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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

411's PPV Roundtable Preview - WWE Royal Rumble 2014
Posted by Sean Garmer on 01.25.2014

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The Road to Wrestlemania officially begins after the Royal Rumble this Sunday night. The 2014 edition may not have any kind of historic build, but at least it has some interesting matches on the undercard. Daniel Bryan looks to return Bray Wyatt back to the grave, Brock Lesnar squares off in a rematch from the 2003 Royal Rumble, and The Rhodes Brothers turn back the clock defending their Tag Team Titles against the New Age Outlaws in the Pre-Show match. The double main event could deliver surprises, as much as it could all go to plan. But you will have to tune-in at 8ET/5P to find out who comes out as the champion and number one contender heading to Wrestlemania XXX.

That's enough blabbing on my end, let's get to those predictions, which were all written after the 411 staffers competed in their own 30 man battle royal.

The Staff

Daniel Wilcox, Thoughts From The Top Rope

Mike Hammerlock, The Wrestling Zone 8-Ball

James Wright, The Heel Report

Michael Weyer, Shining A Spotlight

Justin Watry, Truth And Lies

Nick Sellers, Canvas Critiques

Jack Bramma, Ring Crew Reviews

Sean Garmer, WWE Roundtable Organizer

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WWE Tag Team Championship Match: (Champions) Rhodes Brothers vs. New Age Outlaws
Pre-Show Kickoff Match

Daniel Wilcox: The tag team champions have unfortunately been treading water for a while now, which is a shame because there is other good stuff going on in the division. The New Age Outlaws look to be sticking around for the foreseeable future, which I have absolutely no problem with - they give name recognition to the tag division and they were one of my favourites when I was younger. If it wasn't for the fact that this match was on the pre-show I could imagine a title switch coming here, but the bumping of the match has me in doubts. I think the general consensus is that Cody and Goldust drop the straps before feuding with one another on the Road to WrestleMania, then the Outlaws dropping the straps down the line to the deserving Usos. I'm still not sold on Cody and Goldust feuding but it looks like they'll drop the titles here before imploding the Rumble match itself. How often do heels win on the pre-show?

Winners: And NEW WWE Tag Team Champions of the World, the New Age Outlaws

Mike Hammerlock: There's a lot of speculation the New Age Outlaws will be used to transition the belts from the Rhodes Brothers to the Usos. I've got no complaints about giving the Usos the belts in the near future, but after the epic way the Rhodeses won the titles, it would be a shame to have them drop the belts with a whimper. Not only do they deserve better, the tag title deserves better. Putting it on the pre-show is mildly insulting. The crowd will still be filing in and the match won't get the time it needs to do a title switch justice. Hopefully, once the WWE Network dawns it will mark the death of the pre-show. Why not just give away the first match? Wouldn't that be a better way to spark that last second impulse buy? But I digress. Losing the title and causing a rift in the Rhodes family that breaks into open hostility in the Rumble would be too predictable and boring. Man, am I rooting against that.

Winners: Rhodes Brothers

James Wright: I was surprised this match was pushed to the pre-show but perhaps it is because these will be the only men also in the Rumble. The WWE still hasn't been completely clear on that point as of yet. I can't see the Rhodes Brothers losing the belts here but honestly I wouldn't mind it if the Outlaws had a short run as champions so maybe they could have a quick back and forth between here and the next PPV. Somehow there are no other heel tag teams to face off with since the Shield and the Wyatts are previously engaged, so a short feud with the Outlaws would be fine for the current tag team champions, so a nice 'shock' title change leading to the brothers winning them back would at least give them something to do for the next month or so.

Winners: The New Age Outlaws

Michael Weyer: Annoying to have this move to the pre-show but still should be fun. The Rhodes have been great restoring some respect for the tag titles and should go over again. But with HHH in charge, anyone surprised the Outlaws would go over? They should have a short reign but still notable and have to admit, the Attitude fan in me is looking forward to their good old introduction with the fans chanting along so not a bad opener.


Justin Watry: Honestly, I would be okay with the New Age Outlaws winning. On the flip side, I would be okay with Cody Rhodes and Goldust winning. Being the kick off, pre-show match, you have to favor the champs, especially since they are faces. Looking at the result though, there are two good things to come from a potential title change. First is to transition towards a Goldust vs. Cody Rhodes match at WrestleMania XXX. That has been my personal endgame for months now. If they dropped the straps here, it would begin that direction. Secondly, this could very easily give The Usos or The Prime Time Players a ready made moment besting Billy Gunn and Road Dogg for the titles. Either at Elimination Chamber or even Mania. Nice little tag title switch and give the new face champs (Usos or PTP) a good launch pad. Even with ALL of that said, when I am torn on predicting a result, I go with the champions.

