The 33rd annual Royal Rumble event from WWE takes place at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas on Sunday January 26th at 7pm ET with the Kickoff Show beginning at 5pm ET on the WWE Network. This is the second year in a row that the Royal Rumble takes place at a baseball park. Last year’s event drew a reported 48,193 attendees. Minute Maid Park’s current attendance record is 44,203 and WWE is looking to break it. 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.
This year’s event has eight scheduled matches (including the two Rumble matches) with no tag team matches scheduled as of publishing time. This year’s men’s Royal Rumble has the unique distinction of a current champion (Brock Lesnar) entering the match without putting his title on the line. The winners of this year’s men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches get to challenge for whichever WWE Championship they choose at WrestleMania 36. The men’s match has 27 out of 30 participants announced while the Women’s Rumble has only 9 out of 30 participants announced. Here’s a preview of each match on the card with predictions based on recent booking. In the comments below, share what you want to see at Royal Rumble 2020.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar in the #1 spot, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre, Ricochet, Rey Mysterio, AJ Styles, Erick Rowan, King Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Otis, Tucker, Elias, Aleister Black, Rusev, Bobby Lashley, R-Truth, Braun Strowman, WWE Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, RAW Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins, RAW Tag Team Champion Buddy Murphy, Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, SmackDown Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston, SmackDown Tag Team Champion Big E, John Morrison, The Miz, 3 Participants TBA
Brock Lesnar kicked off the build to this year’s Rumble by announcing that no one in WWE was fit to challenge him for the WWE Championship at the event and that he would enter the Rumble match at #1 to take on all comers and assert his dominance over the entire roster. Since there have been two men’s world championships to challenge for, it has created and interesting hurdle in the storytelling of the Royal Rumble. There are so many developed feuds and storylines going into this match, that the match seems clearer than it’s ever been with only 3 participants remaining a mystery. It will be interesting to see new feuds develop between Superstars thrown together outside of their current feuds through the luck of the draw.
With Lesnar in this year’s Rumble match, it will allow for WWE to build a challenger for The Fiend’s Universal Championship and a challenger for Lesnar’s WWE Championship in the same match while building midcard feuds that will lead to WrestleMania. Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, and AJ Styles have been feuding all month and will likely continue their conflict in this match. Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe’s feud with Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy will likely come up in this match as well. Roman Reigns will likely get his comeuppance on Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Bobby Roode in the Rumble match after all the humiliations he’s suffered at their hands. Rusev and Lashely’s feud will bleed into others in this match as well. Nakamura and Braun Strowman will likely continue their issue in this match while Rowan and Aleister Black will put on strong performances as they continue to be built as bad-asses on RAW.
As for the mystery participants, Cain Velasquez is a virtual lock to enter after a big debut on FOX in October followed by an unceremonious loss in Saudi Arabia shortly afterward to Brock Lesnar. Matt Riddle has been vocal about his desire to retire Lesnar at WrestleMania, making him an interesting name to possibly enter the match. Newly crowned North American Champion Keith Lee and NXT Champion Adam Cole both turned in star-making performances in and around Survivor Series while The Velveteen Dream has been healing from a back injury that has kept him out of action since September. Kane reminded everyone about how much the Royal Rumble means to him on last week’s SmackDown. Rumors have been swirling about Edge and/or John Cena making a return in this year’s Royal Rumble as well.
With so many stories being told in this year’s men’s Rumble match, there is some potential for the match being too hard to follow or chaotic, but Vince McMahon is almost always able to bring the focus back to the story he wants. A challenger (or two) for Lesnar will emerge and Roman Reigns will win the Royal Rumble and become the number one contender for The Fiend’s Universal Championship.
Reigns is getting cheered consistently for the first time in his career and the WWE must capitalize on that as soon as possible. George Barrios (Co-President of WWE) named Roman Reigns as having the “baton” passed to him from John Cena as the standard bearer of the WWE at the TMT Global West Conference earlier this month. Roman has never quite had the right heel to help build him as a babyface and The Fiend is being positioned to give Roman the test of his life. Roman last won the Royal Rumble in 2015 in what was possibly the worst Royal Rumble of all time. Hopefully this year, the WWE takes care of Roman and builds on the good will and work that he’s done since his return from his battle with Leukemia less than one year ago. This year is the best year for Roman to finally take his place as a revered WWE Champion at WrestleMania. It’s Roman’s time and he will be the winner of the 2020 Men’s Royal Rumble match.
