The first WWE pay-per-view of 2017 is here and it may be one of the biggest of the year. The highly-anticipated Royal Rumble event is in it’s 30th year and for the first time in a long time, the Royal Rumble match itself has one of the most stacked fields. This year, anyone can win the Royal Rumble as opposed to previous years, where fans already saw the winner from a mile away. Of course, there are other championship matches taking place in San Antonio such as AJ Styles vs John Cena for the WWE Championship and Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. Who will walk out with a championship? Who will head to the main event of Wrestlemania? Which wrestlers will make a surprise debut or return? Find out below:
1) Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax
EF: It’s nice to see The Boss away from the title picture, but her nagging knee injury will be the main storyline of this match. Expect Nia Jax to target the knee and gain a victory to make her look strong heading into a possible Fatal 4-Way championship match at Wrestlemania.
PREDICTION: NIA JAX
2) Cesaro & Sheamus (c) vs Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the RAW Tag Team Championships; two referees will be assigned to the match
EF: Cesaro and Sheamus have become quite the entertaining duo since being put together by RAW General Manager Mick Foley. The fact that they also ended The New Day’s record-breaking championship reign means that the WWE sees some potential in the team. As much as I would like to see The Club finally win the tag titles, I don’t see much point in ending the Sheamus/Cesaro reign so soon. The ship has sailed for The Club on RAW. Time to get them on Smackdown Live and reunite them with The Phenomenal One.
3) Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella & Naomi vs Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & Natalya in a six-women tag team match
EF: I’m just gonna say it. Smackdown Live’s women’s division is better than RAW’s. Every female on the blue brand has been given something to do and the return of Mickie James to the WWE has elevated Smackdown Live. It wouldn’t be right to have Mickie’s team lose in her first WWE match back (excluding NXT Takeover: Toronto), especially when the Smackdown Women’s champion is also on her team.
PREDICTION: ALEXA BLISS, MICKIE JAMES & NATALYA
4) Rich Swann (c) vs Neville for the WWE Crusierweight Championship
EF: Neville is on fire right now as a heel. The change in character has made him relevant again and the best way to capitalize on this is to put the Crusierweight Championship on him. Putting the belt on The Man That Gravity Forgot helps elevate the crusierweight division.
5) Charlotte Flair (c) vs Bayley for the RAW Women’s Championship
EF: The daughter of Ric Flair is currently at the top of her game right now and ending her perfect singles pay-per-view streak now would be useless. The streak needs to end at a bigger spectacle like Wrestlemania. Bayley has finally shown she can adjust to the main roster but her fairytale does not get a happy ending at the Royal Rumble.
PREDICTION: CHARLOTTE FLAIR
6) Kevin Owens (c) vs Roman Reigns in a No Disqualification Match for the WWE Universal Championship; Chris Jericho will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring
EF: Heading into this encounter, I had Owens retaining the title without hesitation. But that all changed when Roman Reigns lost his WWE United States Championship to Chris Jericho. Eventually the best friends Owens and Jericho will start to fight each other, leading to a match at Wrestlemania, but which route do they go down? Does Owens retain the title, leaving Jericho to win the Rumble later in the night? Or does Reigns win here, leaving Jeri-KO to fight over the US title at Mania? I’m going with the former in the hopes that Jericho wins the Rumble, creating a great storyline for Jeri-KO’s split. The shark cage won’t stop Jericho from interfering, but he may nearly cause Owens to lose the title, which creates a slight tear in the friendship between the two Canadians.
PREDICTION: KEVIN OWENS
7) AJ Styles (c) vs John Cena for the WWE Championship
EF: John Cena is looking to win his 16th world championship, tying Ric Flair’s record. Unfortunately, he won’t get the job done at the Rumble. With rumours a couple of months ago saying that Cena would face The Undertaker for the WWE Championship at Mania, I would have expected Cena to walk out as champ. But plans have since changed and Styles looks to be the man heading down the Road to Wrestlemania. The only way I can see a title change is in the event of a double turn, but I expect AJ Styles to carry the championship into the Elimination Chamber.
PREDICTION: AJ STYLES
8) The 30-Man Royal Rumble Match for a World Championship match at Wrestlemania
EF: For those who have seen my How WWE Should Book article, you already know how I think the match should go at the Alamodome. In short, I expect a Finn Balor surprise return and The Demon King will outlast one of the most stacked Rumble fields in some time. In case this doesn’t happen, my alternative pick is Chris Jericho. I predict Sami Zayn to be the Iron Man of the match and Braun Strowman to get the most eliminations.
PREDICTION: FINN BALOR