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WWE Royal Rumble '14 match preview

We are just about 24 hours away from the 27th annual edition of the WWE Royal Rumble. The show is live from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Royal Rumble match is generally my favorite match of the year. And because 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.

WWE Royal Rumble '14
promtional image

Official participants:

Dean Ambrose

The United States Champion will certainly be a factor in the Rumble match. His running buddy in The Shield (Roman Reigns) is poised for a breakout 2014 and Ambrose will be along for the ride. Expect all three members of The Shield to interact in the Rumble match, with Ambrose either being a victim of elimination by Reigns or eliminating Reigns himself. This will lead into WrestleMania with the team in a six-man tag bout with dissension finally boiling over between the trio.

Batista

“The Animal” has had his return hyped up for weeks, with his official return happening last week on RAW. Batista is one of the odds on favorites to win this year’s Royal Rumble match and find himself in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship bout in the main event of WrestleMania XXX.

CM Punk

Thanks to WWE Director of Operations Kane, Punk finds himself in the number one spot of tomorrow night’s Royal Rumble. Look for Punk to embark on an impressive iron man performance in route to a heartbreaking elimination late in the match. His ticket for WrestleMania XXX seems to be punched in a bout against WWE COO Triple H.

Alberto Del Rio

The former WWE and World Champion and Royal Rumble winner finds himself floundering at the moment. He has become the designated cannon fodder for Batista already and should be that in the Rumble as well. His WrestleMania spot looks uncertain right now, but a lucha bout against Rey Mysterio and/or Sin Cara look to be his best bet.

Fandango

In recent years, the Rumble match has become known for its random comedy interludes to break up the action. Fandango will be there to a part of one of those said interludes.

Goldust

Goldust has Comeback of the Year all wrapped up for 2013 and the Royal Rumble could determine his future going into 2014. Expect friction between Goldust and his baby brother Cody Rhodes in hopes of building to a much talked about one-on-one bout between the two brothers at WrestleMania.

Luke Harper

As one part of The Wyatt Family, Harper is a cog in whatever rivalry Bray Wyatt is a part of. While he has the potential to have a breakout performance any day now his role for now looks to be an enforcer in Wyatt’s affairs.

Kofi Kingston

Kingston has known in recent years for his outstanding near-elimination spots in Rumble matches. Like Shelton Benjamin and John Morrison before him, he will always have a place in WWE thanks to his athleticism and ability. He thrives by acting as a highlight reel in multi-man matches like this. A multi-man bout is also his best way to find himself on WrestleMania XXX.

Big E Langston

WWE brass is seemingly incredibly high on Langston going into 2014. He could serve as a monster and a spoiler in this match by racking up some eliminations and putting on a memorable performance. He should find himself somewhere on the undercard of WrestleMania, either defending his Championship or in some sort of multi-man match.

The Miz

The Miz has fallen a long way from main eventing WrestleMania XXVII as the WWE Champion. Three years later, Miz is firmly stuck in the midcard and desperately needs something to regain his former glory. Unfortunately this year’s Rumble and WrestleMania XXX don’t look to be the places for him to regain his mojo.

Rey Mysterio

Here’s hoping Mysterio is embarking on his last major run. His body has been riddled by injuries for years and his recent runs have been marred by time off. He hasn’t been able to gain major momentum since the summer of 2011. His best bet for WrestleMania is another high profile bout against Alberto Del Rio or the much talked about mask match against Sin Cara that has been talked about since 2012.

R-Truth

Truth is one of those guys that is in the Rumble match to rile up the crowd and fill a spot. That was his role in the past and will be his role again.

Roman Reigns

Like Big E Langston, Roman Reigns is reportedly on WWE’s fast track to superstardom. If there is anyone in this year’s Rumble match that will get the famous “Diesel push” and eliminate a myriad of competitors en route to elimination, it is this guy. Expect a strong showing from Reigns and interaction with the other members of The Shield. Look for big things from Reigns going into 2014 and into WrestleMania season.

Cody Rhodes

Depending on whether Rhodes and his brother Goldust lose the Tag Team Championships earlier in the night will dictate his performance here. He could easily have a great underdog babyface run or he get be out for blood against a brother that turned on him. At WrestleMania he should be in some sort of interaction with his brother, whether teaming with him or against him one-on-one.

Seth Rollins

The underdog dark horse of The Shield is often overlooked and forgotten about. He is caught in the middle of the growing tension between Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. He will certainly interact with his teammates in the Rumble match and then find a spot at WrestleMania teaming with them, perhaps for the last time as a three-man unit.

Erick Rowan

Like Luke Harper, he is a disciple of Bray Wyatt and does his bidding. Unfortunately he is less experienced than his partner Harper and will be a victim of whatever storyline the trio is caught up in.

Damian Sandow

After losing his Money in the Bank briefcase in late 2013, “The Intellectual Savior” is at a cross roads. A strong showing in this match would go a long way in rebuilding Sandow going into a new year.

Jey Uso

The Usos have been on a tear since the second half of 2013. They have been earning their spot since 2010 and are deserving of their recent success. They won’t have much luck in the Rumble match, but here’s hoping 2014 finally brings them a much deserved Tag Title reign and continued good fortune.

Jimmy Uso

See Jey Uso.

Xavier Woods

Woods has all the potential to be a big star in WWE, but this is not the night. If he does get major attention it will not be until after WrestleMania. He will be a warm body for someone to eliminate.

Those are the twenty men officially announced for the match. Expect five spots left wide open for potential surprises, returning legends, returning superstars and random appearances. In recent years, a certain group of names get floated around a lot on who are those surprises, but so far no one seems concrete. That will make whoever it is seem even more special when it happens.

As for the other five spots, expect men from the undercard to pull double duty, namely Brock Lesnar, Bray and Daniel Bryan. Lesnar and Bryan are already odds-on favorites to win the match, without even being officially entered. In fact many Internet wrestling fans are already in an uproar about Bryan not being in the match or winning, well before the match even happens.

Sheamus, who has been on the DL since this summer, seems poised to return to action and smart money is on his surprise return in the Rumble match. Christian, who has been battling injuries off/on since late 2011, would be a welcome entrant as well.

And if there are any spots left there is a myriad of capable mid-card talents that could fill in spots including Sin Cara, Wade Barrett, Ryback, Curtis Axel, The Real Americans (Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro) and The Prime Time Players (Titus O’Neill & Darren Young). Also, former two-time World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler has been battling a concussion and this could be a nice return spot for him. And finally former World Heavyweight Champion The Great Khali has been every Rumble match since 2007 and always fills the spot of the “intimidating giant there to make someone else look good.” He is as sure of a lock as can be without being officially announced.