WWE returns to pay-per-view (PPV) -- if your cable provider is carrying the event, of course -- tomorrow night (Sun., Jan. 28, 2018) live from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with its Royal Rumble event starting at 5:00 p.m. ET with the Kickoff show leading right on into the main course at 7 p.m. ET on the WWE Network.
Set for the card: Two Royal Rumble matches (men and women), a triple threat for the Universal championship, a handicap match for the WWE championship, and more!
Luckily for you Cagesiders, our staff of learned wrestling blowhards is here to help figure out just how the event is going to play out with predictions for each match on the card.
Let's get to it.
Royal Rumble predictions
Men’s Royal Rumble
Geno Mrosko: I quite like it when pro wrestling creates moments of extreme emotion, even if that emotion is rage to the point of outright animosity. I kind of really want Roman Reigns to win this match, show up on Raw the next night, and tell the crowd he’s going to go on to WrestleMania to win the Universal title and they’re just going to have to deal with it. Pick: Roman Reigns
Sean Rueter: Geno’s closing line’s got me wishing my boy Dave would return and walk alone inside this pit of danger, but alas, that’s even less likely than Daniel Bryan winning this thing. With a bunch of open spots, I feel like we could in line for a surprise, though. And sometimes the most surprising thing to do is go with a guy who’s been mentioned as a possible winner of this match since he was called up. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura
Kyle Decker: This Rumble is wide open for the taking and I love it. I really don’t have a clear idea who I think is going to win. I believe they stray away from Reigns and set up his title match after this show. But that still leaves everyone from SmackDown and pretty much everyone from Raw as well if they have them challenge for AJ’s title. All that said, I’ve narrowed it down to two people: Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton. Much like Cain mentions below, Nakamura has not been being built as a big title contender. In fact, last we saw, he was left laying due to the Randy Orton. A Viper win would leave me underwhelmed, but AJ vs. Randy is a match I bet they want to do and disappointing finishes involving guys who have been there before seems like a Rumble tradition at this point. Pick: Randy Orton
Cain A. Knight: In my view it comes down to one of Reigns, Cena, or Nakamura. Reigns is the best bet of them all to challenge for the title at WrestleMania, but the upcoming Elimination Chamber event is a good way to set that up. Nakamura stands out as an interesting opponent for Styles, but his booking has been iffy and I don’t think Vince will choose someone who struggles with promos in English. I’m convinced that Cena is fighting Undertaker at WrestleMania and I have no clue how a Rumble win gets him there. It’s still probably going to be Cena, but I think Vince might decide to troll Philadelphia as hard as possible after what happened in 2015. That means the final buzzer goes off and Daniel Bryan’s music hits, and Dolph Ziggler returns doing a parody of Bryan and eliminating iron man Shinsuke on his way to victory. Pick: Dolph Ziggler
Reverend Kain: I write this knowing full well that I’m likely to be wrong, but it’s the Royal Rumble and it feels particularly wide open this year. Yeah, Roman Reigns is headed for his inevitable fourth coronation against Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, and that makes him as valid a choice as anybody, but I got a feeling, with Elimination Chamber as a Raw PPV, that the winner is gonna challenge for the WWE Championship. And so I’m gonna go big. Literally big. As in the Big Show. He’s very large, and thus hard to eliminate, and a feud against AJ Styles would rule. Fighting mad Big Show ready for what would likely be his last big run, the best wrestler in the world at his size challenging the best wrestler in the world at AJ’s size? I’m not even sure he’s ready to come back yet but weirder things have happened. Let’s do it! Pick: Big Show
Women’s Royal Rumble
Geno Mrosko: I don’t think they’ll go with Ronda Rousey here, for a number of reasons, not least of which that she’s probably not available. If she is in for WrestleMania, though, and the rumors of her getting in Charlotte’s business prove true, that leaves a Raw star to win. It’s probably going to be Asuka but I’ll go with another favorite here. Pick: Nia Jax
Sean Rueter: There’s only one star big enough to win the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble, and she doesn’t have an “R” anywhere in her name. She’s not a Billionaire Dollar Princess, either. And I don’t care that she hasn’t been built up recently. Or that she’s never successfully defended a title on the main roster. She moves the needle and the camera loves her, which makes her a prefect choice to grab another piece of history. Pick: Sasha Banks
Kyle Decker: This all comes down to the Rousey question: Will she be there? If she’s in the match, she’s winning the match. No doubt in my mind on that one. But her recent claims that she won’t be there due to filming a movie has given me enough pause not to pick her. Obvious, that could be a big work, and good on her and WWE if that’s the case for making us doubt. If she’s not there, my guesses would be Asuka from Raw or Becky Lynch from SmackDown. Of those two, I’d choose Asuka since she’s the one they’re building as dominant. Pick: Asuka
Cain A. Knight: I don’t think WWE has included a 1-on-1 women’s match on the card at WrestleMania since 2007. So the winner here needs to be a really big deal, at least in Vince’s eyes, to get that spotlight. As much as I would love to see Becky, Sasha, or Bayley win this, there’s isn’t much in their booking that says Vince thinks they are huge stars. And Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss doesn’t sound like a very good match. I can squint and see a scenario where Naomi wins the Rumble and challenges Charlotte. Aside from that, this one pretty much screams out part-time winner in the form of either Ronda Rousey, Stephanie McMahon, or Trish Stratus. If this match actually main events the Rumble PPV, that’s a pretty good indication that Rousey will be involved. Pick: Ronda Rousey
