WWE Royal Rumble 2020 should feature Brock Lesnar losing the men’s Rumble match as one of many smart … [+]
WWE Royal Rumble 2020 is the first official stop on the road to WrestleMania 36 and will feature a loaded card headlined by Asuka vs. Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan and a pair of star-studded Royal Rumble matches that will include names like Charlotte Flair, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.
Even after WWE dropped the ball at its past few pay-per-view events, the expectations are high for what is typically one of WWE’s most anticipated PPVs of the year. The 2020 Royal Rumble, which also features stars like Seth Rollins, Randy Orton and AJ Styles competing for a WrestleMania world title shot, is typically the pacesetter for WWE’s most enjoyable time of the year as well as its flagship pay-per-view. Following Royal Rumble, fans should have a pretty good idea of which superstars are in line for a significant push and which matches will take place on the grandest stage of them all.
With the way things are shaping up thus far, WWE will continue to rely heavily on stars like Lesnar, Reigns and Lynch, who figure to be featured in some of the biggest matches at WrestleMania 36. A little more than two months out from the most important pay-per-view of the year, fans will want to pay particular attention to the booking of marquee stars like “The Big Dog” but also midcard performers like Aleister Black, who could be positioned for big bouts at WrestleMania with strong performances at Royal Rumble.
As is always the case, the success of WrestleMania will depend upon the booking of the show’s biggest storylines and rivalries, and the road to get there starts this Sunday. Here are five smart booking decisions WWE must make at the 2020 Royal Rumble.
Becky Lynch Finally Beats Asuka
Asuka has been Becky Lynch’s biggest kryptonite.
As Becky Lynch has alluded to in recent weeks during her promos, Asuka is the one marquee star who “The Man” has been unable to pin or submit.
In fact, it was at last year’s Royal Rumble that Asuka tapped out Lynch on the very same night that Lynch won the women’s Royal Rumble, so WWE is telling quite the story here with Lynch seeking redemption on her biggest kryptonite. Asuka vs. Lynch has been arguably WWE’s best rivalry in route to Royal Rumble, and with Lynch penciled in for a potentially huge WrestleMania match against Ronda Rousey, this is the right time and place for Lynch to finally get that once unattainable singles victory over Asuka.
While Lynch has been somewhat hampered by poor booking over the past several months, she is still—far and away—the most popular performer in the women’s division and arguably the most beloved babyface in all of WWE. Thus, as was the case last year when she competed in the first-ever women’s match to main event WrestleMania, she’s once again in prime position to wrestle a blockbuster bout at WWE’s biggest pay-per-view, whether against Rousey or WWE’s Plan B.
To get there, Lynch should retain her Raw Women’s Championship, which will give her some much needed momentum heading into a major women’s match that could potentially headline WrestleMania for the second straight year.
Bray Wyatt Narrowly Escapes Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan continues to rise up the babyface ranks on WWE SmackDown.
Although the feud between Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt has been far from perfect, it has been one of the lone bright spots on WWE’s programming as of late because it has showcased Wyatt’s great promo skills and catapulted Bryan back to the top of the card.
If you’ve listened closely to crowd reaction to Bryan over the past several weeks, it’s certainly not unreasonable to say that he is currently WWE’s most beloved male star, which makes his Royal Rumble match with Wyatt an interesting scenario for the creative team. WWE reportedly has major plans for Wyatt that may include a lengthy Universal Championship reign, an undefeated streak and a WrestleMania 36 match against Roman Reigns, and given that Wyatt is now WWE’s No. 1 merchandise seller and is also more over with the crowd than just about anyone in WWE, there is no reason to end his Universal title reign anytime soon.
On that same token, Bryan’s incredible rise from loathed heel to beloved babyface has been a sight to see, and he’s gotten so over so quickly in his new role that he may give WWE no choice but to push him to the moon, as was the case in 2014 when he earned his way into the WrestleMania 30 main event. Wyatt shouldn’t lose just yet, but on that same token, he shouldn’t dismantle Bryan the way that he destroyed The Miz with just one move at TLC.
The goal of Wyatt vs. Bryan at Royal Rumble should be to keep Bryan looking strong while ensuring that Wyatt leaves the pay-per-view still the Universal Champion.
Kevin Owens Or A Rising Raw Star Wins The Men’s Royal Rumble
Kevin Owens is arguably the most popular star on WWE Raw.
