WWE kicks off the road to WrestleMania this Sunday with easily the most fun event of the year, the Royal Rumble. Two massive 30-person battle royals will determine which lucky individual’s from the men and women’s divisions get to punch their ticket to the main event of WrestleMania this April, where they’ll face off against the head of Raw or SmackDown. We’ve also got the WWE Championship, Universal Championship, the SmackDown Women’s title, and the Women’s Tag Team titles on the line this Sunday, in addition to whatever grudge match WWE will inevitably throw on the card.
You can watch WWE’s Royal Rumble 2021 pay-per-view this Sunday, January 1, at 7 ET/4 PT on the WWE network. Get a head start on the action by checking out the full card and our team of expert’s predictions below. You can stay up-to-date on all the weekly WWE action by listening to our weekly wrestling podcast PTW.
Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing Match)
Jason: I mean, there’s really no guess involved here — Roman’s taking that belt at least through Mania. I’m hoping that Jey gets involved and gets absolutely destroyed, leaving him weakened by the time the Men’s Rumble match starts, and that sows the seeds of dissent in the bloodline. Then Roman can chastise his cousin for losing track of the goal of keeping him champ, forcing him to fall back in line, but that bit of doubt gives us some nuance when Jimmy comes back and…I’m booking beyond this match (Sorry, Kev!) and I should stop. Reigns rolls on.
Winner: The Tribal Chief
Shane: Like Jason said, there really isn’t much of a question here as to who is walking out of the Rumble as Universal Champion. Roman Reigns will have one heck of a match with Kevin Owens to retain his Universal Championship and carry it into WrestleMania. This isn’t a prediction, this is a spoiler alert.
Winner: (and STILL WWE Universal Champion) The Tribal Chief Roman Reigns
Jay: Reigns is going to take it. This has been a great feud and KO is low-key WWE’s best utility player in making angles mean something but it’s time to end the feud decisively and it looks like this will be the match to do it. I am a bit sad that Shinsuke Nakamura wasn’t involved in this somehow due to him winning that gauntlet match a few backs which led to a face turn and then sadly nowhere, but this will be a great match regardless.
Winner: Roman Reigns
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg
Jason: I’m terrified of this one because Jesus I do not want Goldberg’s 54-year-old ass anywhere near the WWE title. If I had my druthers, he wouldn’t be anywhere near the active WWE roster at all, but he’s gonna have to make one of the “soft” wrestlers 20 years his junior look bad somehow, so what are you going to do? I’m going to keep Drew as my pick, though, because I’m trying to manifest positivity in the new year.
Winner: Big Mac
Shane: Last year, I was so confident that The Fiend was going to defeat Goldberg and retain his Universal Championship…and then Goldberg won. I’m so scared that the WWE haven’t learned their lesson. Vince seems to get such an itch whenever Goldberg is involved and I just don’t understand why. But, but, I can’t bet against Drew McIntyre. No matter how much I think Goldberg will win, I just don’t want him to.
Winner: (and STILL WWE Champion) Drew McIntyre
Jay: I’m not sure if I’m the last sane man in our fandom or I’m a heel but I’m the only one that thinks this match is a great idea. There are no viable contenders for the WWE Championship on Raw that D. Mac hasn’t already slayed and he needs a capstone win for the highlight reel to commemorate his reign, as the win against Lesnar is too depressing to show in replays. Plus, say what you want but Goldberg showing up on Raw has been the most we have talked about Raw in months! I severely doubt G-Berg is going to win and if he does, he will lose it right back to D. Mac at Mania. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Jason: Hey, speaking of people I don’t want anywhere near the active roster, Nia Jax needs to lose this match. I would be more inclined to defend her from the claims of being an unsafe worker if she didn’t keep hurting her coworkers and then being kind of a jerk about it in and out of kayfabe. Anyway, I think it’s long past time that we got Nia away from Shayna, so let the heels lose this match, even at the expense of the Women’s Tag Titles. I know, I know, I would rather the WWE take the Tag Titles seriously (pfft), but I’m cool with Charlotte and Asuka keeping their belts a little longer. Just let them drop the belts to the friggin Riott Squad already!
Winner: The Empress Queens
Shane: I’m just surprised that the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships are being defended on two PPVs in a row. I’m thinking that Nia and Shayna will win this one. It’s only been a month since Charlotte and Asuka won the titles, but they aren’t even really in a tag feud. Charlotte has been way more focused in her program with Lacey Evans, and Asuka has been doing something unrelated each week on Raw. Honestly, at this point, the division is so shallow, they should just retire the belts. Anyways, Nia and Shayna win.