30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Sarah Logan, Natalya, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Carmella, 21 Participants TBA
Moving into the third annual women’s Royal Rumble match there are three Superstars that stand out as potential winners with Charlotte Flair as the most prominent. Flair’s dominance over WWE’s women’s divisions and tremendous in-ring performances have become the norm. Flair has yet to win a Royal Rumble and has been featured prominently on television. Flair is definitely the favorite to win this year’s Rumble, but not far behind her is the woman who defeated Bayley & Becky Lynch at Survivor Series: Shayna Baszler. It is very likely that the woman who wins the Royal Rumble will challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Going into this year’s Royal Rumble event, the only two women who haven’t lost to Becky Lynch are Asuka and Shayna Baszler. If Lynch is able to defeat Asuka, then the only one left is Shayna Baszler. Baszler’s storylines in NXT have seemed to wrap up after she got revenge on Shotzi Blackheart for eliminating her in a Battle Royal two weeks ago. Baszler said she’s “not going anywhere” in her last promo on NXT, but it’s hard to imagine her not making an impact on this year’s Royal Rumble match. The third most likely winner is Sasha Banks. Sasha has been supporting Bayley for the most part over the past few months because she’s been recording her first album due out this summer. If the songs are a hit, it would look very good to have Sasha Banks in a prominent role at WrestleMania to cross-promote. Banks’ credibility as a challenger is higher than just about anyone on the roster. Her match with Bayley at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn in 2015 is still regarded as one of the best women’s matches of all time and WWE may look to rekindle that magic once again at WrestleMania.
To ignore the possibility of Ronda Rousey returning at the Royal Rumble would be irresponsible. Ronda debuted in WWE at the Royal Rumble in 2018 making a return in 2020 at the Royal Rumble would be fitting. News about Rousey has been especially quiet recently but if she were to return as a surprise entrant in the 2020 Royal Rumble, it would set the WWE on fire. Should Rousey return in the Rumble match she will certainly win it, but she may wait until SummerSlam to make her return to the company.
Although many of the participants of the women’s Rumble match have yet to be announced, it’s fair to assume that Sarah Logan will have a good showing as her new persona develops. Natalya will defend her distinction as the iron woman of the women’s Rumble match. There may even be a spot where Mandy Rose and Otis’ relationship comes into play during the match for a surprise save. Expect Lana and Liv Morgan’s feud to continue in this match as well. Rumors of Naomi and Nia Jax making their returns have popped up a bit recently but it seems that Ruby Riott is less likely to make a return than Jax and Naomi. Jax famously entered both the women’s and men’s Rumble matches last year, coming up short in each match but only after making her presence felt in both matches.
The women’s Rumble match is almost the polar opposite of the men’s Rumble match this year. While the men’s match has almost every competitor named, the competitors in the women’s match are mostly a mystery. The men’s match has tremendous potential to be successful but it also has potential to get bogged down in all of the overlapping storylines. This year’s women’s Rumble has only a few defined stories to track through it, leaving a tremendous amount of room for each Superstar to showcase her persona on the second largest live show of the year. RAW, SmackDown, and NXT have stellar women’s divisions and the Royal Rumble is the perfect match to showcase the depth of a talent pool. Barring any surprise appearance from Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler seems destined to be the newest monster for Becky Lynch to overcome at WrestleMania.
Strap Match for the WWE Universal Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c)
Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan’s careers in WWE have been intertwined since their time as a part of NXT. Their chemistry in and out of the ring gave Daniel Bryan some of his most memorable moments in WWE. In this match, Daniel Bryan will give back to Bray Wyatt. This match will solidify The Fiend as a monster as he is built to take on Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 36.
It’s quizzical that Daniel Bryan would select a strap match as the stipulation for his match with The Fiend because The Fiend is seemingly impervious to pain and has a recovery ability that is as great or better than Kane, Mankind, or The Undertaker’s. Over the past three decades, the most famous strap matches are JBL vs Eddie Guerrero, Savio Vega vs. JBL, Savio Vega vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hogan vs. Flair (Yapapi Strap match), and Umanga’s Samoan Strap Matches. The strap match (known by many names: bullrope match, Russian Chain Match, Country Whipping Match, or dog collar match) is used to keep the heel from running away from a fight while allowing for multiple spots using the strap as a weapon. None of these matches suggest that Daniel Bryan stands a snowball’s chance in Hell at winning this match.
Unfortunately the red lighting they use for The Fiend’s matches will take away from the visual effect of the violence in a strap match as we saw in the contract signing on last night’s SmackDown. That aside, remember that Daniel Bryan was a big part of making Kofimania happen and he is the right man to make The Fiend the most feared man in WWE. Daniel Bryan will put up a fight that will rally the WWE Universe behind him, but The Fiend must crush him completely to come off as a serious threat to Roman Reigns’ destiny.
Although Wyatt is on a path to face Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan’s future remains a mystery. Bryan has put on amazing matches with everyone he’s faced this year and has grown into one of the most compelling performers in the industry inside and outside of the ring. It would be wise of WWE to keep giving Bryan opportunities to tell the stories he wants to tell, but the story of this match will be Wyatt dominating Daniel Bryan.
