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WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Predictions and Preview

The big day is almost here. It seems like it’s been many months since we’ve been treated to a WWE pay-per-view. Sunday brings the long-awaited Royal Rumble. The Rumble has long been considered one of the “Big Four” PPVs, and this year’s edition should be even more special with the inaugural women’s Rumble match on tap.

In some ways, I feel like this year’s show could be very predictable, and not in a good way. In other ways, I feel like there’s a huge chance for WWE to shake things up by avoiding the “expected” outcomes. This year’s Royal Rumble could be the start of a new era, or just more of the same. With that in mind, here’s a look at what I think will happen and what I think will happen at Sunday’s big show.

The Professor’s Royal Rumble Predictions

 Cruiserweight Championship – The original plan was for Enzo Amore to defend WWE’s Cruiserweight Championship against Cedrick Alexander. Those plans have been scrapped in the wake of sexual assault accusations levelled against Amore. Amore has been released by WWE, leaving the belt, and the whole division, in limbo. What Should Happen: WWE should hold their own Cruiserweight Rumble match, probably on the kickoff show. This could be a chance to spotlight the whole division now that the old storylines are being scrapped. Give Alexander the number 30 spot (or the last spot, depending on how many men would be in the match), and have a few surprise entries. I’d vote for Neville to return and win the match, giving the division a fresh start with a legitimate champion. What Will Probably Happen:  There will either be no cruiserweight match and no mention of the “missing” match, or WWE will have Alexander face a mystery opponent for the title. There’s also the chance that they could announce that there will be a tournament to determine the new champion, and a few matches could be presented on the kickoff show. If they go the route of ignoring the situation, it could mark the beginning of the end for the Cruiserweights.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match – The Usos vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin (2 out of 3 falls) – Regardless of the outcome, this should be an excellent match. The Usos have had the best year of their WWE careers, and could probably take a loss here without too much damage. Gable has begun to shine in his role as a cocky heel, while all four men have performed admirably in the ring. What Should Happen: Gable and Benjamin should win the first fall. That will make most of the audience think that the Usos will retain the belts in dramatic fashion by taking the last two falls. Instead, the Usos take the second fall, as Gable and Benjamin get disqualified for intentionally injuring one of the Usos. Gable and Benjamin take the belts wrestling the remaining Uso two-on-one. This sets off a title reign where Gable truly perfects his arrogant heel persona. What Will Probably Happen:  I feel like WWE might be ready to give Gable and Benjamin a run with the titles. The Usos take the first fall, Gable and Benjamin the second and third.

Raw Tag Team Championship Match – Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan vs. The Bar – No matter who wins this one, it should probably be the last bout in this feud. If Cesaro and Seamus are going to continue as a tag team, they have to beat what is essentially a makeshift team. To lose to Rollins and Jordan again would hurt their credibility. What Should Happen: Instead of rushing the breakup between Rollins and Jordan, which will lead to a feud that just accentuates how much the crowd hates Jordan right now, have him start to earn Rollins’ and Reigns’ respect. Jordan can somehow win the title match using Shield-like tactics, while Rollins nods his head in approval. As long as Dean Ambrose is out, having Jordan start to endear himself to the rest of The Shield will help get him over with the crowd, and could make for a fantastic feud with the returning Ambrose. What Will Probably Happen:  Jordan will somehow cost his team the match and will subsequently attack Seth Rollins when The Architect scolds him about his reckless behavior. This will lead to a tepid feud in which Jordan repeated attacks Rollins for no apparent reason.

