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WWE returns to pay-per-view (PPV) — if your cable provider is carrying the event, of course — tomorrow night (Sun., Jan. 31, 2021) from the ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, with its Royal Rumble event starting at 6:00 pm ET with the Kickoff show leading right on into the main course at 7 pm ET on the WWE Network.

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: There are really only two stories at play here — Edge making clear he wants to win the title he never lost when he was forced to retire the first time, and Daniel Bryan making clear he wants to win a Royal Rumble (and even just a battle royal) for the first time in his career. Everything else is just noise. Naturally, I think they swerve and go with something silly. Pick: Braun Strowman

Sean Rueter: SmackDown has enough moving pieces to create months of compelling television - and fill an Elimination Chamber match - with interesting potential challengers for Roman Reigns. Raw probably needs to pick someone, even if they spend a few weeks cutting promos about choosing which belt to challenge for. Pick: Edge

Kyle Decker: Daniel Bryan feels like the one that makes the most sense. They’ve planted seeds of that for a couple months now. And he’s likely Roman Reigns next big challenger. (I feel the winner of the Rumble is going to face Roman Reigns and not Goldberg/Drew.) It’s the Royal Rumble so it’s wide open, but I feel pretty confident in a D-Bry pick. Pick: Daniel Bryan

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Yes! Yes! Yes! With Kevin Owens finishing up his feud with Roman Reigns, there aren’t a lot of top babyfaces on SmackDown for the Big Dog to feud with, and a round of Bryan/Reigns that goes to WrestleMania sounds just swell to me. Sure, we could have a Raw winner and let the American Dragon earn his title shot through other means, but they’re really pushing the idea of him winning, so let’s do it already! Pick: Daniel Bryan

Cain A. Knight: Vince McMahon wants to go big for the Royal Rumble, and Daniel Bryan isn’t quite big enough for his tastes. It will be a part-timer. Just cycle through the usual suspects like John Cena, Edge, Undertaker, etc., and pick one. Pick: Brock Lesnar

Stella Cheeks: There are few wrestlers who still ignite palpable excitement from a (virtual) crowd and Daniel Bryan is one of them. Regardless of whatever nonsense Vince and WWE try and pull we are likely going to see another pandemic modified Mania which means they need all the palpable excitement they can muster. He’s truly the safest choice. Pick: Daniel Bryan


Women’s Royal Rumble

Geno Mrosko: Literally everything they’ve done has pointed to one outcome and I’m actually going to just go ahead and say they don’t swerve us on this one and give us that outcome. Pick: Bianca Belair

Sean Rueter: In the absence of the other women they love to send out on pre-WrestleMania press tours, WWE will return to a familiar well. This will get her to a Raw Women’s title shot (probably against Alexa Bliss after she beats Asuka) without a heel turn, too. Pick: Charlotte Flair

Kyle Decker: This one is a toss up. Bianca Belair is a favorite in my mind. Her winning to face Sasha Banks would be a great way to go. However, I think I’m going to go with Rhea Ripley. I think Charlotte Flair is holding the Raw title by WrestleMania and Rhea Ripley goes for her redemption. Pick: Rhea Ripley

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: This one, on the other hand... little bit of a crapshoot. Looking over the list of declared women, only Bianca Belair really leaps out at me as a great winner, but then it feels like you have to either do a title change or turn one of her or Sasha Banks heel before Mania, which is doable but feels a little... off. So let’s bet on wacky instead and assume that Fiend shenanigans take Alexa Bliss to WrestleMania, because that seems about WWE’s speed right now. Pick: Alexa Bliss

Cain A. Knight: This one feels wide open because the women’s champions likely won’t main event WrestleMania 37 without Ronda Rousey or Becky Lynch in the mix. I do think we’ll see Rhea Ripley show up to eliminate Charlotte Flair, but that doesn’t mean she’ll win it all. No, I think we might be revisiting Sasha Banks vs. Bayley, this time on the WrestleMania stage. Pick: Bayley

Stella Cheeks: Bianca Belair is finally getting that much needed and much deserved push on the main roster. Winning the Rumble and earning a title shot at mania would be the cherry on top! SmackDown should still be the land of opportunity! Banks vs. Belair would both put Belair in the top tier of the division and give Banks the opportunity to show off her mad wrestling skills against a new opponent. Let Ronda or Charlotte or Becky mess around on Raw. Banks vs. Belair for the SmackDown title is where it’s at. Pick: Bianca Belair


Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg

Geno Mrosko: It’s hard to imagine doing this match and having the old guy do the job right off the bat. I imagine a title switch here, then a switch back at one of the shows before WrestleMania. Pick: Goldberg

Sean Rueter: There’s just no way I can see the booking Goldberg to lose two in a row. And if they intend to use him a couple times a year for the next couple years, they probably shouldn’t have him lose two in a row. It’s only happened once since he came back, and that was to Brock Lesnar and Undertaker... although everyone probably wants us to forget about Super ShowDown. Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre aren’t Brock and Taker (I love Drew, but I’m looking at this like I think WWE does). Pick: Goldberg

Kyle Decker: Goldberg is 2-0 in title challenges since his return (against KO and against the Fiend). Betting against him is risky. But what happens if he wins the title? Who does he face? Drew again? That doesn’t make sense because that wouldn’t help McIntyre at all. John Cena? That feud definitely doesn’t need a title (and Hollywood John isn’t likely sticking around for #17). Bray Wyatt getting revenge? Bray still has unfinished business with Randy, but maybe I guess. So I’m going with the softer wrestler. Pick: Drew McIntyre

