The road to WrestleMania starts this Sunday at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view event. It’s an event that is known for its surprises, whether it be in surprise entrants or major swerves. This year promises to be no different, though some matches are more predictable than others. We’ve already run down the most likely Royal Rumble winners in the men’s and women’s matches, so this time we’re focusing on the other matches on the card. From most likely to least likely to win, here are our top 10 bold predictions for the 2019 WWE Royal Rumble.
10 Ronda Rousey
The WWE Raw Women’s Champion came out on Raw to invite Sasha Banks to challenge her at the Royal Rumble. Ronda Rousey’s explanation was that The Boss is the best competition the Raw women’s locker room has to offer, and she wants to defend against the best. They’ve gone from friendly competitors to heated rivals overnight.
Rousey stands the best chance at winning out of everyone on the card because WWE has put so much on her shoulders. There’s no way she goes into WrestleMania without the belt. It’s also a definite possibility that Becky Lynch gets involved and costs Rousey the match, but not the championship.
The women’s title scene seems to be the most predictable at this point, due to the amount of hype around Rousey vs. Lynch. Asuka won the SmackDown Women’s Championship as a result of their feud, but make no mistake, it was hugely earned. The program has reestablished Asuka as the dominant force that she is, and it seems time to wrap it up with a bow. It’s not serving Asuka or the championship to have her wrapped up in the Rousey/Lynch feud. With her as champion, the division can move on and new, fresher talent can step up to the plate.
8 Buddy Murphy
The Cruiserweight Champion, Buddy Murphy doesn’t appear to be letting go of his title anytime soon. He’ll defend against three other competitors: Kalisto, Akira Tozawa, and Hideo Itami. Despite this tough competition and the lack of champion’s advantage in a Fatal 4-Way, there’s no reason to take the Cruiserweight Championship off Murphy right now. The fate of 205 Live seems to be up in the air, with it changing time slots multiple times over the past few months, not to mention Mustafa Ali getting called up to play with the big boys.
If WWE plans to fold the show soon and put the Cruiserweight Championship on one of their weekly shows, that’s probably when we’ll see a title change. Until then, expect Murphy to hold on tight.
7 The Bar
Now we’re moving into the less predictable end of the card, and the SmackDown Tag Team Champion match is definitely one of those. The Bar has held one of the tag team championships off and on since joining forces back in 2016. At any time, they can take on the mantel and it feels completely earned. They’ve disbarred the New Day and the Usos in the past few months, now the unlikely team of Shane McMahon and The Miz have stepped up to challenge them. The scales seem to tip in The Bar’s favor simply because of their success in the division so far
Every time Rusev gets some momentum, he seems to get cut off at the knees. Could this year be different for the United States Champion? We think so, at least for a while. Too often his programs have been abandoned, but he’s always been able to get the next gimmick over. The partnership between him and Lana is a particularly strong pro, as their natural chemistry is unparalleled. The excitement just radiates off her when she cheers him on. Given that this is his first defense since winning the United States Championship on his birthday, it wouldn’t serve anyone for him to lose it now. Maybe this will finally be the time they finally pull the trigger on him.
5 Finn Bálor/ Brock Lesnar
Some may say this is a sure thing. Obviously, Lesnar is not walking out of the Royal Rumble without his championship. On paper, that may be true. The tale of the tape is something else, Lesnar has an easy 100 pounds on Bálor, and the challenger only received the opportunity because Braun Strowman lost it. However, it’s exactly someone who (on paper) doesn’t have any business beating him as he should end Lesnar’s reign of terror. That way, it elevates a competitor like Bálor and proves that WWE really is a place where anything can happen. From that perspective, Bálor has just as much of a chance to win the Universal Championship as Lesnar does.
4 Shinsuke Nakamura
I’m sorry, the old Shinsuke Nakamura can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because he’s going to AEW. Things have not been going great for the former NXT and United States Champion as of late. His most recent feuds have made him seem like a chump, and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Nakamura. It seems like they just don’t know what to do with him; they don’t know what they want the character to be and if he’s even into it. Ironically, it’s the same issue that Rusev seems to be going through, so this is far from a done deal. Still, Nakamura probably isn’t going to take back the United States Championship, at least not this time.
3 Shane McMahon And The Miz
What a delightfully odd journey The Miz and Shane McMahon have taken us on as of late. Fans are caught enjoying the ride and wondering when the second shoe will drop. The Miz has always been a love-to-hate kind of heel, so watching him parade around as a lovable, self-deprecating face is interesting. Is this a real face turn or is he playing McMahon? It could go either way. What also could go either way is their Championship match against The Bar. However, the pair hardly have any experience as a tag team, so it seems unlikely they’ll get the belts on their first attempt.
2 Becky Lynch
Rousey vs. Becky Lynch is clearly the hot ticket item for WrestleMania, and it just doesn’t make sense for them to both have Women’s Championships going into it. Just like with Rousey vs. Banks, there’s a huge possibility that Rousey gets involved in Asuka vs. Becky Lynch, most likely as retaliation for Lynch robbing her of the chance to tap out Banks. It would keep everyone looking strong but get Lynch out of the SmackDown Women’s Championship picture. That said, while Lynch probably won’t win against Asuka, she does have a strong chance of winning the Women’s Royal Rumble and getting to WrestleMania that way.
1 Sasha Banks
In the lead up to their Royal Rumble Match, Rousey said she was excited for the match because it would be a great moment for her career to tap out Sasha Banks. Which, Banks (for some reason) didn’t take well. While it has certainly been great for her character development, it doesn’t feel like Banks is even remotely ready to take back the Raw Women’s Championship. She is certainly one of the best technical wrestlers on the roster, but in the past several months, what has Banks accomplished that would put her first in line to challenge for the belt? The silver lining here is that she and Bayley look poised to make a run for the new Women’s Tag Team Championships.