Winners: (and NEW WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions) Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Jay: Why is this happening? Asuka and Charlotte, aggregately, have feuds with Alexa Bliss, Lacey Evans +/- Peyton Royce, and The Riott Squad so, uh, why is this match happening? Whatever, Charlotte and Asuka will retain.
Winners: Charlotte Flair and Asuka
SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks vs. Carmella
Jason: I really enjoy Carmella, but despite her gimmick, there’s more money in Sasha being champion come WrestleMania. Even though there’s more than enough time for Carmella to have a brief transitional run, I think the Boss holds the belt to the show of shows. Carmella will probably get lost in the shuffle for this years mania, but given how shallow SmackDown’s women’s roster is for heels, she’ll be back in the mix sooner than later.
Winner: Bruce Springsteen
Shane: This feud has been much more entertaining than I was expecting it to be. But, with that in mind, I don’t think it’s time to take the belt off of Sasha Banks just yet. I still think the easiest money match they can book at WrestleMania is Bayley vs. Sasha and well, one of those two need to be champion for that to happen. In this scenario, it just so happens that Sasha is already SmackDown Women’s Champion and will continue to be heading into WrestleMania.
Winner: (and STILL SmackDown Women’s Champion) Sasha Banks
Jay: Carmella’s character update has been a welcome return to form and this feud has surpassed expectations. It should be a good bout but Sasha will take it.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Royal Rumble Match (Women)
Jason: There are only two women I’m interested in seeing win this thing, and only one has been announced for the match. I’m sure Rhea Ripley will be in the Rumble, and so long as she eliminates Charlotte Flair I don’t mind her coming up short in her bid. So long, that is, that Bianca Belair is the woman left standing at the end of the whole ordeal. The EST of WWE has deserved a run at the top of the card for some time, and I’d love to see her face off with Sasha at WrestleMania. Not with a third party added either, just straight up Bianca and Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Do it, WWE. You know you want to. Or have Rhea win, I guess. I’d be okay with that too. Even if I prefer Bianca.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Shane: I’m trying to talk myself into changing my mind and making an easy prediction, but I’m going with my gut and I am picking Bayley as the winner of the Women’s Royal Rumble. I just cannot get the idea of Bayley vs. Sasha Banks at WrestleMania out of my head. Does Bayley need a Rumble win to set this match up? No, not really, but it won’t hurt. I am also having a hard time picking any of the favorites like Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley to win this match since last year we had Charlotte Flair go over Shayna Baszler, who should have handedly won. WWE loves swerves and I can see somebody from left field like Bayley or Alexa Bliss winning, just as much as Bianca or Rhea.
Jay: I have zero idea who will win this. Bianca seems like the obvious choice, but is it a little soon? I’d love to have more of a build up to her win but it would work now. Then again, Rhea Ripley has been suspiciously absent from NXT and a Rumble win would make for an excellent main roster berth for her and a welcome return to relevance. But beyond those two, who? WWE has done a s*** job building the main roster’s women’s division as it has no depth aside from the present champions, and besides Bayley and Bianca, I don’t see any viable challengers for Asuka and Sasha at Mania.
Winner: Bianca Belair, I guess?
Royal Rumble Match (Men’s)
Jason: There are a few viable options for who wins the men’s Rumble this year, so it’s harder to pick than years past. That being said, I want them to give it to Daniel Bryan. D-Bry has made it clear that he’s on his last contract as a full-time performer, so let the guy add this accolade to his already Hall-of-Fame-worthy career. I’d be cool with Big E or Keith Lee taking it, but I won’t hold my breath on either of those. Let Bryan get the win that should have been his in 2015. He doesn’t even need to win at Mania, but being able to call Bryan a Royal Rumble winner is so long overdue, just give us something nice.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Shane: Open mouth and insert foot. I know I just said that I’m trying to avoid picking the favorites just because WWE loves swerves, but I have to give my prediction to Daniel Bryan. D-Bry is one of my favorite wrestlers and I just need him to win here. Give him the win that he justly deserved back in 2015 and let him carry the momentum into a great WrestleMania program with Roman Reigns.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Jay: D-Bry. They’ve built no one else for either Drew or Roman and he’s been the only one before this week who has been talking about winning The Rumble. It will be a great build to Mania against Roman, as The Big Dog has the heel game on-lock and no one does the underdog babyface better than Daniel Bryan.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
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