WWE will present the 2018 Royal Rumble this Sunday on WWE Network, live from Philadelphia. Here is our full preview and match predictions, as WWE kicks off the road to WrestleMania in New Orleans this April …
The Usos vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles
It doesn’t feel like it’s time to take the titles off the Usos, but there are some outside factors at play. Specifically, Jey Uso was arrested for DUI earlier this month and WWE has been prone to punish wrestlers who get in outside trouble (for good reason).
However, the team of Gable and Benjamin just hasn’t gained any traction. American Alpha worked, but this feels like a retread and he’s way too soon to retread a team that just broke up this past spring. Bottom line is that WWE didn’t give American Alpha enough of a run as a tag team on SmackDown, and it’s hurt both Jason Jordan and Chad Gable.
Prediction: The Usos retain.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. The Revival
The Revival took the squash loss on Monday at Raw 25, so they get their win back here, which makes total sense given the circumstances.
Prediction: The Revival.
Bobby Roode vs. TBD for the U.S. Title
The mystery surrounding his opponent could be for a surprise — maybe ECIII? — and if it’s a debuting wrestler, I’d expect the debuting wrestler to win the belt. But, it could also just be Baron Corbin or something. If that’s the case, then Roode retais.
Prediction: Bobby Roode retains.
Kalisto, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik vs. TJP, Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak
I don’t really understand this match whatsoever. So, we’ll go with the team that I think has more wrestlers WWE is trying to push in the Cruiserweight division.
Prediction: TJP, Gallagher & Gulak.
Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
Jordan and Rollins have more to do as a team, and WWE seems interested in keeping Jordan relevant, despite that he hasn’t caught on since the American Alpha split. There’s more teasing they have to do of Jordan’s future heel turn, so it makes sense that Rollins and Jordan retain. There doesn’t seem to be concrete plans in place for either Rollins or Jordan for WrestleMania, which means they could just hold the titles until then.
Prediction: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan retain.
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn for the WWE Title
AJ Styles will have the WWE Title at WrestleMania, but WWE is going to give him a bump in the road. Quite frankly, I don’t think they can help themselves and want to have a shortlived storyline where Owens and Zayn are co-Champions, because that’s never been done before.
They could still easily switch the title back onto Styles at Elimination Chamber. Owens and Zayn need some conflict, too. For heels, they’re all too happy working together and sharing the WWE Championship. Heels don’t share! I could see them using this as a short-term way to tease some friction between Zayn and Owens, as well as giving SmackDown some intrigue with the “co-champions” angle, even if it’s just for a month.
Prediction: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn win the WWE Title.
Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane for the Universal Title
No matter how much his fanbase rejects it, Vince McMahon is going to go with Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, because that’s what Vince McMahon does.
Kane’s involvement seemed strange, but I think he’s there to take the loss in the match. WWE doesn’t want Strowman getting beat. I could see a scenario where it looks like Strowman has the match won, and Kane costs him the chance for a pin. Then Kane gets beat, but that sets up a possible Strowman vs. Kane match at WrestleMania, where the story is that Kane cost Strowman the Universal Title.
But regardless, Lesnar is winning beacuse he’s losing to Reigns. That’s happening. That’s also why Miz won the Intercontinental Title on Monday night, to clear Reigns up for his title match at WrestleMania.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar retains.
Women’s Royal Rumble
I’m really interested to see what WWE does with this match, because quite frankly, they don’t have 30 women on the roster. There are hard rumors that Ronda Rousey has actually agreed to terms with WWE, and her Instagram photos this weekend of being “on set” in Columbia is a way to throw off fans.
Rousey’s Instagram had been relatively inactive (four posts in four months). Now, all of a sudden, there’s two posts in two days (right before the Royal Rumble) about her filming a movie in Colombia.
Look, if Rousey enters the Rumble, she’s winning the Rumble. Bottom line.
Rousey teased some heat with Stephanie McMahon at WrestleMania a few years ago, and probably not ironically, Stephanie is on commentary for the Royal Rumble match.
So the official prediction is Rousey … now, if she’s really in Columbia and she’s not in the match, it should go to Asuka.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey.
Men’s Royal Rumble
Get ready for it, Vince.
Remember what happened the last time Reigns won the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia? Not even the Rock looked like he wanted to raise Reigns’ hand.
This is going to be a repeat reaction. I think they can get the pop they want at the end of this show if they have Shinsuke Nakamura win the match and go on to challenge Styles at WrestleMania, but that’s how how WWE does things.
Prediction: Roman Reigns