Welcome to part 2 of my predictions series breaking down which superstars will be entering the record books when it comes to the 2020 Royal Rumble matches.
In part 1, I focused my 3-Count on the men and women I think will end up scoring the most eliminations. For this part, I want to shift my attention onto people who may not necessarily toss out a ton of people and play offense, but will have a great showing by being more defensive and sticking around to last the longest.
These are the Iron Man and Iron Woman of the match, and while it is an impressive feat, most of the time, the people who achieve this don’t actually come out on top, as they tend to start in the first five entrance spots, which makes it considerably harder to outlast the rest of the competition.
Factoring in everything from stamina to how the Iron Man/Woman is typically someone of importance, but not necessarily the biggest stars, I’ve got my list for this year of who I think could be given this honor.
In no particular order, here are those names…
WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
Given how much attention has been dedicated to Flair, the only way she doesn’t last long is if she shows up toward the very end. I don’t think that’s WWE’s game plan, though.
They know she’s a focal point and that if she doesn’t show up early enough in the match, it will feel like there’s a void. As great as some people like Nikki Cross and Sonya Deville and Naomi are, I don’t think anyone is going to feel like a real winner is in the mix until Flair enters.
Then, once The Queen comes in, she’s sticking around until the very end. She either wins it or gets taken out as the runner-up or a member of the Final Four. There’s no way she gets taken out with a handful of people still left to come out.
If WWE is looking for a big enough name to start the match with, go a long distance, but get tossed out before the Final Four, I think that spot will go to Natalya.
She’s a veteran, beloved, can hold down the fort and call the match, is trustworthy to not stink up the joint and it would give her something to tout even in her loss. “Hell of an effort” praises, in a sense, as she saunters off to the back having worked 40 minutes to come up short.
Natalya had the longest time last year with 56 minutes and 1 second, entering at #2. I don’t think she’ll reach that far along, but there’s a precedent for WWE repeating the Iron Man spot in the past, at least. Chris Benoit did it in 2004 and 2005.
Sasha Banks didn’t compete in last year’s Royal Rumble match as she was fighting Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship. The previous year, though, she was the #1 entrant.
This year, I could see her coming out around the 10 mark and lasting until the end. Depending on whether or not someone like Flair comes out before her could really dictate if she wins the Iron Woman spot or if she’s just shy of it while putting in virtually the same amount of time.
I don’t expect her to win, so there’s always one spot above her, potentially, who could usurp the position by a few seconds. But I do expect her to be a featured player, last a long time and reach the Final Four, in which case, don’t count her out as being the longest even if it’s just a 30 minute mark or something not quite epic.
BONUS: Who will have the shortest time?
This is tough. There aren’t any purely laughable characters that can be jobbed out right now that are obvious picks. If anyone fits that bill, it would be Peyton Royce or Billie Kay, but they’ve been largely absent, so I don’t think WWE would bother giving them a featured humiliation spot. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t still get the shortest time by default anyway.
I know a lot of people will think Dana Brooke, but I’m not going in that direction. She’s been given a credibility boost. You know who hasn’t, though? Tamina. She’s been completely MIA and I don’t think they trust her to be in there for a long time with her injuries and lack of popularity.
MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
The Beast Incarnate is starting out as the first entrant. He has to be everyone’s top pick to last the longest, as he’s practically unstoppable.
Granted, there’s always a chance WWE is doing this to swerve everyone and he’ll be taken out by entry #2 if it’s someone like Cain Velasquez, Tyson Fury or anyone like that. This might be nothing but a gag to get him to threaten to dictate the pace of the whole match, just to get taken out quickly, hop in the shower and head home while the match is still going on.
But I’m erring on the side of history with my prediction and assuming Lesnar destroys everyone like he normally does. He rarely ever loses anything, so why act like that’s a guarantee to happen here?
If Lesnar doesn’t get tossed out immediately, he’s lasting until the very end, if not winning.
To be fair, this may be a flawed pick. While I think Roman Reigns is one of the top candidates to win the match, I don’t necessarily think he has to do it from an early spot, which may mean others last longer in the match, but lose.
Reigns could come in at #23 or so, win the match and be several minutes behind anyone who came early enough and lasted toward the Final Four or so (like a Lesnar).
But everything is up in the air. There are countless ways this match can go down, from #30 winning back to back years after so many editions that they lost, to the tendency for most Iron Men coming in at #1, #2 or #5. Last year, Seth Rollins lasted the longest and he was #10. In 2002 and 2010, Steve Austin and John Cena did it from the #19 spot. You never know.
I could be getting caught up in the 3-2-1 countdown that he’s doing and this renewed push, but what if WWE had the foresight to start getting fans on board with that chant so Drew McIntyre could have a great showing at Royal Rumble and play with the clock?