The WWE Royal Rumble event will engulf the pro wrestling world on Sunday as we all gear up for WrestleMania season. One of the most anticipated events of the entire year, 2020 should prove to be no different as we witness the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches play out with world title shots on the grandest stage on the line. And as an added caveat to the men’s match, reigning WWE champion Brock Lesnar has decided to enter himself into the fold, creating even more intrigue for a match that usually never requires more drama.
The Royal Rumble at Minute Maid Park in Houston will begin at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, with the show expected to last anywhere from 3.5-4 hours, not counting the kickoff show, which starts two hours prior to the main card at 5 p.m. CBS Sports will be with you the entire way on Sunday with live results, highlights and analysis.
For now, let’s take a look at how our experts believe the Royal Rumble will play out this Sunday.
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2020 WWE Royal Rumble predictions
Sheamus vs. Shorty G
There is a case I can make for Chad Gable winning this match — namely putting him over via rollup on a pay-per-view and giving Sheamus a dominant win the following Friday on SmackDown — but I just don’t see WWE going in that direction considering Sheamus is newly returning. To be fair, WWE has done a decent job building storylines outside of the title pictures over the last few months, and if they are willing to have Gable go over eventually in a rematch, then whatever happens Sunday is merely a means to that end. It’s just unfortunate that Gable appeared to be on a bit of a roll before entering this showdown. Pick: Sheamus wins — Adam Silverstein (also Brent Brookhouse, Jack Crosby)
United States Championship: Andrade (c) vs. Humberto Carrillo
Carrillo and Andrade have great chemistry together, and Andrade remaining champ would make just as much sense as dropping the title here. But Carrillo feels like he has been tabbed as “the guy,” and Andrade made for a good transitional champion to move the title from Rey Mysterio over to Carrillo without Carrillo having to endure a heatless face vs. face feud with Mysterio. In a show that thrives on big moments, Carrillo getting a heroic title win to even the score with Andrade would fit beautifully. Pick: Humberto Carrillo wins the title — Brookhouse
Despite the fact that Carrillo just recently returned to the fold as the babyface seeking retribution against the heel champion, it’s simply too early to strip the title away from the rising star that is Andrade. Carrillo, a definitive star in the making, will hold that mid-card title one day, but that won’t come in Houston. Andrade needs a lengthier run with the U.S. title not only to solidify himself as a viable threat, but also keep that thriving Raw mid-card scene strong. Pick: Andrade retains the title — Crosby (also Silverstein)
Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin (Falls count anywhere)
The worst possible option here is for Corbin to use numbers to “cheat” his way to another win. After the TLC fiasco, Reigns has brought in The Usos to get his back and even the odds as a family. That could make for a good way to set up Corbin still figuring out a way to cheat his way to victory, but Reigns’ position on the roster basically demands he get the win here to not have been repeatedly embarrassed by Corbin. Pick: Roman Reigns wins — Brookhouse
Considering I am projecting Reigns as the winner of the Royal Rumble — and I’m not saying that’s a unique call by any means — it would make sense for Reigns to fall here to Corbin, extending their feud another month and delaying Reigns’ announcement of who he will eventually challenge at WrestleMania. It would be a booking similar to WrestleMania 31 when Seth Rollins fell to Randy Orton early in the show before eventually cashing in Money in the Bank and winning the WWE title or last year’s Royal Rumble when Becky Lynch dropped the title to Asuka only to go on and win the 30-woman match. Is that a bit tired? Yes, WWE could also have Reigns win the earlier match and see Corbin cost him the Royal Rumble as retribution, but that would prolong the feud another few months, and I can’t stomach that. Pick: Baron Corbin wins — Silverstein (also Crosby)
SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Lacey Evans
Evans hasn’t taken off as a face, which seems predictable but also sets up plenty of reasons to keep the title on Bayley and wait for a better time to move the prize. A lot of the decision-making on this could come down to who is winning the women’s Rumble. But running with Evans here would be a misstep, and I don’t think WWE is ready to move on from the Bayley/Sasha Banks heel combo on top of the SmackDown women’s division. Pick: Bayley retains the title — Brookhouse
Whether people agree with this sentiment or not, Bayley’s run with the SmackDown women’s title has not exactly lived up to expectations, even with the fresh heel turn. Meanwhile, Evans — surprisingly to some — seems to be catching on as a babyface with the crowds more and more each week, and a shocking title change on Sunday and subsequent run with the championship may only help in that regard. You can still do the suspected Bayley vs. Sasha Banks match at WrestleMania in April without the title being involved, as fans would be more than OK with seeing them just wrestle one another. Pick: Lacey Evans wins the title — Crosby (also Silverstein)
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Asuka
It would be an interesting decision for WWE to have Lynch lose to Asuka in consecutive years, perhaps setting up a stipulation match at WrestleMania. From a match quality standpoint, that would be among the company’s best decisions and would add a layer to Lynch’s booking of being relatively unbeatable since last year’s Mania. The more likely scenario is that Lynch finally gets over Asuka and appears to have defeated all her potential challenges only for a new one (Shayna Baszler) or old one (Ronda Rousey) to emerge ahead of the big show. Pick: Becky Lynch retains the title — Silverstein (also Brookhouse, Crosby)
