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The Royal Rumble signifies the start of the much anticipated Road To WrestleMania, which is basically the best time of the year to be a wrestling fan.
Just like any good wrestling analyst, I have opinions about what should happen and what will happen—but countless others do as well! You can catch our Staff Roundtable here, and read Tony Acero's predictions in the 5&1 here.
So while I'll save my "official" predictions for the bottom of this point, it's time to provide you with what you've come to expect—your 2014 Royal Rumble Bold Predictions!
What crazy things will happen on the pay-per-view, and in the Royal Rumble match itself? Read on...
Damien Sandow is your Anti-Ironman
It's easy to pick Roman Reigns or Big E Langston for the "Kane push" and predict that he'll eliminate the most participants, but the Ironman isn't so easy this year. CM Punk, entering at number one, is also an obvious pick (and a later point will in fact follow this logic), but in my opinion Damien Sandow makes the best choice for Ironman.
Sandow is the "Intellectual Savior of the Unwashed Masses," and both his persona and style lend themselves to a long run in this Rumble match. Unfortunately, his braggadocios ways also lend themselves to a quick elimination for Sandow--which is exactly why I actually make him the Anti-Ironman. I am predicting that Sandow will take his time going down the aisle, microphone in hand, bragging about his chances for a victory while running down the good, hardworking people of Pittsburgh at the same time.
Sandow will enter the Rumble only to be immediately eliminated.
Some good choices for the actual Ironman include Antonio Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Cody Rhodes and the aforementioned CM Punk.
Batista will enter at the coveted #27 spot
If you've watched any WWE programming, you've seen the fun Royal Rumble By The Numbers piece they ran. They are embedded above. The announce team also spouted off several stats, and one statistic that stands out is the #27, the entry point that has produced more winners than any other. Four men have entered the Rumble at #27 and won. At second place is #24 with three winners.
If you've been within eye-shot of any dirtsheet—or any site like ours that lives off of dirtsheets—you've read the reports that Batista is winning the Royal Rumble and going on to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX. Now, I don't think Batista is winning the match itself, but I do think the WWE loves messing with the internet. So why not have Big Dave enter at #27—the most common entrance point a Royal Rumble winner.
Also, I'd like to point you to a great piece by SmarkOutMoment.com, who has a bad ass numerical breakdown of the Royal Rumble match. It's an awesome read, check it out here.
Your biggest surprise entrant will be Jeff Hardy
I know we have reports of Sheamus, Chris Jericho and Kevin Nash making appearances in the Pittsburgh area for Royal Rumble weekend. Last year, right here in Phoenix, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, The Hurricane and Chris Masters were all in town but not used in the match. So those appearances are likely nothing.
Rob Van Dam and his 90-day wrestling cycle makes him an obvious choice. Sting is obviously out there. MVP is heavily rumored to be joining TNA, which immediately makes him a Royal Rumble candidate! AJ Styles? Not likely.
But in Jeff Hardy you have a three-time former world champion in the WWE, a heavy fan favorite and someone that can still pop a crowd, move merchandise and work a great WWE-style match. He hasn't been reported anywhere, which makes him a perfect bold prediction candidate.
As for the WWE Legend who can appear in the Royal Rumble, the DDP Yoga faction of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Scott Hall (as Razor Ramon?) and even Diamond Dallas Page himself are all great candidates for a Royal Rumble appearance.
The 30th entrant will be Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan isn't announced for the Royal Rumble, but not all 30 participants are out there. Bryan has a match on the card with Bray Wyatt, and any outside Wyatt Family involvement could easily write him out as a possibility for the Rumble itself.
But something is inevitable for this night, and you have to think the WWE sees it coming. As the entry numbers start to reach the high numbers, you're going to see an increase in chants of "Yes! Yes! Yes!" from the Pittsburgh crowd.
If #30 isn't Daniel Bryan, and he doesn't enter at all, the fans will be quite disappointed. Have him enter at #30 and they'll go nuts—setting a great potential Final Four.
