Welcome to another edition of WWE Heat Index, wherein we discuss the interest level for the various feuds heading into the pay-per-view events. This time around, we’re focusing on Royal Rumble 2019 coming this Sunday night.
The way this works is a pretty simple three-way breakdown of Hot, Lukewarm and Cold. If you like something and you’re very interested in how WWE is setting up the program, it’s Hot (aka Good). If you’re a bit on the fence about it and see some problems, but it’s not awful, then it’s just Okay or Lukewarm. The ones that are the most problematic that you have no interest in are Cold (aka Bad).
Men’s Royal Rumble Match = Hot
This is my favorite gimmick of all time. I always love Royal Rumble matches, even if the outcome doesn’t necessarily suit my personal likes and preferences.
As far as this year, I really like how I don’t know who is going to win “for sure” as even though Seth Rollins strikes me as the smart pick, it could very well go to Drew McIntyre, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, even Shawn Michaels or plenty of other options.
That makes it even more interesting and creates a scenario where I’ll likely enjoy the match and the finale, too.
Prediction: Seth Rollins wins.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match = Hot
While this doesn’t have as much of an unknown element to it as the men’s, it’s still a Royal Rumble and it will still be one of the most entertaining hours of the year in WWE.
I’m pumped, even if I think a Charlotte Flair victory is a certainty and that kills some of the fun. But I also think Becky Lynch will enter and win with a co-winner situation like in 1994, and that’s interesting.
In any fashion, it’s going to be a fun ride, because unless WWE massively screws things up, it pretty much always is.
Prediction: Both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair win.
Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Finn Bálor = Lukewarm
I was beyond subzero frigid Cold for the Braun Strowman match, because I’ve had enough of seeing The Monster Among Men be used as a punching bag for Brock Lesnar and had no interest in the fifth or sixth time that he’d lose.
With Finn Bálor, it’s slightly different. At least that is a fresh opponent for The Beast Incarnate, even if it’s likely still going to boil down to Brock Lesnar retaining and not doing anything too crazy.
I hope I’m wrong and Brock Lesnar steps out of his comfort zone and has more of a match like he’s had with AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan, rather than another five minute German Suplex and F-5 squash before he inevitably beats Finn Bálor. But at least there will be a few times people will be excited and think there’s a chance a new champion is crowned.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar retains the title.
WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles = Lukewarm/Cold
They’re two of the best, but I’ve seen it again and again and again. I don’t know why WWE has had this itch in 2018 with AJ Styles to just say “he’s wrestling Person X” and do nothing but repeat it with little to no effort, but I’m frustrated to see that it’s carrying over into 2019.
Daniel Bryan is not losing, so what do I care? If Daniel Bryan IS losing, then I’m interested about what happens after the loss, but not before then. Honestly, I’m all over the place with this, because I’m starting to think AJ Styles wins and fights Randy Orton at WrestleMania and that has me intrigued, but I’m only going to be sitting up in my chair after AJ Styles wins, if that’s the case.
I can’t give them a full Cold, because I know it will still be a good match, but meh, do better, WWE. This could have been Bryan against Jeff Hardy or Rey Mysterio and I’d have been more excited.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan retains the title.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Sasha Banks = Lukewarm
Sasha Banks is one of the better female wrestlers in the company, in my opinion, and Ronda Rousey has perpetually impressed me, so I’m excited to see what match they put together.
However, the idea that there’s essentially no way in hell Banks wins the championship does hinder this a bit in my mind, as it takes away any doubt and intrigue about how it finishes.
They’ll wrestle a good fight and Ronda Rousey will make Sasha Banks tap and that will be it. It will be a good segment, but beyond anticipating that, there isn’t much more I can be going crazy about.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains the title.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Becky Lynch = Lukewarm/Cold
Not to repeat myself, but yeah, to repeat myself, this will be a good match and since the outcome is obvious, I’m not really invested in it.
Does Becky Lynch lose because Charlotte Flair screws her, or Ronda Rousey screws her? It’s one or the other (I’m thinking Charlotte Flair) and this segment will largely be a lot of waiting until the inevitable happens, unless Asuka and Becky Lynch particularly try to put on a special performance, rather than phoning it in with “good enough”, which is what I’m worried about.
Prediction: Asuka retains the title.
United States Championship Match: Rusev (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura = Cold
WWE very clearly cares extremely little about the United States Championship, this feud in general, Shinsuke Nakamura as a whole, and so on, so why should anyone else invest a lot of time getting hyped about what is surely a filler segment in their eyes?
Either Shinsuke Nakamura wins and switching it over to Rusev was just to get people temporarily excited for the end of the year, which means it was ultimately meaningless, or Rusev keeps the title and this is just the same obligatory rematch that they said they were doing away with (but we all know they aren’t, as they’ve just now instituted means for people to have to wrestle one more No. 1 contender’s match to set up the same thing).
I’ll pass on anticipating anything but a run of the mill match that doesn’t move the needle.
Prediction: Rusev retains the title.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bar (c) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon = Hot/Lukewarm
I’m genuinely curious if the plan is for the titles to change hands and for The Miz and Shane McMahon to head into WrestleMania as champions, or if they’ll drop them along the way in February or March, or if they’ll even come up short at Royal Rumble.
That has me hooked enough to be looking forward to this match more than many others, even if I know when Shane steps between the ropes, the quality of it will dip down.
It can still be a good segment and if the titles do switch, that’ll be a fun moment.
Prediction: The Miz and Shane McMahon win the titles.
Cruiserweight Championship Fatal 4-Way Match: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Hideo Itami vs. Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa = Lukewarm
I know this match will be fundamentally wrestled well and that I’ll enjoy it for what it’s worth. But even I, a devoted 205 Live fan, see nothing to get amped about for this, so I don’t blame everyone else for looking at it as a bathroom break on the pre-show.
The dead zone of the kickoff is more than likely where this will be placed, too, so most people who tune in won’t even bother to check it out with their peripheral vision. It’s a shame, but that’s just how things work when WWE puts little time and effort in convincing people to watch 205 Live.
As far as predictions go, I’d be beyond shocked if this title switches hands. I can’t see any of the challengers being strong enough to head into WrestleMania season as champion over Murphy.
Prediction: Buddy Murphy retains the title.