The road to WrestleMania is about to open up, as WWE will host its annual Royal Rumble premium live event Saturday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The winners of the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches will headline WrestleMania 40 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, and the 2024 iteration of the event could be amazing given the star power involved.

Usually, it’s easy to pinpoint a few potential winners from the field of 30 men and 30 women. This year is no different in that regard, but figuring out who from that narrowed-down list will emerge victorious is a bit more complicated. WWE could go in a number of different directions.

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The Rock recently returned to WWE television, for instance, and teased a match with undisputed universal champion Roman Reigns. Might The People’s Champ show up at The Trop?

If he does, he’ll run into Cody Rhodes, CM Punk and Gunther, among others. All have eyes on the main event of WrestleMania, whether it’s against Reigns, Seth Rollins or someone else who wins a championship before then.

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On the women’s side, Rhea Ripley looks unstoppable. And Iyo Sky is in the midst of a solid title reign, as well. Who will win the Rumble and look to put gold around their waist come April? Bayley? Becky Lynch? Nia Jax?

We asked several members of our team to offer predictions for the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches. Their responses are below.

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Who will win the men’s Royal Rumble match?
Andy Bourne: CM Punk
I feel like the obvious choice here is either CM Punk or Cody Rhodes. Personally, I don’t want a repeat of what happened last year. But at the same time, Cody without a belt means he’s potentially stuck in meaningless feuds for another year. WWE, please put a belt on him sometime this year. Anyway, looks like I’m going with CM Punk. He’s the ultimate wild card. If he wins, then it’s chaos for both Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns for the next 3 months.

Mike Cole: CM Punk
I’m not going to be swayed by some sketchy reporting this week. The most obvious plan is still the best plan, with CM Punk doing exactly what he said he would do, eliminating Drew McIntyre at the end to win the Rumble match. It looked dicey for a second there with Seth Rollins’ injury scare, but it sounds like he’ll be good to go for ‘Mania, setting an obvious, if not fantastic, Night 1 title match between he and Punk.

Ricky Doyle: CM Punk
WWE has been planting the seeds for CM Punk vs. Seth Rollins ever since the former returned at Survivor Series and the latter went ballistic. Rollins’ injury adds an unsettling wrinkle to the whole equation, but Punk winning the Rumble still feels like the most seamless way to set up that main event for Night 1 of WrestleMania.

Jason Ounpraseuth: Gunther
We’re taking a page out of Sports Illustrated’s report on the WrestleMania 40 card. It makes too much sense. It’s too much of a risk to have Seth Rollins try to work a main event match, so why not strap the rocket on Gunther and have him squash Rollins and win the world heavyweight title?

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Keagan Stiefel: Gunther
I’ve been beating this drum for a few months, but there comes a time when you have to actually pull the trigger on Gunther. What better time than now? If you’re looking to fill the WrestleMania card with marquee matches, Gunther vs. Seth Rollins, CM Punk vs. Cody Rhodes and The Rock vs. Roman Reigns is one hell of a start. (It also could be CM Punk, because it feels like we might see some punches thrown if he doesn’t win… )

Who will be a surprise entrant in the men’s Royal Rumble match?
Andy Bourne: MJF
I’m 99.99% sure it’s not happening, but I also felt that way about CM Punk. If you add MJF to this already stacked roster, then you have must-see TV every week for the foreseeable future.

Mike Cole: Big E
He recently told TMZ there’s no timeline for his return from a devastating neck injury that threatened his career. That he hasn’t ruled it out seemingly indicates he plans to come back at some point, and if he can get cleared, a return at the Rumble would be the feel-good story of the entire event.

Ricky Doyle: Andrade
Rumors of Andrade’s return have been circulating for a while. This feels like the perfect spot for the former NXT champion to show up and grease the skids for his first feud back with the company that also employs his wife, Charlotte Flair.

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Jason Ounpraseuth: Bron Breakker
WWE is really high on this guy — he’s teaming with Baron Corbin, a torch passing — and he’s a good way to help push the NXT brand. If Carmelo Hayes is in the match, that’s another nod to NXT, too.

Keagan Stiefel: Matt Cardona
Cardona (formerly known as Zack Ryder) is doing big things outside of WWE. I don’t know if either side would be interested in a reunion, but he’s the first name that came to mind.

Who will win the women’s Royal Rumble match?
Andy Bourne: Bayley
I think this comes down to two entrants: Becky Lynch and Bayley. Rhea Ripley needs someone who can seriously challenge her for the title and who better than Becky Lynch? But Becky is a big enough star that she doesn’t need the Rumble win to get that shot. On the other hand, let’s get this Damage CTRL implosion going and give me Bayley vs. Iyo Sky at WrestleMania.

Mike Cole: Bayley
This could go a number of directions, as the women’s division has really been cooled off in recent weeks and months. Bayley seems to be getting a push, and this could speed up a needed break-up of Damage CTRL. She’s also the betting favorite, for whatever that’s worth.

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Ricky Doyle: Bayley
We’re almost certainly going to get Bayley vs. Iyo Sky at WrestleMania. So, this is the chance to create that match, with Bayley likely turning face after being pushed out of Damage CTRL in recent weeks.

Jason Ounpraseuth: Bayley
It really feels like WWE wants to mess around with Damage CTRL. I’m not sure who turns babyface between Bayley or Iyo Sky, but it feels like that will be the clash at WrestleMania.

Keagan Stiefel: Bayley
I’m partial to Becky Lynch, but I think this is Bayley’s year. The Royal Rumble always presents itself as an opportunity to advance major storylines, and by dumping her Damage CTRL partners, Bayley would immediately set herself up for an awesome story heading into WrestleMania against Iyo Sky.

Who will be a surprise entrant in the women’s Royal Rumble match?
Andy Bourne: AJ Lee
I’m struggling to come up with someone who isn’t currently on the roster, so let’s go with AJ Lee. There’s a small bit of traction here because CM Punk (her husband) mentioned her in his initial promo with WWE, but other than that, the women’s roster needs more main-event talent. I think AJ can fit that role.

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Mike Cole: Naomi (Trinity Fatu)
There had been rumors about her potential return to the company as recently as early January. If her contract with TNA indeed is up, it makes all the sense in the world for her to return — especially with Vince McMahon out of the picture. It’s easy to picture, too. The lights go out, and she does the whole glow thing and gets a pop. Long term, she could become the latest to get involved with the Bloodline where her husband, Jimmy Uso, has been a focal point for years.

Ricky Doyle: Sasha Banks
Reports continue to link Banks (aka Mercedes Moné) to AEW. Maybe that’s where she lands. But I can’t help but wonder whether those leaks are an attempt to throw everyone off the scent, much in the same way people started to doubt whether CM Punk would return to WWE.

Jason Ounpraseuth: Jade Cargill
Where has she been? WWE hyped up her debut, and she hasn’t been on TV that much. I can see her coming in and getting a ton of eliminations.

Keagan Stiefel: Michelle McCool
It’s always Michelle McCool.

Featured image via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images