Friday, January 25, 2019

WWE Royal Rumble 2019 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to the first round of WWE Predictions for 2019!  It's January and that means it's the start of what is traditionally the best part of WWE's calendar year, The Road to WrestleMania!

This year's Royal Rumble card is as stacked on paper as any I can recall.  The Rumble PPV has returned to form over the past few years, after several underwhelming or downright terrible editions (Ahem, 2015).  With the addition of an annual women's Rumble match the show has become a lot more fun, not to mention it's doubled the number of Rumble pools to bet on.  Hopefully unlike in 2018 WWE will follow through on the promise set up by the Rumble PPV and WrestleMania's booking will actually make sense.

There are a whopping eight matches scheduled for this show - I have to think at least one will get bumped to the pre-show since each Rumble takes up an hour, leaving only two hours for six remaining bouts.  But we'll see.  Anywho, let's get to the picks...

***I've managed to take the lead with 68% accuracy (75/111), Dan and Dave are tied with 65% (72/111), and Landon's in the caboose with 64% (71/111).***

Fatal 4-Way Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Kalisto vs. Hideo Itami

I assume this will be bumped to the pre-show, but it should be a lot of fun.  Murphy has been a pretty great CW Champ, Kalisto is always fun to watch, and Tozawa and Itami will be looking to have that WWE career-defining match.  With AEW starting up and potentially providing a new place to make a good living, I imagine we'll see some of these underutilized WWE guys will start getting some real attention to keep them happy.

Justin: I'm gonna stick with Buddy

Landon: Buddy retains
Dave: Buddy

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bar vs. Shane McMahon & The Miz

This is the one match on the show I truly don't care about.  This Shane-Miz angle is silly and we all know it's leading to a WrestleMania match between them.  Yawn.  This match should be ok but I'm not interested in it.

Justin: Shane & Miz win the belts so they can lose them, split up, and fight each other in April
Dan: I hate wasting the Miz with's so pointless. He could be the top heel in the comapny, instead he's stuck with the boss's son. But they're gonna win.
Landon: The Bar
Dave: The Bar

US Championship: Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

To my way of thinking it was either too early or too late for Rusev to dethrone Nakamura for the US Title.  Rusev got super hot about a year ago thanks in no small part to Aiden English's entrance announcements, so of course WWE split them up months later with no payoff.  Now Ru' is back with Lana but neither of them has Russian accents anymore?  Stupid.  Anyway, I have to think Nak is either gonna get moved up the card or he's gonna leave for AEW (his contract is up in the next few months).  Either way I don't see him regaining the title here.  This match could also get bumped to the pre-show.

Justin: Rusev retains
Dan: Wait, they're not Russian anymore? What the fuck? WEIRD. All American Rusev for the win.
Landon: Rusev
Dave: Didn't realize this was still a title.  Rusev I guess.

Smackdown Women's Championship: Asuka vs. Becky Lynch

This is one of the two matches I'm most excited for.  WWE accidentally announced this a month ago, retracted it, had a #1 Contender's match, and went with it anyway.  This should be great.  Becky obviously should lose here, enter the Women's Rumble, and win that to redeem herself.

Justin: Asuka retains
Dan: Yes
Landon: Asuka
Dave: Asuka

RAW Women's Championship: Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks

Originally this was to be Ronda vs. Charlotte again, but all signs point to a triple threat at 'Mania with Ronda, Charlotte and Becky.  I'd love to see that actually main event the show; Becky is the hottest star in the company and Ronda has the most mainstream appeal, while Charlotte has lately been the best performer in the women's division.  Anyway, since Charlotte's being saved for 'Mania, they put Sasha in this spot.  Ronda likes Sasha and wanted to work with her, so why not?  This should be a fine contest and will help rehab Sasha, whom the company kinda just forgot about the past year or so.

Justin: Ronda obviously retains
Dan: Of course
Landon: Ronda retains
Dave: Ronda

WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles

These two had a great match at TLC and I expect an even better one here.  No need to complicate things, just give 'em 25 minutes and let 'em fly.  Bryan is doing some of his best-ever work in WWE with this title run and AJ is a force of nature.  I could watch these two fight all day long.

Justin: Bryan retains
Dan: Yeah
Landon: Bryan retains
Dave: Bryan

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor

Oh man, is this an upgrade.  Brock vs. Finn was originally slated to happen a year ago but Vince infamously said backstage "Eh, Finn's not over enough," and put Braun and Kane in the match instead.  Welp, one year later the shoe's on the other foot.  Finn is in fact over, Brock likes Finn, and we're finally getting the match.  I'm hoping Finn goes Demon King mode for this, as it will come off as less of a mismatch.  Obviously Finn isn't winning here, but as with Brock-AJ and Brock-Bryan, I just wanna see a good match that makes Finn look like a scrappy underdog.  This show is quickly looking like my dream Rumble card...

Justin: Brock retains
Dan: Finn, so he can fight my Rumble winner
Landon: Brock wins
Dave: Brock

Women's Royal Rumble

Last year's Women's Rumble was a whole lotta fun, with present and past stars intermingling.  I expect we'll see some of the same legends return for this one.  But it's gotta come down to Becky and Charlotte, since they'll both presumably be facing Ronda in April.  Or they could groom someone to challenge Asuka by winning this match.  I guess it could go either way, but I'm not sure who they have in mind for that slot.  I'm gonna go with Becky regardless.

Justin: Becky Lynch
Dan: Becky
Landon: Becky and Ronda MUST happen.  Becky Lynch, Bubba.
Dave: Becky

Men's Royal Rumble

I see this going one way and one way only.  With Roman out of action indefinitely the top babyface role HAS to go to Seth Rollins.  He's WAY overdue for the push of all pushes.  He's the most complete performer on RAW and easily the most popular, and this has been the case for the last two years.  If you want a babyface star to dethrone Brock at WrestleMania and become the new face of WWE, Seth Rollins is your man.  Has to be.

Justin: Seth Rollins burns it down
Dan: I'm going with Drew McIntyre
Landon: Seth
Dave: Rollins

Well that's the lineup.  On paper this has the potential to be the best Rumble card of all time.  They just need to not screw it up.  The 2018 show proved they can still deliver an audience-pleasing Royal Rumble card while exercising sensible booking decisions.  Just do that again.

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