WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Analysis & Predictions

The 2016 edition of WWE’s Royal Rumble airs live on WWE Network this Sunday, January 24. It’s also available on pay-per-view if you’re a dumb idiot who wants to pay $54.99 instead of ten bucks. JBL’s words, not mine. The show will feature the WWE Championship being defended in the Rumble for the first time since 1992, with the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns entering at #1 and attempting to go “one versus all” on the night.

WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Card:

– Kickoff Match – Fatal Fourway Tag Team Match: The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Jack Swagger and Mark Henry vs. Darren Young and Damien Sandow. (Note: The winners of the match will get spots in the Royal Rumble.)

1. Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

2. Last Man Standing Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens

3. United States Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto

4. Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch

5. Royal Rumble Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

As always, here’s our breakdown of the card, what we think should happen in the matches, and what we think actually will happen. We are industry insiders, so feel free to laugh at us when our predictions are totally wrong. We didn’t make predictions for the kickoff match because, well, look at it.

Here’s the rest of the show. Let us know what you think will happen in our comments section below.

Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

What Should Happen: The New Day should retain, they should play a trio of newborn baby trombones on the unconscious bodies of the Usos, and the circle of life should be complete.

What Will Happen: Strangely, this is the hardest match on the card for me to predict. The Usos have less than no momentum, but how many times can they go through the motions of this feud without winning? How many cycles can they score non-title, rollup victories without a payoff? The New Day are routinely the best part of any show they’re on and deserve a storied championship run, but again, how many times can we do the same story? Non-title victories on the weekly shows to build to a pay-per-view where they cheat to retain. The Usos might actually be the New Day’s only viable challengers right now, too, with Sin Cara being injured, the Dudley Boyz having been exhausted and everyone else forgetting tag teams exist. Look at the Kickoff match. Two of the four available tag teams are guys we’ve never seen tag together before. That’s the state of the tag division.

Anyway, as much as I don’t want to see it, I’ll pick the Usos to win here. Choosing the title match cheat-to-win to build to more non-title victories on the weekly shows is just too depressing. The New Day are great champions, but they don’t need to be champions to be great. The Usos without the tag titles are blank envelopes. At least with the tag belts, they’ve got a stamp.

Staff Predictions

David D. – The New Day will win here because they’re the best. The only suspense here is what their pre-match song will be. My guess is Rick Ross with a DJ Khaled reference.

Jessica Hudnall – I don’t foresee a scenario in the near future, or even the grim post apocalyptic future where we all have random pieces of metal strapped to our bodies to menace each other, but hey, doofuses, how can you hug someone if you are both covered in spikes? Maybe more hugs would cut down on the anger and tension. Anyway, even in that bleak vision of things to come, I won’t pick against The New Day.

Justin Donaldson – The Usos are going to have to win the belts back at some point, but I don’t think it happens at the Rumble. With their ESPN appearance and how well their merchandise is selling, I think New Day holds onto the titles until a match somewhere down the line where the Usos have Rikishi or Haku or someone like that in their corner. New Day retains this time thanks to the “damn number’s game.”

Chris Trew – This better be the first match so that The New Day is as fresh as possible for what I predict will be the greatest Kofi elimination to date. Big E will come out of this looking the strongest, put The Usos out of the Rumble, making room for two surprise entrants, NXT callups Enzo and Cass. Oh, You Didn’t Know?

Danielle Matheson – I can’t think of any reason for The New Day not to retain, unless, like, one of the Usos is secretly dying. Like Cool Dad Chris Jericho and the belts are part of some secret adult Make-A-Wish for one of them. Left face paint, you okay, buddy?

Austin Heiberg – Do the Usos even stand a chance here? The most dangerous time to mess with a man is when he’s mourning the loss of his trombone, so Jimmy and Jey are fighting a losing battle right from the get-go. Long may the New Day reign.

Last Man Standing Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens

What Should Happen: Dean Ambrose kinda wrestles like one of Bayley’s inflatable tube men, so Kevin Owens should take him to the damn woodshed and win back the Intercontinental Championship. Heading into WrestleMania season, it’s important to accept that we’ve spent a year building Dean Ambrose into “Roman Reigns’ friend” instead of a standalone character. Let him Lana Roman for a while, and give Kevin Owens a hook to set up a big WrestleMania spotlight match. I will be an Internet Guy and say “Sami Zayn” here, but I’m okay with him wrestling pretty much anybody with a serious storyline behind it. Let him retire The Rock. Rock would totally be into it.

