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'Royal Rumble': Who will win?

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The “Royal Rumble” comes just once a year. With the thirty-man over-the-top-rope main event, it also features one of the most exciting spectacles of the wrestling year. It also kicks off the biggest season of wrestling every year as the Road to “Wrestlemania” begins.

The Cedar Rapids Pro Wrestling Examiner went to Facebook to poll wrestling fans locally, nationally and internationally about the top prospects to win the Rumble and continue to “Wrestlemania” to battle for the WWE World Heavyweight title. For the sake of simplicity, fans were asked which of the three top heroes in the company outside John Cena were most likely to win the event. Fans were asked to choose between CM Punk, the returning Batista and Daniel Bryan. Bryan faces Bray Wyatt in a singles match, but with the rest of the Wyatt Family in the Rumble most fans expect Bryan to make an appearance in that match as well.

The fans polled in our informal survey chose Batista three to one as their favorite to win the match and go on to battle Randy Orton. Wrestling fan David Schlichtig said, “I chose Batista. I just don't see him losing in his first match back.” With a feud against Alberto Del Rio in the cards and a possible blow off at “Elimination Chamber”, the monster does seem aligned to very easily slip into one of the top spots in the biggest WWE show of the year. With his return spotlighted on the Monday before the “Royal Rumble” he seems poised to make a huge splash in some way for “Wrestlemania XXX”.

Coming in second in the pole was CM Punk. After settling his score with Paul Heyman, Punk is being drawn into the story against the Authority. Embroiled in battles now with both The Shield and the New Age Outlaws, he now looks to be developing problems with Kane. Of course, the WWE World Heavyweight champion is the Authority’s favorite figure, so he could very well be on a collision course with Randy Orton. However Orton & Punk faced off in a “Wrestlemania XXVII” undercard match. It seems unlikely they would meet again in a main event spot. Factoring in rumors of a Triple H/CM Punk match in the cards, Punk may end up off the table entirely.

Daniel Bryan fell by the wayside for many fans, especially since he’s not currently listed as a contender in the thirty man battle royal. The lackluster end of his previous main event spot puts him as a popular “Wrestlemania” main eventer in many fans’ eyes. He seems to be one of the most over talents on the roster with television audiences going crazy chanting for him. As someone that faced off against Orton in three straight pay-per-views and during televised matches, another shot at Orton seems unlikely. However a John Cena versus Bryan match could recreate some of the magic they had at “Summerslam” especially should Cena go into this contest fully healed.

The greatest attribute of this year’s “Royal Rumble” is its utter unpredictability. Several stars could walk out as the winner. Whoever goes on to main event “Wrestlemania XXX”, WWE seems on track to produce one of their greatest pay-per-views in years.

Wrestling fans in Cedar Rapids and beyond can watch “Raw” every Monday night and “Smackdown” every Friday night, both at 7 p.m. Central. The "Royal Rumble" airs Sunday, January 26 on pay-per-view.

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