Your Royal Rumble winner is CM Punk
Remember the original original reports about the Royal Rumble winner? All signs pointed to one man, and his name is CM Punk. Since then, we've heard rumors of a Batista win, and most recently a Daniel Bryan win. There's always Roman Reigns, who stands to get a ginormous push this year.
Everyone is buying the "locked in" WrestleMania showdown for CM Punk and Triple H. Why? Because Corporate Kane has been sticking it to Punk at every opportunity, on behalf of The Authority. This points more to a Punk-Kane match than Punk-HHH, honestly.
But what better protagonist for The Authority than Punk? Daniel Bryan is the one who really needs a win over Triple H at WrestleMania. The deck has been stacked against CM Pun, and what better man to continue to fight that fight, eventually earning and barely holding on to his WrestleMania title shot than CM Punk? That's right…no one.
As for the Final Four, I fully expect to see Punk joined by Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and a returning Sheamus. No Batista? Nope—he's likely eliminated by Reigns or Alberto Del Rio. But it eventually comes down to an epic Punk-Bryan showdown, which CM Punk walking out the 2014 Royal Rumble winner.
Full 2014 Royal Rumble Predictions
WWE Tag Team Championship – Cody Rhodes & Goldust (champions) vs. The New Age Outlaws: (Outlaws)
Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar: Lesnar
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt: Bryan
WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Randy Orton (champion) vs. John Cena: Orton
Divas Championship – AJ Lee (champion) vs. Naomi: AJ (if this is even added)
30-Man Royal Rumble: CM Punk eliminated Daniel Bryan to win
A tradition started at the end of each point when I wrote The Wrestling 5&1, "You Decide!" is your chance to weigh in on a major question facing professional wrestling each week. Vote once per hour, and leave your opinions in the comments section!
This one is easy: Who you got to win the 2014 Royal Rumble???
Voting closes Sunday night when The Rumble begins!
TNA held their "annual" Genesis event over the past two weeks, completing their free- -per-view cycle for January. The company heads to the United Kingdom for a series of events that will take them through Lockdown, at which point the company returns to Universal Studios.
Oh, remember those reports that the company wasn't returning to Universal Studios anytime soon? Yup…
With the company saying goodbye to so many of its big name and backbone stars over the past year, fans across the entire Internet Wrestling Community are calling this the end for TNA. So I have no choice but to ask the question...Is TNA so bad?
I think there's tons to be excited about. Take a look:
Return To Universal Studios
Friday's news about TNA's return was surprising, but welcomed. The last set of tapings at Universal looked great, and the crowd served their purpose well. Far too much was taped, and the company is set to strike a little better balance in March and early April. The late April and early May dates are a little concerning, but it's still not quite as bad as it was in December.
Let's face it, the crowd in Alabama didn't do TNA any favors for the two editions of Genesis. The booking didn't help, but the place died after a hot start. The UK crowds next week will make up for the fact that they're likely taping too much TV in a short span.
One benefit of the upcoming tapings is that we'll get a few live Impacts and a live pay-per-view. They're still likely to cram too much in on the non-live nights, but this can also be the start of something great. Let TNA get to a bi-weekly taping schedule where every other edition of Impact Wrestling is live from Universal and this just might work out.
The Departure of Sting
Now, hear me out...I ain't hating on Sting—not one bit. As a wrestling fan of nearly 30 years, I grew up on Sting. I love "The icon," and believe him to be a legit WWE Hall Of Famer despite never wrestling in the company.
But TNA seemed to have this strange loyalty to Sting that hindered the product. Loyalty is great, but Sting is 54-years old (and turns 55 in March—before WrestleMania XXX!). There is no reason for Sting to be as protected as he has been over the past few years. Sting was used as the top flight main event star he used to be, not the semi-retired novelty act he truly is. Sting can't carry the ball, and using him as such really hurt the rest of the roster.