WWE Championship Match – AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (2 on 1 Handicap Match) – This will be an interesting matchup. All three men are very good in the ring, and Zayn has been surprisingly effective in a smarmy heel role. Owens is simply one of the two or three best all-around performers in WWE right now, and Styles is, of course, phenomenal. What Should Happen: Owens and Zayn work like a well-oiled machine. Styles gets his offense in, but every time he’s about to pin or submit one opponent, the other one breaks it up. Eventually, Owens nails AJ with a pop-up power bomb, and stands aside while Zayn picks up the easy pin. Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon nearly come to blows, but Bryan refuses to quit, and Shane refuses to fire him. What Will Probably Happen:  Owens and Zayn work well together to begin the match, but eventually start to get in each-other’s way. Styles takes advantage of the situation, and pins one or the other of them. Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon nearly come to blows, but Bryan refuses to quit, and Shane refuses to fire him. Yes, I know this is the same as the previous paragraph. That just goes to show that in WWE, the only thing that matters is getting at least one McMahon over at all times.

Universal Championship Match – Brock Lesnar vs. Kane vs. Braun Strowman (Triple Threat Match) – This is one place where WWE could start to turn the corner. If Lesnar wins, and Kane eats the pin, it’s business as usual. Part-time talent will continue to be placed above the “everyday” workers. Lesnar will continue to hold the belt (off of television) and Strowman will again be relegated to destroying everyone and everything backstage. If Strowman wins, there might be some hope for a new beginning. (If Kane wins, someone at WWE Headquarters has suffered a serious brain injury.) What Should Happen: In a hard-fought match, Strowman pins Kane to finally take the title, while Lesnar is incapacitated outside the ring after being power-bombed through every available table by Strowman and Kane. What Will Probably Happen:  Kane eats the pin from Lesnar, Strowman destroys everything in sight, including Lesnar, and the Beast and the Belt disappear until the week before the next Raw brand PPV.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match – This match is one circumstance where the obvious outcome might be the best outcome. Most people think Asuka is destined to win the first women’s Royal Rumble match, and that is probably a good idea. Remember, this is the first of its kind, and if the tradition continues, Asuka would always be known as the first winner. Also, it sets up a fantastic feud between Asuka and Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss. Bliss’ “bestie” Nia Jax could also be involved in the feud. This is a chance for WWE to make Asuka the female version of Stone Cold Steve Austin. She is neither face nor heel, and doesn’t have any alliances. She just shows up, wins her match, and goes home again. Besides, no one on SmackDown live really feels like a legitimate threat to Charlotte Flair at this point. What Should Happen: Asuka should win, and it should be in fairly dominant fashion. What Will Probably Happen:  I think Asuka will actually come out the winner here. Sometimes, the answer is just so easy that nobody could get it wrong.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match – This will be the most telling match on the card. If someone named Orton, Cena, Reigns or {{{Shudder}}} McMahon wins, it’s going to be a long year. If someone, anyone, else wins, things could get interesting. What Should Happen: Someone from SmackDown (Shinsuke Nakamura? Bobby Roode?) wins the Rumble setting up a feud with the new WWE Co-Champions Zayn and Owens. Or, an unexpected winner from Raw emerges (Finn Balor?) and shocks the world. Also, Reigns should come in at No. 10, and everyone in the ring should immediately gather and toss him out. (I like Reigns, but I also like storylines that aren’t totally predictable.) What Will Probably Happen:  Reigns wins, Lesnar comes out on the ramp, and everyone stares as Michael Cole screams incoherently about the Big Dog and the Beast heading to New Orleans.

Don’t forget – NXT Takeover: Philadelphia takes place on Saturday night. Quick predictions there: Velveteen Dream over Kassius Ohno, Adam Cole over Aleister Black in an extreme rules match (with help from the Undisputed Era), Undisputed Era over Authors of Pain for the NXT Tag titles (with help from SAnitY), Ember Moon over Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship and Johnny Gargano over Andrade “Cien” Almas for the NXT Men’s championship (setting up a feud with Velveteen Dream). Next week, we’ll see how everything shook out on this monumental weekend……

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Bob Garman

Bob is a Writing professor in California and for a major online university. He’s been a wrestling fan since the early 80s, when he used to watch the AWA on Sunday mornings in Minnesota, where he grew up. Bob has written for AOL, Bleacher Report, and other online sports sites. Currently, Bob enjoys watching all the WWE product with his son, Jake. Bob has a BA in English from Ellis College, and an MA in English from National University.

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