Winners: Cody Rhodes and Goldust

Nick Sellers: Great way to kick-off the festivities. I mentioned recently that I expect the Outlaws to take the belts at some stage and they'll transition them onto a different babyface team (The Usos, surely) at Wrestlemania. That opens the door for the Cody/Goldust match if they still want to go down that route. This being the pre-show bout means the title change probably wont go down tonight, but with Cody & Goldust in the Rumble match itself later on we'll see if they start to tease a split between them, and then the Outlaws will probably take the belts from them in a rematch on a Raw or Smackdown after more miscommunication.

Winners: Rhodes Brothers.

Jack Bramma: The NAO are getting some mileage and a decent victory lap out of a Trips/Punk storyline that has barely gotten off the ground. Still, the Rhodes Brothers have a long reign going and I don't see any reason to hotshot the belts to a nostalgia act and a heel one at that. Any day now, the Real Americans should (hopefully) move back up the card slightly back into position as title contenders.

Winner: Rhodes Brothers

Sean Garmer: I really want to see the Rhodes Brothers have a one on one match at Wrestlemania XXX, that being said, I don't want to see them lose the tag belts on the preshow because it would honestly be so cliché and a travesty. The Rhodes Brothers have brought so much prestige back to those belts that it would be better to see them retain and then you can have Cody eliminate Goldust for the third time in so many years and thus begins the downfall of the team. Then they can lose the belts on a RAW in a few weeks leading up to Elimination Chamber.


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Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
Singles Match

Daniel Wilcox: This seems to have put a question mark over Daniel Bryan's participation in the Rumble, but I will state here that I expect to see him pulling double-duty, concussion or no concussion. In fact, regardless of which way this match goes I can see Bryan a beat down that makes him a doubt for the Rumble and playing nicely into his underdog story, whether he wins the Rumble or not. Neither guy is going to be particularly hurt by a loss, while Bray I feel benefits significantly from the win, clean or otherwise. Taking into account my prediction for the show's marquee match, I'm going for the Wyatt win with a little help from his friends, and a likely post-match mauling to boot.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

Mike Hammerlock: I guess they could give Wyatt the win here and then have DB come back to take the Rumble match, but I fear for Bray Wyatt if that's not the plan. He needs a big night and he's in danger here of being used as a stepping stone. The reality is they've got to dust off this feud soon in order to set Bryan up for wherever he's headed at Wrestlemania. So if only one of these guys gets to make a statement, it's going to be the goat-faced boy. Then again, Bryan's reported concussion clouds matters (could be a work) and part of the Daniel Bryan story to date has been him trying to triumph over a never-ending series of frustrations. Hmm, I seem to have talked myself out of my initial instinct on this one.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

James Wright: This is the match that makes me really hope that those on the rest of the card can also be in the Rumble match itself. Daniel Bryan deserves to be in the main event for Wrestlemania, but at this point I am pretty doubtful. Either way Bryan should pick up the victory here and finally move on from this storyline now that everything has all but played out. I also don't really get the reasoning here, sure Harper and Rowan are in the Rumble match, but why would that mean they also couldn't come out for this match and play a part? The only way that would work is if the Rumble match was on before this and there is zero chance of that happening. Maybe the WWE want to give Bray the win but I can't root for that as I think it would be the wrong decision.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Michael Weyer: Word of Bryan being hurt might lower expectations for the match (and sadly, his chances in the Rumble) but the match should be good. I'd like to see Bryan win it and boost his new shots but WWE is still hot on the Wyatts and getting a win off the top here can push the feud more and set up Bryan as the underdog which suits him. So expect outside interference to cost Bryan the match but get payback down the line.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

Justin Watry: Oh look at that! This entire thing was short lived and made Daniel Bryan an ever BIGGER star than before. Shocking...who would have ever guessed that? Huh? Kudos to WWE for once again knowing better than anybody else. Bryan sitting on top of the steel cage on Raw after kicking Bray Wyatt over and over is all the proof you need. As for this match? Eh. I am sure it will be entertaining, but these two need to move on. Give Bryan the clean win to (basically) close the feud...BUT have The Wyatt Family attack him afterwards in grand fashion, which leads to something else later on in the night. Stay tuned!

