It’s prediction time on the road to Wrestlemania. The 2023 WWE Royal Rumble will be coming to you live from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Saturday, January 28. Some of the DK Nation staff will give their thoughts on the winners, the losers, and who they think the biggest surprise we’ll be. Let’s get to the madness.
Men’s Royal Rumble match
Murjani Rawls: Well, it’s definitely not going to be The Rock. A lot of this is contingent on what the WWE wants to do with the title belts. I feel the best course of action is to split them and finally have a top prize for people to fight over on RAW. Either way, Cody Rhodes is an obvious number-one choice to win the Rumble. He’s already teasing up the “destiny” run for the title.
If you have a situation where you split them, Seth Rollins can constantly challenge you outside of winning the Rumble. Cody and Seth are two people Roman has never beaten in this historic title-holding run he’s currently on.
Nick Simon: Heading into this rumble, I have two guys that I could realistically see winning it: Sami Zayn or Cody Rhodes. The saga with Sami Zayn and the Bloodline has been the best piece of storytelling on WWE television for the past six months. The “Honorary Uce” unwittingly winning the Royal Rumble and challenging Roman Reigns for the title(s) at Wrestlemania would be incredible, but I’ll admit that’s a bit of a stretch.
On the other end, you have Rhodes, who somehow became the biggest babyface in the entire company last year before going down with his injury. The WWE has been telegraphing him winning the rumble since they started re-introducing him on television through vignettes the previous month, and I think he’s the choice here.
Teddy Ricketson: I’ve got no clue how WWE will handle the men’s match. I’ve seen people say The Rock needs to return and win and beat Roman, and I’ve seen fans calling for Sami Zayn to win. The WWE has made a point to hype up the return of Cody Rhodes for so long that it feels like they’re setting him up for a win. I’m going out of the box for the surprise Seth Rollins win.
Women’s Royal Rumble match
Murjani Rawls: To me, there are three options you can go with. One is Rhea Ripley. It was teased in a previous Royal Rumble, with her and Bianca Belair being the final two. They are the two future pillars, and if you want to do this match, I would love it.
Another would be Becky Lynch. Becky-two-time Royal Rumble winner would sound great, and she could go and face Charlotte on Smackdown. One more would be Bayley. Many people have complained about how Damage Control has been used despite Dakota and Io being the women’s tag team champions. Bayley has history with Bianca and Charlotte, but it’s also possible this feud with Becky can carry over until Wrestlemania.
Nick Simon: Rhea Ripley, easy. She has hit her stride as a character with the Judgement Day in recent months and has been kept strong by having her mix it up with both women and men. I keep thinking about her squashing Candice LeRae on Raw a few weeks ago and how that may have been a deliberate way of the company signaling that’s coming.
On top of those reasons, Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair is a fresh matchup that needs to happen at Wrestlemania, in my opinion. As we’re starting to transition out of the Four Horsewomen era, these two have been propped up as the two future titans of the division, with Belair having already arrived at superstar status. Remember, they were supposed to meet at Money in the Bank last summer before Ripley had to step away for medical issues. It’s time to get the ball rolling, starting with her winning the rumble.
Teddy Ricketson: I want to say that we see Naomi return and win the rumble to set up a match with Belair at Wrestlemania. I don’t think they go back to the surprise return-then-win here, though. Bayley’s return with Damage Control has been solid, but she could make a very interesting championship run by winning her first-ever Rumble. She seems like the type of person that will play mind games with Bianca Belair and Charlotte Flair, making them question who she will eventually face. This could create ample storytelling over the two-ish months until Mania.
Undisputed Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Murjani Rawls: LOLRomanWins, right? Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens always have great singles matches together, and this will be no different. I feel that the announcement will be that Sami will be the special guest referee. It will add some extra stakes to this match and begin the Bloodline in-fighting.
Nick Simon: This is the third time that Reigns and Kevin Owens will fight at the Royal Rumble for the title, which I find interesting. I love KO, but they’re not pulling the belts off Roman until Wrestlemania at the earliest. I am intrigued by Sami Zayn’s involvement in this match and how they keep playing up this story.
Teddy Ricketson: Reigns is going to win this. I like the story they told here, but the good news is that it already has the legs to stretch to Wrestlemania. I am predicting some shenanigans go down and maybe an eye-opening moment for Sami Zayn. I don’t think we see his Bloodline turn at the Royal Rumble, but I’m expecting some ending that someone can point to in the future as a point of weakness for Reigns.
Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
Murjani Rawls: The E.S.T. Not even going to waste your time with a lengthy diatribe on why this is going to happen. She’s going to Wrestlemania with the title as she should. I think you’ve seen a full breakdown happen with Alexa, and she will revert to her Bray-esque character.
Nick Simon: Bianca Belair. I don’t really have much to say about this match other than that we’ll see continued spookiness with Uncle Howdy and Alexa Bliss.
Teddy Ricketson: Bianca Belair. The EST should continue being the champ, but I expect some continuation with the Uncle Howdy and Bray Wyatt storytelling. Bliss’ part has been handled extremely well, in my opinion, but we need a little payoff from this PPV to set a course for how it will play out.
Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match: Bray Wyatt vs. L.A. Knight
Murjani Rawls: I have no idea what this match will consist of. Are Bray and L.A. going to fight in the dark and hit each other with Mountain Dew bottles? Probably not. L.A. Knight is going to be fine if he loses. For this match, not only does Bray have to win, this Uncle Howdy gimmick has to have a progression, as I feel it’s starting to lose steam.
Nick Simon: Bray Wyatt will win this, but I want to say I’m already over all of this. I think they missed an opportunity for having this match at either Survivor Series or an episode of Smackdown in December. For that reason, the whole Wyatt/Uncle Howdy story has already run out of steam, in my opinion. I’m becoming more interested in the rise of L.A. Knight as a weekly character, which I didn’t expect three months ago. So yeah, let’s wrap this up.
Teddy Ricketson: Bray Wyatt should win. I’ve enjoyed Wyatt’s return, but I think the storyline suffered from not having a New Year’s PPV where this match could have been. It’s dragged on a little long without much advancement. I also worry about this match with whatever a Pitch Black match is supposed to be. If it alters the camera shot similar to the Fiend’s infamous Hell in a Cell match, this could fall well short of expectations.
Murjani Rawls: I don’t think there will be a big surprise. I feel it will be from a storyline between Sami Zayn and the Bloodline.
Nick Simon: Like with Mickie James last year, I think someone from another company will make an appearance in one of the rumble matches. There have been rumors of the WWE being interested in Jay White and Tama Tonga when their contracts run out soon, and while they’d technically be free agents, a surprise appearance from them would have the same effect.
Teddy Ricketson: The rumors and speculations about the winner of the Rumble and how they eventually end Roman Reign’s win streak and dominance have been all over the place. I like the idea of Sami winning the Rumble and turning on the Bloodline, but my biggest surprise is a return for Big E. He has come out and said that he isn’t healthy enough to compete in the rumble, but 2020 Edge would like a word. I don’t think he wins it, but I think we see him return to a loud crowd pop.