RAW Women’s Title Match
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Asuka vs. RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch (c)
Becky Lynch’s reign as RAW Women’s Champion is facing its most serious threat in Asuka. Asuka is the only woman that Becky Lynch hasn’t been able to defeat. Asuka has become even more dangerous since turning heel and adding the green mist to her repertoire. This threat has forced the usually plucky and sassy Lynch into a much more serious presentation. On the January 6th edition of RAW, Becky Lynch told the crowd “I’ve been walking around for months now, wondering what kind of a champion I am. I let the doubters get to me…” When Asuka spat green mist in Lynch’s face, we saw Lynch as WWE’s “golden goose” as she got immediately treated by three WWE officials.
Asuka has made Lynch more vulnerable than she’s ever been and it’s the best work they’ve done together already. Their match last year was awesome and this one has potential to be even better. Lynch will have to fight through her doubts and fears in addition to fighting one of the most dominant women in wrestling to keep her RAW Women’s Championship. Becky will find a new level of aggression through her vulnerability and give Asuka her third loss via submission in WWE.
Becky Lynch via submission
SmackDown Women’s Title Match
Lacey Evans vs. Bayley (c)
This feud began on the December 20th edition of SmackDown where Sasha Banks beat on Lacey Evans while taunting Evans’ daughter. When Evans retaliated, Bayley came to the aid of Banks and got pulled into the feud with Evans. Even as a heel, Bayley’s loyalty to Sasha Banks will lead to her downfall.
Lacey Evans has been putting in a lot of time doing promotional appearances and interviews for house shows over the past year, getting more and more comfortable as a spokeswoman for WWE. Evans got a big opportunity on last night’s SmackDown in her interview with Michael Cole. Evans was able to show a much more vulnerable side in the interview as she shared her struggles with her upbringing as she worked to become the lady she is today. Evans seems like she is ready to step into the role of champion and she showed it in her match with Bayley on the January 17th edition of SmackDown. Evans will strike gold in Houston with her “Women’s Right”.
Lacey Evans via pinfall
Falls Count Anywhere Match
Roman Reigns vs. King Baron Corbin
This match could end up being one of the most fun of the night. There is so much potential for creativity in a baseball park. Minute Maid Park is already known as a quirky ballpark in general and WWE really could take tremendous advantage of it. King Corbin and his cohorts Ziggler & Roode have humiliated Reigns over and over and there is plenty of room in this ballpark for Reigns to get some revenge on these guys without having to actually win the match. Corbin needs this win much more than Reigns needs it. Baron Corbin still isn’t a top heel in the eyes of a lot of WWE fans and Roman Reigns is doing all he can to help Corbin get there. This most recent program between the two has been their most successful, but the change of setting for this match is very welcome. Corbin had his moments in his victory over Reigns at TLC and hopefully he can ride that momentum into what could be a fun and memorable match. It would be disappointing if Ziggler, Roode, & the Usos don’t get involved in this match. Everybody should get in on the fun of this type of match in a baseball park.
Roman Reigns’ main focus is the Royal Rumble while Baron Corbin is focussed on humiliating Roman Reigns. Corbin has defeated Reigns before and he’ll do it again at the Royal Rumble. Corbin must come off looking dangerous here, he’s often made to look like a fool and a credible villain should be threatening. It would be great to see a little more aggression from Corbin in this victory to keep his momentum going.
King Corbin via pinfall
United States Championship
Andrade (c) vs. Humberto Carillo
On the December 16th edition of RAW, Humberto Carillo defeated Ricochet in a gauntlet match to become the #1 contender for the United States Championship. Carillo was then ambushed from behind by Andrade, who eventually executed his hammerlock DDT on Carillo onto exposed concrete. Carillo remained off television until this past Monday when he came to the aid of Rey Mysterio after his gruelling ladder match with Andrade. Carillo finally gets his chance to get revenge on Andrade and may become the new United States Champion in the process at the Royal Rumble.
These two men are amazing luchadors at the top of their game. The chemistry between Andrade and Humberto Carillo is undeniable. This match will be electric and has potential to steal the show while likely being relegated to the Kickoff show. Don’t sleep on this one.
Andrade via pinfall
Sheamus vs. Shorty G
Former WWE Champion Sheamus is back and his first feud is with Shorty G. This is a perfect matchup for Sheamus since his best matches are against athletic, technical, wrestlers like Cesaro and Daniel Bryan. Shorty G has built a reputation for himself in tag team competition but he hasn’t quite found his footing in the singles division. Sheamus should win this one quickly with the Brogue Kick, but here’s hoping Shorty G gets a rematch on SmackDown in the not-too-distant future to showcase his abilities as well.
Sheamus via pinfall