WWE Royal Rumble 2019: Early Picks for Matches on the Card

Kevin Wong@@kevinjameswongFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2019

WWE Royal Rumble 2019: Early Picks for Matches on the Card

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Road to WrestleMania 35 begins on January 27 with the 2019 Royal Rumble. WWE will crown two winners—one man, one woman—in two 30-person over-the-top-rope Battle Royals. The winners will face the champion of his or her choice on The Grandest Stage of Them All in April.

    Everything at the Rumble has narrative consequence. Alliances will be formed and allegiances will be broken. And the emotional charge from those exchanges will be enough to power WWE's storytelling through April.

    Here are our early picks for the 2019 Royal Rumble. We all like title changes, but with a few possible exceptions, things will be staying the same, even as the tensions escalate.

United States Champion Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Rusev is exactly the sort of underutilized talent who might benefit from jumping over to All Elite Wrestling. So perhaps it was fortuitous (if not strategic) that he is again holding the United States Championship.

    Expect Rusev to retain while keeping Shinsuke Nakamura looking strong.

    Prediction: Rusev retains

SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar vs. The Miz & Shane McMahon

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    Credit: WWE.com

    If The Miz and Shane McMahon don't win here, then we've been wasting 10 minutes of our time every week watching The A-Lister woo the SmackDown commissioner into being his friend and partner.

    And once they become champions, we'll see them get along before they, inevitably, fall out.

    Make no mistake, this is all a buildup for a marquee No Holds Barred match between McMahon and Miz at WrestleMania 35. They'll have three months to build up enough heat to make that bout a must-see.

    Prediction: The Miz and Shane McMahon win the SmackDown Tag Team Championships

Buddy Murphy vs. Tozawa vs. Kalisto vs. Hideo Itami—Cruiserweight Championship

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    Credit: WWE.com

    After playing hot potato with the title, it seems WWE is looking to give the Cruiserweight Championship some sense of stability and prestige.

    Cedric Alexander held it for 180 days, while current champion Buddy Murphy recently passed 100 days with the belt. Expect this successful streak to continue.

    Prediction: Buddy Murphy retains

SmackDown Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Becky Lynch

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Watch this match carefully. If Becky Lynch clinches the title, then Charlotte Flair will probably win the women's Royal Rumble and face Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. But if The Irish Lass Kicker loses, she will then win the Rumble to set up a clash with the former UFC star.

    There's also a possible Triple Threat down the road. Regardless, though, we can't see Asuka losing the title after holding it only since December 16.

    The Empress of Tomorrow will win but in a way that keeps Lynch looking strong.

    Prediction: Asuka retains

Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Ronda Rousey is not going to lose her title to Sasha Banks, especially with the way The Boss has been booked for the past year.

    Banks and Bayley will most likely form a women's tag team and become the new title's inaugural champions.

    Rousey, meanwhile, will go on to headline the first women's main event in WrestleMania history.

    Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains

WWE Champion Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Daniel Bryan has been doing great work as a sanctimonious heel, and AJ Styles is pretty much the WWE champion emeritus—in the time he's been with the company, the belt has always had a way of coming back to him.

    The Phenomenal One won't be hurt by another loss here, and Bryan—in his first title run since coming back from a career-threatening injuryneeds the momentum.

    When Styles gets the belt back, it'll be from a transitional champion who would benefit, even in defeat.

    Prediction: Daniel Bryan retains 

Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The odds of Finn Balor winning this match are pretty slim. Yes, he's been pushed like a million bucks and he's incredibly over with the fans. But Brock Lesnar has beaten bigger men than the Irishman: Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns, to name a few.

    Here's an important addendum, though: If Balor shows up on January 27 as his "Demon" persona, then all bets are off.

    Kayfabe-wise, that version of the Irishman has been so protected and hyped that anything is possible.

    Prediction: Brock Lesnar retains

2019 Women’s Royal Rumble Match

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    Credit: WWE.com

    According to OddsShark, Charlotte Flair is favored to win this. The past three years have proved it's a bad idea to bet against The Queen.

    If Becky Lynch wins, though, the crowd will lose their minds. However, The Irish Lass Kicker must first lose to Asuka.

    Then we get the dream scenario: Ronda Rousey and Lynch can fight each on Twitter and in real life ahead of the first women's main event in WrestleMania history.

    Prediction: Becky Lynch wins

2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match

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    Credit: WWE.com

    OddsShark gives Seth Rollins the best chance of winning, and it's easy to see why. He is the single most talented wrestler on the roster, and he's been a workhorse—sometimes competing more than once on the same night.  

    However, we're betting on a last-minute swerve, and Drew McIntyre will win the Rumble before facing Brock Lesnar in a match of giants at WrestleMania.

    Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose and Rollins will have a grudge match against each other on the same show. Expect them to cost each other their Rumble victories to get the ball rolling.

    Prediction: Drew McIntyre wins