The road to WrestleMania 36 officially kicks off this Sunday with the 33rd annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. This year's show will once again feature two Rumble matches (Men's and Women's), along with four championship matches headlined by Daniel Bryan vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt in a Strap Match. The winner's of the eight match card will likely shape the direction of this year's WrestleMania, so we've once again assembled ComicBook's team of wrestling writers to break down the biggest questions heading into the show. The event officially begins at 7 p.m. Eastern (with a two-hour kickoff show starting at 5 p.m.), and full coverage of the event will be found right here on ComicBook.com.
Check out our writers' predictions in the list below!
Connor Casey: I'll go Drew McIntyre. Yes, I know Roman is favorited to win this thing, but he's already got a Falls Count Anywhere match earlier in the night and there's nothing that says he can't just earn a shot at The Fiend at the Elimination Chamber show in March. And since that takes care of the main event, WWE can roll the dice with a new face to take on Lesnar (nobody wants another Lesnar-Velasquez match after that Crown Jewel debacle). Plus McIntyre has been getting more screen time on Raw lately and it has turned him into somewhat of a cocky babyface that's a lot of fun to watch.
Ryan Droste: It's a tough call this year, which in turns makes this a much more exciting night potentially. McIntyre would be a great choice. Reigns makes sense but is a less than exciting choice. A surprise victory by someone from NXT would be intriguing. Kevin Owens would be outstanding. Could totally see Velasquez coming out at the end as #30 and eliminating Lesnar to win. All of that being said, I like the Drew McIntyre choice but it's hard to pick against Roman.
Matt Aguilar: Like my compadres here, Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre would be great choices and could very well take the victory, but I'm going with a black sheep so to speak. My pick is Aleister Black, who despite uneven booking is still over with the crowd and delivers fantastic matches consistently. Having him win the Royal Rumble could be a great way to catapult him into the bigger picture throughout 2020, and you know he could deliver on an eventual matchup with Brock Lesnar. Sign me up for that now!
Connor: This goes one of two ways. Either the No. 2 entrant dumps him out and that sets up his match at Mania (start praying now that it isn't Cain) or he'll stick around all the way to the end before getting tossed out. Expect him to spend a lot of time outside the ring though, poor guy will look like Grimace if he sticks around for too long.
Ryan: I would think 20 minutes, tops.
Matt: I'm going to say longer than you think, but like Connor said, most of that time will be outside of the ring after some kind of big spot.
Connor: My gut says no. After all of the promos we've seen between the two I'd actually really like to see Asuka dethrone Lynch so she can climb her way back up and win at Mania. But I think they've got something else planned for "The Man."
Ryan: I very much doubt it.
Matt: Things are in a good place regarding the various titles, so I would be surprised if any of the major ones make a switch. That said, every time I've said that in the past WWE pulls a swerve and changes at least one, so I'll go with one title.
Connor: Because it is Shayna Baszler. The way that Survivor Series main event ended telegraphed that she and Becky still have beef, and now that she's dropped the NXT Women's Championship there's really nowhere else for her to go but up.
Ryan: Shayna. The perfect, built-in storyline is for her to go after Becky Lynch to avenge her friend Ronda Rousey's loss from one year ago. Personally, I would have done this story much earlier (like, Baszler in Lacey Evans' role last spring and summer instead) but better late than never.
Matt: It just makes too much sense here, and so yes, going with Shayna Baszler as well. The fact that they've kept her looking so strong after dropping the NXT title has primed her for this spot and having her win also clears the runway for a fantastic feud in the making with Becky Lynch. Baszler all the way.
Connor: There's a very likely chance that it could. I can count on one hand the number of people who legitimately have a shot at winning the two Rumble matches, and there's not a lot to say about the rest of the card (I have never seen a strap match I didn't hate and Bryan/Wyatt isn't going to change that). They've done a fantastic job building up the match, and if they can top what they did at last year's Rumble we could have something special on our hands.
Ryan: When you look at the last year Becky has had, a great match has very much been missing from the resume. This one has the chance to be just that. Reigns/Corbin has a chance to be very good (I know a large contingent of people out there don't like hearing that), but yeah, Asuka/Lynch seems like the smart choice for match of the night.
Matt: Other than Andrade vs Humberto, I don't see a match that has the potential to steal the show like Becky vs Asuka. The two have great chemistry in the ring, whether it's one on one or via a chaotic tag team match, so I've no doubt they'll deliver one of the night's most memorable matches.
Connor: Fiend vs. Reigns for the Universal title, Lesnar vs. Drew for the WWE Championship, Becky vs. Shayna for the Raw Women's title
Ryan: Reigns vs. Wyatt (Universal Title). Becky vs. Shayna (RAW Women's Title). Cain vs. Lesnar (WWE Championship). I'm not a fan of that last choice, for the record.
Matt: Becky vs. Shayna for Raw Women's Championship, Aleister vs. Lesnar for WWE Championship, and Fiend vs. Reigns for the Universal Championship.
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