The first stop on the Road to Wrestlemania 33 happens this Sunday as both main WWE championships will be defended and the winner of the Royal Rumble will decide the main event.
AJ Styles will defend the WWE Championship against John Cena, who will look to tie Ric Flair’s record of 16 world championships. Kevin Owens will defend the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns with Owens’ best friend and the current WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage.
As for the Royal Rumble, legends like The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Goldberg, current stars like Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and Dean Ambrose, and budding stars like Big Cass, Baron Corbin, and Braun Strowman will fight for the chance to main event WWE’s biggest show of the year.
While plans can change in an instant, the WWE seems to have an outline of the matches fanS can expect. According to the Wrestling Observer (via Daily Wrestling News), the following nine matches are tentatively scheduled for April 2 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
- Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg III
- The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
- AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon
- John Cena vs. Samoa Joe
- Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
- Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
- Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
- Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
- The Big Show vs. Shaquille O’Neal
Several of those matches are not surprising. Since Goldberg’s return, a third and likely decisive match against Lesnar has been rumored. Triple H vs. Seth Rollins was further proven this week on RAW when “The Game’s” music provided a distraction during Rollins’ match against Sami Zayn. Zayn pinned Rollins, thereby taking his spot in the Royal Rumble match, potentially leaving Rollins off the show. The Big Show vs. Shaq was confirmed last year and both men have shown off their training for the match.
That leaves at least four of those matches to possible changes. The Undertaker moved from SmackDown Live to RAW and announced his intention to win the Royal Rumble. It’s been reported that “The Deadman” will face a RAW superstar at Wrestlemania with Strowman being a possibility. However, recent reports indicated that match will not happen, which sets the stage for Reigns to face the Phenom.
As Daily News Wrestling mentions, neither of the current champions (Styles and Owens) are scheduled to enter Wrestlemania 33 as champions. Whereas Owens will likely face his on-screen partner, Jericho (possibly for the U.S. title), Styles’s direction is less obvious. A tension between Styles and McMahon, the current commissioner of SmackDown Live, has been teased but not to the point of physicality.
Plans for a Samoa Joe call-up from NXT have been rumored for a long time and a match against Cena appears to be one possibility. With the Royal Rumble this Sunday, Joe could enter the match as a surprise entrant and begin a potential program heading into Wrestlemania 33 the following week. Cena has faced WWE newcomers at his last two Wrestlemanias (Bray Wyatt and Rusev) and that could be the trend this year, too.
A new report today suggested that Orton could win the Royal Rumble and Wyatt could capture WWE gold at Elimination Chamber, setting up a Wrestlemania match. Strong dissent within the Wyatt Family has been clear the last few weeks.
Finally, Flair, Banks, Bayley, and Jax have been prevalent in the WWE Women’s Championship scene on RAW. While Banks will try to fend off Jax this Sunday, and Bayley attempts to end Flair’s title reign, all four appear to be on a collision course headed toward Wrestlemania 33.
- Conspicuous by his absence is inaugural WWE Universal Champion Finn Balor. PWInsider reported this week that Balor will undergo tests this week to see if he can be cleared for Sunday’s Royal Rumble event. While it’s possible Balor misses Wrestlemania 33 due to his shoulder injury altogether, he has indicated on multiple occasions he would be ready for the event.
- This card does not include an Intercontinental Championship match but if recent history shows anything, it may be a multi-man ladder match like it has been the past two years.
- The WWE and SmackDown Live Tag Team championships, as well as the WWE SmackDown Live Women’s Championship matches are not included on this card at this point.
[Featured Image by WWE]