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So it’s possible, even likely, that I’m going to get all of these wrong.
Follow @Colohue for updates.
I’m having to guess at the pre-show matches here but I’m quite confident.
1. Rusev vs Shinsuke Nakamura (U.S. Title, Pre-Show)
These two men have actually squared up quite a lot since Nakamura debuted on the main roster just under two years ago. While the matches started weaker they have been gaining recently. Sadly, the build to this match has been largely forgotten about. I think it’s telling that Smackdown have four title matches but Raw have only two.
Winning the US Title is supposedly the culmination of the big Rusev push. While Nakamura doesn’t really have anywhere to go after this, I would expect that we’ll reach Wrestlemania with a big multi man US title match lined up. This could include these two men, Rey Mysterio, Andrade Cien Almas and potentially even Samoa Joe.
Rusev without a mouthpiece has always been a difficult sell. Despite Lana now being out of the picture, I do believe Rusev will keep the showpiece championship.,
What If?: Lana joins Rusev for one last time before going off to have her baby?
2. Buddy Murphy vs Hideo Itami vs Kalisto vs Akira Tozawa
Well we know this is going to be good.
Buddy Murphy has been a perfect champion for the Cruiserweight division. A heel champion can really drag things forward but the downside in all of this is that a lot of people haven’t been built very strong while he’s been on top. Ali has moved on and is making waves on Smackdown right now. Meanwhile Cedric Alexander, nominally the other top performer, has to be out of the title picture in order to elevate others.
If the title is going to change, and I’m not entirely sure that it will, I think the best move would be to use the fatal four way format to take the title from a heel to a heel.
Winner: Hideo Itami
What If?: The new faction concept is true and Kalisto, Mysterio, Almas and Sin Cara take over the company, starting with the cruiserweight championship?
3. The Bar vs The Miz & Shane McMahon (Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
There aren’t many heel tag teams on Smackdown. Outside of The Bar, you have a very poorly built Sanity and, if they’ve been cleared, The Bludgeon Brothers. As such, especially with the new no rematch business, The Miz and Shane don’t really have anybody to feud with. Plus, let’s be blunt, their storyline doesn’t need the titles.
However, this is licensed best in the world Shane McMahon we’re talking about here. Anything could happen.
Winner: The Bar
What If?: The Bludgeon Brothers do return, laying waste to both teams and the boss in the process?
4. Daniel Bryan vs. A.J. Styles (WWE Championship)
Well this match is going to be great.
It’s a bit of a holding pattern though. While a guaranteed seller of tickets, this particular feud has already lost a lot of its fire. It’s incredibly unlikely that Daniel Bryan will lose the title, especially considering how strong a run he is on right now. The man is delivering in every possible capacity. It’s hard to say what’s next for either of these men; suggesting that WWE just plain haven’t decied yet.
Whatever comes next, I think the storylines and opponents are fresher for a newly heel Daniel Bryan who is doing tremendous work.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
What If?: AJ Styles does win the title, tempting a rumble winning Seth Rollins to consider going blue?
5. Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks (Raw Women’s Championship)
Sasha Banks is looking great going into this match.
Winner: Ronda Rousey
What If?: Sasha Banks enters the Royal Rumble in defeat but Becky Lynch does not?
6. Women’s Royal Rumble
You’re really not going to like this.
To my knowledge, Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair has been the plan for Wrestlemania even since this time last year. While that has changed, I don’t believe that those two participants have. In fact, I believe that even if Becky Lynch has been added to that match (and she must have been at this point) it would be a better story told if, like Daniel Bryan, she had to force her way into the match through the top brass. If WWE are really behind Becky Lynch, she may even have to beat Stephanie McMahon to do it.
What that doesn’t change is my pick for the Royal Rumble.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
What If?: This match is last on the card? Becky Lynch better win it all then.
7. Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor (Universal Championship)
I don’t believe they’ll waste the demon paint on a match that Finn Balor has no chance of winning.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
What If?: We see The Club reuniting with Finn Balor in the backstage area in the build to this match?
8. Asuka vs. Becky Lynch (Smackdown Women’s Championship)
This match has a lot of potential. These are two women at the absolute top of their game, with a heated story, a title worth fighting for and strong, consistent, established personalities. This could be the non-Rumble match of the night.
The Becky Lynch story could go a number of ways. Most of them are very exciting. What is a lesser told story is the story of the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Between Flair, Lynch and Asuka, that championship has become a huge deal in the company and needs to be protected too. Asuka should win here, whether by her own merit or, more likely, due to interference from Ronda Rousey.
What If?: Becky wins the title? Wouldn’t that change everything?
9. Men’s Royal Rumble
There are quite a few potential winners here. Drew McIntyre could be a strong contender. Samoa Joe is up there. Randy Orton could go far. Then there’s the rumoured surprise entrants. If The Rock is available, the company will bend over backwards to get him. I would have no issue seeing Velveteen Dream come in, take the win and go for Daniel Bryan. Aleister Black is much the same.
But none of them have the main event credentials, fan support and storyline development of Seth Rollins. It should be the year of the Architect.
Winner: Seth Rollins
What If?: We get a winner so far out of left field that I haven’t even thought of them? Ten weeks is a long time to tell a story.
I’ll see you for a live tweeting session of Royal Rumble 2019