Around the Loop: Let the Bodies Hit the Mat at the WWE Royal Rumble

But enough about Vince McMahon. Let’s talk about the WWE Royal Rumble, which has always been one of the most fun pay-per-views Premium Live Events the company produces. With 30-person matches for both men and women, and not all of the participants announced ahead of time, fans always wonder who will be surprise entrants. It could be legendary performers. Someone who was on the injured list may return in grand style. You just never know, and that’s what makes the Rumble matches so much fun.

It’s not just the multi-person madness in the Rumble ring, though. There are three other announced matches booked for the show, including one that no one appears to fully understand. That should be fun!

Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight in the Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match

The ever-enigmatic Wyatt has been going through some mental anguish as of late, trying to stave off his dark history. Knight has been through the mill. He’s been kidnapped and attacked backstage, and he’s pretty sure Wyatt is behind it all. Was Wyatt the mastermind of Knight’s misery, or was it the poorly-named figure from Wyatt’s mental universe, Uncle Howdy? Maybe those philosophical questions will be answered as Wyatt and Knight face off in the first-ever Mountain Dew Pitch Black match (sponsored by Mountain Dew Pitch Black).

What kind of match is that exactly? No one seems to know, including participant LA Knight.

“There was something to the point of, ‘I don’t know what the hell this is, what the hell this is going to be,’” Knight said on a recent episode of WWE After the Bell with Corey Graves. “Every indication I’ve been given is that this is going to be a kick-ass street fight and be kind of in the dark. I don’t know what the lighting is going to be, how it’s going to work, what other kind of factors or elements are going to come into play. All I know is it’s going to be a fight at the Royal Rumble.”

That means it’s time for speculation! I am guessing there will be black light and fluorescent ring gear. If we’re lucky, we’ll get glowing weapons, shiny chairs and sickly green tables. It can’t be any worse than that damned House of Horrors match Wyatt had with Randy Orton a few years back. But I don’t think we’ll get a clear winner. Uncle Howdy (whom WWE fans believe is actually Bo Dallas) will likely show up to interrupt the proceedings, carrying Wyatt’s psychodrama forward for a while longer.

Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship

Belair has been a great champion for the Women’s division. Not only that, but she’s a hometown girl (Knoxville, raise up) so I’m inclined to like her. Bliss has been embracing her creepy side, calling herself the “face of evil” and gaining the attention of the ubiquitous Uncle Howdy. What could Little Miss Bliss do with a championship title? Perhaps more importantly, what else can Belair do with it? She’s been champion for the better part of a year. If WWE is going to lean into a supernatural storyline, as it historically has with Bray Wyatt, then they should really go for it and let chaos reign. Let’s go with Bliss for the win.

Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the Undisputed WWE Championship

Oh, good. Another Roman Reigns match. At least it’s against Kevin Owens, because those two performers bring out the best in each other. If you can’t have a good match with Owens, you’re not trying. Reigns is the Head of the Table. He should be acknowledged.

The smart money has Reigns going over Owens. But, I’m not smart. If Owens wins, then perhaps he’ll be able to persuade Zayn to abandon his tenuous relationship with the Bloodline and turn against them. It would be just like old times, Owens and Zayn tearing the house down everywhere they go. It probably won’t happen, but I really want KO to bring down the Tribal Chief.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

As of this writing, there are only seven participants announced for this match. Barring injury or the whims of the writer’s room, Liv Morgan, Raquel Rodriguez, Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Shayna Baszler, Zelina Vega, and Emma will be mixing it up.

It feels like Molly Holly and Kelly Kelly always show up for these things, as do Beth Phoenix and Lita. Madusa was just on the Raw thirtieth-anniversary show, so she’s a maybe. It would be good to see some of the NXT crew show up, like Wendy Choo or Isla Dawn.

It’s tempting to say that the real winner of the women’s division is Mandy Rose’s asshole, but let’s go for the obvious. I’m calling Rhea Ripley to win the Rumble, further cementing her bad-ass reputation.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

As of this writing, there have been 15 men announced for this match, which is half the participants. Take a deep breath. Here we go.

Barring injury, we’ll see Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston, Ricochet, Bobby Lashley, Seth Freakin’ Rollins, Austin Theory, Gunther, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Omos, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, Santos Escobar, Rey Mysterio and Karrion Kross in the ring. My goodness, who’s left?

Well, the Steiner Brothers just signed Legends contracts with WWE, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if one or both of them headed down the ramp. And if the Steiners are there, why wouldn’t Bron Breakker, Rick Steiner’s real-life son, be there as well? John Cena teamed up with Kevin Owens on SmackDown a few weeks ago, so there’s a chance Cena could respectfully and loyally hustle down the ramp. I always want Tatanka to show up, and he never does, but I’m hurling that idea into the universe because why not?

Rhodes is coming back from a particularly nasty injury, and many people are projecting a triumphant comeback win for the American Nightmare. Nah. That’s too easy. Rhodes will be one of the last two in the ring, facing down Rollins, but Rollins will take him out.

WWE’s Royal Rumble streams live on Peacock in the U.S. and on WWE Network everywhere else at 8 ET/5 PT​​​​ on Saturday, January 28, 2023. In addition, get expert analysis with the Royal Rumble Kickoff this Saturday at 7 ET/4 PT on, Peacock and WWE social platforms, including YouTube and TikTok.

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