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TJRWrestling WWE Royal Rumble 2020 Preview

John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE Royal Rumble 2020 preview. It’s one of my favorite shows of the year, I have reviewed all of the Rumble matches and I’m very much looking forward to watching two more Rumble matches on Sunday night. There are six undercard matches in addition to the two Rumble matches. There’s also a Kickoff Show for two hours before the main card, but as of this writing on Saturday afternoon, nothing has been announced for the Kickoff Show. I’m tired and ready for the Rumble to get here. Joining me for the preview is Mike Holland. Let’s roll.

(Note: All graphics are from WWE. The banner up top is courtesy of our friend Melo Man.)

 

Shorty G vs. Sheamus

Mike: I feel like Chad Gable belongs on the cover of a book yet to be written regarding how very good wrestlers generally fare in World Wrestling Entertainment. Gable has been more than a good soldier and done everything the company has asked, and in return they’ve dressed him in an unfortunate costume that makes him look like a Kevin Federline stunt double and capitalized on his most important feature…height. (It made sense for an apt comparison in Caddyshack, but here? Not so much.)​

In contrast, we have a marginal wrestler given tons of opportunity and gold over the years and now making his return. Makes you wonder who’s going to win this one, doesn’t it? Let’s just hope the corporate overlords are merciful this killing season and allow (ack) Shorty to land some solid offense before the inevitable hammer falls. Of course, Sheamus could always miss the Brogue Kick entirely since they act like Gable is three-foot-three, right?

Winner: Sheamus

John: This will be an easy win for Sheamus. It would be nice if they did more with Shorty G, but it’s probably not going to happen. I expect this to go maybe three minutes. It could even go five minutes, but I don’t expect them to get a lot of time. This is about putting over Sheamus as a dominant force.

Winner: Sheamus

 

United States Championship: Andrade (c) vs. Humberto Carrillo

Mike: The “new era” of WWE programming (featuring, naturally, lots of old hands steering the tiller) has at the very least resulted in some solid opportunities for new players. One of those is Andrade, who overall has been presented largely solidly, and had that ramped up significantly all the way to a victory over Rey Mysterio and a United States Championship run. I’m good with that feud taking a turn to include the very skilled Humberto Carrillo, particularly since Mysterio is dealing with injury issues and therefore not available fully, and it makes sense from a storyline standpoint since Andrade is the one who put Carrillo on the sidelines for a month or so anyhow.​

From a prediction standpoint, however, while this match should be very good to great in the brief time it likely merits on a double Rumble card, I don’t think Carrillo has been built up as a viable challenger just yet. Some fleshing out of his character is needed before that move can be made. I see Andrade retaining and awaiting another chapter with Mysterio. Carrillo may very well stay in that mix as well. I am in total favor of this being on the Pre-show if it gets them more time.

Winner (and STILL United States Champion): Andrade

John: It feels like a bit of a reach to put this match on the card because Carrillo has been off TV for about one month, came back on Raw to help Rey Mysterio and now he’s in the title match against a good champion in Andrade. It would have been nice if they built this up more. I know Andrade was the one that injured Carrillo in the storyline, but it just doesn’t feel like a big match right now. I expect Andrade to retain the title although I also think Carrillo will be the guy to take the title off him in a few months. It’s just not the right time now.

Winner: Andrade

 

Falls Count Anywhere: Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin

Mike: Imagine when people actually start getting tired of this pairing. This feud has only been interesting in that WWE has consistently allowed Roman Reigns to get the kind of booking most of us were asking for from the beginning of the ashes of The Shield, namely losing once in a while and even to guys he shouldn’t lose to. I know that’s not asking much from a predetermined script, but what can I say? I get greedy. While coming to the light is laudable, perhaps not so much when it’s being shined out of the crown of King Corbin. I’m not sure if him taking this gimmick twist so seriously is a result of really solid method acting or not grasping the comic nature of it, but I’ll let you decide which is more likely.​

The Usos being added to help balance the scales against Corbin’s growing court of lackeys is interesting enough, I suppose, but it just seems like a way to make this stipulation more interesting. I could do without seeing this match again at any point ever, but it seems the ends to a mean for me. Chicanery and another Corbin win for the new year.

