Ranking the 6 Most Likely WWE Royal Rumble Winners After January 6 Raw
With the 2020 Royal Rumble fast approaching on January 26, the next few weeks will set the tone for who has the most momentum heading into the chaotic match.
Thirty men and women will compete in each match, but only one Superstar can win their respective title shots at WrestleMania 36.
Only a few competitors have been confirmed so far, but some wrestlers still stand out as the most likely winners even with the field so open.
Here are the top picks to win the women's and men's Royal Rumble matches for 2020 after the January 6 edition of Raw.
The Brock Lesnar Conundrum
In the past, titleholders have been in this match either because their belt was on the line or because it was before the championship-shot stipulation was created in 1993. This time, it makes considerable less sense.
Theoretically, Lesnar could win this match and challenge himself at WrestleMania to take the night off. Of course, WWE couldn't possibly be stupid enough to do something like that, despite frequent attempts to call that into question.
Alternatively, The Beast Incarnate could win and challenge for the Universal Championship to set up a Winner Takes All match like the main event of last year's WrestleMania.
Anything is possible, but the rest of our list will work under the assumption he will not win and a more standardized No. 1 contender will be established.
Women's 3rd-Place Pick: Charlotte Flair
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair have had what feels like a million matches together to the point that the feud would not be exciting to see anymore.
However, WWE has never shied away from overkill. Just look at how many matches Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have had together for proof.
In the scenario where there aren't any surprises and the women's Royal Rumble winner will be someone currently active Raw or SmackDown roster, Flair stands out as the one and only option.
Nobody else has her clout to make a match at WrestleMania seem important. Dana Brooke vs. Bayley, for instance, just won't keep people interested for four months no matter how talented both may be.
The Queen is unarguably the top performer without a belt, has yet to cross this accolade off her outstanding list of achievements and has a built-in history with Lynch.
Flair was the first woman to announce her inclusion in the Royal Rumble, too, meaning she is someone WWE has plans for.
Men's 3rd-Place Pick: Kevin Owens or Drew McIntyre
If the winner of this year's Royal Rumble will face Lesnar at WrestleMania and it isn't Cain Velasquez, the only two other potential options are Kevin Owens or Drew McIntyre.
The rest of the Raw roster doesn't fit the bill. Ricochet is more of a midcarder, Samoa Joe already lost to Lesnar multiple times, and Randy Orton walked out of his feud against The Beast Incarnate with a bloodied skull.
Others such as AJ Styles or Seth Rollins are heels.
Owens is not at "Stone Cold" Steve Austin levels of popularity, but he is gaining more support as an outspoken everyman who dishes out Stunners and doesn't want to put up with anybody's nonsense. If anyone can rile up the support to take down Lesnar, he's the man for the job.
McIntyre seems to be in mid-transition for a babyface turn. He's booked against faces, but he's hyping up the crowd and having more fun. That could be WWE testing the waters for whether he can be a future opponent for The Beast.
Both have the size and stature to stand next to Lesnar and not look like they'll get destroyed, even if they do come up short at WrestleMania.
Women's 2nd-Place Pick: Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey hasn't made an appearance on WWE television—outside of Total Divas, of course—since her loss at WrestleMania 35.
After a year off and with not many big-name stars built up since then, now may be the time WWE pulls the trigger to bring her back.
A rematch against Becky Lynch is perhaps the laziest and most uninspiring choice WWE could make, but it is the easiest. All the hard work was already done with the setup of last year's event. The company just has to play some video packages, let them cut some generic promos and everything is done.
But there's also a chance Rousey could win the Royal Rumble with a different goal in mind by challenging for the SmackDown Women's Championship.
Fox lost Lesnar when he switched back over to Raw. Having Rowdy on Friday nights would be a major bonus for the broadcaster.
What keeps her from being the top choice here is that there has been no confirmation when or if she will ever come back.
Men's 2nd-Place Pick: Cain Velasquez
While Brock Lesnar beat Cain Velasquez quickly at Crown Jewel on October 31, there is no guarantee they won't meet again.
After all, Goldberg squashed The Beast Incarnate at Survivor Series 2016 and still had a rematch against The Beast Incarnate at WrestleMania 33.
As long as Lesnar and Velasquez are under the same roof, WWE will always be tempted to put them together in a rubber match.
In the company's eyes, there is still mainstream media coverage to be milked from the UFC titans clashing again.
There has been an effort to keep Velasquez in everyone's minds through things like WWE Day Of specials so fans don't entirely forget about him.
If Velasquez shows up in the later numbers at the Rumble, he should be everyone's top pick; it's doubtful WWE would risk hurting his credibility again after the defeat in Saudi Arabia.
With Lesnar being in the match, Velasquez might eliminate the WWE champion and use that as a win to undo his Crown Jewel loss and swing the momentum back to his side.
With WrestleMania being the place a lot of big-budget matches go down, don't be surprised if this is another year when the workhorses get ignored in favor of Lesnar against a gimmick opponent.
Women's 1st-Place Pick: Shayna Baszler
No one stands a better chance of winning the women's Royal Rumble this year than Shayna Baszler.
There is a foundation for a feud between The Queen of Spades and Becky Lynch based on their Survivor Series 2019 match, which the former won. That gives her an edge as a real threat to The Man's title, which is a selling point for WrestleMania.
The Asuka feud Lynch is currently in may also contribute to this, as the champion has said she wants to clean up loose ends by beating The Empress of Tomorrow. Lynch would surely want to take down Baszler after that Survivor Series loss, too.
Lynch vs. Baszler also allows The Man to reference how she beat Ronda Rousey last year and build more hype that the 2020 event can be even better.
It was suspicious to see The Queen of Spades drop the NXT Women's Championship to Rhea Ripley last month. That could signify her main roster call-up is imminent.
With the help of Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir—possibly even Ronda Rousey—watch out for Baszler to win this year's Royal Rumble and possibly go on to beat Lynch at WrestleMania.
Men's 1st-Place Pick: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns was essentially the first male Superstar to officially say he plans to win the match. At the very least, he's the first big star WWE actually cared enough about to feature on the same level as Charlotte Flair.
That isn't surprising. The Big Dog main-evented four WrestleManias in a row, and WWE is probably eager to put him back in the title hunt after spending a year without a belt.
A feud between Reigns and Bray Wyatt seems inevitable as the two can easily be positioned as diametrically opposed to the other's philosophies. The Big Dog stands for heart and determination while Wyatt is about fear and giving in to the darkness.
The Big Dog vs. The Fiend is practically written in the stars, and if that doesn't start with Reigns winning the Royal Rumble, he'll become No. 1 contender through the Elimination Chamber or some other means.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.