With the WWE’s Royal Rumble just over 2 weeks away, it’s time to start figuring out who could just win it. So far the All-Star participants of Sheamus, Santino Marella, Jinder Mahal, and Wade Barrett have been announced. The only wrestlers we can assume to be out are CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler, who have both been announced for the WWE Championship Match.
In this piece I’ll look at the top thirteen contenders to win the big match and head to Wrestlemania 28 for a shot at working the undercard below Rock-Cena. Maybe their match won’t even jerk the curtain this time!
I’ll get the Wild Card out of the way first. How amazing would it be if we heard “If ya smelllllll….” after the countdown for #30? Now if they were that brave, they would either need Cena to toss him (either legally or illegally) or have The Rock win, and Cena realize that he has to win the WWE Title in the Elimination Chamber in order to get that big match, otherwise someone like Punk will steal it. It could make for some interesting storytelling, but it’s probably not going to happen.
Likelihood of Happening: Near impossible
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: John Cena (obviously), CM Punk (unlikely)
I think that he’s going to have a match with Kane at the Rumble instead of being involved in the actual match. He really does not have much to gain from any sort of involvement in the Rumble, unless The Rock is there too. I personally wish that he was taking on Punk at the event in order to try to make sure that the Title is on the line in the big match, but such is life. If he wins, then The Rock needs to win the Gold at the Elimination Chamber, which would be cool, but is not happening
Likelihood of Happening: Even more impossible than The Rock winning
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: The Rock
Rumours have been swirling of a Jericho-Punk Wrestlemania match taking place for a while now, and what better way to set it up here? How much would Jericho brag about winning the Rumble? I mean, it’s one of the few accomplishments that he doesn’t have on his resume, so why not add it? Maybe he’ll even talk afterwards! As I write this, I get thinking about how great a Jericho-Bryan match would be, but I think that they’ll save that one for later, especially since both wrestlers seem to be playing heels at the moment.
Likelihood of Happening: Strong possibility
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: CM Punk, both are the best in the world after all…
If Mark Henry were still World Heavyweight Champion, I would be almost certain about this win. The company seems very high on the big Irishman and a World Title victory over the monster heel champion would really be great for him, but that may have changed when Daniel Bryan cashed his shot in and started his heel turn. The idea of a face Sheamus chasing the heel Bryan really doesn’t appeal to me. Although if the WWE decides to put the belt back on Mark Henry or Big Show (possibly at the Rumble itself) then a Sheamus Rumble win wouldn’t surprise me
Likelihood of Happening: Moderate
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: Mark Henry or Big Show
The WWE shocked us all at Wrestlemania 26 by giving Swagger the Money in the Bank Briefcase, and then shocked us even more by giving him the title a few days later. Will they shock us and have him win the Rumble? Signs do point for an eventual showdown between Swagger and Ziggler, so why not make it for the title? Had they even mentioned Swagger’s World Title reign in the past few months, he could be considered a strong contender here, but that just isn’t happening.
Likelihood of Happening: Slim to None
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: Dolph Ziggler
If John Cena and Edge taught us one thing, it’s that the WWE loves to throw us a curveball every now and then at the Rumble. Rey does already have a Rumble victory to his credit, and he did that after drawing #2, so it’s quite believable that he could do it after drawing #30. He could be a great foil for a heel Daniel Bryan, or if they wanted to hotshot the WWE Title back to Alberto Del Rio, that could work very well too, or he could help establish Ziggler as a strong heel champion.
Likelihood of Happening: Fairly Low
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler
ALBERTO DEL RIO
See above for Rey. Alberto would be slightly less of a shock, since a) he won the event last year and b) he should return from injury before Mysterio does. He could gloat about joining Hogan, Michaels, and Austin as the only two-time winners for pretty much ever. Plus, he has a ready made feud with Punk, the man who injured him.
Likelihood of Happening: Fairly Low
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: CM Punk
Every year they hype up The Big Show as a favourite to win, but every year he fails to do win. They may consider giving him a big win here to further pad his resume and to set up a rematch with Daniel Bryan, who he has been feuding with. I do imagine though that he won’t even be in the match, as a Bryan-Show-Henry Triple Threat will be on the undercard, but if they do a Henry-Bryan 1:1 it could work.
