It’s kind of hard to believe, but we are already back on the road to WrestleMania, and that road begins this Sunday at the Royal Rumble. With a Royal Rumble match as star-studded as it has been in a while, and an undercard featuring four title matches, WWE is looking to start of 2017 on a high note. With that said, let us go through each of the matches, and I’ll relay to you my predictions. (For the pre-show matches, I have Nia Jax defeating Sasha Banks, the Smackdown heel females will defeat the faces and Cesaro and Sheamus retain their titles over Gallows and Anderson).
Rich Swann (C) vs. Neville – WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville has been a breath of fresh air for the Cruiserweight division that is in shambles (as evidenced by the consistent non-reactions the Cruiserweights get on RAW and the poor 205 Live numbers. He came back at Roadblock, laying waste to both Rich Swann and TJ Perkins. Since then, Neville has grown a beard, an attitude and some new music (though I don’t like it). His new attitude and heelish way of doing things is the precise antithesis of the faces of the Cruiserweights. He’s also produced well in the ring as well, having good matches with Swann and Cedric Alexander since then. Now, the question is does WWE put the Cruiserweight title on Neville. Well, since the Cruiserweights have come to RAW, there have been three Cruiserweights, so we can’t rule out the possibility of WWE putting the title quickly on Neville right now. For as good as Swann is in the ring, he is lacking in charisma, personality and mic work. His personality, though unique to him, just makes it hard to take him seriously as champion, which is why many want to see Neville take the title off of him. If you ask me, this Sunday, I see Swann retaining, for the simple fact that Neville has already defeated him. The Brian Kendrick defeated TJ Perkins before winning the Cruiserweight Championship before, so of course, this also leaves room for Neville to win, but I see something along the lines of Swann winning with a roll-up or something and Neville brutally assaults him after and wins the title in an eventual rematch.
Winner: Rich Swann
Charlotte (C) vs. Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship
A year ago at the Rumble, when we still had the Divas Championship, Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch and for the majority of the latter half of 2016, Charlotte worked with Sasha Banks and won that feud. She has now moved on to the final member of the Four Horsewomen, Bayley. As it has been banged in the head time and time again, Charlotte has yet to lose her title on PPV, and we all shouldn’t expect anything different to occur this Sunday. Bayley’s story has been one of a little kid living her childhood dreams, and she wants to achieve that dream this Sunday, and Charlotte is the talented, but egotistical heel that has proven to be infallible when it comes to defending her title when the lights shine the brightest. In a lot of ways, Bayley is sort of like the female Daniel Bryan, and if she takes the same route as him, we shouldn’t expect to get her big moment this early. If she’s winning the RAW Women’s Title, which she will, it’s highly likely that she does so at WrestleMaina. So whether it is clean or not, expect the Queen to retain the title to live another day.
Kevin Owens (C) vs. Roman Reigns – Universal Championship (No Disqualification)
Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns need to get as far away from each other as possible after this Sunday. I am so sick of seeing these three being involved in each other’s business MONDAY AFTER MONDAY AFTER FREAKING MONDAY. The only good thing that has come out of these three beefing with each other is that Chris Jericho finally won the United States Championship and became the seventh person in WWE history to win every major title, and the only Grand Slam champion in WWE history. One would think that Roman Reigns as United States Champion would keep him out of the main event scene, but it’s clear that we were wrong. Kevin Owens’ reign, if we’re not being politically correct, has been pretty much one to forget. His PPV defenses, aside from the Hell In A Cell match, have been rather lackluster, and a huge side of me liked him better in mid to late 2015 when he was Intercontinental Champion. While he can still be very entertaining with Jericho, the frequency with which the two speak together has caused his act to grow stale. However, does that mean we need to shift to Roman Reigns yet again?
Almost every rumor I’ve read have shown that Roman Reigns is indeed set to win the Universal Championship this Sunday, and before Monday Night, I completely believed that. However, the No Disqualification stipulation does make for interesting possibilities. Yes, Chris Jericho is locked inside a shark cage above the ring, and yes, we all know Kevin Owens cannot and will not beat Roman Reigns straight up, one on one. However, who’s to say that someone else doesn’t interfere on Owens’ behalf to save his hide? Who that person may be, I have no idea. I also look at the fact that Roman Reigns has defeated KO not once, but twice in singles matches within the past two months. My instinct tells me that Roman can overcome all odds, but while I know he will eventually win the Universal Championship, there’s just a part of me that believes that the No DQ stipulation will work in KO’s favor this Sunday. Dammit, now my brain hurts.
Winner: Kevin Owens
AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena – WWE Championship
A year ago, AJ Styles made his WWE debut by shocking everyone as the third entrant in the Royal Rumble. One year later, he holds WWE’s top prize and will face The Franchise in what is bound to be an exciting bout. AJ Styles and John Cena have had incredible bouts in the past, and I honestly hope they try to outdo themselves from Summerslam and give us another bout to remember. This is really all about AJ Styles being the face to replace (see what I did there) John Cena. Cena’s part-time status and seemingly lack of commitment to WWE has been a core piece of this feud, while AJ Styles has claimed (and rightfully so) that he’s carried Smackdown LIVE on his back since Cena left. But now Cena’s back, and he’s looking to gain the 16th world title that has since long eluded him for about 2 and a half years now. Now, just like the Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns situation, I was dead set on betting that John Cena would win the WWE Championship. However, the past two weeks have again caused me to reconsider my thoughts. Last week, we saw John Cena deliver an AA to AJ Styles. This week, we saw Cena get the last word and call AJ Styles “just a man”, and he also came off kind of heelish while doing so, which makes me consider the slightest of possibilities that perhaps there may be a…….DOUBLE TURN? Now, now, bear with me here. If San Antonio is a smarky crowd, and most big events in WWE usually are these days, they’ll most likely cheer AJ and boo Cena. Now, of course, this has happened before but look at it like this. AJ Styles has defeated John Cena three times in big match situations (Money In The Bank, Summerslam, No Mercy). Cena threw everything in his bag of tricks to AJ, and he was still able to survive Cena. So does maybe Cena get desperate and try underhanded tactics to beat AJ? It’s crazy, and perhaps unlikely, but don’t rule it out.