|HEAD SLAPPING TIME
I am, in many ways, ready to Rumble. The two battle royals can be so much dumb fun when they don’t ruin it, plus there are a few solid matches on the main card. Predictions!
Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (US Championship, Preshow)
The Smackdown midcard belt has gotten almost no respect or TV time since Rusev won the belt a few weeks ago, and that lack of respect continues with an unbuilt rematch on the preshow. I can’t imagine switching the title back at this point, so Rusev retains.
Buddy Murphy vs. Kalisto vs. Hideo Itami vs. Akira Tozawa (Cruiserweight Championship):
Of the four, Itami is the only one who hasn’t held the belt yet. I don’t think any of these people are in a position to take the belt from Murphy, but that hasn’t stopped WWE before. I think Murphy will hold the belt until Mania, so he’ll retain.
The Bar vs. The Miz & Shane McMahon (Smackdown Tag)
I don’t want this to happen, but The Miz and Shane somehow being completely murdered by a powerbomb through the announce table this week means that they’re getting the belts on Saturday. New champs. Ugh. So much for their half-hearted attempt to open up the division and elevate Sanity and the Good Brothers.
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles (WWE Championship):
Bryan’s keeping this. Also this feud needs to end. If there’s another match between these two at Mania I’m gonna scream. Also, AJ Styles went on Steven Fucking Crowder’s radio show, making it VERY difficult for me to separate the real person from the on-screen talent, which is a shame. I’m team Capitalism-Hating Vegan and I consider him the face.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks (Raw Women’s Championship)
Rousey’s retaining. Only one person can dethrone her, and as much as I like Sasha, it ain’t Sasha.
Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar (Universal Championship):
I’m going to do something dumb. I’m going to tank this pick. Because I have a weird gut feeling that I know is wrong but have convinced myself is right because I want it so much. Balor defeats Brock to win the Universal Championship. He won’t keep it for long, mind you. Lesnar will have the belt at Mania. But something’s telling me they’re going to swerve everyone who thinks Balor won’t win this match.
Asuka vs. Becky Lynch
This prediction is important to my long-term fantasy booking and my Rumble picks. Asuka retains, but doesn’t retain clean. She retains through interference, either by the MMA Horsewomen or Rousey herself. This causes Becky to insert herself into the Rumble, winning it to beat Rousey at Mania in the main event. I’m vision boarding this shit.
Men’s Royal Rumble:
Three picks, likeliest to least likeliest:
Seth Rollins. The long-term rumors out there is Rollins-Lesnar at Mania, so he’s the lead pick to win the Rumble. He’s due for something like this, even though I think his character is so fucking boring these days it’s almost like I’m back watching Tyler Black.
Drew McIntyre: He’s been getting pushed less for the past month or so, losing high profile matches at the expense of folks like Finn Balor. A heel winner from Raw isn’t super likely, but he’s the only other Raw superstar in a position to win.
Samoa Joe: The only feasible winner on the Smackdown side. Again, he’s a heel, so a matchup with Bryan would be weird and unlikely, but again, of all the confirmed entrants as of the time I write this, he’s the only one who makes any damn sense.
Women’s Royal Rumble - three picks here too, same order.
Becky Lynch: Nothing more needs to be said.
Charlotte Flair: Again, the only other likely candidate because the winner is gonna face Rousey at Mania and we all know it.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair Simultaneous Elimination: There are a lot of ways to set up a triple threat at Mania. I don’t want one, mind you. But it’s a thing they do and do a lot. And it’s more likely that they end the Women’s Rumble with CONTROVERSY between Becky and Charlotte than it is that any other woman will win it. Which exposes a larger structural problem with the division right now, but that’s not important today.