World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) 36th annual Royal Rumble event takes place this evening at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. It will mark the third time the event has been held at the Alamodome, most recently in 2017.
For those who don’t know, the Royal Rumble is a match in which 30 participants compete to be the last one standing. The match starts with two wrestlers in the ring and every 90 seconds, another wrestler enters. An elimination occurs when a wrestler is thrown over the top rope and both feet touch the ground.
There is a match for the men, and as of 2018, there is a match for the women. The winner receives a match against the champion of their choosing at WrestleMania.
The is my favourite WWE event of the year. They will announce about 15 names ahead of time who are going to be in the Royal Rumble, but there are always surprises and people we haven’t seen in years. The suspense of not knowing who’s coming out next, gets me every time.
This will be the first Royal Rumble with Triple H as the Head of Creative, which means we could be in for one of the best Rumbles ever. He has sparked life in the WWE product ever since taking over for Vince McMahon last year.
The storylines had gotten so stale. I don’t even know if I can call them storylines. It was just the same matches every week. There was little to no meaning behind anything.
But ever since Triple H took over, things have been much better. Fans knew this would be the case because we’ve seen the great job he’s done with NXT (WWE Developmental) for years.
The Roman Reigns-Bloodline-Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens storyline right now is one of the most compelling things WWE has put on TV in a very long time. It’s too long and complicated to explain here, just know there is some incredible storytelling going on.
Okay fine – long story, short:
Roman Reigns has been the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion for almost 900 days. He carries the top championship belt for both the RAW and SmackDown brands. It’s gotten annoying because he’s not there every week and is basically holding the championships hostage.
He is surrounded by his real life cousins, The Usos (Jimmy and Jey), and Solo Sikoa. Sikoa and The Use are brothers. For those of you who watched the WWE in the early 2000s, their father is Rikishi.
The Usos are undisputed tag team champions. Sikoa is the enforcer.
Oh, Paul Heyman is also there as “The Wise Man”. He’s basically their manager, but he doesn’t like to be referred to as a manager.
Within this Bloodline faction is an outsider named, Sami Zayn. He has the title of, Honorary Uce. He has been by their side for about 9 months and he sees himself as a valuable member.
However, the whole time, it has felt like Reigns has been keeping Zayn close just because he wants layers of protection. When he needs help, or wants someone to do his dirty work, Zayn is there.
And then there is Kevin Owens. He is Sami Zayn’s real life best friend. They’ve been both friends and enemies in the WWE. Currently, Owens has been trying to get through to Zayn, telling him the Bloodline is using him. Zayn has been steadfast in saying, “They love me. We are family.”
That is slowly starting to dissolve, as Reigns is paranoid that Zayn is in cahoots with Owens. Owens is set to have a match with Reigns tonight with the titles on the line. On Monday, Reigns said he has one last test for Zayn to prove that he is 100% with the Bloodline and that test will come at the Royal Rumble.
So, here we are.
We expect that Reigns will want Zayn to help him at some point during his match with Owens. But we also expect that Zayn may not comply and will take Owens’ side. That could happen tonight. Or, it could be put off until the next premium live event – Elimination Chamber – which will be taking place in Zayn’s and Owens’ hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada on February 18.
Got all that?
There are so many layers and so many different avenues this story can go. There is also the possibility that Zayn enters the Royal Rumble and wins it. If he does, that puts him on a direction collision course with Reigns.
As much as I’d like to see it, I don’t think Zayn vs. Reigns will be the main event at WrestleMania. It should be, but history tells us the WWE likes to put two huge names in that spot. While Zayn may be deserving in the eyes of die hard fans, it might be harder to sell to the casual fan who just looks for name recognition.
This is where I insert the Daniel Bryan story about how the fans hijacked shows and forced the WWE to put him in the main event of WrestleMania XXX in 2014. A similar movement may occur if Zayn a) isn’t in the Rumble or b) enters, but doesn’t win it.
That was a lot.
I’m going to go over my thoughts and predictions for the Men’s and Women’s Royal Rumble matches, respectively.
Let’s start with the Men’s Royal Rumble.
Winner Prediction: Cody Rhodes
The American Nightmare, Cody Rhodes (son of The American Dream, Dusty Rhodes) returned to WWE at last year’s WrestleMania after helping to launch their main competitor, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), in 2019. It was a big coup – something no one ever saw coming.
Rhodes suffered a torn right pectoral just a few days before a Hell in a Cell match with Seth Rollins last year. He went ahead and did the match while injured. The right side of his body was purple and red and every dark colour a bruise normally is. It was as gruesome as gruesome gets.
He has been out ever since. However, he returns at the Royal Rumble and has been getting a vignette shown for the past several weeks. They are really hyping him up. And the reason why his return isn’t a surprise is because WWE is allegedly happy with the surprises they have lined up.
