Early Predictions for WWE Royal Rumble 2021

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2021

Early Predictions for WWE Royal Rumble 2021

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Royal Rumble matches are among the most important of the year, with 30 men and 30 women vying for title shots on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

    Heading into 2021 and The Road to WrestleMania, some front-runners are starting to emerge for who may outlast the competition January 31.

    Anything can happen in WWE, but as it stands, these are the top three picks to win this year's men's and women's Royal Rumble matches.

Men's No. 3: 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt

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    Credit: WWE.com

    When Randy Orton held the WWE Championship at the back end of 2020, it seemed as though Edge was a guaranteed Royal Rumble winner. As soon as Drew McIntyre won the title back, though, The Rated-R Superstar was taken off the top of the list.

    It's highly unlikely anyone other than The Scottish Warrior walks into WrestleMania 37 as champion, so when looking for possible Raw winners of the Royal Rumble, that has to be kept in mind.

    As he's already fought Bobby Lashley, AJ Styles and Keith Lee, among others, they should be ruled out. Their chances of having rematches are outweighed by the possibility of something fresh. Outside of bringing someone on to the roster who is no longer there such as Brock Lesnar or on another brand like Lars Sullivan, there aren't many options big enough to pose a viable threat to the champion.

    Sheamus would make the most sense to fight McIntyre because they have the friendship angle WWE can capitalize on. However, he won the men's Royal Rumble in 2012. He could win the Elimination Chamber or a No. 1 contender's match on Raw to earn a title shot, saving the Royal Rumble for someone on SmackDown.

    If it has to be someone from Raw, the top pick is Bray Wyatt.

    The Fiend is out of action after being torched by The Legend Killer at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December, but he'll be back. And when he returns, he should be more sadistic than ever before.

    With McIntyre as the noble knight standing tall as the top babyface on Raw, Wyatt is an obvious villain to test the champion's mettle.

    This may even be WWE's way of paying back Wyatt for taking him out of the title picture ahead of last year's WrestleMania, only for those plans to backfire anyway.

Women's No. 3: Charlotte Flair

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    Credit: WWE.com

    History has shown that Charlotte Flair should never be kept out of discussions when it comes to any sort of accolade whether or not it makes much sense.

    Last year, she won the women's Royal Rumble and managed to halt Rhea Ripley's momentum by taking her NXT Championship, only to drop it at TakeOver: In Your House just two months later. Clearly, it was more important in WWE's eyes to give The Queen another title reign rather than use her to elevate the younger star.

    Flair holds the Women's Tag Team Championship along with Asuka but has already alluded to how she has The Empress of Tomorrow's Raw Women's Championship in her sights.

    If WWE has no faith in anyone else to get the job done as a draw for WrestleMania this year, the simplest path would be for those two to split and for Flair to win the women's title.

    It's not spectacular. Not many people will be thrilled about it, as the outcome will be particularly obvious and written off as just another Flair victory. However, predictions are about what might happen rather that what you want to happen.

    In WWE's case, management may also flat out want Flair to have back-to-back Royal Rumble and title wins, if for no other reason than to give her another talking point going forward.

Men's No. 2: Daniel Bryan

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Daniel Bryan was the first Superstar to declare himself for the men's Royal Rumble and has made it clear who his target will be if he wins it.

    In 2014, the WWE Universe was seething about Bryan's absence from the Royal Rumble match. Roman Reigns was cheered in opposition of Batista, who went on to win it. WWE wound up inserting Bryan into the title picture at WrestleMania XXX anyway but had to take the long road to get there.

    The next year, fans were once again livid when Bryan was eliminated from the 2015 Royal Rumble, which Reigns went on to win. Most of the audience took this as WWE making the same mistake as before, rather than learning a lesson.

    Two years in a row, the Royal Rumble winner was booed heavily, and this hasn't been forgotten.

    In 2021, there won't be fans in attendance, but WWE may want to revisit and atone for those decisions. Bryan could scratch winning a Royal Rumble off his to-do list and go on to fight The Tribal Chief at WrestleMania 37 in an attempt to prove he was the right man for the job seven years ago.

    While Bryan may not be the largest in terms of stature, Reigns facing a taller contender from the SmackDown roster wouldn't feel worthy of a WrestleMania main event.

Women's No. 2: Bianca Belair

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Assuming WWE doesn't retread ground and go with yet another match between Bayley and Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship, Bianca Belair is the only sensible choice on the blue brand to win the Royal Rumble.

    The EST of WWE has all the tools necessary to go far in the promotion so long as the powers that be let her take those steps.

    Since coming up to the main roster at WrestleMania 36, she's been largely pushed aside. Once in a while, she would wrestle on Raw, only to disappear for several weeks and have to start gaining momentum all over again.

    Lately, though, she's been featured more consistently. She's even had several tag team matches in which she partnered The Boss, which could be a hint of how WWE views those two as a natural pair.

    Eventually, they can transition from partners to opponents.

    If not, who else is there? Another match with Carmella wouldn't move the needle. Nor would Tamina, Billie Kay, Natalya or The Riott Squad feel like a big enough deal.

    Belair is the only choice from SmackDown.

Men's No. 1: Goldberg

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    Credit: WWE.com

    As much as many might not want to hear it, Goldberg is the easy pick to win this year's men's Royal Rumble.

    Yes, he's a part-timer. Yes, he's already had his time in the spotlight. And yes, his matches don't last long.

    However, WWE does not care about those things. Goldberg can draw in a bigger audience by either tapping into the casuals who know his name or the nostalgic lapsed fans who can't connect with the current roster.

    The plan for last year's Showcase of the Immortals was Goldberg against Roman Reigns, which never happened. Clearly, WWE wants to do that and would likely just employ a similar, albeit flipped script from last year.

    Instead of Goldberg defending the title, he will be the challenger. The result will still be a loss to The Tribal Chief, but he will have won the Royal Rumble ahead of time to counterbalance that defeat, just like he had beaten The Fiend for the Universal Championship at Super ShowDown.

    Goldberg simply needs to walk into the Royal Rumble toward the end (roughly lucky No. 27 or later), do very little work to toss a few people over the top rope and he's done. Then he can call out Reigns, have a staring segment and that's about all WWE will put into building this.

    That's by no means the most thrilling scenario, but it's the most likely to happen.

Women's No. 1: Rhea Ripley

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WWE made a massive mistake in 2020 by booking Rhea Ripley to drop the NXT Women's Championship to Flair at WrestleMania 36.

    Ripley gained nothing out of the experience. All it served to do was give The Queen another accolade while derailing Ripley's momentum to the extent that she has yet to recover.

    Since then, she's lost all her important matches (such as at WarGames and against Io Shirai for the NXT Women's Championship). It's time to make up for it.

    Since WWE doesn't put much value in Asuka as Raw women's champion, as evidenced by how she was demoted as less of a priority to focus on while holding the title than The Golden Role Models or even Lana being put through a table, it's fair to assume Flair will take the title from her soon enough.

    If that happens, Ripley should win the Royal Rumble, challenge Flair and beat her to compensate for last year's error.

    Triple H constantly talks about how Ripley is the future of the women's division. It's time for WWE to treat her as such and give her the ball.

                     

    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.

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