The Road to WrestleMania begins on Sunday, as the Royal Rumble takes place in Philadelphia for the first time since the Roman Reigns debacle. The Rumble marks a personal milestone for Win Column Sports; our first-ever WWE predictions were on last year’s Rumble – those can be found here – and it’s always one of the most exciting events on the wrestling calendar. There’s always a chance of something surprising happening, and this year is no different; with rumours swirling already about potential debuts and returns, it could be the most exciting Rumble ever.

While many have complaints about the build to this year’s first big 4 PPV – and there are many – it promises to be a well-wrestled event. The tag-team scene, especially, should feature some outstanding wrestling; the Usos have been putting on MVP caliber work since their heel turn, and regardless of how often we see some version of it, I’m always happy to watch Seth Rollins and Cesaro in the ring together. We’ll also see every men’s title defended on the card, as well as the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. The main event will tentatively be the Men’s Rumble, although a definitely argument can be made for the women to headline.

Let’s get to it – welcome to Win Column Sports official preview for the Royal Rumble!

United States Open Challenge – Bobby Roode vs. ?

WWE.com

Spencer: There’s literally no one on Smackdown Live that I can picture answering this challenge. Roode has already defeated most of the mid-card on the blue brand, and WWE likely wouldn’t use a pre-show match to bring back a big name to challenge. I can see it being someone like Curt Hawkins from RAW; someone that Roode can easily defeat to add some momentum to his championship reign. I don’t think Dolph Ziggler returns tonight; however, I think he’s on his way back soon. Prediction: Bobby Roode

Parker: Is it a requirement to host an open challenge if you’re the US Champ? Asking for a friend. First prediction: Dolph answers the Open Challenge. If not Dolph, who? Mojo Rawley? Jinder Mahal? Would they debut ECIII here? Ziggler just makes sense to me, unless it’s a legitimate surprise return. It also seems like Roode has beat every mid-card heel on Smackdown, so there is kind of a lack of lustre around it. Maybe a Raw challenger? Just anyone but Alberto Del Rio please. Prediction: Dolph wins the US title – And we see the start of a Bobby Roode heel turn for it. 

Prince: I have to agree with Parker here and say Dolph Ziggler returns, although if you keep reading, you’ll see why I don’t want this to happen. Maybe a NXT call up happens here? Not too sure. Prediction: Most likely Dolph Ziggler, but an NXT call up would be cool. 

Pedro: This could be tricky choice given Roode doesn’t have anyone to compete right now. However, given the fact we are in the Royal Rumble, a couple of superstars will make their way down the ramp. Prediction: A three opponents gauntlet match. They all will defeated by Roode.

The Club vs. The Revival

WWE.com

Spencer: I couldn’t be more upset that, for the second Royal Rumble in a row, the Club is relegated to the pre-show. This has dark-hose potential to be the match of the night; I’m a huge fan of both teams, and I’m sure both will go far with WWE. However, it’s clear that the Balor Club is being built up for WrestleMania season, and I don’t see them taking a loss here. While it’s a little upsetting that the Revival may suffer two losses in a row, they’ll have their time – it’s just not now. Prediction: The Club

Parker: I hope these guys get time to work. Give them 15+ minutes and watch them tear down the house. Gallows and Anderson seem revitalized with Finn, and The Revival are still one of the best tag teams on the face of the earth (even though DX apparently doesn’t think so). Balor Club picks up the win though, as it seems that WWE is cooling down with Dash & Dawson. Hopefully a chance to prove they can work gets them back into a prime spot on the card for Mania. Prediction: Balor Club

Prince: Interesting match – up. Are Gallows and Anderson automatically faces now since they joined Finn Balor? I guess so. Both teams can’t afford a loss, but given the treatment The Revival got on RAW 25, I doubt they pick up the victory. It seems WWE might be going all in with The Club, I guess we’ll see from now until Mania if that holds up to be true. Prediction: The Club

Pedro: The Club will win, WWE has to keep the momentum going. Prediction: The Club

Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik vs. TJP, Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher

WWE.com

Spencer: I’m torn; all I ever want to see is Drew Gulak pull out a win, and I’m a fan of Jack Gallagher, but there may be no one I hate more – yes, including you Jason Jordan – that I hate more than TJP. Therefore, go luchadors! Prediction: Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik

Parker: “Hey, throw all the guys with Masks in the Cruiserweight Division in a match against some fairly generic heels! The fans are gonna love it!” The cruiserweight division still makes me sad. It simply hasn’t translated from the hardcore Full Sail crowd to 10,000 seat arenas. Also, if I hear Michael Cole call “It’s Cruiserweight Time!” once more, I might go nuts. Prediction: Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik win to a mostly empty crowd. 