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Nick Sellers: Daniel Bryan is the dog's bollocks, but Bray Wyatt has provided such a fantastic villain for him to play off of. Did they pull the trigger on Bryan joining the Wyatt Family, or was it the plan all along? Hard to say for certain, but it's great to see Bryan still getting stupidly positive crowd reactions. For Bryan, I think we're on the cusp of him finally cementing himself as a full-time main event player, and this marks the first step to that happening. He's already been champion and has already headlined PPV's, but now's the time for them to really pull the trigger on him and set him up for life rather than getting lost in the shuffle with other guys like Orton and Cena.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Jack Bramma: It has been quite the ride that has led us here. Dragon was outpopping every legend in the building back at the go-home in Washington before TLC. Vince and co. took that goodwill and turn him heel and forced him to join the Wyatts a few weeks later. I could have saw that going somewhere, but not just 2 weeks full of losses and another cage match loss to the Usos where DB gets Kane's help and no one brings up Hell No. As a fan of the stable and of potential fallout from DB joining the Wyatt Family, I wish he had stayed in at least until the RR, if not longer. Wyatt could be anyone from the next Jake to the next Raven to the next Skinner or Sean O'Haire if the fed isn't careful with him for the coming months. As long as he keeps getting promo time and a badass entrance, he'll stay relevant, but at the end of the day, he and the team need some wins. I just don't see it happening right now. If either or both guys wind up in the RR itself, that changes the scope of the match dramatically.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Sean Garmer: I expect this to be the best Bray Wyatt has ever looked in a match considering he will be in there with Bryan. They also have a very nice story they could tell in the ring as well. However, we all know this is just a preliminary match to get us ready for what's to come later on in the night. This could go a variety of different ways including a DQ win for Bryan because The Wyatt Family can't allow Bray to just lose. I expect Bryan to get some sort of win here and then he will get severely beat down to the point where his status for The Rumble match will be questioned the rest of the night to add more "underdog" to Bryan's overwhelming odds.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

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Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman
Singles Match

Daniel Wilcox: On a side note, wouldn't it really screw the Royal Rumble up if they broke the ring again? There's minimal intrigue here as Show is merely a stepping stone for Lesnar. Brock doesn't need rebuilding after winning feuds with Triple H and CM Punk, but this puts the uncrowned number one contender under a decent spotlight here and will remind fans how devastating he is. In many ways, Big Show is the perfect opponent for Lesnar at this event. Their matches over a decade ago weren't atrocious, so I'd hope for something half way decent.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Mike Hammerlock: Show won the build for this match. He'll have his moments here, but ultimately Paul Heyman's client, Brock Lesnar, will put him away. It's an interesting battle because thanks to the UFC success of Paul Heyman's client, Brock Lesnar, many/most people consider him to be the "Who would win in a real fight?" king of the WWE. However, I'm not sure anyone could actually handle a somewhat athletic giant of a man like Big Show in a real fight, not even Paul Heyman's client, Brock Lesnar. It's got to be like fighting a bear. All you can really do is try to distract him with honey. Yet that doesn't really matter when the outcome is scripted.

Winner: Paul Heyman's client, Brock Lesnar

James Wright: I still really don't care about this match. The only thing that it will serve to do is make Lesnar look stronger going forward towards Wrestlemania but his victory over Punk didn't do that and I highly doubt that these two will put on a better match than that. What's more it seemed like in these few weeks before the event they had to make Big Show look strong over Brock to make the match-up have believable tension, so they had to knock Lesnar down further in order to eventually look strong, which seems a little unnecessary. Still a big power match should be fun, although it might be a little bit of a waste of Lesnar's dates, but whatever. No matter what there is no way Big Show is going over here.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Michael Weyer: These two do have a good chemistry together even though it's been years since their last battle. Don't expect a replay of the "destroy the ring with a superplex" move but they might tease it to freak folks out. It should be a hard hitting affair, lots of brutal shots and Show can still go if he needs to. I'll give it to Brock who uses outside interference to set up an F5 for his victory and hopefully a fair match.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Justin Watry: I wanted to care about this. I really did. I truly did. Brock Lesnar. Big Show. One on one! Seeing these two giants go at it 11 years later was actually intriguing. Their Survivor Series 2002 match was good, even if it was super short. Their Royal Rumble 2003 bout was just as good (with more time). Plus, their other battles kept me tuned in. Now in 2014, we need to see that chemistry again. Obviously, Lesnar will win with a huge f-5. However, the 5-10 minutes before that will be interesting. Brock has yet to disappoint since his WWE return in April 2012. Hopefully, this delivers.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Nick Sellers: For me, this has had the best build-up out of any of the matches on the card. Show, Brock and Heyman have played their parts well and this has gone from what many would've considered a waste of a Brock Lesnar appearance to something that's now eagerly anticipated. We've been in situations like this before where they've really sold a Big Show bout only for the actual bout itself to be really disappointing, and there's every chance that could happen here. But as I stated in the R's this week, no matter how the match turns out I'm already excited enough now to really want to see it. Brock's winning, because he's next in line for a title shot and it's the road to Wrestlemania. Surely there's no alternative?

