Final Picks for Goldberg vs. Drew McIntyre and WWE Royal Rumble 2021 Card
One of the most beloved events of the year is almost here. WWE Royal Rumble 2021 kicks off at 6 p.m. ET Sunday, with the main card set to get underway at 7 p.m.
While there won't be a crowd this year to count down the entrants, 30 men and 30 women will battle it out for chances to win some gold at WrestleMania 37.
Titles are on the line too, as Drew McIntyre faces Goldberg, Roman Reigns defends the Universal Championship against Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing match and Carmella tries once more to win the SmackDown Women's Championship from Sasha Banks.
The long wait is just about over, and the clock is ticking to get in some final picks for what will happen at the Royal Rumble. Let's make one last round of predictions!
SmackDown Women's Championship Match: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella
Sasha Banks retained the SmackDown Women's Championship against Carmella at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December, so there's no reason to believe the same result won't happen again.
This feud has had such little pizazz to it in recent weeks that it seems WWE simply didn't want to think of an alternative direction for The Boss and figured continuing the same program that had been going on for months was good enough.
Sadly, that means this is rather pointless. Carmella has even less momentum on her side than before—particularly with Reginald stealing the show with his performance as of late—and losing here may keep SmackDown's untouchable star out of the Royal Rumble match.
If WWE were to pivot to Carmella as champion rather than continuing with Banks as the top woman on SmackDown, it would be one of the biggest shocks of the night.
Prediction: Banks wins.
Women's Tag Team Championship Match
Asuka's time as Raw women's champion has largely been spent on the sidelines. Despite holding so much gold this past year, rarely has she been at the forefront of her own stories.
WWE prioritized The Golden Role Models over her and then put more of a focus on Lana's angle with Nia Jax heading into TLC. All the momentum was thereafter switched over—seemingly at random—to the returning Charlotte Flair.
Oddly, since capturing the tag titles, Flair and Asuka have been kept at a distance. Flair has her own story with Lacey Evans, while Asuka has fought more with Alexa Bliss than alongside The Queen.
With all that's going on, this could just be an oversight. But it could also mean WWE never had any intention for these two to have a true title run and that course will be corrected in this match.
Reverting to the status quo of Jax and Shayna Baszler as champions just seems like something WWE would do. Flair got a tag title reign checked off her list, TLC is out of the picture and everyone can move on to other things heading into WrestleMania.
Prediction: Baszler and Jax win.
WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg
If WWE yet again books Goldberg to win a world title just before WrestleMania—as it did when he beat Kevin Owens and Bray Wyatt—it will be a giant slap in the face to Drew McIntyre.
The Scottish Warrior has been in a rough position for an entire year, as he hasn't once performed in front of a live audience while champion. It's impossible to gauge how happy fans are with him as champion and not fair at all if WWE assumes the worst and puts the title on Goldberg in a quick attempt to bring in a few older viewers.
At this point in his career, Goldberg is better served putting over talent rather than taking the spotlight. Someone like McIntyre could use a big win like this, while Goldberg gains nothing out of tacking an extra accolade on to his Hall of Fame career.
Here's hoping WWE does the right thing and allows McIntyre to retain the title. If not, we could be in for a bumpy ride on the Road to WrestleMania.
Prediction: McIntyre wins.
Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
While Roman Reigns wasn't in jeopardy of losing his Universal Championship when Adam Pearce was his challenger, it was at least something different. Unfortunately, now that Kevin Owens is his replacement opponent, this will be a retread of TLC.
That is disheartening to admit. Owens is one of the best performers the company has to offer and has spent years being overlooked when he should have been a world champion on either Raw or SmackDown.
However, there is nothing that makes him a believable winner in this scenario. He lost to The Tribal Chief in December, and there's no indication he has a better strategy to get the advantage this time around.
Reigns will retain his title by hook or by crook, and there's no question about it.
Prediction: Reigns wins.
30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
As convoluted as it may sound, it's in WWE's wheelhouse to have a haphazard set of changes to the championship landscape on The Road to WrestleMania.
In the past, Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Triple H, who went on to win the WWE Championship and beat Orton at WrestleMania. In 2017, Orton won again and beat teammate Bray Wyatt, who had taken the title from John Cena at Elimination Chamber between the two shows.
Something like that may be what's in store for the women's Royal Rumble this year, and it may all revolve around Flair.
If she drops the tag titles earlier in the night to Jax and Baszler, she and Asuka may have a falling out that will lead to a Raw Women's Championship match on Monday Night Raw, Elimination Chamber or Fastlane.
That is, of course, if Flair doesn't just win the Royal Rumble. But if she doesn't, she may be eliminated by the ghost of WrestleMania past in Rhea Ripley, who could be a favorite to win this match.
Ripley's career was soaring to new heights from 2019 into 2020 until Flair won the Royal Rumble, beat Ripley at WrestleMania and ruined it all. Ripley never regained her footing and spent nearly all of proceeding year losing.
It's time for WWE to right the ship. It's a messy path to get to it, but Flair winning the title from Asuka so she can lose to Royal Rumble winner Ripley at WrestleMania has a stronger chance to happen than nearly anything else.
If it's not Ripley or Flair, the only other viable option is Bianca Belair, who shouldn't be counted out. However, Belair could work better as someone to build via a win at Elimination Chamber or a No. 1 contender's match rather than the Royal Rumble.
Prediction: Ripley wins.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
If Goldberg beats McIntyre, anything could happen in this Royal Rumble match. WWE could have no greater plans in mind other than a five-minute match between Goldberg and someone like John Cena as a surprise entrant here.
Barring odd, impossible-to-predict scenarios like that, focusing on the people known to be participating in this match narrows the field considerably. All in all, though anyone has a chance to shock the world, the smart bet is on Daniel Bryan winning.
He's lost several matches recently. That should give off the opposite impression, but WWE likes to have people lose before they win at pay-per-views to throw off fans who go along with kayfabe.
Bryan has made it a point to reference never winning a Royal Rumble and how it's one of the few things left for him to cross off his bucket list. He's also the top babyface on SmackDown who could present the biggest challenge to Roman Reigns.
If WWE can get someone like The Rock to come back, he will win in order to fight Reigns. Anything that can get mainstream coverage like that has to be given priority. But if it's just someone on the roster, Bryan is the clear favorite.
Prediction: Bryan wins.
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.