Prince: I like the idea of putting all the luchadors together on one team, but this is definitely just added to the card so there’s something going on while the crowd comes in. I hope the Cruiserweight Division goes into a much needed overhaul, but this match isn’t going to help their cause. Prediction: Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik

Pedro: Such a shame this six guys are stuck in the beginning of the card. Nontheless, this will be a very interesting match given the styles clash (No pun intended) from lucha libre on one side and catch wrestling on the other. Personally, I would had added Lucha Libre rules just to spice things up a little. Prediction: Kalisto,Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

WWE.com
Confirmed Entrants: Naomi, Asuka, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Natalya, Carmella, Tamina Snuka, Lana, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose

Spencer: Did you guys know that the women are going to make history once again? While the line may be tired, the concept isn’t; I couldn’t be more excited about the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble. With names like Paige, Asuka and Sasha Banks already confirmed, it already promises to be a solid match; with returns and debuts like Lita, Trish Stratus and Nikki Cross possible with the event, it truly will be a unique experience for the WWE Universe. The biggest rumour coming out of the event are the “imminent” WWE debut of Ronda Rousey, but I don’t know if they’ll have her win such an important match in her debut, regardless of her stature outside of wrestling. I’m personally huge on the Absolution/Asuka storyline, but I don’t think it needs to be advanced with the RAW Women’s Championship involved.Howeer, one match that does intrigue me involves a pair of best friends on Smackdown, and I’m not talking about Kevin Owens and Sami ZaynPrediction: Becky Lynch wins the Royal Rumble

Parker: “The first ever women’s Royal Rumble” is getting close to “Both feet must touch the floor” or “The one night of the year Smackdown faces Raw Superstars”. It’s great news, but please slow down promoting it WWE. This match is a 3 woman race for me. First woman: Becky Lynch. Now, I have no problem with her winning, but I would argue that a strong iron-woman apperance and being cheated out of a win would help her babyface character that much more. Ronda Rousey is my second. Yes, it would get a ton of mainstream attention, but I would say any Mania Match she would be involved with would bring mainstream viewers. And would it lead to a decent match between her and Charlotte? My pick though is the woman who has been portrayed as unstoppable thus far in her run in WWE. … Prediction: Dana Brooke.

Hah. Prediction: Asuka wins the Womens Royal Rumble Match. 

Prince: If you haven’t heard that the Women get their own Royal Rumble match by now, then you have been living under a rock since WWE promotes it every five minutes. Nevertheless, I’m excited about the match and predict a surprise entry to win. Prediction: Ronda Rousey wins as a surprise entrant. 

Pedro: The first Women’s Royal Rumble match  could not be any bigger. That said this could “Make Or Break” the Rumble. There is so much hype surrounding it that if smething goes wrong to the eyes of the fans, the reaction to the match will not be all that good.That said, I trust that WWE will put Asuka on top of the entire Women’s Division. And no, Stephanie McMahon won’t (Or at least, I hope) interfere with the outcome of the match. Prediction: Asuka wins.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match – The Usos© vs. Gable & Benjamin (2-out-of-3 falls match)

WWE.com

Spencer: Thankfully, this match will be better than Shelton Benjamin’s promo on the January 9th edition of Smackdown. Personally, I don’t think that Chad Gable and Benjamin will earn the championships at the Rumble; while great as a team, I still feel like the Usos title reign has life in it; I do, however, think that a larger development will come out of this match. Could we see a full-fledged heel turn from the second coming of American Alpha? I do think it’s possible, as it would establish Rikishi’s sons firmly as faces again, and add a mean streak to the odd pairing of Gable & Benjamin. However, if that’s to happen, I see it coming fresh off of an Usos victory. Prediction: The Usos

Parker: This is gonna be a hell of a match. Usos and Benjagable have great chemistry, and the 2-out-of-3 falls has traditionally been a great stipulation for tag team matches. The slow turn for both teams over the past few months has been great. Jimmy and Jey aren’t boring faces again, and Gable and Benjamin are heels who have a rightful claim to be pissed off. I think it makes more sense to keep the belts on the Usos for a match against the Bludgeon Brothers. Prediction: Usos retain in a great match. 

