Ah, the annual ‘throw everyone into the ring and see what happens’ PPV. I’m not feeling too respectful at this point, what with temporary paralysis and it being nearly 5am, so you can enjoy a fairly irreverent attempt at some predictions, if you’d like. Bit more sweary than usual, too, but sod it, it’s early. Without any more ado: the Rumble.
MATCH: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Anderson & Gallows – Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Special stipulation, two referees due to ending of last tag team match, so that can’t happen again. I know we’re running out of ways for our favourite stripper and bioluminescent deep ocean fish to retain their titles, but I just don’t feel like Anderson and Gallows are in any sort of place where I’m going to care about them as tag team champs, whereas I vaguely care about Sheamus and Cesaro now. Good grief, at least when The New Day had the titles, I cared about what they were doing.
Prediction: Sheasaro to retain.
MATCH: Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
I’d complain about women on the pre-show, but I guess we’ve got two other women’s matches, and at least this isn’t some sort of title match, but I’m hoping they give it what it deserves and that it’s not either avoidance or a 2-min squash match that’s over in a flash. This one’s difficult to call, as it could go either way – a Sasha win shows her as still strong despite losing to Charlotte, and makes Nia angry for revenge, but a Nia win shows her as a powerful force to be reckoned with, and leaves Sasha as the underdog, despite her previous champ status.
Prediction: Nia to win
MATCH: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella & Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & Natalya
So, we get a women’s battle royal, because SmackDown doesn’t know how to do pacing and storyline for their women without it eventually devolving into all of them in the ring like it’s a spin cycle. That’s a little unfair, at least their women get fairly equal TV time, and have distinct characters, I suppose, but they are a little fond of throwing everyone into the ring for funsies – women and tag teams first. Then again, it’s PPV appropriate, one supposes. And as long as no one tries to forcibly kiss Becky Lynch, she’ll be having a better time than last year, which was vile and disgraceful. Remember that?
Prediction: Heels to win. It’s Mickie James’ big return.
MATCH: Rich Swann vs. Neville – Cruiserweight Championship Match
Heel Neville is getting his chance to show off his dazzling offence, and he’s going to finally get a chance to get his hands on that pretty purple belt. Remember when Neville used to wear purple? Ah, good times. Maybe he could go back to that, and play matchy-matchy. I’m also glad they didn’t put this on the pre-show.
Prediction: Neville, because he’s my countryman and I love him.
MATCH: Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley – Raw Women’s Championship Match
This is an interesting one, because there’s so many ways for this to go and perpetuate storyline. Charlotte’s PPV streak is currently unbroken, with her only ever losing the belt outside of PPVs. While I think it’s coming to a time for Charlotte’s streak to be broken, I’m not sure that handing over the title is going to make the story work properly. In an ideal world, she’ll lose to Bayley via DQ, which gives Bayley a victory which supposedly breaks the streak, but Charlotte can argue that because she kept the belt, she wasn’t really defeated. This gives us something to play off for the next few weeks, and keep the story interesting. If we hot potato the belt to Bayley, or just have Charlotte hold her streak, I’m not sure there’s much more excitement to be had.
Prediction: Bayley to win via DQ, Charlotte to retain
MATCH: AJ Styles vs. John Cena – WWE Championship Match
I mean, I don’t watch SmackDown all that often, and I’m biased because I want to hate homophobe AJ Styles, but his damned skill makes it really difficult to hate him while he’s in the ring. I like John Cena’s persona, but his casual sexism and ‘never give up’ bullshit grates on my disabled, giving up self. But then, it’s not really about whether I like either of them as human beings, but about how they’re going to carry this off as a story thing. Personally, I think it’s too soon for Cena to reclaim the belt, and AJ’s been whining about how the belt will be up for grabs at Elimination Chamber, a style of match he’s never been in before, so it would be stupid to give up that chance for him to complain about that for a bit, and lose the belt there.
Prediction: AJ to retain, so he can lose the belt at Elimination Chamber
MATCH: Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns – No Disqualification WWE Universal Championship Match
Chris Jericho is going to be suspended in a shark cage for this, like a sexy pinata, apparently, so this should be entertaining, as we cut away from the wrestling to see Jericho’s terrified face whenever Roman needs a rest. I love him, but he does need a lot of lie downs. Kevin wasn’t exactly happy that it’s no DQ, as that’s how he normally keeps those bear paws on his title, but, well, we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks that he’s learning he can take out Roman without Jericho’s help. Mostly. Story-wise, it makes sense that the power couple of JeriKO is going to fall, soon, breaking all of our hearts, and the best way to do that is to make the insecure Kevin lose his title, and for that to unbalance them, Kevin not coping as well as Jericho did with only one of them holding one – and it not being him. As much as Roman’s probably going to get booed for winning, it makes sense in furthering the story.
Prediction: Roman to take the title.
MATCH: THE ROYAL RUMBLE
Known entrants: The Undertaker, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Chris Jericho, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Luke Harper, The Big Show, Sami Zayn, Big Cass, Rusev, Mojo Rawley
Rumoured entrants: Kenny Omega (he discredited this rumour himself), Tye Dillinger (TEN), Finn Balor (back from injury, maybe), Kurt Angle (pulling out of a show in Scotland), Samoa Joe, (about time for his main roster debut), Shawn Michaels (hanging around to do kick-off, and it IS the old man rumble this year), Triple H (causing a Seth Rollins interference?), Shane McMahon (more old men).
My preferred outcome: Emmalina to debut, stepping into the ring and winning the rumble single-handedly as men throw themselves over the ropes to give her respect.
Most likely outcome: Some shenanigans involving Triple H being an entrant, and Seth Rollins showing up to be grumpy and interfere, costing someone the match because he’s upset that daddy likes the new kid better. Possibly. It’s the Rumble, who knows? Alternatively, the Rumble goes on for an hour, until one of the old men in it breaks a hip.
Prediction: Fuck knows, it’s going to be a bloody mess. Probably The Undertaker. The only thing I can be sure of is that my recap is going to involve lots of very annoyed remarks about how I’m baffled by why Jerry Lawler is on commentary, when I thought they’d canned him. Or had him shot quietly.