Posted January 28th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team


By Don “The Predictor” Murphy

Sunday night, the WWE presents one of my favorite shows of the year – the annual Royal Rumble event, from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As I noted yesterday, we are officially on the road to WrestleMania in New Orleans this coming April, with a show that hasn’t had a ton of build to it. Let’s face it – the Rumble event sells itself, but I’m having a hard time remembering another year where I’ve been so hard pressed to predict a winner, as there really aren’t a ton of storylines within the Rumble that would give us a clue. For better or for worse, the creative team has done a great job in leaving us guessing which direction they’ll go in, which is enough to have me intrigued. And that’s not just for the men’s match. This year, for the first time, we’ll also be treated to a second Rumble match – this one featuring the women. Whatever happens, we should have a much clearer vision of how WrestleMania will look in a couple of months. Let’s run down the card!

The Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Topline Thoughts: If it wasn’t for the name of the pay-per-view, I would have forgotten this match was even happening as there’s been very little build for it. If you’re like me and go back to the early Royal Rumbles, think about the year when Hulk Hogan faced off with the Ultimate Warrior; the year when Ric Flair lasted over an hour; the year when Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart were involved in an intense rivalry that played out during the match. That kind of drama doesn’t exist here. That being said, the usual players will be involved, and the match will be fine once it gets underway – it just lacks any kind of anticipation because there are no stories built in. In making a pick, I have a better than good feeling that we’re getting Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania, making Reigns a logical choice. However, given the feisty Philadelphia crowd, I have a hard time believing they’d put their top star in that position. There could always be a surprise entrant that wins the match, but I think, to send the raucous crowd home happy, they’ll give this one to a favorite, setting up a potential dream match with AJ Styles at WrestleMania. Aside from the winner, I’ll be interested to see how some of the other talent on the upper mid-card, such as the Miz and Elias are positioned and presented, as these are the performers that will be relied on to carry the day-to-day load throughput the year.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Shinsuke Nakamura wins the Men’s Royal Rumble

The Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Topline Thoughts: It was time for the women to have their own match. I just feel that the women, aside from Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss, have been watered down to the point where the match just seems flat. And that’s unfortunate because they’re worked tirelessly to evolve from the Divas era. Given this current state of affairs and despite reports to the contrary, I think this match is simply a vehicle to introduce Rhonda Rousey, to justify a title opportunity in her first match at WrestleMania against Charlotte. It will create buzz and hashtags, but sadly, will be a slap in the face to those that have worked to build the division from the ground up. Given the way the women have been presented lately, I can’t say I’m all that surprised.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Rhonda Rousey wins the Women’s Royal Rumble

WWE Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Universal Championship against Kane and Braun Strowman in a Triple Threat Match

Topline Thoughts: As noted earlier, I’m fairly certain that Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns will headline WrestleMania, making Lesnar the obvious choice here. Putting Kane in the match gives Lesnar someone to dominate without killing Braun Strowman’s momentum, as he is arguably the hottest act in the WWE right now. Expect a lot of suplexes and power moves here with Lesnar pinning Kane for the win.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Brock Lesnar retains the WWE Universal Championship

WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Kevin Owen and Sami Zayn in a Handicap Match

Topline Thoughts: This one has a been a bit overbooked, as it’s been less about the championship and more about the backstage drama between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. In addition, the rules of this match aren’t very clear. Are we to expect that if Zayn or Owens defeats Styles, they’ll be co-owners of the Championship? If they’re staying true to Owens’ character, there’s no way that would ever happen. In any case, I’m sure we’ll see our share of twist and turns that ultimately result in Styles retaining.

“The Predictor” Predicts: AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins defend the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship against Sheamus and Cesaro

Topline Thoughts: This has been an angle that has been done time and time again – reluctant tag team partners that can’t get along. We’ve already started to see the rift between Rollins and Jordan and with Cesaro and Sheamus being arguably one of the best teams on the roster right now, there’s no reason to believe that we won’t see a miscue that cost Rollins and Jordan the titles. Jordan is starting to evolve into a natural heel and the eventual turn should be fun as we head into Mania. My biggest concern will be contenders for Sheamus and Cesaro moving forward.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Sheamus and Cesaro win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos defend the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin a “Two-Out-Of-Three-Falls” Match

Topline Thoughts: Despite the clunky way they arrived at this stipulation, this could be the sleeper match of the night. Chad Gable is one of the bright spots on Smackdown right now and all four together should put on a fantastic match. My one concern is the WWE’s usual formula of cramming quick falls into the match, in order to get us to the third and deciding fall. I’d like to see a more well-paced match, and with six hours of show time, I’m hoping this match is given the time it deserves.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin win the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Pre-Show/Tag Team Match: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson meet the Revival

Topline Thoughts: On the one hand, I’m happy they’re trying to do something with Gallows and Anderson, pairing them with Finn Balor. On the other hand, it’s sad that a series of injuries has relegated the Revival, a once promising tag team, to the undercard. I’m really hoping that they can right the ship before it’s too late.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeat the Revival

Pre-Show/Six Man Tag Team Cruiserweight Match: Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalk meet Jack Gallagher, Drew Gulak and TJP

Topline Thoughts: There’s nothing to say here as the creative team has essentially forgotten about the division. Expect the babyfaces to go over here in a high-spot filled, yet directionless match.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalk defeat Jack Gallagher, Drew Gulak and TJP

Pre-Show/WWE United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode meets an opponent TBD

Topline Thoughts: I don’t think they’re ready to bring back Dolph Ziggler yet, so I’m thinking we get someone like Mojo Rawley here. Roode retains, though I find it interesting that he’s found himself relegated to the pre-show.

“The Predictor” Predicts: Bobby Roode retains the WWE United States Championship

Category: Wrestling.

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