Hello everyone. It's that time of year again. That's right. The New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl!
Oh, wait that's not why you're here, though.
Yeah, it's Royal Rumble season. One of WWE's more popular events on the wrestling calendar is taking place this Sunday live from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. In this column I'll be running down the show match-by-match previewing each one and also predicting the outcomes. There's much to get to this year. This is the 2nd year with there being two Royal Rumble matches so let's get started with the kickoff program.
*** PRE-SHOW ***
Rusev (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Singles match for the WWE United States Championship)
Yeah, you read that right. That's Shinsuke Nakamura, last year's Royal Rumble winner here on the pre-show in a rematch for his United States Championship that he lost a month ago on Christmas. Its the pre-show so I'm not expecting much. Rusev will likely retain in an 8 minute TV style match. Luckily the Rumble remains popular because I think Nakamura being so low on the card 1 year later almost diminishes being a Royal Rumble winner in a way. People still care though and not everyone can be Steve Austin so, maybe it doesn't matter.
Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Hideo Itami vs. Kalisto (Fatal four-way match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
It shouldn't be much of a surprise to see the Cruiserweight Championship on the pre-show. It'll probably be a fun match. It's a fatal four-way so expect a lot of crazy fly-and-catch spots to the outside. My pick to win is Buddy Murphy to retain.
*** MAIN CARD ***
Women's Royal Rumble Match
My pick to win the Women's Rumble is fairly predictable and that's Charlotte Flair. The rumor is right now that WWE wants the Wrestlemania main event to be Ronda Rousey vs Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair in a triple threat. I don't love the idea of a triple threat, but it sounds believable enough to me because Charlotte must be plastered on and shoehorned into everything.
I know that sounds like I'm "hating" but I'm not. As I've said a thousand times and will have to remind everyone in every column, I do not hate Charlotte. She just has no business in that match. Becky and Ronda got the buzz going. When Ronda is out on Raw do you ever hear anyone chanting for Charlotte at her? No. It's always a Becky chant. If indeed Charlotte is in the match she's only there because WWE wants her there. Not because the fans want it or because the momentum of the story line dictated so.
I hear some saying "oh well a triple threat with these 3 will still be awesome" and sure... MAYBE. However, its still watered down to me. Give me a singles match with any combination of these 3 and it will most likely be a better match. Right now the hot angle is Becky vs Ronda. The fans want to see that. We saw plenty of Becky vs Charlotte this past summer and fall in a feud Becky won decisively. If it were up to me, Charlotte would win the Royal Rumble and face Asuka at Wrestlemania in a rematch for the Smackdown women's championship which almost seems secondary right now with two of Smackdown's biggest stars so focused on Ronda over on Raw.
The Bar (c) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon (Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
You may love it. You may hate it. I'm picking The Miz and Shane McMahon to win here. The state of tag teams in WWE is as sad as ever right now. Ladies, you're excited right now... Just you wait until WWE gets bored of their shiny new toy known as the women's tag team championships. What's even sadder is the only way the tag titles will seen important at all going into Wrestlemania is if they are on the comedy duo of The Miz and Shane McMahon. Look, I like both guys and the pairing could be a lot of fun. I'm just not a big fan of fun teams holding titles. I thought the B-Team were fun and the moment they became champions the act got less and less funny by the second.
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Sasha Banks (Singles match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship)
The match could be very good or it could be a mess. I've touted Ronda's quick ability to learn pro-wrestling, but she still needs to be carried to a degree. Sasha is very good but a bit floppy and splatty in the ring at times. Yes, I know I'm not a worker but if I was agenting this match I'd have Sasha on offense for a bulk of it. Not 90% of it before losing like WWE likes to do all too often, but still the majority of the match because in my opinion Ronda is much better at selling than Sasha and may even be better at bumping. If it turns into a spot fest or a high speed match it could get ugly at times. Anyway my pick is for Ronda to retain. I think that's a pretty easy pick here.
Asuka (c) vs. Becky Lynch (Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship)
My pick here is for Asuka to win, or retain more accurately I should say. With everyone already looking ahead to Becky Lynch facing Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania I don't see Becky losing however I don't see her winning either. Remember how Asuka won this title at TLC? Ronda Rousey attacked Becky and Charlotte to prevent either from winning. I expect something similar here. The match may end in a disqualification. I don't expect Becky to lose after at attack since it would make Asuka seem heelish, although that really wouldn't be the worst thing ever either.
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Finn Bálor (Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship)
Don't hate me, but Finn is not winning this match. It'll be a great match. I'm glad Finn is in it. I hope he continues to be a regular main eventer. I hope he has a meaningful match at Wrestlemania this year. He is not winning the Universal Championship here, though. If it were my company I'd use Brock to put over the popular Finn Balor in a company starving for a hot babyface, but its not my company. It is still Vince McMahon's even though it is some "new era" and in Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment Brock Lesnar goes over Finn Balor.
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles (Singles match for the WWE Championship)
This could possibly be the match of the night. Yeah, I know I'm really going out on a limb. These two have had incredible matches. I'm looking forward to yet another. I'm sticking with Daniel Bryan to retain who is not just the hottest heel in WWE but he may just be the hottest superstar period right now although Becky Lynch is still very close. Either way, Smackdown is feeling pretty good right now.
Men's Royal Rumble
With John Cena's injury apparently being a work, he could be a dark horse pick to win, but I really hope not. It's 2019, come on. I think the safest options are Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins. There's been rumors for Seth to face Brock at Wrestlemania, however I still want to pick Drew McIntyre. Seth got a win over Drew on Raw which makes me think there's more of a chance McIntyre could win the Rumble or at least be the one to eliminate Seth Rollins. Also, if Drew wins that doesn't mean he has to face Brock. He could face Daniel Bryan or AJ Styles over on Smackdown and switch brands after Wrestlemania, which honestly wouldn't be the worst idea in my opinion. This would still leave Brock open for Seth Rollins. So, I'm sticking with my guns here. I've said it for months. Drew McIntyre is my pick to win the 2019 Royal Rumble.
The NoDQ staff participated in a lottery of sorts for the Rumble. Aaron Rift and Greg Cherry earlier this month drew two random numbers for the 15 different NoDQ contributors and I was lucky enough to get numbers 25 and 28. There's some contest where if you pick the contributor you think has the winning numbers in each of the Rumble matches you win a shirt or something. I don't know. It's not my contest. I'm just saying I think my numbers are a pretty safe bet this year especially since we already know who #30 will be in each match. ;)
As far as Rumble surprises go I like TJS' idea of Jeff Jarrett getting in there. Perhaps Batista will to shoot an angle with Randy Orton even though he really wants Triple H at Wrestlemania. On the women's side I'm not sure there will be any major surprises. Trish, Lita, maybe Ivory, maybe Torrie Wilson. Maybe Stacy Carter can come out as a relative of EC3... or better yet -- Dixie Carter? Book that shit, WWE.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Enjoy the Rumble. Enjoy your weekend. I'm looking forward to live tweeting the event with you, so go follow me over @PlanetKayfabe to get my immediate thoughts live as the event happens and of course I will interact with you as well as always. Take care and God bless. See you next time for the review.