Universal Championship: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Daniel Bryan (Strap match)
WWE programming is suffering a bit with two champions whose appearances in the ring are irregular. Wyatt losing and drifting further into madness as “The Fiend” looks to avenge his loss to Bryan, who would be the “fighting champion” the fans want, would be a good move. Bryan’s character development has also indicated that he can’t be broken in the way other “Fiend” opponents have. That paying off with a title win at the Rumble with “The Fiend” continuing to try to break Bryan on the Road to WrestleMania would benefit SmackDown greatly, a program which has a weekly TV main event problem. Pick: Daniel Bryan wins the title — Brookhouse
Has the buzz surrounding Wyatt and his “Fiend” persona cooled off just a bit since lighting the world on fire last summer? Sure, but that doesn’t mean “The Fiend” still isn’t one of the hottest acts in the company that’s featured heavily every Friday night on network television. Bryan has done an incredible job (shocker, I know) of playing the babyface foil to the unstoppable monster, and hey, if WWE were to decide a change was necessary here, it wouldn’t be a backbreaking decision by any stretch. When it comes down to it, however, “The Fiend” should continue to terrorize the SmackDown brand and his eventual WrestleMania title challenger going forward into Tampa. Pick: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt retains the title — Crosby (also Silverstein)
Women’s Royal Rumble match
New main roster blood winning the Rumble and leading to a fresh matchup on the biggest card of the year seems like the way to go. A Ronda Rousey return win would cause a bigger splash and serve as a big-money match for WrestleMania, but Baszler feels like a here-and-now option, while Rousey could make an equally big splash returning on any given week during Raw or SmackDown. Pick: Shayna Baszler wins — Brookhouse
As I mentioned in my earlier breakdown of the Raw women’s championship match, there are a couple solid storylines that could play out here if Lynch retains her title earlier in the evening. The one I believe to be most likely is Baszler winning the Royal Rumble and challenging Lynch at WrestleMania. Remember: Baszler won the women’s triple threat match at Survivor Series only to be brutally attacked afterward by Lynch, seemingly for no good reason. I could see a scenario in which Rousey returns at the Royal Rumble as a fan in attendance in the crowd, perhaps distracting Charlotte Flair during the match and allowing her friend, Baszler, to get the final elimination. That could setup the foreshadowed Lynch-Baszler match and a big-time featured Flair-Rousey match. There is another option, but someone else has covered that in these predictions. WWE could also go in another direction and have Sasha Banks win, potentially to challenge her friend Bayley or a newly-crowned champion in Lacey Evans. But I feel we are headed in the aforementioned direction. Pick: Shayna Baszler wins — Silverstein
The callbacks for Raw women’s champion Becky Lynch won’t end with her defense against Asuka on Sunday. No, just when she thinks that she’s fully exorcised her demons from the past, another will emerge. I expect the topic conversation coming out of the Royal Rumble on Sunday to be the return of former champ Ronda Rousey, who will become the third women’s Royal Rumble winner in history. At WrestleMania in Tampa, we’ll get the one-on-one match between Lynch and Rousey that many were clamoring for last year at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Pick: Ronda Rousey wins — Crosby
Men’s Royal Rumble match
When I’m looking at the most interesting potential outcomes, Lesnar winning the Rumble as champion and setting up a Road to WrestleMania filled with “What does it mean?” is far more intriguing than all remaining options. Lesnar “making history” and sending WWE into chaos would be so simple. Maybe not as simple as the man who eliminates him being the man who faces him at WrestleMania, but certainly more interesting. Pick: Brock Lesnar wins — Brookhouse
Reigns is the clear, obvious favorite to win for good reason: WWE has done an excellent job rehabilitating his babyface image over the last year by keeping him away from title feuds, not having him look laughably dominant with overbearing booking and generally making him likable. As such, it has come time to pay it off. Now, Reigns could lose the Rumble and win a No. 1 contendership match at Elimination Chamber, for example. That’s certainly possible. But fans are ready to accept a babyface Reigns, and the nuclear popularity of “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt has calmed down to the point that Reigns going over Wyatt at WrestleMania would not only be accepted but cheered. Plus, the “anyone but you, Roman” storyline has another chapter. Truthfully, as long as it’s not Brock Lesnar or Cain Velasquez winning, I’m not sure WWE can make a wrong decision. Pick: Roman Reigns wins — Silverstein
The writing has been on the wall for quite a while now that we’re on a collision course towards Roman Reigns vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, especially since Wyatt has continually been setting his sights on targets from his past. Well, when it comes to foes from that past, they don’t get any more prevalent than Reigns. I fully expect these two to square off for the universal title that Reigns never lost jn the ring, and it may very well also serve as the WrestleMania 36 main event of the evening. That journey starts will Roman Reigns claiming his second Royal Rumble victory this weekend in Houston. Pick: Roman Reigns wins — Crosby