Cody Rhodes will have big night

This year’s Royal Rumble is about WWE making good on expectations – while sprinkling in a few surprises along the way. 

The expectation at the Alamodome on Saturday (8 p.m., Peacock) is that Cody Rhodes is returning to win the men’s Royal Rumble and lock in a chance at WrestleMania to fulfill his goal of becoming a world champion in WWE. There is at least a feeling that the women’s rumble match will finally push The Judgement Day version of Rhea Ripley into the women’s world title picture, though a surprise winner is possible. Will we see the return of Edge, Carmella, Natalya and others? The biggest hope remains that WWE will deliver The Rock confronting cousin Roman Reigns to set up their long-anticipated clash at WrestleMania 39 in Hollywood.

With another huge event on tap, The Post’s pro wrestling columnist Joseph Staszewski does his best to predict what we will see this weekend in Texas.      

Alexa Bliss over Bianca Belair to win the Raw women’s championship

Hear me out, the biggest women’s match WWE can make right now is Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss is reestablishing the supernatural aspects of her character. Belair has spent nearly 300 days as Raw women’s champion and is presented as almost super human. So what better and safer way to end her reign then to have her lose to someone who has access to unnatural forces and strength?

You protect Belair with an Uncle Howdy distraction, set up Bliss’ new character in a big way and free up the EST to win the Elimination Chamber to go after Flair. Unless Naomi comes back or you elevate Liv Morgan again or rehash Flair vs. Ronda Rousey, there isn’t an exciting WrestleMania match up for The Queen on SmackDown right now. You could also go with a surprise Flair vs. Beth Phoenix match, but The Glamazon may have other business to attend to.  

L.A. Knight over Bray Wyatt in the Pitch Black Match

Yes, Bray Wyatt will lose his first match since returning to WWE and it’s honestly what’s best for everyone involved in a match type we have no clue what to expect from. Wyatt needs a compelling WrestleMania opponent and Uncle Howdy, who attacked Wyatt on SmackDown, is the clear choice. Howdy will interfere and allow Knight to slip away with a win over Wyatt or whatever he turns into – whether it be a variation of The Fiend or something new. Knight now has a big win to boast about as he and Wyatt go their separate ways so the Wyatt-Howdy story can move into its next chapter. Knight would also make a fantastic opponent for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania.   

Roman Reigns over Kevin Owens to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion

WWE isn’t having Roman Reigns lose before WrestleMania, so this match is more about how he wins and what comes after because you know Sami Zayn is going to play a role here. Zayn said last week on SmackDown that he wouldn’t let anything stop him from doing what’s best for The Bloodline and Reigns teased a “final test” for Zayn on Raw this week. Does he honor that promise and help Reigns win in his third meeting with Owens at a Royal Rumble? Does Zayn do something that was an attempt to help Owens, but accidentally backfires? Does Reigns test Zayn’s loyalty be asking him to do something very violent to Owens after the match is over? I’m pretty convinced the latter is happening no matter how we get there. Zayn will hesitate and The Rock (or Austin) hopefully interrupts so we will never really know the answer.

Rhea Ripley wins the women’s Royal Rumble

Like the men, the list of viable winners isn’t a long one – especially with only seven women announced for the match so far. Ripley, Belair, Rousey, Becky Lynch all come to mind. But only Ripley has never won one and can use it a springboard back into the main event scene. It will allow Ripley to either finally have her long-awaited program with Belair for the Raw women’s championship or set up a fun rivalry with Bliss and all her supernatural powers. Ripley certainly won’t be afraid.

Rhea Ripley

It will free Bayley and Becky Lynch finish their feud on the grandest stage of them all – especially after their cage match was pulled on Raw. Outside of Naomi returning, Beth Phoenix and Lacey Evans re-debuting, there aren’t a bunch of surprise women’s entry that will really move the needle right now. Asuka finally brining her darker Kana persona to WWE would be one of them. I do hope WWE has a large contingent of the women it left off women it left off Raw XXX in this one because it would explain a lot. My final four would be Ripley, Raquel Rodriguez, Beth Phoenix and Bayley.  

Cody Rhodes wins the men’s Royal Rumble

There is a very, very short list of people who could logically win this match, which includes Rhodes, Zayn, The Rock and Seth Rollins. Rhodes’ main goal since returning to WWE has been to become a world champion, making it one of the best stories WWE can tell at WrestleMania.

Cody Rhodes

Making such a huge deal of announcing he’d be returning after seven months away with a torn peck at the event has to make you think it will be Rhodes pointing at the WrestleMania sign when it’s over. Rollin costing him that moment or Reigns asking Zayn to go win the Rumble for him so he gets an easy win should also be in play. Surprise entrants could include Edge, Pat McAfee and Logan Paul. My final four would be Rollins, Rhodes, Brock Lesnar and Austin Theory. You could certainly sub Gunther of Zayn in for Lesnar.



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