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Jack Bramma: Show isn't on the same level as Brock at this point. The Fed tried to shoe-horn Show into the Authority program, but he was a distant third in fan loyalties behind DB and The Rhodes family saga. The highlight of Show's second half of 2013 was helping the Rhodes brothers defeat the Shield for the tag titles on RAW. Everything before and since has been underwhelming pops, crying, attacks on his virility, contract disputes, stealing/borrowing catchphrases, using legal leverage for title shots, and losing to a roll-up from an entrance distraction – not exactly classic babyface material. Part of it isn't Show's fault because his primary antagonist was the most protected character in the company over the last year, Stephanie McMahon. Due to circumstances though, Show's headlining program with Trips at TLC was put on hold and he has meandered until standing up for Mark Henry against that bully, Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is going places – whether that is a program for the strap remains to be seen – but Show isn't going over a guy setting up to challenge for the belt or The Streak.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Sean Garmer: I actually liked their matches all those years ago, but this is more of a Brock Lesnar proving why he deserves to proclaim himself number 1 contender match, than it is a contest between two big guys. I expect the match to be decent enough, but some interference by Heyman or just simply a Brock F5 could do it. Either way Big Show is going down for the count here.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

* Not Officially Added: Possible Impromptu Match:* Divas Championship Match: (Champion) AJ Lee w/ Tamina Snuka vs. Naomi w/ Cameron

Daniel Wilcox: Naomi is athletic for sure but she's not exactly seasoned in the ring, as was evidenced by her almost breaking her neck on a recent episode of SmackDown. As much as I am a fan of AJ Lee, the company is quickly running out of Divas on the current roster for her to beat - she's disposed of Kaitlyn, Natalya, both Nikki and Bri Bella and now the Funkadactyls. Short of a bizarre Summer Rae face turn, it's time to get Emma on the main roster and thinking about bringing Paige up too.

Winner: And STILL Diva's Champion, AJ Lee

Mike Hammerlock: I've got nothing but nice things to say about Naomi. I still maintain she can get way over by naming her booty. She will have many big nights in the future and I'm sure the Divas title will be hers some day. This will not be that day. AJ is going to Wrestlemania with the belt around her waist, probably against the biggest returning female star they can muster for the event.

Winner: AJ Lee

James Wright: Naomi is pretty much the best challenger to take the title away from AJ right now, but I just don't see it happening. Either way she is still now the longest reigning Diva's champion so there really is nothing at stake in having her lose a belt that often gets passed around for arbitrary reasons. It is more likely that AJ will end up losing the belt to either Tamina or a returning Kharma so she will most likely prevail. Although if Tamina's turn legitimately starts with a cake in the face then that would pretty much be the lamest way for that to happen, but ah well.

Winner: AJ Lee

Michael Weyer: I love AJ. I do, she's fun as hell, improving amazing in the ring and great on the mic. You just don't take the belt off her, not yet at least, not until Mania where they can set up a proper challenger. Naomi is good but not that level yet so AJ manages to retain to once again show how great a job she's doing helping to elevate the Divas up a bit.

Winner and STILL Divas Champion: AJ Lee

Justin Watry: AJ Lee is the longest reigning Divas champion. Since there is no real story going on, it only makes sense to continue that route. With Emma appearing on Raw and Smackdown, perhaps we are building towards her versus AJ Lee at Mania? Wish I knew. For now, Naomi will get some nice shine on television but not actually win the belt.

Winner: AJ Lee

Nick Sellers: Has potential if Naomi paces her flurry of offense rather than trying to cram everything in around just 5 seconds. Timing is everything, and she has to let the audience properly digest her moves so they can actually get into it. Can't see past AJ for this one and she's not losing that title until Wrestlemania at the very least.

Winner: AJ Lee

Jack Bramma: More Costanza opposite for me. Last month, picking Natayla didn't work out but I'm due. AJ has to keep it which means Naomi.

Winner: AJ

Sean Garmer: It's possible that WWE throws this on as a cool down match before the World Title match since they've spent so much time building up Naomi on TV these past few weeks. I hope that they get at least five minutes to show off something and at least show that Naomi can be a competent contender to AJ's Divas title. AJ has already run through pretty much everyone else so I expect AJ to continue her run and defeat Naomi here and we will probably get one more match between the two at Elimination Chamber before they setup AJ's Wrestlemania feud with a returning star or maybe even Emma.


