by Frank Lucci
It’s almost time for one of the most exciting nights in sports entertainment, and WWE hopes to start 2018 right at the Royal Rumble.
There has been plenty of news, both good and bad, involving the company. From restarting failed football leagues, superstars getting into legal problems, and a dull office party being held for the 25th anniversary of Raw less than a week before the Rumble.
Throw in huge amounts of rumors for who might show up from ex-Impact stars to UFC champs and maybe even some WWE Legends and speculation is running wild. But what will really happen? Probably not as much as people are hoping, but this can be the night the WWE pulls out some of that classic magic…or do the same thing they did last time the Rumble was in Philly (sigh). I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my Royal Rumble 2018 predictions!
Bobby Roode (C) vs. Somebody (US Championship Match)
I thought WWE decided to cut some time from the show by giving the US title tournament finale to Smackdown, but then we get new champ Roode facing a mystery opponent for the belt on the preshow.
Since this, like all the other preshow matches, literally came out of nowhere I do not think this is going to be much of a match. Roode should be in the Rumble to help fill out the dozen or so vacancies in that match, instead of filling time on the two hour preshow. Bcause really, we need to here Booker T ramble more on WWE programming.
I have a nasty feeling Dolph Ziggler is going to return here rather anticlimactically instead of being in the Rumble. What I hope is we get a random legend or a Zack Ryder type to fill in five minutes so Bobby can save his energy for later. Either way Roode retains.
The Club vs. The Revival
This rematch from Raw 25 sees the humiliated Revival take on The Club who are desperately trying to avoid filling the hole that Dash and Dawson now fill. There is nothing really to care about here, but it could still be a good match. Both teams deserve better, but this is what we get.
Maybe one day this will be a real feud, but I doubt it. The Club win because they need to be taken seriously so they can take losses to main eventers for Finn during his future feuds.
Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado vs. TJP, Jack Gallagher, and Drew Gulak
This time filler theoretically could be used to figure out to see who may succeed the now disgraced and fired Enzo Amore as champ. But really, this is here to make the crowd pop as the small men do some flips and hit each other really hard before some dinosaurs plod around the ring.
Conspicuous by his absence is Cedric Alexander, who went from challenging for the belt to not being booked for the PPV. I hope that means he is in the Rumble. Drew Gulak is the only one here with any personality, so I think his team will win. As for what to do with the belt I would have a tournament to recreate some of that CWC magic that concludes on Wrestlemania…’s Preshow.
Meanwhile, as for the new GM, nobody seems to know who it will be, so I’d like to see Christian do it. He is a great face or heel, has a history of being a smaller competitor, and he could really add some flair and sta rpower to 205 live.
Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan (C) vs. The Bar (WWE Raw Tag Team Title Match)
The Bar look to get their titles back from the oddball duo of Seth and Jason, who seem to be ready for a split sooner rather than later. The problem is literally nobody cares, and while Jordan is getting better week to week as the spoiled friend who insists on being player one and playing as Raphael in Turtles in TIme he still is dealing with that go away heat.
I would like the champs to have one big PPV match where you get hooked into believing this team could work before the rug is pulled out from under Seth. Have Kurt get in his face for not helping his baby boy succeed to plant a seed for a possible match between Rollins and Angle in the future. Team Roll-Son wins and the split happens at the next PPV.
The Usos (C) vs. American Beta (WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match)
The Usos appear to be getting off scot-free for that whole DUI thing, which is a bit odd all things considered. They will be facing Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, who are desperately trying to get the crowd to care about them by putting on really solid matches. It has not clicked quite yet, but they are getting there.
Despite the legal snafu, the Usos are still one of the best teams on the roster and I do not see much reason to have them lose. Mostly I just want them to make the main show of Wrestlemania for once, so I think they will retain here.
AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (Two on One Handicap Match for WWE Championship)
I am not sure what WWE is trying to do with this feud. It all comes down to Shane vs DB, with these guys and the belt being bit players for the authority figure fight. Nobody cares, and with KO injured both in real life and in kayfabe I am not sure why this is happening. I’d rather see AJ take on Zayn solo at this point since that should be a barnburner of a match.
