Who will headline the Main Event at Wrestlemania XXXVI?

David Koier, Courier Staff

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about Christmas. No, I’m not talking about pitchers and catchers reporting in less than 20 days. I’m not even talking about the upcoming Super Bowl. I’m talking about WrestleMania season! This Sunday, live from Minute Maid Park in Houston, the Road to WrestleMania kicks off with the Royal Rumble.

Each year, 30 superstars compete for a chance to Main Event WrestleMania in a title match by competing in the Royal Rumble match. For those of you who don’t know, the Royal Rumble match is an over-the-top battle royal featuring 30 men or women, with a championship match at WrestleMania on the line. Two wrestlers begin the match and then another competitor runs in every 90 seconds. Of course that 90 seconds is WWE’s way of saying, “roughly 90 seconds, but we are going to send these guys out whenever we really feel like it.”

The best part about this pay-per-view is the unpredictability. The Rumble match has been known for its surprising returns, shocking eliminations and the unpredictability of never knowing who is going to end that match pointing at the hanging WrestleMania sign at the end of the night, claiming their stake in the main event of the Granddaddy of Them All.

Predicting who is going to win the Royal Rumble is almost always impossible. There have been a few instances (John Cena in 2013, Batista in 2014, Roman Reigns in 2015) where it is clearly obvious who the WWE is trying to push down our throats. However, as a fan it is still fun to try and guess leading up to the match who will win.

In this article I am going to break down my top three male superstars, from Raw and Smackdown, who I think it makes the most sense for them to win the men’s Rumble match this Sunday. There is no specific order for who I think is most likely, this will be solely based on what, to me, would make the most sense.

Let’s start off with superstars from Monday Night Raw. If a Raw superstar is the last one standing this Sunday, they will go on to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Coincidentally, Lesnar himself is entering number one in this year’s Royal Rumble because he thinks that no other superstar deserves a title shot.

The first highly touted Raw superstar to win the Rumble is former UFC Champion Cain Velasquez. Last we saw Velasquez, he got his bell rocked by Lesnar at Crown Jewel back in November. I, unlike many who consider Velasquez to be the favorite to win, don’t believe this is the case because that makes too much sense. What will most likely happen is Velasquez will either be a surprise entrant, or he will interfere and eliminate Lesnar from the match. Whatever happens, we will most likely see these two face off at WrestleMania for the title belt (which makes predicting Raw superstars that much harder).

Second on the list is Samoa Joe. Joe is one of those superstars that debuted and was red hot but never fully got that push to be champion. He has faced many champions, including Lesnar himself, but has always fallen short of reaching the ultimate prize.

Joe has recently returned from an injury and teamed up with Kevin Owens to rival Seth Rollins and his crew on Monday Nights. While removing Joe from that storyline may change things up a bit, it provides the perfect opportunity to set up a must-see Rollins vs. Owens match at WrestleMania and gives Joe that opportunity to main event a title match at the biggest pay-per-view of the year. Whoever it is that dethrones Lesnar of his championship, they will highlight 2020 as the top guy of Raw and possibly even into 2021. If there is any one of my top three who I can see that happening with, it’s Joe.

Last up from Raw has to be Drew McIntyre. The Scottish sensation has been tearing it up for a while now and the crowd is really behind him. He’s a heel that is so easy to hate that people are actually starting to like him. Since returning to WWE from his hiatus, McIntyre has never really cooled off. Fans have been dying to see him with a championship on the main roster and if there is any time to give him a shot, now seems to be that time.

Up until the end of December, I had a few people from Friday Night SmackDown who I saw as favorites to win the Rumble. With recent storyline changes and a possible WWE Universal Championship change at the Rumble, I had to sit and reconsider my options. Recently returning John Morrison was my first top pick to win the Rumble, but now he seems to have rekindled with his former tag team partner the Miz to feud with the New Day (in which I am in no way upset about) and basically removed himself from consideration.

The same thing happened with Sheamus, who returned from an extended absence due to injury at the beginning of January. The WWE haven’t seemed to fully go all in on Sheamus enough to make fans believe he could win the Rumble. With all that being said, here are my three picks from SmackDown who have the strongest chances of winning the Royal Rumble.

Topping the list is Roman Reigns. Reigns has been stuck in a feud with 2019 King of the Ring winner King Corbin for what seems like an eternity. This Sunday (hopefully) marks the last of his encounters with Corbin in a falls count anywhere match at Minute Maid Park.

It makes so much sense for Reigns to win the match for several reasons. One being that after his match with Corbin, Reigns could be seen as an underdog as he battles exhausted or even “injured” from his previous match making him a hero if he wins. It also makes sense down the line. Whether “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt or Daniel Bryan come out of their championship match as the winner, Reigns would have a spectacular WrestleMania bout with either of them. It would make the most sense if Wyatt remains champion after Sunday. Wyatt and his Fiend character have been unstoppable since making their debut, and Roman just seems like the one that the WWE is pushing to topple the evil regime of the Fiend.

To be honest, Reigns is the only surefire pick I have from SmackDown. The Blue Brand has been very tag team heavy, with all of its other singles stars caught up in some other storyline that wouldn’t make sense for them to leave to win the Rumble.

With that being said, I am not ashamed to admit that I have absolutely no intuition or gut feeling on who is winning the Rumble match this year which makes me excited. I, like most, fans cannot wait until this Sunday to see who comes out on top. Who will outlast 29 other superstars and etch their name in history with a main event title shot at this year’s WrestleMania? The excitement is in the air as the Road to WrestleMania nears. The first stop is this Sunday in Houston at the Royal Rumble.