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(Champion) Randy Orton vs. John Cena
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match

Daniel Wilcox: Can I just start by saying that the build for this match has been absolutely atrocious. It's arguably the worst-built match on the card, excluding the pre-show bout but including the unannounced Diva's match. It's a complete afterthought, and yet I can see it going either way. Do I really believe WWE wants their one and only world title on Randy Orton heading into WrestleMania. Is Lesnar/Orton something anyone wants to see? Or even Orton/Batista? Sure, John Cena as champion would be reverting right back to the status quo, but surely there's money to be made from Cena defending the strap against Lesnar at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (would that be a Loser Challenges the Streak Match?). I could also see a non-finish leading to Orton/Cena/Batista triple threat at WrestleMania, but then where does Lesnar fit into that equation? Needless to say I think the main event scene is as open now heading into WrestleMania as it's ever been. I'm going with my guy, which tells me to revert back to the status quo.

Winner: And NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion, John Cena

Mike Hammerlock: It kind of got lost in the terrible Nitro-esque finish to Raw, but Randy Orton had a getaway driver on Monday night. It's a fundamental law of the wrestling universe that when a heel champ has an unknown accomplice, said accomplice will emerge to help him retain his belt during his next title match. We're going there. It's just a matter of who this x-factor happens to be. Is it muscle or brain power? How about both? Has anyone seen Damien Sandow this week? Kind of weird that he takes Cena to the limit a week ago and then just disappears. Cena will carry the match and dish out a ton of punishment. He might even win, but it will be by DQ if he does.

Winner: John Cena, but Randy Orton retains the title

James Wright: This should probably feel like a bigger deal than it does but then again this year's Royal Rumble really does sell the event itself since there are several potential winners that could be interesting to see in the main event. Plus I think many of us thought (not hoped but thought at least) that it would be these two guys facing off to unite the belts at the Granddaddy of them all, so maybe that is why the whole thing seems a little anti-climactic. No matter which way you slice it, it makes more sense for Orton to retain here as otherwise it cheapens his reign pretty significantly and who would Cena end up facing at Wrestlemania? Most of the potential Rumble winners are faces and I can't see the WWE doing a face vs. face match for the title right now, although it is always possible. Rumble title matches are usually solid affairs without much interference leading into the melee that is the Rumble match itself, although will Orton go over Cena clean? Who knows, either way I am pulling for Orton in this one.

Winner: Randy Orton

Michael Weyer: It's temping to say Cena of course, he is Cena and Rumbles usually mean big wins for him. But no, I'm going with Orton here as it pushes the story of the Authority more and with the Rumble winner all but set in stone, makes more sense for him to be champ for it. Expect their usual great match together with plenty of overbooked interference but Orton walks out as champ again, much as we may dislike it.

Winner and STILL WWE Champion: Randy Orton

Justin Watry: Is there ever a wrong time to pick John Cena? In my opinion, he loses way more than a stop star should, but that boils down to the faults of this current era than anything else. Going into the Road to WrestleMania XXX, would it really shock anybody to see Cena headlining the biggest event of the year? Of course not. Logically, he even matches up well with every single potential Royal Rumble winner: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Batista or even a dark horse like Brock Lesnar! All of them could very easily take on Cena come Mania time, so why am I picking Randy Orton. Simple. If Cena was going to carry the gold around, it would have happened last month. If the plan was for Cena to be champ, he would have won the title(s) at TLC. He did not. Randy Orton won. Thus, you have to believe there is some kind of plan for Mr. RKO to be champ leading to WMXXX. Cena will be just fine without the title. By hook or crook, Orton retains.

Winner: Randy Orton

Nick Sellers: This could go either way really, as it isn't really clear what the plans for these two are going into Wrestlemania. For Orton's sake, I think a big victory here would firmly re-establish him as the man of the moment and the man to beat. I'd love to see more arrogance and aggression from him instead of some of the chickenshit tactics he's been employing. Don't get me wrong, you don't want to completely abandon that side of him because it does make a great heel, but moderation with all of those other attributes is the key. As for Cena, he'll almost certainly be in the main event no matter what happens here. Right now I think we're looking at the possibility of a multi-man match at Wrestlemania rather than it being straight up one-on-one. I imagine it'll be either a 3-way or a 4-way and any of Cena, Brock, Batista, Punk or Bryan would be involved in challenging Orton.

Winner: Randy Orton

Jack Bramma: This match has left a bad taste in my mouth ever since they announced it. It could be worse I suppose – they could have pushed it as a top shelf Mania program. Outside of basically ONE entertaining segment with the 2 (which also contained every other World Champion under WWE contract), this has been a minor disaster. They go with the gimmick match first and then follow it up with the most heralded, accolade-laden regular match in the history of wrestling. It's pinfall or submission only, don't ya know? The Authority can't figure out if they are faces or heels and Orton comes off like a complete nothing despite being a 13-time world champion at this point because his motivations and allegiances have to flap in the wind to play off their weekly inconsistency. The mini feud with Orton/Kofi appears to be headed absolutely nowhere and Cena's overrun run-in was the most lethargic, half-assed go-home segment possible. I look forward to Orton retaining by hook and crook since he stole a car on RAW. Hopefully, Cena moves on to either UT, Brock, or that teased Piper/Hogan stuff.

