This year, the 32nd Royal Rumble event put on by WWE takes place at Chase Field in Arizona, the home of MLB's Diamondbacks. The last time the WWE put on a show at a baseball park was WrestleMania 28 in 2012. Daniel Bryan mentioned in a local television interview that the Superstars may be entering from the dugouts as a way to adapt to the unique layout of the venue. Created by Pat Patterson, this twist on the traditional battle royal match is the kickoff of WrestleMania season, allowing just about every single WWE Superstar some time to shine on a global stage. Known for its history of surprise debuts, returns, and twists, the Royal Rumble is the most fun WWE event of the year. Here's a preview and predictions for Royal Rumble 2019.
Two of the hottest acts in WWE for the first half of 2018 have been left off of SmackDown for the past two weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble. Nakamura has been subjected to over-exposure in talking segments much like Braun Strowman and Ronda Rousey have on RAW this past year. Hopefully WWE can figure out how to re-capture the magic they had with Nakamura's first year in the company but it likely won't happen on Royal Rumble Kickoff. Rusev has slimmed down and gained a new following through his appearances on Total Divas. After taking Nakamura's United States Title on the Christmas Day episode of SmackDown, Rusev looked to be regaining his momentum from early 2018. With their feud turning personal after Nakamura inadvertently knocked down Lana, Rusev will be extra motivated to put away the King of Strong Style on the Kickoff to Royal Rumble.
WINNER: Rusev via pinfall
After coming to the WWE in 2014 as the hottest free agent in wrestling, Hideo Itami has battled all comers but none have been as dangerous to Itami as the injury bug. Serious injuries to his shoulder and neck kept Itami from riding any momentum he created as a competitor in NXT. It looks like 2019 could finally be the year that Itami sees gold in WWE. After picking up a win over the most dominant champion in 205 Live history, Cedric Alexander, Itami looks poised to be victorious at the Royal Rumble. The problem for Itami is that each of his opponents are former Cruiserweight Champions. Itami recently received an endorsement from WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, who acknowledged how dangerous Itami truly is. Although Buddy Murphy has been a fantastic Cruiserweight Champion, the table is set for Itami. The originator of the Go 2 Sleep & the Busaiku Knee will win his first championship in WWE and start an epic feud with Buddy Murphy.
WINNER: Hideo Itami via pinfall
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bar (c) vs. The Miz & Shane McMahon
Shane McMahon was on a clear path towards a heel turn as he entered himself into the World Cup Tournament at Crown Jewel. After his family announced a change in WWE programming, it looks like Shane's heel turn has been called off for now. The Miz seemed destined to pick up his feud with Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania, but his pairing with Shane McMahon over the past 2 months suggests that the two are destined to face off at WrestleMania. The SmackDown Tag Team Championship could be just the fuel to ignite the fire of this feud. The Bar continue to deliver athletic, physical, matches with every team in their path. The Bar will beat Miz & Shane silly, but somehow the team of Miz & Shane will stagger out of the Royal Rumble as the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
WINNER: Miz & Shane via pinfall
SmackDown Women's Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Becky Lynch
The Empress of Tomorrow won last year's Royal Rumble and walks into Chase Field as the SmackDown Women's Champion. After being attacked by Becky Lynch on this week's SmackDown, expect Asuka to come out swinging in this match. This match will have a brutality that will shock and delight fans. Both of these women can bring it and they have the potential to steal the show. Hovering over this match is the prospect of major money in a Becky Lynch/Ronda Rousey match at WrestleMania. Becky needs to be built as a credible threat to Ronda. Getting Asuka to submit to the Disarm-Her will announce Becky Lynch to the world as the biggest threat to Ronda Rousey. Asuka's direction in WWE is uncertain. She may be paired in a tag-team to build towards the Elimination Chamber. In spite of Asuka's tremendous ability, the WrestleMania hype for Becky Lynch is real and WWE is ready to let her lead us there.
WINNER: Becky Lynch via submission
RAW Women's Championship Match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks and Bayley were able to give Ronda Rousey her first recorded loss in wrestling by getting her tag team partner, Natalya, to submit to the Banks Statement. Sasha's superior ability on the microphone and comfort in the ring have gotten inside the head of Ronda Rousey. Sasha Banks' mind games coupled with her experience will push Ronda Rousey to the edge, but no one is ready for Ronda Rousey to lose yet. Ronda will find a way to overcome her mental obstacles, tapping into her size and power advantage to defeat Sasha Banks and remain RAW Women's Champion. Hopefully they can find a way to work in Sasha's relationship with Bayley as they appear to be the favorites to be the first-ever WWE Women's Tag Team Champions.
