With Survivor Series behind us, here is a Thanksgiving preview of the 2019 Royal Rumble. Thanksgiving is about family, feasting and tradition. This year's Royal Rumble will take place at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. With a capacity of over 40,000 people, WWE has its work cut out for itself to pack the building. Traditionally, the Royal Rumble does not feature cross-brand matches aside from the Royal Rumble match itself. With the need to generate enough interest to fill Chase Field, WWE may have to break with tradition to put on the marquee matches that fans want to see.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose will end their feud in front of 40,000 fans at Royal Rumble 2019. Look for this match to be even more brutal than what transpires at TLC. Dean Ambrose's new mean streak will be in full force by the time the Rumble comes around and WWE seems to be leaning in to its characters showing ruthless aggression. Look to this match to be the most dangerous on the card. This will establish Dean Ambrose as one of the most dangerous men on RAW and allow Seth Rollins to flash some of the aggression that got him to the top of WWE back in 2015.
The women are also getting more aggressive. With Nia Jax breaking Becky's face to Charlotte drawing blood from Ronda Rousey, this is a different women's division. With a WrestleMania-sized crowd at Chase Field, whether Ronda faces Becky, Charlotte, or Nia, this match will be violent and personal.
After facing Bobby Roode & Chad Gable at TLC, The Authors of Pain will continue their dominance at the Royal Rumble. The question is who will they feast on here? The tag division on RAW is significantly thinner than Smackdown's. Look to Lucha House Party or The Revival to get a chance to pull off an upset in this match but only after taking heavy damage from AOP.
The Daniel Bryan/AJ Styles feud continues. AJ Styles has invoked his rematch clause and will take on Daniel Bryan at TLC. We'll likely get one more match between these two at Royal Rumble to blow off this feud and set up the WWE Champion's path to WrestleMania. It was rumored that Daniel Bryan was being built for a feud with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania, but the fan reaction to his dark match with the Miz at Staples Center might tip things towards the direction of a Miz/Daniel Bryan feud culminating at WrestleMania 35. Daniel Bryan will be more violent than ever in an intense back-and-forth match with AJ Styles that will result in Daniel Bryan walking out of Chase Field still WWE Champion. AJ Styles' contract status is up in the air but hopefully he can come to an agreement with WWE. He may be out of the title picture come WrestleMania, but look to him to have an intense feud with Randy Orton as Randy is being built as a monster right now in his feud with Rey Mysterio on Smackdown.
Brock Lesnar will feast on whoever he faces at Royal Rumble. If Braun Strowman is healthy enough, he'll be the guy, but Drew McIntyre has remained healthy and his momentum is putting him on a collision course with the Beast. After a competitive match at Survivor Series with Daniel Bryan, Lesnar will come out of Royal Rumble looking like an unbeatable monster as he builds towards his UFC Heavyweight Championship match with Daniel Courmier and a WrestleMania match.
The Royal Rumble Match
The biggest question of the Men's Royal Rumble is who will be the surprise entrants? Sami Zayn has been rehabbing from double shoulder surgery and could look to return at the Royal Rumble, but the Royal Rumble is known for big-splash returns and this doesn't feel like it would blow the roof off Chase Field. Kevin Owens' timetable for return is closer to March/April, his return at Royal Rumble seems off the table. John Cena's return has already been announced with him scheduled to appear on the January 7th episode of RAW. Rumors about WWE signing new talent from the indies are swirling, but no one matches the star power of a surprise return from Chris Jericho or Dave Bautista. WWE is sorely in need of heroes right now with its biggest babyfaces injured, on a limited schedule, or recently turned heel. Bautista or Jericho have the star power to make a big impact.
When it comes to who wins the match, the company could also look internally for a new flag-bearer and Finn Balor checks all the boxes. Those criticizing Balor's believability for his size are quick to forget that he & AJ Styles have a similar build. Balor was the face of NXT when it left on its first live tour and could become the face of WWE's RAW brand in Roman Reigns' absence. If Drew McIntyre isn't in the main event against Lesnar, look for him in the final four of the Rumble match as well. With Shinsuke Nakamura winning the Rumble for Smackdown last year, I'd look to a RAW superstar to get a boost to build towards a match with Brock Lesnar.
The women's division for both RAW & Smackdown are very much up in the air with Becky Lynch injured on Smackdown & Alexa Bliss injured on the RAW roster. Although both rosters have the star power to overcome injuries, these two women in particular have been driving forces for their respective brands if both are healthy for the Royal Rumble, look to these two to make a big impact. Without them, it looks like Nia Jax is easily the favorite to win the women's Royal Rumble but if Becky Lynch is healthy, Charlotte Flair is the immediate favorite to win her first Women's Royal Rumble to become the most decorated female competitor in WWE history. Surprise entrants will likely include Lita, Trish Stratus, and maybe even Shayna Baszler.
At the end of the Royal Rumble we'll all be as exhausted as we are today. Full, satisfied, and happy. I am incredibly thankful for the individual matches the WWE Superstars have put on in spite of some stop-and-start programs and lackluster storylines. We are in a great time for pro-wrestling and Royal Rumble 2019 at Chase Field will be special.