With Survivor Series and its implications largely in the rearview mirror, the rosters of SmackDown, Raw and perhaps even NXT, are on to the next big thing, the 2020 Royal Rumble. WWE‘s first PPV of the new year, and first of the new decade, this year’s Royal Rumble is expected to be much like its predecessors. It should feature old faces and new, legends and debuts, and of course, maybe just a few surprises (cough CM Punk, cough) as well.
Just like the rest of the big four events as well as many other WWE PPVs, you can place bets on the Royal Rumble. All of the casinos in Atlantic City offer sportsbooks, as well as many other sports betting sites and Online Casinos in New Jersey, a state that was one of the first to legalize sports betting, fully embracing the repeal of PAPSA, which had formerly governed the act as illegal.
While it is still early among most books to start seeing Royal Rumble odds, the UK’s SkyBet released theirs back in October and unsurprisingly, a familiar name was at the top. Having last won the Royal Rumble in 2015, Roman Reigns (9/2) once again finds himself as an early favorite for this year’s match, something he has been for several years in a row. But WWE hasn’t pulled the trigger on another Reigns rumble win, though they have teased it. In both 2018 and 2017, Reigns was the runner-up and in 2016, he finished the match in third. He missed the 2019 Royal Rumble on account of still recovering from leukemia. That said, Reigns’ Royal Rumble pedigree speaks for itself and for that reason, it’s not surprising to see him sitting atop the odds.
Given the way Reigns has been booked lately, with his most recent accolade coming as the sole survivor for Team SmackDown’s victory in the Survivor Series men’s elimination match, it appears WWE is once again building the Big Dog up for another title run. And more than that, another WrestleMania main event, such as he’s had for four of the past five years. Whether Reigns wins the rumble or not may not have any bearing on him getting the WrestleMania 36 main event. However, it certainly makes WWE’s path to give it to him that much more straight forward.
It’s not surprising to see Reigns as a favorite to win the rumble but it is surprising to see just how much stock SkyBet is putting toward the match’s second-favorite, CM Punk. A few weeks ago, Punk shocked the world when he debuted as an analyst on Fox Sports’ WWE Backstage show. The following week, Punk made his official debut on the show, where among other things he was asked about the large elephant in the room, that being his WWE return. Punk was quick to remind everyone that he works for Fox, not WWE, but in classic wrestler fashion, when asked if he’d ever wrestle for the company again, Punk dropped a “never say never.” Now, the likelihood that it will happen at all, let alone in two months’ time, is extremely rare. Even Triple H noted in a recent conference call that there are still a lot of hurdles to get over before even bringing that to the table, as well as the fact that Punk has had no contact with him or the company, just FOX, in his new role.
But it’s wrestling and wrestlers lie all the time. So while unlikely that SkyBet knows something the rest of us don’t, there is always the possibility at the Royal Rumble for a surprise. One should always expect the unexpected.
Originally with the second-best odds was the Fiend (6/1). Rounding out the top 10 were Finn Balor (9/1), Cain Velasquez (12/1), Kevin Owens (12/1), Daniel Bryan (14/1), Drew McIntyre (14/1), AJ Styles (16/1), Aleister Black (16/1) and Big E (16/1). But then, Punk showed up on a WWE screen. So one month after SkyBet’s first round of odds, they released a second. Still first was Reigns at 4/1, but closely behind him in the second spot, was Punk (9/2). The remaining top 10 didn’t change save for Punk kicking Big E to the 11th position.
Fans will remember that the 2014 Royal Rumble match marked the last time Punk wrestled, not just in the WWE, but at all. This year’s rumble, also being held on January 26th, marks six full years since then. Not to mention, fans and those in the industry have always said, that if Punk were to come back, this would be the match to do it in.
If in fact, Punk is set to be in the Royal Rumble, there is really only one acceptable outcome. He wins it. Whether that ultimately sets up a world title match with recent rival Seth Rollins, or if the design is to give Punk his WrestleMania main event against Brock Lesnar, the man who only recently broke Punk’s own 434-day record with the WWE Championship/Universal Championship, remains to be seen. But if Punk is in the match, he can’t lose it, and he especially can’t lose it to Roman Reigns. WWE already went down that path once and it led to one of the loudest negative crowd reactions in quite some time. If it were to happen again, Houston TX would become absolutely unglued.
Taking any odds on Punk to wrestle in a match is a risk, but it could be one worth taking. Reigns is the safe bet, the logical one even, but if “Cult of Personality” hits and it becomes CM Punk time, you can be assured that you’re going to have a little bit of a payday this January.