WWE’s Royal Rumble 2021 is taking place on Jan. 31, which means it will be here before you know it.
The field for both the men and women’s Royal Rumble matches look pretty wide open to me. I don’t expect to see a women’s match as the main event WrestleMania 37, so I’ll put the women’s Rumble match to the side for now and focus on the men.
The top stars on Raw are Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, and Keith Lee. The top stars on SmackDown are Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Rey Mysterio, and Big E.
I don’t think McIntyre or Reigns will drop their respective championships before WrestleMania 37. So that means I need to find a Royal Rumble winner who can challenge one of those men in the main event of WrestleMania 37.
On the Raw side, McIntyre has already feuded with Randy Orton and is currently dealing with AJ Styles. That leaves Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, and Bobby Lashley as more plausible threats to win the Royal Rumble. Keith Lee might be in the mix as well, but he’s a babyface and is receiving a WWE championship match against McIntyre on Raw next week. If McIntyre vs. Lee is a repeated television match (we saw multiple iterations of it during Raw in September), then it’s probably not a WrestleMania main event.
I can’t see Vince McMahon headlining WrestleMania with McIntyre vs. Lashley. We got that same championship match earlier this year at Backlash and it didn’t even main event that card. Lashley has been booked as a dominant badass on Raw, but his pay-per-view placement in the second half of 2020 doesn’t match up with that push. He hasn’t done anything above the mid card level on those shows.
McIntyre vs. Strowman seems more realistic to me, but Strowman did lose three consecutive pay-per-view main events in July and August. I think he’s been established as a guy who often loses to the main event stars, but isn’t really the top star himself. Braun would be a very underwhelming Royal Rumble winner.
That leaves Bray Wyatt as a possible opponent for Drew McIntyre. It could happen, but it sounds like Wyatt will have a separate gimmick match with Randy Orton at Royal Rumble 2021. That might take him out of the Rumble match altogether.
On the SmackDown side, Rey Mysterio can probably be dismissed. It’s hard to win a Royal Rumble match when you only have one functioning eyeball. Then there is Big E, who is doing well in the current betting odds, but I’ve already explained why I am skeptical about his chances to win the Royal Rumble.
Daniel Bryan seems to be gaining a lot of momentum right now, and has declared for the Royal Rumble match. Kevin Owens has been doing great work and could potentially do something special in the Royal Rumble match if his feud with Roman Reigns doesn’t include a singles match on the same card. Seth Rollins might be the wild card here. If he returns to WWE as a babyface, maybe he can match up with his former Shield brother at WrestleMania 37. One problem there is that Rollins recently won the Royal Rumble in 2019.
Whether it is Bryan, Owens, or Rollins, the SmackDown side is looking like it has a better chance of producing a Royal Rumble winner to me. But there is a lot of uncertainty here. And when there is this kind of uncertainty, that makes the situation ripe for a part-timer to swoop in and claim the WrestleMania main event. That means someone like Brock Lesnar or Goldberg could very will win the 2021 Royal Rumble match. Neither man has won the match during their second run in WWE, so it might seem like a fresh new idea to WWE’s decision-makers.
We already saw Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar at this year’s WrestleMania. It’s not a new match, and I am doubtful that Lesnar is interested in traveling to Florida during a global pandemic that is only getting worse in January. I don’t think a Lesnar appearance is in the cards for Royal Rumble 2021.
We didn’t get Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 even though it was initially advertised. If Vince McMahon wanted to make that match happen earlier this year, I don’t see why he’d not pursue it again in 2021, particularly when Reigns is now a heel and is a far hotter character. Goldberg has expressed clear interest in doing the match, so I don’t think the coronavirus pandemic will prevent him from agreeing to the fight.
There is a part of my smark brain that has a hard time seeing Vince McMahon choosing Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan for WrestleMania when he can instead go with Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg. That feeling remains the same when I replace Daniel Bryan’s name with Kevin Owens, or even Seth Rollins.
My thoughts above are not well organized, but it ultimately comes down to this. Which of these matches would Vince McMahon be most likely to choose to main event WrestleMania 37?
- Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
- Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
- Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
- Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg
- Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman
- Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee
- Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley
- Drew McIntyre vs. Bray Wyatt
The Goldberg match is the one that my eyes keep returning to. Considering that Goldberg lost at this year’s WrestleMania, and is rumored to have lobbied to change the finish to his match before that against Bray Wyatt, I’m thinking that he won’t just go cold into a WrestleMania 37 match with Roman Reigns. A Royal Rumble victory would get Goldberg exactly where he wants to be for a main event match against the top heel in WWE on the biggest card of the year.
Please explain to me why I’m wrong, Cagesiders, because I really need this sick feeling in my stomach to go away.