Winner: King Corbin

John: This match doesn’t excite me much at all, but I think it’s here to weaken Reigns before the Rumble match. As soon as it was announced, I thought that Reigns would lose the match, they would probably do some injury angle with him where he’s got a hurt shoulder or knee and then Corbin wins this match. They can also have multiple heel wrestlers help Corbin since the story is that guys will want to weaken Reigns before the Rumble match, so when they go fighting backstage or wherever, that’s when other heels can get into it. Later in the night, Reigns will win the Rumble. Corbin will have a legit gripe saying he beat Reigns, so he wants a match again and that will be at Elimination Chamber in March or the next Saudi show in February. Reigns will go over there to end the feud (hopefully) and move on to WrestleMania. If Reigns wins here and wins the Rumble then it would be a dominant performance for him and that’s certainly possible as well.

Winner: King Corbin

 

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Lacey Evans

Mike: I guess it’s only natural that after taking one of the most popular women on the roster in Bayley and desperately trying to reinvent her as a baddie that you’d take one of the more hated gimmicks in Lacey Evans and convert her into a solid citizen, right? I feel like this company has an entire department of people who do the opposite of what makes sense to everyone and then pats themselves on the back for their smart writing and forward thinking. Or maybe one person who everyone else congratulates? You get the idea.​

I think Bayley has been solid but uninspired in her run as champion, and the most interesting component of it is waiting around for the other “heel” to drop and her showdown with buddy Sasha Banks. We’ve pretty much been waiting a year and a half for that, right? Evans seems to be trying pretty hard and might eventually manage to build something out of this since most of the compelling women in WWE right now are heels, but I just can’t buy her as a champion right now and I don’t think the fanbase will either. There is always the chance she gets utilized as a way to flip Bayley into the feud I mentioned earlier at ‘Mania, but there is still time to work that out.

Winner (and STILL Smackdown Women’s Champion): Bayley

John: The start of this feud bored me, but they have done better in the last few weeks. Evans beat Bayley non-title to earn this match. The interesting thing about the feud is that Evans was supposed to wrestle Sasha Banks multiple times, but then it never happened and here we are with a title match. That tells me that at some point WWE wants to do Evans/Banks perhaps at the next PPV, so it makes sense for Evans to keep chasing the title. What I think will happen is Sasha Banks will attack Evans to cause the DQ, which gives Evans the win and then Bayley ends up keeping the title. Evans can get the win over Banks and then Evans beats Bayley for the SD Women’s Title at WrestleMania. I feel like Evans has been their pet project for the last year similar to when Nia Jax was called up and just like Jax, Evans is going to win the title at WrestleMania. It’s too early right now. Keep building it at WM in April. That’s my prediction.

Winner by disqualification: Lacey Evans (Bayley retains the SD Women’s Title)

 

Women’s Royal Rumble Match with 30 Superstars

(Entrants include: Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Natalya, Sarah Logan, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. That comes from WWE.com on Saturday.)

Mike: The “surprise” element of Royal Rumble matches are simultaneously the best thing as a viewer and the worst thing as a prediction writer. I won’t say the results always (or even usually) live up to the hype, but it’s always entertaining to the max to see the names tossed out to potentially be in the match. Should you take the positive side of this, then, there will be plenty of surprises. Taken another way, though, WWE really needs to get their act together if they want to present both Rumble matches as equal, regardless of how individual fans feel about that. Less than a third of the participants announced and we’re supposed to be all geared up about things? Call that intriguing if you want, but I call it lazy, can’t-be-bothered booking.​

From the announced participants, the only one I could see winning this is the obvious choice in Charlotte Flair. WWE made a huge deal about her declaring for this, and we all know the history of her in high-profile matches for the company. She can have her cake and eat it, too, though, since she doesn’t necessarily have to win this match in order to challenge at WM. In terms of surprise entrants, Nia Jax would make a lot of sense provided she’s ready to roll. I would expect a fair peppering of NXT talent as well.​​

Speaking of NXT, I can’t help but notice that Shayna Baszler is no longer their Women’s Champion, having dropped the belt just over a month ago to Rhea Ripley. Given that Baszler has a ready-made feud to resume with Lynch, who I expect to retain in her match, this outcome seems a bit more predictable than expected. If Baszler is in the match, she wins.

Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Charlotte Flair

Most Eliminations: Shayna Baszler

Final Four: Flair, Baszler, Natalya, Logan

Winner: Shayna Baszler

John: If you have read my reviews or social media posts in the last couple of weeks then you know I’ve been upset with how poorly WWE has promoted this women’s Royal Rumble match. They barely mentioned it on television, they really only let Charlotte Flair do promos about wanting to win the match and advertised less than ten women to be in the Rumble compared to the men’s Rumble where they listed almost all of the names. Two years ago, the first women’s Rumble was a big deal, last year it was promoted well also and now it just feels like an afterthought. That’s disappointing. Now some point form thoughts.

