It’s almost time for the road to Wrestlemania, even though it’s also still March 2020 in most parts of this country. We’re starting off with the biggest party of your seasonal affective disorder- the Royal Rumble. 30 wrestlers, over the top rope, both feet hitting the floor. If you forget, Michael Cole will remind you every 3-5 minutes. It’s my favorite PPV by a mile, because I love reveling in nostalgia for a tight 7 minutes before someone’s parent is eliminated by the hot young blood. Let’s take a look at the card:
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
It’s the show where anything can happen- and it usually does. Last year, we saw the Rated R Superstar make a shocking return, and this week on Raw, Edge once again declared himself for the Rumble. Former winners like Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio are all on board. With 16 men officially declared, there’s still plenty of open spots for surprise entrants- maybe David Krumholtz wants to cash another WWE check?
Prediction: Edge definitely seems like a strong possibility, but this just feels like Bryan’s year. The concept of him vs Reigns at Mania in front of a 25% capacity crowd…. Tantalizing.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Lots of room for surprise entrants here too- I’d expect some returning legends (Alicia, please) and plenty of NXT women to round things out. Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae feel like strong options, especially if Ripley is coming to the main roster. Another Baszler and Belair showdown would highlight this match, but only one extremely tough woman can walk out the victor.
Prediction: All signs point to a Belair victory- with her recent doc and feud with Bayley, she’s more than Mania ready. She and Banks have teamed on SD in recent weeks, so the story is right there; if they don’t give us that match they’re just burning money.
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Asuka and Charlotte Flair (c) vs Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax
Charlotte Flair has some personal drama going on with her dad and his very young new girlfriend who she also works with. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax have their own problems brewing, between both competing in the Rumble and failing to ever match their gear. Only Asuka is coming into this one with a clear head… Except for that whole losing to possessed Alexa Bliss business.
Prediction: Charlotte and Asuka are gonna hold onto the belts here. It feels like time to let Baszler shine as a singles act.
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs Goldberg
Goldberg returned a few weeks ago to try and smack some respect into Drew McIntyre, whose whole thing is being a nice young man. So I’m not sure how much ground he really has to cover. At least I know I won’t complain about this one running long.
Prediction: I’ll call Drew the streak buster- even with WWE’s boner for men who haven’t been good at wrestling in over a decade, I can’t see Goldberg walking away with that title. There’s a sale on grey chinos somewhere that would sorely miss him if he had to show up to more than 3 Raws a year.
Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing Match)
After Adam Pearce dodged combat harder than my uncle in the 60s, he tagging in KO for another crack at the Big Dog. Reigns promised he was done with Owens, but that’s what you get for not reading contracts. Reigns still has Heyman and his cousin-turned-bodyguard Jey Uso by his side, so this will be another uphill battle for Owens.
Prediction: Reigns, presumably through even more nefarious tactics than cuffing someone to a cage. Owens has killed it in this feud, but Reigns has plenty left to build up another star. And maybe to knock Adam Pearce around a little more, too.