Kevin Owens has been consistently been one of the top seven or eight betting favorites to win the 2020 Royal Rumble, even though one report indicates that WWE has other, well, underwhelming plans for Brock Lesnar—and likely the WWE title—at WrestleMania 36.
Those plans would see Lesnar face either Cain Velasquez or Tyson Fury in a rather disappointing match and one that would be more palatable if Lesnar wasn’t holding Raw’s top title. It’s worth noting, though, that another report says neither of those matches is even being considered. Either way, Lesnar is likely going to remain WWE Champion until or perhaps through WrestleMania 36, which means that WWE should go with the hot hand and ensure that the Royal Rumble winner is a wildly popular babyface who deserves to be the one who slays “The Beast” at WrestleMania 35. Does anyone fit that description better than Owens?
KO has been perhaps Raw’s most popular male superstar in recent months, and with Seth Rollins now firmly entrenched as a heel, the spot for Raw’s No. 1 babyface is ripe for the taking. While WWE is probably salivating over the thought of a crossover match between Lesnar and Fury or Lesnar and Velasquez, Owens vs. Lesnar is a match that makes the most sense for WWE, that would deliver from an in-ring perspective and that would appease fans.
Much like names such as Bryan, Kofi Kingston and Lynch have done in the past, Owens’ hot streak could and should catapult him to a major WrestleMania match—and that all starts with a Royal Rumble win. Truth be told, WWE has a lot of great “underdog” type choices to win the Rumble this year, with stars like Drew McIntyre and Aleister Black also ranking as rising babyfaces many fans would love to see win it.
Brock Lesnar Is Eliminated In Shocking Fashion
Brock Lesnar has to be considered a frontrunner to win the WWE Royal Rumble.
WWE made the surprising decision to have Brock Lesnar enter the Royal Rumble as the first overall entrant even though he’s already WWE Champion, and according to WrestleVotes, that was done by design:
The idea is not for Lesnar to actually win the bout—although everyone should hold their breaths because that’s always a possibility—but for him to be eliminated by someone, likely in shocking fashion, to set up his WWE title match at WrestleMania 36. Who will that be? Your guess is as good as anyone’s because there isn’t an obvious opponent for Lesnar this year the way there usually is, and you could make a case for dozens of superstars to be the one to try to slay “The Beast” at WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of the year. It’s likely that Lesnar will be eliminated by someone unexpected, and that star could come from Raw, SmackDown or even NXT.
Some good choices for that role: Velveteen Dream, Matt Riddle, Aleister Black, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, Mustafa Ali, Big E or even Kofi Kingston. The list truly does go on and on. The bottom line, though, is that WWE has a golden opportunity here to help catapult a rising star to the next level by having that star eliminate Lesnar with one of the most memorable eliminations in Royal Rumble history. Not only has that made this match much more intriguing, but it has also put WWE in a fantastic position to elevate someone who truly deserves it.
If Lesnar wins the Royal Rumble or is somehow eliminated in forgettable fashion, it will be one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
Shayna Baszler Wins The Women’s Royal Rumble
Shayna Baszler is a frontrunner to win the 2020 women’s WWE Royal Rumble.
In the event that Rousey doesn’t return in time for WrestleMania, WWE’s aforementioned Plan B for Lynch’s opponent at the pay-per-view is Shayna Baszler.
That’s quite the backup plan and one that makes a ton of sense given the finish of the Survivor Series main event, when Baszler won a triple threat match involving Lynch but did so by pinning Bayley instead. That laid the foundation for a highly anticipated singles match between Lynch and Baszler, who had arguably the best built rivalry in route to Survivor Series and would both give each other a much needed fresh opponent. While Baszler is nearly 40 years old and isn’t the long-term answer for WWE’s women’s division, she is reportedly badly “wanted” on the main roster, which certainly sounds reasonable because she’s desperately needed there and has a clear path now after recently dropping the NXT Women’s title to Rhea Ripley.
The main roster’s women’s division, particularly that on Raw, has been hampered by the lack of formidable heels, which has also been detrimental to Lynch’s Raw Women’s Championship reign. There isn’t a better pure heel in all of WWE than Baszler, who has also has an undeniable superstar aura and is a great in-ring performer, making her a necessity for Raw’s stagnant women’s division. Having Baszler win the Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant could make her an instant star on the main roster, free up some space in NXT’s women’s division and give Raw the depth that it desperately needs.
Sounds like a win-win for all involved.