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Nisar Khan

President, head writer at TheSportMatrix

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Royal Rumble 2017: Full Writers' Preview and Predictions


San Antonio's Alamodome welcomes the WWE Universe to the 30th annual Royal Rumble this Sunday, and this year's event carries all the hype and promise of one of the most spectacular pay per view events in the promotion's history. From the most unpredictable, star-studded Rumble match of all time, to a pair of titanic world championship clashes, fans are expectant of a high level event to truly kick-start 2017 for WWE.

TSM writers have all weighed with their thoughts on each match, along with predictions and extra opinions. Feel free to tell us your predictions for the Royal Rumble in the comments below, and remember to follow us on Twitter @TSM_Wrestling.

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Image: WWE
Adil K: Nia Jax

Nisar: Nia Jax

Mikey: Nia Jax
Poor Sasha won the women's title a couple of months back, but now she's been demoted to the Kickoff Show in a match Nia Jax will probably win clean. Sasha had the last laugh on Raw, but that implies Nia will intact revenge at the event which will also transcended the rivalry past the Rumble through WrestleMania season in which a series of bouts are likely to be contested.

Luke: Nia Jax
Banks and Jax have managed to create a fairly interesting rivalry with the lack of time they've been given. As with the tag team title match, this should be a fairly entertaining match before the main show. Nia Jax to win. WWE have played up Sasha's knee injury a lot and it will probably factor into the finish of this one.

Waqar:  Nia Jax
Nia needs this win more than Sasha does. While Banks has recently been removed from the title picture in the Raw women's division, Jax has been given opportunities to develop into a legitimate challenger for the gold heading into WrestleMania, even having time on the mic in recent weeks to enhance her promo work. Also, Sasha's tendency to get frequent injuries could play into the storyline of the match, with Jax the perfect monster heel to take advantage of her opponent's weaknesses and show some instinctive prowess to take the win.

Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Image: WWE
Adil K: Cesaro and Sheamus

Nisar: Cesaro and Sheamus

Mikey: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
In another toss-up further down the card, the prestigious (not) tag team titles are on the line for the second time since Cesaro and Sheamus lost via Disqualification but retained on Raw nonetheless. As of late Gallows and Anderson, even in singles matches, have been booked strongly and I believe this is the time WWE finally warrant the hefty fee they paid to bring them to the company by allowing them a run with the belts.

Luke: Cesaro and Sheamus
This should be hard hitting and full of action. Cesaro and Sheamus have proved to be an entertaining pair. Gallows and Anderson have a natural chemistry after working together for so long. Should be an entertaining bout to whet the appetite on the pre-show. Cesaro and Sheamus to retain. Very unlikely for a title change not on the main card.

Waqar: Cesaro and Sheamus
I was slightly skeptical about the plausibility of Cesaro and Sheamus gelling together as a stylish and entertaining tag-team, but I've been proven wrong. By pairing up two superstars who would otherwise be lost in the midcard melee, the creative team have ensured that the Raw tag team division truly outshines it's Smackdown counterparts, and I can't see this title run ending so abruptly.

Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya
Image: WWE
Adil K: Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya

Nisar: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi

Mikey: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi
This is the definition of a pick em' match, however I lean towards the babyface team claiming the win on a massive stage. Alexa, the titlist, or the returning Mickie James don't necessarily have to take the pin, but their arch-rival Becky Lynch can score one on Natalya to 'send a message' directly to Mickie who she is on course to feud against.

Luke: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi
Many people wanted a Women's Rumble match and they didn't get one, but this should still be a good showcase for all involved. With the six women on show, this could be a precursor to a potential first ever women's Elimination Chamber match in February. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi will likely walk out with the win. The heels have been dominating SmackDown recently, so the faces will likely get some retribution.

Waqar: Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya
While recent history would suggest a win for the babyfaces here, I'm going for the trio of Bliss, James and Natalya to pick up a sneaky win over the fan favourites. My reasoning? It's Mickie James' first match since returning to the company for the first time in almost a decade, and the women's division on the blue brand could do with a bit of bolstering. Giving the veteran and her proteges a much needed win will go some way to helping the cause.

Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley
Image: WWE
Adil K: Charlotte

Nisar: Charlotte

Mikey: Charlotte
If there's ever a time Charlotte loses her first title match on pay-per-view, it's likely going to be WrestleMania and that's the main reason I believe she retains. Possibly this is a standard defense to kill time before she does eventually lose. Plus Bayley is relatively new to the roster and a valiant effort solidifies her as a main event contender; a loss does zero harm.

Luke: Charlotte
This feud doesn't feel as hot as it should be. For as repetitive as Charlotte and Sasha Banks' rivalry was, it was at least managing to keep people partially invested. Whether it be through bad writing or lack of screen time, this feud hasn't got going. Charlotte will likely walk out as the winner. WWE have conventionally played up her PPV streak, and it's unlikely to end here.

Waqar: Charlotte
The undisputed best female wrestler on either brand (and arguably of all time), Charlotte has that famous perfect streak to extend in San Antonio this Sunday. Not a chance of Bayley picking up her first Women's title. Yet.

Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville
Image: WWE
Adil K: Neville

Nisar: Neville

Mikey: Neville
In recent weeks the cruiserweight division has come to life as Neville's heel turn sparked a fire and created new stories to be built on. He has been booked as the next dominant cruiserweight and becoming the new champion makes all the sense in the world. Fans are invested, it's his time.

Luke: Neville
Neville has been a breath of fresh air to a lacklustre division. Through no fault of their own, the Cruiserweights haven't got going ever since they came to RAW. Neville's introduction however has helped give the division a legitimate bad guy. Anything other than Neville winning here is a mistake. Swann winning would likely unwind all the good work Neville has put in.

Waqar: Neville
This is the Neville we saw on NXT. The rejuvenated Geordie has exploded in to the Cruiserweight title picture after a questionable run in the main roster over the past year. Inconsistency has marred the success of the returning 205lbs division thus far, but a strong champion such as Neville will be the perfect anecdote to remedying the mess.

Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns

Adil K: Roman Reigns

Nisar: Roman Reigns

Mikey: Roman Reigns
The 'stronger' man who obtains the upper hand on go-homes shows is supposed to lose at the pay-per-view, but I don't see that circumstance on this occasion. Owens' title run has failed to sparkle, so WWE won't be too keen on dragging it through the mud much longer. Perhaps Chris Jericho, albeit locked in a shark cage, attempts to help Owens but instead hinders him to plant early seeds of a fallout and eventual showdown in Orlando. Finn Balor also has a rematch clause for the belt he never lost, so he may well end up facing Reigns too.

Luke: Kevin Owens
WWE's insistence on making Reigns the centrepiece of RAW and a pure lack of ideas for other matches means that what could've been a very huge match feels nothing more than filler content. Reigns and Owens have faced each other on RAW far too much for this match to have any kind of hype and the addition of the shark cage makes it all the more baffling. Reigns will likely walk out of this as champion, bringing to end KO's dreadful title run.

Waqar: Kevin Owens
The championship reign of Kevin Owens was expected to mirror the success enjoyed by Seth Rollins, when Triple H guided the former Shield member to the gold at WrestleMania 31, but its safe to say "The Kevin Owens Show" has been underwhelming, and quite frankly, boring. Nonetheless, I don't think KO will lose the strap on Sunday night, as a clean win could potentially do wonders for his status as the flagships show's "top guy". Obviously, the presence of Chris Jericho in a shark cage will factor into the match itself somehow, and it shouldn't signal the end of the Jeri-KO connection just yet.

AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena

Adil K: AJ Styles

Nisar: AJ Styles

Mikey: AJ Styles
Whilst 'The Phenomenal One' is heavily rumoured to face Shane McMahon in Orlando, he has a reasonable chance of retaining his belt for the time being. I expect John Cena to dethrone him in the confirmed Elimination Chamber match which, would in fact, avert AJ's credibility as a champion taking a hit with a clean loss one-on-one. Cena can equal Ric Flair's record, then break it at WrestleMania. Fans outrage, Vince smiles.