What Will Happen: Owens wins. If there’s one thing I know about how WWE books Dean Ambrose, it’s that they put him in matches with vague hardcore stipulations to give him a weird and/or funny “out” for losing. Remember when he lost a Hell in a Cell match because Bray Wyatt jumped out of a hologram? Remember when he tried to use a plugged-in television as a weapon and it exploded in his face? The Last Man Standing stipulation is here to give Ambrose something dumb to do, whether it’s injuring himself jumping off a high place or accidentally sticking himself to the floor with Elmer’s glue. I feel like Tom Phillips could win a Last Man Standing match against Dean Ambrose. Just hang in there and wait for him to try to use child safety scissors and lose an arm.

Staff Predictions

David D. – I’d like to think that Kevin Owens is getting a big match at ‘Mania, so he needs to look strong. Ambrose perpetually loses and still looks strong. So, it only makes sense for Owens to come away with a win. This probably knocks Ambrose out of the Rumble, too.

Jessica Hudnall – Both men will be very difficult to keep down for prolonged periods of time. Not because they are tougher than others, but Owens’ build lends itself to sproingy rebounds, while Ambrose is so janked up, any time he ragdolls, the physics engine goes nutso and he wiggles around for a while, eventually getting back to his feet. Ambrose usually relies on shallow graves, out past Binghamton, to keep his foes down, while Owens should be smart and just use his babies as paperweights. Owens wins through advanced baby strats.

Justin Donaldson – A Last Man Standing Match gives WWE the perfect opportunity for 50/50 booking to reign supreme, and have Ambrose lose the belt back to Owens without Ambrose looking weak. Owens wins due to shenanigans; maybe a beat down on Ambrose from the League of Nations? Or something even more stupid, like Dean gets locked out of the building and can’t answer the 10 count.

Chris Trew – Kevin Owens pulls it out because it would be weird for Dean Ambrose to be both Intercontinental AND Heavyweight champion. Oops! (See below)

Danielle Matheson – You think they’re gonna have a hardcore match, but really they’re just going to read each other’s Twitter replies until Dean taps out to a drawing of Kevin Owens as a snow leopard by @xfurry_coyote787x saying ‘f*ck me, daddy’ to Dolph Ziggler. Or Dean does some wonderful, but totally ridiculous finish and retains. Either or.

Austin Heiberg – Kudos to whoever put this card together for saying, “Hey, we’ve got to kill quite a bit of time before we actually get to the Rumble itself, why not make this Last Man Standing?” I feel like this actually has the potential to be a really good match, provided Ambrose goes beyond the standard Ooga Booga I’m Crazy offense. In a match type that doesn’t particularly favor one man over the other, I have to go with the champion retaining here.

United States Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto

What Should Happen: We should get in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and go back to two Raws ago, and make sure Kalisto’s United States Championship reign lasts more than a day. Any other option would’ve made more sense. If you give Kalisto the strap on Raw, wait until the Rumble to do the rematch. That way you could build up the story of Del Rio and his posse coming for revenge, and establish the drama of whether or not poor little Kalisto will be able to make it out alive. Or, I don’t know, you give Kalisto a match on Raw that unexpectedly gets him into a U.S. title match at the Rumble, have Del Rio underestimate and insult him, and do the switch on the big show. Letting him win the belt on Raw just to lose it the next night and lose again on the next week’s Raw is so shortsighted.

What Will Happen: If Kalisto wins here, does it matter as much? You already dialed him back after the Raw win, which was supposed to be dessert. Do we need two desserts? I’d like to see Kalisto win and do all that hopeful sh*t I got excited about him doing when he won it the first time, but yeah, no, I’m guessing this is just the League of Nations interfering and helping Del Rio retain. I just hope Sin Cara comes to ringside in a motorized wheelchair, and Kalisto announces that he’s gonna try to win the belt for his new homeland, MexAmerica.

Staff Predictions

David D. – I want Kalisto to win and win for good. It’s not like Del Rio has any big feud coming up and Kalisto opens up possibilities for great Mania matches or at least a ladder match. Something. Anything.

Jessica Hudnall – I hope this match is Ludovico’d to Trump until he dies. I’ll take Kalisto to win because he’s flippy, and as a child-brained nincompoop, I enjoy that immensely.

Justin Donaldson – This is a tough one. I think it could go either way, but I’m leaning towards Del Rio retaining, because the League of Nations needs something. Either way, I think Kalisto comes out looking like a million bucks. And it should be another great match, if Del Rio decides to work that night.