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: I’m looking forward to this, as I do all of Bill’s matches because he has the decency to get in and out and is always entertaining even when things go pear-shaped and the match totally falls apart, but c’mon. C’mon. Don’t be silly, WWE. Pick: Drew McIntyre

Cain A. Knight: This should be an easy call because Goldberg has no business winning the WWE championship. But Goldberg is probably going to compete at WrestleMania, where he will presumably lose and then stay out of the ring for the rest of 2021. If he also loses this match, that means Bill could potentially be facing three losses in a row. I don’t think his skin is thick enough to accept that kind of losing streak. So maybe Brock Lesnar helps him win and they form a two man power trip heading into April. Pick: Goldberg

Stella Cheeks: If I never hear the name Goldberg again it will be too soon. Pick: Drew McIntyre


Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens

Geno Mrosko: Absolutely love Kevin Owens and the work he’s done during this feud but there was never even one single solitary second that anyone at WWE even considered his coming out on top in this feud. This is the end. Pick: Roman Reigns

Sean Rueter: Would honestly be okay with these guys fighting forever. But even if they did, I'm not sure I'd ever change my prediction. Pick: Roman Reigns

Kyle Decker: These two put on great matches that really get folks invested, so I expect a fun one. But it’s pretty clear that KO is not going to be the guy dethroning the Head of the Table. Pick: Roman Reigns

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: I’m still bitterly disappointed that this isn’t five-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion Adam Pearce fighting a doomed-but-valiant battle to prove that he’s still got some gas left in the tank against our Tribal Chief, but oh well, we have the match we have and this will kick enough ass that I can’t be too sour. At this point, I think it’s a mistake to dethrone the Big Dog before WrestleMania at the earliest, so... Pick: Roman Reigns

Cain A. Knight: This could be the night that Jimmy Uso returns from injury to join up with Roman & Jey. Ultimately, I think the only way Reigns loses this bout is if he is then booked to win the men’s Royal Rumble match. Pick: Roman Reigns

Stella Cheeks: Screw it. I *know* Roman is going to win. I’m not stupid. But I’m trying to manifest here and I manifest a win for Kevin Owens. He has been relentless and deserves the chance to remind us that he was in fact the best Universal Champion we’ve ever had. Plus, if he loses what else is he going to do? I need KO on my TV every week! Roman should lose, freak out, murder Paul Heymen and then challenge KO to a rematch. These two have fight forever vibes. Let’s all manifest that for them. Pick: Kevin Owens


Sasha Banks vs. Carmella

Geno Mrosko: Can’t see a title change happening here. Pick: Sasha Banks

Sean Rueter: Whenever this happens, it’s UNWINNABLE for Carmella. Pick: Sasha Banks

Kyle Decker: Heading into WrestleMania, whatever the SmackDown Women’s title match will be, it will be bigger with Sasha as the champ. I’ve overall enjoyed this feud and Carmella’s minor character change. But with the biggest show of the year around the corner, you have to stick with your star. Pick: Sasha Banks

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: I like Carmella, I really do. And the build for this match featured at least one really genuinely fun and exciting moment in Sasha’s intergender match against Reginald the Sommelier, but there’s absolutely no reason for Sasha to be losing the title right now. Pick: Sasha Banks

Cain A. Knight: Carmella beating Sasha for the SmackDown women’s championship just feels wrong. Pick: Sasha Banks

Stella Cheeks: Carmella is out here drinking Cooks Champagne and calling it “classy.” If she can be duped by “French” Reginald and his terrible taste she has proven that she’s not clever enough to get one over on the baddest, the blueprint, the Boss. Pick: Sasha Banks


Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler

Geno Mrosko: This is such a weird match, because they did almost nothing to build to it and are seemingly booking it to fill time on the card. This may end up on the pre-show, and I don’t think it really matters who wins. Pick: Charlotte Flair & Asuka

Sean Rueter: Piggybacking off my Rumble pick, this will allow WWE to use as few women on Monday nights as possible, something they love to do. Pick: Charlotte Flair & Asuka

Kyle Decker: Charlotte Flair is too distracted with her dad scorning her so he can make it with her coworker. Asuka is too distracted with being exposed by demon Bliss. Plus if my theory of Asuka losing the belt to Flair so she can face Ripley is going to come to pass, they need to lose the tag straps soon. Pick: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: Superteams of singles stars like this are a good approach when you’ve got a thin tag division, but this feels like a division that’s less thin and more out of ideas. Jax and Baszler finally fall out for good, Asuka and Charlotte retain for some good “oh no what if they have to pull double duty at WrestleMania” drama, and we move on with our day. Pick: Asuka & Charlotte Flair

Cain A. Knight: There is still more story to tell between Asuka and Flair before they lose the titles. I just hope that story stops being about Lacey Evans and Ric Flair. Pick: Asuka & Charlotte Flair

Stella Cheeks: Asuka and Charlotte are an awkward tag team. They have barely appeared on TV together since their “big” win. Charlotte is just not a team player. Nia and Shayna have problems but are, shockingly, a coherent tag team. Also, it works into my dream enemies to lovers storyline for them so I’m going all in. Pick: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler


That’s how we see the card playing out.

How about you?