WWE Royal Rumble: Who Main Events WrestleMania?
Sunday, January 27, 2019
WWE will kick off the road to WrestleMania Sunday night with the 32nd annual Royal Rumble. The event is headlined by the Royal Rumble match, which determines who gets a WWE or Universal championship match at WrestleMania. The match has been a stepping stone to the main event scene for some of the biggest names in the industry including: Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Rey Mysterio, and Roman Reigns. The event will also feature plenty of matches that’ll surely add excitement to the event as well as fresh matchups that fans haven’t seen before. The newly formed tag team of Shane McMahon and The Miz will challenge The Bar for the Smackdown Tag Team championships, WWE Smackdown Women’s champion Asuka defends her title against Becky Lynch, WWE champion Daniel Bryan once again look will defend his championship against AJ Styles, WWE Raw Women’s champion Ronda Rousey defends against Sasha Banks in their first in-ring meeting, and WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar takes on Finn Balor for the first time ever.
The Royal Rumble matches have been a fan-favorite in that they bring excitement based on what’s at stake for the winners, unpredictability on who will walk out the winners, and nostalgia in that there have always been surprise returns and debuts; AJ Styles debuted in the 2016 Royal Rumble match after making a name for himself in TNA and NJPW as one the best in-ring talents in the world. The Royal Rumble matches have been a way to introduce NXT stars to the main roster, which was evident last year when Adam Cole, Andrade, Kairi Sane, and Ember Moon came out in their respective Rumble matches.
Women’s Royal Rumble
This past week on Raw, WWE did a great job in building intrigue and excitement for the Women’s Rumble match when Alexa Bliss hosted another Moment of Bliss segment. During the segment, she was interrupted by other female wrestlers who each claimedthat they’d be the one’s to challenge for the Women’s championship at WrestleMania.
In addition, Alexa Bliss announced that she is in fact cleared to resume her in-ring career and will do so in the Women’s Rumble match. Since Bliss was the WWE Raw Women’s champin last year, this will be the first Rumble she participates in. Bliss had been sidelined since October due to a concussion but had remained on WWE programming in an administrative role for Raw.
Another woman making her first Rumble appearance is Charlotte Flair, who like Alexa Bliss was the Women’s champion for her brand Smackdown. Charlotte will undoubtedly be one of the favorites to win considering she had been one of the top stars in the company and has consistently put on some of the best matches of each PPV card. If Charlotte wins the Rumble, the Flairs will make history as the first father and daughter to win the Royal Rumble match; Charlotte's father 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair won in 1992 to become the WWE champion.
It’ll be interesting to see if Asuka or Becky Lynch enter this match if they are unsuccessful in their one-on-one matchup because it’ll continue the ongoing storyline with Charlotte Flair that both had been involved in since November.
Men’s Royal Rumble
WWE has also done a great job promoting the men’s Rumble match because there are plenty of superstars that fans can realistically walk out of Chase Field the winner and headline WrestleMania.
On the Raw side, Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre have looked strong on WWE programming in the leadup to the Rumble and could even be among the final four competitors in the match. McIntyre mic work and in-ring work has shown why Vince McMahon labelled him ‘The Chosen One’ a decade ago and Seth Rollins looks motivated to return to the main event scene since dropping the Intercontinental championship.
Another name from Raw to look out for is The Monster Among Men’ Braun Strowman. Strowman was removed from the Universal championship match with Brock Lesnar after it was reported that he was still not cleared to compete; he was then officially removed after causing damage to Vince McMahon’s limo however, the next week on Raw, Strowman returned to the ring to take on Finn Balor, who replaced him in the Universal championship match. If Strowman is fully recovered, he could be a heavy favorite to win the Rumble match and headline WrestleMania against the champion of his choosing.
On the Smackdown side, Tuesday night’s episode concluded with Samoa Joe interfering in the 2-out of-3 falls match between Rey Mysterio and Andrade and while cutting a promo, Randy Orton hit him with an RKO out of nowhere before posing on the turnbuckle to close the show. Randy Orton has won two Rumble matches; he last eliminated Triple H to win in 2009 and eliminated Roman Reigns to win in 2017. It would be an interesting surprise if Orton were to win the Rumble for a third time because it would potentially set up a match with either Daniel Bryan or AJ Styles, and tie Stone Cold Steve Austin for most Rumble match wins.
This Rumble match will likely see the debut of ECIII and Lars Sullivan, who have been the only NXT wrestlers teased in the vignettes that have not yet competed in a match on Raw or Smackdown.
It’ll be interesting to see if there are any other NXT stars that appear in this Rumble match. Both Adam Cole and The Velveteen Dream were not featured on last night’s TakeOver event so one may suggest that WWE could include them in the Rumble match. Aleister Black is another star that could be an entrant in the Rumble because he was unsuccessful in capturing the NXT championship for a second time, which could be a way of sending him off to the main roster.
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Photo Credit: WWE