WWE Royal Rumble 2023 Match Card Projections

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

WWE Royal Rumble 2023 Match Card Projections

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    Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens will renew hostilities when they meet for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.
    Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens will renew hostilities when they meet for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.Credit: WWE.com

    The first Royal Rumble event of the Triple H regime in WWE promises to be a monumental one based on what's been officially announced so far and what else is expected to be added.

    Of course, the Rumble matches themselves are the main selling points of the pay-per-view. They will see 30 men and 30 women do battle for the opportunity to headline WrestleMania 39 and challenge for a top title.

    In years past, WWE has typically filled out the rest of the Royal Rumble card with championship clashes and grudge matches. The 2023 instalment will be no exception when Roman Reigns defends the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Kevin Owens while Bray Wyatt and LA Knight meet in the first-ever Pitch Black match.

    Needless to say, those are two high-profile bouts worthy of taking place at one of WWE's premier pay-per-views.

    It's possible WWE keeps it to those four matches to ensure it's a short show, but based on what has transpired as of late on Raw and SmackDown, the following will likely wind up being what the card consists of once completed.

Men's and Women's Royal Rumble Matches

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    After exactly 35 years, the Royal Rumble matches remain as exciting as ever.

    The concept has hardly been altered since its inception as there's no real reason to change a concept that already works so well. It's the most anticipated time of the year for WWE fans with the Rumble matches marking the beginning of the road to WrestleMania.

    This year's men's and women's Rumble matches are especially interesting because they will be the first ones to not be booked by Vince McMahon. For as many stinkers as there have been over the years (most notably last year's men's Rumble), there have also been a few gems as well.

    Will Triple H be able to capture that same magic McMahon had with the Rumble in the past? Can he deliver on the lofty expectations the audience always has for the surprise entrants? What about delivering a satisfying outcome?

    Oddly enough, Kofi Kingston, Ricochet and Santos Escobar are the only ones confirmed so far for the men's match, while Liv Morgan is the sole star announced for the women's contest. Both bouts need better builds in the coming weeks.

Pitch Black Match: Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight

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    A Pitch Black match had been rumored for the Royal Rumble for several weeks before finally being confirmed by WWE through a video that aired on its YouTube channel in late December.

    On the final SmackDown of 2022, Bray Wyatt challenged LA Knight to the stipulation at the Rumble without explaining what exactly the rules would consist of.

    Michael Cole teased on this week's SmackDown that there basically wouldn't be any rules and the only way to win would be by incapacitating your opponent. More might be unveiled ahead of the PPV, but fans are worried it will be a lazy promotion for the latest Mountain Dew flavor and nothing more.

    Wyatt and Knight should be able to make it work to the best of their ability. With it being Wyatt's first televised match since returning to WWE, the pressure is on for it not to underwhelm.

    We should also get a better idea at the Rumble of the true identity of Uncle Howdy as that storyline continues to play out leading into WrestleMania 39.

Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens: Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

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    Despite Kevin Owens eating the pinfall loss for his team against The Bloodline in Survivor Series WarGames, all signs pointed to him being Roman Reigns' next Undisputed WWE Universal Championship challenger.

    Amazingly, this won't be the first (or the second) time KO and The Tribal Chief have faced off at the Royal Rumble.

    Their first encounter came at the 2017 instalment when Owens beat Reigns in a No Holds Barred match to retain the title. Reigns avenged the loss four years later when he retained his title against The Prizefighter in a Last Man Standing match.

    Although Owens is hardly a fresh opponent for the dual champ at this point, it's a match that makes sense for this year's Rumble. He and Sami Zayn must eventually reunite to rival The Usos, but that can't happen until KO (again) falls short of dethroning Reigns to put that rivalry to rest once and for all.

    Expect Zayn to factor into the finish in some form or fashion.

Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey: SmackDown Women's Championship

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    As many times as we've seen this match over the years (and as ready as fans are to likely move on from this feud), it's safe to assume Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey will do battle at least one more time at the Royal Rumble.

    Flair blinded the then-titleholder (and the entire audience) with her return on the final SmackDown of 2022. After not being seen on WWE TV since WrestleMania Backlash in May, she wasted no time challenging Rousey to an impromptu SmackDown Women's Championship match and ultimately walked away with the title.

    The former UFC star was nowhere to be seen on SmackDown this week during Flair's title celebration, but it's safe to assume The Queen's actions will not go unanswered for long.

    One more match between the two at the Rumble would allow them to settle their score, with Flair definitively defeating Rousey this time around.

    There's no need to extend this program through WrestleMania when they can blow it off this month so both women can focus on fresher faces. That's the only way the division will be elevated and not revolve around the same two names.

    This is hardly an exhilarating attraction for the Rumble, but it would give them the chance to close out their program properly.

Bianca Belair vs. Alexa Bliss: Raw Women's Championship

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    Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey is quickly approaching its tail end, while Bianca Belair vs. Alexa Bliss is just beginning to heat up over on Raw.

    The two were friendly throughout 2022, but Bliss went down a dark path when her past came back to bite her and Bray Wyatt's logo appeared during all of her segments.

    Bliss seemingly cemented her heel turn when she challenged Belair for the Raw Women's Championship last Monday and got herself intentionally disqualified by assaulting an official. Her actions were clearly uncontrolled, but The EST of WWE will be ready for revenge.

    A rematch between the two, presumably with a stipulation, is totally logical for the Royal Rumble. This is merely a filler feud for Belair ahead of whatever she'll be involved en route to WrestleMania, but WWE has done a commendable job of keeping the storyline as interesting as possible.

    Evil Alexa appears to be on the horizon and another loss to Belair could be what drives her over the edge. The Royal Rumble is the perfect place to host a midcard match of this magnitude.

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.