WWE's first pay-per-view of the calendar year is upon us and it is the most exciting of them all – the Royal Rumble. The 2019 edition of the mega event will be held on January 27 at the Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.
Although WrestleMania is the company's marquee special event, the Royal Rumble creates the maximum buzz because of the format of the show. The battle royal format has caught the attention of the mainstream media and public because it gives immense scope for surprise returns and lay the foundation for dream matches at the "showcase of the immortals", WrestleMania.
When and where to watch WWE Royal Rumble
WWE Royal Rumble will start with the kick-off show at 5 pm ET on Sunday and 3:30 am IST (Monday). The main show will begin at 7 pm ET and 5:30 am IST (Monday).
Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 2 HD will provide the television coverage in English across India while Sony Ten 3 and Sony Ten 3 HD will have Hindi commentary.
Those with a WWE Network subscription can watch it live on the WWE Network.
Match card and predictions
United States Championship – Rusev (C) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
It is unfortunate that the winner of the 2018 Royal Rumble has been relegated to the pre-show of this edition of the event. Usually, championships don't change hands at the kickoff show hence the Bulgarian brute is favourite to retain.
Cruiserweight Championship - Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Kalisto vs. Akira Towaza vs. Hideo Itami
Buddy Murphy has been on a roll since winning the championship and it is difficult to see anyone taking the title off the champion till WrestleMania.
Prediction: Buddy Murphy
WWE SmackDown women's championship – Asuka (C) vs Becky Lynch
Becky is currently the most popular wrestler in the company and Vice McMahon wants to capitalise on that and set her up against megastar Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. Hence it is difficult to see how she wins this match. But it also obvious that WWE will not spoil her momentum by handing her an outright defeat hence outside interference will cost WWE's self-proclaimed "The Man".
WWE RAW women's championship – Ronda Rousey (C) vs Sasha Banks
WWE will not take the title off Ronda Rousey yet and this is not the right time to end her winning streak. Rousey is such a star that she can pass off all her momentum to the woman who beats her – similar to how Undertaker did when he lost to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Thus, her challenger needs to be properly built up and then the victory will make her a megastar. Not saying Sasha is not the lady for the role but the build-up has not come.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey
WWE SmackDown tag team championships – The Bar (C) vs The Miz and Shane McMahon
The Bar has held the titles without much fanfare and the time is right to change things up. The tag team of Miz and Shane is fresh and there is a ready storyline to invest the mainstream media into. The two are rumoured to be heading towards a WrestleMania battle and this could be the perfect opportunity to hit two targets at once – propel a new tag team to take the belts off them and set up a WrestleMania feud.
Prediction: Prediction: The Miz and Shane McMahon
WWE Championship – Daniel Bryan (C) vs AJ Styles
Daniel Bryan has looked the best since his return about a year ago and has pulled off his new gimmick to perfection. The man who was the most natural babyface is playing a perfect heel. Styles has been a champion for a long time and his new edgy character can be used to alleviate other wrestlers in new feuds.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
WWE Universal Championship – Brock Lesnar (C) vs Finn Balor
There is a major spoiler for this match and you can read it here – WWE Royal Rumble Spoilers.
If we are to follow convention, Lesnar never loses.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
WWE women's Royal Rumble match
Confirmed entrants: Natalya, Bayley, Ember Moon, Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, Mickie James, Alicia Fox, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Zelina Vega, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Tamina, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Dana Brooke, Lana, Nia Jax, Nikki Cross, Carmella (No. 30).
Charlotte is the favourite to win the match and set up the triple threat between her, Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania
Prediction: Charlotte Flair
WWE men's Royal Rumble match
Confirmed entrants: Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston, Big E, Xavier Woods, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Elias, Jinder Mahal, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Lashley, Titus O'Neil, Andrade, Rey Mysterio, Mustafa Ali, R-Truth (No. 30).
WWE has built up this match to climax with Seth Rollins standing tall at the end of it all but do not be surprised if the company throws a curveball like only they can,
Prediction: Seth Rollins