If you’re a pro wrestling fan – and a WWE fan in particular – there are four dates in the calendar you look forward to more than almost any other. Those are the dates of the four traditional ‘big’ WWE pay-per-views. That’s the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and the Survivor Series. The Royal Rumble is the first of the year and kicks off the “road to WrestleMania” by setting up two of its biggest matches. When the event is over, we’ll know the identities of at least one of the parties in the biggest men’s women’s matches on the WrestleMania card. This year, it all goes down on January 31st.
In recent years we’ve generally had a strong idea of who’s likely to win each Royal Rumble match by this point. The winner has typically been clearly signposted by the episodes of RAW and SmackDown leading up to it. This isn’t the case here in early 2021. It’s far from clear who the winners might be. The whole situation is a little like the recently-released range of official WWE online slots have come to life. These WWE slots are impossible to predict the outcome of just like on the Eye of Horus online slot , when before you’ve spun the reels, and it would be foolish to even try and guess what might happen. There might not be quite as many possible outcomes from the Royal Rumble matches as there are with the games you’ll find at an online slots website, but we still wouldn’t feel safe putting a bet on the winners just yet.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun speculating, though. The winner of the men’s match will take on either WWE Champion Drew McIntyre or WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 37. The winner of the women’s Royal Rumble will take on either WWE RAW Champion Asuka or WWE SmackDown Champion Sasha Banks – assuming all the current champions hold onto their titles until then. Who might those challengers be? Let’s take a look at the options!
The Men’s Royal Rumble
Brock Lesnar hasn’t been seen on WWE programming since he lost the WWE Championship to Drew McIntyre. This is the longest gap between appearances that the former UFC World Heavyweight Champion has had since he made his return to the company in 2012. That means he’s overdue for a comeback, and Lesnar comebacks don’t happen in the mid-card. He’d be guaranteed to be somewhere around the main event at WrestleMania if he plans on wrestling in 2021, and a showdown with long-term foe Roman Reigns or a chance for revenge against Drew McIntyre would make for a strong storyline to build interest.
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
The last time we saw “The Fiend,” he was being set on fire in the middle of the ring by Randy Orton just before Christmas. His presence has been teased by his ‘companion’ Alexa Bliss several times since then, and it’s been made clear he’ll be coming for Orton. Orton has confirmed that he’ll be taking part in the Royal Rumble, and so it’s safe to assume that the Fiend will put in an appearance. If he does, he could easily go on to win it.
Edge made a shocking comeback at the 2020 Royal Rumble and immediately entered a feud with Randy Orton, but was put on the sidelines two months later by a severe muscle injury. If his recovery has gone to schedule, he should be due back imminently. The Royal Rumble would be a good stage for him to return on, as it would allow him to take some revenge on Orton during the match while setting up a ‘spear vs. spear’ showdown with Roman Reigns for WrestleMania.
The Women’s Royal Rumble
It’s been almost two years since Ronda Rousey departed WWE by losing her RAW Women’s Championship to Becky Lynch, and, like Brock Lesnar, she’s also expected to return sooner rather than later. She’s consistently hinted that she’d like to face Lynch again if she comes back, and it’s not like she currently has anything else on her calendar for 2021. Rousey’s return would win the company mainstream press attention – something they badly need in the face of sagging ratings.
As we just said, it might only make sense for Rousey to return if Becky Lynch is also returning – and Becky is a main event performer. She’s arguably the most prominent female star the company has ever had. This return might be complicated by the fact that she gave birth during the first week of December, and so is a very new mother. She’s never said she’d retire after becoming a mother, though, and knowing Lynch, she’ll be working hard to get back in shape as quickly as possible. Is two months too little time to do so? We’ll have to wait and see.
Shayne Baszler has mostly been wasted since being called up from NXT, where she was a dominant champion for a full year. The former MMA fighter looks like a legitimate threat to any woman on the roster and fights a dominant style, which would make her a believable champion if booked correctly. WWE bailed out on her push in 2020 by having her lose to Lynch at last year’s WrestleMania, and since then, she’s been drifting along in an ‘odd couple’ tag team with Nia Jax. This would be a fine time to pull the trigger on Bazler’s return to the top of the card in either a submission showdown with Asuka or a great ‘first time ever’ one on one match with Sasha Banks.
There are a few strong possibilities beyond these three picks. It wouldn’t shock us to see Keith Lee win the Royal Rumble, and nor would it be a huge surprise to see perennial favorite Daniel Bryan go on one last championship run before calling it a career. On the women’s side, there’s always Charlotte Flair, who’s never far away from Vince’s mind when it comes to picking women for prominent slots, and it’s high time they gave Bianca Belair the chance to show what she can do at the highest level, too. As always, there will likely be surprise entrants on the night to throw a spanner in the works, too. We might even see a one-night-only return for John Cena or the Rock! All we can do is tune in and watch it play out. We know that’s what we’ll be doing on January 31st, and we suspect you will, too.