Winner: Randy Orton

Sean Garmer: This has probably been the most underwhelming and almost to the point of annoying feud on this entire card. The Authority have made Orton look like a pansy, WWE booking has made him look like a paranoid idiot, and John Cena has been John Cena. The only reason John Cena wins here is because they want to do Bryan vs. Cena 2 in the main event at Wrestlemania. Other than that, I think you pretty much kill anything Orton has if he unifies the titles last month only to lose in a regular singles match the next month. They could setup an Orton vs. Batista feud, I would hate to see it again, but Bryan vs. Orton would add a great finale to Bryan's yearly quest to cement his place as a top star. It seems that whoever wins The Rumble, Orton is set to be the champion going into Wrestlemania XXX. So, I would expect Orton to win by any means necessary here to accomplish that ultimate goal.


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The Royal Rumble Match
30 Men Involved- CM Punk is #1 Entrant

Daniel Wilcox: To be able to accurately to work how a Rumble match will pan out, you have to know what all the key players will be doing at WrestleMania and that's anyone's guess at the moment. CM Punk is entering at number one but all signs point to him being squaring up with Triple H at WrestleMania, so some combination of the Shield, Kane and the Outlaws will ensure that he won't be winning this match. Batista is the big comeback and that's makes him favourite, but that just seems too predictable for my liking, and they didn't make a massive deal out of his return Monday, leading me to think they have other plans for him. Sheamus is likely for a return along with Rob Van Dam, possibly Chris Jericho and maybe one or two more but I think their chances of win faded when the titles were unified. That really only leaves one man, the guy with all the momentum, the guy that the "smart" fan and the casual fan alike have been getting behind. Look for The Daniel Bryan Story to come full circle when he ends up back in the ring with John Cena at WrestleMania.

Who Will Be Number 2: Daniel Bryan

Who Will Be Number 30: Sheamus

Most Eliminations: CM Punk

Royal Rumble Final Four: Sheamus, Batista, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk

Royal Rumble Winner: Daniel Bryan

Mike Hammerlock: I'm really looking forward to this one, especially after last year's bag job for John Cena. I can imagine them going half a dozen different ways with the Rumble winner. The roster is deep at the moment. The competition just to get onto the Wrestlemania card is going to be fierce. As a fan, it's exciting when the Rumble is unpredictable. I'm guessing Punk prevails in the end, since it's been set up that the Authority is working behind the scenes to undermine him. He has no chance, which makes him almost unbeatable. Yet no matter who wins, it should be fascinating to watch, since they'll be trying to weave in about 10 subplots. It should be noted that if Sting's TNA contract truly has expired (as opposed to the kayfabe expiration they just put on television), then there might even be an outside shot he shows up as a shock entrant. My main hope is they give they give a healthy number of younger guys a big push. With the WWE Network coming, it needs to start feeling like a new era. I think we already know in our hearts that Roman Reigns is going to send bodies flying when he hits the ring. Mainly, expect mayhem.

Who Will Be Number 2: Kane, with the mask on

Who Will Be Number 30: Sheamus

Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns

Royal Rumble Final Four: CM Punk, Roman Reigns, Damien Sandow, Seth Rollins

Royal Rumble Winner: CM Punk

James Wright:

Who Will Be Number 2: Either a member of the Shield or NAO, I'm going for Dean Ambrose.

Who Will Be Number 30: Batista

Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns

Royal Rumble Final Four: Sheamus, Batista, Roman Reigns, C.M. Punk

Royal Rumble Winner: Batista

Michael Weyer:

