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Hello world, I’m Javier Machado. You may have read my Impact Hits & Misses columns here at PWTorch.com in recent weeks. I am also taking over the PPV Primer series for PWTorch in 2020 from Tom Colohue. I wish him all the best.
I’m excited to take over the column in time for the Royal Rumble 2020 PPV. The Royal Rumble is usually my favorite WWE PPV of the year as a myriad of roads (the stories of the wrestlers) come together and cross, merge, split, and in the end, head off in new directions. The possibilities are endless, but I’ll attempt to whittle them to the most likely outcomes. My predictions are what I think will happen based on all the information at hand, not what I hope will, or think should, happen (and if I do, I’ll call it out first). With introductions out of the way, let us begin.
1. Shorty G vs. Sheamus
Story in a nutshell: Shorty G: “I have come to accept my shortness and am now a better man for it!” Sheamus: “I hate you because you’re short.”
Welcome to the worst storyline going on at WWE. After a few weeks of vignettes where Sheamus stole Drew McIntyre’s gimmick of “I was gone for a while and have come back to a weak locker room”, Sheamus went after Shorty G for his shortness weakness. Ever since Chad Gable metamorphosed into Shorty G, crowd reactions for him have been tepid at best.
Prediction: Sheamus wins in dominating fashion to prove he’s a badass. The story might extend until Elimination Chamber but by WrestleMania, Sheamus is onto other things.
2. Bayley vs. Lacey Evans for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Story in a nutshell: Former bully Lacey Evans feuds with current bully Sasha Banks. Champion bully Bayley runs interference for Sasha???
There is no way that this story played out the way it was intended. There is no way that Bayley, the current champ, is a steppingstone for Lacey Evans on the way to Sasha Banks, where I think the heat for this feud is really concentrated. It was Sasha that went after Evans’s kid and it has been back and forth sneak attacks and brawls with an occasional sermon from Evans. Yet, Sasha has been absent. The only logical explanation is Sasha may be suffering from an undisclosed injury, but this hasn’t been confirmed.
Prediction: Bayley retains with help from Sasha. Lacey continues feuding with Sasha and comes back around to Bayley for WrestleMania, unless Bayley is busy elsewhere as you’ll see as one of my Rumble match possibilities coming up.
3. Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin, Falls Count Anywhere
Story in a nutshell: Corbin is an insufferable ass who thinks he is a king and tried to feed “THE BIG DOG” dogfood for reasons.
My least favorite story going on right now. I’ve never been able to connect with Roman Reigns. I’ve never hated the guy, I’m just blasé over the whole Roman experience. Corbin on the other hand has had (very) brief flashes of being a good-to-great heel in the past. No flashes have come during this feud that has included “great” moments like Roman being slathered in dog food. It has been weeks (or has it been months? Years?) of Corbin accusing Reigns of failing as the locker room leader, a fact Corbin is correct about as Reigns has been outnumbered throughout this ordeal. Without friends, it was family that finally came to the rescue as the Usos made their return to help.
Prediction: Reigns wins a match that will fail to truly take full advantage of the falls-count-anywhere stipulation. There will be interference aplenty, and my over-under for Superman punches is 4.5 (I’m taking over). If Roman is hurt during the match and the announcers start questioning his viability to preform in the Rumble… spoiler, Roman wins.
4. Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo for the United States Championship
Story in a nutshell: After being laid out and taken out of action for weeks, Humberto returns to avenge both himself and his sempai Rey Mysterio.
It has been a great, simple build to this match (relatively speaking). The heel, Andrade, took liberties on a defeated Humberto Carrillo and injured him with his hammerlock DDT onto the concrete (a spot I expect to be at least attempted here) putting Carrillo on the shelf for a few weeks. Rey Mysterio took umbrage and embarked on a week’s long, ultimately futile, quest for the US Championship and the soul of the Latin people (a ridiculous notion, everyone know the soul of the Latin people resides in Angel Garza, Carrillo’s much more handsome, charismatic, capable cousin… sorry I digress). After winning the ladder match with significant help from Zelina Vega, Andrade attempted to take out Rey, permanently, with the same hammerlock DDT to concrete, when lo! Carrillo makes his return to save his elder.
Prediction: This will be match of the night. Humberto wins when Rey cancels out Zelina’s cheating ways. Andrade will get the championship back before WrestleMania but here, it will be a triumphant moment.
Bonus: For my gringo friends: You don’t pronounce the “H” in Humberto, you roll the “R” and pronounce the “LL” like a “Y”. And for the love of God… it’s tope con giro NOT tope con hilo. Giro means spin/twist, hilo means thread/string.
5. The Fiend vs. Daniel Bryan for the Universal Championship, Strap Match
Story in a nutshell: Driven to the edge of sanity by repeated his failures, Bray Wyatt becomes “The Fiend” to take revenge on those he blames for his losses. Can his next target, Daniel Bryan, survive?
This is one of the more polarizing stories in the WWE right now, with some loving the gimmick, and others hating it. The one thing we can all agree on is that the story hasn’t translated into good in ring action yet. Bryan, so far, has been the only one to be able to get the better of The Fiend in the build up to this match, setting a trap The Fiend barely escaped from. As a result, Bryan demanded, and was granted, a strap match. For the uninitiated, both wrestlers will be tied together at the wrist with a leather strap, and this version of the match can only end in a pinfall or submission.