– I don’t think Ronda Rousey is going to be in the match now. Earlier in the month I definitely thought that Ronda might win, but due to the lack of buzz about her, perhaps Ronda really is out of the picture this year. If she was going to be in the match, we probably would have heard about it by now.

– There’s a lot of hype around Shayna Baszler winning because she lost the NXT (Women’s) Title last month, so it makes sense that WWE might want to push her. The problem I have with that is Baszler doesn’t across like a big deal. There were reports that Vince McMahon wasn’t impressed by the women’s triple threat that headlined Survivor Series (it was a boring match), so if Vince disliked that, why would he put over Baszler in a big way? I don’t see it happening although it’s possible that Baszler will be in the match.

– There will likely be some surprises to help fill out the match and they will probably have more NXT names than the men’s match. Kacy Catanzaro can do some incredibly athletic things like she did last year in the Rumble, so maybe she’ll be a part of it again. I think some other good NXT choices would be Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae and Io Shirai to name a few.

– I can see there being a few returning names in this match. I think Naomi is a lock since her husband Jimmy Uso just came back and she didn’t have an injury as far as I know. Nia Jax (double knee surgery) and Ruby Riott (double shoulder surgery) are possible after long term injuries, but I don’t know if they are ready. I don’t believe one of my favorites Mickie James is ready to return after knee surgery. Maybe in a month or two for her.

– Sasha Banks is an intriguing pick for a winner. I’m not leaning that way, though. I still think it’s too early in their heel alliance to split them up. Bayley has only been a heel for about six months. I want this run to last longer and if you have Banks turn face on Bayley now, it would feel too soon. Do it in the summer or even next year if they can wait that long.

– My pick is Charlotte Flair to win. I think there are a lack of great choices this year due to poor booking and I think WWE knows how stagnant things have been with Flair, so having her win her first Royal Rumble will give her a big boost. I don’t know if they will do Flair vs. Lynch at WrestleMania as a singles match or if they would involve other women. Will people love the Charlotte Flair pick? Probably not. I just think it makes sense to give her a boost again and that’s why she’s my pick. I’ll say Charlotte enters at #22 to win the match.

Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Charlotte Flair

Most Eliminations: Nia Jax (if she’s in) or Charlotte Flair

Final Four: Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Sasha Banks and Shayna Baszler

Winner: Charlotte Flair

 

Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Asuka

Mike: Asuka’s been on a bit of a roll in my book, presented as a viable threat to Lynch’s red brand reign and having already outmatched Becky One Belt in a major showdown. All of that is good stuff, and this match strikes me as having the most potential to be the sleeper hit as a result. This feud feels very personal, which I always appreciate, and it should ratchet up the intensity. Coupled with the fact that both of these wrestlers can go, and you’ve got the makings of a proverbial barnburner.​

I’m already on record with my prediction here, so there’s no need to play out the string. Lynch has been pretty much unstoppable, with one very large stop on her record being occupied by Asuka. In order to exorcise the demons of her past before confronting the larger one in her future, she needs to close that chapter and score vengeance on Asuka. I expect this to be a super competitive and thrilling matchup that leaves the champion ready for an incredible challenge from Shayna Baszler at WrestleMania.

Winner (and STILL Raw Women’s Champion): Becky Lynch

John: The build for this match has been great. I love seeing Asuka being featured again and you can tell how much Lynch loves working with her too. With that said, the Raw Women’s Title has lost a lot of steam considering the last time we saw it defended on TV was back in October at Hell in a Cell. That’s way too long to have title defenses. It’s also a sign that WWE’s creative team is lacking in terms of creativity when it comes to the women’s division. My concern is after this, then what are they going to do? I have no idea.

There’s a theory out there that maybe Asuka should win, she should get the title and be that one woman that Becky can’t seem to beat. That can lead to a rematch (and maybe a triple threat with Charlotte Flair again) at WrestleMania where Lynch beats Flair, but then she still hasn’t beaten Asuka. I don’t think that’s the way it will go, but it would add legs to the story.

My prediction is for Lynch to win. If she doesn’t, it will surprise me because of how strongly Lynch has been booked in the last nine months or so. Lynch almost never loses, not even in tag team matches, so I fully expect her reign to continue until at least WrestleMania to give her one year as the champ. I just hope the creative team can find a way to make things interesting the way this feud has been. I’m not sure what the plan is, so we’ll see what happens in the months ahead.