Chris Trew – Kalisto wins the United States Championship, but on Monday, Alberto Del Rio wins the United States Championship. On Smackdown, Kalisto wins the United States Championship. On Saturday Night’s Main-Event, Alberto Del Rio wins the United States Championship. On Monday Night Raw, Kalisto wins the United States Championship back, but he somehow loses it to Alberto Del Rio on Superstars the following Wednesday which was filmed before on this same night.

Danielle Matheson – If Del Rio can’t beat up one (1) Roman Reigns with a bunch of other dudes, doesn’t he kinda deserve to lose the belt? Also, U.S. Champion Sheamus’ U.S. Championship-themed gear was the best. Kalisto’s could be so much fancier. Oh man, yeah, let Kalisto win and do that.

Austin Heiberg – Abandon all logic, ye who predict this match. A win for Kalisto would see the title shuffling back and forth like it was the Hardcore belt under 24/7 rules, but Del Rio winning would be the most “F you, Kalisto” thing ever. Just a blanket statement of “He doesn’t matter.” Are they so blind and callous to pull that off? They absolutely are, but I’m still picking Kalisto here. I fully expect to be wrong.

Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch

What Should Happen: I’ve got high hopes for this, because the Charlotte/Becky rivalry is one of the only stories on the show that makes sense. In my brain, you’ve got two possible outcomes:

1. Ric Flair upping the cheating ante by actually trying to get physically involved. He should either cheapshot Becky in some way for massive heat — I’m not saying he should punch her in the face, just something more egregious than tripping her — or get up on the apron, get knocked the hell out by Becky and provide enough of a distraction in defeat for Charlotte to win. The idea of Charlotte continuing her “I’m going to concentrate on winning instead of paying attention to my friends” thing by winning while her dad’s KO’d on the outside would be pretty great.

2. Charlotte forming a new faction from the ashes of the old one. If she’s going to be a Flair, she needs true Horsemen. Paige and Natalya are buddies now, so I kinda like the idea of Becky becoming an outsider because everyone else decided they’re okay being confederated scumbags. With that group formed (with Slick Ric as the J.J. Dillon, obviously), you can either have them cheat to help Charlotte retain, or brutally eliminate Becky when Charlotte loses. At some point they’ve got to realize that nearly every female character on the show is heel as f*ck and do something about it.

What Will Happen: I hope either of those things happen, but I’m not counting on it. I think Charlotte retains no matter what to keep the belt on her heading into Mania, where you more or less have to do Charlotte and Sasha. That has to be the reason they haven’t done anything with Team B.A.D. yet. Yes, I know that’s an incredibly optimistic couple of sentences.

Staff Predictions

David D. – Flair cheats. Charlotte wins. This is most likely the match of the night in a walk. This is going to be as much of a cheating win as possible because this feud may need to continue into Mania if Banks is hurt. Please, Banks, don’t be hurt.

Jessica Hudnall – Let’s go ahead and say that Becky Lynch wins this match through scientific use of being Irish and walloping Charlotte with a sack full of brass cogs. It’s the perfect crime!

Justin Donaldson – This is the singles match I’m looking forward to the most, and has the potential to be a classic. Maybe I’m listening to my heart instead of my mind, but I think Becky leaves as the new Divas Champion. Becky has so much momentum right now, it’s the perfect time to give her the ball and have her run with it. Plus Charlotte losing the championship in a match her father accepted could lead to her turning on Ric and cementing her as a top heel.

Chris Trew – Charlotte should be Divas champion for the next 16 years, so Charlotte wins in a squeaker. Then she wins the next 115 matches. We all buy 16-time/16-year merch.

Danielle Matheson – Charlotte will retain, because otherwise Ric Flair will stop paying attention to her.

Austin Heiberg – Becky Lynch in general gets a standing ovation from me every time. An actually effective example of developing a babyface in 2016! She’s absolutely next in line for the title, but I don’t think it’s happening just yet. Charlotte retains… for now. Just be ready to welcome your new Irish overlord, sooner than later.

Royal Rumble Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

What Should Happen: I could spend all day fantasy booking a Royal Rumble, but here’s what I want: something unexpected.