Who Will Be Number 2: Dolph Ziggler

Who Will Be Number 30: Rey Mysterio

Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns

Royal Rumble Final Four: Punk, Batista, Reigns, Daniel Bryan

Royal Rumble Winner: Daniel Bryan

Justin Watry: I will spare you all the boring details. Let us all just cut down to the potential winners. For months now, I have been writing (on other websites) that Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are the only two options to win the Rumble. For months! When it was announced that Batista was returning and Punk would be the #1 entrant, my mind shifted. Now, the only two favorites are Batista and Bryan. Sorry Punk! You are no longer in this discussion. Have fun facing Triple H at WM XXX - definitely a prime spot and something I want to see but not THE prime spot. Last year, it was SO OBVIOUS that John Cena would win...and he did. WWE did not care about being unpredictable. They did not go for any pointless swerve or nonsense. Cena was the right choice, so the company went with it. Fine. This year, WWE made it SO OBVIOUS that Batista would win. Do they play it safe two years in a row or throw us the curve ball? I wish I could tell you. You win either way. Batista returning to go for the title (no matter the opponent) makes a good story. Then there is Daniel Bryan who is on fire and still looking for his redemption. My scenario calls for Batista to enter somewhere in the middle and just be dominant. Since Bryan was attacked earlier (remember that?), his #30 entry will be all the more exciting and pop the crowd big time! I can already imagine the 'Yes!' chants. Roman Reigns will do well but not win due to The Shield implosion. Punk will have a nice run but fall victim late. In the end, it comes down to Batista and WWE playing it safe two years in a row or riding the wave with Daniel Bryan, who is not even an official entrant. Tough call.

Who Will Be Number 2: Kane

Who Will Be Number 30: Daniel Bryan

Who Will Return/Debut: Chris Jericho, Sheamus, Kevin Nash, Kharma, Carlito (confirmed), Shelton Benjamin (confirmed), John Morrison (confirmed), Chris Masters (confirmed), Hurricane Helms, Matt Hardy, AJ Styles, Jake Roberts, RVD, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Undertaker, Bill Goldberg, Kurt Angle, and STING!

Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns

Royal Rumble Final Four: CM Punk, Sheamus, Batista, Daniel Bryan

Royal Rumble Winner: Daniel B-atista

Nick Sellers: My favorite match of the year. Going through my picks below; I expect one of the Wyatt's to go in at 2 (the other other possibly coming in at 3) per the Authority trying to stack the deck against Punk early on, only for him to keep overcoming the odds and come close to going the distance.

Batista coming in at 30 would keep arguably the biggest star in the match till last and the anticipation would keep building right the way through. It also means he doesn't have to tire himself out in his first match back by clocking in a ridiculous time.

Jake Roberts has stated for months that he'd like to enter the Rumble, and his recent appearance on Raw suggested that it might be a possibility with him on good terms with the company again. Jim Duggan is on the panel for the pre-show so I'd love to see him enter just for the pop. Sheamus is a rumored returnee, though it might be too soon depending on how he's healing up from injury.

Roman Reigns for the most eliminations to give him a similar boost that he had back at Survivor Series for being the sole survivor for his team. This is the perfect avenue to give him a solo-rub.

In the final four, Batista would be there by virtue of being the freshest man and Del Rio, as he did on Raw, would essentially be there to put him over. Roman Reigns making the final four is another feather in his cap on the back of all the eliminations. Punk will defy the odds throughout despite being the first man, but ultimately I expect Triple H to sneak up on him and eliminate him, or possibly Kane, in a heartbreaking fashion and to properly kickstart the HHH/Punk program for Wrestlemania.

And to win?

I'm still harboring hopes that Daniel Bryan is an impromptu entry and wins it, but if that doesn't happen we'll go with Batista. It won't please everybody, but it's the perfect way to give his return a big impact and he picks up right from where he left off four years ago. As I mentioned in my Orton/Cena comments, I think we're looking at a multi-man WWE World title bout now at Wrestlemania, so even if Bryan doesn't get into the match at the Rumble, he'll probably wrangle his way in via the Elimination Chamber PPV instead.

Who Will Be Number 2: Harper or Rowan

Who Will Be Number 30: Batista

Who Will Return/Debut: Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts, Sheamus

Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns

Royal Rumble Final Four: Batista, Del Rio, Roman Reigns, CM Punk

Royal Rumble Winner: Batista

Jack Bramma: It's hard to get a feel for the match because the starpower is just not there on paper. Among the advertised names, after Punk and Batista, you quickly run out of potential winners and start pulling names from out of nowhere. Big E? … Del Rio? MARK HENRY…?! Even if you throw in the potential guys pulling double duty, the list only grows by 2 actual contenders: Brock and DB. Brock is above needing a RR win to get a title shot because he eats, sleeps, conquers, and repeats, so he's out. DB is still busy with the Wyatts and is coming off a concussion. If Cena loses, he could get in the match, but we've seen that song and dance twice now including last year. There's a lot of sizzle about the RR and especially about Mania fantasy booking, but there's not a lot of steak to the entrants thus far. Additionally for me, a giant albatross is the Elimination Chamber match. How does that fit in? Is Orton forced to compete in it to go against the RR winner at Mania? Is Brock challenging Orton next month instead? If so, is the EC for a number 1 contender spot? If so and so, what happens to the RR winner?

Who Will Be Number 2: Seth Rollins

Who Will Be Number 30: Sheamus or Jake Roberts. I could see any of about five guys here – Big E, Brock, Dragon, or Reigns, but I'll go with the returning vet or the returning likely HOF-er.

Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns

Royal Rumble Final Four: Punk, Reigns, Batista, and Del Rio

Royal Rumble Winner: CM Punk

Sean Garmer: I'm actually excited to see who the surprise entrants will be because this Wrestlemania is huge and there's literally a litany of possibilities. Unless WWE keeps Bryan out of the Rumble for precautionary reasons or just to piss off the fans some more, it is his match to lose. There is still the possibility of Batista, CM Punk, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and even a total outside shot of Sheamus or even Roman Reigns. I just like the fact that we could see a multitude of things happen in this Rumble, which is better than you can say for past years. I'm just excited to get to Sunday night already so we can get to this match and see who's going to be the number one contender at Wrestlemania XXX.

Who Will Be Number 2: Seth Rollins

Who Will Be Number 30: Sheamus

Who Will Return/Debut: Jake Roberts, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Christian, Godfather

Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns

Royal Rumble Final Four: Batista, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, CM Punk

Royal Rumble Winner: Daniel Bryan

Overall Thoughts & Buy/No Buy

Daniel Wilcox: The Royal Rumble is a must-buy every year because the Rumble is always a great match and I think this year it's more intriguing than ever before. on top of that, however, you have a fantastic undercard. The Rumble sells itself so typically we're left with nothing in the two-hours proceeding it, but this year every match is either well built up featuring big time players, or will have a big impact on how WrestleMania shapes up. This show is a definite purchase for any wrestling fan. Buy

Mike Hammerlock: It should be a perfectly good show, but PPV is dead. Steal it and save up your money for that WWE Network subscription. No Buy

James Wright: The rest of the card is nothing to write home about but I am still really excited for the Rumble match itself. This year has the potential for some great moments with the Shield in the Rumble, as well as Punk's return to the Rumble match after three years since he always puts on a good showing. Batista's presence could make waves and I am looking forward to the rumoured push for Reigns with multiple eliminations. What's more there are a bunch of potential entrants yet to be announced such as; Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Sheamus, Christian, Evan Bourne, Jake Roberts, hell who knows even AJ Styles might make an appearance, but probably more likely RVD or Chris Jericho. No matter what the card this is the Rumble and one of the most fun PPVs of the year. Get a few friends round or go to a screening at a bar (my personal preference) and have a laugh, place a bet, and have a good time! Buy

Michael Weyer: I'm going against the grain of others and say it's not Batista to win the Rumble although I admit might be wrong. I just suspect even WWE and HHH know better than to trust the big show of the year on someone so notoriously injury-prone. With Vince suddenly hot on Bryan after that last RAW show reaction, a win here makes total sense to rebuild him up. His concussion is up in the air but I'm suspecting that might be a planted story just to set folks off. So, I'll go with Bryan to win here. The rest of the card is okay, the Cena/Orton match we've seen before but other bouts might be good. Still, it's the Rumble we all care about and should be great to see surprises (Jake Roberts or even Ultimate Warrior perhaps?) or see how Kofi Kingston possibly tops himself to avoid elimination. It's a key show of the year and thus more than worth checking out as one of the last PPVs you can pay full price for before WWE Network arrives. Buy

Justin Watry: Well, my Big Brother audition video is almost finished. I could work on that all night. The Pro Bowl does not count as football, so that is not being watched. There is always the option of illegal streaming online. You know...stealing. Hey, maybe that is what I will do? Steal something and then whine about the product afterwards! Surely, WWE will value my opinion then. You Decide!

Nick Sellers: It's the Rumble, and I NEVER miss the Rumble. Hashtag PUMPED. Buy

Jack Bramma: As usual, the fed keeps things interesting enough to pull in most even jaded regulars. I'm fearing it'll be a fairly uneventful night with Orton retaining, Brock beating Big Show, DB not in the Rumble, and maybe a surprise return from RVD or Evan Bourne but most big name possibilities kept out for either the obvious favorites of Batista or Punk winning. But still, it's the Rumble. Buy

Sean Garmer: The undercard is really not much to get excited about, actually the most entertaining match might be on the preshow come to think of it. But when it comes to the main event there is nothing like the excitement of The Rumble match. It's just one of those things you have to see every year and this one actually could deliver quite a few surprises and twists to keep us on our toes. It may be a one match show in the end, but if that one match show ends with Daniel Bryan standing alone at the end as the winner it will be well worth my 60 bucks. I always buy this PPV every year and since it will be the last one I buy in full before WWE Network comes along I might as well make the best of it. Buy.

Well, that's all the time we have today. Let us know what you thought of our predictions in the comment section and don't forget to share your picks for the PPV as well. See you all again in February.

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