Prince: Best 2 out of 3 falls match? We are in for a treat as both tag teams are exceptional in the ring. Expect a good back and forth bout but ultimately The Usos will win. I see them walking into Wrestlemania as the tag team champs where hopefully they face Rusev Day. Prediction: The Usos retain the tag team titles. 

Pedro: We are looking at a good one right here. Both teams are incredibly skilled. I expect complete domination from The Usos during the first fall. It could set up a potential comeback attempt by Benjamin and Gable, nonetheless, the comeback will be stop right on its tracks and, as much a I would like to say Benjamin will win out of mere nostalgia, that won’t happen. Prediction: Usos retain.

RAW Tag Team Championship Match – Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan© vs. The Bar

WWE.com

Spencer: I always hate to see a title taken off of Seth Rollins, but I’d be thrilled in this case. I don’t think that them holding onto the titles does anything for their storyline; however, Jason Jordan costing the team not only another win, but their championships could be the onset of a WrestleMania feud between Jordan and Rollins. While it’s not my ideal scenario – we miss you, Dean Ambrose – it’s far more interesting than a Jason Jordan title run. We’ll get the “contractual rematch” prior to fastlane, and new challengers will emerge for the RAW Tag Team Championships by ‘Mania. Looking at you, RevivalPrediction: The Bar

Parker: I may recieve flack for this, but I do actually like what Jason Jordan is doing. He’s just sooo easy to hate that his heel turn will be fanastic.  Rollins, Cesaro and Sheamus have also been great this far, but it’s time for this feud to end. Move The Bar into another feud (with the Good Brothers, maybe?) with American Architect taking on The Revival into Mania season. Bar makes the Balor Club look stronger (while maybe leading to the demise of Sheamus & Cesaro), while the Revival can capitalize on the eventual dissension between Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins. Winner: Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan

Prince: As much as I hate this Jason Jordan story line right now, I believe it will have a good payoff. For the mean time however, we have to deal with him and Rollins being the tag team champs, which of course, by default, has to involve The Bar. This feud has been beaten to death and hopefully it is over after this match. With the recent formation of the Balor Club, I wish to see Gallows and Anderson take the tag team titles off these two. Prediction: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan retain the tag team titles. 

Pedro: This is a no brainer. Week after week Jordan and Rollins walk down the ramp and one of them is absolutely adored by the crowd while the other half of the team is booed all over the arena. Enough with this, WWE should end it this Sunday. Prediction: The Bar wins the titles.

Universal Championship Match – Brock Lesnar© vs. Kane vs. Braun Strowman

YouTube

Spencer: On the one hand, we have the perfect opportunity to get the Universal Championship off of Brock Lesnar. I’m firmly of the belief that as a part-time superstar, the Beast Incarnate shouldn’t be holding the brands top title. Besides, Strowman has proven over the last year that he’s able to carry the load as Monday’s top guy – he’s far and away the most popular big man on the roster, and has nowhere to go but up from here. Adding Kane to the match presents the perfect opportunity for Lesnar to look strong in defeat. But much like Kassius’ last name, do I think it’s going to happen? Oh, no. Prediction: Brock Lesnar

Parker: I won’t really cover this because you can see the result from a mile away. How interesting would it to have reunited Balor Club earlier, built Finn Balor up with the help of Gallows and Anderson, and had Demon Finn with the rest of the club take on Brock Lesnar? Instead we have a candidate for the Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee as a contender for the Universal Championship. WWE, sometimes you piss a lot of people off. Winner: Brock pins Kane, and we get another Wrestlemania coronation for Roman Reigns. 

Prince: This is pretty much a throwaway feud. No disrespect to Kane, but to have him in the main event picture in 2018? Not needed. The buildup has been decent so far, but I don’t see this match being particularly good. Braun Strowman will be the highlight as expected and Lesnar will pin Kane to keep both himself and Strowman to look strong. Prediction: Brock Lesnar retains. 

Pedro: Kane is a bit of an oddity in this match, therefore, I don’t think much will happen to him other than making Brock look strong. Why will Brock Lesnar need that? Well, because he will drop the title  to Strowman. WWE can not let this go by and the Monster among men can’t keep flipping trucks and destroying sets every week. Prediction: Strowman wins.

