The Royal Rumble--one of the most exciting WWE events of the year--is coming to PPV and the WWE Network on Sunday, January 29. While many of WWE's titles will be on the line, what people are most looking forward to is the 30-man, over-the-top Royal Rumble match. However, this PPV is more than just that match. This year's Rumble is stacked with matches from both the Raw and Smackdown brands. Let's take a look at who is on the card for the January 29 event and our predictions.
Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax (Kickoff Show)
This year's Kickoff Show will run for two hours prior to the start of the actual PPV event, and it will boast multiple matches. For the past month, a rivalry has been building between Sasha Banks and Nia Jax. A huge moment happened last week, when Jax attacked Banks while her knee was being assessed by doctors for her hurt knee.
Jax has been extremely dominant since she's moved to the main roster, but Banks will not give up without a fight. We're giving this one to Banks, so we can continue to see this rivalry continue. Also, Jax has been so dominant that a loss to her would really light a fire under her.
Our Prediction: Sasha Banks wins clean.
Cesaro & Sheamus (c) vs Gallows & Anderson (Kickoff Show)
(For the Raw Tag Team Championship)
Strangely enough, the Kickoff Show will have a title match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. A rivalry has been brewing between the tag team champs and Gallows and Anderson, and it's coming to a head at the Royal Rumble.
Gallows and Anderson have tried time and time again to win the titles, against the New Day, and they've come up empty-handed. In order to give these two some legitimacy, they have to win here. This wouldn't hurt Cesaro and Sheamus, though, as they need to have a rival team with New Day completely out of the title-hunt for now.
Our Prediction: Gallows and Anderson win dirty.
Naomi, Nikki Bella, & Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss, Natalya, & Mickie James
One of Smackdown's two matches during the Rumble will be a six-woman tag match featuring the faces and heels of the women's division. The show has been building on a rivalry between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss--who had help from a masked wrestler over the past few weeks. The luchadora revealed herself to be former WWE star Mickie James. Now, it's time for Lynch and her friends to take on James, Bliss, and Natalya in a match that seems slopped together during a quick announcement on the January 24 episode of Smackdown.
In order to give James a bit of legitimacy in this new era of women's wrestling, the team she is on has to win. A loss could turn into a great rivalry between Bliss and James, but we're thinking Lynch's team is going to win this to continue the storyline. Sadly, there really aren't a lot of stakes in this match, and it feels like this should be traded out with Jax/Banks from the Kickoff Show.
Prediction: Team Bliss wins dirty.
Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville
(For the Cruiserweight Championship)
205 Live has been entertaining to watch, but it feels like it's lacking a bit of personality, minus the antics of Jack Gallagher. Neville's return as a heel has breathed some new life into the division, and he is now going after Rich Swann's title.
The cruiserweight division and 205 Live needs a leader, someone who is great in the ring and on the mic. Neville, as a heel, is the man they need to bring viewers in. Neville needs a win here. As much as we enjoy Swann as a performer, Neville has the "it" factor. We're predicting a Neville win, which will hopefully allow more personalities to build on 205 Live, like Mustafi Ali.
Our Prediction: Neville wins clean.
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Bayley
(For the WWE Raw Women's Championship)
During PPVs, Charlotte has gone undefeated while defending her title. Overall, she came out on top against Sasha Banks, but now, a new challenger has stepped up, Bayley. The journey of Bayley through NXT and onto the main roster is a compelling one. She's the ultimate underdog, but she has the drive and will to become a champion.
Bayley is wonderful, and we are huge fans of her; however, we don't think she's going to win the title at the Royal Rumble. We're giving the win to Charlotte, in hopes that Bayley gets a rematch, on a much larger stage, at Wrestlemania, winning the title there.
Our Prediction: Charlotte wins dirty.
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
(For the WWE Universal Championship)
The friendship of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho has been the most enjoyable part of Raw, week after week. When it was announced that during the Owens and Reigns Universal championship match, Jericho would be suspended in a shark cage above the ring, we couldn't stop giggling at how ridiculous/awesome this gimmick match would be.
We don't see Reigns coming out of this as champion, but maybe it's because we're blind fanboys for Owens and Jericho. Obviously, this match isn't going to go as planned, and somehow, Jericho is going to end up helping Owens with the win. Sure, it could go the other way, but we think Owens will win this one. In addition, a win for him helps my Royal Rumble match prediction.
Our Prediction: Kevin Owens wins, with the help of Jericho.
AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena
(For the WWE Championship)
Smackdown has a lot going for it, but by far, the most entertaining thing about it is AJ Styles as the WWE Champion. The feud between Styles and 15-time World Champion John Cena has been one of the reasons Smackdown is beating Raw in the ratings. Now, they'll square-off, once again, for the WWE Championship.
Listen, we love AJ Styles. The guy is awesome, but this match really seems like it's been booked to legitimize the legacy of John Cena before he leaves the company and moves on to to other things. If John Cena wins, he becomes the 16-time WWE Champion, which beats Ric Flair's record. We're thinking Cena will win here, and Styles will win it back at Wrestlemania.
Our Prediction: John Cena wins clean.
The Royal Rumble match itself can be a tough match to predict. There are quite a few possible winners for this match, so we asked some of the wrestling fans working at GameSpot who they thought will come out on top.
Prediction by Mat Elfring
As much as I'm pulling for Finn Balor to come in and win this thing, I think Chris Jericho--who has surprisingly never won before--is going to take it. With a win, Jericho would go on to main event Wrestlemania against his best friend, Kevin Owens, for the Universal Championship. That's a match I'd love to see, especially if they're still on good terms: Two heels that want to win but don't want to hurt each other. Obviously, this all only works if Owens wins his match as well.
Prediction by Gajan Kulasingham
Finn Balor made an appearance at the WWE UK tournament and seems ready to go. I think they’re waiting for an opportunity for his comeback, and if he doesn’t appear in the Rumble, which he should, then we'll likely see a Wrestlemania appearance.
Prediction by Greg Thomas
OK, hear me out... What if Kofi is knocked out of the ring but never hits the floor (like he’s done in past Rumbles). He hops around the outside of the ring while Goldberg, Lesnar, and the Undertaker beat the hell out of each other. Then when the time is right, BAM, Kofi jumps back in the ring when the carnage is all over.
Prediction by Chris Pereira
Coming off a year in which Triple H--Triple H!--won the Rumble, WWE again demonstrated its inclination to cling to its old stars. But even someone as cynical about the subject as me can't see this going to someone like him, The Undertaker, or Randy Orton for a second year in a row. Not when it can be used to help give someone else a meaningful career bump. Combined with a surprise return--who doesn't love those?--Finn Balor seems like the prime choice to come out on top.
Prediction by Randolph Ramsay
WWE Hall of Famer and current leader of the free world comes in at a surprise number 30, and immediately throws Goldberg and Lesnar over the top rope. He goes on to challenge for the Universal Championship on the platform of "Make Raw Great Again."