Luke: AJ Styles
While Reigns and Owens have faced each other almost every week on RAW, the lack of physical contact between Styles and Cena has helped make this a very intriguing match. The last time these two faced each other, they put on a Match of the Year candidate and you wouldn't bet against them doing it again. I think Styles will walk out with the belt in this. Cena tying the 16 time record of Ric Flair should be done on a bigger stage than the Royal Rumble.

Waqar: John Cena
The face that runs the place meets the champ that runs the camp in a mouthwatering contest before we even get to the main event of the evening. If their Summerslam bout is anything to go by, then Cena and Styles will almost certainly put on the match of the night, with the intriguing prospect of the challenger tying Ric Flair's 16 world championships record at the end of it. I expect one of the two main championships will change hands, and it won't be Kevin Owens losing his most prized asset just yet. Another reason for my pick is that Styles simply cannot romp to a 3-0 run over Cena in singles competition, and while his run has been nothing short of sensational, the Phenomenal one will probably be dethroned in Texas. Whisper it, but a double turn may be on the cards. Could Cena take a page out of Flair's playbook and take a dirty victory? Only time will tell as the two blockbuster attractions collide once again.

30 man Royal Rumble match


Adil K: The Undertaker

Nisar: The Undertaker

Mikey: Samoa Joe
Rumours have been running rampant of the NXT star debuting here, as well as having an impact in the WWE title picture through WrestleMania season, so a win for Joe would boost his credibility substantially with the company also wanting to deliver an unpredictable swerve on the fans after dismal winners in recent years.

Luke: Randy Orton
No matter what you may think about the favourites of this match and their age, this is the first time in years the Rumble has been truly unpredictable and WWE deserve credit for that. Any number of people could walk out of this match as the winner which has helped build a lot of anticipation for this match. My final four would be Finn Balor, Undertaker, Randy Orton and Braun Strowman. I think Braun will end up being the Ironman of this match. WWE love their big men to have lots of eliminations and Braun will likely be the man tasked with that this year. Undertaker looks to be facing a RAW superstar at Wrestlemania. and who better than a returning Finn Balor. The Demon vs The Deadman is a match that would be salivating to many. Randy winning is a bold call considering who is in the match, but Orton has been near the top of the favourites with Bookmakers for weeks now, and I think WWE will go with him. He is a trusted option, the Wyatt Family angle is one of the best parts of SmackDown and it could be a good swerve that not many see coming. The potential match ups for the WWE title at Wrestlemania would be interesting with Orton as contender. Orton vs Styles is a match that has been touted by both men and would likely be a classic, but who knows? Maybe Bray Wyatt could walk out with WWE's top prize at the Elimination Chamber PPV.

Waqar: The Miz
I'm going to be bold here. If it were for the obvious picks I probably would have gone for Finn Balor. I haven't seen anyone touting the Miz to win the Rumble this Sunday, and hardly more than a whisper of the self proclaimed A-lister even being a dark horse for the match. However, this is, after all, the most unpredictable Rumble match in history. Potentially. The Miz was arguably the most improved superstar of 2016, and has done wonders for the prestige and importance of the Intercontinental Championship (as he likes to remind us week after week), and I can't fathom why he would give up the belt while on such a hot-streak if he wasn't destined for the next step up. It has been six years since the "Awesome" one held the WWE Championship, with the pinnacle of that reign being his win over John Cena at WrestleMania 27, and I for one wouldn't mind a return to the big time for the Ohio native.

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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport: Royal Rumble 2017: Full Writers' Preview and Predictions
Royal Rumble 2017: Full Writers' Preview and Predictions
San Antonio's Alomodome welcomes the WWE Universe to the 30th annual Royal Rumble this Sunday, and this year's event carries all the hype and promise of one of the most spectacular pay per view events in the promotion's history. From the most unpredictable, star-studded Rumble match of all time, to a pair of titanic world championship clashes, fans are expectant of a high level event to truly kick-start 2017 for WWE.
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