There are so many examples, but let's just look at the past two weeks. Ethan Carter III is 30-years old and in the midst of his prime wrestling years. Sting should have been a stepping stone for EC3, yet it took two crooked referees to save him from easy defeat at a man nearly twice his age.
"But Greg, they needed to do that to justify Magnus ending Sting's TNA career!"
Don't be silly, reader! You put together a match where EC3 dominates early, Sting makes a hopeful comeback only to have it cut short by EC3, who then picks up the clean victory. Key word there being clean! It's only then that you enter Magnus, who mocks Sting's loss to EC3 and his status as "The Icon." This causes Sting to make the laughable challenge of Magnus's TNA World Championship, where Magnus only agrees to accept if Sting's career is on the line.
Still can't swallow Sting getting a title shot the week after losing clean to EC3? Fine. Make it Sting's Career vs. a Lockdown title match with Magnus. Either way, the same result happens. Magnus beats Sting, sends him packing from TNA and starts calling himself "The Icon" Magnus. You're welcome TNA, that last one is on me!
The departure of Sting also joins those of AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy and others—departures that could signify the start of a new era in TNA.
The rise of new talent
Losing AJ Styles sucks—he should still be in TNA and should be a main focus of the company. But he's really the only loss that I miss. Jeff Hardy, Devon, Sting, Rob Van Dam and others simply aren't missed. Why? Because TNA is primed to let new talent rise to the top of the card.
Just look at what we have now. Magnus is the world champion. He's proven himself as a worthy lead heel—not just in the ring but on the microphone as well. Bobby Roode and Austin Aries are focal points of the program. Samoa Joe is expected to main event Lockdown opposite Magnus. Christopher Daniels and Kazarian are focal points. Gunner is getting a push while James Storm stays relevant.
I'm not talking about age here (see Daniels, Christopher), I'm talking about guys who are mostly established in TNA holding the forefront. You still have Kurt Angle, Bully Ray and Mr. Anderson, but that's less than half of the overcrowded "former WWE" locker room TNA once employed.
On the flip side, you have a true rising crop of wrestlers. Ethan Carter III. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are set to debut at The Wolves. Samuel Shaw is returning with a unique new character. And more new names are rumored to be coming in as part of the "mystery investor" storyline. If you're seeking a true alternative, TNA has—at the very least—positioned themselves as one.
Ok, she's not great as a wrestler. But I sure could look at her all day!
So Mistico reveals that he's released by the WWE and claims he owns the rights to the Sin Cara likeness. What does everyone suggest? Putting Sami Zayn under a mask!
Listen people, Sami Zayn got over as El Generico for two reasons: wrestling ability and facial expression. Both of those gave him an amazing connection with the fans. Without a mask, he has the ability to get even more over—don't try to take it away from him!
In wrestling today, there is no show quite like Raw. Giving us moments and memories that we will cherish forever, and some we'd rather not ever recall again. This space is the chance to look back in time, each week, to a Raw memory.
2011 saw The Rock return to Raw when he was announced as the guest host of WrestleMania 27. While the result is criticized by many, his return is one of Raw's greatest moments.
Have a match or a moment you'd like to see here?
Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
The underappreciated and now former Shine Champion Rain is your Honorary DeMarcette of the Week!
Photo Credits: @JasonVW, Creative Loafing Photography, Modern Myth Photography
Follow Rain on Twitter at @Radiant_Rain!
Before we depart, enjoy and support these independent efforts!
Adam Pearce's latest edition of The Scrapyard!
Darin Corbin's latest W.R.E.S.T.L.I.N.G. Reflections!
Don't miss Sunday night's Greg DeMarco Show, featuring our immediate WWE Royal Rumble reaction, plus indy wrestling star Ricochet and Christina's unique NFL analysis!
Listen live at VOCNation.com!
Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, drop a line in the comments, and until next time...