Winner: Becky Lynch

 

Strap Match for the Universal Championship: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

Mike: Give WWE credit for breaking out the strap match again, if nothing else. I’ve always liked this match, both from a wrestling traditionalist standpoint and because it’s something different in a wrestling reality where everything unfortunately feels very much the same a lot of the time. I’m not sure how much it adds to THIS particular match, though, because the whole point of The Fiend is the lengths competitors have to go to in order to truly inflict damage upon him. If he’s indestructible to the point of mythlike Undertaker status, how in the world is a piece of leather a frightening prospect?​

Fortunately, if anybody can make that work, it’s Daniel Bryan. Bryan has a rather unprecedented history of making his opponents shine (even in a ring bathed in red light), and therefore he is the perfect choice to continue this war with Fiend Wyatt. It is that history, though, which gives me pause in predicting a title change here. Wyatt clearly has the WWE clout marketing machine behind him, and I don’t see that engine running out of steam now with WrestleMania in sight. Bryan will give a solid effort, and the strap stip allows for some interesting storytelling options, but Bray is the winner. They want the Fiend in prime form for his big ticket showdown with the Rumble winner. More on that shortly.

Winner (and STILL WWE Universal Champion): “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

John: I think Daniel Bryan’s the best wrestler in WWE and he has done great work in terms of building up this match along with a crazy guy in a mask that is able to turn on a red light. The Strap match stipulation is interesting because we don’t see it very often in WWE. It’s more of an old school thing going back decades. In this case, it is fitting since they have had a rivalry for a few months, so it’s the end of the rivalry. I fully expect The Fiend to win and if he doesn’t win, I’ll be very surprised. I hope they don’t use the STUPID RED LIGHT during the match, but they probably will and it will hurt the match no matter how good the guys are in the ring.

Winner: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

 

Men’s Royal Rumble Match with 30 Superstars

(Entrants include: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar – entered himself at No. 1, Roman Reigns, King Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, Braun Strowman, Kofi Kingston, Big E, Erick Rowan, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Elias, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, Otis, Tucker, Rusev, Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Aleister Black, Buddy Murphy, The Miz, John Morrison – Names come from WWE.com. There are 26 names there, so four unknowns.)

Mike: On the other side of the Rumble coin, the men’s match is positively loaded with advertised options and plenty of talent. The Lesnar declaration and entry has gotten plenty of negative buzz and rightly so; there is simply no need for a reigning champion to enter this match unless his belt goes on the line as a result of his ego. It’s done nothing to halt critics of Lesnar’s poor attendance record, and in fact it’s even worse as you’re taking one of his rare appearances and not having him contest a major title he holds. I imagine all of that is rendered moot by WWE’s strong desire to land him a major opponent for Mania early, and there can be little question that’s what happens here. Lesnar winning would be a PR disaster even the WWE would have difficulty walking away from. There are multiple options, but a Cain Velasquez showing in one of the empty four slots as of press time makes the most logical sense. WWE loves their crossover showdowns. I get this lost a bit of luster with what went down at Crown Jewel, but many didn’t even see that and it adds a dimension of revenge here. Lesnar looks strong early and falls to Velasquez, more concerned with ending Brock than actually winning this match. And he’ll still get his shot!​

As for the other empty spots, I don’t think the winner comes from there. Edge would be a very cool option and clearly has plenty of buzz, but should he appear I think it’s more for the moment than the result. Ditto Kane, who very clearly will be in and is always booked strongly in these matches, even while in government office. (Let’s face it, he can’t embarrass himself any more than the rest of the politicians at this point.) There are several solid contenders to claim the prize, but I am going with Roman Reigns. We’ve seen the story many times where someone losing a match earlier in the evening goes on to win the big one, and Reigns has won the Rumble before, so there’s history there. A showdown with Wyatt looms, and RR is the one to get the call for that in my view. Not the most inspired plot, but it should be a fun one nonetheless.

Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Drew McIntyre

Most Eliminations: Braun Strowman

Final Four: Drew McIntyre, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles

Winner: Roman Reigns

John: I’m going point form style with my thoughts here because it’s easier to cover a lot of things.

– Roman Reigns has been my pick to win this ever since people started asking me about the match. It’s been obvious since Reigns came back from beating leukemia last February that WWE has purposely kept him out of the WWE/Universal Title pictures. They want him to have that babyface comeback story where he wins the Royal Rumble to earn a title shot and I expect him to pick the Universal Title leading to Reigns vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania. If somebody else wins that’s cool and I’m certainly fine with it. I just think they’re going with Reigns. I think Reigns win from the #25 spot in the match.

