Predicting WWE WrestleMania 36 Storylines That Will Emerge from Royal Rumble

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2020

Predicting WWE WrestleMania 36 Storylines That Will Emerge from Royal Rumble

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Over the course of its long and illustrious history, the Royal Rumble pay-per-view has housed some of the most unforgettable moments in WWE while simultaneously introducing storylines that will conclude at the company's most anticipated event, WrestleMania.

    Expect the same Sunday night when the company arrives in Houston for the annual January extravaganza to kick off the Road to WrestleMania 36.

    From the return of a household name to the testing of one of WWE's most storied friendships, the potential for the start of high-profile programs that will culminate on wrestling's grandest stage is high.

    Dive deeper into these stories that will jump-start the hype for The Grandaddy of Them All.

Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar

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    After a humiliating defeat in Saudi Arabia, Cain Velasquez will avenge his Crown Jewel disaster by entering the Royal Rumble and eliminating Brock Lesnar to set up their rematch.

    With Lesnar entering the Rumble match at No. 1, there is plenty of opportunity for the angle to play out relatively early in the contest, leaving the full-time competitors to shine throughout the remainder of the bout.

    The question is whether WWE Creative holds off on Velasquez vs. Lesnar for WrestleMania or books their rematch for the Saudi Arabia-based event set to be held in February.

    Yes, it would make sense for the rematch to take place in the same venue in which Lesnar tapped out Velasquez. At the same time, WrestleMania's past is littered with great spectacles, and given the rich history between the two, both in WWE and UFC, that match has the star power and name value to justify adding it to the most prestigious card of the year.

    Even if fans would rather see Lesnar defend his title against a full-time competitor who would benefit from knocking off The Beast and capturing the gold.

Testing Sasha Banks and Bayley's Friendship

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    Since her return to WWE television in August, Sasha Banks has been linked to best friend Bayley—responsible, even, for the SmackDown women's champion's heel turn. Sunday, The Boss will enter the women's Royal Rumble match with eyes on winning and heading to WrestleMania to challenge for gold.

    What happens, though, if the self-proclaimed Blueprint makes good on her intentions and Bayley retains her title against Lacey Evans?

    The friendship that brought Banks back to the company will be tested as she will be faced with dethroning her bestie if she wishes to achieve personal success on wrestling's grandest stage.

    If that match does manifest and Banks and Bayley rekindle their competitive rivalry that captivated fans during their time in NXT, this time in the highest-profile setting imaginable, the question becomes which woman assumes the role of babyface.

    After all, Bayley is still relatively early in a heel run that has reinvented her personality and allowed her to achieve the success she never could as the hug-loving, ponytail-wearing good girl. Would WWE Creative be willing to undo everything it has accomplished with that character just to have a de facto heroine in the match?

    Is it worth reverting Banks to a babyface after she has thrived in her heel role, reminding fans of the character they fell in love with way back in developmental?

    Those are two questions that bear watching, with The Boss looking like a favorite in this year's 30-woman battle.

Roman Reigns' Path Back to Championship Glory

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    Roman Reigns returned from his leukemia diagnosis in February 2019, and since then, he has not received a single world title opportunity on either Raw or SmackDown.

    Let that sink in for a moment as you consider the fact that The Big Dog is WWE's biggest star—its face as it enters a new decade.

    WWE has expertly ensured Reigns will not become stale and that fans will not turn on him before his next run at the gold by keeping him away from the title picture and programming him against genuinely despised characters.

    The second-generation star has battled Drew McIntyre, dispatched Shane McMahon and will finish off his rivalry with King Corbin in a Falls Count Anywhere match before entering the Royal Rumble on Sunday.

    Every program, every match since his return has built to his next WrestleMania run, which will likely see him challenge "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt for the Universal Championship—the same title he was forced to relinquish and has never received his rightful rematch for. 

    The story is ready-made, the chemistry between the performers is undeniable based on previous encounters and Reigns' climb back to the top of the industry is one that has been a year in the making. It is time for the company to pull the proverbial trigger on it, beginning Sunday with The Big Dog's jam-packed Rumble slate.