World Wrestling Entertainment’s road to WrestleMania kicks off in San Antonio, Texas.
The WWE’s annual Royal Rumble event takes place at the Alamodome on Saturday, laying the groundwork for the company’s biggest show of the year on April 2: WrestleMania.
A fan favorite, the Royal Rumble’s featured match is its namesake: a 30-wrestler battle royale in which participants must eliminate their opponents by throwing them over the top rope and onto the ground outside the ring. The winner earns a shot at a world title match at WrestleMania.
The match begins with two wrestlers in the ring and every two minutes, a new participant comes out to join the match. In past installments, there have been a bevy of surprise entrants, from stars of yesteryears to returns no one expects. Since 2018, the WWE has feature both a men’s and a women’s Royal Rumble match.
Here’s a look at the card and predictions for the show:
How to watch
Date: Saturday, Jan. 28
Time: Preshow at 5 p.m. MT, main card at 6 p.m. MT
Location: Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas
Bobby Lashley: Billed from Denver and residing in Parker, the chiseled former WWE champion will be in the men’s Royal Rumble match.
Otis: A former collegiate wrestler at CSU-Pueblo, he is one half of tag team Alpha Academy with former Olympic wrestler Chad Gable. He is not scheduled for a match but may appear in the men’s Royal Rumble match.
Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight
Mountain Dew Pitch Black match
Who should win: Wyatt.
Months after returning to the WWE, Wyatt is finally making his in-ring return. No idea how this match will work, but Wyatt winning seems like the way to go with how much the company’s investing in him.
Who will win: Wyatt.
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
WWE Raw women’s championship
Who should win: Belair.
I don’t see her losing her title here, especially when Bliss is tangled in a storyline involving Wyatt. Belair should win and, deservingly, get another big match at ‘Mania.
Who will win: Belair.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Undisputed WWE universal championship
Who should win: Reigns.
The Tribal Chief isn’t losing his title with WrestleMania around the corner. Look for something to happen involving Sami Zayn to further the Bloodline story.
Who will win: Reigns.
Women’s Royal Rumble match
Announced participants: Shayna Baszler, Emma, Candice LaRae, Liv Morgan, Rhea Ripley, Raquel Rodriguez and Zelina Vega.
Top potential winners: As with every Rumble, there are plenty of wrestlers who will participate, but only a few who actually have a legitimate shot at contending for the world title at WrestleMania. Of the names that have announced, Rhea Ripley probably has the highest profile. Liv Morgan, who held the title for a bit last year, shouldn’t be counted out either. Other names not yet announced include Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch and Bayley.
Who should win: Ripley.
For the better part of the last year, she’s been the enforcer for the Judgment Day, taking on all comers (she body slammed 6-foot-8, 291-pound Luke Gallow, for goodness sake). The company’s been teasing a feud between her and Raw women’s champion Bianca Belair for years. It’s time to take the leap.
Who will win: Ripley.
Men’s Royal Rumble match
Announced participants: Baron Corbin, Santos Escobar, Gunther, Kofi Kingston, Karrion Kross, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Rey Mysterio, Omos, Cody Rhodes, Ricochet, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, Braun Strowman and Austin Theory.
Top potential winners: Atop the list has to be Cody Rhodes, the WWE’s prodigal son, who left the company in 2016 in order to make a name for himself outside the company. He did — and made quite a splash on the independent scene, in Japan and later as one of the initial executive vice presidents of upstart All Elite Wrestling. Sami Zayn, who has been red hot since joining Roman Reigns’ Bloodline as an “honorary uce,” could be catapulted to the top given his popularity. Perennial contenders include Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley. Or maybe the rumors come true and Reigns’ electrifying cousin in Hollywood could make a surprise return to the company and set up a blockbuster main event in April.
Who should win: Rhodes.
I really want to say Zayn because his storyline with the Bloodline has been so brilliant over the last several months, but I don’t know if the creative team will hit the button on him main eventing the biggest show of the year. Meanwhile Rhodes, who made his triumphant return to the WWE at last year’s WrestleMania, felt like he had tons of momentum and was being groomed to be a world champion at some point. However, a torn right pectoral tendon knocked him out of action just two months later. It may be a blessing in disguise — he maintains a fresh aura en route to WrestleMania.
Who will win: Rhodes.
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