Sheamus (C) and Cesaro (C) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon – Smackdown Tag Team Titles
In all honesty, I have not been paying attention much to this little feud. This little team between Shane and Miz goes back to the Greatest Royal Rumble. The pairing is inoffensive, but it hasn’t gotten me excited. That is primarily because I have an aversion to seeing Shane in the ring wrestling. I can only assume that this pairing was made just to put the titles on these two. The Smackdown tag team title scene has gotten a little stale, no matter how solid the matches have been. So, I guess that The Miz and Shane is where we are going.
Winners: The Miz and Shane McMahon
Buddy Murphy (C) vs. Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Hideo Itami – Cruiserweight Championship
Since Mustafa Ali has become a full-time member of the Smackdown brand, I’ve been sort of tuning out to 205 Live, but what I do know is that they continue to have quality matches. Nothing has changed with Buddy Murphy as champion, and I’m glad that he is getting this run. I don’t anticipate Kalisto or Akira winning. I just can’t see people getting behind either of them. Hideo is the only person in this match who has not been a CW champion. If anyone is going to take the title off Murphy in this match, it is him. However, I think Buddy will carry the title into WrestleMania.
Winner: Buddy Murphy
Rusev (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – United States Championship
If we are being honest, this feud really hasn’t been good at all. It is primarily centered on an incident in which Nakamura attacked Rusev, Lana got on top of Nakamura, Rusev knocks Shinsuke down, taking Lana with him, and then Rusev blaming Shinsuke for it. Beyond Rusev’s glorious self-gratification and admiration of his own muscles, there really isn’t much strength to this feud. I can see Shinsuke potentially winning it back, but Rusev retaining is the safe bet here.
Asuka (C) vs. Becky Lynch – Smackdown Women’s Championship
I’m expecting pretty good things out of this match, and I am interested to see what the finish will be. Becky Lynch has been on fire since her heel turn (although she has cooled off a bit the past couple of weeks). She’s been puffing out her chest on social media and in the ring. Becky didn’t really even lose the title as Ronda Rousey was involved in the finish, and it was a triple threat match. Does WWE decide to protect her again? I think it is safe to say that Asuka will hold onto to the title here and then go onto WrestleMania. I think Becky has bigger plans on the way, and don’t think she will leave the Royal Rumble empty-handed.
Ronda Rousey (C) vs. Sasha Banks – RAW Women’s Championship
This may be the match I am looking forward to the most due to the fact that Ronda has been in WWE for a year (ALREADY) and Sasha Banks is one of the few women she has not regularly interacted with. Sasha spent the better half of last year meandering around in meaningless tag team matches, fantasizing over being women tag team champions with Bayley and monotonous matchups with the Riott Squad. Now, she is inserted into the title picture for the first time in a while and faces a woman she has yet to throw hands with. Ronda is winning the matchup, but Sasha presents a challenge that Ronda has yet to face, and Rousey has always been able to adapt to the style of anyone she’s been in the ring with. This should be a banger.
Winner: Ronda Rousey
Daniel Bryan (C) vs. AJ Styles – WWE Championship
We have seen Bryan and AJ frequently within the past couple of months, but they always kill it when they are in the ring together. What has carried this feud for me is Daniel Bryan’s new attitude. I always loved him as a heel, and him being a vegan, environmentalist douchebag is absolutely perfect. It is even more perfect when going up against AJ Styles with an edge. I believe that Daniel Bryan will be retaining the title here, as I do not think that AJ will be getting a third title reign after holding the title for basically all of last year. Actually, I think that AJ Styles will actually lose the match thanks to interference by who I believe will be AJ’s WrestleMania opponent, Randy Orton.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Finn Balor – Universal Championship
Finn Balor’s David vs. Goliath story is the easiest wrestling story in the book to tell. However, as I wrote just the other day, the end result is not the most important thing in this match so much as it is Finn Balor’s performance. He needs to deliver here to set the tone for 2019 properly. You would think that the first ever Universal Champion that was set for a monster push upon his main roster call-up would be involved in more high profile matches, but for the most part, he’s been an afterthought since returning from his injury about two years ago. What are the odds that Finn upsets Brock here? I wouldn’t say they are good.
I think we will get some playful teases from WWE, and I do think Finn will come close. Eventually, however, I think Brock will do what he has done. He will probably suplex him a lot, catch him in mid-air or something, and finish him off with an F-5. Realistically speaking, it seems unrealistic to see someone half of Brock’s size to defeat him without any shenanigans. Then again, that is what would make for a good upset. I think Finn will have a great performance, but will ultimately fall short.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
I think there are only two realistic potential winners of this year’s Royal Rumble match. Charlotte or Becky Lynch. I know that Becky Lynch is already scheduled for a title match, and it would not make sense to have her in the Rumble match when she’s already due for a title match. However, WWE has had no problem blurring the lines of that trope in recent history (Roman Reigns in 2017 and Sami Zayn last year). The thing that makes this complex is that Charlotte and Becky both have issues with two women each, being the current women’s champions, Asuka and Ronda Rousey.