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The WWE Royal Rumble 2023 will take place on January 28, 2023, in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas where we get the answer to the question… what is a Mountain Dew Pitch Black(tm) match? Roman Reigns also seeks to find out where Sami Zayn’s loyalty truly lies when Reigns defends the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Zayn’s former friend and rival, Kevin Owens. Uncle Howdy will likely have to pull double duty as the two he has set his eyes on have matches when Bray Wyatt (or will it be a returning Fiend) faces LA Knight in a Mountain Dew Pitch Black(tm) and Alexa Bliss challenges Bianca Belair for Belair’s WWE Raw Women’s Championship. And, of course, the most important question of all, who will get a guaranteed spot in the main event at WrestleMania 39.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owen – Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: Despite his team losing at Survivor Series War Games when Kevin Owens’s friend/rival Sami Zayn firmly sided with Roman Reigns and his Bloodline, Kevin Owens continued attacking the Bloodline until Reigns granted Owens a title shot.
Kevin Owens, after his defeat at Survivor Series, continue exerting pressure one Roman Reigns and the Bloodline, waging a guerrilla-style war by engaging in a series of hit and run attacks. He also sowed doubt in Sami Zayn about his status in the Bloodline causing internal strife in the Bloodline. Frustrated, Reigns accepted Owens’s challenge for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship to finish him once and for all. With Sami Zayne loyalty to the Bloodline being called into question by Paul Heyman, Zayn needs to prove himself to Reigns once more.
Prediction and Analysis: Reigns wins this. Of that there is no doubt. Zayn is likely to play a role in the outcome of this match.
Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight, Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match
Story in a nutshell: After suffering a series of attacks that LA Knight thinks Bray Wyatt is responsible for, Knight faces Wyatt in a Mountain Dew Pitch Black(tm) match.
What is a Mountain Dew Pitch Black(tm) match? Don’t know. It is presumably some sort of street fight match variation with some lighting gimmick. LA Knight crossed paths with a recently returned Bray Wyatt and took umbrage with him, eventually attacking Wyatt. This led to a series of surprise attacks on Knight by a masked figure Knight was convinced was Wyatt. Wyatt claimed innocence, claiming that the attacker someone he called “Uncle Howdy”. Uncle Howdy made his appearance and attacked Wyatt. Knight believes Uncle Howdy to be one of Wyatt’s attempts at mind games, claiming Wyatt is a fraud. This led to this Mountain Dew Pitch Black(tm) match.
Prediction and Analysis: I don’t like the fact that Wyatt’s first match is some cross promotional gimmick match. It works at cross purposes of what is supposed to be a serious dramatic issue that, due to its supernatural leanings, requires a greater amount of the suspension of disbelief. This has to the potential to be a WrestleMania Backlash 2021 Miz/Damien Zombie Lumberjack match level debacle from when WWE was cross promoting with the Army of the Dead movie if they are not careful. I think there is a chance LA Knight actually wins this since ultimately, we are heading into a feud between Wyatt and the mysterious Uncle Howdy.
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss – WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match
Story in a nutshell: After winning a number one contender match (and being reminded of her past with Bray Wyatt and the Fiend), Alexa Bliss returned to her darker side to gain a mental advantage over WWE Raw Women’s Champion, Bianca Belair at the WWE Royal Rumble 2023.
Alexa Bliss was allied with Bianca Belair in Belair’s feud with Bayley and Damage CTRL. During this time, images associated with Bray Wyatt/Uncle Howdy and her past with the Fiend have been popping up around her. Eventually, these moments were accompanied with a change in Bliss’s demeanor.
Bliss defeated Bayley to become the number one contender to Belair’s WWE Raw Women’s championship. After the match, Belair joined Bliss to celebrate. Another flash of the graphic and Bliss went for a Sister Abigail, catching herself at the last moment. In a later interview, Bliss explained herself to Belair, blaming her actions on the trauma Bliss suffered under the “sway” of Bray Wyatt and the Fiend. Another flash and Bliss attacked Belair. This continued into their championship match where people wearing masks distracted Bliss and another flash triggered Bliss to attack the referee and injure Belair.
