The WWE Royal Rumble 2020 pay-per-view will be held at the Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Outside of the Royal Rumble match, the WWE Universal Championship will be defended, as The Fiend Bray Wyatt will defend against Daniel Bryan. While typically the winner of the Royal Rumble match earns a main event opportunity for world title at WrestleMania, there is an interesting twist to this year's match.
On an episode of WWE Raw, Paul Heyman announced that WWE Champion Brock Lesnar will be entering the Royal Rumble match. Not only that, but Lesnar will be the first entrant of the match and is planning on lasting the whole match and winning. Oddly, unlike the Royal Rumble matches of 1992 and 2016, the WWE Championship has not been announced to be defended in the match.
Currently, Roman Reigns is the likely candidate to win the Royal Rumble, which would add him to the list including Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena, and Batista of two-time winners of the match (Austin being the only person who won three). With Reigns being on the SmackDown brand, this would make him the number one contender for The Fiend Bray Wyatt's Universal Championship.
Why Roman Reigns Should Not Win the Royal Rumble
While Reigns is my favorite wrestler in the WWE, and people are finally appreciating his work to the point of cheering him more than ever, he does not need to win the Royal Rumble to be inserted into a main event spot. Reigns has main-evented four WrestleMania events (31 vs. Brock Lesnar, 32 vs. Triple H, 33 vs. The Undertaker, and 35 vs. Brock Lesnar), and won two of those matches. He has certainly cemented himself in the top tier of talent in the company, and winning another Royal Rumble match is unnecessary for him to main event a fifth one.
Moreover, winning the Royal Rumble match could be counterproductive to Reigns finally becoming a true babyface in 2019, which is something that WWE worked for years to accomplish. He could receive backlash from fans of main-eventing WrestleMania for a fifth time, which is not worth the work done to get him to his current spot of being one of the most cheered names on the SmackDown roster. Timing is everything, and WWE should allow Reigns to continue gaining the respect and adulation of the fans.
This means that someone who is on the rise should win the year's Royal Rumble match, similar to what Shinsuke Nakamura did in 2018. Last year, Seth Rollins won the match, and it actually was the start of fans backing down in their support, because many fans of the Royal Rumble are looking for someone who could use the win to catapult their career into the main event even stronger. So, who could this person be?
Enter Aleister Black.
Brock Lesnar Entering No. 1 is a Good Thing
Brock Lesnar being inserted in the Royal Rumble match was initially criticized by many, including myself, but it could be used to immediately start a WrestleMania program with the person who eliminates him. The top babyface talent on WWE Raw at the time are Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Rusev, Randy Orton, and Ricochet. Owens & Joe are heavily involved in a storyline with Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy, & AOP, Rusev is tied up with Bobby Lashley and Lana, and Randy Orton is feuding with AJ Styles. Ricochet has not been protected enough to have a WrestleMania feud with Lesnar, as we saw on a previous episode of Raw when he was viciously clotheslined by Lesnar. Drew McIntyre is slowing turning babyface, which could actually be an indication of him eliminating Lesnar and commencing a program with him heading into WrestleMania 36.
Regardless of the high-octane presentation that many wrestling fans expect nowadays, characters matter, and will always be the essential factor in suspending disbelief and embrace the comic-book-come-to-life bizarro world that is professional wrestling. Unfortunately, pro wrestling has heavily lost the element of fans getting behind good guys and jeering bad guys. In fact, The Fiend, who is a heel, gets cheered because he is one of the most interesting characters in all of professional wrestling.
Although Black is currently on the Raw brand, winning the Royal Rumble match would create a loophole for him to be able to defect to the SmackDown brand. This would allow him to begin the WWE Championship match storyline with The Fiend. Now, you have two of the most intriguing superstars in WWE in a WrestleMania feud, which could create weeks of fascinating television. The Universal title match at Royal Rumble will be The Fiend defending against Daniel Bryan in a strap match. A win from The Fiend could put an end to the feud, thus opening up Wyatt for a new opponent.
The babyface reaction of Daniel Bryan has done a very good job in eliciting more jeers for Wyatt. This could be important to set up a feud with Aleister Black, who cannot afford to lose fan reaction heading into such a high-profile match at WrestleMania if he were to win the Royal Rumble. Black competing against The Fiend does not have to mean he wins the Universal Championship. However, WWE has protected him enough to insert him into the main event scene without a bunch of rejection from the fans.
Larger-Than-Life Characters Must Be Revived
WrestleMania is all about the glitz, the glamour, and the spectacle. Hence, the reason why it is named "The Granddaddy of Them All" and "The Showcase of the Immortals." Perhaps the greatest main event of WrestleMania history is Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant -- not because either of them were catch-as-catch-can wrestlers, but because their characters were larger than life. So much, that the late WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon stated that it was "the irresistible force vs. the immovable object." WrestleMania, and pro wrestling in general, needs to revive the emphasis of characters, and The Fiend vs. Aleister Black would certainly help with filling that void.
Prior to WrestleMania, there is no need to have a physical altercation between the two at all. This would dilute the match itself, and spoil the excitement heading to Tampa. In fact, Black does not even have to immediately defect to the SmackDown brand right after the Royal Rumble event.
What would be even more interesting to the storyline is that Black can stay on the Raw brand until after the February or March PPV, and feud with Erick Rowan, who used to be a part of the Wyatt Family.
For Wyatt, WWE has done a good job not over-presenting The Fiend, which significantly helps his character staying fresh. Outside of the recent feud of The Miz, and current feud of Daniel Bryan, it is not necessary to start another major feud before WrestleMania outside of the winner of the Royal Rumble. For the eight weeks leading into WrestleMania, Wyatt can be seen in Firefly Funhouse segments focusing on his feud against Black. With current names such as King Corbin and Sheamus, as well as the tag team of Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode assisting Corbin on the SmackDown roster, there are enough heels to keep the fans jeering on Friday nights.
Currently, WWE is slated to return to Saudi Arabia in February, and the WWE Network will present Elimination Chamber on March 8. This will be the last WWE Raw or SmackDown pay-per-view before WrestleMania. As far as Royal Rumble, other babyfaces such as Braun Strowman, Rey Mysterio, Seth Rollins, and Elias have declared entry into the match. In addition, the Women's Royal Rumble match will determine who will compete at WrestleMania. Becky Lynch will defend the WWE Raw Women's Championship against Asuka, and Bayley will defend the SmackDown Women's Championship against Lacey Evans.
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