– Brock Lesnar in the #1 spot as the WWE Champion is going to be interesting just because I strongly believe he won’t last more than 20 minutes in the match. I think somebody, likely from the Raw brand, is going to toss him out of the ring and that person is going to be his WrestleMania opponent. Who do I want it to be? Drew McIntyre. I think WWE recently turned him face for a reason and that reason is to set him up for a rivalry with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. McIntyre has the look, the talent and the desire to be a believable opponent that can beat Lesnar. I really hope it happens. Other possible names for that spot are Ricochet, Aleister Black, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe or even Rusev. There are options, at least.

– I don’t expect CM Punk to be in the match. As a fan of his I’d love to see it, but I just don’t see him having interest in coming back for this.

– I think Edge will be in the match and will get one of the biggest pops of the night. The rumors of him returning have been out there for months (I believe it was started by PWInsider) and Edge has denied it, but that’s standard for WWE people to deny it. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I assume Edge will be able to wrestle a few times per year, so maybe he sets up an angle here with AJ Styles or some other heel. It would be cool if Edge was #30 because fans like surprises in that spot.

– Kane and Cain Velasquez make a lot of sense as two of the “surprise” spots in the match. I think Kane’s longevity is impressive. As for Velasquez, he has a knee injury that has slowed him down, but WWE paid him a lot of money on his new contract and I expect him to have a good showing in this match.

– I don’t think John Cena will be there because he’s filming the latest Suicide Squad movie. It’s a possibility, though.

– There aren’t many spots for NXT guys, so if there is somebody from NXT then I think it will be Velveteen Dream returning from his back injury. It also wouldn’t shock me if this led to him being moved to Raw or Smackdown either.

– It’s hard to pick against Braun Strowman for the “most eliminations” spot. Strowman is feuding with Shinsuke Nakamura, so what I expect is after Strowman tosses out like seven or eight guys, Sami Zayn and/or Cesaro will distract Strowman and that will allow Nakamura to eliminate the big guy.

– For my final four I have King Corbin, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. That way Reigns is booked so that he’s against three heels and the crowd would be fully behind Reigns, which is obviously what WWE wants. I think Reigns will eliminate his old buddy Rollins to win it.

There’s a lot of talent in the match, so it should be very good, but the quality of the match always depends on how it is structured. They need to have some funny moments, some exciting eliminations and a few surprises along the way too.

Wrestler That Lasts The Longest: Seth Rollins

Most Eliminations: Braun Strowman

Final Four: Roman Reigns, King Corbin, AJ Styles and Seth Rollins

Winner: Roman Reigns

 

BONUS TOPICS!

The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most

Mike: Men’s Rumble match will obviously be very exciting, but I’m going Lynch vs. Asuka. It’s got all the makings of a classic.

John: The men’s Royal Rumble match. We only get this PPV once per year, so I’m always going to pick a Rumble match.

 

The Match I Care About The Least

Mike: Reigns/Corbin. Enough already.

John: Sheamus vs. Shorty G because it’s too predictable.

 

Longest Match

Mike: Men’s Rumble, for obvious reasons.

John: The Men’s Royal Rumble will probably go longer than the women’s Rumble by a few minutes. Both of them should be close to 60 minutes.

 

Shortest Match

Mike: Shorty G/Sheamus, equally obviously! (Pun intended. Very, very intended.)

John: Sheamus vs. Shorty G ends in under five minutes.

Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)

Mike: While I don’t foresee any major title changes, there’s plenty to like here. Royal Rumble is generally a very good show, and I imagine that trend to continue. Very little filler and plenty of entry questions lead me to a solid 7. Enjoy the show.

John: I think Raw and Smackdown have been better this month. They aren’t great shows, but I think the quality matches help every week and I agree with Mike saying this is a 7 out of 10 in terms of excitement level. It would be great if things are unpredictable a bit, if there are surprises and moments that we remember forever. I’m not sure if there will be any of that, but the lifelong wrestling fan in me will always be excited about the Royal Rumble PPV.

 

In Closing

John: I’ll be back with a review of WWE Royal Rumble on TJRWrestling.net on Sunday night, so check that out during the show or after it’s over.

Mike Holland – @DharmanRockwell

John – @johnreport

If you want to send an email, send it to me at mrjohncanton@gmail.com as well. Thanks for reading.