WWE Championship Match – AJ Styles© vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn – 2-on-1 Handicap Match

CagesideSeats.com

Spencer: While I’m still slightly confused by the handicap stipulation, I’m excited for the match. All three are exceptional in-ring workers, and I’m hoping that including Zayn will solve the chemistry issues that Owens and Styles seem to have. Styles is the best in-ring worker in WWE, few would dispute that. I think that going into WrestleMania with him as the champion is the right decision; however, I don’t think that means that he’ll retain here. I think that the stipulation allows Styles to drop the championship without looking weak; it also would allow WWE to add another layer to the Zayn/Owens storyline by giving them the co-championship. When the match was announced, I assumed that Styles would retain, but the more I think about it…Prediction: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Parker: Can anyone name the last time (off the top of their head) the last time the heels won a handicap match in WWE? I would have to say when Jericho won the US Championship. Otherwise, there seems to be a miscommunication between the team leading to their demise. I think we see Zayn potentially cost the match for the reformed best friends – and we get to see why KO is the worst best friend ever. To me, Styles keeping the belt until Mania is the right call – he makes the belt feel important. This also leads to Owens-Zayn on the biggest stage of them all. Winner: AJ Styles. 

Prince: You know what, this match is hard to predict. At the one hand, AJ Styles is the perfect WWE champion. On the other hand, he can’t win against BOTH Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn given their recent booking. My prediction? KO and Sami win and AJ regains the championship at Elimination Chamber. This leads to a jealousy feud where KO turns on Sami, leading to a Wrestlemania match with a build that will make this their best match yet. Prediction: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn become the co – WWE champions. 

Pedro: Co- champions is a horrible idea if you ask me. It will only make the title look silly. Start the NO! chants everybody, because co-champions will not happen. Prediction: Aj retains 

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

WWE.com
Confirmed Entrants: Elias, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, John Cena, Finn Balor, Baron Corbin, Samoa Joe

Spencer: Unlike last year, there aren’t many rumours going around about the winner of the Royal Rumble match. It was known weeks in advance of the 2017 match that Randy Orton was booked to win; however,  while there are a few favourites this year, no clear winner has emerged. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean that Roman Reigns wins it in Philly again, but even I don’t think WWE is that stupid. I’m hoping that WWE uses this opportunity to elevate a current star, rather than giving a win to someone like John Cena or Triple HHH, and with a dream match existing between a current Smackdown Superstar and their champion, I’m hoping that a certain King of Strong Style wins the whole damn thing. Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Parker: The Royal Rumble is the perfect opportunity to make a new star for WWE. However, the past 5 years has seen 3 members of Evolution win it all, along with the two franchise players in WWE. Hopefully, we see a change this year. WWE eventually needs to trust this new generation and let them run, or we will never get over the nostalgia of past eras. This year, I have hope for a few. First being: The Miz. Really, his work deserves a huge match at Mania. He’s also rumored to be in a big match this year, but I think he’ll be defending the IC Championship. Second would be Finn Balor. Reuniting the G&A has reinvigorated all of them and WWE clearly believes in them. However, I think the winner is coming from Smackdown as Brock has his match sewn up at Mania – and if Roman wins the Rumble again, in Philly, for the EXACT SAME SHOWDOWN, he may not leave the town alive. My guess – Reigns is eliminated close to the end, but wins the Elimination Chamber match to become #1 contender. So, why not go with another worker who has made magic with AJ on a major stage? And in the process, make another big star for the company? Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura, but rooting for the Miz. 

Prince: This is a really hard one to predict. The RAW main event is practically set in stone with Reigns going up against Lesnar, so a Smackdown star has to win this. I wanna go with a wildcard here and say its’s going to be either Nakamura or Dolph Ziggler. I want Nakamura to win so he can face Styles at Wrestlemania and they let him loose so that the both of them can put on a clinic in wrestling. However, Ziggler vacating the United States Championship made me immediately think that he will be a surprise entrant and win the whole thing. Him and AJ can pull off a really good match given the right amount of time, and Ziggler’s story would have a really good payoff here. Prediction: Dolph Ziggler

Pedro: Call me insane, but I feel that Dolph Ziggler could win it. Given his constant on and off pushes and his absence from our screens since vacating the United States title, I think it makes him a great candidate to be a surprise winner. Sure, he won’t generate a pop like Cena back in 2008, but it could be a very nice surprise for a rumble that has taken a “Low-Key” profile compared to its female counterpart. Prediction: Dolph Ziggler 

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Royal Rumble Preview and Predictions
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Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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