So, unless The Rock comes out during the Rumble, I think Rhodes is winning it. There isn’t anyone else I can see who make sense.
Maybe only Sami Zayn? If Zayn is in the match and loses, the crowd may turn on whoever ends up winning. There is precedence. So, as much as the fans love Cody – Zayn is the hot act right now.
GUNTHER? (Yes, his name is written in all caps).
Back to The Rock.
The rumoured WrestleMania match, for years, has been The Rock vs. his cousin Roman Reigns. It would fit perfectly with the whole Bloodline story going on. But The Rock said a few days ago that there’s not enough time for him to get into ring shape for this year’s WrestleMania.
That’s fair. Being in shape and being in ring shape are two very different things.
My problem is, he’s known for years that the WWE wants him for WrestleMania. He shouldn’t have been caught off-guard.
Unless he’s swerving all of us and will be in the Royal Rumble tonight. Ahhhhh.
Predicting Surprise Entrants
Stone Cold Steve Austin: I think there is a better than 50% chance he’s in the match. He won’t win, but it may kickstart a program with someone else, culminating in a match at WrestleMania. We’ve been hearing rumours that he may be open to another match, after coming out of retirement at last year’s WrestleMania.
Jay White: He’s one of the best professional wrestlers not in the WWE. He’s best known for his work with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). Reports indicate he is expected to leave NJPW when his contract expires, which is apparently any day now. He is only 30-years-old and would immediately become a top guy who can carry the torch for the next 10 days.
John Cena: I think he’s going to have a match at WrestleMania this year. Logan Paul (yes, you read that correctly) and current United States Champion Austin Theory (a young Cena, sorta), have been rumoured opponents.
Logan Paul: He’s actually a really good wrestler.
Pat McAfee: He’s the colour commentator on SmackDown, but has been away since the start of the College Football season due to his commitments with College GameDay. His return seems imminent, and since he’s been in the ring before, a surprise entry would be fun.
Edge: We haven’t seen him in a few months; it’s time to come back.
Tommaso Ciampa: He disappeared from TV many months ago and no one really knows what happened.
Bron Breakker (Current NXT Champion): He’s the son of Rick Steiner and nephew of Scott Steiner, if that rings a bell for you. He’s really good and will be a top guy for a long time when he gets called up.
Carmelo Hayes (NXT): He should be on the main roster soon.
Joe Gacy (NXT): Another bright star in NXT.
Grayson Waller (NXT): He’s challenging Bron Breakker for the championship next week at Vengeance Day, so I don’t know if they’d put both of them in this match.
Rhea Ripley: Yes, she’s a woman but women have been in the Men’s Royal Rumble match before (Chyna, Nia Jax). In recent weeks, she’s found herself in the ring with men and begged them to fight her. They don’t, but she’s not intimidated. I think this is WWE’s way of preparing us for her appearance in the men’s match.
Let’s discuss the Women’s Royal Rumble match now.
Winner Prediction: Rhea Ripley
If not her, who? I’d love to see someone like Liv Morgan win it, but I don’t think that’s in the cards.
I think she’ll be in both matches and that will be a part of the headline when she wins.
Predicting Surprise Entrants
Naomi: Her story is too long to get into here, but if she were ever to return to the WWE, this is the moment to do it.
Carmella: The women’s division has missed her energy.
Doudrop: She recently spoke about her Covid-related health scare that has kept her out of the ring. It would be good to see her back.
Candice Michelle: The WWE brought back a bunch of women from previous eras to compete in the Women’s Rumble match since they started doing it in 2018. Candice Michelle hasn’t gotten the call yet, surprisingly. She deserves to be in there. I hope this is the year.
Roxanne Perez (Current NXT Champion): Roxanne is the future of WWE. She’s from Laredo, Texas…which in wrestling geography is close enough to San Antonio to make her a hometown favourite.
Cora Jade (NXT): Roxanne’s best friend turned enemy. She is also the future of WWE.
Tiffany Stratton (NXT): She is a former gymnast and has only been wrestling for a year. When I say she is already great, I am underselling it. The word “Star” is written all over her. She’s going to win a Royal Rumble match in the future, mark my words.
Wendy Choo (NXT): Wendy Choo needed to be on the main roster yesterday. She wrestles in a onesie and is a nap aficionado. Her comedic style is wonderful.
Indi Hartwell (NXT): She’s another superstar who should be on her way up to the main roster any day now.
Sol Ruca (NXT): She made her wrestling debut in 2022 and her athleticism is off the charts. She’d be perfect for the Royal Rumble.
There are more names I could’ve listed for both the men and women, but I think this is enough.
It should be a fun night.
Thank you for reading!
Who do you think will win the Royal Rumble?