The buildup to this year’s iconic pay-per-view event has been thrilling at best and inconsistent at worst. It’s hard to pin down exactly how I think this year’s Royal Rumble will go, because honestly? There is so much good stuff here. So much I cannot complain about.
However, there is also a lot of questionable stuff going on as well. The near-superhuman booking of Roman Reigns. Kalisto losing the US Championship after one day. The misuse of the Social Outcasts. Chris Jericho’s awfully scripted “trash talk.”
So, on that cheery note, here are my Royal Rumble 2016 predictions!
Darren Young and Damien Sandow, The Dudley Boyz, Mark Henry and Jack Swagger, and The Ascension (Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Royal Rumble Qualifying Match)
Wow, a match with actual stakes? What a novel concept!
I’m actually kind of surprised most of these men aren’t already in the Royal Rumble, but at the same time, slightly relieved it won’t just be a jobber-fest (I’m so sorry, guys, I really do love you all and you deserve better).
In a fairytale world, I would love to see Darren Young and Damien Sandow go over the Dudley Boyz and shock the world, but realistically, the tag team vets have this one in the bag.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz
The New Day vs. the Usos (WWE Tag Team Championship)
Thank GOD for the New Day.
Easily the best thing about the WWE’s dismal tag team division, the New Day’s raucous antics with and without the twin belts have been hilarious and wildly entertaining. Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E have found their niche and are thriving in it.
The Usos, while not nearly as fun, have performed admirably since making their return in November, but I cannot see them defeating the New Day just yet. If they do, a Wrestlemania rematch is imminent. If they don’t, the New Day will retain through Wrestlemania at the very least.
Winners: The New Day
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto (United States Championship)
Kalisto’s massive upset on Monday Night RAW all those weeks ago to capture the US Title was one of the most thrilling, joyful moments the WWE has produced in months. After Sin Cara’s injury left him without a partner, Kalisto has broken out as a singles sensation, capturing the fascination of the WWE Universe with his infectious enthusiasm and exciting in-ring style.
Del Rio has benefited from this feud as well, putting on his best matches since his return alongside the Luchador and recapturing the heelish arrogance that makes him far more interesting than that ridiculous “Mexamerica” gimmick.
While yet another title change might be a bit odd, I think it’s for the best. Kalisto is exactly the kind of US Champion the WWE needs right now, and he could easily carry it through the Road to Wrestlemania.
Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch (Divas Championship)
This is how the Divas Revolution should have been booked from the start.
Ever since this rivalry bloomed in early January, Divas Champion Charlotte and Becky Lynch have both finally hit their stride in a division that has long struggled with building proper feuds that we can invest in.
As a heel, Charlotte has improved massively on the mic and has developed an arrogant persona that people love to hate.
But it’s Becky Lynch who has catapulted this rivalry into the stratosphere, building up this match expertly with passionate promos and exciting matches with the likes of Alicia Fox and Brie Bella. As a true underdog, she has rallied the WWE Universe behind her in ways Creative used to only dream about.
Had you asked me a month ago, iI would have put Charlotte as the clear victor. But with all of the momentum Lynch has built for herself in the past few weeks, I think the WWE might very well take a chance on her.
Also, imagine how AMAZING a triple threat match between the three NXT women at Wrestlemania would be.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing for Intercontinental Title)
This right here is the best feud on the entire roster right now, putting the WWE World Heavyweight Championship’s current story to shame. Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens have absolutely electric in-ring chemistry and have expertly built a deeply personal, physical feud that is perfectly suited to a match as brutal as a Last Man Standing match.
This match could realistically go either way based on what sort of path the WWE wants to take into Wrestlemania. Ambrose could feud with any number of Superstars (Chris Jericho? A debuting NXT star?) into Mania. Owens could give Sami Zayn or Finn Balor a target if they make their debuts.
Hell, if AJ Styles debuts tonight, he could feud with either one of them! Or, preferably, set up a grudge match (somehow) between Owens and Lesnar.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Royal Rumble Match (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
I’ve written extensively about my thoughts on who should and shouldn’t win this match, so I’ll keep this short and sweet:
Triple H vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania is inevitable. What better way to bring the Game back than by having him steal the belt? Expect strong performances from Bray Wyatt, Reigns, and Lesnar. And keep an eye out for debuts from Finn Balor and AJ Styles.
Winner: Triple H