We are just hours away from the 26th edition of the WWE Royal Rumble. Tonight’s show is broadcast live from Phoenix, Arizona. The Royal Rumble match itself is usually my favorite match of the year. And being there are so many people involved in the match, here is a breakdown of who is in the Rumble match, their chances of winning and some expected other participants and potential surprises.
The current reigning and defending Intercontinental Champion has been up and down in the past two years. Right now he is riding quite high and could see a lot of success in tonight’s match.
Daniel Bryan has had a fantastic 2012. He entered the year as World Heavyweight Champion, completely showed the world his personality, balanced his impeccable wrestling ability with a WWE endorsed character and brought prominence back to the tag team division with his unlikely Championship pairing with Kane. It would great to see Bryan get a long run in this match to remind everyone about his wrestling skill and keep his momentum going.
Cena is the odds-on favorite to win tonight. All eyes are pointing to him going to WrestleMania to challenge The Rock for the WWE Championship. While a lot of men have hyped up as potential winners in this match, this one seems like Cena’s to lose.
This should an interesting match for the red-hot Cesaro. Many wrestlers in this match Cesaro has not interacted with very much. He could put on a good showing here and build some valuable momentum heading into WrestleMania season.
The third generation star won an eight-man tournament of top NXT prospects this weekend at the Royal Rumble FanFest to earn this spot. He will be a complete wildcard in this match, as he has no prior WWE TV exposure. He could either get a long run in the match to establish himself or it could be a quick one and done. It is expected, however, for him to become a WWE regular from this point going forward.
“The Big Red Machine” has been in 13 Rumble matches with this character, which always makes him a odds on favorite. And this year he is at one of his hottest points and should be able to reclaim his most eliminations record from Shawn Michaels, but yet still not win, for the fourteenth time in a row.
The Great Khali
Khali hasn’t missed a Rumble match since 2007. Other than his first appearance in 2007 he has been wholly unremarkable in the match, but he’s still an impressive sight and a feather in the cap for whoever gets the honor to eliminate him.
No one has treaded more water in WWE in the past few years than Kingston. He was riding a hot streak at the end of 2012 as Intercontinental Champion, but unceremoniously lost the Championship to Wade Barrett at the year’s end and has been directionless ever since. He’s known to get a couple fun spots in during the Rumble match, but that’s about it.
He will be used in a total comedy spot. 3MB has been a career saver for him but he surely be used to bring some levity to the night’s proceedings.
McIntyre used to be known as The Chosen One and a handpicked pet project of Mr. McMahon. Now he’s a comedy character in Heath Slater’s 3MB. But is honestly it is a better spot than he was in at the start of 2012.
He could be coming into this match as the new United States Champion. He has been a riding a wave of momentum after turning “good” in late 2012 and finding a new unlikely ally in Ric Flair. He should find himself doing well in the match en route to elimination.
It is great for O’Neill to be included in his match alongside his Prime Time Player tag team partner Darren Young, but he will be of little consequence here.
The 2009 Rumble match winner has been hyped on TV as one of the night’s odds on favorites but he has been wholly unremarkable in 2012. He was off TV more than he was on it in 2012 and it may have been the worst year of his career in a decade. He should turn in a solid performance here in hopes of getting his 2013 off to a big start.
Ryback could easily go on like a Diesel-like run in the Rumble, eliminating numerous ones and lay waste to the match. He won’t win the match but will more than likely have an impressive performance here in order to keep his momentum going.
The Celtic Warrior has been hyped as one of the odds-on favorites to win this match. He won last year’s event and so he has momentum on his side. He will certainly look impressive here and probably make it to the end but it won’t be his night.
The leader of 3MB should be used for a fun comedy spot, but won’t have much of an impact on the match’s result.
He will literally be a warm body to fill up the ring and be an elimination stat for someone.
Ziggler is “this close” to breaking out as a major tippy top superstar for WWE. At tonight’s event he is guaranteed to come out at either #1 or #2, which almost guarantees he will go on a great run in the match. He will probably be the “iron man” and pace setter for the match, but will come up short at the end. For Ziggler tonight is about the performance, not the victory.
With only 18 spots officially announced, expect probably five or six legit surprises, returns or one shot deals from various past WWE stars. Names are always thrown about as to who to expect in those spots, and so far the names thrown around the most this year seems to be members of the company’s mid-card from five years ago. Those include Chris Masters, John Morrison, The Hurricane, Carlito and Shelton Benjamin. In addition older stars that are still in good graces with WWE (or actually work behind the scenes for the company) could easily show up. That would include names like The Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Vader or Ron Simmons. Plus there could be returns from the DL by stars like Christian, Mark Henry, R-Truth, Jack Swagger, Sin Cara and/or Rey Mysterio.
As for the other spots, expect all three members of The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) and both members of The Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damian Sandow) to pad out the roster spots. If there’s any room left then mid-card acts like Brodus Clay and Tensai could find themselves included as well.