Of course, we just saw that on the go-home Smackdown, but hey who cares. AJ deserves to be champ going into Mania, and there is plenty of dream matches for the big show he could be part of. AJ retains in what could be interesting or just a time filler.
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Braun Strowman vs. The Demon Mayor Kane (WWE Universal Championship Match)
WWE has continued to give Braun Strowman epic moments that make great Youtube videos. Meanwhile, Brock is never around to make for interesting viewing and Kane is a mayoral candidate.
I want so badly for Braun to win because he is the most interesting man to watch in WWE and somebody I could see as their next breakout star. I 100% see a future where Marvel and DC are in a bidding war to get Braun to play a character in their cinematic universes.
We all know Brock vs Reigns is happening at Wrestlemania, and we shall see exactly how they get to that conclusion soon enough. I can only imagine Kane is here for the pin since he has spent the entire build getting beat up so bad he disappears. Brock wins in what could be fun or completely boring.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
The main questions going into this match have been:
- Is Ronda Rousey going to win?
- Who exactly is going to fill in the dozen empty spots in the match?
- Will Asuka stay undefeated?
- Seriously though Is Ronda is Columbia or in Philly right now?!
If WWE is seriously bringing in Rousey this would be the splashy time to do it, and the more she posts about being in South American the more suspicious I get.
As for the other mystery opponents, I do not want too many NXT regulars showing up. Throw in The Iconic Duo, Ember Moon, and Nikki Cross and that’s it. Fill out the rest with some legends (since female legends do not nearly show up as much they should get some love, especially if Trish and Lita enter) and maybe some of the more well known Mae Young ladies like new signee Candice Lerae. Otherwise, if you add people like Bianca Belair people will know they got no chance and will just build up the Ronda expectations even more.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the UFC star and Asuka as potential winners. If Ronda is in the match she is winning, and if not Asuka wins.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
This match has a little more mystery to it, but still has an equal number of spots needing to be filled.
I heard Pete Dunne is flying in for the match, and if he and Tyler Bate are in the match that would be amazing. Let them enter early and last a long time to keep the action fresh. We just saw a bunch of legends on Raw, so maybe keep some around for the Rumble.
If I had to predict a surefire legend I’d go with Bubba Ray Dudley since it is Philly after all. Garnish with some cruiserweights, a few NXT boys and Curt Hawkins and we got an interesting Rumble. The potential five winners are as follows (from least to most likely):
5) Roman Reigns- He is officially in, and I think WWE might just be crazy/spiteful enough to have a repeat of Reign’s previous Rumble win in the exact same arena. Having him lose the IC belt to The Miz and sneakily declare for the match adds to my conspiracy vibe. But at the same time, somebody has to be the voice of reason and avoid the scene that would befall the city if this happens.
4) Dolph Ziggler- A random favorite in Vegas could sneak in and get a weird Jack Swagger at Mania 29 push. If Jackie Boy could get a title shot at the biggest show of the year, why not Zigglypuff? If he is the mystery challenger to Roode’s US Championship match then disregard this guy from winning/
3) John Cena- Because it is John Cena and we should assume he is going to win every match he is in.
2) Daniel Bryan- Another guy who is a betting favorite in Vegas. The ultimate boom or bust candidate could win in a surprise return, but too many people may just be getting their hopes up. WIth the potential legal problems a returning them concussed Bryan could cause I feel like WWE is still going to lean no on his return. That being said I could see him returning at number 30 to further his feud with Shane, who shames him for putting his wrestling desire over his GM duties.
1) Shinsuke Nakamura- While Nakamura has not exactly been built as a world beater, that match with Styles for the belt is looming. The company has teased them fighting for over half a year, and really WWE needs the goodwill a classic match such as this would bring to the Mania marathon. Unless WWE is plotting an evil surprise I think The King of Strong Style will be the one to point at the big Mania sign at the end of the night.