Bliss claimed that this was all going according to her design, that this was all mind games on her part and that she wasn’t influenced by anyone. Uncle Howdy finally made his appearance casting doubt whether she was really in control of her actions or not. After recovering, Belair challenged Bliss to match a Royal Rumble so Belair could have her revenge.
Prediction and Analysis: Bianca Belair wins this. I think the internal struggle between Bliss and Dark Bliss will ultimately cost Bliss the match.
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.
The following is a list of participants announced as of writing along with issues they may have with other participants when applicable:
- Kofi Kingston is currently a co-holder of the NXT tag titles so whatever is going on Nxt can influence the match. Also, he’ll have another crazy way to avoid elimination.
- Ricochet defeated Top Dolla to earn a spot so he has issues with Hit Row.
- Austin Theory is currently the WWE United States champion and has recently had issues with Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley, although this match can start up issues with whomever eliminates him.
- Seth Rollins has not been shy about saying that he is ultimately gunning for Roman Reigns as well as his aforementioned issues with Theory.
- Bobby Lashley is a linchpin here as I round out the “Theory trio” of people with recent Theory issues (quartet if Mustafa Ali is in the match). Lashley also has issues with Brock Lesnar as well as connections, for good or ill, with Omos (through MVP), Shelton Benjamin, and Cedrick Alexander.
- Rey Mysterio currently has issues with his son Dominick Mysterio (and the rest of Judgment Day by extension) and Karrion Kross. I expect Dominick to be responsible for his father’s elimination in some way.
- Dominick Mysterio, see Rey.
- Karrion Kross has had issues with Drew McIntyre as well as Rey. I wouldn’t be surprised if something is teased between, he and someone else for a future feud.
- Drew McIntyre, beyond old issues with Kross, has recently been involved on friendly terms with Sheamus. He also needs revenge on Solo Sikoa if he happens to be in the match. A face-off between Drew and Gunther is possible.
- Gunther is the current WWE Intercontinental champion and leader of Imperium. He’s had issues with Sheamus most recently.
- Sheamus has been working with Drew while feuding with Gunther and Imperium.
- Omos, see Lashley.
- Santos Escobar
- Baron Corbin
- Braun Strowman
- Cody Rhodes will be making his return from injury at the Royal Rumble. He left while feuding with Seth so I expect some sort of interaction between them.
Prediction and analysis: With only half of the participants announced (as of writing) there are plenty of spots open for surprises. I expect Edge and Brock Lesnar to be involved. Other possibilities are Stephen Amnell who will be there for Cody and Matt Cardona (Zack Ryder). Then there is the Rock who, despite protestations, is a possible opponent for Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. As far as the winner for the WWE Royal Rumble 2023, my top five in order are, Rock, Cody, Zayn, Seth, and Lesnar.
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.
The following is a list of participants announced as of writing along with issues they may have with other participants when applicable (though it isn’t much):
- Shayna Baszler was last seen in cahoots with former WWE Smackdown Women’s champion, Ronda Rousey.
- Liv Morgan has been acting more viciously as of late, reveling in taking and dishing out pain making her more reckless.
- Candice LaRae
- Rhea Ripley
- Raquel Rodriguez
- Zelina Vega
Prediction and analysis: With only seven women officially announced as of writing, there is a whole smorgasbord of women who can be surprise entrants. I think Beth Phoenix show up since she was taken out by Rhea Ripley and is likely to cause Ripley the match which is why I have Becky Lynch as the most likely winner with Bayley second. I have Ripley third and Rousey fourth. I would not be surprised if there is a contrived spot where both Bayley and Lynch are eliminated from the WWE Royal Rumble 2023 at the same time.
CATCH-UP: Cody Rhodes return details emerge