Likelihood of Happening: Nearly impossible
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry
Like Big Show, they hype him as a favourite every year, but like Big Show he never wins. Maybe this could be his year. They seem to be pushing him like crazy. I imagine that we’ll see something with him and a mask at Wrestlemania, so why not make it a Mask vs. Title match? If he won, he could take on one of Smackdown’s giants, CM Punk, or maybe have The Undertaker return and win the Title at the Elimination Chamber to set up a big match there. But I kind of doubt it.
Likelihood of Happening: Yeah, that’s not happening…especially because I think that he’s going to be facing Cena at the Rumble.
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: Mark Henry, Big Show, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, The Undertaker
I’m not really sure what to make of The Miz’s current push. One week they make him strong as can be, the next week they have him running from R-Truth. He would make a great Wrestlemania opponent for CM Punk, or for Daniel Bryan, given their history. I have a feeling though that they will stretch out the feud with Truth until the big event, which most certainly won’t involve either top title.
Likelihood of Happening: Probably not, although he would be great about it
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan
Boy does he have a rocket strapped to his back or what? He’s taking out legends left and right, and is having a great run with the Intercontinental Title. If he wants to be truly the greatest IC Champ of all time, then why not have a chance to be only the third man in history to be Intercontinental and World Champion at the same time? He would be such a great heel about that, it would be amazing! Plus a match with either Punk or Bryan would be off the chain.
Likelihood of Happening: Not this year, but he should be considered a very early contender for 2013
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan
I wouldn’t have even mentioned him, until he threw Randy Orton down the stairs on the last Smackdown of 2011. The company seems to finally have gotten behind him as a Main Eventer, and a win here could really ensure that he stays in the top tier for a long time. Plus, it’s in Randy Orton’s hometown, so how would that not be the greatest heel move ever? He could make a great Wrestlemania opponent for CM Punk, or they could have Randy Orton win the World Heavyweight Title at the Elimination Chamber to set up their final showdown in the Main Event.
Likelihood of Happening: Surprisingly High
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: CM Punk, Randy Orton
Despite his injuries, I think that Orton remains the favourite here. For starters, the event is in his hometown. Since he is not Booker T or Jim Ross, that should be to his advantage. Secondly, and more importantly, he was arguably the best in-ring performer for the company in 2011, putting on great matches with everyone from The Miz to CM Punk to Christian to Cody Rhodes to Wade Barrett to Mark Henry; he deserves to be rewarded for all of his hard work. Sure he won the match in 2009, but we have not had a repeat winner since 2001, so why not? Also, they accidentally advertised an Orton-Bryan match for Mania back in the fall, so there is that.
Likelihood of Happening: Very high, despite his injury…you don’t need to be too involved to win the Rumble, just ask Edge or Vince McMahon!
Possible Wrestlemania Opponents: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler
FANTASY BOOKING TIME
If you had Fantasy Booking, fair point, you’re free to go. Nothing else after this.
My idea for this is to have Orton win but with an asterisk. Have him draw a middle of the pack number in the 10-15 range. As he walks down to the ring to the roar of crowd, but then have that dastardly Wade Barrett run down, jump him the aisle before he makes it to the ring.
He gets stretchered out and the announcers say that Orton has been removed from the Rumble, and Teddy Long yells at someone like Ezekial Jackson or Hunico to go and take his place. Barrett comes in somewhere high like 24-28 and cleans house. He ends up clearing the ring, until he’s standing in by himself when 30 goes off, giving us a set final. Someone like Heath Slater comes down, very anti-climactically, while Barrett snickers. But just before he gets in, Orton jumps him, RKO’s him on the concrete and he gets stretchered out, Orton takes his place as #30, and eliminates Barrett to win.
Barrett can claim a miscarriage of justice and thinks of himself the rightful winner, since Orton was removed from the Rumble. They can easily set up a match to decide it at the Elimination Chamber where either Orton wins to go face Daniel Bryan, or they have it go to a No Contest to set up a Triple Threat match, either of which I’m cool with.
If not that, then Jericho wins clean as a whistle, and breaks down with fake tears of joy afterwards. That would be pretty cool too.
How about anyone else? What do you think?