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Predicting the Royal Rumble favourites after Roman Reigns' departure

ANALYST
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Reigns' departure open's up the possibillities for the Royal Rumble
Reigns' departure open's up the possibilities for the Royal Rumble

While Roman Reigns takes time off to battle leukemia, the focus on the main roster now shifts to who will take over his spot as the top face on Raw. It also puts a huge damper on the WWE's original main-event plan for Wrestlemania 35 of having Reigns defend against his cousin the Rock.

While I'm personally happy that the Rock won't likely be in the title match at 'Mania, the circumstances around the change aren't reasons to cheer. All the best to Roman Reigns and his family during his battle.

But as Paul Heyman said on Raw this week - the show must go on. Having a different champion come next year completely reshuffles the deck of competitors with a legitimate chance to win the 2019 Royal Rumble.

While winning the Rumble hasn't always translated to 'Mania success recently, the particular choice by WWE should let you know whether or not they're thinking of having the winner win at the 35th iteration of the biggest show of the year.

Of course, a lot depends on who the champions are heading into the event.

On Raw, it has to finally be the time to pull the trigger on Braun Strowman as Universal Champion. The crowd is firmly behind him and he recently turned babyface after ending his partnership with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre.

Strowman should be Universal Champion after Crown Jewel
Strowman should be Universal Champion after Crown Jewel

There will be a clear heel/babyface dynamic in the title match with Brock Lesnar at Crown Jewel.

Should WWE opt to put the belt back on Lesnar, they are just creating the same problem they've had over the last year and a half.

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Raw deserves a full-time champion who defends the belt at every PPV. Reigns was adamant about doing so and was on the right track of truly being a 'fighting champion.'

Lesnar's mind is on returning to the UFC. Putting the belt back on him is a colossal mistake.

On Smackdown, Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles are battling to see who will be WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble.

Both are faces, but WWE could conceivably prolong that feud through the Rumble. If either man is in the field of 30 competitors, he will have to be among the favorites.



The Contenders

Cena is always in the running to win the Royal Rumble
Cena is always in the running to win the Royal Rumble

These are the guys who are the most likely to win the whole thing. Some have won before but several would be first-time winners. These are also the guys who make the most sense as challengers to either title at the biggest show of the year.

Even though he's barely been around recently, John Cena is always a threat to win any Royal Rumble.

He's currently tied with Ric Flair with 16 world title reigns. Vince McMahon will eventually want to have Cena break the record at some point. We all know how much WWE loves creating and making its own 'history.'

If they need a stand-in winner, Cena is always a safe bet and a sure-fire main-event match waiting to happen. He could become a three-time winner after victories in 2008 and 2013.

The other former winner is the Rock. He won in 2000 and although his match with Reigns is now off, the WWE still might want to cash-in on the Rock's main-stream appeal and have him vying for a title at 'Mania regardless of the champion.

As long as he expresses a desire to return to the WWE, Vince will lay down the red carpet for the Great One.

When it comes to first-time winners, the options are much more deserving and appealing.

Would WWE pull the trigger on Daniel Bryan as world champ again?
Would WWE pull the trigger on Daniel Bryan as world champ again?

Whoever isn't the champion between AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan is certainly a favorite. Each is hugely popular and has a storyline already to follow.

Bryan could be trying to regain the title he never lost while Styles could be trying to prove that he's one of the best in WWE history in such a short run

Would the WWE trust Bryan with another run? His last two runs were prematurely ended by injury. Here's hoping that if they do pull the trigger on Bryan, his reigns are a lot longer.

Styles is always guaranteed to give you great matches and he or Bryan could be the iron man of the match.

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