favorite show of the year. I hope this lives up to the hype and I think it will.
Jamie: With a couple of obvious exceptions, WrestleMania is quite hard to predict this year, and as a result so is the Royal Rumble. I’m far from confident in my predictions for all of the top matches on this card. I always watch the Rumble regardless, but this year I will be watching with interest. I just hope it doesn’t last four or five hours.
Earl: This has probably been THE most UNPREDICTABLE ppv WWE has put on in a while. I LOVE IT! And when I argue unpredictable, I argue from the stance that one could make so many cases for different finishes. Although most of our opinions are the same, I think we could probably agree that a number of different outcomes are on the table and are plausible. No one truly has the scoop on what the ‘Mania card will be, but when this one is over, I think we should have a pretty good idea. Honestly, I think this has been one of WWE’s best booked Rumbles ever. I look forward to watching it!