Your Average Preview & Predictions For The #WWE #RoyalRumble
Wrestling fans, rejoice! All the hard work put in from post WrestleMania to now will soon be rewarded, because the 2018 Royal Rumble is this Sunday from Philadelphia. In addition to the men’s rumble, this year will feature the first ever women’s rumble. The best part? It’s the same rules as the men. 30 women, over the top rope eliminations only with the winner earning a title shot at WrestleMania.
Four title matches will round out the 4 hour event, with both rumble matches probably taking up over two hours. Without further ado, the preview and predictions for the 2018 Royal Rumble
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Smackdown Tag Team Championship (2 Out Of Falls): The Usos (C) vs. Gable & Benjamin
From a pure wrestling standpoint, the two tag title matches should absolutely steal the show. The one with less shenanigans will probably be the better of the two, so I’m picking that one to be the Smackdown match. The Usos have been as good as it gets for almost a year now, and their transition to the ‘day one’ characters has really paid off. They put on a slew of classic matches with New Day, and now they’re matched up against Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin. While Gable & Benjamin haven’t been teaming long, they’re both tag team specialists. American Alpha were one of my favorite teams in NXT, while The World’s Greatest Tag Team had that name that for a reason.
The last time these two teams met there was some controversy, so hopefully WWE lets them have a 3 fall classic this time. I’m going to start with an upset pick.
Prediction: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
Raw Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. The Bar
The team of Rollins and Jordan has been an odd one. It’s not often that a team wins the tag titles on the first night they’re paired together, but that’s exactly what happened Christmas Day. With Dean Ambrose on the shelf for awhile, The Shield has dissolved for the time being. Reigns was doing his own thing as IC champ (before losing on Raw) while Rollins and Jordan have formed an uneasy partnership. I’ve really enjoyed the Jordan character during this run. He’s dorky and annoying and obnoxious, but he doesn’t quite know it yet. Combine that with his skill level in the ring and you have a character with some promise.
On the other side you have The Bar, a team forged out of toughness and competitiveness. They’re a much better team than Rollins/Jordan, but they haven’t figured out how to beat them yet. I don’t know how long Rollins and Jordan will be partners, but I do want to see The Bar feud with The Revival. If that feud happens over the tag belts, that would be even better.
Prediction: The Bar.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Under any other circumstance, if you put Styles, Owens & Zayn in a WWE title match, it’s aces. Unfortunately the build for this has been lackluster, mostly because Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan have been heavily involved. When you have three guys with this much talent, you don’t need to add in an authority figure angle too.
If they stick with Owens/Zayn as the heels, they should definitely win. From there you could have them be co-champions and continue to sarcastically piss off the fans and Shane. The only problem with that is the fans don’t want to hate Sami and Kevin when they’re together. They don’t want to hate Styles either, but it wouldn’t be too hard to turn him into an overconfident dick. Add in Shane helping Styles win, and you have a new “corporate champion”. Plus, Owens aligned with two of the easiest to root for good guys would be a great foe for Styles.
This isn’t the worst situation to be in, especially with the talent involved. But sometimes less is more, and I think people would be much more excited for a classic triple threat match.
Prediction: AJ Styles
WWE Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane
Raise your hand if you’re excited for a Kane title match in 2018? No hands? Good. I’ll be the first to admit that Strowman vs. Lesnar was not great at No Mercy. If you think adding Kane to that match is going to make it better, you deserve to be tarred and feathered.
Braun is as ready as anyone to be Universal champion. He’s been ready since he flipped Roman Reigns’ ambulance. In a perfect world, he would pin Kane here and WWE would spend the next 2+ months building the third and final match between he and Lesnar at Mania. Also in this perfect world, Roman Reigns doesn’t exist. As great as Lesnar is, his time as champ should be coming to a close. Raw is a three hour show every week, and the champ needs to be there more consistently. Unfortunately, I don’t think his reign ends here.
Prediction: Kane. LOL. Just kidding, Lesnar retains, hopefully by beating Kane so badly he becomes mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
This a huge and overdue accomplishment for the women of the WWE. I don’t think I’m alone in saying the division is not where it needs to be, but it absolutely deserves some of these spotlight matches. There are 18 participants listed for the match, which leaves 12 spots open for legends/NXT women. If I had to split that 6/6, here are the 12 I’d choose.
NXT – The Iconic Duo (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce), Nikki Cross, Ember Moon, Shayna Baszler & Kairi Sane
Legends/Surprises – Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, Torrie Wilson, Kelly Kelly with my two dream spots going to AJ Lee and Ronda Rousey
The NXT picks speak for themselves. The Iconic Duo are the best pure characters in NXT and should have been on the main roster months ago. Nikki Cross is the most exciting/unpredictable woman in NXT, which is perfect for a Rumble match. Ember Moon is the NXT women’s champ, while Shayna Baszler is the #1 contender. Kairi Sane is the exciting new recruit who has a championship reign in her near future.
Trish, Michelle, Torrie and Kelly were all at Raw 25. It would make sense to have all of them in the rumble, although I won’t be upset/surprised if they pick other women from the Attitude Era and beyond. Same goes for AJ and Rousey. AJ is more of a long shot than Ronda, but Rousey is the only surprise that could be brought in and win the match.
I love Asuka and think she should enter at 1 and eliminate the other 29 women, but Ronda Rousey is a worldwide attraction. It’ll definitely piss off the die hard fans if she wins over Asuka, but I’d understand it from a business perspective. She’s also different from your average celebrity, as she has the real life fighting credentials to back up any win(s) she picks up. On the other hand, Asuka is the most unique performer they have, and should be fighting for or defending the women’s title at WrestleMania.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
There are 17 participants listed for the men’s rumble match. That leaves 13 spots open for current roster members, NXT guys and legends.
There will be definitely be more main roster guys added. The first three names that come to mind are Roman Reigns, US champ Bobby Roode and a returning Dolph Ziggler. With Enzo Amore fired and the Cruiserweight title up in the air, you could add guys like Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali and Drew Gulak. Other fillers could be Curt Hawkins, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. Hopefully NXT guys like Lars Sullivan and Kassius Ohno are given a shot, too. I don’t know if WWE will bring back any legends for this, but I don’t think they’re needed. If you add the names I listed you’d have 28 and there are always guys who fight earlier in the night who end up pulling double duty.
Regardless of how WWE rounds out the 30, there are only a handful of guys who could win. My list would be Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Shinsuke Nakamura and Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is definitely the longest shot, but hopefully they’ve been keeping him off TV this long for a reason. Roman is the most obvious choice, especially after dropping the IC belt on Raw. The most intriguing choices are Balor and Nakamura. They’re so close to being breakout stars, and a rumble win plus being in a major title match at Mania could be exactly what they need.
Prediction: Head – Roman Reigns. Heart – Finn Balor.