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The road to WrestleMania and all the sign pointing it entails, begins On January 31, 2021 with the thirty-fourth Royal Rumble emanating from the Thunderdome at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’ve always found the lead up to the Rumble to be a fun experience as speculation abounds regarding the potential winners. There is the anticipation of what surprises we might be delighted, disappointed, or dismayed by. Old rivals and allies cross paths, new enmities are born, and strange bedfellows made. When done well, it’s usually a fun night and the WWE event I most look forward to every year. So, without further ado …
Men’s Royal Rumble match
Story in a nutshell: Thirty men enter the ring at regular intervals and are eliminated by getting tossed over the top rope with both feet touching the ground with the last person standing winning a title shot against the champion of their choice.
A.J. Styles, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Braun Strowman have all had a spotlight on them heading into the match. Cesaro and Shinsuke are (former?) tag partners who have big wins against Daniel Bryan. Daniel Bryan has been touted as a future hall of famer that has never won the Royal Rumble. Sheamus has had several strong showings on Raw. A.J. Styles has been acting as the “gatekeeper” who has been keeping lower card wrestlers from entering the Rumble by beating them in matches. Strowman came back from “suspension” (he was injured) on the final Smackdown before the Rumble. Other notable entrants include Randy Orton, who is involved in a feud with the Fiend and whose face was recently burned by Alexa Bliss, and Edge who has been out with an injury.
Prediction: The challenger for one of the titles will be decided by the Rumble winner while the challenger for the other title will likely be decided by the Elimination Chamber match on the next PPV. Raw can field a better Chamber match so I think the winner will come from Smackdown, specifically Daniel Bryan.
That is if there IS a winner. The Fiend was presumably destroyed at the last PPV and hasn’t been seen since. It is possible the Fiend interferes in the match making it so there are no winners.
Finally, a part-timer or an outsider, like Brock Lesnar (has a connection to Heyman), Goldberg (still has beef with Reigns), John Cena (recently appeared on a skit and the promos between Cena and a heel Reigns would be fire), or (and I can’t believe I am saying this since I was never a fan of his), CM Punk (a bump in the ratings and to keep him away from the competition) are all possible.
Bonus Predictions: Bobby Lashley has the most eliminations only for an opportunistic Riddle to eliminate him. One of the Mysterio’s accidentally or “accidentally” eliminates the other. Jimmy returns and eliminates Jey setting off a feud. John Morrison or Xavier Woods has the parkour-style elimination escape. Maybe Reginald if he gets involved. Damien Priest debuts. Boom.
Women’s Royal Rumble match
Story in a nutshell: Thirty women enter the ring at regular intervals and are eliminated by getting tossed over the top rope with both feet touching the ground with the last person standing winning a title shot against the champion of their choice.
Not many women involved have received a spotlight on the way to the Rumble. As of this writing, only thirteen of thirty women have been declared as participants. Bianca Belair and Bayley have had the brightest spotlight as the two have been feuding recently. Charlotte has been feuding with Lacey Evans (Evans hasn’t been declared yet). Billie Kay has been trying to join and help the team of Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan. Depending on the placement of this match on the card, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax either come in as tag team champions or have been thwarted by Charlotte and Asuka. Alexa Bliss is mourning the Fiend’s demise and has been feuding with Randy Orton and recently has had matches with Asuka where she has shown an alternate persona similar to the Fiend.
Prediction: Barring the return of Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, or someone not on the active roster, my number one pick is Rhea Ripley, though I’m far less confident of that than I was after last year’s WrestleMania run. Bayley winning to rekindle her feud with Sasha Banks seems just as likely.
Bonus Predictions: Whether she wins or not, Ripley will debut. Eva Marie will make a surprise appearance. Naomi gets the “defies elimination” spot. A heavy involvement of NXT talent. A miscue by Baszler and Jax get them into position to be eliminated by Lana leading them into conflict during their tag team match if the Rumble match happens before the title match. Lana gets put through the table for her efforts. If the Smackdown Women’s Championship match happens before the Rumble, Carmella enters and crosses paths with Bianca setting up a feud. Taya Valkyrie debuts. Ric Flair is responsible for his daughter’s elimination.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens, WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing match
Story in a nutshell: After an attempt to get at Adam Pearce went awry when Pearce outmaneuvered Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman, Reigns finds himself face to face with Kevin Owens again.
Reigns, feeling that Adam Pearce was undercutting him, manipulated the results of a gauntlet match to ensure Adam Pearce ended up as Roman’s number one contender at the Royal Rumble where Reigns would be able to punish Pearce with no repercussions. A savvy Pearce activated the “card subject to change” clause on the contract by being too “hurt” to compete and named Kevin Owens as his replacement, much to Reigns’s chagrin. No matter how hard Reigns tries during this long running feud, Kevin Owens has refused to stay down for Reigns. It is a feat that will be put to the test in last man standing match.
Prediction: Yeah. Reigns wins.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs Bill Goldberg, WWE Championship match
Story in a nutshell: After Drew McIntyre disrespected the Legends present at the Raw Legends show, Goldberg called out Drew McIntyre and challenged him for his Universal Championship.
If the part before the comma in “Story in a nutshell” makes no sense, it’s because this story has been botched from the start. During the Legend’s special episode of Raw, Goldberg came out to address a promo Drew never did since it was cut for time. Whoever thought Goldberg would call an audible and pivot to something that would make sense severely underestimated the man’s intractability. Then McIntyre came down with a case of the COVIDs and little could be done to salvage the situation. And the frosting on the poop cake is the involvement of Miz, who is threatening to cash in his Money in the Bank contract.
Prediction: Claymore, kick out, Spear, Jackhammer counter, Claymore, Claymore, Drew win.
Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax, WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Story in a nutshell: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax were granted their guaranteed rematch that is totally old-fashioned which WWE doesn’t do any more unless they forget or it is a convenient way to get to a match.
With Asuka being involved with Alexa Bliss and Charlotte dealing with family drama and Lacey Evans, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler realized it was the perfect time to capitalize on the champions’ distraction and so decided to exercise their rematch opportunity.
Prediction: One of these teams will break up as a result of this match. A Ric/Evans interference can cost the champions the title. However, it’s more likely to be Baszler and Jax. Whether the disintegration is permanent depends on the match’s placement on the card relative to the women’s Rumble match. If the Rumble happens before, then the strife between Baszler and Jax comes to a head here.
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Carmela WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship match
Story in a nutshell: After successfully defending her title against Carmela already, Sasha Banks offered Carmella another title shot in order for Sasha to get her hands on Carmela’s sommelier, Reginald.
Yeah, that was the long and short of it.
Prediction: Sasha retains and will feud with Bayley while Bianca and Carmela mix it up.