New reports suggest that WWE had different plans for the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches at the pay-per-view of the same name, only to change them with weeks remaining before the event because news of the planned winners allegedly leaked out.
Citing rumors discussed by Dave Meltzer on Monday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, WhatCulture wrote that the original idea was for Roman Reigns and Shayna Baszler to win the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches and get a chance to challenge for a world title at WrestleMania 36 in April. Instead of those two emerging victorious, Drew McIntyre and Charlotte Flair ultimately won the matches, with Reigns and Baszler getting booked to be the last man and woman eliminated in their respective battle royals.
“Going with [the originally planned] winners may have flipped the crowd reactions, with Roman provoking a divided response and Shayna one of celebration,” the outlet observed, noting how McIntyre and Baszler were favored by most of the live audience at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
In a separate report, WrestlingNews.co offered more information on when WWE apparently made the changes to its Royal Rumble plans, noting that the company went with the eventual winners around January 14 while it was brainstorming ideas for WrestleMania 36 in April.
As the publication pointed out, this was supposedly due to the amount of “smart money” coming in for Reigns and Baszler. WrestlingNews.co explained that this typically happens when the booking decisions for a certain wrestling event leak out in advance and people start making bets based on the leaked winners over a short period of time.
— B/R Wrestling (@BRWrestling) January 27, 2020
According to Cageside Seats, it might not have mattered whether McIntyre or Reigns won the men’s Rumble match. As McIntyre was responsible for eliminating Brock Lesnar after “The Beast Incarnate” threw a record-tying 13 men out of the ring, he would have been the logical choice to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36. Likewise, had Reigns won the match as was originally intended, chances are he would have had a WrestleMania match for Bray Wyatt’s Universal title. It was opined, however, that WWE still made the right choice, as a victory for “The Big Dog” might have led to “unnecessary heat.”
As for the women’s title picture, Flair has yet to announce her WrestleMania plans as the women’s Rumble match-winner. Runner-up Baszler, on the other hand, has long been rumored to be Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch’s opponent at the “Show of Shows,” as previously reported by The Inquisitr.