Prediction: A newly widowed Brie Bella is back on the dating scene after she finishes mourning her devastating loss. I think this might be a brutal match for WWE standards. My belief is that confidence in oneself is The Fiend’s weakness. While Bryan will take The Fiend far, eventually his resolve will crack just enough to “LET HIM IN” and Bryan will fall. A hobbled Bryan will then be cheered by the crowd as he walks up the ramp, shrugging away any assistance. He will then pause momentarily, look back at the crowd, and let the cheers sink in before he limps to the back… and smack to the middle of the mid-card to feud with either Sheamus or Shinsuke.
6. Becky Lynch vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship
Story in a nutshell: The champ, Becky Lynch seeks to avenge her loss at last years Royal Rumble event against the only woman on the roster she hasn’t been able to defeat, Asuka.
I think to say that this match has been a year in the making would be a bit dishonest. I think it was more a happy accident that Asuka, who has a win over Becky a year ago, was the most credible challenger available. Becky spent the build to the match working out her self-doubts in front of the crowd, while Asuka yelled idiot/stupid/fool (baka) at her over and over and misted Becky during their contract signing. The one part of the build I really didn’t like was Becky saying that after their match a year ago, she went on to greater things while Asuka did nothing. I don’t think the babyface should be mocking their opponent, not over anything they did, but because of what a lot of fans rightly see as the bad booking of Asuka for a year.
Prediction: Becky wins in what I hope is a great match. I expect Kairi to get involved but get kicked out by the ref, so we get a mostly clean win for Becky.
Bonus round: While thinking of a possible Rousey involvement in the Rumble (and in Tom Colohue’s honor asked, “What if?”), what if Rousey involves herself in THIS match instead?
7. 2020 Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Story in a nutshell: Thirty men collide to determine who will be in the main event of WrestleMania.
First let’s get the three-hundred-pound gorilla out of the way. The WWE has a tendency to overplay their hand where subtlety is required because they want EVERYONE to see the breadcrumbs they’ve laid out. Instead of foreshadowing, they set up obvious road signs. In this case, Paul Heyman has pushed the “spoiler streak” he has going on. That ends at the Rumble. So, the question now becomes, who eliminates him? I believe it’s going to be one of their special attractions to set up, NOT WrestleMania, but the Saudi show that has been rumored for end of February. So, putting on my Saudi crown to think like the ones booking the show, it leaves me with the possibilities of Caín Velasquez, because of his shared history with Brock, Tyson Fury because of the spectacle (he has boxing match a few days before one of the rumored dates but a lot of money solves a lot of problems), or Undertaker because of the emphasis on Brock having his own streak. Taker makes the most sense story wise but, most likely, in the Saudi’s eyes Fury is the biggest match.
So, who wins the Rumble? The losing brand has their number one contender decided on Elimination Chamber and I think Raw can field a better chamber match, so the winner is coming from Smackdown, which means the winner is facing The Fiend. Who can that be? The Fiend is taking out those that neutered all of Wyatt’s pushes or otherwise got the better of him in the past so that leaves. Roman, who I think is the only one who is still a full-time wrestler, so if they can’t get a special attraction, it will be him. The others that have gotten the better of Wyatt are, Ambrose who I think we can rule out unless things get REALLY weird, The Rock which I’ll eliminate for reasons I’ll get to later, the Undertaker, and John Cena. While I’d prefer Undertaker (I picture him eliminating Lesnar, ending the spoiler streak, beating him at Saudi for the belt, then challenging the Fiend to a champion vs. champion, career vs. career match and he retires at WrestleMania but that’s the poet in me speaking and unlikely to play out that way.) Cena makes sense since I can see him getting invested in the cinematic aspects of the Fiend story.
This leaves Roman outside which make me think this is where the Rock comes in. If the Rock is doing something at WrestleMania, I can see it be a 4 on 4 with the Usos, Reigns, and the Rock on one side, and Corbin, Revival, and Ziggler on the other (with Rude at ringside or hell make it a 5 on 4 handicap match). I know this means, what, like 2 more months of this feud, but if you add two months to infinity months, you still have infinity months.
Prediction: If they can get him, Cena, otherwise Roman. Longshot, Corbin but he then loses his opportunity down the road. I reserve the right to change “Cena wins” to “Roman wins” the day of the show is they run a “Roman is too injured to compete” angle.
Watch for: Rumble moments from NXT guys, a “parkour-off” between Morrison and Kofi, Big E being creepy.
8. 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Story in a nutshell: Thirty women collide to determine who will be in the main event of WrestleMania.
Originally, I had Shayna Baszler written in ink, circled, underlined, big exclamation point, smiley faces, etc. What changed? I remembered Charlotte. There is no way McMahon doesn’t have Charlotte at the top of the WrestleMania card. If Shayna wins and challenges Becky, that leaves Charlotte out in the cold so she either inserts herself into that match (no one wants a repeat of last year) or goes off to Smackdown which can only really be done if she wins. If Shayna wins, I think she’ll challenge Bayley instead. Shayna will likely be cheered, and the WWE can lean into that, having Shayna fight Bayley as a babyface, and she can turn heel, later.
Then, there is the possibility of Ronda Rousey getting involved. I can easily picture poor Dana Brooke, who was attacked by Becky and had her shot at immortality stolen from her, walk out, and get immediately waylaid by Rousey who wins the Rumble and challenges Becky.
The final, pie in the sky, possibility is Ronda, Shayna, Duke, and Shafir just wreck the women’s rumble, and one of them win, but Sasha, Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky must set aside their differences just to survive.
Prediction: While I’m not as confident as I was before, I still have Shayna unless they can get Rousey.
Watch for: Surprise returns from injury. Otis saving Mandy from elimination.