WWE Royal Rumble 2019 Feuds with Biggest WrestleMania 35 Implications
Despite its lackluster buildup in recent weeks, WWE Royal Rumble 2019 is sure to be a must-see event thanks to the loaded lineup and the usual excitement surrounding how everything will affect the Road to WrestleMania 35.
Multiple matches have been rumored for WrestleMania for months, but nothing will be set in stone until Sunday's Rumble.
The winners of the men's and women's Rumble matchups will give viewers a better idea of who will be vying for what top titles at the spring spectacle, but the rest of the Rumble card shouldn't be overlooked, either.
The Universal Championship match was shaken up significantly last week when Braun Strowman was bumped from the bout in favor of Finn Balor.
Now, the Irishman will have his shot at Brock Lesnar, and fans may end up with two totally different roads to WrestleMania depending on who reigns supreme in that highly anticipated encounter.
Also, Becky Lynch has been among the most talked about Superstars heading into the Rumble, and her absence from the women's Battle Royal has led to questions regarding her WrestleMania status.
Thus, her match with Asuka for the SmackDown Women's Championship on Sunday will be one to watch as well.
The Royal Rumble will be exciting no matter what happens, but the bouts with the biggest WrestleMania 35 implications will be what makes it such an important event.
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles
When fans first fantasized about Daniel Bryan feuding with AJ Styles over the WWE Championship upon the former's return to the ring last year, expectations were high, yet the two men still managed to produce a better series of matches than anyone could have ever anticipated.
Bryan's shocking heel turn and subsequent WWE title win in November spiced up the SmackDown Live main event scene, and Styles has been gunning for the gold ever since.
Their match at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view in December was one of WWE's best bouts of 2018, and now they'll collide one final time with the belt on the line at the Royal Rumble.
Both men have benefited greatly from evolving as characters over the course of this rivalry, and they also have an equal chance of walking into WrestleMania 35 as WWE champion.
Granted, Styles reigned as champ for the better part of 2018, but there's a number of fresh faces he could defend against on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
As for Bryan, he has been on an incredible roll as a heel lately and deserves to headline WrestleMania as the champion. John Cena, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura come to mind as potential opponents for him, but none of that will matter if he can't beat Styles on Sunday.
It isn't out of the question for the winner of the men's Royal Rumble to challenge the WWE champion at WrestleMania, but again it all depends on the outcome of this contest.
Asuka vs. Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch has been a hot topic of conversation among WWE fans since her heel turn at SummerSlam last August. She quickly rose to superstardom by winning the SmackDown Women's Championship and suffering an injury that endeared her to the audience even more.
At TLC, The Irish Lass Kicker lost the title to Asuka following interference from Ronda Rousey and vowed to seek vengeance when the time was right. Although she'll have the chance to reclaim the championship at the Royal Rumble against The Empress of Tomorrow, it's clear she'd rather beat the former UFC star for her belt instead.
On this week's SmackDown Live, Lynch and Asuka engaged in a heated brawl, so tensions are clearly high heading into their first one-on-one in-ring encounter.
The commentators noted during the segment that the winner could headline WrestleMania 35 against the winner of the women's Rumble, teasing that the ladies could compete in the main event of 'Mania for the first time ever.
Needless to say, Lynch vs. Rousey would be a fitting final match on the card at WrestleMania, but how Charlotte Flair will factor into the equation remains to be seen.
Furthermore, there's no reason for it to be a champion-versus-champion clash, so Asuka retaining her title on Sunday would be the most logical route to take.
From there, Lynch can enter herself into the women's Rumble, come out on top and choose to chase Rousey's Raw Women's Championship at The Show of Shows on April 7.
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Bobby Lashley
WWE Raw has been in the doldrums for many months, and although the once-hot Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins rivalry could have salvaged the show, the company cooled it down before it got the chance.
Ambrose's heel run so far has been fairly underwhelming and not nearly as exciting as it had the potential to be. His feud with Rollins suffered as a result of the poor material he was given to work with on the mic, and they have yet to recover.
Bobby Lashley eventually entered the mix when Rollins unleashed all of his rage on him on the New Year's Eve edition of Raw, leading to an Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat match last week. It was there that The All Mighty pinned The Lunatic Fringe to become the new champion.
Rollins and Lashley apparently still have unfinished business if their brief face-off this past Monday was any indication, and The Architect still has a score to settle with Ambrose as well.
Expect them to cross paths in this Sunday's Royal Rumble match and put their bad blood to rest once and for all with WrestleMania 35 fast approaching.
Rollins appears to be a top candidate to win the men's Rumble, and after he wraps up his rivalry with Ambrose and Lashley, he can fully focus on challenging for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania.
The Bar vs. Shane McMahon and The Miz
The saga of Shane McMahon and The Miz coming together as an unlikely unit has been a treat to watch on SmackDown Live lately, with the duo set to contend for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at the Royal Rumble.
They've taken the fight to The Bar at every turn and feel like true threats to the titles. However, it's hard to imagine their match on Sunday being anything more than a backdrop for a bigger story with Miz and McMahon.
After weeks of trying to recruit the SmackDown commissioner to be his partner, The A-Lister was finally able to get the McMahon family scion to agree to team with him on the Christmas edition of the blue brand.
It should be noted that Miz's intentions have never been genuine or wholesome, so there's a decent chance he will betray McMahon when he least expects it (possibly at the Rumble).
Then again, a heel turn from McMahon based off how he won the WWE World Cup at Crown Jewel isn't out of the question, either. The Boy Wonder turning on Miz sooner rather than later could be the catalyst for a face turn for The A-Lister and a singles bout between the two at WrestleMania 35.
Regardless of the end result of this storyline, WWE's plans for them as friends or foes will become clearer on Sunday.
Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor
WWE has run the Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman rivalry into the ground over the last two years, so replacing The Monster Among Men with Finn Balor in the Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble was a welcome change.
After all, the Irishman has flown under the radar for too long and should be showcased more often. He'll get his chance to prove his worth when he does battle with The Beast Incarnate, and regardless of whether he wins or loses, he is determined to push Lesnar to the limit.
Realistically speaking, Balor beating Lesnar is a bit far-fetched, unless he were to receive assistance from someone such as Strowman.
The bad blood between The Beast and The Monster has yet to be resolved, so the latter could play an important role in the finish to this bout by helping Balor become champion.
Lesnar retaining the title is still the likelier option, paving the way for him to defend against either Strowman or the winner of the men's Rumble match at WrestleMania.
Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre would be perfectly logical contenders for the championship, though either one of them challenging Balor if he were to take the title at the Rumble would be equally intriguing.
Champion or not, Lesnar is bound to be involved in a marquee matchup at 'Mania, and the Rumble will offer a better idea of what fans can expect for both Balor and The Beast at the marquee event.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.