There are dozens of ways the Rumble could end with a pleasant shock, from an unexpected champion rising from the pile to the return of someone like Daniel Bryan, but the obvious stuff is just too obvious. Roman Reigns going coast-to-cast and retaining. Brock winning to set up Brock and Roman again at WrestleMania. Roman making it all the way until the end only to be eliminated by #30, Triple H, who promised he’d get his revenge when Roman least expected it. That’s the especially obvious one. The sad truth is that the Rumble is going to revolve around Roman, what Roman’s doing and how Roman feels instead of the huge cross-section of WWE stories and rivalries it’s meant to be.

What Will Happen: I’m going to go with the Triple H ending. It just seems like what they’d do. If something fresh and fun and interesting happens, I will be happy to have been worked. Work me here, I’m begging you.

If I’m picking a Final Four, I’ll say it’s Roman, H, Wyatt and Sheamus. Safe bets. Odds for Roman. Brock goes out unexpectedly via whatever Brock’s doing at WrestleMania.

Staff Predictions

David D. – Here’s what I want to happen: Brock comes in at, like, 15 and he and Roman clear the ring. They brawl for a bit then Kevin Owen dumps both of them out when they’re fighting by the ropes. Crowd goes ape sh*t and we have a Rumble where nobody knows who’ll win. Daniel Bryan comes in later and wins.

*wakes up from fever dream*

Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, the depressing WWE reality. Final four: Roman, Brock, HHH, Bray Wyatt. HHH wins. Because I stole a stick of gum from K-Mart once and God is punishing me still for it.

Jessica Hudnall – I’ve forgotten everyone’s timetable to return from injury, so I assume everyone who is hurt will come back here, regardless of their current state of healthfulness. Do you know how hard it is to eliminate Randy Orton while he’s recuperating inside an iron lung? That being said, I’m taking Roman to retain the title through a fluke. And by fluke, I mean Brock Lesnar will consume Reigns, preventing Roman’s feet from touching the floor (because they are in Brock’s tummy-guts!),

Final four: Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Sheamus, Chuzz Dunderwitz (a debuting AJ Styles).

Justin Donaldson – Once all 30 participants have entered the Royal Rumble, it’ll come down to Jericho, Lesnar, Sheamus, and Reigns. Reigns dumps them all out and is your Royal Rumble winner, until “No Chance in Hell” hits and Vince McMahon comes out to inform Roman that he hasn’t won yet, because this is now a 31-man Royal Rumble. And out comes Triple H to throw Roman out of the ring and set up their WrestleMania main-event.

Chris Trew – Stardust gets eliminated embarrassingly early by a turd like Adam Rose. Later in the show, Cody Rhodes enters the Rumble. Ted Dibiase Jr. comes out to Million Dollar Man’s music and wardrobe. El Torito eliminates The Big Show. A handful of Divas join forces (including Bayley!) and eliminate some men before eliminating each other. Chris Jericho gets bushwacker’d out of the Rumble and all subsequent WWE shows. HHH eliminates Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan eliminates HHH, Roman Reigns comes back and eliminates Brock Lesnar, Jake the Snake is eliminated by Bray Wyatt who goes on to almost win the Rumble, but hold up, y’all, Dean Ambrose has gone corporate and he wins the title. The Ambrose Authority.

Danielle Matheson – Stephanie said Triple H’s revenge would come when Roman least expects it, so the kneejerk reaction is that Reigns will make it to the end, only to get tossed out by Triple H who enters at #30. I would much prefer she mean like, y’know, while Reigns is waiting at a Pep Boys to get his oil changed on his SUV (you know he drives an SUV, come on). WHO WOULD EXPECT THAT? I can’t believe I’m saying “Triple H as World Champ in 2016” is a great story, but sure, why not. This also assumes Reigns fights off 28 other dudes, like all of the Ineffectual Foreign Legion fellows (again), and whoever the surprise celebrity entrant is (I dunno, Tim Tebow? Mariska Hargitay? The Ghost of Martha Graham?), but listen, I hear he’s like, really strong. So, let’s say the final four are Roman, Triple H, uhhh, Vince McMahon, and…Sad News Barrett. They’ve gotta give that guy something, right?

Austin Heiberg – Let’s get this out of the way first: My picks for surprise appearances are Jushin “Thunder” Liger and AJ Styles. Orlando is going to go NUCLEAR if the Phenomenal One actually shows up. With that said, I’m hedging my bet here and saying that the final four comes down to Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, and Bray Wyatt’s Mysterious Stranger perk (Braun Strowman). Despite everything thrown in his way, I’ll say Reigns wins and retains the title.