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How predictable was Royal Rumble 2021?

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WWE.com

When a WWE pay-per-view (PPV) event is on the horizon, the staff of Cageside Seats usually offers predictions for all of the advertised matches on the card. This data can be used to calculate a simple predictability rating for any event.

Six different staff members predicted the winners for the matches that took place on Jan. 31 at Royal Rumble 2021. Staff members received credit for a correct prediction of the winner of any match, even if they were wrong about the context of that victory.

The Cageside Seats match preview articles for Royal Rumble also offered polls allowing Cagesiders the chance to weigh in with their predictions.

The following chart contains the prediction results for these matches. The leftmost column includes the match list. Below each staff member’s name, the number “1” is a correct prediction and the number “0” is an incorrect prediction. Empty boxes indicate where no prediction data was available. The rightmost column contains the overall predictability rating for every match, and the very last row shows the overall accuracy of each individual staff member.

The line for Goldberg’s match can be interpreted as follows: “4 out of 7 predictions for Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg were correct, which is a predictability rating of 57.1%.”

Staff Predictions for Royal Rumble 2021

Match Geno Sean Cain Claire Kyle Stella Polls Total
Match Geno Sean Cain Claire Kyle Stella Polls Total
Asuka & Flair vs. Jax & Baszler 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 28.6
McIntyre vs. Goldberg 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 57.1
Banks vs. Carmella 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 100.0
Women's Royal Rumble 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 42.9
Reigns vs. Owens 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 85.7
Men's Royal Rumble 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 14.3
Total 50.0 50.0 33.3 50.0 66.7 66.7 66.7 54.8

These numbers add up to 23 correct predictions and 19 incorrect predictions, which means the overall predictability rating for Royal Rumble 2021 is 54.8%.

For comparison’s sake, the overall predictability ratings each year from from 2015 through 2020 were 63.4%, 61.1%, 61.6%, 58.7%, 63.7%, and 65.5%, respectively.

Now here are the voting percentages from the Cageside community polls for the winners of these matches:

  • 49%: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
  • 65%: Drew McIntyre
  • 93%: Sasha Banks
  • 35%: Bianca Belair (23% Ripley, 18% Bliss, 8% Bayley, 16% Other)
  • 83%: Roman Reigns
  • 9%: Edge (47% Bryan, 7% Big E, 6% Rollins, 5% Styles, 4% Nakamura, 2% Strowman, 1% Lashley, 1% Orton, 0% Sheamus, 18% Other)

Half of the Cageside staff members and 47% of the community voters picked Daniel Bryan to win the Royal Rumble match. That roughly half of the people picked him over 29 other competitors is a pretty high mark, but we should’ve known better.

When Daniel Bryan was at the height of his popularity in early 2014, he still needed help from major events that were out of his control, like CM Punk leaving WWE and babyface Batista bombing, to get chosen by Vince McMahon for the WrestleMania main event. It was always going to be an uphill battle for him to secure that same spot at WrestleMania seven years later when his current level of popularity doesn’t compare to his peak. It’s also reasonable to infer that at this stage in his career, Bryan is more interested in helping other stars get over, rather than having the big spotlight on himself.

The argument for Bryan winning the Royal Rumble did make sense from the standpoint of trying to find an upper card WrestleMania opponent for Roman Reigns who had yet to face him in a long time. But the more important factor in determining a Royal Rumble winner is finding someone who Vince McMahon thinks is a suitable WrestleMania main event level superstar. A part-timer (like Edge) was always going to have a big advantage over Bryan in that regard.

Looking deeper through the Cageside community voting results in the men’s match, I find it very interesting that only 1% of voters chose Randy Orton and 0% chose Sheamus, but 4% selected Shinsuke Nakamura. WWE was depending on fans thinking that Randy Orton is some kind of all-time great Royal Rumble performer who was a threat to win this match, but our community voters weren’t buying that narrative for a second.

The 0% showing for Sheamus might offer some insight as to why he’s not getting a singles match against Drew McIntyre for the WWE championship at Elimination Chamber 2021. He’s just not that believable as a potential WWE champion anymore.

The staff of Cageside Seats had a mediocre night with predicting the winners at Royal Rumble 2021. How did you fare, Cagesiders?