The 32nd annual Royal Rumble is just hours away. The addition of the Women’s Royal Rumble has made the Royal Rumble garner perhaps even more fan anticipation than Wrestlemania itself. The odds posted below suggest that there are some heavy favorites in the Rumble matches themselves. We will focus on the rumbles primarily, but will also touch on the matches slated to be on the main card. All of our picks are informed by wrestling rumors also known as the dirt sheets, so instead of looking for the top values, we will be discussing actual rumored plans for what is scripted entertainment. With that being said, Vince McMahon is notorious for changing his plans at the last minute, which is why Vegas still offers lines for matches whose winner or winners have been ‘known’ for over a month. Let’s dig in.
Women’s Royal Rumble
Shayna Baszler (-300)
With Friday Night SmackDown in the books, there are still only eight entrants known for the Women’s Royal Rumble. The first royal rumble was a landmark event, and they have not disappointed since. Asuka winning in year one was telegraphed, and Becky Lynch winning last year was the worst kept secret since any of Roman Reigns’ 2015 win. This year, if you pay attention to the dirt sheets, former MMA fighter and two-time NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler is expected to win the match. She has not even been announced as a participant, but with 22 wrestlers yet to be named, you can be sure she will be one of them.
WWE has been building towards Becky-Shayna angle since the Survivor Series build-up, and her dropping the title to Rhea Ripley just served as confirmation that they are preparing her for a major storyline upon her call up to the main roster. While whether or not the Raw or SmackDown rosters can actually be seen as a promotion for most wrestlers is a debate for elsewhere, there is no denying that she has come a long way in the ring and on the mic since her debut in NXT. She is one of the only women on the roster capable of playing a credible heel and elevating a Lynch storyline at the same time.
With the Asuka feud likely coming to an end at the rumble, Lynch will be in desperate need of a new nemesis. Apparently Vegas pays close attention to the dirt sheets (wrestling rumors) as well, as Shayna is currently the -300 favorite to win a match with 30 participants. She is listed at this number, despite, as alluded to above, not even being confirmed for the match. If you are someone who likes to hedge their bets, Sasha Banks winning the rumble to go on to face Lacey Evans and/or Bayley at Wrestlemania should be considered.
Men’s Royal Rumble
Roman Reigns (-220)
What we know right now is that Brock Lesnar is not winning the royal rumble. He will be a participant, but the word is that his involvement in the match will be used as an opportunity to further the storyline between Lesnar and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. With Velasquez and Lesnar already being set for Wrestlemania, we can rule out all of the red brand’s wrestlers.
With Fox demanding that the brands stay separate outside of the Royal Rumble and Survivor Series, a blue brand star will win the match and go on to face The Fiend/Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania. Vince McMahon is still convinced that heel vs face is what wrestling is all about, even if the Rock vs. Hogan at Wrestlemania emphatically proved that he has no control over who the fans support.
Roman Reigns versus The Fiend is the type of main event Vince McMahon would love to sell as part of his Wrestlemania marquee. Reigns is the current odds on favorite to win the rumble, and none of the other names from Smackdown really make much sense. There only two names that stand out as potential winners based on their current odds. Drew McIntyre (+250) has been receiving a Vince McMahon fueled push. However, he wrestles for the wrong brand, and will not be making a switch anytime soon, seemingly ruling him out of a rumble win. CM Punk (+650) is the other interesting name. He is now a regular on WWE Backstage and may have mended fences with WWE enough to agree to a Brock Lesnar-like schedule on a year to year deal.
These are match winner predictions for the announced singles matches that have odds attached to them. Any or all of the matches listed could end with a disqualification or no contests, which would allow the champion to keep the title, but still, end up on the wrong end of the win-loss proposition for these wagers.
Roman Reigns (-210) vs. King Corbin (+155) in a Falls Count Anywhere match
Roman Reigns versus Baron Corbin has gone on much too long for anyone’s liking, but Vince McMahon reportedly loves Corbin for one reason or another and continues to mandate his push. This being a falls count anywhere match mitigates the disqualification risk, but outside interference could result in another Corbin win. Reigns is rightly the favorite in this match as he is expected to wrap up his feud with Corbin and then proceed to win the Royal Rumble to set up a match with The Fiend Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania.
Becky Lynch (-260) vs. Asuka (+175) for the Raw Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch is winning this matchup. Or at the very least, she will be walking away with the title. Asuka has played the heel role much better than most expected, but their feud is destined to come to an end as WWE already has a different opponent in store for Lynch at Wrestlemania. Lynch is still the sharp play here despite the heavy juice. Asuka winning setting up a Wrestlemania showdown would be the preferred matchup from a pure wrestling perspective, but Lynch versus Baszler will never be hotter than it will be if the latter wins the rumble and goes on to challenge ‘The Man’ on the grandest stage of them all.
Bayley (-190) vs. Lacey Evans (+145) for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
This one can truly go either way. Lacey Evans’s premature push has culminated in a championship match on WWE’s second-biggest pay-per-view of the year. What is almost for certain is that Sasha Banks will be wrestling one or both of these women at Wrestlemania. As we saw last year, Vince McMahon is not opposed to randomly inserting wrestlers into Wrestlemania matches that other wrestlers had to ‘earn’ a spot in. Lacey Evans is simply biding her time before being gifted a championship run, and it could begin at the Royal Rumble. The match that could steal the show at Wrestlemania however is Bayley vs. Sasha Banks for the Women’s Championship. One has to believe that Sasha’s hiatus from the company ended with promises being made, namely, her long-awaited main roster match with shoot and work best friend Bayley. With that being said, Lacey Evans being forced into the mix, unfortunately, remains in play, so we could the dream match even if Lacey wins. Bayley remains the safer play due to the timing of the Royal Rumble.
The Fiend/Bray Wyatt (-600) vs. Daniel Bryan (+350) for the WWE Universal Championship
The Fiend will be in the Universal Championship title match at Wrestlemania. Daniel Bryan versus Roman Reigns would arguably be the even bigger match with more excitement and fanfare, but once again we are stuck with Vince McMahon’s preference for heel versus face matches and the fact that Wrestlemania is going to sell out regardless of who wrestles for the Universal Championship. The odds here are ridiculous, and should only be considered if the book of your choice supports prop parlays.