WINNER: Ronda Rousey via submission
WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles
The "New" Daniel Bryan has energized SmackDown since shocking the world with a surprise victory over AJ Styles in November. He subsequently took Brock Lesnar to the brink of defeat and although he came up short, the WWE Champion left his mark on Brock's face. Daniel Bryan will defeat AJ Styles at Royal Rumble and will enter WrestleMania 35 as WWE Champion. Where does AJ go from here? After wrestling Chris Jericho, Shane McMahon, and Shinsuke Nakamura at previous WrestleManias, AJ Styles will have another dream match at WrestleMania 35. After missing out on a WWE Championship feud due to injury, Randy Orton and AJ Styles will get to go head-to-head at WrestleMania 35. Daniel Bryan's WrestleMania path is less clear, but his character and performances in-ring have never been stronger.
WINNER: Daniel Bryan via pinfall
Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Finn Balor
Brock Lesnar has held the Universal Title for 581 days since its introduction in 2016. Aside from losing it to Roman Reigns, it has seemed impossible for anyone to defeat the Beast Incarnate. Fans have soured on Lesnar as champion due to his rare appearances on WWE television. However, Lesnar is coming off his most critically acclaimed match in a year with Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series. Lesnar showcased his power, speed, and ability to sell for a smaller opponent. Finn Balor earned the right to replace Braun Strowman in the main event less than two weeks ago with a definitive pin over John Cena on RAW. It's curious that although he is undefeated as The Demon on the main roster, Finn Balor has stated that he will be competing as himself at the Royal Rumble. After getting TV time with Vince McMahon on back-to-back RAWs and getting endorsed by John Cena, Finn Balor is poised to be the new torch-bearer for RAW. With Roman Reigns out of action for the foreseeable future, RAW needs a new top hero. The Royal Rumble is the event most well-known for its surprises. On Sunday, Finn Balor will shock the world and defeat Brock Lesnar to regain the Universal Title at Royal Rumble and lead RAW the way he lead the Bullet Club and NXT.
WINNER: Finn Balor via pinfall
Women's Royal Rumble Match
Last year, the Women's Royal Rumble was a crowning achievement for Asuka. Asuka subsequently challenged the best female wrestler on the planet today: Charlotte Flair. This past week on SmackDown, Flair found herself on the outside looking in at Asuka & Becky. Charlotte has won every accolade a female competitor in WWE could win with the exception of the Money In The Bank and the Royal Rumble. Charlotte stepped in for an injured Becky Lynch at Survivor Series and gave Ronda Rousey the best singles match of her career. Charlotte has an amazing quality about her that allows her to rise up to the size of any stage, showing that she is a true Superstar. Charlotte will have to overcome multiple former WWE Women's Champions in Bayley, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Natalya and Carmella while fighting off hungry upstarts like Ember Moon, Ruby Riott, Sonya Deville, and Nikki Cross. Although she's already in the conversation as the greatest female WWE Superstar of all time, she will cement her status with a win at this year's Royal Rumble.
WINNER: Charlotte Flair
Men's Royal Rumble Match
With multiple competitors looking very strong going into this year's Rumble, it's hard to pick a winner. Samoa Joe has been laying waste to every SmackDown Superstar he interacts with, but after being RKO'd to finish Tuesday's SmackDown, it appears that he has too many obstacles in his path to victory. Braun Strowman is also looking like a very strong contender after announcing he is entering the Royal Rumble this year. Andrade, Dean Ambrose, and Drew McIntrye also look like they could go far in this year's Rumble but one man sticks out as the likeliest winner. The man who wrestled in 7 out of the 35 matches on WWE's Match of the Year 2018 Collection: Seth Rollins. Seth Rollins delivered one of the most memorable moments in WrestleMania history as a surprise addition to the main event of WrestleMania 31, it's time he get his main event match and WrestleMania 35 will be the place.
WINNER: Seth Rollins
Please join us this Sunday for our live match-by-match coverage of The Royal Rumble. New subscribers can sign up for the WWE Network today by clicking here and get their first month for free, which includes NXT Takeover this Saturday and WWE Royal Rumble on Sunday.