Reverend Kain: Man, I don’t know. Like, for real. Although I’d assume that if the winner of the men’s Rumble, as I’m presupposing, is going to challenge for the WWE Championship, that means the women’s Rumble winner is probably going after the Raw title. Not a hard and fast rule, but I feel like they’d want that balance. Which in turn narrows it down further, because there are only two women on Raw who seem any kind of likely, Asuka and Nia Jax. So it’s been a while but I’m going to resort to a tactic I’ve used before and literally flipping a coin... Pick: Asuka
Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane
Geno Mrosko: The rumors say one thing, that this match has a clear winner, but I’m going to go within the confines of kayfabe with this pick. Really, Braun Strowman should never lose. Pick: Braun Strowman
Sean Rueter: Do it for your fellow old guys! Take that big red belt back to Knoxville County, future Mayor Universal champ! Pick: Kane
Kyle Decker: It’s a shame how little I’m into this match at this point. May as well keep rolling with Brock until WrestleMania and have him lose it in a match that has more fanfare than this one. Pick: Brock Lesnar
Cain A. Knight: For a long time I’ve said there’s no such thing as a Brock Lesnar match that I don’t want to watch, but man, this one sure comes close to breaking that rule. WWE has probably picked the 2 guys who I have the least interest in seeing in the ring with Lesnar. Kane was a joke in 2014 when challenging Daniel Bryan for the title and the joke only got worse in 2015 when he was challenging champion Seth Rollins. Now here we are a couple years years later and he is going over guys like Balor and Rollins. It’s ridiculous and needs to stop. Then there’s Strowman, who was abysmal against Lesnar at No Mercy and demonstrated that he doesn’t belong in a top spot. This whole thing just sucks. I hope Lesnar pins Strowman with a single F5 or less, but it seems more likely that’s why Kane is here. Pick: Brock Lesnar
Reverend Kain: It should be Braun, but it will not be Braun. But hey, at least it isn’t going to be Kane! Could you imagine Kane as top champion in the year of our lord two thousand and eighteen? Shudder. Pick: Brock Lesnar
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Geno Mrosko: I just can’t imagine they would ever actually try to go forward with the idea of a WWE co-champion situation. But there’s a first for everything! Pick: Owens & Zayn
Sean Rueter: Could Kami win the belt? YEP! Will they? Pick: AJ Styles
Kyle Decker: It always seems the champions do better when the odds are worse. Pick: AJ Styles
Cain A. Knight: This story has taken a turn for the worse with Daniel Bryan now making decisions that are hard to justify, and I have no idea what direction Vince will go with the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34. I’m interested in Owens and Zayn as co-champs but I don’t think it will happen. With Styles failing to defeat both Owens and Zayn on SmackDown this past week, it’s probably a good bet that Styles will overcome those odds at the Royal Rumble. Pick: AJ Styles
Reverend Kain: Owens and Zayn think they want some, but they do not, in fact, want some. Ipso facto... Pick: AJ Styles
The Usos vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
Geno Mrosko: Jey Uso’s recent arrest doesn’t seem to have done much to deter WWE from booking the SmackDown tag team champions like normal but the babyfaces have been chasing and coming up short in ways that make you think they’ll get the big win at a big show. Pick: Gable & Benjamin
Sean Rueter: If Chad and Shelt-y can’t win here, with a stipulation designed to protect them from feigned injuries, blind referees and other issues which seem to plague the so-called Land of Opportunity, they’re kind of done. I doubt they hold onto the belts for long, but they’ve put in the work and should get a run. Pick: Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
Kyle Decker: This should be a blast of a match. I think the Brothers Uce (yes, I know that’s completely redundant) retain and carry the torch for the tag division a bit longer. Pick: The Usos
Cain A. Knight: The Usos defending their titles in a 2 out of 3 falls match is always a good idea. Gable and Benjamin as their dance partners makes it that much better. This match should be fantastic and even with Jey Uso’s recent troubles, I think the Usos still retain and hold the straps en route to another pre-show match at WrestleMania. Pick: The Usos
Reverend Kain: I gotta think we’re cycling back towards New Day around WrestleMania, especially if the plan is still to get them the tag title reigns record and that means a title change here since the Usos respect your boys now. Plus it just seems like a good time to see how America’s Greatest Alpha handles the spotlight. Why not? Pick: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
Geno Mrosko: If Jason Jordan is injured as has been rumored, and the goal of getting to Rollins vs. Jordan is really the goal, as has also been rumored (and seems clear based on creative for the two on television of late), it’s probably a good time to get the titles off them. Pick: Cesaro & Sheamus
Sean Rueter: This is mostly just me hoping for a scene on Monday where JJ take credit for the win despite not being in the match that much, while Philly mercilessly boos him, and a lot of people claim its not the “right kind of heat”. Pick: Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan
Kyle Decker: They’re going to have get the belts of the odd couple of Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan eventually, especially if they’re going to feud at Mania. However I think there’s still a bit more mileage out of this team being the awkward team before they finally drop the gold. Pick: Rollins and Jordan
Cain A. Knight: Some rumors suggest that Jason Jordan could be hurting right now, and considering how packed this card is, this match might be kept short. The thing that perplexes me the most is how The Bar lost two consecutive matches to Titus Worldwide this month yet there was no follow-up to that on Raw 25. So I guess The Bar will win the titles and then defend them against Titus Worldwide? I have no idea. But now that Seth Rollins has the Curb Stomp back, he needs to get out of the tag scene ASAP. Pick: Sheamus & Cesaro
Reverend Kain: Let’s have a round of applause for Jason Jordan’s dad, everybody! I reckon we have a couple more weeks of
winter Jordan getting on Rollins’ nerves before we actually see the title change hands. Pick: Jason Jordan & Seth Rollins
That’s how we see the card going down.
How about you?